The Fourth Piece
Order’s Last Play, Book 1, Coming Soon
The Near Deaths Series, Book 2 Pre-order
On the Other Side
The Red Pearl
The Light Side of the Moon
Holly M. Campbell
The Duchess Inheritance
Jordinia: Book II, C.K. Brooke
Their Rigid Rules
The Chemical Attraction Series: Prequel, Christina Thompson
The Near Deaths Series, Book 1, Holly M. Campbell
Check out our featured new release, current giveaways and sales events, and watch your favorite novels come to life!
Exclusive Sale: New York Dolls
For a limited time, New York Dolls, by Catherine L. Hensley, is on sale for only $0.99 at 48fourteen. At check out, enter coupon code: BOOK SALE.
A chance encounter at New York Fashion Week turns Denton Hodges’ life upside down–and into the biggest story she’s ever reported…
FEATURED NEW RELEASE
ON THE OTHER SIDE by Nicole Aube
When you are forbidden to remember, choosing not to forget is the greatest rebellion of all.
Bound to the Flood waters, sixteen-year-old Hilaria McCleod gathers relics from the days when Orleans wasn’t divided in two by the Wall and long before NAP—the Name Acquisition Program—governed her beloved city.
But pieces of a lost past do nothing to satisfy Hilaria’s desire to escape… READ MORE!
Check out our Author Blogs and follow us on Twitter!
10 Turning Point Quotes
That moment in a novel when you know things are about to get real, and you are there, feverishly flipping through the pages of a book… Enjoy these 10 turning-point quotes from our 48fourteen novels. Better yet, WATCH THE VIDEO!! 1. The Fourth Piece by E. Ardell “You’ll get stronger, and you’ll stand up for weak people, and I’ll be glad. I’ll know I was the first one to tell you to stop being a punk.” Coming soon! Add it to your Goodreads To Be Read List. Meet the author, E. Ardell. 2. Without Curtains by Holly M. Campbell “Have you ever considered, Becca, that the Shadow was never a figment of your imagination?” Read the first two chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 3. New York Dolls by Catherine L. Hensley Amber needed her Dee-Dee, Josie needed to breathe again, and Chris wanted to hang out with me. My trip to Fashion Week—and likely with it, what I thought was my dream job—had ended, but my night out was just getting started. Read the first three chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 4. Fire of the Sea by Lyndsay Johnson My Call swept out in a current of brilliance. It soared out of my body and into his, lighting us both. Shielding wings of warmth enveloped us, carrying us away from danger. I felt the tugging grasp of the cold and claiming tide retreat further and further into the cry of the ocean. I sang and sang, a song to save. In the bright shine of a new beginning, I Called him back to me. Photo by Lyndsay Johnson Read the first two chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 5. Forewarned by Holly M. Campbell Everyone has been praising me for going after Claire and putting my own life in danger to save her, but maybe it was never heroism. Maybe it was simply stupidity. Because Bryce is right—I am being selfish. I am sacrificing this girl’s safety in order to protect my own. Official Release: April 26, 2016. Pre-Order Today! 6. Copper Reign by Angela Hartley After her parents passed, she had thought of little else, had yearned for the sweet oblivion only leaving this plane of existence would bring. But now she understood. Ending her life was the coward’s way out. Nina wanted to do more than die for Nate, she wanted to live. Suddenly, the girl plagued with insecurity and held captive by her eccentricity was gone. Standing taller, she accepted her legacy. Nina was Nephilim, a daughter to the angels, and there was no doubt in her mind that every living thing was precious. Photo by Angela Hartley Read the first two chapters! This novel is FREE with Amazon’s #KindleUnlimited! Start reading! 7. The Duchess Quest by C.K. Brooke Oh, but he shall fall, the man realized, softly brushing his thumb against her wast as he held her. He already had. Read the first four chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 8. Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti Abby was nervous, but refused to believe that she would fail. She wanted to fly through the stars… Read the first two chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 9. Their Rigid Rules by Christina Thompson Seeing red marks around her neck, Stuart’s mind raced with murderous scenarios. He was pretty sure Joe would be his accomplice. While they waited for an ambulance, he monitored her pulse and breathing. He gently whispered “I love you” in her ear. He was anything but serene. As he begged God to save her, he condemned those bastards to hell… Read the first two chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 10. On the Other Side by Nicole Aube Is this all there is to me? A shriveling, tiny girl, overwhelmed, captured in full by her fear? It can’t be. I won’t let it be. Photo by Nicole Aube Read the first two chapters! Available at: 48fourteen | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Barnes & Noble
The Typical Day in My Writing Life
My day of writing starts at night just before I go to bed. During that time, I plan the next day’s writing schedule. Will it be new projects, edits, blogs, or research? It’s also the best time for my storylines to reveal themselves. In the morning, I must have my coffee with Cinnabon creamer while I tend to the social media aspect of writing. I’m still learning how to promote. Then, in between laundry, menu prep, and other chores, I tackle my agenda set from the night before. This process keeps me focused, so I don’t get caught up in Supernatural rerun. Most of the time, I’m a step behind on the learning curve, but I’m all right with that. There’s less stress and frustration. However, I continually have to remind myself that I’m not in competition with anyone. Instead, I strive to make my best better. I’m not sure how other authors do it, but it seems to work for me. I’m happy. Are you a writer? What’s your day look like?
Deleted Scene: The Duchess Quest
When my debut novel, The Duchess Quest, was first completed, it clocked in at approximately 175,000 words. (In non-writer speak, that’s almost the length of 3 books.) In order to be publishable, months of editing – longer than it took to write the initial manuscript, in fact! – were required to whittle it down to about 90K. Countless chapters, even entire characters, were eliminated, most of which I no longer have. But one deleted scene almost made the final cut, until I decided to remove it for pacing. It’s short and subtle, but a favorite interaction of mine between Bos and Dainy. Sometimes I search for it, forgetting it’s not in the actual book. Published or not, in my mind, the following conversation took place. Enjoy! BOS THEY MADE CAMP IN A field that could have very well passed for the same one from the night before. Game and firewood were scarce, so they were bound to retire with growling stomachs again. However, being rather eager for their impending entry into Häffstrom and the promise of horses to carry their weary, travel-worn selves back to Omar Village, the others had found it difficult to sleep, instead taking to a rather childlike game of capturing fireflies. Selu was across the way with Macmillan, while Cosmith lounged on the ground, his head resting upon his hat as he watched them in amusement. But where was Eludaine? Bos wondered with a start, turning his head to seek the girl. He was ashamed to admit, but in his fascination with their new lady companion, he had become rather neglectful in his supervision of the young royal. There came a noisy rustling in the grass behind him, and Bos’s breathing steadied with relief to see the Duchess’s small shadow approaching him under the waning moonlight. “Bos,” she greeted. “May I have a word?” He inclined his great head. “Of course.” She wasted no time. “Look, I know you like Selu. But I don’t trust her.” Bos stiffened. The girl might’ve been a duchess, but she was still only that: a girl. She didn’t know of what she spoke. “You are wrong,” he told her plainly. “Seluna is not what she seems.” “Not what she seems?” repeated Eludaine. “She’s a bandit. And yet, perhaps simply because she is slender and appealing, you have allowed your better judgment to be dimmed by the charms of a thief.” “Let us not forget whose judgment was first dimmed by the charms of a thief,” Bos told her significantly. Silence stretched between them until he spoke again. “Seluna has told me her story. She has seen many sorrows, been wronged by the New Republic, as have we. It’s not her fault she was driven to such a life.” Clearly recognizing her inability to sway him, Eludaine huffed and made to depart, but Bos called out to her. She halted, her back to him. “Her actions may have been misguided,” said Bos, softening at the thought of the violet-haired woman. “But beneath it all,” he insisted, “her heart is good.” Eludaine was still. “Well then,” she said at last. “Perhaps the same can be said of Jon Cosmith.” ~ * ~ The Duchess Quest: Jordinia, Book 1 is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and 48fourteen.com.
Feed Your Book Obsession For Less!
From now until March 15th, feed your reading obsession for less with these books. On sale for only $0.99, exclusively on Amazon. ✔ YA Paranormal Romance ✔ YA Dystopian ✔ Romance & Fantasy ✔ Chick Lit ✔ Suspense COPPER REIGN by Angela Hartley Native American folklore meets demon rock stars in “Copper Reign,” a fast-paced urban paranormal romance. Fans of “Supernatural’s” heart-stopping storylines and “Lucifer’s” dark wit will fall in love with “Copper Reign.” Temptation is known by many names, and he’s coming for her. (Free with Kindle Unlimited.) THE DUCHESS QUEST by C.K. Brooke A lost duchess of a fantasy land was believed by all to be dead. When word leaks that the young woman is still alive, her uncle organizes a quest of diverse and headstrong men to seek her and compete for her marriage hand. Like “Anastasia” meets “The Princess Bride” – for grown-ups! (Sale price is $1.99.) ON THE OTHER SIDE by Nicole Aube Hilaria lives in the futuristic, flooded city of Orleans. Thing is, the whole place isn’t under water–only the Quarter. The other half, called the Ward, is totally dry, but with the Name Acquisition Program (NAP) in control, the only way to earn a life on dry land is to pass their super-secret, super-violent trial system. But, back to feisty and stubborn Hilaria: all she wants is to be a Ward, and her smoking hot best friend, Anthony, is along for the ride. When Hilaria meets Job–this gorgeous blue-eyed Ward who happens to hold an important secret about the NAP operation–she must choose: will she follow the boy who’s always held her heart, or will she give it away to another who may not be as innocent as he looks? Either way, the fate of her entire city rests in the balance, and in NAP’s dangerous game, one wrong choice may end up drowning them all. CHECKED by Jennifer Jamelli Callie spends countless hours staring at appliances to make sure they are really unplugged. She wastes obscene amounts of time checking for murderers in various corners of her house and entire sleepless nights performing pointless checking rituals. Then every spare minute is filled with inspecting doorknobs, chairs, floors, etc. for minuscule traces of germs. Oh, and she does all of this as she counts to three over and over again in her head. She does this every day. Without fail. Dr. Blake just doesn’t fit into her schedule. Until he does. Until Callie begins to trust him. Until she starts to need him. And want him. And… ROSE’S WILL by Denise DeSio Got family drama? Absent father? Narcissistic mother? Sibling rivalry? Secrets? Lies? Nutty aunts? Nosy neighbors? And…oh no! A…a…LESBIAN family member? Not to mention a missing will. Rose’s Will, has it all – and more! Compare notes author Denise DeSio. Maybe you’ll find that your family isn’t that crazy after all. CHEMICAL ATTRACTION by Christina Thompson FBI Agent Joe Roberts dates—a lot. He’s never had a steady girlfriend. He’s actually searching for his one. He wants that instant chemistry like his sisters have with their husbands. With anger in his heart, he’s ready to give up on that romantic notion. Then, he meets Madeline. After an abusive relationship, Dr. Madeline Pierce hides behind her nano-research. When she discovers a criminal network within her facility, she’s partnered with Joe. As she becomes bolder, she wants to trust his sweet words, but she wonders if he’s playing her like the men from her past. Joe and Madeline explore sinister scientific research and the intense chemistry of love and lust. (Free with Kindle Unlimited.)
