Blind Her With Bliss

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday where I post six sentences from one of my books. And keeping with my promise to keep up the heat, I’m sharing a sexy something from the first book in my romantic suspense series, (which is available FREE from Amazon) BLIND HER WITH BLISS.

“Everything I touch is sandpaper compared to the velvet heat of your skin against my fingers.” He trailed his hand down Julie’s limp arm, linking his fingers in hers. “Everything has lost its taste.” Damon sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, running his tongue along its satin heat before releasing it. “Except the sweet nectar of her kisses.”

“Who am I to deny a man so desperate for my attention?” she asked, pressing her hand against his bulging zipper and he bit back a groan of pleasure as what was left of his blood supply pooled in her fingers.

Also available FREE at Sony and Kobo.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Please click HERE to check out other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week.

Enjoy your week!

Welcome to this week’s Six Sentence Sunday where I choose six sexy sentences from one of my books. This week (since it’s recently gone free on Barnes & Noble) I’m offering a little something from my romantic suspense story, Blind Her With Bliss.

Her internal muscles surrounded him, taunted him to let go. And when he felt Julie arch and stiffen beneath him—her own climax moments away—Damon surrendered to the bliss. His world became narrowly focused on the woman writhing in pleasure beneath him. Fireworks of ecstasy exploded, filling every cell with the promise of what she’d become to him. “I love you, Julie.” The words slipped quietly from his lips even as the realization shook the very foundation of his life.

Also available FREE at Sony and Kobo.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Please click HERE to check out other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week.

Enjoy your week!

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?

Any of you who stop by my blog on a regular basis know I’m an over-achiever. I always have been. I blame it on being the middle child of five and my mother. (Aren’t all problems the mama’s fault?) Just kidding mom. I have no idea what drives me. I just know that when I decide to do something I learn everything I can about it and plunge in with both feet fully expecting to succeed! Failure is not an option. It’s not just a motto … it’s how I’m wired.

And so it was with the writing career I began 7 years ago. In anticipation of leaving my teaching job I took a “Writing Fiction” class at the local university. No sense going into something new without having the tools to do it right. (It would take me a whole year of writing to figure out I’d spent $400 on a class that wasn’t worth the cost of paper the syllabus was written on. But that’s a rant for another blog …) My point is, I was ready to buckle down and write! I had dollar signs in my eye. After all I wanted to replace my teaching salary.

I won’t repeat the road I’ve travelled since most of you already know so let’s fast forward.

After years of publishing books with traditional digital publishers, I was discouraged by my lack of sales. Regardless of what sub-genre of erotic romance I wrote or what marketing I tried, I just couldn’t seem to hit the same numbers as other successful authors with the same publisher. After watching the success of so many writers who went before me, I decided to self-publish three previously published books whose contracts had expired. (It will be a year at the end of the summer that the books will have been available.) I mean, the money is in self-publishing, right? Well, okay, not for everyone. I’ve been very open about my numbers. What’s worked for me and what hasn’t. I do this because I’m hearing so many authors making HUGE money. Like, win the lottery kind of money. In light of that, it’s hard to stand up and say “I finally got a check this month from B&N”. (Minimum payment $10.) That would be THIS post.

My sales have continued to grow as can be seen HERE and HERE. I credit the growth of my sales to offering the first book in my series BLIND HER WITH BLISS, free across all retailers in February and March. I stopped the free promotion at the beginning of April and sales plunged.

Just as I was trying to offer that first book free once again, Amazon made a mistake and price matched the second book, DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE at the beginning of June. For a week it was given away free. A huge advertising site picked up the promotion and before Amazon corrected the mistake 20,000 books were downloaded. (I would have been ecstatic if it were the first book as that was my plan, but if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck. LOL!) I also learned during all of this that Amazon has changed its terms of service. Even if it price matched in error you are NOT due royalties from lost sales. Bummed me out it took them 5 full days to find out they had made an error. Fortunately, when it came off free this time the book continued to sell (as you can see on Amazon). The sales at B&N on the other hand, haven’t been the same since BLIND was offered free. And I’ve figured out why my books aren’t selling through Sony … I discovered the first book in the series is completely missing in their listings and the book descriptions of the other two are missing on the book pages. (Lesson learned: periodically check book pages at all vendors to check price and book info.)

