E-Books

So this 50 Shades of Grey craze continues to explode. My sister-in-law (who doesn’t have time to read in her busy life) is now carving out some precious minutes to read this trilogy. These books are EVERYWHERE! And of course this month is the release of the much-anticipated movie!

So I’m doing my usual surfing around this morning and what do I stumble upon? Several erotic books jumping into the waters and riding EL James’s wave of success. It’s not plagiarism. It’s commercialism. And if I could write fast enough (or had thought of it), I totally would be grabbing my bathing suit (though I didn’t say I’d actually put it on) and jumping into these waters as well. Doing a parody of someone else’s work seems to be “in”. I haven’t read anymore than the sample and the reviews of the following books, but I’m thinking of picking up the first. It looks hot … and rather amusing. Frankly, I’m thinking of buying it just for the cover art!
 
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tina6I’d like to welcome award-winning and bestselling author TINA DONAHUE.

Tina’s erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance novels have been published by Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. I’m pleased to welcome her here to The Block to give an enthusiastic shout out for her sexy new boxed set BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES which is available for $0.99 for a limited time.
Tina Donahue2
The Alpha male. Strong. In control. Letting no one and nothing rule him…until he meets the one, and all bets are off. The world tilts, the bed rocks, and suddenly that tough guy finds himself Brought to His Knees—in more ways than one.

This collection of ten hot to erotic novellas and one short erotic novel will take you on journeys of lust, love, and adventure, leave you breathless and quite possibly in need of a cold shower.

Enter with anticipation. Finish satisfied…

Dark Wolf Enterprises, A.M. Griffin ~ Murder, mayhem and imprinting with a hot wolf shifter… And they say being an accountant is boring.

Building Bridges, Amy Ruttan ~ A vet tech and a lone wolf rancher ride out a sudden storm, but can they weather the emotions they stir up in each other…

Three Strikes, Anya Richards ~ Two lonely men. One secret affair. Irresistible passion that will push them both to the breaking point, and beyond.

A Cowboy’s Seduction, Cynthia D’Alba ~ One exhausted cowboy + One uptight accountant x A tropical resort = A hot seduction. But who is seducing whom?

Born to Sin, Danica Avet ~ A tomboy in love makes a desperate attempt to seduce her best friend and succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. But this Alpha male isn’t easily tamed and has secrets that could very well tear them apart.

The Sound of Your Name, Felice Fox ~ Their silent erotic encounters change his luck and awaken his soul, but secrets and cowboy superstitions can only keep them apart.

Beneath the Pages, Jennifer Kacey ~ One wicked night with her did nothing but whet his appetite. Now he’ll settle for nothing less than her complete submission.

Cruising for Love, Lynne Silver ~ A vacation cruise comes with surprises—like the BDSM theme and her high school love, the one man she can’t resist.

Whipped, Sabrina York ~ A scalding attraction. An irresistible passion. A pity she’s the one woman he can never have…

Chief Sin, Sayde Grace ~ A taste of Sin isn’t enough. Instead she wants all of him, including the heart she once broke.

Make Me Surrender, Tina Donahue ~ When it comes to two of the hottest guys in town, she has a proposition…to win their attention, passion, hearts.

Tina DonahuePlease enjoy this excerpt from Tina’s sexy ménage novella, MAKE ME SURRENDER:

Travis slammed the pickup’s door and went around to the bed.

Mercy reached it just as he did. “Can you hand me the cooler?” She pointed to it.

She’d painted her nails the same shade as her lips. He recalled her finger in his mouth, how good the frosting and her skin had tasted. A sudden shock of heat spread from Travis’s belly to his crotch.

“There’s a fridge inside, right?” she asked.

It took him a moment to catch up. He nodded. “Your own private bath too.” Just in case she’d planned to use the one in Dutch’s cabin or his, driving both of them over the edge.

“Thanks.” She took the cooler from him and pulled out a single-wrapped Popsicle. Cherry-flavored. “Want one?”

Travis’s answer died in his throat at her tongue snaking around the tip of the pop. She worked the treat between her lips, in and out, as she would a man’s stiffened rod. Unable to speak, he shook his head.

