Sunday, December 13, 2009

As Seen On TV



This year, it seems the hottest holiday gifts are the ones advertised on television in those "Call Now! Operators are Standing By!" commercials.
Like the Snuggie. And the Obama Chia Head, which apparently is being sold as a serious homage to our current President, and not a gag gift. And Bendaroos, which my six-year-old niece, who after she saw the commercial fifty-seven times on Cartoon Network, requested as the only thing she wanted for Christmas.
And in keeping with that, Ravenous Romance is pleased to announce that its Escape With Romance segment will be back on HSN this coming Friday, December 18. My books THE MERCENARY BRIDE and VITAL SIGNS, along with the books of other Ravenous authors, will be featured on this national TV spot on Friday, 12/18 at 8 am Eastern and 2 pm Eastern (7 am and 1 pm Central, an so on, this is LIVE TV). Check your local listings for the HSN channel in your area. There will be special holiday pricing, and guaranteed Christmas delivery. This was a great success when our books first appeared on HSN in October, and it looks like this will be a regular ongoing featured HSN product.
Get your Ravenous Romance books now! As Seen On TV!
Peace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It was one year ago today. . .

. . .that Ravenous Romance opened its doors. Many people in the romance community said that like so many erotica/romance epublishers before it, Ravenous Romance would never survive, let alone thrive. And there was good reason for those harsh judgments----many epublishers do not manage to stay open for a full year (indeed some, which shall remain nameless here, make a huge splash in the publishing media, then never even manage to open their doors for business in the first place.) After its first full year in business, Ravenous is going strong, and it staff and authors are raking in accomplishments and accolades, not to mention sales.

In the fall of 2008 I was invited to be published with a new startup epublisher whose staff had decades of experience in traditional publishing, and I jumped at the chance. Over the past year, I've written several novels and short stories for Ravenous, all of which has sold well, received great reviews, entertained readers, and put dollars in my pocket. And in less than a year, Ravenous managed to get my work (and that of several other RR authors) featured on national television, they have sold reprint rights on RR books to St. Martins Press, Alyson Books, Cleis Press, and others, RR books have been Top 10 bestsellers at AllRomanceEbooks.com, Audible.com, and Fictionwise.com, and there is even more exciting news to come. The editors and staff at Ravenous are wonderful, professional, and supportive. I look forward to working with them in 2010 and beyond!

In celebration of today's one-year anniversary, Ravenous is offering ALL its ebooks for only 99 cents each! It's Ravenous' way of saying thanks. Now is the time to stock up on all your favorite RR authors!

Peace.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Music and Memories

Have you ever heard a song on the radio that you hadn't heard in a long time, and it triggered a long-forgotten (or rather, repressed) memory? That happened to me tonight on my drive home from a business meeting. It happened twice in ten minutes, in fact.

I switched to a radio station I don't usually listen to so I could skip over an annoying commercial. That radio station was doing a music respective of seldom-heard hits from the late 80s. I was a teenager during that period, and very into pop music. The first song the DJ played was Guns-n-Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," which I actually hear a lot on the radio these days, but for some reason hearing it tonight triggered a memory of a particular pair of acid-washed jeans I liked to wear in 1989, ones I had decorated with pseudo-anarchy symbols, peace signs, and other goofy teenage angst crap with ballpoint pens and Sharpie markers. That was the closest I got to rebellion as a 14-year-old, wearing graffiti-covered clothes. That, and hanging out with older kids who would pile 13 people into their crummy, beat-up Chevettes and go joyriding that way on the winding country roads surrounding the small Ohio town where I grew up. And for some other crazy reason I pictured the exact look, feel, and design of the cheap denim purse I carried around at the time, too. (also decorated with Magic Marker teenage grafitti).

Here's the other weird memory trigger. The techopop song "Rock Me Amadeus" (with the original German lyrics, not the later English version that became popular in the US in '85). Hearing this song momentarily made me think of the nights I spent in my bedroom listening for that song on the nightly Top 10 list on Cincinnati's Q102 FM station, but then my mind switched to another time and place entirely. I was reminded of the time in the late 90s that I spent in a dingy, smelly basement death-metal bar in Vienna, getting dumped by my Austrian boyfriend (who flew me all the way to Vienna for the sole purpose of dumping me in an Austrian death-metal bar). Austrian death-metal is a helluva long way from Falco (and 1999 is a long way from 1985), but for whatever reason, that was the memory the song triggered.

My debacle with the Austrian boyfriend was one for the record books, a textbook example of a stupid romantic relationship with the absolute worst possible person at the worst possible time, and a memory I don't usually care to revisit. But tonight, driving in the car, listening to Falco and remembering every detail of that smelly, filthy death-metal bar buried in an 18th-century Austrian cheese cellar, I finally realized one thing:

Vienna is a pretty damn nice place to get dumped.

Peace.

Friday, November 6, 2009

KNIGHT MOVES is half-price today only!


My bestselling ebook KNIGHT MOVES is half-price at Ravenous Romance today only as part of 5-Star Friday (in honor of RR books that have received multiple 5-star reviews from critics). This bawdy satire is funny, filthy, and a wild ride. Check it out.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jamaica Layne Interview and Chat

I'm interviewed today (as Jamaica Layne) at Whipped Cream: http://tinyurl.com/yz3eovp

I'll also be chatting online on the Whipped Cream Yahoo group tomorrow (Wed. Nov 4) at Whipped Cream Yahoo group. (you have to join the group to chat):

Friday, October 30, 2009

3rd quarter royalties

Got my third-quarter royalty statement today from my main epublisher. I'm pleased to report that most of my titles with them have now earned out their advances. Which is good, but still not a whole lot of money (actually, a tiny amount of money, but it shows continued sales growth for a relatively new epublisher, which is promising in the current environment). A couple of my books are doing way, way better than the others (and not at all the ones I expected to do so well), which goes to show that some types of books will sell better than others for reasons that nobody can really fathom, even if they're by the same author.

