Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fireworks at Midnight by Tara Quan, A Witch's Night Out

New Year’s Eve is a night filled with bright colorful lights, rambunctious outings, and a good amount of mischief. It also marks the passage of time, bringing to mind our hopes for the future, the exhilaration that comes with change, and fond memories of days past. 

Part of Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand line, my paranormal romantic comedy Fireworks at Midnight features a struggling college graduate who is just coming to terms with the thrills and perils of newfound independence. When her best friend’s older brother rolls back into town, this intrepid young witch is faced with help she doesn’t want, protection she doesn’t need, and the reality that this warlock cop no longer thinks of her as a “troublesome little sister.”

Add a pinch of magic, supernatural mayhem, and Madame Eve’s renowned matchmaking service, and we’ve got the beginnings of a stormy love story. Those who’ve read my Christmas release Frosty Relations will already know Dulcina “Sweets” Gato, this tale’s smartass heroine.

In keeping with the hol'iday spirit I’m giving away a $15 gift card. To enter, leave a comment here and drop your details in the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post. [or at my website:]

Fireworks at Midnight 
(A Witch’s Night Out, 3)

Recent college graduate and part-time cat familiar Dulcina “Sweets” Gato is having the worst New Year’s Eve in living memory. End of year expenses trigger serious cash flow problems, and her microwave just went up in smoke. To make matters worse, her best friend’s overprotective big brother is back in town, and his return threatens to put a huge crimper on her nocturnal activities. The only thing she can look forward to is Madame Eve’s 1-Night Stand service. After all, she’s sick and tired of being a 21-year-old virgin.

Enforcement Agent Mikal Knight is a warlock on a mission. Having finally scored a transfer to Washington, D.C., he’s now at liberty to pursue the object of his desires—his baby sister’s best friend. But first, he has a vigilante to track down and a mysterious matchmaking service to investigate. Sent on an undercover operation, he resigns himself to a pointless 1-Night Stand on New Year’s Eve. As luck would have it, his mystery date’s identity might let him kill several birds with one stone.  
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Comedy, Interracial/Multicultural

Sweets wrinkled her nose. “God, you sound so...sensible. It’s great you’re moving here, but I don’t think we’ll get along. I’m an irresponsible loser. Sitting in this car with you is destroying my cred.”

Mikal pinched her cheek. “Says Little Ms. Small Business Owner who doesn’t splurge on Starbucks. While we’re on the subject, why won’t you let me spot you more than a hundred dollars so you can, I don’t know, afford a deadbolt?”

As if keeping the five twenty-dollar bills he’d handed her earlier wasn’t bad enough. “I’m a witch who can see the future. Your sister sets off explosions without even trying. I’d love to see a burglar break in.”

“And if I gift you and Shelley a Nespresso machine as a belated Christmas present....”

“The pods cost almost a buck each. Do I look like I’m swimming in cash?” […]

He groaned. “Live a little, will you?”[…]

“So the guy who tutored me through calculus is telling me to be less responsible?”

With a melodramatic sigh, he polished off the last of his drink and held his hand out for her empty cup. Lowering the window with the push of a button, he aimed the cardboard cylinders at a trash can a few feet away. After he tossed them both in the air, they landed in the metal mesh confines with the aid of a few gusts of wind.

Closing the window, he pulled his seat belt across his chest. “I need to be somewhere at nine, but I’ll be back. Got any plans tonight? I can come over, cook dinner, and weasel my way back into Shelley’s good graces with some chocolate cake.”

She would have said yes if he’d pitched this to her ten minutes ago. After that little pheromone-filled vision, she wouldn’t let him near her any time after sunset. “You might want to give Shells a few more days to cool down, and New Year’s Eve is the best time to hawk jewelry.” When he opened his mouth, she lifted a finger. “I would invite you over later, but I sort of have a date.” […]

 “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend. What’s he like?”

Even the threat of a ruined friendship couldn’t make her tell him an outright lie. “No idea. I’ve never met him before. Someone else set it up.”

Something about the way his forehead wrinkled suggested he didn’t approve. “Don’t forget to load up your phone. Give me a call if he gets frisky.”

She burst out laughing. Thank God he still treated her like a naughty little sister “Dude—if the guy so much as looks at me the wrong way, I’ll put him on the floor myself. I’ve buffed up since you left, and this whole foresight business gives me a half-second advantage. I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been kicking ass and taking names. Go find some poor defenseless victim to hover over.” 

