Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Finding My Niche

I took a much-needed break last week to attend my local writers group. I’d spoken a few times about my current WIP – the first three books in a new series. I’d been claiming they were different from the ‘normal’ romances available today and one of my fellow writers finally got around to asking the important question:
“How? How are they different, Mona?”
Time to fish or cut bait.
I probably should have kept my mouth shut. After all, what’s ‘normal’ in romance? There are so many different sub-genres of romance these days one can hardly keep up. Remember the good old days when Harlequin/Silhouette told us which stories fit into which category? No, I’m not suggesting that we revert to that system, but when the reader picked up a Harlequin Blaze in the store, they knew what to expect. Now they pick up (electronically) an e-book with a hot looking cover, looking for a sizzling read, and find it’s rather tame… or sometimes the opposite.
Am I evading the question here? Yeah, probably. So okay Mona, how is this new series different?
First: I don’t specify Book One, Book Two etc. on the front cover. For books to be listed with the retailers as a series, they have to be assigned One, Two etc., but it doesn’t have to show on the cover, and I like that.
Second:  There isn’t a bare chest in sight. Wait… there isn’t even a man on the cover! Are these really romances? Definitely. They are touching romances that focus on story. But hold on… the reader will get at least a couple of sex scenes… right? Sorry, no. We may join the lovers the morning after the fact, but that’s all folks. As I said, this series focuses on story.
Third:  No cliffhangers. This won’t surprise my readers, because I’ve never written one, but cliffhangers are becoming common, and I’ve made it clear that these all self-contained stories. One character appears in every story, and I have vague plans to give her a story of her own at some point, but each novella is about a fresh set of characters.
Fourth: Releasing three books at once. This is not usually the way it’s done, but I know that when I find an author/series I enjoy, I’m often ready to read another book right away. So I’ve released three in the FOREVER series.
Fifth:  Length. These are novella-length. So far, they’re 32,000 – 38,000 give or take a few words. You’d be surprised how much story can be packed into that number of words when we don’t have several sex scenes taking up ten pages each.
Hold on! What’s the matter with sex scenes?
Nothing. Just look at the number of ‘hot’ books out there. As the old adage goes, sex sells. But other authors are doing a great job already. I’ve written some books with sex scenes and they were fun, but these days I prefer to focus on stories that resonate with me.
The result? I’ve found my niche, and I’m quite comfy here, thanks.
I hope you’ll read this new series. Response from my Beta readers has been positive. The first story – FOREVER CHANGED – is free at iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Scribd, and Tolino. Hopefully I can get Amazon to price match it for free within a few days.
In the meantime – whatever’s on your e-reader – Happy Reading!

Here are the links for FOREVER CHANGED:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Birth of a Series - Part Three

As I write this, I’m busy working on Book Three of the Series.

Before I started writing any of the books, I considered marketing. Most authors will tell you that there are two aspects of being an author that are a pain – one is writing a catchy blurb, and the other is marketing. I would have to agree.

From what I’ve observed, each genre requires slightly different marketing. There are dozens of books willing to tell you how to do it, but frankly I’ve found that experimenting works for me. Yes, every once in a while an ad or a promo is a complete bust, but I’m not likely to forget it and repeat the mistake.

My first consideration was the ‘look’ of the covers. I wanted to convey an emotional read, and as I said in an earlier post, each story is about a woman at a turning point in her life. Issues so far have been work-related, health-related, and the one I’m working on now is about the end of a relationship.

Look on any e-book sales site these days, and ninety percent of the romances have either a hot looking man with no shirt and 6-pack abs, or a male and female in a clutch. Makes sense… the author and cover designer are showing you what to expect when you start reading.

I’m taking a bit of a chance with this new series. I’m portraying just the female protagonist on the cover. Each story will have a romantic interest involved, but he won’t make the cover. Not because the man isn’t important, but because I want the series to stand out as something just different enough to attract a potential reader’s interest. Each book is a romance, but it’s primarily about the story.

After much discussion back and forth, Elizabeth Mackey has come up with an amazing series of covers. I’ll post four of them here, and I hope you agree with me that she’s done a wonderful job.

Time to get back writing. These darn books don’t write themselves!  Release date for the first three looks to be somewhere in the middle of August. I’ll be sure to let you know.

ps:  If you’d like to receive notices from me on new releases, and free or discounted books, please sign up for my e-mail newsletter. Sign-up form is on my facebook page. See the envelope graphic in the left-hand panel; that’s where you sign up. Here’s the link:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Birth of a Series - Part 2

One of the toughest decisions I made when I started this series was to release the first three books concurrently. Why? Because I believe that for a reader to become involved with any series, and the style of storytelling, they need to read several. Of course it’s in my best interest to have readers buy the subsequent books, and if they like the stories, I’m confident they will buy more than one.

This new series – or collection of stories – will have one thing in common. Each story starts at a turning point in the central character’s life.  The stories will revolve almost solely around one character, and as a result they will be shorter than my other novels. These would technically be called novellas, but that term is misunderstood and misrepresented, so I’ll be making it clear that they’re an encapsulated story line with the focus being a romantic story. I’ve read a lot of romances recently that are nothing more than a beginning and an ending, with multiple sex scenes spliced in between. A sex sandwich, as it were.

