Friday, December 2, 2016

Death of a Publisher

Hello, darlings! I’ve finally come up for air after finishing quite a number of projects (You’ll see the first one swing through in a couple weeks.), and the world seems to have exploded around me as I was working. Or at least the local publishing world. I’m seeing publishing houses die around me. Again.

I though, both as something of potential interest to readers and potential help for authors, I would talk about my experiences. I won’t be naming any names for a lot of reasons, but we’ll just call the two houses in this article Publisher A and Publisher B, in order of when they sort of collapsed. This is a look at the similarities and differences, the warning signs, and what this could mean for you as a reader waiting for Author X’s books (Hopefully I’m Author X, but I don’t want to be presumptuous.).

So, Publisher A: I worked with them several times before submitting a book. And as luck would have it, the problems started in the middle of production on that book. We got told that they were closing down to outside submissions, which I’ll tell you right now is a pretty nasty warning sign. No outside subs means no new money coming in, so if they’ve made that decision… yikes. It went downhill from there. When I subbed, they were a good house doing god things for their authors. After the book came out? Well, they weren’t so lovely anymore. I’ve been paid once, and it wasn’t nearly what I was expecting. Publisher A just didn’t bring much to the table, all said and done, and I really don’t think they’ll last much longer, which is unfortunate.

Now let’s get to Publisher B. This is a lot messier. I also had written for them for quite a while. They were a well-regarded house and I was very excited to publish with them. But eventually, we started to hear some rumblings. Just some rumors that got passed around with different authors. Payments not on time, some people not getting in touch with the editors anymore. But it didn’t seem widespread. Could just be a fluke.

It wasn’t a fluke. More and more people weren’t getting paid, more emails were going unanswered. Payments and statements were getting later and later if they came at all. Finally, we got word that someone in the company was brought in on legal charges for a bounced check and things really started after that. We were told that money was really tight. Which is code for you’re not getting paid, if you’re an author and hear that. They started handing rights back left and right… until they didn’t. The excuses started pretty soon after things started going downhill, and that’s something I heard at both Publisher A and Publisher B. Every email was accompanied by at least six excuses, it seemed. Migraines, surgery, heart attack, dead pet, family troubles, moving. But this is our top priority.

Of course it wasn’t. Now, Publisher A I’m still on good terms with. I like the people who run it. Heck, if they can get back on their feet then I might even consider writing for them again.

Publisher B lost me on them. They did such awful things, and not just to the authors. Editors were going unpaid, cover artists were going unpaid, and they started taking the royalty money from authors and using it to pay their freelance workers. Not pay them enough, but pay them something to keep them from cutting and running. Which really didn’t work. The editors and such, bless them, left when they found out it was author money going to pay them. That wasn’t okay with them at all.

Mix all that in with threats of libel and a complete cut off of communication (People are having to send certified, insure letters, and even those don’t seem to be getting to them.), and Publisher A is basically not keeping anyone. Period. Those who stay… well, I guess I admire their loyalty? I cut and run as soon as they offered me the chance. I tried to help them, sure. Give them advice on what to do. None of which was followed, but I tried.

It’s unfortunate for authors, but it also sucks for readers. Readers aren’t able to support their authors, because the money from these books isn’t going to them. And if they get taken down, readers can’t read them at all until the authors republish them.

I just wanted to touch on what happens when publishers die. There are things you’ll see in almost every case, and you can just hope they go down with grace and the band still playing. Unlike Publisher B seems to be doing.


Raven

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Release: Going All In by Kristine Cayne


Life has been tough on Harry Cooper. Rejected by his best friend, abandoned by his family, Harry spurns relationships, settling instead for backroom hookups and one-night stands. Out and proud, he scrapes by selling drinks in gold lamé trunks while struggling to make a name for himself as a musician. Desperate for a change, he and his roommate take a trip to Vegas, where Harry finds himself getting more than he’d bet on.
Fragrance chemist Ashton Montgomery is the man behind the Ashton George line of perfumes and colognes. He is also a gay man hiding behind the façade of one of New York City’s most eligible straight bachelors. After a failed paternity suit against him, he sneaks off to Vegas to celebrate his freedom. But is he really free, or is he locked into the future his parents have mapped out for him—CEO to the family business and married to a society woman of their choosing?