What was really great news was the numbers that came in on my two books that were featured on HSN. I basically sold 5,000 copies of my books in less than one hour of airtime. Which is absolutely stupendous. A lot of debut authors in midlist print can only expect to sell 5,000 copies for the length of the life of the book, which might be two or three years in bookstores. I did that in less than an hour. That's like, 83 books a minute. And the books are continuing to sell online via HSN's website. Ravenous Romance is going to be featured again on HSN (details TBA) in what will very likely be a monthly and/or bimonthly feature, so it looks like I could keep pulling those numbers in. I just wish those numbers would spill over into other books on my backlist.

In other news, I'm working on beefing up my freelance medical writing business. My specialities are healthcare policy, nursing, surgery, general academic medical writing, and pharmaceuticals. I also dabble in legal/business/technical writing. I'll be redesigning my personal website this fall, and I plan to include a section on that. Would appreciate any suggestions.

Peace.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A much-needed break

Well, I finally dashed off a proposal and sample chapters for my latest project and got it off to my agent this past week. Earlier in the week, I also finished my latest under-contract novel a full week ahead of my (albeit extended) deadline. So now I have a bit of a lull. I'll still have articles due for my freelance writing "day job", but without anything creative taking up my extra time, I'll finally have some time to do some chores and also some "fun" stuff.

Such as:
1) Clean out my closet (and my son's closet---it is truly amazing how quickly he outgrows his clothes) and donate a ton of castoff stuff to the YWCA;

2) Try to organize the ever-more-chaotic place that passes for my home;

3) Appear as an actor (yes, an actor---sometimes I dust the mothballs off my old acting chops and perform) in a staged reading of a friend's play. There will be another blog post about this soon, because it's shaping up to be a very odd experience.)

4) Catch up on some reading.In other news, I have a good feeling about my latest book project. I'm not spilling any beans on what it is yet, since I don't want anyone copying my idea and getting a deal on their version of it before I do. But my agent is actually having dinner with Gore Vidal (yes, THE Gore Vidal) next week, and she and I both think he might be of particular help on this project if we can get him to do a jacket blurb for it. And that's all I'm gonna say right now.

Stay tuned.

Peace.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I can now truthfully say that one of my former neighbors is now a Nobel Laureate.

When I was in graduate school at the University of Chicago in the mid-90s, a young law professor and community organizer named Barack Obama lived three blocks north of my crummy student housing building. He and his wife occupied a tiny two-bedroom condo, saddled with massive law-school debts that his community-service oriented job couldn't pay. While other Harvard Law grads raked in piles of money doing corporate law, Barack and Michelle Obama did low-paying work on such legal issues as civil rights and health care for the indigent. They lived small so their work could live large.

I saw Mr. Obama speak at a small community rally a block away from campus when he was running for state senator representing the working-class college neighborhood where I lived, Hyde Park. I was impressed with him. So impressed I voted for him that first time he ran for office (a tiny, inconsequential office in state government) in 1996. And followed his career ever since.

To all of those who don't think that Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, because he's too early in his presidential term, or he hasn't achieved world peace yet (or whatever other petty nay-saying reason you come up with) I say this.

The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded to recognize efforts for peace, human rights and democracy only after they have proven successful. That was never Alfred Nobel's aim. More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see their efforts towards peace through, sometimes at critical moments. That's the whole reason there's a large sum of money attached----not to personally enrich the fortunes of the winner, but to help support and sustain the causes the winners champion. This is the part that a whole lot of people are missing right now----including a lot of top media people.Dr. Martin Luther King actually won his Peace Prize before his civil rights movement had actually garnered any real legislative action or had even quelled racial violence. (indeed, the worst of the 60s race riots occurred after Dr. King was assassinated.) Instead, Dr. King essentially won the Peace Prize for his "I Have A Dream" speech, which inspired the national call to action on civil rights. Inspired. Sound familiar? King's speech was a "promise" that inspired millions----not at all unlike what Obama has done, in both the United States and around the world. Plus, Dr. King's movement was local, and didn't aim to bring peace between nations---only between citizens of the same country. King's winning of the prize is now widely considered the tipping point in the civil rights movement, along with the "I Have A Dream" speech itself, which the prize recognized. And I don't think anybody today would argue that Dr. King didn't deserve the Nobel Peace Prize just because his movement hadn't "succeeded" yet when he won it.

Chew on that, Republicans. The more you guys deride this, the more you look like you're on the wrong side of history.

Peace.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Whoa, two daily blog posts in a row. . .

Okay, I have actually managed to write a blog post for two consecutive days. Can't remember the last time that happened. It's amazing how life can get in the way of something so simple as making a simple diary entry. Then again, my blog isn't a diary so much as it is a public rant about the insane demands of my ever-more-busy-and-frustrating life.

Today was a very interesting day. My son took a three-hour afternoon nap for the first time in months, which meant I actually got something productive done before 8 pm. I managed to catch up on a bunch of administrative stuff for the freelance gig I'm doing (healthcare-related writing for a major university), and also do some household stuff. I'm stuck in a rut on the current novel, though (which, incidentially, is due in to the editor next week). But the end is in sight. I've done a thorough copyedit of what I've already written, and I only need about two more chapters before I can call the thing finished.

I told my agent and editors the other week that I needed to take a break from my Jamaica Layne sexy writing for a while. I have cranked out 9 books in less than a year, which is just plain insane. The well is dry. I got nothin' left. At least, not for a while. I need to refuel the tank.

But it seems I will have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. The freelance gig seems like it can go on to infinity. I got an email today from a writer friend asking I come out of retirement from performing onstage and act in his play later this month. And I just signed a contract to have one of my plays included in the annual Best American Short Plays for the third year in a row. Lots of other interesting accomplishments and opportunities abound, too.

But what I'd really like more than anything else at this point is a steady paycheck. Well, scratch that---I've got a steady paycheck, but it's small. I need a BIG steady paycheck. Big enough to buy myself a goddamn nanny. I've been a full-time mom for two years now and I am starting to forget how to be an adult.

