Well, here we are again…

And if you haven’t noticed, my Internet presence of late has been, well, none.

There is a perfectly good reason for that! My real workaday self is very pleased and proud of it. I’m doing well, happy and healthy and all those good things. However, all this excitement and general busy-ness of life leaves very little time for Fionna Guillaume.

Those of you who are also independent authors know that this hobby-cum-lifestyle is real work. It takes time and, more importantly, creative energy. That’s what has been sucked completely out of me these past many months — for the best possible reason, but exhausting nonetheless.

Therefore, forgive me if I seem absent. I am, indeed. But this isn’t the first time I’ve had to take months (or even years) off of writing, and in fact, it can be a wonderful thing. Whenever I’ve gone through this in the past, I emerge on the other side a more thoroughly interesting person, with a wealth of new experiences to draw upon, all of which makes me a better writer than before. So don’t worry about me; I’m just in the chrysalis stage. And one of these days, hopefully a bring spring morning, I’ll burst out again and start fluttering around in my usual way.

Until then, dear readers, be well! And keep reading erotica. It’s good for body and soul!

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Exciting new novel from A.M. Manay!

There are some authors who catch you in a certain way, so that whenever they release a new book — no matter what it is — you snap it up right away. A.M. Manay is one of those authors for me. I adored her modern vampire/paranormal series, the November Snow  series, despite the fact that I am not usually a vampire person. The characters and the story are what made that series so good. So when I had an opportunity to read an ARC of her new novel, Hexborn, I jumped at the chance.

Hexborn CoverAnd I have to say, I was not disappointed.

Once again, A.M. Manay has taken a genre that usually leaves me feeling ho-hum (in this case, Young Adult Fantasy), and created a story that made me eager to turn each virtual page. They say the best fiction is based on fact, and by that logic the best fantasy should be based on history. This was masterfully done in Hexborn. A.M. Manay took inspiration from the story of Henry VIII of England – he of the famous six wives – and used it as a jumping-off point for a detailed fantasy world of intrigue and power, sex and murder, tragedy and magic. Strong characters and sticky situations made every chapter a delight to read, and full of surprises at every turn. I don’t have to tell you I ate it up.

My recommendation? Buy the book right away! And go ahead and sign on for the sequel, as well — Ms. Manay is sure to deliver.

Copy of kidpit 2

Hexborn. Abomination. Unclean. Young Shiloh knows
exactly what she is. She just refuses to let that stop her. Her
illness might make her an outcast, but her broken body hides
great magical power. And she intends to make the most of it.
Silas, the king’s ruthless fixer, seeks to use that power to
preserve the uneasy peace the kingdom has enjoyed since the
end of the Siblings’ War. Silas hauls Shiloh from her
mountain village to the wizard academy at the king’s court, where magic and political intrigue conspire to create danger around every corner.
Can this child of war save the peace? Or will old sins rise to threaten Shiloh, Silas, and the kingdom of Bryn?

http://www.ammanay.net
http://www.ammanaywrites.blogspot.com

Smashwords Summer Sale!

I do love a good “stick it to The Man,” and Smashwords is a fabulous way to do so. Now I appreciate Amazon for many reasons, but it is anything but a small, creative haven for indie authors. In case you were wondering, here are some reasons to love Smashwords:

  • Wide distribution to many different online markets
  • Erotica-friendly! There is NO adult dungeon, and they are much freer with what can be included on sexy covers.
  • Larger share of sales (60%-80%)
  • Complete author control over book pricing, sales and coupon promotions
  • Support smaller business and feel good 🙂

And of course, the main reason I’m writing this is to promote the fabulous Smashwords Summer Sale! Through the entire month of July, many Smashwords authors are offering their work at a huge discount, or free. Naturally, I hopped on this boat. I enjoy sharing my work with a wider audience, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so. (Authors, if you have any work published on Smashwords, you can join the sale anytime. So don’t hesitate!)

If you’ve been curious to read some of my erotic stories, but just don’t feel ready to shell out the 99 cents, that’s okay. Head on over to my Smashwords Author Page and read some for free! As usual, my only request is that you leave a review. Those reader reviews are an indie author’s main sales pitch, and we appreciate each one!

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Publish or Perish!

As it has been, oh, a VERY long time since I’ve managed to write anything, I’ve been reflecting lately on that wise old saying: publish or perish. The data behind it is solid, in my limited experience. Whenever I publish a new story, it tends to sell best in its first few weeks of existence. And sometimes, having a new story out gets more exposure for older work, causing a spike in sales. All of this is great! However, the flip side of the coin is that, inevitably, if there is a dip in publishing rate, there is also a lull in sales.

