Yikes! My apologies. This is getting out late today. This is an excerpt from Book Five in the After the Crash series. Taye’s cousin Ellie and her husband moved south into Kansas. The husband died and after Ellie had repeatedly declined to marry his employer, the man sold her to traders, who were taking her and a couple other women to Ellsworth to sell to be prizes in a Bride Fight.
“It’s too dangerous,” Ellie protested.
Sara snorted. “You act like an old granny. You’re not that old.”
“I’m twenty-four,” Ellie murmured. At this time, one short year ago, she had been a happy twenty-three year old wife and mother. Now, she was a widow who felt twice that, at least. Maybe three times that, with her little boy kept behind in the house of the man who had sold her like a cow. “I’m old enough to know what could happen to two women alone.”
“We have to do something! I don’t want to be married to some guy I don’t even know.”
Neither did Ellie. “But even if we did manage to get away, where could we go that would be safe?”
“We can do it. We’ll go to my uncle and my cousins in Omaha. They’ll take care of us.”
“I have a cousin, too.”
Ellie felt a wave of longing for Taye, her big, strong and over-protective older cousin. Taye had tried to talk her husband out of taking her so far away to live. When Neal had died, she had written to Taye, asking him to come and collect her and little Connor. She had written several times in the five months since Neal had died, but no answer ever came. She hadn’t understood why until this morning when Mr. Moore had traded her for gold. All the letters she had given him to post had gone into the fire instead of the mail pouch. Taye probably didn’t even know Neal was dead. If he did, he would have come for her right away. An idea struck her.
“Sara, wait here. I’m going to talk to Mr. Thomas.”
Sara perked up. “What about?”
“I think I have a way for us for us to not become prizes in a Bride Fight.” Ellie climbed over the back of the wagon. “Wish me luck.”
“Good luck. But if it doesn’t work, we’re running away.”
“Hm,” said Ellie, noncommittal.
Rye was still reclining by the coals of the fire, and Tim, Jeremy, and Paul were there, too, drinking coffee and talking in quiet voices. They broke off when she came to Rye.
He looked up at her, his face mildly surprised. “It’ll be a long drive tomorrow. You might want to get some sleep.”
“I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes, if you don’t mind.” She wiped her wet palms on her pants. “It’s business related.”
“Always glad to talk business.” Rye waved his hand at Tim, and the blond man moved a couple feet to the side so she could sit. He waited in silence for her to speak. It took her a second to find the right words.
“I have a cousin who loves me. He’s pretty well off. He would pay you twice what the men of Ellsworth would if you brought me to him.”
Rye’s brows rose until they almost disappeared under his limp curls. “Twice? That would be 200 gold.”
Ellie’s heart stuttered at the sheer amount of money. Did Taye have that much? “I don’t think that will be a problem for Taye” she lied. “He dotes on me.”
“And what about Miss Nelson?”
“He will pay for her, too.”
“Four hundred gold?” Rye whistled. “Your cousin must be loaded.”
Loaded with gold, no. Loaded with sharp teeth and a wolf’s aggression, yes. Not to mention an entire pack of men who all felt like he did. Ellie forced her hands to relax in her lap.
“Taye feels strongly about the safety of the women in his family. Actually, all women. He would be grateful to you if you bring me to him.”
Should she mention that Taye would want her son Connor brought to him, too? No, better not. Once she was safe with Taye, they would retrieve Connor from Mr. Moore. With a stab of vindictiveness, Ellie wanted to see the look on his face when Taye showed up at the Moore place to collect Connor. She doubted Mr. Moore would live through the retrieval process.
“That’s a lot of money,” Rye said thoughtfully. “But we have a contract with the men of Ellsworth. If we start breaking contracts, who will trust us to deliver our goods? Besides, we got one more girl to pick up tomorrow. Sorry, Mrs. Overdahl. When you get settled in Ellsworth you can write your cousin a letter.”
Ellie steeled herself to deliver a gentle threat. “Taye Wolfe is not a man you want to make an enemy of, Mr. Thomas.”
Next to her, Tim jerked in an audible breath. “Taye Wolfe? Where’s he from?”