Peace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Okay. . .

. . .so I haven't been good about blogging lately. I admit it. But there's only so much of me to go around these days. I'm trying to meet novel deadlines, and I'm coming up with new book proposals for my agent to pitch, plus I've taken on some corporate freelance work. AND I've got a two-year-old. AND I was busy with rewrites/rehearsals for one of my plays (just finished). AND I seem to be coming down with the flu.

So, cut me a break here, folks. More posts to come.

(Note to the FTC: No gifts were exchanged/received/promoted via my blog in the past year. So keep those $11,000 fines to yourself, please. And please take your Nanny State and shove it up your ass. )

Peace.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

JAMAICA LAYNE AND RAVENOUS ROMANCE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!!!!


Okay, folks, here's the news you've all been waiting for. Jamaica Layne and the authors of Ravenous Romance are hitting the airwaves of NATIONAL TELEVISION tomorrow, September 14, 2009!

Ravenous Romance has partnered with HSN , a home-shopping channel that averages 90 million daily viewers, to present "Escape To Romance," an exclusive collection of 18 romance novels, grouped into three categories----Contemporary, Historical, and Paranormal. I've got titles in the Historical and Contemporary groups----The Mercenary Bride and a "PG-13" version of my medical-romance novel Vital Signs.

The "Escape to Romance" segment airs tomorrow, September 14, 2009. See below for airtimes, and check your local listings for the exact channel location. HSN is available on all basic cable services, and is also broadcast free over the air in many areas. Even if you can't tune in, you can order the collections RIGHT NOW at HSN.com---here's a link. It's very likely this could become a regular ongoing segment on the network.

Airtimes: Monday, September 14, 2009 at 8:35 AM (7:35 am Central), 4:35 PM (3:35 pm Central) and Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 3:00 AM (2:00 am Central). Note: This is LIVE TV broadcast from the East Coast, so if you're out on the West Coast check HSN.com for local airtimes.


Romance novels on national television! Who'd have thunk it?

Tomorrow will be a very important day for the publishing industry---maybe even a game-changer.

Peace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thoughts For The Day

Here's a few quotes and platitudes in light of some recent events:

----Pressure creates diamonds. And diamonds are indestructible. Charcoal leaves a brief dark mark, then falls apart.

----Be kind to others on your way to the top. You'll meet them on your way back down.

-----"Small people will criticize, naysay, and tell you you can't do it. The truly great will encourage, support, and help you become great alongside themselves." ---attributed to Mark Twain

----Oceans form one drop at a time.

----Quitters quit, doers do.

----Little pitchers have big ears.

-----Sometimes the nerdy new kid that nobody likes grows up to be Bill Gates.

Stay tuned for a news release posted here this coming Sunday that will be a very, very big deal. (Hint: National television is involved.)

Peace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Manners, Professionalism, and Karma

I don't blog about the publishing industry at large on here much, since my blogs are mostly focused on my own writing life. And I've learned the hard way not to get sucked in to online flame wars. But I just couldn't resist commenting on the Quartet Press debacle.

Those of you who follow my writing career know that I write for Ravenous Romance, a relatively new epress that was founded by several people with literally decades of experience in traditional NYC print publishing (my venerable literary agent Lori Perkins among them). The relatively new world of epublishing has never mixed well with the old-school, big-time NYC print publishing industry (most of the people who run independent epublishers started those epublishers with no prior publishing experience of any kind)----indeed, it's been kind of a "Wild West" for many years. So when Ravenous was founded in late 2007, it created quite a stir in the very tiny epublishing community, mostly due to the fact that Ravenous had big-time print publishing connections and business experience---and wasn't afraid to show it.

The relatively small, close-knit (and dare I say, snarky and emotionally immature) epublishing blogosphere pounced on Ravenous and its authors, claws drawn. The attacks, flame wars---even out-and-out harrassment---of Ravenous Romance's staff and authors by a small group of epublishing bloggers and (mostly) unpublished authors was like something out of Dante. It was like the meanest sorority-girl-slash-junior-high-school prank turned into an online horror movie. Worst of all, even some editors and staffers at some of Ravenous' competitors got in on the "fun," in appalling public acts of unprofessionalism. One blogger in particular (who shall remain nameless here) became a ringleader of sorts, dragging on the vicious mean-girl hazing (I can think of no better term for it) for several months.

And today, lo and behold, Quartet Press, which had been praised and cheerleaded to the high heavens for months by the very same bloggers that had viciously derided Ravenous Romance and its authors (not to mention had hired one of the aforementioned editors who had joined in the hazing, and had even publicly announced it would publish the ringleader blogger's debut novel) collapsed and shut down today before it published a single book.

Meanwhile, Ravenous Romance (and its authors, myself included) is going strong, has just signed an 18-book print deal in partnership with major media, and will be making a MAJOR national media splash on September 14 (stay tuned).

Poetic justice, perhaps? Karma? Something else?

I'll leave that for you to decide.

Edited 9/11/09 to add: The above-referenced blogger has categorically denied having a book deal with the defunct publisher, despite making prior Twitter posts, comments, etc. to the contrary (which may have been a practical joke on her part, who knows). Whatever the truth is, it seems there may be a gag order in place on the publisher participants, so it seems we'll never know. In any case, there was certainly a strong relationship of some kind, financial or otherwise, between the above-referenced blogger and Quartet Press' staff, which likely contributed to the chummy PR relationship between the two.

Moral of the story: Don't believe hype without actual dollars and results behind it, no matter who is dishing it out.

Peace.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Wee Small Hours of the Morning

I've never been much of a night person. I'm not really a morning person either. I've always been more of a middle-of-the day person. Or perhaps just a stick-to-a-regular-schedule person. I'm definitely an eight-hours-of-sleep-a-night person. None of which bode well for being a writer/mom.