I’m doing a live reading tonight!
I live in a place full of fabulous people who love local authors. There’s a fabulous author event at Juice N Java in Pacific Grove, California that happens every last Thursday of the month called “Curated Words”. A hand-selected crew of authors is handed time slots and a live mic. Yours truly got invited to read a selection from “The Fourth Piece”. My first thoughts were: Really me? But won’t people expect poetry? My second thoughts were: These people are trusting ME with a mic? Are they nuts? (My inner diva comes out. I swear microphones are like enchanted objects… or laced with sugar and caffeine that can be absorbed through the skin :D). But no, the hosts of the event want to shake things up and get more authors on deck reading genre fiction to keep it from being your typical “Open Mic”. They are also giving the authors a chance to network and are printing up programs with all of our information inside. I’m really excited. I’ve been practicing my selection, and I’m going to rock it out. (Some people might leave thinking I’m slightly schizophrenic, but come on. I’m a teen librarian, my breed is recognized and labeled by others in the library world as being wired and quirky. Who else would work with teens, hah!) Some of my library teens are coming out to show some support. Love those guys! So, hey, if you live in the Monterey County area and are free tonight at 7:30 pm, I’d love to meet you at Juice N Java in Pacific Grove. Here’s the FB invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/472124749645604/472958972895515/ And here’s the flyer! Take care! 😀
9 Swoon-Worthy Quotes
9 quotes from 48fourteen novels sure to make you swoon… WATCH THE VIDEO ON THE OTHER SIDE, by Nicole Aube At that moment, I knew I was done for. Loving someone is one thing, but feeling it flow, reciprocated, a current alive and buzzing between us, was something new altogether. THE RED PEARL, by C.K. Brooke “I think I already found my treasure… It’s been with me the whole time. You,Antonia Korelli, are worth more than a boatful of red pearls.” – Robin COPPER REIGN, by Angela Hartley “Well, I’m sorry if shoving half of my body into a freaking freezing reservoir and dragging your skinny ass out wasn’t enough of a declaration for you…” – Nate FOREWARNED, by Holly M. Campbell He says it as I’m closing the door. It clicks shut and I stand there, not sure I heard correctly. I love you. He said it. He said the “L” word…and I shut the door in his face. WITHOUT CURTAINS, by Holly M. Campbell If I walk away from this—whatever this turns out to be—I’ll regret it the rest of my life. FIRE OF THE SEA, by Lyndsay Johnson “I couldn’t have stayed away if I had wanted to. But why would I? You saved me by binding your life to mine. I’m here because of you.” – Gunnar NEW YORK DOLLS, by Catherine L. Hensley “I wasn’t expecting to ever see you again.” “And now I’m here,” he said. “And now you’re here.” “And kissing you.” THE DUCHESS INHERITANCE, by C.K. Brooke “I wake up with you each morning…thinking it impossible to love you any more than I already do… And I go to bed with you every night, proving myself wrong…” – Jon CHEMICAL ATTRACTION by Christina Thompson For the first time in his life, he felt a real connection with a woman. A link around his heart snapped; the chain fell away…
Curing Writers Block or maybe just sharing some pictures: you decide.
People who have followed my work over the years know I am a slow writer. Since I do the convention circuit, teach, and travel, I can only do one major project a year and I flip between writing science fiction novels and comics so for some fans they have to wait even longer for my next book in the Other Systems Universe, or my next horror comic or whatever it is they like. More to the point, my first drafts suck. No one should read them. The Maiden of Deception Pass overlooking Rosario Bay. The statue represents a Samish myth of a girl who married a man of the sea so her people would be fed. The story is supposed to be romantic, but it gives me the creeps. The statue is pretty cool though. But whatever my project, this time of year I always seem to get overwhelmed. The non-creative work butts up against the creative side as I’m trying to gather up stuff for the winter/spring conventions, and do taxes and figure out sales from last year. This feeling of being overwhelmed starts as a tiny scratch so subtle that I don’t even realize how low I’m feeling until I am eating way too much chocolate cake because I’m staring at a manuscript that makes no sense, but a few fans have already asked me when its coming. (BTW, no one has pressed in any negative way, these feelings are on me.) And I leave for another convention in a week. So it happened that on a stretch of two days of unseasonable mostly-cloudless skies and 60 degree weather, my husband mentioned he needed to work until 8:30 one night, I decided to take a day and unwind. So after I dropped my husband off at work in the morning, I packed up the dogs and headed up to Whidby Island for a long day of hiking. Since I am the only one with a driver’s license, I drove. The dogs shared the back seat. With good timing, its a little less than a two hour drive from Seattle. (North via I-5 then west on WA-20.) Deception Pass was so named because Capt. Vancouver thought he’d find a protected bay on the eastern side of the pass. He did not. Also tidewater rushing through the channel makes navigation difficult even today. We visited several different beaches throughout the day and hiked approximately seven miles. With the warm weather and slow pace, Rosie didn’t need to be carried once. She even ran around on the sand. Rosie and Tycho exploring aphrodisiac (to dogs) smells. Our first beach, we were completely alone to wander through the driftwood and pebbles. We climbed to the top of the headland overlooking Rosario Bay to enjoy a snack of cheese. We raced along a sandy spit where we saw four sealions swimming in the surf and up another headland where three does grazed on some grass. On the way home, we stopped for gas and corndogs. They split the inside of one, I ate the other. The dogs thought it was the best dinner ever! For someone who spent the day eating cheese and corndogs , afterwards I felt more balanced, more centered, more able to focus on both the non-creative and creative parts of my job. I also wondered why I let it go so long before I went out on a solo adventure. The last time I did the North to West Beach trail at Deception Pass, my companion complained that “beach hiking means we don’t have a goal.” I realized I hadn’t gone hiking alone for nearly a year. I needed two hours to talk out my manuscript and marketing problem to myself during the drive, then I needed time to hike at my pace which means watch gulls follow a crab boat, bird watching and letting Rosie dig in the sand and letting Tycho roll in some very smelly kelp which ended up having a dead bird in it. Kind of gross, but that’s what after-adventure baths are for. Anyway I feel better and more like myself again. If anyone is curious, I am sixty pages into the third book in the Other Systems Series. Below are some pictures: I hope you enjoy them. Also if you want to comment, how you get rid of writer’s/creative blocks? Or how do you make sure your needs are met?
You asked for it, and here it is: an EXCLUSIVE Orleans Exodus bonus scene!
So, I am currently drawing to a close my massive revisions to the Orleans Exodus book two, titled On the Brink. In it, my characters–Hilaria, Anthony, and Job–face many exhausting challenges, all of which take an extreme toll on me as their writer…because I feel what they feel as I live it with them. That being said, I’m not a romantic…AT ALL, but Hill and Job and Anthony have this weird love triangle thing going on, and **SPOILER ALERT** it’s kinda off the hook in OTB. Of course, I’m totally emotionally taxed now writing and rewriting all this, and with Valentine’s Day being, well, today, I thought it would be good to go back to my roots…or my characters’ roots really and write a little something new between two of them to give us all a little break from **SPOILER ALERT** the tragedy that is On the Brink. I put this to a vote on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and though the totals were close… a new scene between our two favorite love birds won out over a retelling of a scene from Job’s POV and a new one from Anthony’s perspective. Without further ado, here are Anthony and Hill in a new scene just for you who asked for it! “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way” An Orleans Exodus Bonus Hilaria I found a little note on my bed this morning, written in Anthony’s scrawling hand. It was there, atop my pillow, when I rolled over and the Quarter sunshine peaked through my window, the holes in our walls. I picked up the scrap of paper, waiting for my eyes to focus, and rather than fixating on the fact he had somehow snuck into my room again last night to leave it behind, I concentrated on deciphering his handwriting. Even working with him every day on reading and writing and everything else he never learned because of his upbringing, Anthony’s words were still broken and jumbled…but none of that took away from the sweetness of his message. Meet me at the old Two Sisters courtyard at dusk. Dress in something pretty…not that you aren’t always beautiful to me. Love you. –Anthony So, as I am standing now outside of the Court of Two Sisters—a restaurant on our list of places to explore but that we’ve never ventured into—on a gallery that once served as a balcony for a window on the second story, I wipe down the front of the dress I have on. Yes, a dress. It is the only article of clothing resembling anything feminine that I own, and it’s not me at all. A hand-me-down from my mama, Cleo, it’s a green, lacy thing, topped up with tiny sleeves that barely cover my arms and a hem line that touches well above my knees. I tug at the sleeves and the ruffles at the bottom, trying to cover my freckled shoulders and thighs, but it’s of no use. I’m showing more skin tonight that I have ever before in my life. I push a piece of hair behind my ear and take a deep breath. You’re doing this for Anthony, I think. You’ll do anything for him. Before I step through the window, I guarantee that my boat is tied to the wrought iron railing. Green water, made brighter by the sun setting, laps at the gallery posts, and my dinghy sways with the gentle waves. The motion calms me, and I push open the floor-to-ceiling window panes and step inside. “Anthony?” I call, but there’s no answer. I take a last look over my shoulder and wander through what must have been the attic of the old restaurant. Yellowed table cloths litter the space, and a turned-over table or two rest in each corner. My feet are bare, leaving naked footprints on the dusty floor, as I press onward to find Anthony. “Hello?” I whisper as I duck to move from the larger attic space into a smaller room just beyond. I cross the tiny room in just a few steps, and my head scrapes the ceiling above. I stoop when a final doorway comes into view, and past it, I see the distinct flickering of candlelight. When I pass over the last threshold, my breath is stolen from my chest by the sight before me. The room, with its worn planks on the walls and floor, is washed pink by the setting sun. The three windows are thrown open, their sheer curtains billowing inward on a soft breeze. Candles line the floor, the shelves built into the walls, and a table set with two chairs. In the middle of it all stands Anthony, dressed in clean black pants—as clean as he can get them—and a black shirt, gathered up at the elbows. He holds a bouquet of yellow and pink wildflowers out to me, a smile plastered on his face. