Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Guest Blogger - Joel Hames: The Tale of the Publishing Internship

Marissa: I read a lot about authors feeling disillusioned about publishing these days. Yes, there is a lot of badly edited rubbish out there at the moment, and it's hard to get noticed by readers, but at the same time authors are living in world where we can now reach readers directly. The playing fields have been levelled, and now anyone can have the opportunity that was only ever given to a very lucky few.

When I read this guest post by fellow Brit author Joel Hames, it took me back in time. I was one of those people who sent in manuscript after manuscript to traditional publishing houses. I paid for self addressed envelopes and printing when I really couldn't afford it. I scrolled thorugh the Writer's Handbook and bought new copies each year. I did this for seven years until I finally had a small publisher take a chance on me.

So, for all those authors who have self published but are struggling to find an audience - at least your work is out there. Even if you're only selling a handful of copies a month, at least it's being read by someone. Back in the old days, as you'll learn from Joel's following story, things were even harder in the industry than they are now.

Take it away, Joel!

The Tale of the Publishing Internship, a lesson for the unwary writer.

It's 1995. Summer has gone, university is already a distant memory, I sit there with my oh-so-useful degree in English Literature (from the finest university in the world, but still, it's English Literature) and I wonder what, precisely, I'm going to do with it.

Family and friends are advising me to do something sensible, law, perhaps. Finance. Accountancy. I nod at them, and smile, and shiver inside.

None of them know that the only thing I really want to do, the only thing I've ever really wanted to do, is write. And to get some kind of an idea how that works, I'm applying for work experience at a publishing house.

There's no need to tell you which publishing house it is. It's a major one, a biggie, you've heard of it, it sits in an absurdly artsy building on the western fringes of central London, and it publishes "serious", "award-winning" writers, the commercially successful ones, who get films made out of their books and translated into every language you can think of, plus a few you can't.

All the women are called Persephone or Ophelia, petite, with small, permanent smiles and perfect hair. The men are all Julian or Tristram, and their hair is even better. They haven't had an intern there for some time. They don't know quite what do with me.

Eventually someone has a wonderful idea.

"Look at all these!" she exclaims, pushing a trolley laden with thousands of sheets of paper through the office. I forget her name. Let's call her Hecuba.

"You studied English, didn't you, erm, you, yes, didn't you?"

Hecuba has forgotten my name. There are only a dozen people working there and she's forgotten my name already.

I nod.

"Excellent. You can read these."

"These", it emerges, are the unsolicited manuscripts this great publishing house has received from aspiring authors over the last eight years.

Eight years.

This is 1995 - email and the internet existed, certainly, but hardly anyone had them. For eight years, writers have been slaving away on their old-fashioned word processors - and, in some cases, typewriters - printing their works, forking out the exorbitant costs to post them to this central London address. And in all that time, not a single word of a single manuscript has been read.

"Just flick through the first couple of pages of each one," advises Hecuba. "If you happen to find one that isn't rubbish, let me know. But you won't."

What do I know about modern, commercial literature? I can deconstruct a Shakespeare romance in the blink of an eye, expound on the reasons behind Milton's reluctant acceptance of the epic form, make some kind of sense of Finnegans Wake. I am, in short, a recently-pretentious, more-than-averagely-intelligent English literature graduate. But what makes a modern novel sell? Call me Dumbo.

As it turns out, for the most part, Hecuba isn't far wrong. The majority of the manuscripts are awful. But even they surely deserve better attention than mine, and certainly in a shorter timeframe?

Some I judge to be rather reasonable. Some are better than reasonable. Some writers, knowing no better (and in the absence of all-knowing Wikipedia, how should they?) have submitted poetry: long, epic poems, short lyric poems, great collections of verse of varying quality, admittedly, but the product of months and years of intellect and emotion and sweat.
"We don't do poems here," Hecuba tells me. "Write back and tell them to submit to our sister imprint, T___ Books."

And so letter after letter is drafted, my signature at the bottom, as if I were some all-wise arbiter of literary success.

"I regret to inform you that...."

"Unfortunately, the criteria for publication are such...."

"Whilst I found the subject matter intriguing, the current market for...."

I've been ploughing through this monolith of literary aspiration in chronological order, so it shouldn't really surprise me when I come across resubmissions, or letters from authors wondering whether their prior submissions had even been read. A certain poet, a Mr D___, not a great writer by any means (poetry I can judge), but not a bad one, has written again, a year after his initial submission, seeking some form of feedback, good or bad. He writes by hand.

