HOORAY, A Daring Engagement is officially LIVE (yay!)
I never expected Liam Hensley to rock and roll his way back into my life. Now he’s reminding me of things I thought I’d long since given up–my life, my love, my own music. He says he wants a second chance, to make up for mistakes of the past. There’s just one little problem…I’m hiding a secret that could ruin both our futures.
I can’t tell him I had his baby.
The best part is ONE AND A HALF REGRETS is on sale for TWO days only. Don’t miss out! Get your copy for .99 cents until 7-28-16 (reg. price $2.99).
“I’m here now. Doesn’t that count for something?”
“Lucky me. I get one last night with Liam Hensley. Where are you off to tomorrow? London? Paris? Singapore?”
“Seattle,” he suddenly shouts. His face is contorted in agony. “I’ll be here tomorrow. And the next day and the one after that if that’s what it takes to make you hate me less.”
“I don’t hate you, Liam. I…” I stop short. The wind blows through the trees, making a shushing noise. “You’d do that? For me?”
“Yeah.” He holds my eyes. “DeSilva can screw off. The band needs a break. Zane and Finn are about to go at it over something, and the wedding is making everyone crazy, and I’d rather just be with you. It’s the only thing that’s felt right in I don’t know how long.”
My chest is being squeezed like a set of bagpipes. “Since when did I matter?”
His face softens. “Since the first day of fourth grade when I pulled your braids and you kicked me in the nuts. Since tenth grade when I kissed you for the first time. Since the day I said goodbye to you in a stupid text message and my world hasn’t been the same.”
He gives me that look, the one that says he’s going to kiss me. He leans closer, with his perfectly handsome features, a face I’ve loved forever. I feel my lips start to pucker in anticipation of meeting his and butterflies flutter an alarm in my midsection.
This is wrong, this is all going wrong. I’m not supposed to be falling for Liam again, I am just supposed to get some closure. I can never be with him, never tell him about…
“I have a baby,” I hear myself blurting.
“A wha—okay.” Liam rocks back, as if I’ve struck him. “You do?”
“Yes.” We do, I finish in my head. I start swinging again. Twisting in the wind, like a loose strand.
Oh, I’m a horrible, horrible person.
“That’s uhhh…great. Right?” He grabs hold of my chains, forcing me to slow down and face him. “Yeah, great. You found some nice guy or something after we split? That’s great.” His knee is bouncing up and down and he’s babbling, obviously blindsided and angry and confused all at once.
The way I’d been when I saw the double blue lines on the pregnancy test.
The way I’d been when I’d read his texted goodbye.
It was awful and heart-wrenching and wrong. I should’ve told him. I should have let him have a choice in decisions for his future. Tears blur my vision and I grope blindly, finding the solidity of his shoulder.
He’s right next to me, where he should be.
“Liam…” Who did I think I was, deciding everything for everyone?
“So, you’re with someone now? Is he the father? Is that why you didn’t want to go out with me today?” He looks devastated, but I’m not sure why. Is it the baby, or the possibility that I’m seeing another man?
As if I could love anyone but him.
“No.” I screw up my courage. This time, I’m not going to run from the hard thing. The right thing. I’m not a stupid teenager anymore. It’s time to pull up my big girl panties and face the truth. “Liam, there’s more.”
“Is it bad?” He flinches, like he’s expecting a hard hit.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” I hide my face in my hands. “Why is this so fecking hard?”
He pries my fingers off my face. His gaze is smooth and steady. Looks like he’s grown up some, too. “Okay. Tell me.”
I can’t bear this.
Can’t stand hurting Liam again.
I take a deep breath and answer. “The baby’s yours.”
Recently, I conducted a poll on Facebook to try to determine what factors influence readers to find and purchase books from “new-to-them” authors. The “influencers” were compiled from previous author polls, discussion on Marie Force’s Author Support Network, and from my own inspiration. I randomized choices for each respondent to allow for a more authentic poll response. Even so, this is the least scientific study I’ve ever conducted, with all kinds of potential bias.
- The poll was conducted on social media, which may account for the heightened responses regarding those platforms.
- It was only offered for a week.
- It wasn’t, to my knowledge, distributed via author newsletters. A few loops, groups, and shared on FB.
- There was no accounting for the reader actually buying/reading romance, and the sample size isn’t statistically relevant, given the overall projected number of romance readers.
- I offered a chance to win a prize in exchange for participation (see winners below).
TLDR: It’s not a perfect study. Not even close. (But it was REALLY interesting!)