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he says with a little chuckle at the end as if the idea of saying such a thing is ridiculous to him. “I wish I knew what that is,” I say back with a light laugh of my own. “It’s a holiday,” Anthony says taking a step towards me, “that I read about once.” I take a step forward, too. “How often do you do that—read without me, I mean?” “Not often,” Anthony admits, “but when I do, I always learning something I want to share with you.” “So….” I say, waving a hand around the room, “what is this Valentine’s Day?” Anthony’s face grows serious in the candlelight. “Give me a kiss, and I’ll tell you all my secrets.” Without hesitation, I leap into his arms, and our lips meet. He’s gentle at first, his hands wrapped around my waist, drawing me close, but after a few seconds, I can’t breathe, so I pull away and press my forehead to his. He presses a light kiss to my nose and exhales into my mouth, and I know once kiss isn’t enough to sate his hunger. “Thank you for this,” I laugh, “whatever it is.” “You’re very welcome, my lovely,” he says, letting me go. “Come. Sit, and I’ll tell you all about it. But food first.” Anthony and I take our seats at the table, and he lays the bouquet in front of me. Without a word, he brings out a can-opener—a handy staple for any Quarter kid who eats his meals from a can like most of us—and a can of…pineapple. Its metallic surface is dented on one side, but the label is bright yellow and orange, obnoxious really, and I say the word aloud to feel it roll off my tongue. “Pine…apple?” “Yes, pineapple,” he says mocking my tone. With little fanfare, he opens the can of fruit and pulls two forks from his back pocket. He hands one to me and moves his chair around the table so he’s as close to me as he can come while occupying the same space. The hand not holding his fork slips into mine, and we lock eyes. “Have you had it before?” Anthony asks and purses his lips, teasing me. “What?” I stutter when I realize my eyes have dropped to his mouth. “That?” Anthony says swinging his fork to the open can, a smiling dancing in his words. “Pine. Apple. Had. It. Before?” “No,” I say, clearing my throat. “What do you think it tastes like?” “It’s sweet,” Anthony murmurs against my ear. “Like you.” “If you don’t stop that,” I whisper, “we’ll never eat.” “I’m okay with that,” Anthony concedes, and I feel his lips tickle my neck. “Okay, okay, stop it!” I laugh and shove him away, but he doesn’t drop my hand. “Seriously. I want to try this pineapple of yours.” Anthony straightens his back and eyes me. “Fine. Reject me. I’m wounded, but you’re gonna love that stuff.” I lean forward and stab a piece of the fruit floating in its yellow juice. I raise it to my tongue and let it drip there before I take it into my mouth. Anthony is right; it is sweet. More tart than my mama’s rarely crafted desserts, and exotic, too. Somehow the pineapple’s flavor doesn’t match anything that you’d ever find in the Quarter today. Chewing, I relish the texture—crunchy yet soft—then, I swallow, and I feel the weight of Anthony’s eyes on me. “You like it?” he asks, eyes glittering. “Oh my god, yes,” I say. I snatch the can from the table. “You aren’t getting any. Sorry. Find your own.” Anthony tsk-tsks at me. “Now, Hill, that’s not fair. I set up the fancy dinner for you, and you hog all the food. What kind of girlfriend does that make you?” I stop, my hand frozen in the air, at the word girlfriend. Yes, Anthony and I have exchanged I love you more times than I can count because I think, on some level, we’ve always loved each other—saying it was only natural, a final stone set in place, solidifying the foundation of our relationship. But he’s never called me his…girlfriend before. “What did you just say?” I ask, dropping my fork to the table, the pineapple forgotten. “What?” Anthony teases, green eyes on fire. “Did you like that, Hill? Did you like being called my girlfriend?” I flex the fingers of my free hand over my thigh, fiddling with the hem of the dress. All of a sudden, it feels far too short, and I feel far too exposed. Anthony must see the panic on my face because he backpedals with care. “No, no, no, Hill,” Anthony says, cupping my face in his hands. “I don’t want to scare you away. Forget I said anything. You’re my friend—my very best friend who I happen to love like a mad man. I take it back. I swear. You’re not my girlfriend. You’re so much more than that. You’re my Hill.” I press my face into his hands and smile, just a little, to let him know I’m okay. “Boyfriend isn’t strong enough a word for what you are to me,” I explain to him, feeling tears burn at the edges of my vision. “I want to be your girlfriend so badly, Anthony, but moreover, I want to be your everything…because you are mine.” A wide grin spreads over Anthony’s face, and he runs his nose down the length of mine. “Say that again, Hill, please. I need to hear it.” “You’re my everything,” I whisper. “And you’re mine,” he whispers back. “Always and forever.” “How long do you think this’ll last between us?” I ask for the thousandth time. “Surrender Day is less than two months from now… and I can’t help but feeling like something is slipping away—” “Don’t think about tomorrow or the next day or the next,” Anthony orders with gentle persuasion. “Let’s think about here and now. You and me. Hill and Ant. The way life is supposed to be.” Anthony winds his hands into the hair at the nape of my neck and brings my mouth back to his. We kiss, and we kiss. We only come up for air when the wind comes through the windows and blows out most of the candles set against the sills and drapes an early evening dew over everything within…a damp blanket, wrapping us up and hiding us away yet, all the while, reminding us time must go on—with or without us. Before I can contemplate, once more, what Surrender Day means for us, a low grumbling escapes Anthony’s abdomen, and our eyes drop to his stomach. “Hungry much?” I laugh and pat his belly which is firm beneath my hand. “Of course,” Anthony says, eyes still lingering on my lips. “I’m always hungry when you’re around.” “Could you be more inappropriate?” I ask and let my gaze wander out the window, where the sun has set at last, and the moon is making its slow traipse up the purple expanse of sky beyond. “Is that a test, Hill?” Anthony asks, wagging his eyebrows up and down as I turn my eyes back to his. “Hardly,” I say and give his cheek a light slap. “By the way, you never told me what Valentine’s Day is.” Anthony rolls his eyes and picks up his fork. “It’s a stupid holiday from before NAP and the Wall…one when people sent chocolates to each other in heart-shaped boxes and bought lots of vases filled with flowers. There were balloons involved, too. It sounds hideous.” He stops, thinking for a moment. “And there were poems involved. Not my style of poetry, but stupid rhymes that offer nothing more than cheese.” “Tell me one,” I say. He clears his throat and levels his eyes on me. “‘Roses are red. Violets are blue. If you didn’t know, you’re stupid, but your hair is red, too.” “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I sigh. “Not in the slightest,” Anthony says, grinning. “Like I said, it sounds lame.” “So…why did you plan this?” I ask, waving my hand around the room again. “It got me alone with you. Didn’t it?” “I—” I begin to say; then, I change my mind. “You’re a genius. You know that? Manipulating me to visit you in a dark room, luring me in with candles, and flowers, and food… and kisses. Speaking of those….” “You want more?” Anthony asks, his voice low and alluring, his green eyes dark in the shadowy room. “Always,” I say. I lean towards him and slip my hands up his arms and wrap them around my waist. But he’s still holding his fork. Anthony joins me, bending to greet my awaiting lips, but then, he stops. He smiles against my cheek. “Woman, if we’re gonna keep this up, I need energy for all the kissing. Pass me the damn pineapple.” I laugh out loud, holding myself together, as he releases me. He snatches the food from the table. Over the rim of the can, he smirks, pulls out a piece of fruit, and almost swallows it whole. “You are completely ridiculous, Anthony.” “You know it,” he says before popping another piece of pineapple into his mouth. “And you wouldn’t have it any other way.” I meet his grin with one of my own, and I know he’s right. I wouldn’t trade this moment for the world…even the one NAP has to offer. …………………and there ya go, y’all! Hope you loved it as much as I loved writing it. It’s feels so good being among my friends, my characters, when they are happy. 🙂 Maybe I’m weird, but that’s how I work. Happy Valentine’s from me, Hilaria, and Anthony to YOU! Make it magical, but please, DO NOT touch the pineapple. I’m calling dibs. I’m out! Write on, Nicole P.S. Wanna read more about Hill and Ant and their adventures in the flooded Orleans Quarter…and the infamous Name Acquisition Program that rules them all? Check out the first book of the Orleans Exodus trilogy, On the Other Side now! The Kindle version is on sale for $.99 until tomorrow, 2/15!
“Big hey!” from new author, E. Ardell
Hey! My name’s E. Ardell (friends call me Ebs), and I’m excited to be here! I wrote my first story in the first grade and never stopped. Writing is life. I’m a Teen Librarian when I’m not writing. I love coming up with programs and interacting with that age group. They’re so fun. So, of course, I love to write YA and get their input on what they are currently reading and why. I’m nervous for them to read my stuff, but I guess I’ve got to get over that! This native Texan is ready to see her name on the cover of a book. I’ll dance, I’ll sing (I’m the karaoke queen) and probably wipe away a few tears. Great to meet you all!
Lance Hampton: A Happy Accident
Lance Hampton was an accident. When I finally sat down to write the first chapter of Foreshadowed, I had three main characters: Hope Murdoch, Bryce Nelson, and Claire Jones. I imagined a love triangle. Bryce liked Claire, Hope liked Bryce, and Claire was sort of oblivious to all of it. The premise of the story hangs on Hope’s death vision. She is murdered in the dark. I originally planned on Hope having the premonition. Yet I also wanted her to be a mind reader. So the question was, can she see death, too? I didn’t have all the answers when I started writing. While I believe in the power of brainstorming and outlining (especially when attempting a series), I also know from experience that writing is exploration. I don’t know how it works, but sometimes the only way to find the story is to write the story. So I started writing. I wrote the scene where Hope sits in Mr. Kimoto’s class, listening to the thoughts of those around her…. Never going to pass this class… …he can barely speak English, why are they letting him teach it?… …wax on, wax off… …need a gun… Lance was born. A troubled teen. Suicidal. Perhaps Hope could help him. Perhaps…. And then everything clicked. Lance is the one with death visions. He sees Hope die, and she sees it in his head. Even though my head is already pounding, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and focus on his thoughts, pushing everyone else’s back until they’re no more intrusive than an electric hum. …get sick if I see all the blood…don’t want to hang…what if I chicken out?…needs to be quick…quick, before they show up…maybe I could just jump off a building…none of the buildings here are tall enough…what is she doing? My eyes fly open to catch him watching me. Before I can reflect on how odd I must have looked with my eyes closed and my head tilted toward him, before it fully registers how sharply defined his cheekbones are, his green eyes meet mine, and everything goes dark. I’m in his head, seeing his thoughts. I can still see with my own eyes—I see his face, the worried, tortured expression in his eyes, but it’s all in the background. The scene unfolding in his head takes center stage. It’s not like the random flashes I usually get, and there are no words at all. It feels stronger than a daydream and plays like a scene from a movie. It’s pitch-black, but I can hear heavy, labored breathing. Someone is either in pain or very scared. Maybe both. There’s a clicking rhythm of high heels on a hard surface. Someone running away. Fear scurries across my skin as I realize it’s me. The person running away—the person in the dark—it’s me. I don’t know how I know. I just do. The darkness is overwhelming. There’s no hint of light. And the “me” in his head stops moving. Crying now—a helpless, hopeless whimper. There’s a sickening sound—I’m not sure exactly what it is—and the “me” in his head gasps before falling to the ground. I pull out of Lance’s head and blurt out, “What the hell was that?” without thinking. The unplanned love story evolved from there. His lips cut me off—and not with words. His movement is sudden. One moment, I’m talking and the next we’re kissing. His hands cup my face, his lips urgent against my own. It’s my first kiss…and it’s awkward. Not bad, just awkward. My lips sort of stumble, not sure what to do, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. He keeps kissing me, one of his hands sliding to the back of my head, his fingers threading through my hair. Chills tickle my neck and my body softens, melting into him. Lance Hampton began as an accident. Served as a plot device. And grew into an integral part of the story (and one of my favorite characters to write). Now, here he is, sharing cover space with Hope. What do you think? How does he compare to the Lance in your head?