“My cousin lives near Kearney, Nebraska.”
“Shee-it,” muttered Tim. “We’re in trouble, boss.”
Pop Quiz Time!
What is a book review for?
A. To let everybody know what you thought of the book
B. To make the author feel good
C. To show off how cleverly snarky you can be
D. To get everybody to buy (or not buy) the book
Is there a correct answer? Sure, and maybe more than one. But the answer that should not be chosen is B. A review should not be written to make an author feel good. A review may praise the story, the writing or the characters, and that will probably make the author feel good, but that’s not the point of a review. And (this is really important) a book review should review the book, not the author. In my opinion, a review is for other readers, to help them decide if they want to spend the time and/or money on that book. One reader might write a scathing review because they hated the book. But if they aren’t specific about what they didn’t like and why, it’s not really helpful to other readers, is it?
For instance, if I am Reader Maddy and I’m scrolling through Amazon looking for a fun vampire romance to take with me on my Labor Day vacation, and I see a book that piques my interest I’m probably going to look at some reviews to help me decide if I want to read it. A review that says, “This was the worse 3 hours I ever spent! Save your money. ” tells me that reviewer hated the book, but not why. A review that says, “This book is awesome. Get this book and you won’t regret it!” tells me that reviewer loved the book but not why.
How could these two reviews be better? More info is needed. For example: ”This is the worst 3 hours I ever spent! The heroine was a doormat. The hero was sexy, and I liked him, but I never figured out what he saw in the heroine. The writing was so disjointed I couldn’t follow the story, and I couldn’t stand all the typos. I quit reading after the halfway point. Save your money.” This tells me what this person didn’t like and why. “This book is awesome. The writing moved at a fast pace and I felt like I really got to know the hero and heroine as their relationship progressed. I loved the way she had to grow up to be able to keep his love, and the climax in the last few chapters had me biting my nails. Get this book and you won’t regret it!” This review lets me know that this reader felt very differently about this book and why. Is it possible that two readers can have opposite reactions to the same book? Certainly! And that’s okay.
What made me write this post? Well, sometimes reviews are snarky and an author makes the mistake of responding to the snark. Bad author! NO COOKIE! My advice to myself is to NEVER respond to a review. Why? Because a review of one of my books is not written for me. It is written for other people who are thinking about reading it and are looking to see what other people thought of it. It would be nice if reviewers were polite and balanced in their reviews, but 90% of the people on Amazon, Good Reads, etc, who leave reviews are not professional reviewers. They want to get their point across and sometimes can say hurtful things without meaning to hurt anyone. If they are trying to be hurtful, then shame on them. But twice the shame on the author or fan who snaps back. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some readers find a mean review entertaining. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.
There has been, once again, an internet brouhaha between a well-known author and her fans, and reviewers. Boy, it makes a writer nervous! With the digital age we live in, the distance between authors and readers is very small. Authors need to remember when they are posting on Facebook, or Twitter, or on their blogs, that people are reading their posts not as if they were private people but as public authors. Mind you, authors are only human and we do a whole bunch of stupid things in public. Please be as kind as you can when we are idiots.
If you are a reader who would like to leave a review on Amazon or Good Reads, etc, but aren’t sure of what to say, I do have a suggested list of things to consider when leaving a review. Yes, these are only my suggestions!
1. Over all, how did you like the book?
2. Summerize the plot in two or three sentences. You can paraphrase the blurb. Try to not give spoilers.
3. How did you feel about the hero/heroine? Did you like their relationship? The love scenes?
4. How did you feel about the style of writing? Was it boring? Could you follow the action? Did it go too fast?
5. Was there something, perhaps a scene or a character, that stood out for you, good or bad? Why?
6. Is there at least one bad thing and one good thing you can honestly say about the book? Say it.
7. Be honest. If you didn’t like a book, say so. If an author gets her panties in a twist, that’s her problem. Don’t engage in bickering online.
8.. Would you recommend this book to a friend?
Authors, if you happen to read a review that hurts you, do not engage! We are professionals. People are giving us their time and money to read our work. Be polite. Not everybody is going to love what we write. Strange, I know, but I can’t stand brussel sprouts and everyone else in my family inhales the icky things like they are candy. *shudder* There’s no accounting for tastes.
