It’s here! The last book in the excellent November Snow series!

Those of you who actually read my blog know I am a HUGE fan of A.M. Manay’s November Snow series. I’ve had the great pleasure to read them all, and the frustration of finishing book two – which ends in a nail-biting cliffhanger, by the way. Now, at last, the long-anticipated third book is here! She Marches Through Fire : November Snow book 3.

I’m not a vampire-romance groupie, and usually books about supernatural creatures… well… bore me. There’s so much magic in the real world I’d prefer to sink my teeth into! Therefore it was my delight and surprise to fall utterly in love with A.M. Manay’s characters and story. Despite all their special powers, the fairies, werewolves, demons, and vampires in this series are never one-dimensional. Their world is our own, with all its challenges and joys, its hope and disillusion. It’s rare when an author can blend to much reality into a fantasy tale, but this is it! And the result is something even more rare: a rich, fast-paced, thrilling series that I could not put down.

Please do yourself a favor and buy all three November Snow books today! I’m serious. They’re THAT good.

The Paramount Importance of the Blurb

So I do a lot of book shopping, as you know. Hell, this afternoon I dropped $75 at the used bookstore down the street! (Don’t tell my husband…) And while I love browsing – and overspending as a result of far too many tempting paperbacks out there – I do, naturally, also indulge in a good bit of Amazon.com perusal. When I go to the bookstore, different elements might catch my eye. Maybe an evocative title, an artistic cover, an attractive table laid out with books like a literary buffet, or a friend’s recommendation. (In the aforementioned case of the $75, I can blame it all on my friend! I only went with the list she gave me… the list of 8 books I just MUST read!) When shopping online, however, there is really only one deciding factor in whether or not I’ll buy a book. And that is the blurb.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s true. However, you can absolutely judge a book by its blurb!

I can’t really say how many god-awful blurbs I have come across. And, sad as I am to say it, the majority of those are from self-published authors. I think many of us ignore the blurb and just kind of throw it together. This is a huge mistake, because it is the one element – yes, even more important than a snazzy cover – that will convince someone to buy your book. It is a chance to highlight your writing style, present the plot and characters, and give just enough information to make them yearn for more. And, you know, purchase the book. 🙂

So what makes a good blurb? Now I am hardly a blurb-master myself. (In fact, no doubt my work would be well served if I were to go back and rewrite some of my earlier ones…) However, there are some general rules to follow. Plus some major what-not-to-do’s. Here is my humble two cents on the subject:

  • The blurb should give a fair interpretation of your writing style. If the blurb has lovely, long, flowing sentences, that’s what I expect in the book! If it’s Hemingway-esque, you’d better deliver the clipped, raw goods. And if the writing in the blurb sucks, well, I’m pretty sure the book’s writing is equally bad! (As we all know, life is too short to read bad writing…)
  • The blurb should introduce the characters, the setting, and the problem (also known as the story!), without giving everything away. Even if your book is not a mystery, the blurb should be. After all, you don’t want to reveal your fabulous twists and wrinkles – of sheets or plotlines!
    • On that note, lots of people fill their blurbs with questions. This isn’t a bad thing, per se. But when I’m picking a book, I don’t want to play 20 questions. I want to know some major themes, the people involved, and where it’s happening. Limit questions to one or two really juicy ones.
    • If your blurb is a full summary of the book, that’s bad news. Just an introduction, please! Think of it as a preview to a film. You give glimpses, but don’t haul out all of the best bits for the teaser. (In other words, don’t model yourself on the overly-detailed modern previews. I didn’t even watch Revenant and already I know everything that happens. Go for an old-school, classy, suggestive kind of preview…)
  • If your book has any accolades – prizes won, bestseller lists, and such – they should go at the top, but discreetly. One line is enough to get all that info out there, and then let your reader get on with the blurb!
  • I was recently critiqued on this one: it’s best to keep blurbs concrete. Mention specific details – maybe a hot scene, a building tension, something unique about the setting. Generalities will not give a reader enough to sink their teeth into. I have reread my old blurbs and made many improvements with this in mind.

A good blurb is a tempting peek into the book. Kind of checking out its ass in those nice jeans, without really knowing all the goodies hidden underneath… It’s a flirty meet-and-drink at a bar, just getting to know the guy, trying to decide whether to take him home. Think about it. What would convince you to take that man(/book) to bed? For me it would be an interesting question, characters I want to meet, a place I want to go… and some slick writing. When you are able to seduce in just one paragraph, you are the blurb-master!

Blog Hop!

I’ve been invited by the delightful Jolie Mason to participate in her ASPA blog hop! What fun! My contribution is a mini-snippet from my current work in progress, A Job With A View: Tokyo. More to come on that as it approaches completion, but basically Cassidy has signed on to be a personal assistant to the wealthy (and unknown) Mr. Watanabe in Tokyo, Japan. She’s not quite sure what this job entails yet, but it certainly involves more than the usual paper pushing. All she has to decide is how badly she wants it…

Read on for a collection of some of my favorite reviews left by readers. How I love getting reviews! If you’re inspired by any of them, go ahead and click on the titles to read more & see where they come from.