Who knows how to plan a book release party? NOT ME! But I tried really, really hard.
So, I’m from a little town. I’m talking like “Can’t find it on a map ‘cuz it ain’t big enough to be listed” kinda of small. But, one thing my little town does–It’s called Poplarville, btw. Google it. If Google knows it exists, it MUST BE REAL.–is rally around its locals. When people found out I had a book coming out with 48fourteen, their first response was not, “Hey! Can I get a copy?” or “Hey! That’s totally cool!” /awkward pause/ It was more like, “Hey! Let’s all get together and eat… and hey… wait! You have a book coming out… Let’s talk about it, and eat during that, too!” I’m not writing all of this to make fun of my people. I’m saying this is what we do: we rally, we eat, we fangirl about anything and everything. And we do it with the utmost love. All this raises the question: how do you throw a book release party? (And accomodate the high demand for the “eating.”) 1.) Choose the locale: Scooter’s, Main Street Poplarville… It’s all vintage inside, a completely redone old store with bare wood floors and plaster-coated brick walls. 2.) Choose the theme: Kitchy-mod with a twist…inspired by both mine and Hilaria’s, my protag, love of all things old. 3.) Choose the goodies: book marks, adult coloring sheets, and other stufffffff 4.) Choose the food: (See note above on the importance of this.) Roast beef poboys and spinach artichoke flat-bread pizzas….well, because it’s good. 5.) Choose the shoes: because we all know the party’s success hinges upon THE SHOES. I’ll just leave this picture here for your fashionable viewing pleasure. Then we decorate, decorate, decorate. People arrive, stay, and have FUN, listening to NoLa street jazz, and just enjoy themselves, discussing all things On the Other Side related whilst stuffing their faces. I never intended for the party to become a signing, but I ran out of books before the night was over. I met lots of new faces; many came from a few hours away. I was bulldozed by students who’ve loved Hill from page one, and I got to tell her story to a whole host of new readers. Overall, I consider the “launch”/”release”/”debut” a huge success. It would not have been possible without my crew of doers, movers, shakers, and food prep engineers, and to them, I can’t say “thank you” enough. Honestly, I can’t say thank you enough to anybody who’s made me feel welcome, loved, and supported…. so thank you again! Now, enjoy these photos from the official On the Other Side release party courtesy of the ahhhmazing Gretchen Gegenheimer Photography! I have to tell you…if I learned anything from being photographed all night it’s that I make a host of stupid faces and have a wickedly awesome double chin. Seriously, it’s regal. I wind down your release party experience with what I shall hereafter refer to as “The Aube Awful Face Montage.” And I finish this awesome photography off with this little beauty… I really have no idea what’s going on here, but it’s too funny not to share. Ole much? That’s Elizabeth on the left and Anya on the right, two of my former students and precious darlings and biggest supporters! Anyway… that was the party! A huge shout out one more time to Gretchen Gegenheimer for offering her photography services… That is a woman of many talents! We even had a photo booth–obviously not pictured–but I have pics up on my Facebook if you want to check them out. (Stop by and like my page, too!) And a humongous shout out to Chemin Pitre at Scooter’s for providing the food, the facility, and the fantastic atmosphere! Okay, I’m out! If you’re super curious about the #teamanthony and #teamjob stuff, you gotta read the novel! (BTW: #teamanthony ALL DAY LONG right here, baby!) P.S. I am already planning my shoes for the On the Brink party, coming your way late 2016! Write on, Nicole
Top Steamy Kisses
Remember your first kiss? Did the longing for your love make that moment, when your lips first touched, passionately explosive? A kiss can tell you he’s the one. A kiss can make the world fall away. A kiss can make you feel alive. And, because you appreciate book-boyfriends, you get to relive those first kisses endlessly. Here are TEN steamy kisses to linger on… HOT AND RAVENOUS Is Hillaria #TeamJob or #TeamAnthony? Really, does it matter? H.O.T.! “Though he’s calm, desperation, hot and ravenous, continues to waft from him, and it melts me. I wrap my hands around the curve of his neck and pull his face down to mine. His hands knot in the curls at the nape of my neck, and this time, I choose him. When NAP wanted me to stay away, I kiss him, and nothing stops me.” ON THE OTHER SIDE, BY NICOLE AUBE THE UNEXPECTED KISS When desire takes over, there is no stopping… Unexpectedly, she grabbed him by the collar and pushed him up against her door, kissing him vehemently, her hands racing down his chest, her body entwined with his, while Cosmith reciprocated with equal enthusiasm. Neither spoke, communicating only with their roaming hands, their intimate embrace, their interlocked lips, until the man could bear it no longer. “I must have you now,” he murmured, proceeding to plant fierce kisses repeatedly down her throat. THE DUCHESS QUEST, BY C.K. BROOKE SWEET EVIL TEMPTATION Sometimes, bad can be oh, so good… Nina tasted his wild spiciness and knew that once would never be enough as a tiny moan escaped her lips. This had been a mistake. But still, Sinclair possessed her mouth, recklessly pushing the limits as he pressed Nina against the wall. Molding his overpowering shape to her liquid form, he demanded a response. Her treacherous body didn’t disappoint him. Suddenly, Nina was carelessly kissing Sinclair back, pursuing an equal reaction. COPPER REIGN, BY ANGELA HARTLEY THE JOLT When the touch of his lips nearly knocks you off balance… Chills tickle my neck and my body softens, melting into him. His tongue slides inside my mouth, just a little, and there’s a jolt of electricity deep inside me. I wrap my arms around his neck so I don’t fall over. FORESHADOWED, BY HOLLY M. CAMPBELL WELCOME DISTRACTION The kiss that can make you forget your impending death…even if just for a moment… …his mouth moves down my neck and then back up to just under my chin. His kisses are firm, almost painful, and such a welcome distraction I can do no more than moan with want and pleasure. FOREWARNED, BY HOLLY M. CAMPBELL (Coming Soon) THE FIRST KISS That moment, when you know you have found the one… Joe spun Madeline around and the song ended. As he dipped her low, her long brown hair brushed the floor. With his face a few inches from hers, she was panting. Lost in his vibrant green eyes, she lifted her head and kissed him. She barely touched his lips, but the nerve endings in hers sent an electrical shock throughout her body. A wave of heat followed. Her body lit up with awareness as if a bolt of lightning shot out from her toes… CHEMICAL ATTRACTION, BY CHRISTINA THOMPSON MEANT TO BE The first kiss may be good, but the second? (*Sighs*) Maybe it was meant to be. Maybe we were just two people who showed up to the right place at the right time. I don’t remember what time he left that night, or the next morning. The second kiss, though, was even sweeter than the first. NEW YORK DOLLS, BY CATHERINE L. HENSLEY TINGLING SENSATIONS The longer you wait, the hotter it gets… I sighed right before our lips touched, so they were parted when they met his. His other hand—the one that wasn’t at the back of my head—moved to my back, gripping the fabric of my shirt. The hem lifted just a few inches up my back and I could feel his forearm against my skin. An almost painful, yet wonderful tingling sensation swept through me. WITHOUT CURTAINS, BY HOLLY M. CAMPBELL AMBROSIA Oh, and it gets better… “In fact,” she hissed, seizing him by the back of the neck, “I’ll prove it to you.” With a tug, she pulled his mouth over hers and latched onto his lips, suckling them as though they were the gods’ ambrosia, and she a ravenous beggar. THE RED PEARL, BY C.K. BROOKE THE FEATHER-LIGHT KISS The feather-light kisses can be so intense! Staring into his smoldering blue eyes, Taylor held her breath. Stuart lowered his lips to hers. The warm feather-light kiss made her want to faint from the intensity. “I’ve wanted to do that for a while,” he whispered, cupping her face. Dazed, she gaped blankly at him… THEIR RIGID RULES, BY CHRISTINA THOMPSON WHEW! Muy Caliente! Take a deep, deep breath…and tell us, which kiss spiced up your life? Comment here or on our Facebook page (on the related post) for your chance to win a $5.00 Amazon gift card! One winner will be selected on Friday, January 22, 2015, and announced on the following day.