This must be true for many traditionally published authors as well. Plenty of books out there are excellent, but if somewhat older, and not big names, they have their heyday on the bookshelves and then are set adrift in the bottomless maw of Amazon.com. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling or otherwise independently wealthy, there can be no sitting on your laurels. However, “publish or perish” hits indie authors particularly hard. We’re little fish in a huge pond, and the only way to makes waves is through exposure — getting our work into the hands of as many readers as possible. And the only way I know to do that is to write lots (and well); publish quickly; push and celebrate your new work as long as it is “new;” then do the whole thing again. It’s an exhausting cycle, but that’s the way the writing business works.

Which is why, at least in my case, writing is a wonderful craft I work to improve. I’m proud of my stories, and I strive to make them excellent. But, I am also okay with limited sales during my slow writing times. Life happens, and that always must take priority. The good news is, I have confidence that when the time is right, I’ll be back in the saddle and into the old “publish or perish” cycle once again.

ERWA: the erotica writer’s best online resource!

Although I’ve been off the grid for some time now (and yes, looks like that trend will continue into the new year. Sorry folks; it happens!) there is one thing I do to keep up with what’s what in the erotica world. It’s something I’ve been doing for years now, and I highly suggest you do the same: sign up for ERWA.

In my opinion, the ERWA writers’ group is the premier place for independent erotica authors online. Like any diverse group, you meet people of all levels and ranges of interest, but there is a distinction: everyone is there to read and write erotica, and everyone is there to better their writing craft. Boom. What more can you ask?

As a casual member of ERWA Storytime list, I receive many e-mails a day with works in progress to read and critique. This is a great way to improve your writing, by reading what others are up to, suggesting changes, and reflecting on how you can incorporate techniques you like into your own craft. Plus, I have always received excellent, professional-level feedback on work I have submitted. Invariably, whether giving or receiving critiques, I have come out of it a better and more thoughtful writer.

I also hang out on the ERWA Writers list, which is all kinds of fun. Discussions range from current trends in the market, to questions about publishing or branding, to thoughts on the writing craft. They also send out frequent calls for submissions, so you can target work for potential inclusion in anthologies — a great way to get out there!

Whether you’re an experienced erotica author, a newbie dipping your toes in, or just an avid reader of fun and sexy stories, ERWA is where you need to be. I guarantee you will become a better writer for it! (And read some hot free stories while you’re there, too…)

Yes, yes, I know…

Yes, I fully admit it, I’ve been silent for way too long. This time of year is always a slam at work, and other things happen in — ahem — “real life” that take precedence. That’s not to say I have no creative projects (I always have a story or ten bouncing around in my brain). One of these days, when I manage to sit down with the right cup of tea and a few stimulating hours, I’ll get back to work.

In the meantime, I offer the following tidbits:

maor arcanaAs ever, my Tarot-card-inspired journey is published and available to read for free, anytime! Check it out on Inkitt or Wattpad.

Also, just to prove to you that I’m still writing (kind of), here is a little — and shockingly safe-for-work, which is unusual for me — excerpt of my current work in progress. It’s a historical fiction set in colonial New Orleans, featuring a young girl who is being groomed (Gigi-esque) for life as the consort of a rich man who can promise her, and her children, the security her mother and grandmother worked so hard to attain…

1712, Nouvelle Orleans

Marie Celeste winced as her mother pulled the comb through her thick, tangled hair. She sat, wearing only a shift, in the warm, humid night. The night of her presentation into society. Perhaps, the night of her awakening to womanhood.

“Don’t ever forget, ma princesse, that this is the most important evening of all. You must ensnare the right kind of man—the kind who can keep you.”

“I know, maman.” Marie Celeste attempted not to sigh. She had this lecture by heart.

“Your grandmother, she knew. A proud woman, she, straight from the shores of Africa. A Senegal woman. She may have been a slave, oui, but she didn’t stay that way. Mère Celeste knew how to walk, how to snap her eyes and catch a white man’s attention. Why do you think I named you after her? Your grandmother was born free, and she died free. So will I. And so will you.”

She twisted Marie Celeste’s hair, hard, making her yelp.

“Ouch! Maman!”

“Quiet, baby. I’m almost done.” With several more quick tugs and the strategic placement of pins, she managed to corral Marie Celeste’s unruly curls into a stylish knot. “Beautiful.”

Marie Celeste picked up their old hand mirror—another relic of grandmère’s—and peered at her reflection. The hairstyle was flattering, with a fluff of curls framing her face, tightening to a braided coil at the back. Certainly, she’d never looked better. How she felt was another matter.

As if sensing her daughter’s disquiet, Yvette quietly took the mirror away. She grasped Marie Celeste’s hands in her older, darker ones. Her eyes were dark and intense as she spoke.