And then again, a year later, wondering if we could see fit to return his verse, because he has no other copy. It was typewritten, you see. The manuscript in my hand is the only one, his monument more lasting than bronze. The writing is shakier, I note, than it had been just a year earlier.

And this, the final blow, a letter from the same address, but in a different hand. In the widow's hand. Her husband passed on some months ago, she writes, and she has been unable to locate any of the verse he composed and would read to her in the evenings, by the fire, in happier times. More than anything she would love to find it. Have we any ideas?

"Oh no," says Hecuba. "We can't afford to go sending great piles of manuscripts back to people. If they were stupid enough not to keep copies, the more fool them."

I pay the postage myself, and walk out of the building, never to return.

I became a lawyer, and then, for a while, I worked in finance.

It was not until 17 years had gone by, and the self-publishing revolution had arrived, that I decided I might, perhaps, try writing something after all.

"A non-stop thriller that gets your heart racing from page one and doesn’t let up until the end. Fans of Kernick, Child or Grisham will not be disappointed." 

A prisoner who doesn’t exist.
A lawyer who doesn’t care.
A secret buried for thirty years. 

Sam Williams’ idea of an important decision is whether to have another kebab for lunch. He’s spent ten years running away from other people’s pain, and he’s learned not to look back. Sam needs a client, and for a human rights lawyer with a flexible conscience and an impatient landlord, a high security prison seems a decent bet to find one. But now the bodies are mounting up, the decisions are getting serious, and the pain isn’t someone else’s any more. 

Someone wants him dead, the police would like a word, and there’s nowhere left in London to hide. If Sam wants to stay alive, he’s going to have to stop running and figure out why. 

Watch the explosive trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNQZlNhXZg4 

Author Bio: 

Joel Hames lives with his wife and two daughters in rural Lancashire, England, which is like a cross between Tolkein’s Shire and The Wicker Man. 
After a career doing technical things with words, money and bits of paper, Joel decided it would be much more fun to be a novelist, and wrote Bankers Town in 2014. The Art of Staying Dead, the first Sam Williams novel, followed in 2015.
 When not writing or spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, drink, cook, and practise long-distance assassination techniques using only the power of his mind. So far, results have been mixed.
 If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor, on Twitter at @joel_hames, or through his website at  www.joelhamesauthor.com.

Monday, 28 September 2015

New Release from Ashe Barker - Guest Post

Hi Marissa, and thank you so much for inviting me over today to chat a bit about First Impressions. This will be my second release with Baronet Press, and I’m loving working with them again. Here’s the super-sexy cover they made for me.

I really enjoyed writing First Impressions, and it was something of an unusual experience for me because for once I knew how the story was to end right from the beginning. I usually know how I want to start and get that out of the way, then I play it by ear from there on. This time I had the plot clear in my head right the way through, and the book just sort of wrote itself.
First Impressions is a story about two people who at first sight seem to be total opposites but find they have much more in common than they imagined. Apart from learning about each other, they make some even more startling discoveries as they get to grips with Aidan’s home improvement project and find that the house has some secrets of its own.

Here’s the blurb for First Impressions

First Impressions can be deceptive.

Aidan Blake needs a plumber. Fast. His boiler is dead, his creaky old house crumbling around him. When his elderly neighbour recommends a local trader, George Mahon, Aidan jumps at the prospect of hot water and warm radiators.

But George, short for Georgina, is not exactly what he had in mind. He was expecting
something else entirely. A man for one thing, not the gorgeous single mother he finds in his house at the end of a long day of work.

Aidan turns out to be full of surprises too. Who would have imagined the smartly dressed businessman would have a BDSM playroom in his attic and a collection of whips and canes that makes George’s head spin. And her bottom clench, though that’s another matter entirely. What does a girl have to do to get to play with those toys?

Just ask, it would seem. As they enter into a professional and personal agreement which soon blossoms into a sultry, kinky relationship, George continues to be surprised by Aidan's kindness and generosity, not to mention his skill with a spanking paddle.

First impressions aside, the two begin to build something together. And while they peel back the layers to discover their hidden depths, the old house yields up the mysteries of its own secret past. They soon realise that at first glance, nothing is ever quite as it seems.  