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, paranormal worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Her characters, armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at

Don't forget the Rafflecopter where someone will win $15.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Melisse Aires tells us about Escaping Poison

 Brielle's new armcom—since Kyler had her old one for his investigation—was nearly empty of data. She was thrilled to find she could have the entire station archive with her, an amazing body of work, going back more than three hundred years, when Terrans first settled the planet.

The float chair took her deeper into the wild growth, but she was able to stand and walk around an area for some time, examining greenery more closely. She loved the dense darkness of the jungle. She took a blanket to the pool and sat there in the warm shade, watching the trillers flit from flower to flower. They were so cute, like fuzzy pastel bats with delicate wings, listing from flower to flower, pinks, lavenders, greens and yellows, a rare turquoise. She never saw them in bright light, not even where there were many flowers; they preferred shade and were thickest in dark undergrowth. They had long tongues like a butterfly’s to reach nectar inside flowers. The fuzzy puffy body hair collected pollen. The trillers lived in small flocks and would spend time each day grooming each other. The pollen they licked off each other was another important part of their diet, according to the report she read.

One afternoon she found a triller flock whistling and fluttering in one area, clumped together. She slid off her chair and moved slowly toward them to investigate. One tiny triller was on the ground trying to loft, but one delicate fuzzy wing was limp.

“Oh.” Brielle didn’t think it could bite so she cupped it into her hands. It was as long as her smallest finger, a puff of lilac fluff with patterned fuzz on her wings, darker lavender swirls with specks of green. It cried, a piteous whistle, the tiny soft body quivering. Large, round dark eyes and small circle mouth gave it an eerily human face, with a frill of vertical feathers like a tiny crown.

Karvar might know if the wing needed set. She got back in her float chair and flew back to the dome as fast as she could. Brielle gently smoothed its fur. “I’ll take you home. I will gather flowers so you can feed. You can live there in safety until your wing recovers.”

“Karvar, Karvar!” She called for him while she waited for the lock to push out the unfiltered air and the inner door to open.

When the door light turned green Karvar burst into the lock. “What’s wrong, what happened?”

His golden eyes roved all over her, looking for wounds, but his gaze made her feel hot. Weak at the knees.

She really was getting better. This is attraction. Desire.

“I found a hurt triller.” Her voice came out breathy.

He reared back. “Oh. I thought maybe you got hurt.”

“No. I feel fine. But can you help the triller? I think her wing might need help.”

He moved back to his work table and she got out of her chair. 

She frowned. “Trillers don’t like bright light. Can you close the sun shade and dim your lights?”

“Sure.” He quickly pulled on a cyborg visor and lowered the lights. He handled the tiny creature gently and soon had a simple splint tied on with gauze.

The tiny triller seemed to know it was to help her… her lavender, bluish shade indicated female.

“It probably feels better to be wrapped. We’ll undo it in a few days to see how it is healing,” Karvar said.

“She can live in the indoor plants up in the loft, and I’ll make sure to bring cut flowers in for her to feed.”

Brielle floated up the stairs in the chair—stairs were still exhausting—and set the triller under a flowering plant. Then she had to get her a tiny dish of water. The little flyer sipped from the water and then maneuvered herself deep into the center of the plant.

“A nap sounds like a good idea.”

Buy Links :

Sons of the Protectorate series features the four sons of the ruler of New Prague (their mother). I wrote the first story, a short story of what is now the book Alien Blood, for an anthology. As things in the epublishing world go, this publisher disintegrated right off the bat. While that was in upheaval, I found a viable publisher and sold Her Cyborg Awakes, thinking I had a home for the series. Alas, that was not to be.

After a year or so of madness, Her Cyborg Awakes was free and I sent it to a publisher who had a very long wait for publishing. Finally I withdrew it and put it on Amazon, and to my surprise, found readers. Alien Blood and Starwoman’s Sanctuary followed. I have to say, I prefer myself as the publisher because I always treat myself well. I always pay myself, which has not always been my experience with other publishers!

Escaping Poison seemed to take a long time to write. My personal life had some huge changes, which factored in. I planned two new series and several  books (yes, I am a plotter).

Also, Karvar was a different kind of hero and I had a hard time finding him. My favorite hero to write is a little bit ornery, like Kaistril in Her Cyborg Awakes. Karvar is more conservative, scholarly…no humor. Finally, Karvar fleshed out and then the book went quickly.