Anyone who has small children can tell you that you absolutely, positively cannot get anything productive done at the same time you are watching/feeding/bathing/otherwise taking care of said children. Which basically leaves you no time to do anything besides Take Care Of Your Kid. Forget about doing (or folding, or ironing) laundry. Forget about cleaning the bathroom. And certainly forget about Writing The Great American Novel---let alone 10 of them, like I've done in the two years since my kid was born.

How did I do it, you may ask? By not sleeping. Ever.

The only time I can get anything productive done is when my kid is sleeping. I reserve my child's morning and midday naptimes (which can range anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours, totally unpredictable) for doing dishes, checking email, cooking, and other must-do chores. Any real writing (or anything else that requires time and concentration, like paying bills, or reading a book, or doing my taxes) has to be done after my son is in bed for the night. And since getting his needy little toddler self to bed each night has become a long, drawn-out, two-hour chore in and of itself, that means my prime work times are between the hours of 10:30 pm and 3:00 am. Working this late several nights a week is the only way I can meet my contract deadlines, balance my checkbook, or do basically anything else that involves being an adult.

I still have to get up by 6 am every day, mind you. My son still wakes up at 6 am on the dot every day, and does not understand that Mommy Is Still Very, Very Tired. I still have to cook his meals, clean the house, bathe him (and myself) and basically run a 24-7 nursery school every single day on less than 5 hours' sleep. My body runs on a combo of Cheerios and Diet Coke.

Don't let anyone tell you that stay-at-home moms don't actually work. Come spend a day on my schedule sometime. I'll show you work.

Peace.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Microblogging

In today's world of ever-shortening attention spans, it seems that even blogging is beginning to suffer. (Hence, I haven't been posting here as much, as I'm sure you've noticed.) I've gotten away from traditional blogging in favor of microblogging on my Twitter and Facebook pages.

For those of you still living under rocks, Twitter and Facebook allow users to "microblog" via short sentences in their status updates. Twitter even goes so far as to limit how many characters you can use (140). Facebook is more user-friendly, with a lot more features (and a vast improvement over its clunkier, now-passe competitor, Myspace), and real-time updating that is completely addictive.

I've been using my Twitter account mostly to promote my Jamaica Layne-branded writing. I use Facebook the same way, but also take advantage of its other many features to not only promote my writing work and sales business, but also to microblog about my day-to-day life as a stay-at-home-slash-working mother. Being a full-time writer and mom to a rambunctious two-year-old definitely has plenty of not-so-glamorous moments, and I've built up quite a following of friends who wait with baited breath to hear what shenanigans my son has gotten into lately. Here's a sampling of my recent Facebook updates:

"Looked in the mirror today and was stunned at how thin I've gotten. Haven't looked like this since my mid-20s. I highly recommend breastfeeding as a means of weight loss."

"Kiddo hits me, kicks me, bites me, pulls my hair, destroys everything I own, misbehaves wildly, has no respect for "time out." But I love him anyway."

"Add my brand-new trendy wraparound sunglasses to the list of things kiddo broke today. sigh."

"My son's capacity for destruction knows no bounds. He destroys jewelry, calculators, remote controls, toilet seats, carpeting, computer cables, books, and clothes. All in 24 hours."

All this Facebooking and Twittering instead of doing what I really should be doing (like writing, or exercising, or reading a damn book) really makes me wonder. If even novelists get distracted by Facebook (huge time-sucker that it is) what kind of future do novelists really have?

Peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

THE MERCENARY BRIDE releases today!


My latest novel, THE MERCENARY BRIDE, releases today at Ravenous Romance. This book is a bit of a departure from my usual style----it's a "sweet" (i.e., non-erotic) historical romance set in 12th-century England. Fans of my bestselling book KNIGHT MOVES will find a lot of familiar settings and themes, though, and lovers of traditional historical romance will enjoy it, too. The ebook is out now; the print version will release nationally (details to come, stay tuned!) on September 14.

Here's more info:

The Mercenary Bride:
Synopsis

It’s the year 1101, and England is still reeling from the Norman conquest a generation earlier. Lady Sabina of Angwyld is the eldest daughter of the Duke of Angwyld, a Saxon nobleman with estates near the Welsh border. The Norman invaders want to take the Duke’s land and title by force, and the only hope the he has for saving Angwyld is to marry his eldest daughter off to a ruthless, evil Norman nobleman, Lord Reginald de Guillaume. Sabina will have none of it, however. She thinks her only alternative is to take the veil and enter a convent. So she runs away.

Sabina is fleeing Angwyld on horseback on her way to the Abbey at Glastonbury when she meets Robert de Tyre, a swashbuckling Norman mercenary who serves as a cavalry officer in Lord Reginald’s army. Though Robert de Tyre has been sent by Lord Reginald to capture his intended bride and bring her back in time for her forced marriage, the sparks soon fly between them, and their worlds are turned upside down. Will Sabina overcome her hatred for all things Norman as her romantic feelings for Robert grow? And can Robert protect Sabina from the pursuing armies of his ruthless, jealous employer and make her his own? Only time will tell...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm in WRITERS DIGEST!

Some of you might recall last year when I (or rather, when my non-sexy, boring alter ego Jill Elaine Hughes) had to go through the rather unpleasant process of firing a literary agent. It's never a pleasant task, but it's something most writers have to do at some point in their careers. Firing an agent can be especially terrifying because industry etiquette requires that you fire your current agent before seeking a new one----and there's no guarantee you'll find another agent willing to represent you, either!

Fortunately for me, the process was a relatively easy one because I understood the importance of crafting a very graceful and carefully worded query letter that explained why I was seeking new representation. That query letter landed me a new agent less than a week after firing the old one. And this month's issue of Writers Digest magazine thought enough of it to do a special online feature on that very letter, along with commentary from the new agent I landed, the legendary Lori Perkins of the L. Perkins Agency.

Here's a link to the WD article. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sneak preview of things to come. . .


