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I haven’t always hated December. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure as a kid I met it with new mittens and eager anticipation. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve decided I’ve come to dread this month of the year. Hands down. Least. Favorite. Month. Let me count the ways …

1. The fact that the days are shorter and shorter and even after the Winter Solstice, there aren’t enough days left in the month to see an appreciable difference in the sunset. And turning on all the lights at 3 pm is just plain depressing.

2. Winter arrives. ‘Nuf said.

3. Junk food EVERYWHERE! I know this should be a good thing, but I just don’t have the willpower to say “no”. It taunts me until I capitulate and enjoy its sinful calories.
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paper pilesI know this phenomenon isn’t unique to me. Well, at least I’m hoping it isn’t. I’m talking about the paper lying around my house in small mounds (which seem to breed in the night while I’m sleeping! I see that smile … you know exactly what I’m talking about).

I have a stack of paper from the new medical insurance. (That I tucked into an empty cupboard to get it out of the way.) Another stack that’s accumulating as I pull together information on the new boxed set I’m involved in.  And of course there’s all the information about the houses Mr. Nina and I are looking at as we try to figure out our next move and I’m adding that to the growing mound of paperwork I need to go through. There’s the receipts that will be used during tax time when we figure our “moving expenses”.  Switching over retirement accounts and all the new registration and license information for the cars and did I mention bills … yeah, well those are in this insanely high pile on the sideboard.
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iwdayala0240cSo I’ve been reading books since the beginning of time. My mother was one of those who went to the library every 10 days or so and signed out stacks of books. I remember going with her. She helped me pick out some of my favorite books that I still remember. And I’m one of those readers that gets totally involved in stories. To the extent that sometimes when someone speaks to me I’m not sure where I am. And if it’s a series … forget it, I could be lost for weeks somewhere in history or the future.

I love reading.
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Like many authors, I’m an avid reader, albeit a slow one. Mostly because I don’t allow myself the pleasure of reading until I’m settled in to bed for the night and I then read until my face falls into the pages. Sometimes an hour, but more often, about fifteen minutes. *g*

95% of what I read is romance, though I do try to mix up the genres. I’ve been on a real paranormal romance kick so I went and picked up several contemporary romances. And you know what … I could barely get through them.

Now don’t misunderstand me, the writing was stellar and the characters had great chemistry (in and out of the bedroom), but the problem for me is that nothing happened. Nothing blew up. No terrorist tried to end the world. No dragon flew in to breath fire on the town. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. Just two people falling in love. And quite frankly, I was bored. I skimmed whole chapters and (something an author hates to hear) skipped pages at a time. I think because I kept hoping something interesting would happen to grab my attention. In both cases I got to the end and happily shut the book and tucked it into my “give away” pile.

I do like television, but I don’t sit and watch very much of it. (Mostly because Mr. Nina is a channel surfer, flipping stations at random intervals and driving me insane And I refuse to go in the other room and run another television.) I do go to the movies and though I like an action flick now and again, I’m more the romantic comedy, sweet family entertainment kind of gal. And I mention this because I don’t have to have things moving quickly to keep me focused. I’m of that generation with a pretty good attention span which is why I found this whole phenomenon interesting.

I do think my taste runs more toward the mystery/suspense end of the romance spectrum. But I’ve read my fair share of traditional romance stories in the past and really enjoyed them. I’ll even read an historical and completely fall into the story. But contemporary? Meh. It doesn’t seem to sugar my cookies anymore.

What about you? Have your reading tastes changed? Am I the only one who’s thinking traditional romances don’t have the appeal they used to have?

Publishing has always been a difficult way to make a living. Not just sitting down and actually getting the words on paper (which is a blog in and of itself), but the competition of getting your finished story to the reader.

The whole process has been made easier in the last few years as the world of self-publishing opens a new realm for authors hoping to see their work in print (or at least in digital pixels).

The competition no longer lies in trying to catch the ear of an agent and ultimately the attention of a publisher. The problem for an author is now trying to rise above the din of other books being released daily in HUGE batches. I feel like a woman standing in the middle of the stock market floor shouting “me me me … I’m over here” only to be drowned out by others who jump higher and yell louder.

Like many authors, I go out in the twitterverse and tell people about my books. I mention them now and again on Facebook. I’ve even done a couple of ad campaigns. But like other authors, I don’t want to scare readers away by being in their face every day shouting BUY MY BOOK … IT’S REALLY GOOD! Yeeeeah, that so isn’t going to work. No one likes the hard sell.

So what’s left? Well, Amazon used to have catagory tags for our books. We used to be able to have people agree with them and have our books show up on category searches done by readers. But Amazon found out some people were (in their words) abusing the system. Authors (like me) were having “tagging parties” to get high numbers of agreements so their books show up higher in a search. Some people were putting big name authors in their set of tags so their books showed up when a reader searched those author’s books. In some cases, this was done by some readers who wanted other readers to find an unknown author (which is awesome). In some cases it was done by the author (not cool).