What’s next? I have more books in the Diaspora Worlds, secondary characters in the Sons books. Also have a cyborg series, so far titled Cyborgs of Arden. I am also branching out into a fantasy series, with fauns, centaurs, magic etc. Kind of a medieval flavored Narnia/Hogwarts/Shire inspired romantic mashup. Fun to write!

You can keep track of me on my blog:
Thanks, Liza, for having me today!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

EJ Frost shares an original story from the world of Snowburn

Merry Christmas!
 A huge thank you to Liza for letting me have her Christmas Day blog spot! I thought I’d offer an original story from the world of Snowburn.

Unwrapping Snow
Kez sidles into the lounge where I’m playing Vizzion with Gig. She steps carefully over the giant rabbits sprawled on the sisal flooring, who are watching the kid kick my butt in a war game I should be winning blind-folded. He’s never even seen a real fire-fight, while I fought in them for a decade. But in this game, the rules are all different, and survival, which is always what I was best at, doesn’t count for much.

“Hope you’re here to rescue me,” I say to Kez.
She glances up at the flexypane wall Gig and I are facing, which shows the game in real time. She giggles.

“Not helping,” I growl at her.

“Take a break, then,” Kez suggests. “I’ve got something to show you.”

Any excuse to escape the thrashing the kid’s giving me. “Right,” I say, stripping the VR gloves off my hands and unclipping the visor. “Duty calls.” I toss the rig into a cubby on the wall that keeps the delicate gear out from underfoot. And away from the rabbits, who tend to investigate everything with their teeth.

Gig pauses the virtual bloodshed. He turns to look at me, his boyish features blurred by the visor’s shield. “You giving up?”

“In your dreams,” I tell him.

“For tonight,” Kez amends. I lift an eyebrow at her, since it isn’t even twenty-one hundred and we don’t usually go to bed for another hour or two. Guess whatever she’s got to show me is time-consuming. Or we’re going to bed early. I’ve got no objection to that, actually.

Gig turns back to the game with a snort. 

Confident I’ll return. I’m a sucker for competition.
Kez takes my hand and leads me through the herd of rabbits, some of whom bound up from where they’re sprawled and follow us as we walk through the kitchen and down a long corridor toward her bedroom. The rabbits have free run of the house, and they follow Kez around like dogs. They also follow me sometimes, too, but usually only if they think food is forthcoming.

When we reach her bedroom, Kez leaves me to retrieve a package off the top of her dresser, one of the few places in the room that’s safe from the rabbits. She offers me the plaz-wrapped bundle. 

“Merry Christmas,” she says.

“Is it?” I’m not a Krister and I’ve got no idea when the Krister holidays are. “Thank you, kitten.”
Kez smiles and retreats to her bed. She pushes Tigger, the male alpha rabbit, out of her way and sits down cross-legged. I kneel next to the bed, set the package beside her and begin peeling back the red and gold plaz. Tigger noses around Kez’s knee to take an experimental nibble at the wrapping. Kez tickles his long, floppy ears to divert him.

Unwrapped, the present contains two folded pieces of cloth. One’s striped beige and black, like the pelt of Kuseros’s native desert predator, the kemwar. The other’s solid black. I hold up the kemwar-patterned cloth first. It unfolds into a sleeveless vest, exactly the kind of thing I like to wear during the steamy days of Kuseros’s coming summer. Kez catches the hem with two fingers and flicks open the vest. There are a dozen narrow plackets built into the vest’s lining. Sheaths for my knives.

My kitten knows me so well.

I lean over and give her a kiss. “You make this?” I ask. Kez has a fabricator that she uses to make her own clothes. She’s shown me how to use it, but I have absolutely no aptitude.

She nods.

I give her a longer, deeper kiss. Sweep the rabbits off the bed with my forearm and press Kez down onto the rumpled blankets.

“Don’t forget the other thing,” she whispers against my mouth.

I pause and pick up the other piece of cloth. Let it unreel between my fingers. A soft rectangle roughly the width of my hand, attached to a strip of magnetape. Kez stretches out on the bed, and looks up at me with a huge, mischievous grin that helps me figure out what it is. A blindfold.
That earns her another kiss while I join her on the bed.