Buy Links : Amazon US         Amazon UK

And an excerpt…
“Well, let’s see if we can widen your horizons then. Are you wearing underwear?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Take it off, please. And the tights if you are wearing any. But put your shoes back on. I like those.”
She stood and bent to reach the hem of her dress, then hesitated. “Are you going to watch me?”
“Most definitely. I wouldn't miss it.”
“Oh.” She seemed to find no further comment to make. She straightened, turned her back, and proceeded to remove her tights and knickers. She stepped back into her shoes and rearranged her skirt before turning to face him again. The discarded underwear was bunched in her fist.
Aidan held out his hand. “May I have those, please?”
She handed them over without a word.
“Thank you. Before we proceed I need to set out a couple of ground rules for you. Is that okay?
“Of course.” Her expression was wary.
“First, when we are involved in a scene together you need to be respectful at all times. That means you say please and thank you, and obey any instruction I give you without delay or argument. And you will refer to me as Sir.”
“Sir? Are you sure?”
“I am. Very sure. Is this acceptable to you?”
“What if I don't call you Sir?”
“Are you being defiant, George?”
“No, I didn't mean to. I just…”
“It’s okay. I'm not about to start threatening you with punishment spankings. But I would like you to accept and obey my rules for this, if you would please. And in return I will do all I can to live up to the respect you show me. Is that acceptable?”
She stood before him, chewing on her lower lip. It was an expression he’d seen on numerous previous occasions when he’d played with an inexperienced submissive. It was a sign she was acclimatising to her new situation, the relationship realigning. He waited, giving her time to adjust. At last. “Very well, Sir. I accept your terms.”
“Thank you. Now, I expect you have terms of your own to negotiate. Is that correct?”
“I’m not sure? Do I?”
“Earlier, this afternoon, you asked about having sex. That’s your call, George, and now is the time to make it. I’ll work within the boundaries you set. Similarly, if there is anything you really don't want me to do to you, any place you prefer not to be touched for example, you can tell me and I will respect it.”
Her expression now was one of dawning understanding. “This is you being Sir, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “It’s a part of it, yes. I intend to earn your trust, and deserve your submission. So, what are your terms?”
She chewed on her lip some more and dropped her gaze. Aidan shoved the tights and knickers he still held into his pocket, then stepped forward and took her face between his hands. He tilted her head back so she met his eyes again.
“Your terms, George?”
“It’s all right, all of it. Anything you want to do,” she whispered.
He smiled at her. “George, I know it’s hard, but I need you to be specific if you can. Say the words for me, please. What is it that’s all right?”
“I want you to fuck me.”
He smiled encouragement at her. “Okay, so far so good.”
“And, you can touch me. Anywhere.”
“Yes.” Her voice was stronger now, more positive. “Anywhere. I want you to make me come. If you would, please. Sir.”
His smile brightened. The words had just tumbled out, as though she needed to just say what he wanted to hear and get it over with. He understood her discomfort with the explicit demands he made. She would become accustomed to articulating her needs, in time. But right now it was new and unfamiliar, and very difficult for her.
He lowered his head and brushed her lips with his. “I already told you I would do that. And this too? May I kiss you?”
“Oh yes, please, please kiss me.”

More about me…
I’ve been an avid reader of fiction for many years, erotic and other genres. I still love reading, the hotter the better. But now I have a good excuse for my guilty pleasure – research.
I tend to draw on my own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to my plots and characters. An incident here, a chance remark there, a bizarre event or quirky character, any of these can spark a story idea.
When not writing – which is not very often these days - my time is divided between my role as resident taxi driver for my teenage daughter, and caring for a couple of dogs, two tortoises.  And a very grumpy cockatiel. 
I have twenty seven (at the last count) titles on general release with publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, and I have several more in the pipeline. All my books feature BDSM. I write explicit stories, always hot, but they offer far more than just sizzling sex. I like to read about complex characters, and compelling plots, so that’s what I write too. Strong, demanding Doms are a given, often paired with new submissives who have a lot to learn.
I have a pile of story ideas still to work through, and keep thinking of new ones at the most unlikely moments, so you can expect to see a lot more from me.

Author links

Ashe Barker Newsletter : http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=6a241193a36eea6c22d220ae5&id=e30c83fe71

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Release from JoAnne Kenrick! What Lola Wants!

Bam! What Lola Wants is finally here. So get your glad rags out, and your best stilettos…and get ready to sparkle on. For the ultimate girls night out and sexy London set romance, snuggle up with What Lola Wants and brace yourself for a glitzy, fun time.

"The London Dolls series is off to a fun start with What Lola Wants. Romance, a little suspense, and a lot of heat!" ~ Shelli Stevens, NYT Bestselling Author

"A super smart, sassy, and seriously sexy contemporary romance..." ~ Literally Addicted 
I present to you, London Dolls, book one.
What Lola Wants.