Below is the screenshot image of results and my analysis. I’d love to read your feedback/insights, so please leave a comment. Keep in mind, as this was NOT a scientific study, YMMV rules apply. BEHOLD!
(Click the image and embiggen for more details. Back to return.)
After viewing the Top 3 responses, I think it’s safe to state that the largest impact on gaining new readers is: 1-Great Products 2-From a Trusted Source 3-At a Reasonable or Reduced Price (AND with available free samples to try).
Shocker. This is NOTHING NEW. Marketing experts have been saying this for years, and apparently it works.
I was struck by the analogy of Bulk Shopping. When you go into a Sam’s Club, there’s a large quantity of products (even books, whee!) all at supposed discounted prices. Maybe you only intended to buy a case of wine or a spiral ham for your upcoming party, but darn, as you wheel through those HUGE aisles on your way to the meat case, those frozen food free samples are sooo tempting. You didn’t intend to purchase something else and you didn’t even know that mini-quiches were a thing, until you stuffed that hot gooey goodness sample into your mouth.
You tried it. And you liked it. (And P.S. your mother would be shocked that you actually LIKED spinach.)
The price $8 for a box of 40 seems reasonable, but wait! They’re actually on the endcap, which usually means they’re on sale (hence Free Sample Sally hocking her wares!) You drag out that weekend sales circular—Yep! They’re listed at $5 until tomorrow.
So, you buy it.
Still brushing quiche crumbs off your lips, you congratulate yourself now have appetizers for 20 people for less than the cost of a Starbucks latte. Score!! But, you’re still hungry. Darn it, you apparently LIKE spinach. And you won’t feel like cooking tomorrow. Maybe you should stock up…
Now you’re off roaming the aisles, looking for other party food platters in the same frozen food section, made by the same company. Because, hey, you liked those baby quiches. Maybe the box even had a hot guy in a chef’s hat on the front, telling you how great they are, like that chef you saw on Chopped.
Sexy Aussie Super Chef Curtis Stone.
He’s good. Yeah….you like him. Just last week, he compared spinach egg rolls to a culinary orgasm. And while you don’t normally go for spinach, you trust his taste in frolic fare, so you grab a box to have at your party. Not on sale, but, you don’t mind. The price is reasonable.
And…Curtis likes them.
“Good choice. Have you tried these?” Free Sample Sally asks in a conversational tone, watching you. “They are to die for.”
“I’m just here for ham and wine.” You reposition your egg rolls and mini-quiches, careful not to cover that cute Food Network chef’s face with your thumb.
“I love those,” Sally gushes. Love is kind of a strong word, but you ARE still thinking of those yummies, so you nod. “Have you tried these spanikopitas? They’re on this aisle.”
More spinach? Why not? It can be your theme. You now adore spinach, actually. Mom would be proud.
You thank Sally and cram a few more boxes into your cart, vowing to eat leftovers for the rest of the month.
And that, my friends, is how those Top Three influencers work. You got a free sample of something you liked. You had suggestions from “trusted” sources. And what drew you to Costco was their emailed blast of upcoming weekend sales, which is why you were there to buy a ham in the first place.
In the future, I hope to conduct a few more polls regarding the actual product features that readers find most important when making a decision, but for now, I’m going to pop a plate of mini-quiches in the oven (spinach!) and get on to the more pseudo-science-y stuff:
- The total number of respondents was 232, with a total of 693 votes recorded. The poll question did not address rank order (e.g. I look at reason A first, then B, then C), and while I could filter them, since it was not specifically mentioned in the question, I feel it’s not appropriate. The poll simply asked, “How Do You Find New Authors to Read?” with no qualifiers.
- The #1 Response-Free Books remained constant for the entire survey. It did not change, no matter when or how many responses came in. The “free sample” still seems to be effective for drawing in new readers.
- The Top Three Influencers retained almost equal votes at 89, 86, and 82 respectively.
- There is a clearly-defined drop after the Top Three Responses, with #4-Recommendations from Friends garnering only a 26% vote. What’s interesting is that for much of the poll, this response was listed at a lower position, which only shows that without a statistically-relevant response pool, YMMV. Even 10 new votes was able to reshuffle the order outside of the Top Three.
- Also of interest—Readers place MORE weight on what a favorite author suggests or endorses, than what their FRIENDS do. I think this illustrates that reading is a personal and subjective choice, and it’s a real testament to “write what you wish to read”
- Responses #5-“Facebook parties” and #6 – “Also Bought or emailed book retailer suggestions” tied at 19.5%. This seems to indicate that usual social media marketing/sales techniques still have some success with finding new readers.