So here are the approximate sales for May & June:

Blind Her With Bliss: 140 books = $240.00
Deceive Her With Desire: (20,000 free) 160 books = $310
Cheat Her With Charm: 137 books = $265

Barnes & Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Distributed through Smashwords (so it can be offered free)
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $109
Chear Her With Charm: 39 books = $77

Smashwords (approximations since reporting is inconsistent here):
Apple: 186 books
B&N: 1187 (free and $.99 Blind Her With Bliss books)
Diesel: 12 books
Kobo: 43 books
Sony: 2 books
$700 across all venues

Self-publishing these books was a great decision for me. I don’t regret it at all. With formatting and uploading becoming more user-friendly it’s getting easier to publish direct. I don’t see any reason why an author wouldn’t want to include self-publishing in their marketing plan. My sales are steadily growing. And yes, self-publishing is a marathon. But this impatient over-achiever always wanted to be a sprinter even if it meant jumping a few hurdles.

Check back next month to see how my sales are going. If all goes well (and luck is on my side) Amazon will stop being so stubborn and finally price match all the other sites and the first book in my series will be offered free at all retailers boosting sales for the other two books.

Welcome to Six Sentence Sunday. I couldn’t find any good snippets involving Julie’s dad, so I thought I’d stick to my promise of bringing you a little heat for the summer. This week it’s Julie and Damon from BLIND HER WITH BLISS heating up the airwaves!

Julie dragged a nail through the dark whiskers along his jaw, thrilling in Damon’s quick inhalation. “Oh, you act the role of a playboy, but the heart of a gentle man hides in here.” She kissed the center of his chest, her body warming with the power of her seduction.

“Then it may shock you to learn I intended on having my way with you when we got up here. That phone call pulling Elvis away was his attempt to give me privacy.”

“No more than it would shock you to learn that’s what I’d hoped.”

Oh yeah, these two have the hots for one another. This book is also available at B&N

Thanks as always for stopping by and commenting on this week’s snippet. Click HERE to check out all authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week.

This self-publishing gig is tough. From hiring an editor and cover artist to deciding whether or not to format books yourself or hire a formatter. (I wouldn’t have thought that necessary until I saw the really pretty formats of some ebooks I’ve purchased. All lovely scroll work at chapter headings and figuring out how to put title and author name on each page of an ereader … but I digress.) You get the idea, there are a lot of decisions to make.

And one of the hardest decisions an author has to make is pricing.

That’s right. Pricing. There are a lot of articles being written on the $.99 phenomenon. This POST offers an hypothesis as to why returns go up when the price goes down. Many authors are also discouraged because they feel pushed into scandalously low prices for their books. It’s not so much about feeling bullied by readers’ expectations that cause me to experiment with pricing … it’s sales.

I’m in this business for readers to find and (hopefully) enjoy my books. I’m not interested in putting in all kinds of time creating characters and weaving stories only to have my books sit in the dark, lonely nether regions of the internet, never to be downloaded to an e-reading device. Nope. I want them out in the world running wild and playing with all kinds of new readers.

This is one pricing list I’ve seen and it makes so much sense:
$0.99 – Books less 10,000 words
$1.99 – Books 10,001 to 20,000 words
$2.99 – Books 20,001 to 50,000 words
$3.99 – Books 50,001 to 75,000 words
$4.99 – Books 75,001 to 100,000 words
$5.99 – Books 100,001 words to ???

Now this might not make sense for everyone or for every book, but it’s a nice starting point. So then the question comes in … Where does FREE fit into this equation? According to some … it shouldn’t. Offering free books gives readers expectations that if they wait long enough a book will eventually be offered free and they will never have to buy another book. I don’t completely agree with that theory. The fact is, any reader has always been able to feed their literary addiction with free (libraries and convention giveaways) and drastically discounted books (garage sales and library book overstocks). Why wouldn’t the savvy digital reader expect the same thing?