There’s nothing wrong with that – if they weren’t popular, readers wouldn’t buy them, and they’d fade away into obscurity. But I’ve learned that my readers like a bit more story between “hello” and “I do”. And with this new series, I intend to give them that. Don’t get me wrong – there’s lots of romance, but there’s an interesting storyline as well.

I’m one work day away from finishing the second one. It’s an exciting time, and I’m getting anxious to share them with you.

In Part Three, I’ll show you the covers designed by my incredible cover artist. She’s done an amazing job, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

See you in a couple of weeks!

ps:  If you’d like to receive notices from me on new releases, and free or discounted books, please sign up for my e-mail newsletter. Sign-up form is on my facebook page. See the envelope graphic in the left-hand panel; that’s where you sign up. Here’s the link:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Birth of a Series - Part I

Ask five authors for a description of a series and you’re likely to get five different answers. I’m one of those who believe that there’s a certain amount of latitude allowed in describing a series.
  For example, is a series similar to the old serials that were shown before the main feature at movie houses? Those generally featured a main character, who managed to get into, and out of, a different dangerous situation each week.
  Or is a series a set of books on a theme?
  Or is a series an evolving string of stories? This type is often set around a family. In the romance genre, you’d be amazed how many families have 5 or even 6 dazzlingly handsome, incredibly successful brothers. Oh, I musn’t forget… they’re all great lovers, too.
  Am I making fun of those? Not a bit… I’ve written my share of similar men. After all, romances are fantasy at heart.
  What’s my point? I have embarked on a new series. It will be the longest series I’ve written, and I’ve devoted a lot of time to considering all the angles. No doubt there are some I haven’t considered, but that’s what keeps me learning all the time.

This blog (Part I) will concentrate on genre. Sounds silly, right? After all, I write romance. What’s so difficult about qualifying that? Fair enough. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this blog will concentrate on the heat index – or how sensual the series will be, if you prefer that terminology.
  Does it matter? Yes, I think so. I have written everything but erotica. A couple of my books have what is termed sexually explicit scenes. A couple of my books have sex scenes between the two main characters, but the heat index is quite far down the scale. And recently, I’ve been concentrating more on story, with any sex being what we call ‘behind closed doors’.
  When I advertise my books with sexually explicit scenes, I put a warning in the book blurb that goes to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc. Not only is there a sensuality level warning, but the book blurb itself is unambiguous. And so on, through the sensuality levels of my various books.
  Why is this necessary? Because I would never willingly offend my readers. Some of them have come to know me through my very first books – the ones published through a small press called Avalon. Amazon now owns those titles and continues to advertise and sell them on my behalf, and they are considered Sweet Romances.
   Let’s face it. There are plenty of books out there with a lot of sex… that’s no secret. And those authors do it well – far better than I. So I cheerfully leave that market to them while I work to develop my style.
  And what’s my style? As evidenced over my past two series, it’s tender romances with well-developed characters and an interesting, unique story line. Some old-time writers say there’s no such thing as a new story line and that may be true, but I try to come up with something fresh for each book I write.
  In part two of The Birth of a Series, I’ll tell you about the new series I’m working on. In the meantime, I’m hard at work on the second book. So keep in touch.

ps:  If you’d like to receive notices from me on new releases, and free or discounted books, please sign up for my e-mail newsletter. Sign-up form is on my facebook page. See the envelope graphic in the left-hand panel; that’s where you sign up. Here’s the link:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. A day of remembrance and respect. A day when all of us, regardless of our nationality, should be thankful for those who served, and those who paid the ultimate price.

I am reminded of a day in early May some ten years ago when my husband and I were travelling in the Netherlands. We were on a river cruise and had the good fortune to be docked within a short drive of Groesbeck, the site of the Canadian War Cemetery. Prior to that visit, the townspeople paraded in utter silence to the local war memorial and placed flowers. Every single resident, adult and child, participated. You could have heard a pin drop. I was part of a Canadian tour and we were all touched to discover a separate memorial to Canadian soldiers. I rarely cry, but the number of flowers at the Canadian memorial broke down my reserves.

And then we continued to Groesbeck. A resting place of Canadian soldiers, it is lovingly tended by local school children, who are mindful of the sacrifices made. It is my understanding that they consider it an honour to tend the cemetery. Our own Canadian children could learn much from the dedication shown here.

I walked along the rows, looking at names and ages. They were so young, most of them. It's a lesson I will never forget.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sorry About That!

 My face is red!  I recently signed up to support a Rafflecopter $500 Gift Card Giveaway. My 'thing' was signing up to receive my e-mail alerts on New and Free books. Simple, right?
  Not so fast!  I forgot to check that the link was still working. Silly me.
  I've had it fixed, so if you missed out, go back and add more points by signing up.
  After all, $500 is nothing to sneeze at.
  Here's the link:

  Atchoo, and Good Luck.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Release

I'm delighted to announce that Book Four in The Women of Independence series is now available at all major e-book retailers.

It's been a pleasure to share this series with you, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to leave glowing reviews.

Here's the book description:

   What would you do if your boyfriend suggested you date other people? Tyler’s suggestion comes out of the blue and suddenly Katie’s well-ordered life is crumbling around her. And to make matters worse, the grandmother she never really knew decides to make contact.
   Join Katie as she weighs college life against a murky, undecided future. Will Tyler still be there when she comes home, or is he dating as well?

   Love’s Like That is Book Four in The Women of Independence series. This book is a complete story, but is shorter than the other three, and is priced accordingly.

And here are the buy links. Enjoy!