Mercy licked the corners of her mouth, her tongue stained scarlet. “If you do later, go ahead and take as many as you want. Sure is hot today.”

His damn underwear was practically smoking.

After giving him another smile, she followed her girlfriend to the cabin. Like a lovesick puppy, Travis followed, staring at Mercy’s plush ass, the backs of her thighs. All that pale, smooth skin had him breathing hard.

She stopped. He couldn’t, at least not quickly enough, and bumped into her, his cock snuggled against her butt. Mercy looked over, submission in her eyes, a drop of Popsicle juice on her lower lip.

It glittered in the afternoon light, inviting him to taste its sweetness, the cushiony comfort of her mouth.

With a shitting lot of willpower, Travis stepped back, letting Mercy lick her lip before he did.

On a sigh, she turned from him and considered the cabin’s interior again. Bright and clean, smelling of disinfectant and Febreze. He and Dutch had worked on the damn place for hours.

“Wow. This is really nice.” Mercy touched the wooden bedframe, small kitchen set, and freshly washed curtains as though they were made of gold.

Travis wondered what she would think of his old place in one of San Francisco’s most exclusive high rises, or his parents’ many mansions. He’d willingly walked away from so much when she hadn’t had the choice. Rotten luck had caused her to be alone, to work at Fast Fill and here in order to take care of herself.

Mercy didn’t seem to mind or care about money at all. In that they were so alike, making Travis admire and like her even more.

She offered a grateful smile. “You did an awesome job.”

“Way better than Carl would have,” the girl with her gushed, then added, “I’m Jill by the way. Carl’s my guy. That’s his pickup you drove,” she said to Travis. “Thanks for not hitting anything with it.”

Dutch chuckled.

Mercy gave him and her friend a disapproving look. “Travis wasn’t driving that fast. He’s just in a hurry to get me moved in. Do you have plans later?” She spoke to him and Dutch. “Either of you? Am I interfering?”

Travis had thought about calling one of the women he knew, maybe grab a pizza, catch a movie, screw until they were both raw then call it a night. “Nope. Dutch probably does.”

“I don’t,” he said immediately, and smiled at Mercy. “We’re all yours.”

She nodded slowly and licked the length of her Popsicle.

Travis’s throat constricted. He cleared it and said, “After we bring in your things, we’ll set up the ground rules for this arrangement.” He gestured to Dutch. “Let’s go.”

When they reached the pickup’s bed, Dutch spoke quietly. “Ground rules? You mean her hours of work. What she’s supposed to do.”

“Yeah, along with you keeping your jeans zipped and wearing a damn shirt when she’s around.”

“Like you’re doing? Oh wait, you’re not.”

“I didn’t wrap my arm around her.”

“It was a friendly gesture. Hell, I do the same with my grandmother. It’s not a felony.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES is available for $0.99 for a limited time. Don’t miss out on this great collection. BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!!!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Smashwords

JustRomance.me Bloghops

Welcome! I’m so happy you’ve found your way here. If it was just by chance … well you’ve joined me on the right day because it’s Just Romance Me Earth Day Blog Hop weekend with all kinds of wonderful authors to check out and plenty of prizes to be won. (If you’re not on the “bus” just click HERE to start at the beginning.) One lucky hop participant will also be chosen at random to win a $75 gift card and a second will win a $25 gift card.

I love Earth Day. My first true experience celebrating happened on the mall in Washington. Mr. Nina and I were there by chance with our children (who were really young … so that’ll tell you how many years ago that was … I have grandchildren now!) and we got to take part in all kinds of activities. Now, I like to think earth day is every day!

So here are a few tips on protecting Mother Earth:

1. Think Green
Sometimes being eco-friendly is just thinking about something before you do it. Like refilling a mug at your local Starbucks instead of using a Styrofoam cup or packing your lunch in plastic washable containers rather than ziploc bags. I mean really … would you not want to enjoy a walk through a beautiful green field with your honey?