For me personally, offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series for free was the best thing I could have done for sales. In February I reported my self-publishing numbers BEFORE my book went free. In March, I updated my sales figures. Sales continued strong through April … UNTIL I took the first book off the FREE promotion.

As in, I went from selling 20 books a day across all venues to selling 2. (I do realize that early spring is a slow time in general for digital book sales, but I’m sure this isn’t just that flux.) I suspect it has more to do with offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS as a loss leader which is bringing readers to my books. By the end of this month I will be offering it free again. Probably permanently. Yes, I’ve had 11,500 free downloads, but I know authors who have had four times that many downloads in a 2 day FREE promotion. So there are still plenty of readers who haven’t gotten my books.

I won’t do this with all my self-published books. But when a reader emails to tell me that she loved the free book so much she bought the whole series AND three of my traditionally published books … well, that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Some argue that free may be good for the individual, but not good for the publishing industry as a whole. I’m not sure. I only know it’s working to build my readership and therefore it’s growing my business.

And in the spirit of full disclosure my APRIL sales:

Free Downloads: 1666
Blind Her With Bliss: 40 books = $39.88
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $110.31
Cheat Her With Charm: 38 books = $76.26
(Avg 35% drop in sales)

Barnes & Noble
Blind Her With Bliss: 177 books = $106.20 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 51 books = $98.94
Cheat Her With Charm: 36 = $69.84
(Avg 40% drop in sales)

The month of May is dismal. I’ve sold a total of 30 books at Barnes & Noble, 36 at Smashwords and 35 at Amazon. The numbers speak for themselves.

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday. In honor of mom’s everywhere I’m offering six sentences from Alice Tilling … the mom in my sexy romantic suspense Tilling Passions series. These six are from BLIND HER WITH BLISS. Alice’s husband, John has just gotten home from the hospital after suffering a heart attack.

“Leave the poor man alone, he isn’t on a restricted diet. Eat your salmon and salad and be happy,” Alice said in John’s ear as she settled at the table across from him. “Mashed potatoes, Damon?”

“You’re killing me, woman,” John said.

“No, quite the opposite. But if you don’t quit your belly aching, I may just serve you double helpings of corn with butter and clog those crotchety old arteries myself!”

This book is also available at Barnes & Noble.

Click HERE to visit other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week. And Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms!!

So, I was talking to a wonderful author who read BLIND HER WITH BLISS. She thought it was fast-paced and a great read. But … and this is very interesting…she needed some time to digest information. Time to understand the actions of the heroine after she’s made a decision to go in another direction. Huh, that totally makes sense.

I’ve had a bunch of readers tell me that a couple of my books end too quickly. That there needed to be a little more information after the climax and resolution. It brought me back to a wonderful workshop I heard suspense/thriller author Lisa Gardner give at a conference I attended. You need to give your reader a breather. Whether it’s a dynamic action scene or an intense sexual encounter, you need to slow down and let your reader digest new information, cogitate on the actions of your characters and get ready for the next scene that will carry them deeper into the conflict.

This is summarized by Dwight Swain as SCENE and SEQUEL. Yes, they’re both scenes within your chapters, but they have different jobs.

SCENE has three parts:
1. Goal – What your POV character desires most at the beginning of the scene. A character going after something they desperately need makes them interesting and makes them proactive in their own story. Readers will care about characters who are working hard toward their goals.
2. Conflict – The series of obstacles your POV character faces in reaching their goal. Your reader wants to see your characters struggle. It makes for a great and fast-paced read.
3. Disaster – Failure for your POV character to reach their goal. Hang your character off a cliff at the end of a scene and you guarantee your reader will be turning the page!

Since your scene ended with a disaster, your character needs to have time to recover. They’re not just going to run out and jump into another conflict. Give them and your readers a chance to settle down and get ready for the next big problem. This “in between” scene is called a sequel.

