Flirting with Amazon: diving back into KU

Like many indie authors, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. Besides the fact that it employs about half of my hometown — resulting in a Seattle housing boom and shocking real estate prices, I might add — Amazon makes almost every book in the world available to anyone. You have to admit, that’s really great. In addition, Amazon has made it possible for independent authors to publish their books at no cost, unlike most “vanity publishers” who continue to ask hundreds of dollars for the same service. Without it, readers in Great Britain or France or India (all of which have bought my books) would never even know my work existed. My first book was published through Amazon CreateSpace, and honestly, I never looked back.

So, yes, I’m grateful to Amazon. And I will continue to go there first when looking to publish my work. But the trick to Amazon is the exclusivity issue. To benefit from KU (Kindle Unlimited), and have access to author-driven promotions like book giveaways and price reductions, an author must agree to make their book available through Amazon alone.

flowers-working-cover
Flowers for the Ancients — now on KU!

For a while, I didn’t like this. It didn’t seem like a good deal; Amazon is so full of books and information, my work was easily lost among millions of others. Not many readers seemed to be using the KENP feature, which pays per page read by subscribers. So, I branched out. I used Smashwords and AllRomace eBooks – both of which I also appreciated for their more open-minded view of erotica. No adult dungeoning. That place is not as fun as it sounds.

However, again and again I’ve been forced to admit that, despite diversifying, most of my sales still come from Amazon. In which case, it seems silly not to take advantage of their KU program. So, basically, I’m back in. Not all of my work is KU; I picked the stories that sold mostly there, and kept the others up on Smashwords & ARe.

Amazons Equal ebook Cover
An Amazon’s Equal, back on KU!

Also, don’t forget that I offer two short stories for free on any platform, Amazon included! (How did I get Amazon to offer them for free? Price matching. Read this Smashwords blog post for instructions on how to do it.)

Grab One Night To Tango and Taking the Reins as freebies, then go on and check out all my KU books on Fionna Guillaume’s Amazon author page.

A Peek Between the Sheets (of my new WIP!)

As I come down from completing my latest project, Major Arcana (free to read on Wattpad!) it’s time to get to work on something new! An idea popped into my head… the vision of a little French chocolate shop, all those mouthwatering truffles on display, and an equally delicious chocolatier behind the counter. What’s better than sex and chocolate? (The answer, of course, is nothing.) And so, I thought I’d share a few paragraphs of my work in progress.

What do you think? Does it whet your palate?

***

Without a word, he walked to the door, took hold of the welcome sign, and turned it to the side that read “Fermé.” The key made a grinding noise as he turned it in the lock. Then, slowly rotating until they were face to face, he reached out his hand.

“Venez,” he said.

His hand was warm, the skin slightly rough, firm beneath her grasp as his fingers closed over hers. In an instant they were moving together, she following as he led her behind the counter, past the tempting assortment of chocolates, and through the service door. There, she found herself in a fragrant world of cocoa and milk; sugar, flour, nuts and syrups; a paradise of the senses.

With a strong motion, he swung her around until she faced him. Her hip connected with the wooden countertop, and she jumped in surprise. His hands came around her waist, steadying her, gently guiding her back until she was comfortably perched on the edge of the counter. Their eyes met again, shocking her with their sudden connection. His were dark, the color of rich coffee; no cream. She wanted to drink deep from that cup.

Reaching behind her, he grabbed something from the countertop and raised it to her lips, like an offering. Holding his eyes with her gaze, she parted her lips in an act of blind trust, and was rewarded by the smooth taste of melting chocolate. A sliver of it coated her tongue with flavor, and she moaned. Until the sound of her delight was cut off by his kiss.

His lips were hard on hers, insistent and wanting. At first his tongue stole away the chocolate, soon replacing it with his own manly flavor. She closed her eyes, letting herself swim in the heady sensations. Her taste buds scraped against his, coaxing the sweetness from his tongue as their mouths fused together in a chocolaty realm of give and take. She felt the rough texture of his beard on her cheek. Unwittingly, she brought her hands up to his chin, stroking her fingers through the short, sharp hairs. The feel of his beard beneath her fingers was piercingly erotic, sending a jolt of arousal straight to her clit.