2. Conserve Water
Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. And of course you can take smarter showers by using low flow shower-heads. Better yet … bathe with a friend.
matthew_mcconaughey_01

3. Fuel Efficient Automobiles
A car that gets 20 miles to the gallon emits 50 tons of carbon dioxide over it’s life time. Double the gas mileage and cut down the amount of air pollution. Cutting your mileage by combining errands helps cut back on the consumption of fossil fuel and for more conservation … wrap your arms around someone and share a ride!

4. Save the Trees!
Use rags instead of paper towels for cleaning. Don’t print out every memo or email at work. When possible print on both sides of paper. (I actually save junk mail and print on the back of that.) Be sure to recycle used paper. And to save more trees of course you should buy E-BOOKS! All the benefits of a print book without any of the waste of paper! Sometimes being a tree-hugger can be a sensual experience!

So there you have it, my tips for earth day! Hope you enjoyed the photo illustrations. I know some people are visual learners. (Sorry, I can’t help you tactile learners! *vbg*) Let me know which suggestion you liked best or what little thing you do to help the environment that I didn’t mention … or just mention one of my ebooks you’ve enjoyed …

**** GIVE AWAY ****

Anyone commenting on this post between now and MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013 before noon EDT, will be eligible for a print copy of HEALER’S GARDEN and a $15 Amazon gift card. (Shipping to US residents only. An international winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card only.)

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I’d like to welcome Alexa Grace author of the of Deadly trilogy. I’m pleased you could make it today to share your stories.

Nina: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Alexa: My journey started in March 2011 when the Sr. Director of Training & Development position I’d held for thirteen years was eliminated. A door closed but another one opened. I finally had the time to pursue my dream of writing books–a childhood dream. My focus is now on writing riveting romantic suspense novels.

I earned two degrees from Indiana State University and currently live in Florida. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America National as well as the Florida Chapter.

The first two books in my Deadly series have consistently been listed on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Suspense Books. My newest book, Deadly Relations is now in the top 10 of Amazon’s Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Suspense Books.

I was recently named one of the top 100 Indie authors by Kindle Review. A chapter is devoted to me in the book Interviews with Indie Authors by C. Ridgway and T. Ridgway.

My writing support team includes five Miniature Schnauzers, three of which are rescues. As a writer, I am fueled by Starbucks lattes, chocolate and emails from readers. You can keep up with me on my website, facebook and twitter. You’re also welcome to check out and join my street team.

Nina: Please tell us about your newest book.
Alexa: Deadly Relations, the third book of the Deadly Trilogy, was published on September 21. Here is a brief description of the plot.

In Deadly Relations, a serial killer of young women hides in plain sight in a quiet county in the Midwest. Concealed behind a friendly and trustworthy face, no one knows he has a rage to kill he can’t control — until it’s too late.

Detective Jennifer Brennan, still haunted by her abduction five years before, devotes her life to serve and protect others. So when three young women go missing and are found murdered on her watch, she vows to find the killer — or die trying.

A personal relationship with her partner, Detective Blake Stone, would be career suicide. But the connection Jennifer has with him is nothing short of electric. Working with Blake daily and denying her attraction is hard. But when he moves in to protect her, resisting him becomes pure torture.

As they fight temptation, two detectives race against time to find the killer before he strikes again. It is the most important case of their careers. It could be their last.

Available from:
Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.
Smashwords

Nina: What can we expect from you in the future?
My next book Profile of Evil will be published in the spring of 2013. It is the first book of the Profile Trilogy. Here is a brief description of the plot.

Carly Stone is a brilliant FBI agent who’s seen more than her share of evil. Leaving the agency, she becomes a consultant for Indiana County Sheriff Brody Chase. He needs her help to catch a savage killer who is luring teenaged girls to their death in the handsome sheriff’s community.
The two are determined to stop a dangerous predator before he takes another life — at any cost.

Nina: How can we find out more about your books?
Alexa: Deadly Offerings, Deadly Deception and Deadly Relations are sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and more. Deadly Offerings is FREE on Amazon.