The internet is a big sandbox. True, the romance community is a small corner of it, but there should be enough room for all of us to play without kicking sand into each others faces, right? So Let’s Play Nice.
I haven’t had a real cold in almost two years. I have asthma and sinus troubles so even a mild cold can go bad very quickly for me. This started on Monday afternoon and it has already escalated past the usual misery. Here are 13 things I’m dealing with right now:
1. Headache. Enough said, right?
2. Tiredness. We’re on overtime at work and I really want the money. Yesterday I worked from 6:30am to 5:23 pm. Considering how lousy I feel right now, that may have been a mistake. I may have to kiss any overtime on the check good-bye cuz if I feel like this tomorrow I’m staying home.
3. Plugged nose. Either it’s swollen shut on the inside or it’s running like a faucet.
4. Raw skin between my nose and upper lip from constantly blowing. The last time this happened to me I was 8 years old. I’d forgotten how unpleasant it is.
5. Coughing. Deep, barking coughs that hurt both my chest and my head.
6. Can’t sleep. See #3 and #5, which results in #2.
7. Aches. My arms feel like over-ripe tomatoes. You know, where the only thing holding them together is the skin, and if you poke it, the tomato might burst and the insides will ooze all over. Even my finger joints hurt.
8. Burning in my chest. Every breath that is even slightly deep hurts and results in a coughing fit.
9. Sneezing. This isn’t unusual for me. I sneeze all the time anyway because of my allergy to dust.
10. Watery eyes. See #9 above.
11. Piles of wadded up kleenex overflowing every wastebasket in my vicinity.
12. Temperature. It’s a little over 100 F right now.
13. Uncertain appetite. One minute I’m starving, the next nothing appeals to me.
On Monday afternoon, this might have been a summer cold. I strongly suspect we’ve raced right past that. I think it’s the flu. This may push the goal for Eddie’s Prize further out. Gosh darn it.
Welcome to Maddy Barone’s stop on the Just Romance Me’s Love’s A Beach Blog Hop. If you want to go on the hop or you’ve fallen off the tour bus, you can get on by clicking here.
My current series takes place in Nebraska, in a dystopia-like future where women are scarce and wives are often taken by the winner of a Bride Fight. Not a lot of beaches in Nebraska But the idea behind beaches is relaxation, right? Maybe some hot lovemaking? Here is a scene from Eddie’s Prize, the 4th book in the After the Crash series, which I am hoping to have submitted by September 30. Eddie is a blond hunk who won Lisa in a Bride Fight. With so few women, there is no one to fool around with, so on his wedding night Eddie was a virgin. Lisa was a famous model before her plane jumped fifty years into the future. She is definitely NOT a virgin. This scene is the morning after.
Eddie leaned up with his head propped on one hand and his fingers of his free hand tracing invisible patterns over her collar bones. “It gets better every time, doesn’t it?”
Lisa stretched lazily. “I’m not sure it can get better than that. But if you want to try, I won’t complain.”
“It can be better. This time I didn’t kiss you, or suck your nipples, or barely taste your clit.”
“That’s true,” his wife agreed with a naughty smile. “And I didn’t get to suck you either.”
Eddie shuddered slightly when she ran a finger over his cock lying limp against his thigh. He caught her hand to bring it to his lips to kiss. “We have plenty of time to play. This is our honeymoon, remember?”
Her beautiful smile curved her lips. “Right. I need a bathroom, and then breakfast.”
Eddie returned the smile. “I think it’s closer to lunch now. You get dressed and go use the facilities, and I’ll see what we have in the cold box for breakfast.”
Lisa’s smooth brow folded in a frown. “The only clothes I have are what I was wearing on the plane. They’re pretty beat up.”
Eddie remembered that their clothes were currently scattered from the bedroom to the kitchen. “My mom and sister put a robe and nightgown in the closet for you.” He couldn’t keep his smile back. “I guess you didn’t get a chance to wear the nightgown. Tomorrow we’ll go downtown and order some new clothes for you.”
“Thank you!” Lisa gave him a big, smacking kiss. “I love new clothes!”