Here's an exclusive sneak preview of the cover of my latest book, THE MERCENARY BRIDE. This is a straight (non-erotic) historical romance, set in 12th-century England. The ebook version releases at RavenousRomance.com in mid-August. There will also be a print edition which will make a very big splash in a very big way come September. Details to come. . .
Stay tuned!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

It never ceases to amaze me how much of the job of a full-time freelance writer has nothing at all to do with writing. I'm a pretty business-savvy person in general, which has been key to my success as a freelance writer. I've known several formerly successful authors (including one guy who published more than 20 science-fiction novels in the 80s, only to see his deals dry up and his agent drop him when the market changed in the 90s) who saw their careers fall apart in the early 90s for no other reason than the fact they weren't interested in the "business" side of the writing and publishing business. They just wanted to hide in their attics and write, and never deal with agents, or editors, or marketing, or the general public. And that, my friends, was their downfall.

I probably spend more time on marketing, fanbase development, publicity, and contracts (in partnership with my agent) than I do on actual writing. Which frankly bothers even me. But I know that it's a necessity, especially in the early stages of my career as I build up my reader base. I maintain author websites, a heavily trafficked Facebook account (I have 1600 friends and counting), two blogs, a newsletter. I keep my author pages on Amazon updated, and I even write the people at Amazon to update the categories under which my books are listed to make sure they are reaching the most potential buyers. I have a Twitter account (1300 followers and counting). I go to conferences. I research potential markets, and try to keep up with what other authors in my genre (i.e., my competition) are writing, and how they are selling. I query magazines to take my freelance articles. I query editors of book-review publications and websites. I do online interviews. I do radio interviews. I go to writing groups. And on and on and on.

And when I'm not doing all of that (not to mention running my other side business, or raising my kid)---I'm writing. A lot. I just spent the past three weeks holed up in my writing suite for 8-12 hours a day, cranking out a historical romance novel on an impossibly tight deadline----which just made me fall behind on all my business-side stuff. The next couple weeks I'm taking a break from writing to catch up on all of that----and also to catch up on life a little bit. I haven't had much of a personal life this summer at all, and I'd like to have a chance to enjoy the nice weather a bit before yet another brutal Chicago winter sets in.

I'll never forget the time a former co-worker of mine (the aforementioned sci-fi author who published 20 novels in the 80s only to see his career fall apart) complaining that the publishing business "just wasn't about the writing anymore." He'd always hated the "business" side of the writing business, and the fact he never did anything---zip, zero-zilch, nada---to promote himself, to learn about the importance of favorable contracts and a good agent, or to grow his reader base was what ended his career. He blamed everyone for his career's demise but himself, and said that "real" writers just didn't make it anymore.

When he was finished with his bitter tirade, I smiled and nodded my head politely, but made a mental note not to make the same career mistakes he had. And so far, that decision has paid off in spades.

Back to work.

Friday, July 24, 2009

VITAL SIGNS Vol. 1 I'VE BEEN A NAUGHTY NURSE is HALF PRICE today only!


It's Five Star Friday at RavenousRomance.com, and my critically acclaimed and bestselling novel VITAL SIGNS Vol. 1: I'VE BEEN A NAUGHTY NURSE is half-price (ebook AND audiobook) today only!

Here's what critics have had to say about this book:

"Layne sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the last page." ---LoveRomancePassion.com

"Jamaica Layne keeps the reader enthralled and wanting to see where these two characters will get together next." ---Coffee Time Romance

"Vital Signs is erotic romance at its finest! Vital Signs is a five-star romance that sizzles in all the right places. Make no mistake about it, Ms. Layne is a true master of her craft." ---Crave More Romance

And don't forget VITAL SIGNS Vol. 2: SEX IS A SOUTHERN CITY. Coffee Time Romance says "This spicy hot book will have you panting for more."

Peace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me

10. I am my mother's youngest of two kids, but my father's second of five kids.

9. I taught myself to read by age 3. Nobody knows how I managed to do it, but I did. I read a book to my mother at 3 (that's how she found out).

8. My husband is Chinese, a native of Hong Kong.

7. I was in labor with my son for 28 hours, 27 of which was with no form of pain medication whatsoever.

6. I hung out in the Chicago theater scene for many years, and met many famous people. I once attended a party where David Schwimmer from "Friends" got horribly stinking drunk, then spilled his Remy Martin martini all over me. He didn't even apologize----just swore at me like it was my fault.

5. Many of my past boyfriends were foreigners (from countries like Germany, Austria, Japan, India). My husband was also a foreigner (he is now a US citizen).

4. I have visited more than 20 countries.

3. I used to speak fluent French, but I've forgotten most of it. I also studied Latin and German.

2. I first read erotica when I was 14 years old, and I stole it from my parents' bedroom.

1. I used to live three blocks away from Barack Obama. (In Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, when I was a grad student at the University of Chicago, where Obama taught law school at the time). I also voted for him the very first time he ran for public office (for state senator in the Hyde Park district, in 1996).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why being a successful writer is hard.

For all of you aspiring novelists out there, who would like nothing more than to write full-time and make a living at it, be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

To wit, I am currently writing a full-length historical romance on a flat-out CRAZY deadline. As in, one of my editors called me up a week or so ago and asked me to write a historical medieval romance (a straight "sweet" romance, not my usual porno-erotica type stuff). The money was there, the contract was there, and it was exactly the kind of book I've been wanting to do for a while. The only catch----she needed it completed in a very short time frame. Like less than a month.

I have to admit it----I balked. All of you aspiring writers out there would probably scream, WHY??? I had an editor begging ME to produce something that she really needed, which is a 180-degree turn from what most early-career writers usually deal with (i.e., a pile of manuscripts nobody wants to pay the price of a Chinese dinner for). Well, here's why. I already had multiple contracts with multiple deadlines to fulfil. I have a kid (a busy toddler who monopolizes most of my free time), and I run a household and a side business on top of being a full-time writer. I was already having trouble meeting some of those deadlines and had even asked for an extension. Even if you consider how prolific (and disciplined) I already am when it comes to my writing output, writing a full-length historical novel (complete with all the historical research that goes with it) in less than a month is INSANE. But the opportunity my editor presented me was just too good to pass up, so after a long conversation with the hubby, I decided I had to just bite the bullet and do it.