Please enjoy this EXCERPT from Deadly Relations:
Jennifer left the Sugar Creek Cafe, where she’d filled her thermos with hot coffee. She walked down Main Street toward the county sheriff’s building, where Catherine Thomas’s latest search efforts were being organized. March had been fickle thus far, alternating between unseasonably warm or frigid weather. Today, it was chilly, so she tightened the belt on her coat and lifted her collar as she walked against the wind that whipped her hair about, stinging her face and eyes. Though she’d never admit it, she was exhausted and had averaged around four hours of sleep per night since Catherine went missing. When she wasn’t in her car searching for Catherine, she was sitting in front of her computer using the methods Frankie had taught her to look for a missing person. Her cousin, Frankie, was a private investigator with an expertise in technology, and Jennifer had worked for Frankie prior to going to the Police Academy. But Frankie’s sure-fire methods hadn’t worked to find Catherine.

One look at the gray clouds overhead confirmed what the TV weather guy had said. There was a chance of rain today. At least, she hoped it was just rain. If the temperature dipped below thirty-two degrees, there was a good chance they’d get freezing rain, or what people called “black ice.” That made the roads treacherous to drive, let alone search for a missing person.

The majority of the businesses in the historic downtown area were located on Main Street for six blocks or more. Most of the buildings had been built a hundred or so years before. They’d been preserved by massive renovations and modernization as time went on.

The wind was playing havoc with Catherine Thomas’s missing posters, which peppered the trees and light posts. Lining the inside of nearly every shop or restaurant window was the poster for the world to see, with the silent prayer that someone would find her. Fred and Julie Thomas worked tirelessly to get the word out about Catherine’s disappearance.

Jennifer gritted her teeth as she thought about Catherine. She’d been abducted. Though there was no evidence, she was sure of it. Catherine had been taken against her will, just as Jennifer had been taken years before. The girl was looking forward to going to the police academy. She was not a runaway. There was no way Jennifer would believe Catherine left on her own volition. She had an ominous feeling that time had run out, and their chances of finding Catherine alive were nil. Catherine’s parents hadn’t lost hope of finding her alive, but Jennifer had. She knew the more time that elapsed, the less likely they would find Catherine alive. Like most detectives, Jennifer knew that time and again when they didn’t find the missing person within forty-eight hours, it was likely the person was dead.

It was Thursday and Catherine had been missing for five days — a time period painfully realized by every member of the county sheriff department. The staff took it personally. The sheriff, each of his officers, and all the admins wore a yellow arm band that matched the yellow ribbon tied around a huge oak tree in the Thomas’s front yard. People don’t go missing on their turf, on their watch.

So much time had elapsed that most of the sheriff’s team had lost hope that Catherine was alive, just as Jennifer had. The sense of loss made them more determined to find her body so they could focus on what happened to her. While there was a lot of information they’d gain by finding a dead body in terms of prosecuting a killer, there was a lot more satisfaction in finding the missing alive.

Fear ran rampant, as was evident by increased calls to the station. Paranoid citizens were reporting suspicious strangers, or strange noises outside their homes. High school girls, much to their distress, found themselves with early curfews and increased parental surveillance. Local restaurants were filled with anxious chatter about Catherine, and gossip ran rampant. People were angry, too, firing blame at the county sheriff’s office for not finding Catherine.

For the first time since Jennifer could remember, people were locking their doors at nights and leaving on their outside lights. The quiet street she lived on was usually dim at nightfall, with only a few street lamps to light the way. Since Catherine went missing, the street was flooded bright by house, porch, and garage lights.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reader question:  In Deadly Relations, three young women are abducted by a serial killer.  What is the most frightening thing that’s ever happened to you?

This is just a little bitty rant tirade story of a discouraged woman. (I hesitate to rehash my bad luck on Friday the 13th, but I’m feeling daring. So here goes …)

Last year, after thinking about it for a long while, I finally self-published a book. It was an easy decision for me. I had a three book series that had gone out of print at my original publisher and I didn’t see any reason not to self-publish. I’m very happy I did. I highly recommend it. (Seriously, even after you read this little tale of woe, I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything different with this series.)