A chance meeting at a rock concert in Sin City catapults Harry and Ashton into an adventure where each man comes head to head with what he fears most. Can they learn to trust each other as a couple, or is undeniable lust all they have? When all the cards are on the table, they each must decide whether to fold or go all in.



Keep Reading for a free sample!

Harry Cooper burst through the door of his room at the Hard Rock Hotel. It closed behind him with a dramatic clang. “Girl, you will not believe—”

Spotting his best friend Melissa Kincaid half-asleep in a pile of pillows on the massive bed they’d had to share to get the special “Getaway to Vegas” deal, he gasped and slapped her boxer-clad ass. “Seriously? We’re in Sin City, and all you can do is sleep?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered, rubbing her butt cheek as she sat up. “Did you get tickets to something good?”

“Yes.” He sucked in a deep breath. “You won’t fucking believe—oh my God.” He waved a hand in front of his face.

Melissa rolled her eyes. “Please tell me this isn’t another Madonna drag-show revival thing. I had enough of that last year.”

Harry scowled indignantly. That show in Portland had been a blast. But no. “This is a million times better.”

“Better than Madonna? Well, in that case…” She rolled her hand in a go-on motion.

Harry sighed. Melissa just wasn’t in the spirit of their holiday. Her boyfriend of two years had broken up with her right after Christmas, announcing that he was going to London to complete his Ph.D. She’d begged him to continue their relationship long distance, but he’d been adamant. This was going to be a new chapter in his life, and one he’d be writing alone. Yeah. Dick, much?

But that was exactly why they’d left soggy Seattle to come to Vegas. To soak up the sun and the booze and forget about the fact that Valentine’s Day had just passed, and they were both hopelessly single.

“Come on, sweetie,” he coaxed. “Try to guess.”

“Okay, okay.” She shifted around on the bed, adjusting her T-shirt, which had slipped off her shoulder. She was just so cute with her big green eyes and auburn, shoulder-length curls. If he weren’t gay, she’d be the girl for him.

She tapped a long nail against her chin. “Celine?”

Barely able to keep from blurting out his secret, he pressed his lips tightly together and shook his head.

“Cirque du Soleil?”

“No, but that would have been awesome.”

“Hmm.” She shoved off the bed and pushed aside the curtain, probably so she could see the show billboards out on the strip. Cheater.

She glanced at him over her shoulder, her eyes wide and hopeful. “Phantom? I’ve always wanted to see that.”

He laughed. “You know Gerard Butler isn’t in the play, right?”

“I can pretend.” She shot him a sassy smile.

“This is better anyway.”

“Nothing is better than Gerry as the Phantom.”

He sashayed across the room and got in her face, grinning like a loon. “This is way better. Guess again.”

Her gaze returned to the strip. When she spotted the sign, he heard the hitch in her breath. She whipped around and grabbed his shoulders. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers?”

“Yes!”

He said it much louder than he’d intended. Okay, he’d shouted, but could you blame him? They were going to see the freaking Red Hot Chili Peppers, and he’d get to hear Flea, the best bassist in the world, live!

“Oh my God. Are you serious? Those tickets have to cost more than our whole trip.”

He shot her a wink. “I may have done some wheeling and dealing with the concierge.”

Her eyes swept over him and narrowed. “Please tell me no sexual favors were exchanged in this transaction.”

Shooting out his hip, he slapped a hand to his chest. “Moi? I’ll have you know, Miss Melissa, I do have other talents.”

Waving her hands in front of her face, she ducked her head. “I really, really don’t want to know.”

------------------

Kristine Cayne's books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).

Her book Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.


Going All In is Kristine’s second gay romance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Writing Story

I hear this question a lot from readers, established authors, aspiring writers – people seem to want to know where authors they like got their start, what the process was. So, I thought I’d share it here. It isn’t the most boring story ever-written, but I won’t say that it’s as thrilling as American Horror Story or anything like that (I’ve finally been watching to get all caught up – so far Coven is by far the best.).