So far, I have written 25,000 words (roughly half of the novel's length) in a week. A WEEK. That's nuts, even for me. The only reason I've been able to do it is because the hubby has taken a week off of work so he can watch my son and manage the household in my stead, giving me free reign to write and do research for eight, ten, twelve hours a day if need be. It's hard. My back and neck are hurting, I've got migraine headaches from eyestrain, and my carpal-tunnel is acting up. Meanwhile, the household is falling apart without my usual supervision---the house is a pit, plus my hubby destroyed an entire bed of my precious phlox perennial flowers when I asked him to do some work in the garden for me. My son is eating a diet consisting of nothing but instant Ramen noodles and brownies, and my ironing basket overfloweth. My son's diaper rash from hell is back, too.

And yet despite all that, I'm having more fun writing this book than I have writing any book I've ever written before. I'm writing 3,000, 4,000, sometimes even 5,000 words in a single sitting, all the while excited about where the story and characters are going to go and do next. And who knows---maybe this will end up being the book deal to end all book deals, the one that enables me to hire a full-time nanny, gardener, and housekeeper so I can do nothing all day, every day but write, write write.

I recently met New York Times-bestselling author (and one of my favorite writers) Lora Leigh at a conference. We got to chatting, and she asked me about my books. I mentioned a few, compared myself to authors I thought she'd probably read so she'd have a better idea of what I write. Ms. Leigh just smiled and said, "Honey, don't even talk to me about reading. I haven't had time to read a book for pleasure in over three years. I'm at my computer twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours a day, writing. I never get a day off. Deadlines, ya know." This coming from a lady who usually has four or five books on the NYT list at a time and makes millions of dollars in royalties.

Ah, to be successful. It seems the more successful you are, the more you have to work your ass off. So much for authors supposedly living a life of leisure.

Peace.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blog Party Cancelled. Goodbye, Jacko

I wanted everyone to know that the Jennifer's Random Musings Summer Blog Party (where I was scheduled to appear today) has been cancelled due to the blog administrator's illness. Hopefully it will be rescheduled later in the summer.

I wanted to take a moment to comment on the death of Michael Jackson. Although I hadn't really listened to his music in years (other than what came on the radio), I was a fan of his, especially as a kid. My favorite MJ music (and period) was his early years with the Jackson 5, when his child's voice was pure and beautiful, yet had the depth, range and passion of someone well beyond his years. To quote Motown founder Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson was a "fifty year old man in a child's body" who could bring emotion and passion to the blues and soul that no child of his age ever should have been able to do. In other words, he was a genius, the likes of which will never be seen again.


How ironic that when he grew up, Jackson became a child in a man's body. This is why I frankly never believed the pedophile allegations against him. Several forensic psychiatrists all diagnosed him as having the mental state of a "psychologically regressed 10-year-old", which doesn't at all fit the profile of a child molester. I think the families that made the allegations did it because they saw a frail, deluded, and very frightened man (who also happened to be mega-rich) and decided to see how much they could take him for. It was that same kind of thinking that allowed Jackson to be surrounded by "vampires and leeches" (to quote his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley) who enabled his mental illnesses and drug addiction. It was most likely the drugs (along with the pressure to make a comeback) that killed him.

It seems even he knew that this fate would be his. So sad that nobody could save Michael Jackson from himself.

We have lost so many of our most gifted Americans----national treasures, really----to drug abuse, the terrible pressures of fame, and the manipulative, degenerate people who latch themselves onto the famous for their own benefit. At what point will our society say enough?

RIP.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blog Tours, Et Cetera



Hi all--

Happy Summer! I wanted to let everyone know that in the coming week, I'll be participating in two blog tours along with several other Ravenous Romance authors.



Here's the scoop:
We've got a great contest! Some of my fellow Ravenous authors have teamed up with Night Owl Romance for a web hunt that will last through the entire month of June and offers great prizes. For details, visit here: http://www.nightowlromance.com/nightowlromance/hunt/ravenous1.asp
Details: Join us at Night Owl Romance on the following dates to meet Ravenous Romance authors and win free stuff. Date: Monday, June 22 (All of their chats are on Mondays) Time: 8 EST, 7 CST, 5 PST Location: http://www.nightowlromance.com/nightowlromance/chat/chat.aspx Authors Included: EM Lenley, Inara Lavey, Elle Amery, Jamaica Layne, Savannah Chase, Angela Cameron



Summer Blog Party at Jennifer's Random Musings
I'll also be participating in the Jennifer's Random Musings Summer Blog Party next week. There will be online games, sneak previews of upcoming books, and lots of fun at that blog. Watch both the Jennifer's Random Musings site and my blog for further details.

Last but not least, some very shameless self promotion. I recently became an Avon representative, mostly because I've been addictied to Avon Anew, perfume, and Skin So Soft for half my life and I wanted to get it at a discount (but also because I needed some extra cash between royalty payments.) Most of you who know me personally already know that I'm a makeup and fashion junkie, so this was an easy career move for me to make. So if you're on the market for some very high-quality, value-priced makeup, bug spray, skincare, clothes, jewelry, shoes, whatever----drop by my site and browse.
Peace. And Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Miscellany

Okay, so I haven't been posting here much. Sue me. I'm a busy gal. Here's a quick sum-up of what I've been working on lately.

