Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Facts Friday

A quick list of random things, in no particular order:

Fact #1: Learning German is fun. 
Hubs and I decided to use DuoLingo on a whim (best free language learning tool ever), and now I can tell my husband I love him (Ich liebe dich) and give him an affectionate nickname like Gummib√§rchen (gummy bear). We're thinking if we keep this up, we'll be fluent when we finally get enough money together for an overseas vacation. Like 15 years from now.

Fact #2: Lucky in Love is finally in paperback. 
Buy it at Amazon, tell all your friends how awesome it is and help me save enough money to go to Germany!

Fact #3: Gallbladders are tricky beasts. 
Mine is apparently about to explode, and has been masquerading its malfunctions as a vitamin deficiency. We're on to it, though, and an ultrasound has been scheduled for next Monday. It had better not try and interfere with my MMRWA retreat weekend, is all I can say...

Fact #4: There will be autographs and they will probably be cooler ones than mine.
If you're local, I'll be at two upcoming book signings:

     4/11  Romance Writers Reception, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
              Kazoo Books, 2413 Parkview, Kalamazoo, MI 
     4/17  Ransom Library Author Fair, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
              Ransom District Library, 180 S. Sherwood, Plainwell, MI

Fact #5: RPG means more than Rocket-Propelled Grenade.
Apparently, there's this huge group of people that enjoy Role Play Games (think Final Fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons). And I think I might be one of them. I'll know for sure after this weekend. Friday is Tabletop Day and we're celebrating with friends, snacks and Pathfinder.

Not that I've been blogging predictably at all lately, but I'll be MIA again for another week or so. I'll be back April 14, hopefully all fresh and motivated from my first writer's retreat. Until then, woohoo, I'm on vacation! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Review: Primal Instinct by Janie Crouch

Man, I love Harlequins. I’ve been reading them since I was like 8 or 9 years old, when both of my grandmas would save them and sneak me grocery bags full on the Sundays when we came to visit. Those first Harlequin Romances were the reason I wanted to be a romance writer! So when Janie Crouch offered me an ARC of her debut title Primal Instinct, a Harlequin Intrigue, I said “Yes, please!” and can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.  

Book: Primal Instinct
Author: Janie Crouch
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Genre: Category Suspense
Rating:  [  [  [  [  ]  (4 out of 5 hearts!)

About the Book:
A killer stalks the city streets, and one FBI agent is determined to bring him down in Janie Crouch’s Primal Instinct.

On the crowded streets of San Francisco, a serial killer watches and waits. Known only as “Simon Says,” he lures his next victim while the FBI grasps for answers. Desperate, they turn to Adrienne Jeffries. Adrienne has an uncanny talent for getting inside the city’s most dangerous minds. But first she’ll have to get past agent Conner Perigo. Skeptical of Adrienne’s abilities, Conner begrudgingly enlists her help…unprepared for the powerful attraction that could jeopardize their focus. With little time, and everything to lose, they must work to find Simon’s next victim—before he does.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit, being a freshly-minted writer myself, I was rooting for Janie before I started Primal Instinct. Getting a bad review on your first book sucks (been there, done that) and I don’t like handing them out. But I didn't need to worry—after reading Janie Crouch’s first novel, I am very happy to say that she didn't disappoint me in the least.

Primal Instinct grabbed my attention first because of the cover. I liked the film noir/Alfred Hitchcock vintage vibe that it had going on. And then I started reading… very quickly, actually, because Janie threw me right in to FBI agent Conner Perigo’s frustrating case and it caught my interest. He’s desperate for any lead that will help him and his partner catch a serial killer that’s terrorizing San Francisco and thumbing his nose directly at the FBI at the same time. But when his boss tells him to basically blackmail Adrienne Jeffries, the former FBI “Bloodhound” with some bigtime special skills, into helping out with the case, he’s less than thrilled.

Like flint and steel, Conner and Adrienne strike sparks off each other right away, even though they’re the angry kind. Their relationship has a big element of friction, which I liked, because you know that they’re going to make up for all that animosity later on. I also thought that Adrienne’s personality was appealing—she was no shrinking violet and she faced the frightening aspects of her gift with gritty determination. And I’m a sucker for a protective alpha, which Conner definitely was. They made a great team without either of them having to be at all wishy-washy.

I also enjoyed the twists that Janie put on what could have been a familiar storyline. The side-effects of Adrienne skills were realistic and frightening, and the effect that their relationship had on things was really interesting and unexpected. And, while I’ll admit I did figure out whodunit (I’m good at that, though—ask my often-annoyed husband why he doesn’t like watching movies with me…), Primal Instinct’s resolution felt solid and satisfying and I enjoyed it immensely.

My final verdict? I’m giving Primal Instinct and Janie Crouch lots of love. If you like Harlequin romances like I do, I highly recommend this one. Can’t wait to see what this shiny new author has in store for us next!  
About the Author:
 Janie is a member of Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers and KOD (Kiss of Death – the Romantic Suspense Writers Group). When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys traveling, long-distance running, movie-watching, knitting and obstacle course adventure racing. Most of all, she loves to laugh and smile. And she’s tremendously thankful she has so much to laugh and smile about. (For Janie’s full bio, go here.)

Connect with Janie Crouch:

Buy the Book:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Primal Instinct from Jamie Crouch, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back on the Blogging Train

I can't even believe I've let almost a month go by without blogging. For shame! But, I do have several excuses:

Lucky in Love
I've been designing a new cover for Lucky in Love, since the dpi on the picture I used for the ebook would have shown up as blurry on a print cover. I'm a little bummed, since I was really attached to the other one, but with a fresh look, Lucky might find more readers.