This is something I have spoken about before, but you might not have heard it. I started in high school. I know that seems a little cliché, but I was essentially publishing erotica in high school, all on my own. I would write, edit, format, and print it out, and then distribute it. And I earned myself a fair reputation for it, as well. Guys who weren’t out yet would wait until they saw me going off on my own for the bathroom or whatnot and ask me if I had “any more stories.” The ones who were out didn’t wait for me to be alone, of course. It was a minor, underground sort of fame, but I was the only one daring to do this thing, and the stories spread all around. I think there are still some out there that I haven’t ever gotten back.

After that, I went dormant for a good bit. I started writing and publishing science fiction/fantasy as Voss Foster, but I eventually started back into the erotica writing. It started, well before newsletters were dominating the author marketing scene the way they are now, with me sending my stories out to people for free via email (This is the reason everything attached to my author self is de Hart’s List.). Eventually, I moved into writing short stories for various anthologies. I can’t remember for sure what the order on these are, so bear with me on that, but I’m pretty sure the first one I got into was Roboterotica from the now defunct Pill Hill Press. Several others followed. Geek Lust, 12 Days of Kinkmas, Pay for Play, Beach Bums, Blood in the Rain. I was reliably publishing short stories that I sent out.

And at that point, I tried my hand at something longer. Now, even though Wild Ride ended up picked up by a house… well, it’s crap. It’s an awful book, and I’ll admit that openly. But I got better. I wrote Street Magic, which got picked up by Storm Moon, and I wrote Silverfall and started the Hearts of Madijak series. Which is where I am today, as I sit here writing this. I’m a Loose Id author and nearly done with the first draft of Hearts of Madijak Book Two (Heart of Absolution). I have submissions with most of the major M/M houses as we speak.

That’s my authorial story, in a four-hundred-ish word nutshell. I hope it wasn’t too dull for you. If so, I apologize and will provide sexy-ass men at a later date to compensate.


Raven

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reboot and Update!

Hello, my lovelies! It’s been a bit of a busy, harrowing time for me lately, which is why I haven’t been around posting. I’ve been traveling to different conventions and workshops across the state, trying to wrap up this three book series for my publishing house, and dealing with some personal tragedies that came up unexpectedly, as they tend to do.

But the books are finished and under contract, so keep your eyes out for some new ones around December. Small town paranormal romances set in Eastern Washington, if you’re interested. I’ll also be writing a short story or two for some intriguing calls (Don’t want to say a lot about it, but if you’re interested in pot smoking… well, I’m aiming up your alley.).

But more than anything, I just wanted to pop in and let you all know that I’m still around and working and all that good stuff. I’ll be back a lot sooner than I have been in the past.


Raven

Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Tips for Writers (That are Hopefully not Entirely Cliche)

Now, I try not to post a lot about the actual writing process on here. It’ll probably bore most readers to tears, and it’s a bit like Toto drawing back the curtain – you find out that I’m really an old con artist from Kansas, and I write all my books by turning cranks and shouting into a microphone.

All right, maybe I took that simile a bit too far.

But I wanted to give a little nod, because I’ve been doing a lot more of my own writing lately (I’m sticking to my schedule, damn it.), which means a lot more editing. But I’m also part of a critique group, and I’ve been offering a helping hand to some other authors who are just getting into the game (And learning it’s heavily stacked in favor of the house, in some cases.). It means a lot of closely examining writing in various stages of publication and readiness and all that. Authors who have written and published books, but are just venturing into the M/M world. Authors who are working through their first book, still, but want someone to take a look at short stories. Authors who signed with a New York house or Amazon Publishing or who write for Chicken Soup and Woman’s World.

Now, I’m not Nora Roberts. I’m not Rhys Ford. I’m not any kind of household name, or a name shared between fans (At least I don’t think so. Maybe I am. A girl can dream.). But I have been at this whole thing for a while, and I want to share some insights I’ve got for the beginning author. They’re not in any order of importance. They’re all things to consider, and things that I think are often forgotten or underplayed in “How to Write” tips.

1. It’s your book. No one else can tell you what works in it, and that’s absolutely correct. It’s art. But make sure you consider what people say is a problem with it. Really think about it, because the hardest ones to change are going to be the ones where you know they’re right, but you maybe tried to fudge it past them because you didn’t want to do the work.