“Didn’t get you anything,” I say when I come up for air. If I’d known Kez celebrated the Krister holidays, I would have gotten her something. I haven’t had many excuses to give my kitten presents. Of course, I don’t really need an excuse.
“Well.” Her grin turns wicked. “The blindfold’s really for me.”

I mirror her grin as I unseal the soft little unisuit she’s wearing.

Later, after putting her present to good use, we lie cuddled under the thermoblankets. She’s still wearing the blindfold, although it’s loose around her neck now. I play my fingers along it idly, stroking Kez’s sweaty throat with thumb and forefinger whenever I reach skin. She rubs her thigh over mine.

“First time anyone’s given me a present that was really for them,” I observe.

“The vest’s all yours,” she says sleepily. I can hear the grin in her voice even if I can’t see it.

“Only ‘cause it won’t fit you.” I shift the arm she’s lying on until I can give her a squeeze. “Did you like bein’ blindfolded?” She certainly seemed to.
She turns her head to kiss my shoulder. “Just a little. Did you like blindfolding me?”

More than a little. “Somethin’ to be said for this Christmas thing.”

She leans up onto her elbow and looks down at me, big blues glinting in the darkness. “It’s not just about presents.”

“No?” I’ve met enough Kristers to know what the holiday’s really about. And I know that for the first time in my life, I’m spending it with the right person. Celebrating the right things. “Tell me what it’s about, kitten.”

She settles back against my side, props her head on one hand and strokes my chest with the other. 
“I can tell you the story of the nativity, if you want to hear it.”

“I’ll listen to anything you want to tell me. Always.”
“Okay.” Kez traces a shape on my chest as she begins telling me the story of Mary and Joseph, making their way to a city that disappeared more than a century ago, in the Great Sandstorm of 2036. When she makes the fourth point with her fingertip, and I extrapolate the final line, I realize it’s a star.

I put my hand over hers, cup her fingers against my heart, and look up at the skylight over the bed. Through it, I can see a few early evening stars. The three wise men wouldn’t have recognized these stars. But maybe their guiding light is the same, over two millennia later. Maybe the stars are still leading men on. Towards the promise of redemption, and unconditional love. 

I squeeze Kez’s fingers. I gave up on redemption long ago. There are things I’ve done in the name of survival that can’t be forgiven. But I haven’t given up on that second promise, and as I lie and listen to Kez’s soft voice tell the story of the birth of Jesus, I give silent thanks for all the gifts I’ve been given this night.

Unwrapping Snow © 2014 E. J. Frost. All rights reserved.

Want more Hale and Kez? Get Snowburn here.
Connect with E. J. on FacebookTwitter, and Wordpress.

Snowburn, now available on AmazonSmashwords and B&N.
Neon Blue, now available exclusively on Amazon.

Monday, December 22, 2014

KG Stutts discusses the Mirror Series and the upcoming addition.

I've asked the very talented KG Stutts to talk about her magnificent Mirror series. So sit back and here what KG has to say, that is if we get her to stop writing...

I always felt like themes were important to stories. Some sort of arch that is throughout a series. I didn’t do a lot of planning when I started writing my Mirror series as far as outlining, although I did know what was going to happen in the trilogy. But I wanted a theme to arch. My publisher, Catrina, suggested we keep the name ‘Mirror’ in the title. To this day, I don’t think she realizes how brilliant that was to me.

The story for Mirror Image was a simple one. Madison Rhodes leads a quiet life until she finds out she’s a clone. She gets swept into a world she never knew existed with the Intergalactic Security Commission, a secret organization similar to the Federation in Star Trek, tasked with keeping Earth and other worlds safe. 
Of course, she had no knowledge there were other worlds. She meets her counterpart, an agent in the ISC who goes by Mack, which is short for her middle name, Mackenzie. These two women are two sides of the same coin. Both so different yet at their core, the same person. Maddie seems more open and gentle in nature, but she didn’t go through five years of missions and hardship like Mack had. Mirror Image set a good tone for the series.

But I knew things would change when it came down to the second book, Mirror Shattered. Without giving away spoilers, some truth is brought to life that changes both women, but they both react differently. In Mirror Shattered, the team goes back in time to stop an alien race known as the Synth from stopping the creation of the ISC and take over Earth. Because of the time travel, several things were different when the timeline was restored.