Louisa “Lola” Lone flees The Royal Ballet and ends her days as arm-candy to a cheating choreographer. Back in London, she plans to recreate herself and find the happiness success never brought her. But she hasn’t seen her best friend’s brother, the blond surfer who still holds her heart, in years, and worries he may resent her for leaving him for fame and fortune.

Dennis Bay sucks at relationships. Why? Because he can’t get over Lola. A decade after leaving without a glance back, she’s returned and needs support. He wants to pretend she’s just his baby sister’s friend, leave the city, and surf out his emotions on the biggest waves he can find, ultimately forgetting about her. But he can’t deny the frenzy of love and lust the sexy dancer has him in.

Spinning into the dazzling world of burlesque, Louisa hopes to rediscover her confidence and a path back to Dennis. But a stalker lurks in the shadows of her new life and threatens a second chance with her high school crush. Can history and desire overcome all that stands in the way of Dennis and Louisa’s happily ever after?

OUT NOW! $1.11 ebook, $12.22 print
Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B013VDM5HS

About JoAnne Kenrick
JoAnne Kenrick is a multi-published author who writes contemporary romances. She was born and raised in a wee seaside town in North Wales, and has traveled far and wide. In true Brit form, she is a teaholic.
She now lives in North Carolina with her very own British hero, where she creates ever afters with a backdrop of those wonderful places she's visited.

Snuggle into your favorite reading spot, and let JoAnne entertain you with a story of romance and passion...

Monday, 24 August 2015

Tease to Please is Now Free! Fifty Sexy Excerpts from Fifty Sexy Authors!

Tease to Please has been RELEASED and is now FREE on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, to name but a few. 50 authors, 50 naughty stories, and 50 hours of FUN! Depending on how slowly you read ;)

We're about to hold a MEGA BLOCKBUSTER release party on Facebook where we will be giving away AMAZON GIFT CARDS, SWAG, SIGNED PAPERBACKS and goodies galore (From 50 Authors!) - EVERYONE IS INVITED - so check in here for details: https://www.facebook.com/events/531020723712453/

If you'd like to get in on the action right now, we also have a Rafflecopter running with $10 to won in Amazon Gift Cards, lots of ebooks and custom swag.

tease2please10So, GRAB YOUR FREE NAUGHTY EBOOK HERE, find a quiet place to snuggle up for the rest of the day (Oh, wouldn't that be nice?) and start dribbling over these awesome, tantalising tales!

More About Tease To Please

Need to do your good deed for the day? No problem!

If you're feeling really nice, we'd love it if you'd support our THUNDERCLAP campaign :)

Alternatively you could pop along to our FACEBOOK page and give us a 'like' or how about a follow on TWITTER? @TeasetoPlease50      

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Brit Babes: Eroticon 2015

How I spent my weekend in my alter-ego, M.K. Elliott... The Brit Babes: Eroticon 2015: Post by Lily Harlem Eroticon happened last weekend and naturally a few of us Brit Babes headed off to Bristol to join in the fun. I ...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Avenging Autumn is Out Now!

Avenging Autumn, the fifth book in the Spirit Shifters series, is out! 

Avenging Autumn is the penultimate book in the series, which means there is only one book left. Eek! I can't believe how far Autumn, Blake, Chogan and the others have already come, but there are still a few twists and turns left in their story.

If you pre-order the book, it'll be magically arriving on your e-reader. If you haven't ordered it yet, you can get it at the following places:

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it!

In other news, I've been writing a new story on Wattpad. Wattpad is a writer/reader interface, where we authors can get feedback on our latest stories as we're writing them. I wrote Cut Too Deep this way, and really loved the process, so I've decided to do it all over again! My latest story is called Survivor, and is a contemporary romantic suspense. Here's a bit about it!

Broke and fallen from grace after her billionaire father is convicted of embezzlement, ‘It Girl’, Charlie Charleston has little choice but to accept the offer her agent makes for her to appear in the reality television show,Celebrity Survivor
The thought of being stranded in the middle of nowhere without so much as a scrap of makeup, and all for the general public’s entertainment, scares the life out of her. Charlie hasn’t even so much as been camping before, never mind existed without any creature comforts, and with food she has to catch and kill herself.
Upon being introduced to ex-marine and survival expert Tyler Jansen, the man who will be guiding her through all matters to do with surviving in the wild, she wonders if things might have started looking up.
The problem is Tyler seems to think she’s about as pointless as a pedicure, and nothing she does gets his attention.
But when their plane goes down in the middle of nowhere, something Charlie is sure is a set-up by the producers of the show, she is determined to show Tyler Jansen exactly what she’s made of.

You can read Survivor and follow along right here! https://www.wattpad.com/story/43724292-survivor