But … (isn’t there always a but?) I really can’t seem to catch a break. *sigh*

The books were originally written as erotic suspense. They were basically my first attempt at writing erotic romance and I was still learning the craft of telling a sexually explicit love story. What I discovered is that they weren’t the right kind of story for erotic romance readers, but were too explicit for main stream contemporary romance readers. I rewrote them and toned down the sex and amped up the suspense.

In 2011 when I released BLIND HER WITH BLISS and DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE, I had my artist design sexy covers for them. Though they weren’t erotica, they were still on the “hot” side of romance. When they didn’t sell, I stepped back and reassessed. I had the covers redesigned, changed the titles (the ones they currently have) to reflect the suspense element and edited even more sex out of the books.

I was really pleased with the changes and set out marketing. In the fall of 2011 the third book CHEAT HER WITH CHARM was released, but still I couldn’t help people find my books. A sale in December popped the sales a little, but still not what I was hoping. I decided to offer the first book free in February. The downloads were going well, when Amazon decided to throw my book out of romantic suspense and contemporary romance into the erotic category. And the downloads came to a screeching halt. Readers that downloaded the book thinking it was erotic romance were very disappointed. It took me over a week to get Amazon to correct the problem. By the time Amazon had it back in the right categories the momentum had been lost and the number of downloads never did rebound.

Mid-April I made the mistake of taking it off free. Thinking sales would continue as they had, the sales went completely downhill.

I decided to make it free again at the beginning of June. But in Amazon’s infinite wisdom they price matched the wrong book. It took a week to get that straightened out. But now I have BLIND HER WITH BLISS free at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Sony and Diesel, but Amazon won’t price match. As a matter of fact they have now decided this book … that isn’t erotic romance … is too explicit to list in general searches by Amazon readers.

Try searching it. It’s gone.

Yes, my direct links work. But you can’t go to Amazon and search “Nina Pierce” and have it show up in my list of books. You can’t find it by searching the title. And now I am fighting with Amazon to convince them that the book is not explicit and should be listed and searchable.

I’m ringing my hands. What I’ve learned is that when this is all said and done I’m leaving it. No more messing with prices. No more trying to price match. Just sit back and let things percolate and let Amazon lose sight of me. In the meantime … anyone have any suggestions?

When a book is put up on Amazon, whether directly by a traditional publisher or an indie author, Amazon offers the opportunity to make the e-book “lendable”. Unless you choose the 70% royalty option and then it’s not an option … it’s required.

I’ve always thought this was a great idea. What better way for a new reader to find my books than to have someone “share” it, even from their kindle?

When I first published with a digital publisher, kindles were a mere twinkle in Amazon’s eye. A high majority of readers enjoyed their digital books on their laptops … e-books they received via email. Even back then authors were aware that legitimate readers forwarded files to friends and vice versa. Was it illegal? Of course. Did it stop them? Nope. And you know why? Because these friends generally went out and bought other books by that author. Thereby taking one sale and turning it into several. (I did hear from one author whose over-enthusiastic reader actually emailed an ebook to every person in her address book … oops. Okay, so that didn’t work out for that author. And therin was the problem. One file could be forwarded an unlimited number of times.)

Lending is a little different. And lending is not pirating. Let me repeat. Lending is very different from pirating. Pirating is uploading a book to a torrent site and making unlimited copies available to anyone for free. It is illegal and authors lose thousands of dollars a year to these thieves. (Though many argue that those frequenting pirate sites wouldn’t buy a book anyway. So it’s not really a sale lost. Either way, we’re not talking pirates today…)

Lending allows a reader to purchase a book and loan it ONCE to one person for 14 days. During the lending time the book is not available on the purchaser’s kindle. Again, this sounds like a great perk for kindle owners. As an author, I can only hope that the person borrowing the book will love it so much they’ll buy their own copy for their “keeper” shelf or perhaps buy another couple of my books.

The reason this particular program came to my attention last week is that there are now sites popping up like virtually libraries. A kindle reader can register at these sites and list books they have to “lend”. Or they can request a title to “borrow”. It’s still one purchase = one borrow, but much more global than immediate family or friends.