Matt & Eva’s Romance: the beginning
For all the fans of The Chemical Attraction Series who want more of Matt and Eva’s romance, here’s a snippet for the Holiday Season. And, of course, this short story wouldn’t be complete without Joe Roberts. Enjoy. The Beginning of Matt and Eva’s Romance by Christina Thompson Driving Eva’s piece of shit car (aka: her rusting Toyota Corolla), Joe Roberts gripped the steering wheel and concentrated on the snow-covered backroad. His beloved ’88 Lincoln Continental was still buried under two feet of snow at a Saginaw cabin. Joe couldn’t tell if the car shimmied from the uneven grate of the county snowplow on the dirt road or from Eva’s actual car. Growling, he slowed his pace even more. He glanced at Eva O’Sullivan next to him. He loved her like a sister ─ a pain-in-the-ass sister. This petite Irish spitfire with long auburn spiral curls had big opinions and you knew them whether you wanted to or not. Today, in her brown leather coat and thick Kelly green scarf, she quietly fidgeted with the matching green mittens on her lap. The Velcro from her wrist brace from her sprain last month stuck to a mitten. She absently ripped them apart shredding the yarn. “Why are you so uptight?” Joe asked. “Here’s your chance to be with Matt without the kid.” “I’m not uptight,” she replied with a scowl. She tugged on his black suitcoat. “What exactly did Peter text you?” She deflected and he let it go, for now. “He said to pack a go-bag for the weekend and meet him at the car pool parking area near US-131 in Martin.” “What about the suit?” she asked. “He told me to wear a black suit. I’m tall, dark, and extra handsome in it, but I had to buy this. And these new dress shoes pinch my feet,” he replied, sliding toward the stop sign. He blew out a breath as the car stopped just beyond the sign. Un-rattled, Eva continued. “Yeah, you’re a green-eyed hunk,” she replied with a smirk. “Why didn’t he say why?” He turned left onto another snow-covered road toward Allenton, Eva’s rugged new boyfriend Matt Connor, and his eight-year-old son, David. Joe, Eva, and Taylor had met Matt last month during Eva’s stint in the hospital after her body collided with a car. Joe still hadn’t gotten that image of her limp body flying through the air out of his head. She had since recovered from a dislocated hip, broken ankle, a sprained wrist, and a concussion. He had worried so much about Eva and Taylor during that mess Stuart Morgan created. “I don’t know why he said to wear it. When do I turn?” he demanded, suddenly irritated. “On Pine,” she said. “Maybe Peter finally likes you.” Joe snorted. “He likes me. I know you care about David. Make sure you’re serious about Matt though. You know what it was like to get attached to your mom’s boyfriends. I remember how disappointed you were when they disappeared after the breakups.” She winced. Her rarely seen vulnerability flashed across her mask of pristine makeup. She quickly hid her emotions. “Maybe Peter’s driving you to Quantico. You start training next week,” she replied. “Why wouldn’t he say that then?” Joe asked. “And seriously? Driving a long distance in a suit? Come on.” Last month, Joe had helped FBI Division Director Peter Bingaman catch Stuart’s stalker and protect Taylor. The director recommended him for the FBI Academy and offered him a job afterward. Grateful for the opportunity, Joe owed him. Without Peter’s letter, he wouldn’t have gotten into the academy. Joe’s father, a crooked cop/jailbird, almost doused his life’s dream. “Joey, focus! You missed the street,” Eva said. Joe backtracked and finally found Matt’s house, a plain well-kept country blue ranch with a two-car attached garage and a chain link fence in back half buried in the snow. In the neatly shoveled driveway, Matt’s old Bronco had been cleared of snow. Joe stopped beside it then blew out another breath. “Crap,” Eva said, searching her brown leather purse. “He gave me a key and I forgot it.” “Damn it, Eva. I’m not going back,” he replied. “Maybe he has one hidden somewhere.” She laughed. “Here,” she said, holding it out for him. “You’re the one who needs to lighten up.” He ripped it from her hand. She continued to laugh as he walked around the car to help her out. With a walking boot cast on her right foot, she handed him her purse and mittens then struggled to stand on her own. Stubborn as always, he thought. With a sigh, he grabbed her crutches and suitcase in the backseat filling his arms. Taking the crutches, she started hopping toward the front door. Matt had shoveled the walkway bare, too. Rock salt covered every cement surface. Matt was definitely a responsible guy. Joe chuckled as he followed her. Eva held out her hand for the key. “Just drop my purse and suitcase inside then you can leave,” she said, unlocking the door. “No way. What kind of brother would I be if I didn’t look around and make sure he’s not some psycho?” he asked. Inside, Eva turned and glared at him. “He’s a cop and a wonderful father who owns his own home.” “You need to lighten up. I was kidding except for the snooping part,” he said. In the living room, Joe set her suitcase, purse, and mangled mittens beside the worn yet comfortable looking sofa. Under one end table, he spotted a wicker basket with yarn and a partially crocheted blanket. “How domestic do you want to be with this guy? Crocheting? Really?” Joe said with a chuckle. “Aren’t you going to be late?” Eva replied. “Nope. I’ve got time,” he said, walking toward the kitchen on the right. The plain white kitchen had enough room for a square wooden table and four chairs. David’s school paintings on the refrigerator added the only color to the room. With a coffeemaker and a toaster on the otherwise bare countertop, Joe opened a cupboard to annoy Eva. “Joe, stop,” she said, leaning on the back of one of the chairs. “Do you want to get tied down with a kid?” he asked. Joe opened the fridge full of Tupperware containers. He pulled out the closest one with macaroni salad and quickly found a spoon in the drawer. After taking a huge bite, he moaned and held out a spoonful for Eva. “This is so good,” he mumbled with his mouthful. “I think his mom made it. His parents live across the street,” she said. She hopped to the lid on the counter then held it out for him to cover the bowl. Instead, he walked around the table making her hop after him. “Sounds like Everybody Loves Raymond,” he said, before taking another bite. “Have you talked to Taylor today?” she asked. “No,” he replied, taking the lid she thrust in his face. “She’s not my problem anymore.” He shoved the bowl with its lid back into the refrigerator. “Not your problem? She’s your family,” Eva said. “You know what I mean. She’s with Stuart now,” he said, leaving the kitchen. Heading down the hallway, he glanced in David’s dinosaur-themed bedroom then looked in the guest room next to David’s. Six boxes of toys and books set on the bed beside two police uniforms lying across an ironing board. “Do you want to talk about her?” she asked at his heels to keep him from snooping too thoroughly. “This place is void of a female touch. Are you gonna decorate right away or wait until you’re living here?” he countered. “Peter’s going to make you wear a suit everyday with the FBI,” she said. “Not if I can help it,” he replied. Before Joe could add another retort, he and Eva heard a bang then rattling from the basement. Joe whispered for Eva to go into the bathroom and lock the door. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head as Joe opened the basement door. The rattling vibrated the steps as Joe carefully descended. Eva hopped down behind him. Beside neatly packed boxes on metal shelves around the perimeter of the small clean basement, an old furnace shook. At closer inspection, Joe found a large wrench setting on the water heater and a slight dent in the furnace beside it. He banged the wrench into the dent and the rattling stopped. The heat popped on. Joe grinned. “Owning a home is easy. I’m a pro already,” he said. Eva snorted and hopped back up the stairs huffing as she went. When his cell rang, Joe checked the caller ID. He let Taylor’s call go to his voicemail. Eva watched him. “You need to work through your feelings for her,” Eva said. “And, on that note, I’m out of here,” he replied. She was right, but he wouldn’t openly admit it. Using her crutch, Eva poked him in the back stopping him. “I love you, Joey.” He gave her a brief hug. “Stay out of trouble although nothing ever happens in these farming towns.” ***** In the Allenton Police Station, Officer Matt Connor hung up his phone at his desk in the bull pen reception area. In the desk across from him, his redheaded partner, Bobby Callahan, finished the last of his paperwork before the start of the weekend. The two other desks next to theirs remained empty until the next shift started. Gone today, Mrs. Ford, the semi-retired receptionist, had a desk closer to Chief Grady Callahan’s tiny private office. They all hoped she’d make the move to full retirement soon. As sweet as she was, she couldn’t make a decent cup of coffee, always at the ends of the spectrum of watered down or extremely strong. They had offered to take over the responsibility but she considered coffee making a part of her job description. The hallway to the left of her desk led to an observation room, an interrogation room, a single jail cell, and a locker room, all small rooms. The station designed in the 50’s needed some updates … okay … an entire overhaul. After six weeks of rehab from a gunshot wound in the thigh and then another week of desk duty, Matt felt ready to get back into the mix. Partnered with Officer Zack Roach, Bobby had hated every second of it. Matt and Bobby would start Monday, the same day David would go back to school after his winter break. Matt liked the normalcy. Since meeting Eva last month, he realized how much he enjoyed change, too. In a metal chair beside him, eight-year-old David, with brown wavy locks, dumped out a bag of M&Ms onto Matt’s desk and separated them into two equal piles. As Matt closed a folder on a burglary, Chief Callahan stepped out of his office with two more folders. The burly chief slapped them on his son’s desk then walked away without a word. Their ballbuster boss enjoyed delegating his workload especially at quitting time. A taller bulkier version of his redheaded dad, Bobby frowned. “He must love my dedication to the job more than yours.” “Or it’s payback for your earlier argument in his office,” Matt suggested. “You heard that?” Bobby asked. David nodded. “The whole neighborhood heard it. Being chief would be cool.” “Then maybe you should be chief,” Bobby said. It was a touchy subject with the Callahan clan. David nodded and grinned. Bobby had gotten used to the idea of working extra hard for his dad. Close to retirement, his father wanted Bobby as his replacement to carry on the Callahan name in outstanding law enforcement. Bobby didn’t want the job and its responsibilities. Their horns locked on a daily basis. Zack Roach coveted the job as chief and didn’t care who he stepped on to get it. Matt would quit and move far away if Zack became chief. He had yet to hear a nice word come out of the jackass’s mouth. Luckily for Matt, Officer Roach had today off to attend a birthing class with his pregnant wife, Nichole. “Give me one. I still have some time. Besides, I’m your ride,” Matt said. With a nod of thanks, Bobby handed him a folder. David popped an M&M into his mouth giving him two equal piles. “I don’t want to go to Jimmy’s for a sleepover this weekend,” David said, pushing a pile toward Matt. He kicked his backpack away from his chair. Matt ate a red one. “We already talked about this. I’d like to spend some time alone with Eva.” “To kiss?” David asked. Bobby looked up from his file and waited for the answer, too. “Yes,” Matt replied, pointing Bobby back to his paperwork. “You’ve kissed her in front of me before. I won’t look this time,” David said, before putting four M&Ms into his mouth. Bobby coughed back a laugh. “David,” Matt said with a firm tone. David slid the rest of his pile into his hand then opened his mouth wide. He catapulted his handful inside. Three missed and slid across the floor. Matt raised an eyebrow. Sending the metal chair grating across the linoleum, David quickly chased them down. “So more than kissing,” David stated, dropping the dirty M&Ms in the trash. Bobby looked as if he concentrated on his work, but his ears seemed to stick out wider than usual. “Yes,” Matt replied with a sigh. He’d always been honest with David. Although lately, ending the conversation with Because I said so