Tags were being abused by some by adding erotic tags to books that didn’t fit that category. Some authors found tags like “spam” or “delete” or “trash” in their lists.

I think Amazon got tired of the sheer number of valid complaints they were getting and have now completely dropped the tags associated with books (Note: turns out this is only on the US site). I think the only way to search for a book now is through the categories authors/publishers add when putting a book up on Amazon. I haven’t heard any backlash from readers, but I’m wondering if many have discovered they’re not getting the results from their Amazon searches. And perhaps readers didn’t really use this feature.

I also think Amazon used the tags (and likes at the top of a book page) in their algorithms to determine a book’s ranking on lists. (Pure speculation as no one knows for sure how the algorithms work.) And Amazon doesn’t like to think the rankings are manipulated in any way. Getting rid of tags stopped the possibility that authors could do anything to “play the system”.

There are rumors that Amazon is going to get rid of the reviews as well. I don’t know if that will happen, but I do know similar things are happening with reviews being used to bring down (or up) an author’s number of stars. Unfortunately not all reviews are legitimate. Again, I’m not sure how many readers use reviews to find a new author. But I wonder if readers are going to miss the reviews if they’re no longer found on books.

What about you? Do you use either tags or reviews in determining whether you’re going to make a book purchase? Because you know … I’m curious about this kind of stuff!

Okay, you’re going to make me admit it, aren’t you? Hi, my name is Nina … I’m addicted to tv. There, you have it. I said it. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way I can freely admit I’m happy the new season is finally underway. There are a lot of shows I love to watch, but even I have my limits when it comes to certain shows. Here are a few I absolutely refuse to watch …

Please don’t be insulted if your favorite is on here. This is just me! Feel free to add or delete from the list in your comments …

1. Simpson’s – Nope not gonna do it. I think it goes back to the days of Bevis and Butthead … turned me off completely to sick animated humor. I am going to admit I did break down and start watching Family Guy, but only because Mr. Nina is so enamored by it and the tv is right next to my computer. But there’s still a whole lot of “guy humor” I just don’t get.

2. SNL – In the good old days we called it Saturday Night Live. No silly acronyms. Back then it had an amazing cast including Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radnor 🙁 , and John Belushi to name a few of its incredible talent. It’s just not the same since they drowned the land shark and Rosanna-Rosanna Dana and Barbwa Wawa left the set. I’m kiveched. Just talk amongst yourselves for a moment ..

Okay, I’m better. Who are the children below anyway?

3. Sports – Yep, any of them. I’m not picky. If it’s got gloves, balls, wheels, bats, nets, pucks, or golf clubs, I’m out of the room faster than a Roger Clemen’s fastball! (I said I didn’t watch them … not that I didn’t understand them!)

4. Supernatural – Okay, I know the guys on this show are just about as hunky as they come (and I wanted to like it if only for that reason), but I’m just not into horror, gore, and being scared out of my britches! And the one time I tried to watch it, because I absolutely love scifi, it was just disgusting. (I’m making a face just remembering.) I can’t do gross and sleep at night. And I’m really not a nice person when I don’t sleep. Mr. Nina actually banned this from my viewing list. Blame him.

7. Big Brother – I love reality tv. But when a station tries to shove this down my throat 6 times a week … What? It’s only on 3 times a week? Well, that’s two times too many for me to get sucked in! Besides, if I want to watch young adults arguing, I’ll sit in the room while my children attempt to have a conversation.

8. CSI – I liked the story, the way they focused on the technique. Cool. I wasn’t big on the whole bullet squishing through the heart visual effects, but I could get over it. THEN they went to Miami … because the murders weren’t gruesome enough in Las Vegas and then … as if enough people weren’t dying, they went to NY. Puh-lease. Two dead, decaying bodies a week was plenty for me. Then, they tried to make it a soap opera on the side. Blood, guts, and bad relationships … nah, I’m good.

9. Maurie Povich – *shakes head* Let’s just not go here people. I won’t have nice things to say about women who aren’t sure which of twelve men is the father to her fourth illegitimate baby. Really … don’t ask me to explain.

10.  Bachelor – I write about love at first sight, but with the exception of a small percentage of people, it’s only a fantasy. It just seems wrong to have one man pawing 20 woman to find out who fits the best. And I’m probably old fashioned, but even if I was picked, I’m not sure I’d ever get over the fact that he slept with two other woman the same weekend he made the decision that I was the perfect woman to choose for a life commitment. Not gonna happen.

(* Caveat – I will confess I’ve been watching “Farmer Wants a Wife” which is basically the same thing EXCEPT … and this is big … there’s no sex involved.)