The third and final book, out January 16th, is Mirror Restored. Some, including Liza, has asked me, “How can you reform a mirror?” I have given vague answers before but here’s the real scoop: the overall theme arching the stories is that Mack is the aforementioned Mirror. The story is pretty centered on Maddie, but Mack is actually the Mirror. Like the story of Star Wars had Luke as the main character in the original trilogy but Star Wars, to me, as always been Darth Vader’s story.

Liza's unrequested objection to the comparison above: "Mack is far nicer than Darth Vador."


The ISC's most dangerous foe, the Synth, is threatening Earth. Mack, Maddie, and their team scramble to come up with a plan to defeat them one and for all. As the planet's safety is in jeopardy, the team will have to put it all on the line, or give their lives in the process.

  “Because they’ve done it before, and this is the team that stopped them.”

The team stared blankly at their former commander, trying to comprehend his words. The statement echoed in Maddie’s mind, making her hands shake.

“That’s insane,” Seth blurted out after several quiet minutes. 

“Remember my warning. What I said is hard to believe, but it’s the absolute truth.” Charlie looked unabashed at the group’s disbelief. 

“Charlie, what’s going on?” Maddie asked. 

“Most of you know the story of how the ISC was formed,” Elizabeth began. 

“Right. A young Charlie created a communications device that reached the Isgurd,” Mack stated. “We formed our first alliance with them.”

“Correct. The rest of the story has been classified.”

“Rest of the story?” Maddie looked over at John who looked just as confused as she did.

Charlie pulled up a video on the monitor and pressed play. The screen came to life as a young boy wearing wire-rimmed glasses and sandy blond hair falling in his eyes smiled and cleared his throat.

“My name is Charles Westlake. I am thirteen years old and I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. I created an intergalactic communications device that made contact with an alien race known as the Isgurd. I have recently been visited by a group of people from the year 2015. They came here to prevent an aggressive alien race known as the Synth from killing me, stopping my meeting with the leader of the Isgurd, Balise, and taking over Earth. This group was led by Jackson Gray, but my main contacts were Maddie and John Brooks. The team successfully defeated the Synth here in 1965. This message is to be preserved in case the Synth return.”

The team stared at the monitor long after the screen went black.

“How . . . how did all this happen?” Mack finally broke the silence. “Going back in time and fighting a race no one has heard of? I mean, Charlie, honestly—”

“That’s not the pressing issue,” Maddie interjected sheepishly. 

“Exactly, Maddie.” Charlie nodded. “We need to come up with a plan and fast.”

Maddie turned bright red when Mack turned and glared at her for the interruption. After a moment, though, Mack relaxed into a reassuring smile.

“How much time do we have?” Jackson asked. 

“Judging by current speed, they will be here in four days,” Elizabeth stated. 

“Four days isn’t a lot of time,” John muttered. 

“Charlie, you said we defeated them before.” Maddie chewed on the inside of her cheek. Charlie nodded. “How?”

The former commander instantly broke eye contact, looking down at the floor. Even Elizabeth wouldn’t meet her gaze.

“I see,” Maddie solemnly said. 

“See what?” One of the guys, Chris, asked. 

“None of us made it,” Seth replied. 


“Well, that’s certainly comforting,” Jackson gravely said. 

“Do we have a plan?” Mack asked, shifting uncomfortably in her chair.

Elizabeth and Charlie exchanged glances before turning back to the group. The look on both of their faces made Maddie’s heart drop into her stomach.

“Nothing? You’ve got nothing?” David sputtered out the question. 

“How did we do it before?” Chris asked. 

“We’re . . . not sure,” Elizabeth admitted.


Growing up in Texas and later South Carolina as the youngest in a house full of science fiction fans, K.G. Stutts had her natural curiosity and imagination nurtured since birth by family movie nights where they would watch Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and even timeless Disney favorites.

A prolific writer of sci-fi, romance, and mystery, K.G. draws much of her inspiration from those amazing works that gave her an appreciation for telling rich, compelling, character-driven stories for all audiences.
She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Brad, and works for a customer service call center. She’s a lover of Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis, Muppets, Garfield, Disney, Indiana Jones, and is a big wrestling, hockey, and football fan.
Social Media:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pippa Jay Releases NO ANGEL

Today, I have Pippa Jay and her fabulous new release No Angel.

Space Rep: Looks like a kick ass angel to me. I think I'm in love...

Liza: Before you go there, let's check out the book.

How far would you fall for love?