MarMoWriMo and The New Book
Image Credit: Austin Expat
Several members of my RWA chapter have gotten together to do a March version of NaNoWriMo. We're all on an email loop almost daily, sharing our word counts and cheering each other on, and it's been a great experience. I'm pulling in at just under 10K on my next manuscript and, with the help of the stressful productivity aide, Write or Die 2, I have plans to write many more words this month. I've said it before: Write or Die is scary, but it works.

New Website
I finally bit the bullet and bought a domain name. The address isn't exactly a hot commodity on the domain name market, so it was pretty simple. My whole website is pretty simple, actually. That hasn't stopped me from tweaking and fiddling the layout half to death.

Real Life
Oh, yeah, I'm a wife and mom, too! Life on the farm with a 9 year-old, a 2-year old, and assorted dogs, ducks and chickens is never boring. Plus, there's Cub Scouts, the whole baking things semi-professionally thing (cupcakes, anyone?), and the fact that the husband and I are trying to get our finances in order sometime this decade so we can buy a house. And we're doing all this while being buried in this incessant Michigan snow - 6+ inches in the forecast tonight and it's almost mid-March!

As usual, I'm swamped, but I would want it any other way. The kids are being fed, the word counter keeps rising and those darn dishes will get done eventually!  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New book!

Image Credit: Broken Barnet
Just in the last hour or two, I've worked out a plot for my next book, and it's coming together like gangbusters. I've got a Harlequin line picked out for it already (Desire), 819 words down in a fresh new MS Word document and I'm off to get an outline scribbled down before I blank on everything and forget where I'm going already.

My advice to anyone out there that wants to write romance or write professionally in any genre, really? Join a writers group. I don't think it's a coincidence that I'm all fired up and full of ideas just one day after a great session with a bunch of like-minded professional romance-inistas.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Awkward Vintage Valentines (Because nothing says true love like false teeth.)

If you haven't yet given your special someone a sweet Valentine to mark the day, I've put together a small collection of awkward vintage Valentines for your consideration... or not.

Skidoo. Skidoo, I say.

Image Credit: 22 Words

Because nothing says true love like false teeth.

Image Credit: Lumpy Dumpling (Pinterest)

Got any Valentine's Day plans? How about dinner and a movie?

Image Credit: Lumpy Dumpling (Pinterest)

You know. Because I won't trip over an endtable and drop it or something.

Image Credit: Kitty Stampede

I don't get it (is it the dog who cares?), but I'm still laughing. 

Image Credit: Boing Boing

And one more, just for you. This awkward, squinty little ferret (mongoose? possum? honey badger?) wants you to be his Valentine. Or lunch, maybe.

Image Credit: Obake Style (Pinterest)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! [  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How do you get your book listed on an Amazon Top 100 list?

I don't know, but that's what happened to me this week!

That's mah book, baby! Up there with a Janet Evanovich! I've been joking all week that my time on that Top 100 list was the most glorious 10 minutes of my life. Like I said, no clue how it happened, but I've been trying to figure it out so I can do it again someday.

I've read about the mysterious formulas and algorithms that are used to calculate Amazon's Top 100 lists, but was able to make no sense out of them, except to end up with the vague understanding that the more sales you get in a short amount of time, the better your chances are of ranking. I think Lucky in Love ended up there through, well, sheer luck. And maybe a combination of a few other things.

I'm working on a sort of sequel to Lucky--spin-off novel telling the story of two other characters in the book. Sales on Lucky had been pretty underwhelming lately, with just one extremely kind but lonely review on B&N, Smashwords and Goodreads and none yet on Amazon. I hoped to build up a readership in advance and maybe get some feedback. So, in my attempts to self-promote (HA! I stink at that.), I decided to make Lucky a free e-book for February wherever I could. Incidentally, on B&N and Smashwords, that's easy. Amazon, not so much, except for Prime readers.

Almost simultaneously, in another attempt to get the word out there, I entered Lucky in a giveaway on Freebooksy, a well-known site for promoting free e-books. They charge $25, but the huge jump in my Facebook fan numbers alone made that price well worth it.

Image Credit: Fotosearch
Some combination of those events resulted in me doing a very happy dance on Monday morning. Amazon updates their lists hourly, and I can only think that my book must have been on it most of the night, because I experienced an astronomical (for me) jump in sales before it was all over.

Full disclosure here on earnings? I made $1.40. Four copies sold at $0.99 and the rest were freebies. Not even enough to buy a decaf Starbucks mocha, or really even leave a decent tip, but I'm completely happy with those results, since I now have 60 more chances to have someone read Lucky, hopefully enjoy themselves and maybe even write a little note on Amazon to let everyone else know how much fun they had with my book.

One kind reader already has, posting this 5-star review on both Amazon and B&N:

A mix of some Janet Evanovich-esque quirkiness in the leading lady makes this book a page turner! You fall in love and relate to Lucky instantly. Add in some spicy sex scenes with the knight in shining armor sprinkled with humor and even some drama and action and you have a must read written by an up and coming author. From the first page, I was hooked and unable to put the book down. Anxiously awaiting more books by this author!

To me, that single review was worth giving away 60 copies.

And, on a side note, my freaked out, early Monday morning Facebook post touting the news gained me more hits than any other FB post I've ever made: 430 views and I only have 273 fans. That's a whole lotta sharing going on.

So, in summary, I'm not a famous writer yet, but for a little while this week, I sure felt like one! Have you made an Amazon Top 100 list? Was it the result of careful planning or just pure, sweet luck? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments. 

Friday, February 7, 2014