He pulled away, his eyes molten, questioning. The answer was in her gaze, sharp with lust. No words were needed; only touch.

Effortless Diversity : a book review

Some books can justifiably be defined as masterpieces. These are literary works that stand the test of time; The Classics, and all the other fine novels and texts we can read over and over again without tiring. All of us have books like that. I, for one, have always loved losing myself in words, in the geography of my imagination.

My husband, however, is not like that. If he reads a text-heavy book, it is probably nonfiction. However, a true Frenchman, he has long been an admirer of graphic novels. In the American context, these have until recently often been dismissed as (or rather, lumped in) with comic books. Superheroes and stuff. No offense if that’s your thing; too much spandex for my taste.

One book we can both agree on, now, is Saga. This is fast becoming one of my favorite series ever. It is, essentially, a space opera. Think SciFi/Romance. Yet of the deepest, most engaging kind. Yes, sexy aliens are getting naked and busy on a regular basis (That’s fun! And hey, graphic novel, so you get the artsy eye candy to go with…), but there’s so much more to it. Themes of diversity; clash of cultures; discrimination and stereotyping; the meaning of family; even the uniting power of literature; are woven throughout the main story. Adventure can be found aplenty, but for me, Saga is an inspiring example of effortless diversity. (Much like the delightful online cartoon I previously mentioned, Fated.)

15704307With my recent musing on how to address white privilege in writing, reading the recently-released sixth book of Saga was a welcome reminder that there is lots of great literature out there already fighting the good fight. In Saga, aliens come in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. They live together, fuck together, fight each other, and generally are no better or worse than most “humans;” except way more badass. The blend makes this fantastic world excitingly familiar. Reading Saga, I can totally imagine how an inter-galactic, multi-species society might be. And you know what? All of a sudden, small differences are erased by the bigger picture. That picture happens to be an endless (and pointless) civil war, but hey, conflict has to come from somewhere.

Saga is the real deal. If you want some seriously good science fiction – and enjoy beautiful art, snappy dialogue, an un-put-downable story, thoughtful sexiness, and effortless diversity to boot – then you need to buy a copy right now. I’ll just be counting the months until the next book comes out…

A Sense of Accomplishment

I’m the kind of person who likes to pick one task, get it done, and then move right onto the next. In writing, this can be beneficial. Sometimes, it helps me slog through slow moments, forcing myself through as I get excited about whatever project I have waiting after I finish the current one. Other times, it makes me slow to finish, and I lose track of some of my inspiring ideas. Knowing myself, however, if I had more than one story going at once, I’d get bogged down in them all and never finish anything.

major arcana coverTherefore, I always experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment when a writing project is completed. (Or, at least, the first draft is!) This is especially true when it’s a longer work, and even more so when the entire story was one surprise after the other. That’s what just happened to me, as I typed the last word of the epilogue to Major Arcana.

As many of my readers know, this is an experimental work, published and available to read for free on Wattpad. Unlike most of my work, for this one I let my deck of Tarot cards be my guide. Each card influenced the mood and events in the chapters, so often I had to adjust the story to suit. However, in the end I think it turned out pretty well. Writing freely, with only the cards and my subconscious for direction, was scary. But it was a great exercise in flexibility and creative thinking.

Now, as that bright sense of relief and pleasure fades, the next big question arises: what to do next?

Like most authors, I have a running list of stories-to-be-written. At this point, I’m thinking about three categories:

  • Standalone erotic shorts, mostly contemporary erotica and erotic romance
  • Fairy tales erotically retold, for the purpose of getting several together into a collection
  • Historical erotic fiction, set in a variety of colonial times and settings, featuring mixed-race women as heroines (the research for these is going to be SO FUN!)
  • A new Ancients series, following up on Flowers, featuring more women from diverse corners of the ancient world

I’m dabbling in a little shorty at the moment, hoping to clean my mind and get geared up for one of the bigger projects on my list. So, what do you think? Which one should I write next? (Because you know, finishing books is addictive!)