wasn’t cutting it like it used to. “Kissing her in bed?” David asked, plopping back onto the chair. Matt set his pen down and ignored Bobby’s snort. “Have you been watching Grandma’s soaps again?” David grinned with melted chocolate covering his front teeth. An hour later, Matt drove one of the two city cruisers. With David in the backseat, he dropped Bobby off at his apartment then headed for Jimmy Ready’s house a mile outside town. It felt great to actually drive again and not rely on others to chauffeur him around. His leg ached but thinking about Eva kept any major pain away. Turning into the long unplowed driveway to the Ready’s farmhouse, Matt gunned it. Nothing was going to stop his romantic weekend with Eva. As Matt walked with David to the door, he lectured one last time. “No feigning sick and no causing trouble. Eva and I will pick you up Sunday morning.” “Fine, but I get to hog her all day Sunday,” David said, knocking on the door. Deal,” he replied. In a red cardigan sweater and skinny jeans, Kathy Ready opened the door. David quickly slipped through the crack. Kathy’s long red manicured nails rested on the door and showed no signs of working on a farm. She usually glammed up in the farm’s winter off season. “Don’t worry about David. We have a few fun distractions for the boys this weekend. Enjoy your peace and quiet,” she said with a wink. “Thank you. He has his cell just in case,” he said, before turning from the door. Did everyone in town know about his romantic weekend? He’d ring Bobby’s neck. The gossip that passed his partner’s lips equaled Matt’s mother, Gail Connor’s. After sliding out of the drive, he headed home. Having someone waiting for him gave him a thrill he hadn’t felt before. As he turned onto Pine Street, he saw his mother enter his house. Crap! He hadn’t told her about his weekend plans. David must have beaten him to it. He hit the garage door opener and parked in the empty space. The other spot housed his push lawnmower and the snow blower. As he entered the house through the mudroom next to the kitchen, he heard his mom yelling. “What in God’s name!” “Damn, damn, damn,” he muttered, tossing his uniform coat over the wooden chair next to his square kitchen table. Seeing his mother in the hallway, he quickly set his gun and belt on top of the refrigerator. Wondering where Eva was, he met his mother next to his bedroom doorway. With a tight curly poodle perm and newly colored chestnut brown hair, Gail frowned at him. “Matthew,” she demanded, “Who’s that naked woman in your bed? She wears too much makeup.” He leaned past his mother and saw Eva burying her face in his Navy blue comforter in the middle of his bed. Only her long red spiral curls showed. Damn, he liked seeing her in his bed. “Can you be more specific?” he asked. He grinned when Eva stiffened and glared at him. “Matthew, David could have seen this harlot,” Gail said. Matt’s amusement became annoyance as he clenched his jaw. “Don’t ever call her that again. Eva’s studying to be a doctor. I invited her here and I know David told you that. I just dropped him off at Jimmy’s for the weekend, which you are also aware. I warned you about dropping by unannounced. Give me your key.” She would not undermine this relationship. She opened her mouth but thought better of it. Dropping the key in his hand, she stormed out the front door. Dismissing his mother’s antics, he turned back to Eva. “Hello,” he said, leaning on the door jam. “You have a parade of women coming through here that you need more information?” Eva demanded. She reached over to retrieve her clothes on the nearby chair. “It’s sarcasm. I never wanted to take the time to date until you,” he replied. “You definitely made a lasting first impression with my mother.” She groaned and continued to put on her black leggings and pink bra under the covers. “God, I just wanted to surprise you,” she said. “Oh boy, did you. Why are you getting dressed?” he asked with a chuckle. “Seriously?” she said, slipping her bulky forest green sweater over her head. She struggled to put her ankle cast back on. “Did she kill the mood?” he asked. Eva left off her wrist brace and threw back his comforter. Matt joined her as she stood beside the bed. She groaned against his uniform shirt. He lifted her chin. Her makeup was tastefully done in shades of brown against her heart-shaped face. He liked her classy look. “How about dinner?” he asked, kissing her forehead. She smiled. “Allenton has a night life?” “Until 8 o’clock,” he replied, hugging her. Would she get bored with this kind of life? He hadn’t much to offer her. “I was hoping to show off my sexy girlfriend.” He touched her soft cheek with his thumb. “After meeting your mother, are you sure you want me to meet your town?” she asked. “Oh yeah, I can’t wait,” he replied, before kissing her lips. …to be continued…
Hilaria’s Universe Through Her Eyes & My Lens
So, as I’ve mentioned before, New Orleans is my second home. Something about the history of that city appeals to my old soul… almost like I’ve walked its streets before. I’ve had such a love affair with the city, particularly the Quarter, that when Hilaria’s story in On the Other Side started coming to me years ago, setting her flooded, dystopian world there was a no-brainer. And with Hurricane Katrina the final inspiration for her story, setting the novel in New Orleans was a two-fer! Not only did I get the rich history of the city I love most–I get the tumultuous recovery and sense of devastation it faced after Katrina. Is there a better making for a story? I. Think. Not. 😉 Anyway, I digress. Last weekend, I got the afternoon with my best buddy to just rewalk the route Hilaria takes in her boat everyday throughout the Quarter. Of course, I had my camera with me. You can’t go to NoLa without snapping a pic here and there–and because I see the world through my character’s eyes when I’m in what we shall heretofore call “Book Mode” (or as my momma calls it, “Manic–Lord, Nikkie! Slow down, I can’t keep up with you anymore! *grunt* *wheeze* *collapse* Remember, I’m an old lady!–Mode), I had to take some pictures. Many of the shots I’m going to share are edited to how Hilaria sees her world–a little artsy, a mighty bit skewed, and beneath layers and layers of decaying beauty. Hilaria and her BFF (and maybe more *hack*) Anthony spend most of their days in the St. Louis Cathedral. When Hilaria looks at the structure, which is falling to pieces in her world, she imagines the stories the walls could tell if they could speak of all that they’ve witnessed. Sometimes, when you’re really, really quiet, you can hear the building sigh. I’m not joking… That place breathes, and it’s the most awesomely wicked feeling in the universe. Most of the buildings in Hilaria’s Quarter are uninhabited, or when they are occupied, people live on the second floor–old galleries now repurposed as front stoops because the Flood has consumed the first floors. Her world is grey and sepia, but there are pops of colors everywhere–vines on a wall, a creaky old shutter, a forgotten advertisement on ancient plaster. When Hilaria looks at the decay, she sees more than waste; she sees art: life continuing on in spite of the odds. Of course, we can’t talk about NoLa without mentioning jazz and street bands. I played sax over a decade… and good jazz is my weakness… so maybe…. yeah, this one is for ME. 😉 And now, for the grand finale…! To see the Cathedral every morning would leave me speechless, and my girl, Hilaria, does! ((I’m totally jelly. Like, seriously. And me speechless is like a sign of the apocalypse. When it happens, pigs will fly; hell will hath frozen over, ya’ll….! Dude. That means our world would be a dystopia, like in a YA novel. I’d be LIVING IN A BOOK! …Would I be the good guy or the bad guy…? Bad guy, most definitely. Too fun not to be! What about you? (Anyway, what was I was talking about… Oh, Hilaria! RIGHT.)) When she steps out onto her stoop, into her boat, just a little look to the left brings this into her focus. Without question, her view is a little more colorful, but caught in B&W, the Cathedral is swoon-worthy. 🙂 Hill’s world may be falling apart around her (both literally and metaphorically) in On the Other Side, but at least, the view down is gorgeous, right? Not even the Name Acquisition Program–the government of Orleans that may or *ahem* may not be out to get them all–can take this away from her. Remember: On the Other Side releases this THURSDAY, December 10! You can preorder it now for Kindle… ya know… if you’d like, too. 😉 Hope y’all l<3ve the photos! Welcome to Orleans, friends. May your stay bring out the best in you. NAP insists on it. Until next time, Nicole
Attending a convention in seven easy to follow tips
The most common question I get from authors and fans alike is: so what’s a convention like anyway? Your convention experience depends on what you do and enjoy. There’s always differences due to size, regional laws, convention’s focus, and like/dislikes of the organizers. Everyone does things a little differently, so I wrote these tips for anyone thinking about going to a convention. Many conventions will have: Art show, Artist Alley, or Artist Demo Exhibit Hall/Dealer’s Room Panels, Workshops, Readings, and other programming Hospitality suite (A place to relax often with snacks 🙂 ) Cosplay and Costuming Gaming Music: Sometimes known as Filk Media Guests: Actors and Directors Visiting Pros of the convention’s focus My favorite: Movie Screenings. There’s usually at least an attempt to mix classic, obscure to the new. However, unless it’s a big convention, do not expect a big budget movies. Expect weird indie shorts and full length movies you have never seen before: I love them. At Night, there’s even more stuff This is the Thursday room party board at Sasquan Room parties Bid parties (Some conventions move to a different location each year and groups bid for the next spot.) Offsite Events “Adult” Programing and rated R readings A masquerade or costume contest. And my second favorite: Star Parties and Astronomy Events Tip 1) Research the con you’re considering attending as much as you can. Tip 2) Don’t wait to get your badge. Many big conventions sell out early. Also there is generally an early registration discount or specials Tip 3) Check out the online schedule and figure out what you like to do. Look at flyers for other events not on the schedule And then go do it! Tip 4) Read the Rules: All cons have regulations to help make the convention run smoothly and be as fun as possible for everyone posted on their website and in their program. Look them over to understand what is expected. In addition to general conduct policies, they will have guidelines for cosplay, press, exhibitors, and others. I am not trying to scare you: generally they all can be summed up with do not do anything: illegal or dangerous to yourself or anyone else. Excessive or underage alcohol use, drug use, harassment, etc will result in getting booted from the convention. Note: If you have a safety or security concern, bring it to the convention’s operations center immediately. I have never seen a convention that didn’t care about the attendee first and foremost. Tip 5) Wear your badge and have ID at all times throughout the convention. People will notice if you are not wearing a badge. The other reason is to get into events. If you want to go to room parties you need your ID. Security will check, even if you are in your eighties. These cupcakes were at a publisher’s room party for a book release. So if you want them, bring your badge and ID Tip 6) Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Even if you go alone, don’t feel like you have to stay alone. Many science fiction and fantasy fans have often felt out of place, and are thrilled if someone approaches them. Ask people about their costumes or talk to them about a panel you both just attended. If you’re interested in an author, talk to them or ask questions at a panel. Here is my secret: most convention goers don’t realize I am shy, and can be completely socially awkward. (Though I have written enough socially awkward characters that they might realize it by now.) Around age 28, I decided it was time to be the author and person I wanted to be. So I read A LOT of Miss Manners to figure out how to talk to people and make friends in uncomfortable situations. I still make mistakes, but overall, this served me well. Tip 7) Take care of yourself. Sometimes you get so busy, you don’t realize the time slipping away so make sure to get a few hours sleep, a shower, and a few healthy meals during the weekend. And one more for free: Have fun!