Two weeks ago I headed off to the Lori Foster Readers and Writers Get-Together for the weekend. NYT Bestselling author Lori Foster (who also just so happens to hail from my hometown of Cincinnati) runs this great romance conference to help readers meet their favorite romance authors in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. No nonstop panel discussions, no hard-core promotion, no dressing to the nines (unless you want to). Just a great way for readers and authors to meet on a level playing field, along with great business and networking opportunities. Probably the best writers' (and readers') conference I've ever attended. I shared a room with my literary agent Lori Perkins and had a grand old time. Plus, Lori Foster uses the event to help raise money for some great charities. I wish more romance novel conferences were like this (are you listening, RWA?). And since it's in my old digs of Cincinnati, I got to visit with family and also get my Skyline Chili and Graeter's Ice Cream fix. I'll definitely be back next year.

I've started writing comedy sketches for Democracy Burlesque, a sketch-comedy troupe here in Chicago that satirizes all things American and political, with a sexy-dirty twist. Which is right up my alley, let me tell you. Plus, all the proceeds from DB's shows go to charity. So if you live in Chicago and want a rare chance to see my stage writing actually produced in town (instead of in NYC or L.A. or Seattle, like it usually is), be sure to stop by one of Democracy Burlesque's performances in late July or early August. Here's a sneak preview---in my tried-and-true dirty-book-author fashion, one of my contributed sketches uses am old-style burlesque striptease to lampoon unethical labor unions. Yep, that's right. Naked boobs, political satire---what's not to love?

Last but not least, I recently made an appearance on Mominatrix Radio in my Jamaica Layne persona, talking about how being a parent affects my life as an erotic romance author, and vice versa. You can listen to a recording of the show here. The Mominatrix folks also put out a very cool weekly sex advice column for busy moms and dads. Awesome!

I'll be doing some blog tours in the next couple weeks, so i'll be sure to keep everyone posted on that as well.

Peace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Appearing LIVE On The Mominatrix Podcast!

I'm just back from the Lori Foster conference, and will have a report posted in the next couple days. But in the meantime, here's some information about how to hear me on the radio! (Well, web radio, but it's still radio).

Tomorrow (Thursday) 6/11 I will be appearing LIVE as Jamaica Layne on the Mominatrix Podcast! Info is below. Hope to "see" you there!

http://www.imperfectparent.com/mominatrix/radio.php

Peace.

Monday, June 1, 2009

VITAL SIGNS: Vol 2 is NOW AVAILABLE!!


The highly anticipated sequel to my bestselling erotic romance Vital Signs Vol. 1: I've Been A Naughty Nurse is now available at Ravenous Romance!

Vital Signs Vol. 2: Sex In A Southern City, picks up where Vol. 1 left off, and this time, supporting character Shirley Daniels is the star of the show as she moves from small-town Statesville, North Carolina to big-city Raleigh, and finds plenty of intrigue and romance working in a big-city research hospital.

The VITAL SIGNS series is like Grey's Anatomy, except with the sex left in! Check it out!

Friday, May 29, 2009

KNIGHT MOVES is half-price today at Ravenous Romance!


My bestselling erotic time-travel romance KNIGHT MOVES is HALF PRICE TODAY ONLY at Ravenous Romance! Here's your chance to check out this book (as ebook or audiobook) at half off the cover price! Enjoy!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Interviewed Today at Book Talk

I'm interviewed today at the Book Talk Blog. Drop by and comment for your chance to win a free copy of MARKET FOR LOVE!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's New in Jamaica Layne-Land


Hi all--


Just a few updates on the latest happenings in Jamaica Layne-Land:

First, I will have a short story included in the upcoming Black Lace anthology Best Women's Erotica Vol 1: Sexy Little Numbers. My short story "The Fantasy," which features an imaginary (or is it?) sexual relationship between a British college professor and his student, is featured alongside stories by bestselling authors Portia Da Costa, Rachel Kramer Bussell, and Janine Ashbless, among others. Sexy Little Numbers will be in bookstores this August. And check out that hot cover!
Meanwhile, my books have been getting rave reviews all over the place lately. Here's a sampling:

Crave More Romance's review of A CAPITOL AFFAIR: "Once again the fabulous Ms. Layne has written a novel that proves she is a five star author."
Crave More Romance's review of KNIGHT MOVES: "Layne’s setting is perfect, her use of magic unique, her plotline full of surprises. Oh, and did I mention KNIGHT MOVES is packed with sensuality? KNIGHT MOVES is everything I love about erotic romance! "
Jennifer's Random Romance Review's take on my anthologies EXPERIMENTAL and POWER PLAYS: "This entertaining and steamy anthology of erotica short stories has a little bit of everything. "
Coffee Time Romance's rave of VITAL SIGNS VOL 1: I'VE BEEN A NAUGHTY NURSE: "The love scenes in this book are flaming hot and occur everywhere. The passion between Joanna and Harlan is one of the hottest I have ever read. . . .Jamaica Layne keeps the reader enthralled"
There's even more than I can post here, but suffice to say that it is great to see my work getting such raves. And I think that can only mean one thing----more exciting news to come.
Last but not least, I'll be appearing at the upcoming Lori Foster Readers/Authors Get Together in Cincinnati, June 5-7. I'll be hanging around the conference and also doing the book signing. I'd love to connect with any readers who might be attending!
Peace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger Ava James!

Today we welcome to the blog Ava James, erotica author for publishers like Freya's Bower, eXcessica, Wild Child Publishing, and Ravenous Romance. I sat down with Ava for an interview recently and here's the exciting result! Take it away, Ava!

What got you started writing erotic romance?
I cannot say for certian when my romance writing took a turn for the hot side, but all of a sudden there I was with explicit sex scenes between my hero and heroine. Mainstream writers like Julie Garwood initially piqued my interest in romance, and once I started reading I couldn't stop. The writing started after I had read a particulary terrible book. I was complaining to a friend about it, and she said, "If you think you can do better, why don't you?" With the gauntlet thrown down, I pulled open a blank word document and started writing.