Centuries ago, guardian angel Lucien committed a terrible sin. He gave into his own desires and revealed himself to the mortal woman he'd been charged to protect. By kissing her, he condemned himself. Torn of his wings and his angelic powers, thrown down into the City Below, Lucien now serves Satan as an incubus who claims souls for his master from the City Above, and who feeds on the energy stolen from his mortal lovers. Dark, sexy and charming, he's been top of his league for decades uncounted.

Until His Infernal Highness decides to send Lucien looking for a lost angel. Lucien has no idea what he did to deserve such a punishment, and the touch of an angel could destroy him. Yet the challenge and the potential kudos of seducing one of his former heavenly kin leads him on.

But when he finds the angel, he learns he still has more to lose than his already forsaken soul.

A new burning consumed his body. He wanted to reach out and hold her. Wrap his arms around her, and drown in her kiss. But even as he took one shaky step toward her, the light and goodness within her scorched him and he staggered back a step, one arm thrown up to shield himself.

"Lucien." Her voice washed over him like a sweetly scented summer breeze. He dared to drop his arm and look at her again.

"Miranda." Her name came out as a growl, and he cursed himself for it.

Her frown deepened. "Lucien, what's happened to you?" She took a step closer and he shied away. No matter how she'd come to him, welcomed him, her angelic powers could still be deadly. "Oh, my love, what have you become?"

My love. The words cut him as deeply as the priest's forgiveness. The pain stirred his resentment. She had been the cause of his fall. The reason for his torment. And now she was scolding him for it?

"What I am is what you helped turn me in to." He raised his head, glared at her. "What I am is because of you."

She shook her head. "Is that really what you think? That it's all my fault?" Tears glimmered in her eyes. "I've watched you for a long time now. Waiting for the right time to come to you. I've seen how your existence has come to trouble you more in the last decades. How the tasks set to you have crushed what remains of your soul."

Lucien snorted. "My soul? I lost that with my heart. And my wings."

"No. You didn't. You hate what you do. You sealed your heart in stone to protect yourself, but you can't bring yourself to fully give into the darkness, no matter what."

Lucien shuddered. "You're wrong."

"You know I'm not." She took another step toward him, and though he tried to back away he found himself trapped against the brick wall. She put up her hand, palm outward, as if to touch him. His breath stalled in his chest and his whole body might just as well have become stone. He couldn't move.

Lucien, the fallen angel, now works for devil himself, a rather frightening boss, to say the least. He’s given the task of locating a ‘lost angel’ and taking her to hell. 

Miranda was the human who cost Lucien his wings long ago when he kissed her while he was her protector. Now, she’s no longer human; she’s a powerful angel. She’s watched him for a long time and concludes he hates his new job. Miranda wants to save Lucien, so he can be happy again.

This is a short story, a romance between two entities who could not be more opposite: an incubus working for Satan and an angel who wants to make him good again. To make a romance even harder, the touch of an angel causes Lucien extreme pain. But even more painful is the act forgiveness.

Superficially, this is a funny, quirky story, but as always Pippa Jay’s stories have more depth that will keep you thinking about them long after the story ends. Since I have loved some of her stories more than this one, (but it is very clever) I’ll give this a 4.8 rounding up to 5.0. (Her standard of writing is very high, forcing me to rank her books against her best.)

However the cover gets a solid 5.0. IMO her best cover yet.

Please add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE, or sign up HERE for my no-spam newsletter for special previews on cover reveals, new releases, the latest giveaways and discounts, and upcoming news.

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi -
Spacefreighters Lounge -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liza analyzes the Kindle Scout selection process

So you want to be selected by Kindle Scout.

First, write an intriguing story, get your book edited, and create a great cover.

The story should grab the reader from the first sentence, because chances are, most readers will only read a few lines.

Hone your tiny blurb to perfection because that’s all most of the readers will read.

And yes, the actual book has to be fabulous, because if you pass the voting hurdles, an editor is going to read it, and if its crap, then you’ve wasted your time, and a great deal of your friend’s time and effort, because the editors can afford to be choosy. In fact, I’ve loved several books that weren’t selected.

Why does a great book fail?

Because the author either lacks sufficient people to get the votes, or the book did not fulfill Amazon’s requirements, including the secret ones..

First let’s discuss Hurdle One: Getting the votes.

From what I’ve seen thus far, if you don’t get the votes, you don’t get selected. Period.  