Let’s Talk About SEX
“Gods, Annie,” he gasped, as she dug her fingers through his hair, soaking his neck with repeated kisses. “You look so damn ravishing in these trousers.” “Perhaps,” she moaned, writhing against him, “you can determine whether I look better out of them.” His pulse lolloped. “Are you serious?” She tugged on his collar, bringing his nose to hers. “I seriously want you.” -The Red Pearl by C.K. Brooke, Chapter 31 Let’s talk about sex, baby… Seriously, though. Sex in books. It’s IT right now. Fifty Shades launched the billionaire BDSM fantasies of a million moms, and now erotic romance has moved from that sketchy section in the bookstore where I bought my first Cosmo Girl Kama Sutra and out onto the display tables. (…What, TMI?) If you browse the bestselling romances on Amazon, you will find everything from lewd doctor, lawyer and werewolf romps to dragon and dinosaur erotica. (Yes, I said dinosaur. Look up “Taken by the Triceratops” or “The Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay”. Both of which have outsold all of my novels combined. *Cough.*) Anyway, in the midst of this toasty new trend, what’s an adventure-romance writer, such as yours truly, to do? Do I amp up the heat and dedicate entire chapters to illicit sexytimes, or do I keep it sweet and gently shut the bedroom door in my readers’ faces? Either decision isn’t easy to make. I strive to write with integrity and class, but I also wish to capture my main couple’s passion and give readers what they want (what they really, really want). My ultimate decision brings me back to fall 2013. I was three quarters of the way through writing my debut novel, The Duchess Quest, and the heroine had just professed her love for the picaresque hero (or anti-hero). I hadn’t been planning on writing a novel with any sex – my parents were going to read it, after all. But the chemistry between the characters was so strong, and the tension so high after a book-long build-up, I discovered myself desperate for them to finally shag already. I got into bed that night, conflicted. Quietly, I leaned in and whispered to my husband, who had read my manuscript thus far: “Do you think sex would be out-of-place in my book?” He got that smile he always gets when I mention sex and answered, “Not at all. There’s been plenty of innuendo leading up to it… I think it would fit.” Having secured the only opinion that mattered to me at the time, the next evening, I set out to writing my very. First. Sex scene. (Okay, of my adult life. Obscene fan-fictions about the dudes from Lord of the Rings when I was fifteen don’t count.) It was a deeply personal and emotional experience, to unite these two people who were very real to me. I felt as though I was actually falling in love again – a little lightheaded and giddy, with no concept of needing food or sleep. I kept the prose mild and flowery, nothing graphic (no throbbing you-know-whats or glistening you-know-wheres). And of course, I had to insert a quote at the end that was a little ridiculous/funny, because I don’t like to take myself too seriously, and I love shattering tension with humor. The result was actually a bit of a longer scene than what’s published in The Duchess Quest today. Because in time, I learned that the less detail, the sexier. For me, at least. From there, the rest of the novel unfurled and was completed without any further bedroom chapters. While I was admittedly sheepish about showing it to my family, I was relieved when everyone waved a hand and insisted the sex wasn’t “bad” at all. (I did receive a gut-bustingly hilarious series of texts from my sister though, who confessed, “It was so intimate and I was so into it and then I was like…my sister wrote this.”) After that, I became much more comfortable writing sex scenes, and didn’t shy away in the sequel, The Duchess Inheritance. I went there more often with the main characters. But still, I didn’t use any anatomical terminology, showed no pink parts, and in the second half of the book they were married, so who cares? You can imagine my surprise when I started receiving comments from friends and family: “Gee, getting kinda racy, ain’t it?” “CAITY, good God!” And my top favorite from my BFF: “I’m going to rename this book Jon & Dainy F–k Around the World. Seriously, can you write a third novel of the Duchess just icing her v–?” I didn’t realize the sex had seemed so prominent in Book 2. At one point, my editor had even suggested, “We need more here,” so if anything, I was worried there wasn’t enough. And then, I began to panic. I had just finalized the edits on my third novel with 48fourteen, The Red Pearl, which contained my steamiest chapter yet. I warned my mom and Grandma: “There’s a chapter you’ll have to skip.” And I alerted my Aunt Sandi, too: “There’s sex.” (To which she responded bluntly, “Well, what would be the point of reading it if there wasn’t?”) Now, I’m no prude, but I strive to uphold some semblance of a good Christian household here, and this sex-writing thing was starting to perplex me. Exploring my characters’ passions is part of the joy of writing romance! So, I prayed about it. And it might’ve only been my imagination, but I thought I heard the answer: “Look, I want the authentic Caity. Don’t just use your talent for some watered-down version of you. Look at all the sex in the Bible!” So, I came to terms with my choice at that point. Sex isn’t bad; it’s in the Bible! And God (if you believe in one) created it for our pleasure. I’m not “sinning” by writing it. If executed tastefully, and with genuine love and respect between the characters engaging in the act, it’s a beautiful expression of the human experience. And that’s why we write, isn’t it? To impart beauty and meaning to the human experience, in all of its aspects. My mind more open, I allowed myself then to read some genre romances that weren’t afraid to go farther than I’ve ever gone in the love-writing department. They weren’t erotica books, but definitely named and described body parts in some heavy, extensive scenes. It was hot as hell, and I thought, “I should read more of this! And it would be so easy to write!” But then, even aside from the Catholic guilt settling in, I honestly began to feel – of all things – a sense of sadness. Like, I felt taken advantage of, as if someone was exploiting me for my sexuality. And I realized: No, no, no. I want to make people feel warm and lovesick and a little eager when they read my books, but I don’t want them feeling exploited or abused. And so there’s a fine line I’ve begun to walk, of presenting sexuality – when I choose to do so – in a heartfelt way that honors and respects the dignity of the act. That doesn’t mean some of my characters aren’t literal whores (or man-sluts), but I don’t write actual sex chapters about them unless it’s transformative and emotionally significant. Chapter 32 of The Red Pearl is the last overtly sexual scene I have written to date. The Wrong Prince (coming to 48fourteen Publishing in 2016) catches characters just after the act, or refers to memories past, but doesn’t contain any direct intercourse. Neither do my other manuscripts that were written after Pearl. Because I’m finding that, while it’s fine (and fun) to explore my characters’ sexuality, it isn’t always necessary. A brush of his hand over her fingers, a fond gaze into each other’s eyes amidst the face of danger, a yearning kiss just before the pair must part, can be equally sensual and arousing. And sometimes what’s left unsaid, or implied, is even more titillating than what’s made plain. All right, I’ve written my fill. Now I open the discussion. How do you like the heat level in your reading (or writing)? G-rated sweet, sensual to moderate, or are you a glutton for a super spice-fest? How do you feel about authors handling sexuality in their work? Let’s talk.
Part 3: How to be an awesome Panelist that conventions invite year after year!
So here is the third part of my series for authors who want to do conventions. Part 1 was all about the mental prep. Part 2 is about Physical Prep/Packing for a Weekend Convention. This part is about being a Panelist/Guest of the Convention/Visiting Pro or whatever the conventions call you. Here I am between panels in my magnificent Jacket of +2 Charisma and Bruce the Dragon at RustyCon 2014 Here are my top ten rules for being a good panelist. I will admit these all boil down to: Be Respectful! Be on time to your panels. Read the panel description and prepare some basic on-topic comments. If you are the moderator, MODERATE. That means make sure everyone has a chance to speak. If someone is quiet, bring them back into the conversation. If someone tries to take over, gently shut them down. “Well I see your viewpoint on that, what do you think, [Person who hasn’t gotten a word in]? A panel is not a monologue. Give all other panelists a chance to speak. If another panelist says something asinine, learn to kindly say, “Well I see your viewpoint on that, mine is X” (Notice a pattern.) Unless there is a serious issue, just go with the flow. If there is a major problem, tell the Programming coordinator immediately so he, she or zie can help you solve it. OR if there is nothing to be done, you can leave them a comment so maybe something can be done for next year. Remember conventions are run by volunteers who graciously donate their time and resources. Don’t take yourself too seriously, if you make a mistake, laugh it off or apologize which ever is appropriate. Enjoy the convention, but don’t get stinking drunk at room parties. (This is nothing against alcohol, this is about being prepared and knowing your limit. If you feel pressured, nobody but the bartender need know there is not vodka in your cranberry juice.) Be nice to the Greenroom staff and thank them for the food and hospitality. And finally: be gracious to your fans. They are the reason you are here! Did I miss anything? What other advice do authors have for would-be panelists?
What’s a Red Pearl? And 9 Other Things to Know About C.K. Brooke’s Next Adventure
The Red Pearl is finally here! What’s the least you need to know? Let me fill you in… 1. In a nutshell, what’s the story-line? Girl meets man, girl saves man’s life, man is…FURIOUS with her? The Red Pearl is an old-fashioned, action-packed love story about Antonia, a priestess-in-training who flees her temple only to get tangled up with Robin, a fiery adventurer on a harebrained treasure hunt. 2. Where does it take place? Rob and Annie live in a fantasy land called Innía, on the continent of Otlantica. Readers of my Jordinia novels (The Duchess Quest & The Duchess Inheritance) might recognize a few references, pegging this story in the same universe as Jordinia. 3. What’s the era? It takes place in a more modern era than my previous works. There are guns, for example, and an automobile prototype. Think turn of the 20th century. 4. Define the genre. It’s a streamlined romance. But it’s also an adventure, in the vein of “Indiana Jones” and “Romancing the Stone.” Sub-genre-wise, it classifies as fantasy (although without supernatural/paranormal elements). 5. What’s the heat level of the romance? Mostly mild…except for one chapter. Age seventeen and up, folks! 6. So, what exactly is the Red Pearl? It’s not a ship…or a Chinese restaurant…as some of my friends were wondering, LOL! It’s literally a pearl that’s red. You’ll learn in the book why it’s so valuable…and if it even truly exists. 😉 7. The Jordinia books oscillate between several characters’ points-of-view. Is Pearl set up the same way? No. In line with producing a more mainstream romance, this novel only focuses on two alternating POVs: that of the heroine, and that of the hero. 8. What inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to try my hand at more punctuated, traditional adventure-romance after reading my first paperback category romance novel and being perfectly delighted by it. 9. Is it part of a series? No, it’s a stand-alone. 10. Where can I get it? It’s now available in paperback and Kindle eBook format from Amazon and 48fourteen. The paperback is also available at Barnes & Noble. The NOOK and iTunes eBook editions will be available February 2016. Want to sample the first 3 chapters FREE? Start reading here! THE RED PEARL by C.K. Brooke (November 12, 2015) Full Book Description: Treasure lost…passion found? Antonia Korelli is on the run from her coven of priestesses. She never desired a life confined to the temple, relegated to chastity and service to the goddess, Azea. Instead, she longs for true love and adventure in the Kingdom of Elat. Robin Watkins is a fiery dreamer on a mission of his own: to uncover the legendary lost Red Pearl. Only, he must first regain his treasure map, which was stolen by his former best mate and conniving ex-girlfriend. When Antonia becomes unwittingly entangled with Rob, she’s more than dismayed to find herself stuck on his harebrained hunt. But somewhere amidst their bickering and banter, their plight for survival through desert and tropics, and the joint pursuit of impossible dreams, Antonia begins to realize that perhaps she might have found the unforgettable adventure – and romance – she was seeking.