She jumped out of bed and flashed him a smile when he leered at her naked body in an exaggerated way. She took her time opening the closet and putting on the robe. She fumbled for the boots he had pried off her last night. She stamped her feet into them and shook her head to free her hair from the robe.
“A chenille robe and high-heeled Ferragamo boots. How sexy.”
He leered again. “I think so.”
She added an extra sway to her hips as she left the bedroom to go out to the outhouse. Eddie whistled at the show, enjoying teasing her. After he heard the door close behind her, his face lost the smile. Sitting up, he put his feet on the floor and his head in his hands. How long could he keep his secret from her?
Eddie got up and didn’t bother dressing before picking up their scattered clothes. Lisa was right. Her sweater was ruined, and her jeans weren’t much better. He folded the clothes and laid them on top of the dresser in the bedroom. He paused to smile at the rumpled sheets and blankets. No sense making the bed. He planned to be back in it not long after breakfast, with his wife beside him. Or under him, or on top of him. His smile grew, resembling a cat contemplating a bowl of foamy cream.
I am offering a download of Book 3: Wolf Tracker, which will be drawn by the Blog Hop organizers on Sunday. I am also offering a download of any of my books to a commenter on my blog. If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment. Also, those who receive my newsletter are automatically added twice to the drawing. I will draw a name by 10pm Central Time, Sunday night, and notify the winner then.
Have fun on the hop, and good luck in the Prize Winning Department!
Do you know what that is? That is when a group of fiber artists take nice fluffy wool that has been sheared from a sheep, and dye it, spin in into yarn, and then weave it into a shawl. Some teams are sponsored by local farms, or yarn shops, but the team that I am part of, Arachne’s Handmaidens, is independent. This is the third year I have taken part in this fiber event, and the past two years my team has won. Sadly, we were disqualified because we did not finish our shawl within the alloted time. Still, it was a fun day and I had a blast with the other gals. I’m exhausted after spinning and plying for six hours, but it was so much fun. The shawl that did win was absolutely gorgeous. I still need to remove the waste and add the fringe so the shawl can go on display for the second day of the Fargo Fiber Fest.
Many authors, especially those who write romance, elect to use a pseudonym or a nom de plume. How does one go about choosing a pen name? I’ve been in this writing game for a few years now, and I have a few suggestions. These are only my opinions, not written in some Author Handbook. You may disagree with me or have other suggestions. If so, feel free to leave a comment so others can benefit from your thoughts.
In no particular order:
1. Choose something that anybody could spell. If a reader wants to search you out on the internet or on the shelves of their local bookstore, they may have a hard time if they are looking for Jessica Diamond but you spell it Jezika Dymynd.
2. An easy-to-remember name is a plus. Maybe you really like Maria Maddalena da Monreale-Baroncelli, but will a reader remember that name? Besides that, how would it look on the cover of a book?
3. Do an internet search to see if the name you want is already being used. Sure, you probably know not to call yourself Nora Roberts, but there are a LOT of authors out there, especially with the advent of self publishing. Be sure you aren’t taking someone else’s name. And I’m not just talking about other writers’ names. Check for musicians, actresses, sports stars, etc.
4. Also, don’t choose a name that is too similar to other authors. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see a book by someone I thought was a long time favorite of mine. Imagine my disappointment (and irritation) to find out it wasn’t my favorite author, just someone with a very similar name.
5. Be sure you can spell it and write it easily. This is the name you will be signing when readers ask you to autograph their book. Practice writing it over and over. Is it comfortable for you? If not, look for something else.
6. Pick something you can answer to. How embarrassing to have a reader call, “Ms. Barone! Maddy!” while you stroll obliviously past her because you don’t realize she is talking to you. She thinks you’re rude and you missed an opportunity to chat with someone who (hopefully) enjoys your books.
7. Check to see if the domain for your pen name is available. Even if there is not another writer/public figure out there with the name you want, if you can’t use www (dot)yourname(dot)com it may be difficult for readers to find your website. And you want readers to be able to find you.
There, 7 suggestions to help you decide on a pen name. As I said, these are only suggestions. Your mileage may vary.