Enjoy the hop!

A Job With A View: Tokyo

Without another word he strolled to the window and stood, hands clasped behind his back, gazing out at the Tokyo panorama. Cassidy was confused. Was he really done with her? He just touched her like that, turning her on so much she felt the eager wetness dripping down her thighs, and then he told her to go? All she could hope was that he was saving something better for the rest of the week. Otherwise she and her hand were about to become very well reacquainted.

She dressed, bowed even though he wasn’t looking, and left. Aki smiled when she left the office. Clearly, Cassidy had done well. Her white-gloved chauffeur took her back to the hotel, where dinner was waiting. Cassidy didn’t go anywhere that evening, just sat, read a romance novel, and nibbled on vending-machine pocky.

Although she went to bed early, she couldn’t fall asleep for hours. As she tossed and turned, making knots in the sheets, Cassidy realized something surprising: she was totally enthralled with Watanabe-sama. Whatever else he asked of her this week, she would do it without question.

Reviews to check out:

… This isn’t run of the mill anything, but it’s especially not run of the mill for erotic romance… (for An Amazon’s Equal)

… I have to say: I find Guillaume’s writing style somewhat reminiscent of those classic author’s I so love—Hawthorne, Dickens, Heyer… Theirs were works dedicated to much telling rather than showing, but they did it so well. Long, flowing paragraphs of intricate portrayals to draw you into the worlds in which they wrote about… (for Lemons in Their Slippers)

… I rarely find writing that fulfills my need for beauty and sex. … I didn’t know that erotica could be this good… If you’re looking for erotica that is humane, literate, and intensely arousing, you could hardly do better than ‘Queen of Beauty’… (for Queen of Beauty)

The intimacy of making a baby combined with the taboo of a threesum makes way for a hot erotic short! Sarah’s anticipation of the events, with Jay’s basic mating instincts, and David’s romantic desire to please create a great balance of energy and storytelling.  (for Her Birthday Breeding)

Going book shopping

I was hanging out on Smashwords this afternoon, watching the ever-growing list of newly released e-books (most of which – ahem – are at least one dollar more expensive than my high-quality 99 cent collection. Just sayin’.) when I had a horrible realization. Yes, it was a shock to be hit with, but so true: I realized I’ve been so focused on my writing lately that I have become a not-so-great reader. Egads! How terrible! Reading has always been a huge part of my identity. I am a voracious reader, and for two years when I lived on the far side of the world where electricity is not such a reliable thing, reading quite certainly saved my sanity. Also, reading erotica is hot. So I should do more of that.

Here’s my fresh decision: I will support my fellow indie authors by buying, reading, and reviewing their work, just as I see them doing for mine. You rub my back, I’ll rub your…whatever. And sometimes I’ll just give our free back rubs. Because everybody loves back rubs!

In case you are curious, here are my personal rules for reviewing:

  1. Only review it if I have read the whole thing. This seems like a no-brainer, but considering some of the inane reviews out there, I’m pretty sure some people spew their opinion before finishing the book. Or maybe they just didn’t read the blurb carefully enough. In any case, that’s annoying; don’t review it unless you’ve read it. Pretty elementary, folks.
  2. Give a truly honest review. I admit, I have high standards for writing – my own and other authors included. Sometimes I read some of my older work and say, damn, that sucks. But I can fix it! Then I do, and sometimes I make it not suck anymore, and other times I just throw up my hands and throw in the towel. It happens. In any case, I believe in honest reviews. Otherwise, what’s the point? Which leads me to –
  3. Only leave a review if it’s 3 stars or higher. I am not one of those people who believes in the power of negativity. Nope, I am a proud optimist, and as such I like to live in the world of the positive. Really, who are these people who go around leaving one-and-two star reviews? That’s, like, D’s and F’s on report cards, even though you know the student worked hard. If you hated the book so much, then why did you even finish it? (Which relates back to point number 1. I’ve attempted to read some pretty awful books in my time, but a couple of years ago I decided life is just too short to waste on bad writing. Without shame, I now send the really bad ones to Goodwill – but I don’t review them, because I couldn’t bring myself to finish them, and that wouldn’t be fair. Makes sense, right?) Anyhow, nobody likes a Debbie Downer, so leave your one-and-two-star reviews in your head, and find a book you like better. Just like your mom always told you: “If you can’t think of something nice to say, better to say nothing at all!” Another easy rule to follow, right?

So there they are! Fionna’s three rules for reviewing! Stay tuned, because I’ll be reading and writing up a storm these days. Hope you all enjoy!