Some authors are feeling very noodgie about the this … others not so much.

What about you? As a reader do you borrow books from your friends? Have you found new authors this way? If you’re an author, how do you feel about the lending program? Of course I asked, I’m curious about stuff like this.

I’ve been writing erotic romance for about six years. I have lots of wonderful readers who enjoy my books. And though my family is very proud of all that I’ve accomplished, very few of them want to read my books. That’s fine. They aren’t for everyone. And up until the last year, most of my extended family didn’t even know the words kindle or nook. Now, many of them own one.

It’s only recently that authors have been able to take complete control of their publishing careers and self-publish their books. Many of the books on the NYT Bestseller list are now self-published e-books. But I’m not sure any of them are getting the buzz that 50 Shades of Grey is receiving. It seems every time I turn on the television someone is talking about this book. This erotic romance book with BDSM themes. Kelly Ripa was discussing it on her show. Ellen DeGeneres was sorta reading excerpts on her program.

The book world is on fire with chatter about this trilogy. And I keep wondering … why this book? Did the author, EL James, a television executive know some trick to marketing that the rest of us haven’t tried? I can’t say I’ve seen an interview of her, though I do understand she’s been on a couple of morning shows.

In the long run all this attention is helpful for all erotic romance authors … like me!

The media is terming her story “Mommy Porn” because so many mainstream romance readers are falling in love with Mr. Grey, Anastasia and their less-than-mainstream relationship. I’m not sure readers are happy with this catch phrase, but hey, why not? I’ll be the first to tell people I write smut. Of course I say it lovingly, knowing that my stories (like all good erotic romance books) aren’t just one sex scene loosely connected to another sex scene. There are flawed characters with real emotional problems all set within a plot that twists and turns and hopefully surprises my readers.

But I know, most of you stopping here already know that.

I don’t know about this particular book. Since reader reviews are all over the place on this one, I’m not sure if I want to plunk down part of my monthly book budget (don’t laugh, I can pretend I have one) just to see what all the buzz is about. But whether people like this book or not, there’s no arguing with the number of books flying off the virtual shelves. Which means these readers, many who are new to the erotic romance genre, may be looking for other sexy reads. That’s wonderful news for the rest of us working to market our books. Because the truth is, some of us are just trying to figure out what Ms. James did right to bring so much attention to her trilogy. I’d like to repeat her success.

What about you? Have you read this? Are you planning on checking it out? And if you have insight as to why this particular book has hit the big time, do share. You know me, I’m always curious about stuff like that.

Welcome everyone to my Earth Day celebration. I’m participating with all kinds of other authors in a weekend blog hop. We’re giving away a NOOK SIMPLE TOUCH loaded with all kinds of ebooks to one lucky participant who follows the whole tour bus between 4 am EDT FRIDAY, APRIL 20 through 4 pm EDT SUNDAY, APRIL 22.

Click HERE to join the beginning of the tour.

I love Earth Day. The first time I heard about it was in the mid-90’s. I travelled to Washington DC with my kids and they happened to have a whole celebration taking place on the mall. It was a lot of fun and very cool. I had always been an advocate of the earth, but that day really brought it home for me.

So what are some things you can do to protect the earth?

1. Think Green
Sometimes being eco-friendly is just thinking about something before you do it. Like refilling a mug at your local Starbucks instead of using a Styrofoam cup. Or packing your lunch in plastic washable containers rather than ziploc bags. I mean really … a picnic in a field with this guy sounds about right doesn’t it?

2. Conserve Water
Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. And of course you can take smarter showers by using low flow shower-heads. Better yet … shower with a friend.

3. Conserve Fuel
A car that gets 20 miles to the gallon emits 50 tons of carbon dioxide over it’s life time. Double the gas mileage and cut down the amount of air pollution. Cutting your mileage by combining errands helps cut back on the consumption of fossil fuel and for more conservation. At some point hybrid vehicles will be more affordable for all of us. Until then … wrap your arms around someone and share a ride!