- The bottom three influencers (Author “puff” blurb on the cover, Bestseller lists, and Keyword searches) remained constant through the entire period of the survey. Combined they received only 26 of the 693 total votes.
- It is interesting to note that the #2 ranked “suggestions from favorite authors/author endorsement” seems to be the same as the Bottom ranked “Author puff” (which may be due to reader’s lack of comprehension or an unclear wording on the survey) in fact, it seems that having a favorite author’s personal endorsement or suggestion does not have the same impact as any random author’s quote on your cover. (i.e. Suggestions of what YOU (the author) love to read go much further than a reader picking up a book and seeing an author they do not have a personal connection with puffing the book)
- It’s important to point out that there were very few “outliers” and no one chose to write-in an answer.
- Lastly, the responses’ popularity was clearly delineated into tiers of impact as evidenced by similar or shared percentages. The Top Three. Responses 4-9. The bottom two.
Also of interest was the screen shot regarding data of who and how readers responded to the survey. Here’s that thumbnail if you care to see it (click to enlarge):
Thanks to all who participated and shared in my Reader poll and to you, for dropping by. I chose two winners for either a copy of any book on my backlist OR a $5 book retailer gift card.
Big congratulations to Kathy O. and Inga K. You won!
I hope to conduct this survey again later this year, to determine swing in influencers. Who knows? Maybe some new hook may arise to garner reader interest.
And maybe by then I’ll be over my double addictions to Spinach…and Super Chef Curtis Stone.
Did you get your free copy of LIAR LIAR, Book One of my sizzling hot Romance series? Tap to subscribe and get yours today.
It’s spring, and love is in the air…along with pollen! I love gardening, and when I had to move overseas I thought I’d lose my gardening kick, but it’s in full swing! To celebrate digging in and getting my hands dirty, here’s a cute cupcake idea from Oh Cupcakes! Bake chocolate cupcakes in mini-terracotta flower pots, frost, sprinkle with crushed chocolate cookies and garnish with green fondant leaves in all shapes and sizes. Aren’t these adorable?
Spring looks DELICIOUS. Just like those sweet cupcakes, I have a new sweet series launching this month. These cupcake-sized romance novellas are sure to tempt you. Watch for ONE SWEET SUMMER to release on April 28th in the Melody Anne “Anderson Dynasty” Kindle World.
And here’s a little something else to celebrate. I’ve got THREE great ways for you to win.
First, follow me on Amazon for your chance to win a free copy of my latest HOT romance release, DOUBLE DOG DARE. This offer only runs until April 13th, or until all copies of the book have been awarded.
Second, you can enter to win a $10 Amazon giftcard via rafflecopter (for all your gardening and cupcake needs!):
a Rafflecopter giveaway
THIRD, we have a terrific Grand Prize. Leave a comment below telling me which “Love by the Numbers” cover you like best to be entered in the BLOG HOP GRAND PRIZE: a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize e-reader and gift card. Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end. Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last (BloominThyme) websites.
Don’t forget to check out these other stops:
I am so excited to be one of the authors writing in Carly Phillips’ Dare to Love Kindle World. My novella, A DARING DESIRE, released today and there’s a Facebook party to celebrate the January releases, including grand prizes and individual author prizes. You get extra entries for proof of purchase, so pop over and grab this hot novella to warm you up this winter!)
That party address again? https://www.facebook.com/events/1695890544013765/ Stop by and tell me what cupcake could you NOT resist?
Hey Sweet Readers!
For a limited time you can enter to win the Shades of Desire 2 box set from iBooks for FREE (sorry, other platforms not available). SoD2 releases in March, but entrants MUST use the code by Jan. 3rd or forfeit. Runs until Dec. 30th. Enter today!
**UPDATE: The contest is over!! Congrats to all the winners listed below. Be sure to check your email for a message from me.**
As the year winds to a close, I’m baking up a storm preparing for the holiday season. None of that is particularly spectacular except for my new super seekrit cupcake experiment which I PROMISED my newsletter subscribers I would share. So, without further ado, I give you…
The Double Cuppie.
They look pretty normal, don’t they? You’d never guess they were boasting a surprise inside that will make your friends and family members go wild!
I had a party to go to and needed something special, so I whipped up a batch of Apple Cobbler mini-cupcakes, frosted them with a caramel frosting and FROZE them. Then, I made a batch of pumpkin cupcakes and plunked my little frozen babies smack dab in the center and baked THOSE.