“I know you have heard this story so many times, princesse, but listen. Just once more.” Yvette drew a heavy breath. Her hands tightened on her daughter’s. “Freedom cannot be given, bought, or sold. Freedom must be taken. And tonight, you will take it.”

Pay Attention!

When certain authors come up with a new release, I pay attention. We all have those authors in our lives, the ones whose work we connect with, who impress us every time. And when someone like that writes something new, I just know I have to read it!

We’re in luck, because one of the most unique and original erotica authors I know — Mr. T.S. Tarot — has his latest work on pre-order. In case you don’t know who this is, may I suggest that you take a look at his collection of published work. His stories are unlike any erotica I’ve ever read before. M.S. Tarot is a storyteller extraordinaire. I wish I knew how he does it, because everything I’ve ever read of his takes twists and turns I’d never have seen coming. He’s not afraid of the dark and gritty stuff, but there’s a deeper emotional side to his work as well. All of this is shallow description; what you need to do is just buy his new release and check it out! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Blackberry pickin’

When I got home from vacation, it was only to dive right back into work — hence the lack of writing or any kind of online presence. But, I am back! We came home into the height of a hot, dry Seattle summer. Heat is not really my jam… I can’t wait for the rain. But there is one thing about Seattle in late summer — besides its beauty, backyard BBQ’s, forest hikes and sunsets — that is unlike anything else I’ve found anywhere: wild blackberries.

They’re actually an invasive variety, but few people care because they are so delicious. And this summer, for whatever reason, it was the perfect year for blackberries. Truly, there is nothing more delicious that a fat, fresh, ripe blackberry, just off the vine, still warm from the sun… so good. It’s more than that, though. Part of the pleasure is the hunt itself.

Now bear with me, please; I’m crafting a metaphor. It came to me while I was up to my elbows in brambles, reaching for that elusive berry (the perfect ones are always just out of reach, aren’t they?) The most rewarding thing about picking wild blackberries is that you have to fight for them. You have to dare the thorns. You have to look under low-hanging leaves, and find the secret treasures hidden deep. These are not cute, domestic farmed berries. They’re tough, thorny, unkillable thickets whose only goal is survival. (And outgrowing the poor native species.) These berries don’t care about you — their delicious fruits are a prize you have to earn.

Which makes them taste all the sweeter.

Isn’t that the way with a great romance novel? We love reading about lovers who struggle. We want a happy ending, of course — just the way I salivate over a fresh blackberry tart — but we don’t want to just give it to them! Passion comes from the fight; that’s the part we truly love. Conflict and thorns.

As I ease back into my writing routine, I plan to remember that blackberry picking afternoon. How good it felt to reach perilously deep, to snatch that sweet prize and pop it, triumphantly, into my mouth. The burst of warm juice; the earthy grittiness of a wild berry. If I can make my romances feel like that, then we’re all in for a tasty time.

Free Summer Reading Time!

Yes! It’s summer at last! I always go on a relaxing vacation (yes, I am aware of my good fortune), where I eat, drink, and be merry until it’s time to slog back to work.

This summer, I propose a free armchair vacation for my readers. How about a trip to King Solomon’s Court? Perhaps a journey to a magical kingdom where princesses disappear each night, only to return with their dancing shoes worn through? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Tokyo, Japan? And in honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and Amazons in general), why not spend some time in a world where women rule and men are kept only as tools for pleasure?

It doesn’t matter which destinations you choose, because I‘m making them ALL FREE this summer! Yes, every day you visit my Amazon author page, there will be something offered for free. (Besides One Night to Tango, and Taking the Reins, which as you know are always yours for the fantastic low price of 0.00!)

Enjoy your summer reading!

 

BAM! 3 new releases out today!

Yes! The day has come! If you pre-orderd, you are now no doubt enjoying (at least, I hope you’re enjoying it!) one of my brand new, just-released, fresh-off-the-press erotica stories. Two fairy tales and one sort of sexual travelogue… yeah, I’m a bit all over the place these days. But I’m happy with the result.

Now, if you DIDN’T pre-order, you’re still good, because today’s the day they’re all three on sale at our favorite little small-town bookshop, Amazon.com. I think Senegal Beach and The Seal Wife are some of my best work yet…. and Little Big Man & The Rani makes me laugh. (And we all know laughing is sexy!) If you’re curious — and you know you are — check them out!

Senegal Beach — a young Peace Corps volunteer confronts her prejudices. Culture shock can be sexy!

The Seal Wife — a lonely Irish fisherman, a legendary creature; an erotic fairy tale tragedy.

Little Big Man & The Rani — doomed to death if she does not spin straw into gold, Shivangi is willing to bargain with everything she has…