2. Finish your book. Don’t let anyone see it until it’s the best you can possibly make it. Your first draft is not the best it can be, in case that needed clarification. Don’t give a publisher anything you’re not 95% confident in (100% doesn’t really happen. Sorry.). Never never never. And don’t waste a beta reader’s time by leaving in things you know need fixing. They have to mark it, and often times, they’ll not be able to get into something else they may have found that could use some fixing.

3. Write. This isn’t something that’s forgotten, but I think it’s often skimmed over, because everyone knows it. But I’m going to lay this one out clearly for any authors wondering what they need to do, or what’s so hard, or why it’s not working. A lot of the time, it’s not fun. It’s not, like, scraping roadkill off the pavement (Which is a very important job. I’m not making light of it. But it’s not fun.), but writing is work. At least it is if you’re going to make any real headway. People who do this professionally aren’t writing when the muse speaks to them, or waiting for flashes of creativity. They are putting their asses down in a chair, putting their fingers on keys, and staring at that vile, nasty blank page while they write what they’re convinced is utter crap. And sometimes it is, but writers write anyway, because that’s what turns the lights on in the morning. All that ink money.

4. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Don’t wait until retirement. Don’t wait for anything, because if you’re capable of waiting, then you probably aren’t cut out for it. Sorry to say it, but that’s the truth. When you’ve been at it a while, yeah, you’re probably going to procrastinate (For instance, I apparently write blogs posts when I’m putting off working on my books.), but when it’s still exciting to you, you shouldn’t be able to stop. Otherwise, you don’t really have the momentum you’ll need to carry you forward through the slog. And that’s going to be the worst of it, when it comes around. Trust me.

5. Don’t listen to anyone else. That includes me, with everything I outlined. These are guidelines I’ve seen that work for most people, and prove true 93% of the time (That’s a bullshit statistic, but I’d imagine it’s somewhere around there.). Maybe when you retire, you’ll finally write a brilliant book and it will take off. Maybe you have a way to make a viable career out of writing every three weeks when the mood strikes you. Maybe I’m talking out my ass about everything. That actually sounds like the most likely option of them all.

I hope this helps, even if I did sort of negate it at the end. Take what speaks to you, honestly consider it all, and see if it helps you out.

It’s all right, I’ll talk about sex and books again next time around. But this was rattling in the old skull.

Raven

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

State of the Bird

(The bird would be me. Raven. I made a pun.)

Hello once again, my lovelies. I feel like I’ve been a bit neglectful lately. I’ve been perhaps a bit obsessed with checking the numbers on my latest book. But they’re good numbers.

For the time being, I figure it’s a good time to just catch up with all of you. So… how are you? Is everything wonderful? Have you had any good wine lately (Personally, I found a Beaujolais at my local Safeway a couple months back for about 13 dollars, so my wine friends and I were thoroughly overjoyed.)? Any good sex? I’ve been out of the loop – fill me back in, darlings!

As for the state of authorial things? Things are surprisingly good, to be quite honest with all of you. The launch for Heart of a Pirate was incredible, and sales are still coming in. I made the choice to put it in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s also available for subscribers to borrow, and I’ve been getting a steady flow of page reads on it since then.

After I get done writing this post and doing a few other silly bureaucratic things, I’m going to start the initial draft of Hearts of Madijak Book Two, which is Kelt’s story. I worked up the outline and character bios a couple days ago, and those are printed off and waiting. I think this one’s going to be really good. I mean, I’m not entirely impartial, but this storyline excites me. I tend to write a lot of political intrigue as The Other Me, and this is skirting close to that. Worlds colliding and all that. At the very least, I’m looking forward to writing this book quite a lot more than I expected.

Other projects? Well, there’s nothing set in stone at all right now, but in the spirit of an open exchange between us, I have a book sitting with Loose Id. My editor passed it on to the editor in chief, and once she reviews it, I’ll find out whether they’d like to make an offer on it. It’s the first in a series of small-town paranormal romances. Five books, with the potential for more. If it turns out Loose Id isn’t interested, then I’ll make sure to keep you all abreast of how things are playing out.