SEQUEL also has three parts:
1. Reaction – Show your POV character having a visceral reaction to the disaster. Give your reader time to empathize with your character. Hurt with them. Cry with them …care about them.
2. Dilemma – What choices does the POV character face in light of the disaster?
3. Decision – Your POV character makes a choice and decides to act on it. Your characters must be proactive in their own story or you will lose your readers.

This brings you back around to another goal scene. By letting your stories unfold this way, not only are you writing a story your readers can’t stop reading, you’ll be allowing them time to breathe and come down from intense emotions before once again throwing them off a cliff. And don’t ask me how long each of these need to be because the only answer I can offer is … as long as they need to be to do their *job*

What about you? Have you read a book that never gave you space or time to think? As a writer have you heard of this method of writing your scenes? Is it something you consciously do … or does it just come naturally as your story unfolds? Tell me. I’m always curious about this stuff.

FINALLY it’s here! The book trailer for the Tilling Passions series. Thanks to the very talented Lex Valentine who created this for me …

All three books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You know, it occurred to me I’ve never shouted out about my print book Dangerous Affairs. It’s a print anthology of BLIND HER WITH BLISS, DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE and CHEAT HER WITH CHARM.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite lines from these stories:

1. The loss of her best friend had ripped away a piece of her heart and Julie doubted the ache it left in its wake would ever subside.

2. Wind whistled past the tinted visor of Damon Corey’s helmet, but it couldn’t muffle the roar of the chrome dual exhaust. Noise equaled power, and at the moment, he had both.

3. If you’re looking for the person I was last night, well, you’re in for a big surprise. He’s as fake as Santa Claus.”
The tip of her tongue darted out to wet her full lips. “I still believe in Santa Claus.”
She would.

4. Until she understood how Damon, Jason and Elvis were connected—-and Julie did believe they all knew each other—-she would troll the waters of Damon’s sexual past with caution. No sense baiting a shark without the right equipment to catch him.

5. “I did a nice job? Me? You were the one sneaking up like some pirate looking for lost treasure.”
The woman had no idea how close to the truth she was.

6. “We’ll get the drug arrest straightened out, Dee. Don’t worry,” said Julie.
And just like that the family unit solidified as the Tilling clan circled the wagons.

7. “Too much vending machine coffee and not enough sleep.” He popped a couple of tablets. Yeah, not even close to the truth. The fact was, when the Jameson deal went down, there was no way Ayden was going to be able to walk away from the sexy redhead who’d crawled into his bed and wrapped herself around his heart.

8. Meghan Tilling’s body quaked with fear and the bone-chilling thirty-eight degrees of the cooler where she was trapped. She pressed her forehead against the icy metal of the door, her palm caressing its pebbled surface, trying to fight the panic lurking like a sinister shadow and threatening to overwhelm her in despair.

9. Peter had lied to Meghan about staying put in a hotel today. He’d lied to the guy at the rental counter at the airport about a family emergency just to get one of the last four wheel drive vehicles left in the lot. More importantly, he’d lied to himself that this whole damn catastrophe-waiting-to-happen wasn’t going to derail his relationship with his fiancée.

10. She wasn’t sure how it sounded, but Peter’s own embarrassment and hurt added to the confusion clouding their discussion. “I didn’t say that. I—”
“No, you didn’t say anything. Your expression says it all.”
“Peter, if it’s something you want to try, I’m willing to—”
“Forget it.” Peter held up his hands as if to shield himself from her judgment. “I just thought it might be fun to try something different.” He backed away from her. “You’re right. It’s not something normal couples do. Seriously, just forget I mentioned it.”

11. And though Peter loved his fiancée with a fierceness that clawed at his soul, lately even Meghan’s love couldn’t fill the growing chasm in his heart. He wanted it to. God, how he’d tried to ignore the gnawing in his gut–the cold emptiness that was sated only when Meghan was in his arms.

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