4. Save the trees
Use rags instead of papertowels for cleaning. Don’t print out every memo or email at work. When possible print on both sides of paper. Be sure to recycle used paper. And to save more trees of course you should buy digital books! All the benefits of a print book without any of the waste of paper! Sometimes being a tree-hugger can be a sensual experience!

5. Throw Away Less Trash
And of course there’s the simplicity of recyling glass, cans, plastics and paper. Most towns have curbside recycling which makes the whole separating trash relatively painless.

And of course the best way to celebrate Earth Day is to go out and enjoy nature …

So there you have it, my tips for earth day! Hope you enjoyed the photo illustrations. I know some people are visual learners. (Sorry, I can’t help you tactile learners! 😉 )

If you leave me a comment and tell me which suggestion you liked the best or what little thing you do to protect Mother Earth. For every comment left on this post between now and SUNDAY, APRIL 22 at 4 pm EDT, I will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Foundation (up to $50). I’ll also choose one commenter to receive a print copy of Healer’s Garden (**NOTE: Shipping to US and Canada only. An international winner will receive a digital copy of Healer’s Garden and a $10 gift card from Amazon.)

I’d like to welcome my guest, romance author, Jill James. Take it away Jill …

I often get asked why I choose to write romance novels. Yes, we are the stepchild of the industry while being its biggest moneymaker. Yes, we are accused of being formuladic, while always guaranteeing our readers a happily-ever-after. Yes, we are misunderstood and miscategorized as Miss Mary Sunshines, while our stories can be deep, meaningful, and many-faceted. I choose to write and read romance for all of the above.

My mom gave me my first romance novel for my twefth birthday, a little green book titled Lily of the Valley to go with the Lily of the Valley perfume from Avon. I still have the book, the perfume is long gone. The story is rich and textured with misunderstandings, jealousy, and revenge. It is a story of a blinded perfume maker and the spinster he thinks he is rescueing and in the end she rescues him.

A few years later I read Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small and I knew I wanted to be a romance author. Her story of the many husbands and many adventures of Skye O’Malley made me want to put my own stories to paper. To actual paper, because when I started writing my own tales they were on a Royal typewriter. You know, the ones where one mistake meant you had to rewrite the whole page. No cut and paste. LOL

My first unfinished stories will never see the light of day. I did not know there were rules in writing, and I broke them all. My heroine was married, kidnapped, and fell in love with her kidnapper. To be truthful, he was being blackmailed by the heroine’s mother-in-law to kidnap her, so he wasn’t ALL bad.

For many years, I wrote in solitude until an amazing thing happened. I discovered RWA (Romance Writers of America) OMG! You mean there are thousands of women just like me? It was like dawn breaking.

With the enormous help of many fellow RWA members I was able to finally see my name on a book and say I was a published romance author.

I write romance because dreams really do come true.


Jill’s most recent release, Someone to Trust is the second book in her “Second Chances” series:

BLURB:
Evie Grimes doesn’t trust men. She’s been lied to and deceived too many times before. Happily single, the last thing she needs is a man.

Brady Jackson is a former Marine. Now a carpenter, he is as honest as the day is long. What you see is what you get.

When Brady falls for Evie he will have to prove he can be trusted with her heart. When danger arrives at her door he will have to prove he can be trusted to protect her. When everyone turns against him, he will have to prove he is someone to trust.

EXCERPT:
Chapter One
“Honey, it’s just a stupid business trip. You would be bored in Oregon.”

“Evie, sweetie. I love you, but you know you aren’t the smartest apple in the bunch.”

“Evie, where in the hell were you? You know you’re not allowed out after dark. Only
women out after dark are whores and sluts.”

Blinking her eyes in the dark bedroom, Evie Grimes shuddered and took deep, cleansing breaths. Her ex-husband wasn’t here. He hadn’t been in her life for five, long, peaceful years now. Her heartbeat slowed, calmed, returned to a normal pace.

She turned on her side, hitting her pillow to relieve the residual tension in her shoulders.
Cold sweat pooled between her breasts. Sighing, Evie glanced at the bedside clock. She refused to get up at four in the morning just because her sadistic ex-husband had invaded her dreams again.