Beyond that, I have a yearly schedule laid out. It’s looking at about 9-10 books per year, in various stages of completion. Between now and June 2017, I’ve got nine on the docket, and five of them are set to be for this name. The other four are for The Other Me, including the one I just finished up.

As for life? Well, it’s been a bit rocky. I’ve got a dog battling cancer, and another one who had a tumor removed (That one was benign, thankfully.). I’ve also been walking a dear friend of mine through a pretty rough round of depression. But I’ve cooked some amazing food, done some work on websites, and have generally been expanding myself as a person. Or at least attempting to. I’m planning to get myself fluent in German again, as well. That should make me extra cuddly, right?

And I think that’s all there is to say, my darlings! I hope you have an amazing day, and an amazing year. And if you haven’t subscribed to my new Newsletter yet, there’s a link at the top of the blog. Give it a peek.


Raven

Monday, June 13, 2016

Update: A Book is Coming!

Things are happening, darlings! I know I tend to say that a lot, but I’ve actually got the wine bottle open this time.

All right, I always have the wine bottle open, too. But things are happening. I’m working on a book! Working on getting it ready for publication this time. Now, you’ve seen the cover before, but I’ll post it here again.



Lovely, isn’t he? The release date will be this month, my lovelies, and I think it’s going to be well worth all the hype and waiting I’ve put you through.

When can you snatch yourself up a copy of Heart of a Pirate? Well, I hate making commitments (If you make them, you can break them.), but I’m looking at publication on June 28th. You’ll get my sexy little pirate, his sexy little farmhand, and your introduction to the world of Madijak.

I figure I can talk about that for a second, at least. Heart of a Pirate is the start of my secondary world/romance crossover. I’ve attempted to poke at something like this before, with Wild Ride, but I’d like to think this is an improvement. I’ve dug a lot deeper into the world and into the characters than I did with that book. That’s not to say Wild Ride is bad. But Heart of a Pirate has a lot more time behind it, and a lot more experience to bring to bear. I’ve been doing this more, and I think it shows through in this book.

Plus this book is… a bit bigger. Or a lot bigger. There’s more of an experience that we can share on those pages. More than anything I’ve put out to date. It’s almost twice as long as Silverfall, which was an admittedly short book. And it’s about quadruple what Wild Ride is.

Why did I want to write something that’s a bit… strange? Because I love fantasy and science fiction… if you couldn’t tell. But there’s actually something specific that I can link this particular project to. It’s Catherynne Valente. If you haven’t read her work, I highly recommend it, The Orpahn’s Tales in particular. What she does with her world in those books got my brain doing somersaults. I tire of the same, Middle Ages Anglo-Saxon fantasy worlds we see time and again. The Orphan’s Tales was perfect to satiate that craving. She tossed the norms out the window. She wanted to tell stories about manticores and falling stars and shahs and cities of amber. And she didn’t tell herself no. She didn’t let the world censor that. She went straight for it and delivered in a very big way.

It told me that I needed to go for it, that I needed to have the fortitude to put fingers to the keys and write the books that I wanted to read. And these were them.

I say these not because there’s more than one book, but because there will be. One of the beautiful things about independent publishing and e-publishing is the opportunity to do big series. Before this all hit and became viable, a massive series was incredibly rare, and when they did happen, it was almost always multiple authors. I’m talking about thirty, forty books. That’s what we’re looking at with these. I have, at this point, thirty-eight books in the Hearts of Madijak series planned out, in one sense or another. Some of them are more fleshed out than others, but they’re all at least conceived of. So… you know, a few books. Nothing overly ambitious, right?

And before we get there, yes, these are going to come out faster than the first one. I don’t plan on living another three hundred years to finish out the series. Heart of a Pirate was also a learning experience, figuring out how to balance the two plotlines (Romance and political intrigue, if you’re curious.), how to write something that bloody long. The others will come a lot more easily, now that I’ve made it through to the end. I can see a finished product and go “Okay, this is how things are supposed to work. This is how I want the series to feel.”

And… that’s that for now. Keep a look out for more updates, and for the release of the book at the end of the month, darlings!


Raven