Conventions Part 2: Dealer/Exhibitor Necessities
As I said last week, I started a series on working a conventions. I hope these are helpful for my author pals and aspiring authors. Part 1 was all about the mental prep. Part 2 is about Physical Prep/Packing for a Weekend Convention Inventory: I pack specifically for the convention. If it is a science fiction convention, I might grab a few more Other Systems. If it’s a comic con I’ll grab more artwork. I also always consider attendance. Finally: I set aside one book to get beat up for the season. Otherwise too many books get beat up. On the comics, I actually mark it “Display” with the novels, its easy just to stick it in the easel. (Attendance less than 10,000) 15 Other Systems +display copy 6-10 The Light Side of the Moon +display copy 10 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) + loose display copies 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 7-10 Copes of Lure +display copy 3 Sets of Faminelands +display copy 2-5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) (Attendance 10,000 – 50,000) 20 Other Systems 10 The Light Side of the Moon 20 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 10 Copes of Lure 5 Sets of Faminelands 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) (Attendance 50,000+ ECCC/Comicon) 35 Other Systems 20 The Light Side of the Moon 25 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1 10 Copes of Lure 5 Sets of Faminelands 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded) Why don’t I bring more? Because the more I drag around, the more likely it is to get damaged. Besides, the most I have ever sold of a single item at a conventions was 35 copies of Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye. That was at its release at ECCC 2008. Once I had more products, each product sells less. Also books are heavy. Airplanes only let you take so much luggage. Shipping is expensive. Gas is expensive. Signage/Banners I have one standing banner, one front of table banner and several two-sided 4×6 price signs made. Here is an example of my two sided place cards which I put in two-sided 4×6 photo frame that I got for $1 at IKEA. Back has the basic pitch for Booth Helpers. Front has price, show special, audience and gives people an idea what’s the book about. Marketing Giveaways: Excerpts, Bookmarks, Buttons, Etc. Display Stands: I set out everything in display stands before I leave so I can see how it looks. Sales Sheet, Cash Box and Credit Card Reader: I personally like to have $100 to open. 10 Five’s 50 One’s. Tablecloths and cover cloth: I use Queen Size Flat Bed sheets. They come in a wide variety of colors and wash well. At the end of the day, bring another sheet to cover inventory. Personal Emergency Kit: Band-Aids and Neosporin, Wet wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, Sanitary napkins, chapstick, nail glue, Zyrtec, Aspirin, and Tylenol, Dayquil, Elastic bands, Comb Office Supplies: Pens for signing books, Blue Painter’s tape, Scotch Tape, Large Binder Clips, 3 x 5 cards, 1″ price lables Foam Mat/Tiles: Convention Centers aren’t known for their thick padded carpets. Food: 1 liter of water per day A coffee beverage with 2 shots of espresso Bag of apple slices and or baby carrots/celery for snacks Bagel with cream cheese for breakfast Sandwich with meat for lunch I don’t leave my table for meals. I eat right there, grabbing bites when I can. Final note on Clothing: I wear my good jeans, a loose-fitting peasant blouse type top. Basically, my goal is to look casually business-like. I also bring a light sweater or hoodie, because the environment is constantly shifting from hot and cold as doors open, groups of people move around etc. On my feet: I wear hiking socks and comfortable MaryJane-style shoes. I personally like Clarks, but have also heard good things about Keens. If my knees start getting really sore, I switch to TEVAs for a little while. Yes, that does mean I am wearing sandals with socks, but no one can see my feet behind the table. Did I miss anything? Is there anything other authors like to have at conventions? Share in the comments!
Conventions Part 1: Mental Prep and Booth Etiquette
I’ve had a request for my links on these posts I wrote back in 2012, but when reading them, I decided to do an updated version series. I do A LOT of conventions–anywhere from 12 – 20 a year. I’ve done large cons such as WorldCon, Comic Con International, ECCC, On the smaller side, I’ve done Jet City Comic Show and Rusty Con. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll talk about running a booth, being on/moderating panels and other topics that I hope folks find useful. Part 1 will go over mental preparation of being a Dealer/Exhibitor. Next week, I will write out how to pack for as a Dealer/Exhibitor. Part 3 will focus on participating in and moderating panels. Part 4 will focus on being a good guest of the convention. While there is some overlap, I feel the different parts all have different rules. Here I am at 2015 Jet City Comic Show Part 1: First of all, until you have actually exhibited at a convention, you do not understand the stress factor. There is a major difference between attending a con and exhibiting at one. You are probably nervous, excited. You may have a variety of stomach upset. I do. It’s natural. But first things first…. Step 1: Fill out the form, pay the fee, and see if you get in. This happens six months to a year in advance. At major shows, you might get waitlisted, they might have a full list of exhibitors going in to it. So plan to do a variety of events in a year. Don’t plan your whole year around one event. Step 2: Prepare a basic PITCH for each title. Some people complain that having a pitch means I am selling. You are correct. I am selling my books. There is no purpose to spend anywhere from $100 up to $800 on a convention booth, if I’m not selling my books. However I consider the pitch a basic tool of informing the customer what the book is about. And it helps me because I know within fifteen seconds if they are interested in hearing more or not. Right now, the first thing out of my mouth is something like, “So I write comics and realistic sci-fi, what would you like to hear about?” OR “This is the adult side of the table, this is the All Ages Side, what would you like to hear about?” Notice, I’m letting the customer tell me what they want. If they say nothing and walk, then I didn’t waste anyone’s time. Then I start pitching. My pitch for Other Systems and The Light Side of the Moon goes like this: Set 1000 years in the future, we have discovered planetary colonization is extremely difficult. Our colony on planet Kipos needs more people. The Kiposians head back to Earth to get some. However they are shocked at the state of the homeworld and to protect their new paradise start passing horrible laws. Other Systems follows an Earthling to a promised utopia where she ends up being enslaved… (Normally the person knows the rest, and they’ll say something like: Utopians are never real.) If they continue to show interest: I say, “The Light Side of the Moon is the story of those who stayed behind. Inspired by Kipos, they restart Earth’s space program. The book follows a girl who follows rumors of good jobs to the moon. She ends up finding a prison colony.” Now I’ll let them lead me. Do they want to know more? Sometimes I talk about the main characters. Do they want to read the back cover copy? If so I let them. Know the price? Do they want to shout at me for writing a book with violence. Do they want to tell me that I suck? Or that I am great? Well, it all happens…And this leads me to step 3. Step 3: Prep for soul-crushing and uplifting comments. Prepare for positive and negative comments. I will never understand why anyone who has no interest in what I am doing approaches my booth, but they do. True Story: More than one snotty jerk has called my comic, Famine Lands completely redundant and derivative, because it is about elves. They haven’t read it. They don’t know. It sucks when I have to hear why my artwork is all wrong or I am no talent hack–but that’s part of the gig. When someone says something rude, have a few polite comments ready. My favorite reply: “Well, art is subjective, perhaps you might enjoy Wayfarer’s Moon. They do a fantasy comic which has highly detailed realistic artwork. Almost a European Style” Pick out another book/comic that the jerk might like. Usually I try to sell something one of my friends created. After all, this person is obviously not going to buy from me, but if I can help a friend get a sale, I will. Also and most important: it gets the jerk away from your table. On the bright side, prepare for people to love your work. Some of those folks can’t afford it, but will give you a nice complement anyway. Tell them to request it from the library. Some will probably purchase your work. When people give you a compliment learn to look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you, I really appreciate that.” Prepare for some fans to buy everything you write. I know I have superfans and yet I’m still surprised that they follow my work. Step 4: Find Help At most cons, you get 1-4 free badges for the con. Friends and family often assume that you get as many as you want. Be firm and clear with people. You can not just bring in random people. It gets expensive really fast. This is a retail job. You have to shove your shy author part of you deep down into your chest and lock them into a tiny jail and get ready to engage with people. And you want your minion to do that too. So choose your minion wisely. I tend to take my pals with retail experience or aspiring authors who want the experience. These are the people who understand if I send them out for coffee, they need to bring back a receipt, because I’m a f****** business. Step 5: Create some booth rules Your booth minions might think you are over the top by having booth rules. More than one of my friends backed out once they realized I looked at this as work. However I also have had plenty of people who were happy that I laid down a few ground rules. No Swearing. No Complaining. Always try to make eye contact and smile with the customers. Shake hands if appropriate. Learn the basic pitch for each book and my basic bio. When someone asks a question outside of basic info, they reply, “I don’t know, let me get Elizabeth.” Rules For the Author: Be nice to your minion. The ones that work hard are worth their weight in gold. I PAY for breakfast, lunch, coffee. I make cookies and bring lots of fruit to munch on. I also tell them to enjoy the convention and attend some panels that interest them. Step 6: Make a realistic sales goal. People have different equations to come up with a good sales goal. Here is a really basic one: The cost of the con (including travel expenses) X days the sales floor is open = sales goal. Hopefully your inventory is priced fairly enough to sell, but high enough for you to turn a profit, by using a basic formula for sales goal. Another formula is 5% of estimated attendance X the average cost of your product line. While I have a sales goal, generally I also try to look at it also as a marketing vehicle. In 2012, I handed out sample chapters of Other Systems. I need to hand out to prospective readers–not just every random passing stranger. While I hoped this would lead to sales, I found it actually led to people remembering the book at other conventions, which led to sales. Sometimes it’s about the long game. Step 7: Prep for on the spot interviews with bloggers More than once, I got an interview specifically I said yes and I am ready now. Have some stock answers about the kinds of writing/artwork you do. Inspirations. Basic bio. Practice with a mirror or with a webcam. Next week, I’ll discuss what to pack for a weekend convention…
Check out what our readers are saying about our novels!
“…mystery, humor, danger, intrigue, impending-doom — with a taste of a sweet and innocent romance on the side…”...Continue reading
“If you like fantasy, adventure, romance, or all of the above, don’t miss out on this treasure!”...Continue reading
“…hooked right from the beginning!…the mythological attention to detail is amazing…”...Continue reading