11. Music Videos – I love music. I love videos. But not the two together. Unless someone takes my favorite song and puts pictures or something to it I don’t want to see it. But I’m so visual, when I hear the song, I play the story in my head. A music video rarely lives up to my imagination. Sort of like your favorite book made into a movie!

13. The Office – I know! It’s supposed to be hysterical. I’ve heard. And I’ve tried. What is it with the camera work? I can’t watch shows in that format. It makes me nauseous. Are Mr. Nina and I the only ones who feel this way?

Last week I couldn’t bring myself to blog. I just couldn’t do it. This is going to sound really silly, but earlier in the week I’d read a blog by RONI LOREN who was actually sued for using a copyrighted photo on her blog.

I have yeeeeears of photos on this blog. Let’s face it, it’s so much more interesting if all the words in a post are broken up by pictures. It’s fun for me to find and include cool pictures in my post. I’ve always been very careful not to use photos with watermarks or anything that obviously belonged to someone else. But I’ve never worried so much about whether someone is going to come after me because I googled an image and used it.

I honestly believe that 80% or more of the images we find on the internet have been posted by people who don’t mind if we use them. But what if like this poor author some photographer claims I had no right to the picture posted? Roni (and many authors I know) went back and actually removed every photo from their blog sites. *sigh* I just don’t want to do that.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t understand intellectual property and being pirated … of course I do. (Been there. Done that. Cried as I watched my book being pirated in the thousands.) My issue is trying to figure out what sites freely allow people to use their pictures. Until I figure that out, I’m using photos I’ve paid for from stock photo sites. But here’s the thing, I already threw this out on my facebook page and a couple of artists said they like it when people use their pictures … with attributes and links of course. Again, how do I know who doesn’t mind and who will sue?

Of course this is spilling over to Pinterest and facebook. I really believe status updates with pictures get read more frequently than those without. I mean come on, they’re more interesting. I haven’t really seen people slowing down with their e-cards, inspirational or humorous sayings or LOL Kats. It seems like only authors have stopped posting all that man candy that makes me stop on a post and sigh.

Now why did this affect my blogging … because I’m a visual person. I’m actually motivated by the pictures I choose. I was so bummed I couldn’t include a picture with my posts last week that it stifled my muse. Silly I know … but hey, it’s how I’m wired.

So what now? I’m not sure. What do you think? Is this going to change how you blog? Will you find it less fun to visit blogs without fun little pictures to add to the posts? You know me … I’m curious about this stuff.

You’re probably not going to let me get away with this and I have to say … I’m soooo sorry! This week has gotten away from me AGAIN! I have no excuse. My head was in a bad place and I just couldn’t get my act together to blog. I know … shame on me.

And I can’t even say I finished the rewrite of my vampire romantic suspense, though I have been working diligently on it. One of my beta readers had some really good questions and I’m mulling them over and figuring out how to clarify. Still… it’s not a good excuse. Now I’m travelling to visit my family in Maine. Looks like it’s going to be a wonderful week at the lake. There will be a lot of laughter and too much wine and probably several nights of card playing. All fun and games. (Though I am bringing the laptop and have explained to my muse that she can’t play the whole week away). Yay!

Next week, despite the fact that I’ll be away, I’ll actually be pretty good about posting. (Because of course I, ummm … have them preloaded.)

And a happy wave to all my writer friends in Anaheim enjoying the final weekend of the RWA national convention. I’ve got a really good friend Meg Kassel whose YA manuscript has finalled in the Golden Heart! w00t! w00t! Go Meg! I’m lifting a margarita to all of 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?

This happens every once in awhile. The whole “to blog or not to blog” argument I have with myself. Yeah, it’s reared it’s ugly head … again.

This time it’s not just the fact that–in this time of 140 character (Twitter) or photo (Pinterest) updates–people are running around the internet looking for a quick way to keep in touch. I’ve come to realize that I have no platform.

No, that’s not the right word. It’s not like I want to be the voice of a “cause”. What I mean is, I’m not sure who I’m blogging for. I mean, who do I expect to stop by and read my posts? I know it’s mostly my writer friends (whom I appreciate *mwah*), though I get some people stopping by who aren’t part of the publishing world. So do they really want to read about editing or rejection? Perhaps they do. Perhaps they want to know about the life of the writer including it’s ups and downs.

Do I want to attract people with posts about my books or invite them to check out excerpts? Are people interested in that or is there just too much of that out in the cyber world?

Maybe the best I can expect is to just spew whatever is on my mind and hope to have different people stop by who are interested in that topic. Of course that means I have to talk about it on facebook and goodreads. I don’t know. But since you’re here, I’d love to hear what blogs you visit and why. Do you think blogs are going the way of the wall phone?

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