The resulting cupcake ends up fully baked and moist (because my frozen caramel frosting kinda baked into the pumpkin batter keeping it from drying out). The full cupcake has a perfect blend of autumn flavors (pumpkin, caramel and apple) but really, you could use an endless option of batters. How about a chocolate and peppermint concoction for the holidays? Pineapple and coconut for New Years? Strawberry and margarita lime in the summer?
Give your holiday a new twist and try the double cupcake. Be sure to drop by my Facebook page and let me know how they turned out! I’m hosting a contest there for ONE week, to celebrate the new year and new covers for my Southern Seductions series. You could win a $15 giftcard, so drop by my page for the details.
Ahhh…Autumn! Whether it’s the crisp smell of apples or the crunch of leaves underfoot, fall is definitely my favorite time of year. It’s the special time of year where long summer days fade into cool evenings spent in front of the firepit cuddling with my favorite honey.
And nothing suits my mood better than a brand new batch of cupcakes to celebrate the season.
Those of you who follow my romance know that I am a bonafide cupcake FREAK. In fact, each of my hot romances features an original recipe for tempting treats in the back. So, in honor of fall, I’m featuring my favorite S’mores cupcake recipe and a new giveaway with the Sexy Scribblers.
Behold…the S’mores Cupcake!
S’mores are the perfect dessert to enjoy by the fire–but even if you can’t strike a match, you can fan the flames of desire for this chocolatey-marshmallow treat in cupcake form! (Pssst…Want more delicious recipes and good stuff? Subscribe to my VIP Newsletter!)
But before I hand out the recipe at the bottom, here’s the fantabulous Rafflecopter giveaway from the Sexy Scribblers. The Scribblers are a group of authors banded together to write traveling stories that you can enjoy for FREE. And just to give you a little something to keep you warm, we’re offering a load of free books for one lucky winner! a Rafflecopter giveaway
And, just because…I’m ALSO personally offering a $5 Starbucks gift card as a personal giveaway! Because, what goes better with cupcakes than some delicious coffee (or Coffey?)
Two steps to win my personal giveaway, 1- Subscribe to my VIP newsletter AND 2- Comment below with “Done”, “I’m a member already” or “Not interested, thanks” and tell me what beverage you plan to get with the gift card! I’ll be announcing the winner on November 22nd, before Thanksgiving, because I am SO thankful for my readers!! Be sure to check back.
**UPDATE**- My contest is ended. Congratulations to the winner, Rhianona!
Now for the cupcakes to keep you company with their ooey-gooey deliciousness on these cold Autumn nights. Or mornings. Or…lunch…because, ain’t nobody judging you.
S’mores Cupcakes – makes 24
1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2.In a medium bow, mix together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter until well blended and no dry crumbs remain.
3.Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each liner. Press the crumbs flat into the liner using the bottom of a small glass. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of chocolate over each crust. (Reserve remaining graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate to top the cupcakes before baking.)
4.Bake crusts for 8 minutes. Remove the pans and let crusts cool for at least 5 minutes before adding cupcake batter.
1.After crusts are prepared, increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
2.In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3.Then combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar and mix until combined. Then add flour mixture. Blend at low and then increase to medium. Beat for 2 minutes until blended and smooth. Remove bowl from stand and add boiling water. Gently stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Batter will be thin. Then let batter rest for 15 minutes and stir again gently before using. Fill liners with prepared crusts three-quarters full with batter. Sprinkle with reserved chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Bake about 16-20 minutes until done. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
1.Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the saucepan. Hold the handle of the bowl with an oven mitt while whisking the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are hot to the touch… about 4 minutes. Then transfer bowl to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture, starting on low and increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Use frosting immediately.
2.Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe high swirls on the cupcakes and brown the meringue using a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
Source: Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! by Jennifer Shea, 2013
Grab your girlfriends, your book club buddies, and head to Aloft in Ballantyne for a one night only event featuring New York Times and USA Today bestseller Darynda Jones, USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer, and award-winning author Elizabeth Michels, in addition to Nancy Northcott, Regina Jeffers, and many other local authors.
This event is held in partnership with Park Road Books as featured bookseller.
Participating authors include:
Paranormal/Fantasy: Darynda Jones, Jeni Burns, Nancy Northcott, Missy Lynn Ryan
Contemporary: Kieran Kramer, J.A. Coffey-Author, Andria Gaskins, Sophia Henry Books, Author Reagan Phillips
Historical: Award Winning Author Elizabeth Michels, Caroline Lee, Regina Jeffers.
No outside books allowed; all books must be purchased on site at the event.