Does that mean you have to stay on the Hot and Trending all 30 days?

I’m doing statistical analysis on this. The answer seems to be changing and you may need to be on it for most of the days now.

Why would Kindle Scout create such a hurdle? 

They’ll certainly lose some great books by doing so.
However,if their focus is to create bestsellers this is a great means to discover who has a significant fan base that will vote for you and write fabulous reviews and encourage their friends to buy your book.

So it’s actually logical for them to create a high popularity hurdle for you to jump over. And if you lack the social network to sustain you on the Hot and Trending most of the 30 days, then they’ll probably pass you by, even if your book is good.

The ability to rally a large group of people is critical to your success as an author.

So let's discuss Hot and Trending.

As far as I can tell, the Hot and Trending top 20 is judged by the votes of the day and not your total vote count.

Here’s why I think that:
New books can get on the Hot and Trending as of day one. If only the total number of votes counted, then those books who have been seeking votes the longest should be able to crowd out all the newbies. Mathematically, the votes you acquire over 30 days should be much larger than the votes you have on day one.

So I believe they only count the day’s votes for Hot and Trending so everyone has a chance to get on it.
However the total votes accumulated over the 30 days could be the deciding factor of popularity.

The value of being in the hot and trending for as many days as possible is to get the votes of Independent Scout readers who are a potential addition to your votes. As you know, everyone gravitates toward a winner. That is doubly true here.  

Based on some statistical analysis I did, I believe your rank in the top 20 is accurate and not some random placement of the top 20. The reason it can change dramatically between the hourly refreshes is because we all do our promotions at different times. So if I wrote a very clever promo and timed it at a moment my peeps actually were around to act upon it, then I’d get lots of votes and shoot to the top for that hour. However during the hour that follows, other authors are writing their brilliant promo’s, so when the refresh occurs, suddenly, I’m number 20.

Assuming I’m right about this level playing field, then if you have a limited social network reach, you don’t want to be number one too often, if at all. You want to be in the top 20 to capture the inde vote, but you also want to be on the list as long as possible, which means you’ll need to sparse out your potential voters over the 30 days to keep you in the top 20.

All the successful books, thus far, started and ended on the top 20.

Enters the Scout Readers:

As scouts readers (with no allegiance to anyone) increase in number and optimize their probability of getting a free book, the last three days should be the largest vote acquisitions by people who don’t know you.
The votes aren’t tallied until Day 30 ends. Thus, for a scout, it makes sense to focus on the books on their last day. The only ones to be considered should be those with the HOT tag, indicating they are in the top twenty.  But what about a really good book that has fallen out of the top 20?

There was a case of that as I was writing this blog and it didn’t get selected. The results thus far indicate if you aren’t in the top 20 for the last 3-2 days, you won’t be chosen.

The reason are the scouts readers want free books…good books, but if the book isn’t published, they get nothing, so they should choose only among the hot books. Period.

Work very hard NOT to drop off the Hot list in the last 3 days. It is really hard to get back on because you have scouts voting for other books that are on the hot list, so you need a lot of votes to climb up back on the list. Once you do, they will vote for your book and with continued promotions you’ll stay there.

There will be a few books who have huge voters and stay on it from day one to thirty.
But lots of book are on, then fall off, but climb back up, so don’t give up if you struggle to stay on the Hot and Trending.

Staying on the top 20 is your key objective.

The dynamics of the voting will continue to change due to the increase of independent scout readers optimizing the last day opportunity of getting books. This means more and more of the daily votes and thus Hot and Trending slots will be taken by those with a few days left. So you definitely need to save some big bullets to ensure you are on the top 20 during last three days.

If you had a strong showing up front and midway, but fell out by the end and couldn’t get back up, you probably won’t be chosen. I base that conclusion on my current tracking of books through the process.
It is up to the author to get their book into the Hot and Trending before the Independent Scouts start to vote. Right now that looks to be on the third day (called 2 days left).

As the inde scouts increase, the back selections will dominate the top 20. That will probably leave no more than 10 spots for the other 27 days. This explains why the Top 20 presently tends to be front and back end loaded.

Some authors have tried to only begin promoting votes at day 3, thinking their placement on day 1&2 on the NEW list will get people interested. As far as I can see, it’s a bad strategy. You have two types of people. Friends and Independents. Friends vote because you ask them to. Inde’s who wish to maximize their success rate only vote for Hot books on the last day or so.