A car’s headlights traveled along the ceiling and she missed the lake even more than usual. Life in the little town wasn’t hectic. But the lake was so peaceful it made the town seem like a metropolis. She needed peace and quiet more and more as the nightmares returned.

It was only a matter of time before the calls started up again and she’d be forced to change phone numbers yet again. A step closer to needing to find a new town again, praying it would be the last time.

Tears filled her eyes, rolling down the sides of her face and wetting her hair. He always
found her and she always had to move on. Her thoughts ran in circles like a merry-go-round.

She threw off the covers and swung her legs off the bed. Even at four in the morning, the mugginess the day would later carry already filled the air. She strode down the hallway in her T-shirt and panties, all she forced herself to wear in the dog days of August in the sweltering foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Her footsteps pitter-pattered down the oak flooring of the hallway. The beats of her still-racing heart pounded in her ears.

She flipped the switch on the wall and the kitchen flooded with light, banishing the not-yet dawn outside and the last dregs of her nightmare. Evie shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself.

Thoughts of Mark Trudeau still haunted her.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Cigarette hanging from her mouth, the ash long and dangling. Smoke circle her head as fingers peck out a rapid tattoo on the the old Royal. Papers balled and crumpled near the waste basket as her characters chatter incessently in her ear, but not loud enough to get it juuuuust right. And as the final pages add up on the corner of her desk, she renews her efforts to finish that manuscript and get it out to a publisher.

That’s how I picture my favorite author’s careers in the past. It was all about the writing. All about receiving that boxed manuscript from an editor with redlines and arrows indicating editing suggestions. Editors and publishers had time to put time and energy into a book, to groom the author and create an image and a marketing plan for her and her books.

Sadly, those days are gone.

An author no longer has the the luxury of just sitting down at her computer and pounding out a new best seller. There are so many hats she must wear. Writer, editor, marketing guru and in many cases, publisher.

Publishers now want to see manuscripts that have had the bulk of the editing done. Beta readers and critique groups are now working with an author to find unforgivable flaws with a hero no reader can love. They’re helping fill in those small plot line holes that an editor used to discover. If a manuscript hits an acquisition editors desk with any of those problems it will no doubt receive a form email rejection. If the author is fortunate, there will be some explanation as to why it was rejected, but often there isn’t time for an editor to explain in detail why a book “doesn’t fit”.

With the advent of digital books authors are no longer receiving advances. Advances meant an author was compensated up front for months of being bent over the keyboard. Without the advance, the author now depends only on royalties from sales to make her money. (I don’t even want to speculate my hourly rate of pay for the books I’ve written.) Without the backing of a marketing department from the good ‘ole days, it also means she has to go out and pound the pavement to let readers know she has a new book out there. Spending time on Facebook and Twitter shouting about her book, which equals time away from writing the next book.

Now, Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other venues, have made it possible for an author to actually publish her own book without going through an agent or publishing house. And as exciting as this has become for authors to have full control of their books, it’s also a heck of a lot of work. It becomes the responsibility of the author to find her editor and cover artist. To make sure the book is formatted correctly for all digital platforms. And as you can imagine, this means more time away from writing.

To keep up with this changing world many authors are hiring assistants who can help with the extraneous work load. Of course you need to have the sales to justify this expenditure. Ah hem, I so am not there … yet. And there are publicity companies who are hired by authors to go out and do some of the pavement pounding. But as a reader I find them very annoying and they become white noise in the thrum of all the book marketing. Since I delete these announcements from my email and ignore them on Facebook, I haven’t bothered with any of the companies.

I keep saying this year I’m going to figure this whole thing out. To set a schedule of some sort that not only allows time for all of these things AND writing. Of course before all that happens I do have to get my personal life to slow down juuuust a little.

As a reader do you see these changes effecting your buying habits or has it all happened in the background unnoticed by you? If your an author, are you happy with all the changes in publishing or would you like to go back to the days before digital books? Because you know me, I’m curious like that.

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