Staying on in the middle requires a huge support structure because you are competing for those slots with new authors who have fresh untapped resources on the front end. And then you’ve got the independent readers voting for books on the back end.

The frontend and middle voters are derived by the author’s network. The end voters are a mix of network and independents.

If you are well connected, with an email list thousands long and an active street gang, plus ten thousand tweeters and thousands of active friend on Facebook who will act on your command, a reach of a million on Tribrrr and you remain on the Hot and Trending, then you can expect your book to be read by the editors.

Now to the secret disqualifying rule: 

I’ve seen a couple of very good books pass the popularity hurdle and still be rejected.
I’m only speculating here, but given the low romance numbers, which I discuss below, and by putting myself in Amazon’s shoes I think there’s a reason why romance books are struggling: Sexual content.

Amazon has been very clear they intend to translate and publish these books in the language of other countries. Some of these countries may have stricter morality standards than America, which Amazon will need to adhere to. Thus, if your romance (regardless how you categorize it) has sexual content, then I don’t think they can select you. They clearly stated no erotica, but I think the line they have drawn (possibly for legal reasons) is far stricter than ‘no erotica’.  If a translator cannot easily remove your sex scenes and leave the plot intact, then your book doesn’t fit their needs.

I believe this is where my book went afoul. Knowing this helps me, because upon consideration, every book I’ve ever written would not be acceptable in some of the more rigid countries. Thus, Kindle Scout is not for me and many others if I have guessed correctly as to why some books that looked like sure winners failed to be selected.

I’ll continue analyzing the data, but here are my takeaways at this time:

Mysteries are the most likely to be selected

While they are also the most commonly submitted genre, their selection is statistically higher than would be expected if all books had the same chance of selection.
Thus far, either due to the votes or editor’s preference, mysteries are your best shot for being selected.

10 out of 14 selected books have been Mysteries. Of this 2 were mystery/romance and 2 were mystery/sci fi.

All sci-fi selected thus far have been real sci fi except for one mystery/ghost book  (which is categorized in Sci Fi/ Fantasy/paranormal.)

The one romance selected was on the top twenty the entire time and is a romantic contemporary young adult comedy

The 2 mystery/roms selected were comedy and inspiration romance.

Thus, my speculation that sexual content may be a cause to reject the book.

If I’m right,

Then it’s clearly bad news for Sci Fi Rom writers and romance authors who let their characters get it on at times.

Which brings me to an ironic truth. While books of crime, death, and terrorism don’t offend any country that Amazon wishes to publish in, it seems two people loving one another is highly offensive to some. I hate to think what that says about humans as a whole.

By noting this, I’m not criticizing Amazon. They have every right to select books that suit their purpose, which appears to be expanding their reach in foreign countries while establishing themselves as a contender in publishing worldwide.

And here’s my disclaimer. I’m just a former strategist looking at data. I could be wrong about every speculation and suggestion I’ve made. I didn’t ask for nor receive any information from Amazon. I’m just tracking the books on the site.

And I did submit a book that was rejected.  I was iffy on the amount of time it spent on the Top 20, but if I’m right on the sexual content issue, my book was entirely unsuitable for consideration. I wish to apologize for wasting the editor’s time, but they probably stopped reading about ten pages in when Lt. Wickham deflowers Lydia Bennet, so I didn’t waste a lot of their time. Had I known the real rule was a wee bit more restrictive than ‘no erotica’ I wouldn’t have bothered submitting the book.

So apologies to the Amazon Editor who read the first ten pages of my book,
Major apologies to whomever I knocked out of the top 20 with my book,
and great love and appreciation to all my friends who went to extraordinary length to give me a chance for this grand opportunity. If I’m right, then I never had a chance at all, but it doesn’t change how marvelous you were.

UPDATE AS OF 12/27/2014
Today, a romance was selected that I pretty sure has sexual content. (It's part of a series called  Naughty Scribes.) Also, it spent most of its time off the top 20 list, so it broke both rules I thought was important. From reading the first three chapters, it's unique, very well written and highly engaging.

Before Captain and Countess was accepted, thirteen days had passed with NO BOOK being selected. Now it could be none of the books interested them, but it's also possible they reassessed the types of books they wanted and realized there just aren't that many 'sweet' romanced with no sexual content, and perhaps they should address the many countries that like sex. (Most of Europe, Australia, North and South America...)