What makes your writing unique?
I think that my writing is unique in the mixture of humor and passion. I try to convery that emotional connection that most readers crave while showing that life is life, and sometimes you just have to deal with what comes--the good, the hot, and the ugly. Since I write in several genres, I like to blur the traditional roles to meet whatever interesting mix of elements I have in my stories.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a product of the 80's, live in the midwest, married my highschool sweetheart in a castle, and am the mother of three adopted furry children. Right now, I have a mother bird right outside my window nesting in my clematis flowers. Besides all of that I am a nanny and substitute teacher by day and an author by night. Let's see, what else can I say? There is always the shameless plug of my links: http://avajamesromance.blogspot.com/ and http://www.twitter.com/AuthorAvaJames

Do you write in other genres? If so, what?
As an author, I consider myself a genre whore. I cannot seem to stay faithful to one area, so I write whatever comes out. From Freya's Bower Publishing (http://www.freyasbower.com/) I have four releases--Royal Cargo is a futuristic Sci-Fi romance with a paranormal twist. The Eagle at Midnight has a modern girl falling for a Welsh god while she is on holiday. A Christmas Cat brings together a sheriff's deputy and a newcomer to town on Christmas Eve. One Touch, One Glance: A Sweet Romance Anthology contains my story entitled "Waking Up." From Wild Child Publishing (http://www.wildchildpublishing.com/) I only have one release, A Crone's Query tells the tale of two men named Tristan (historical).

Here's a blurb for Royal Cargo:

ROYAL CARGO: Kidnapped on her wedding day, Princess Priya of Caethern has more to worry about than her unwanted groom. The fact that she is taken by a disgusting creature, stripped of her formal attire and caged doesn’t sit well either. When she is rescued by a rugged marauder, who is everything her world is not (and all that she wishes she could have), Priya is faced with more danger than any enemy could present.

Hector gets more than he bargains for when he steals one too many freighters from the enemy. The last thing he expected to find was a stolen princess. Traversing through the universe, fleeing multiple enemies, new dangers meet them at every turn. And in the end, the greatest peril may be letting go. Buy it here.

What's next for you?
Currently, I am working to complete a western novel set in 1899 Alaska, entitled Juniper Sky. In September, my historical novel For One Dark Knight is set to release with Siren/Bookstrand Publishing. I also have a story in an upcoming Ravenous Romance Anthology and a law enforcement erotic short with eXcessica. I am a busy girl, so if you would like to hear more, be sure to visit my blog and twitter! Thank you to for having me!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coming Attractions. . .

Hey Folks---

Yes, I've fallen a bit behind on blogging. My busy home life is to blame, along with deadlines. But never fear----new posts are coming soon, beginning with a guest blogger tomorrow!

Tomorrow we'll welcome erotica author Ava James to the blog with an in-depth interview. Later this week you'll get a few posts from yours truly updating everyone out in Jamaica Layne land what's up with my latest reviews, releases, and conference/signing appearances!

Peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A CAPITOL AFFAIR is Ravenous' Book Of The Day!


Hey folks--


My erotic BDSM novel A CAPITOL AFFAIR is today's Book of the Day at Ravenous. Check it out if you haven't already. Bookwenches.com recently called it "an imaginative, sexually adventurous book."


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Write?

I was recently a guest blogger at the Writer Beware blog (I blogged about exploitive practices in the American theater targeted at playwrights), and in the comments section somebody asked me why I continue to write plays when the chances of success are so exceedingly slim (and even successful playwrights have to deal with exploitive practices and miserable contract terms).

Here was my reply to that commenter, verbatim:
"I think my motivation to write plays in spite of the odds is the same as my motivation to write fiction----because I have to. If I didn't write, I would go insane. I honestly think that the only people who should pursue writing as a career are the people who have no alternative but to write in order to maintain their sanity. If you have any other possible means of making your living, don't become a writer. There are far easier ways to make a living, believe me. I wouldn't advise anyone to pursue a career in writing, simply because it's a career with a 99% failure rate."

I've been thinking about that response for several days now. Why do I write creatively full-time? I could make a lot more money doing what I used to do in the corporate world (which was still writing---it just wasn't writing what I'd otherwise choose to write). Even with top agent representation and multiple book contracts, it's not exactly what I'd call a comfortable living. I work long hours, meet tight deadlines, and wait forever for my royalty checks. I get beat up in the press. My neighbors look down their noses at me when I tell them what kind of novels I write. Other (less successful) writers ask me point-blank when I'm going to give up this whole erotic/romance fiction thing and write something "serious." I get insulted by my fellow Chicago playwrights---I was even kicked to the curb by Chicago's foremost playwriting organization, who told me my work was no good. (And yet, I get lots of play productions in New York City, theater capital of the world---which I don't get to see since I can't afford the days of child care or expensive hotel stays required to leave my suburban home behind for three or four days to see my work up on its feet in NYC). All of this for a paycheck that's a tiny fraction of what I used to earn. Why do I put myself through this?

Quite simply, because if I didn't write, I would go insane. Or perhaps more accurately, I'm already insane. Because only an insane person would choose to write novels and plays full-time. Sure, lots of people like to talk about how they'd like to chuck their cushy jobs so they can write the Great American Novel. But people who do that have no idea what the writing life is really like. If they did, they'd never dream about doing it full time. Being a full-time writer is a real bitch sometimes. It's the hardest work you'll ever do, for the least amount of money. Sure, the Stephen Kings and John Grishams of the world are sitting pretty with their millions of dollars and fleets of private jets. But most of us are just getting by, hoping our current release will sell enough copies for our editors to pick up our next option book, hoping to get a tiny increase in the next advance, hoping that this time around, I'll actually get paid something for that play production in NYC. And all the while, we just smile and nod when one of our relatives walks up to us at a barbecue and says "Oh, so you're a writer, huh? How's that working out for you? (chuckle) When are you gonna give that up and get a real job?"

I already have a real job. It's just a job that sucks sometimes. The old chestnut that all writers are crazy is true. Because only a crazy person would take a job that pays less per hour than most people in the Third World make in a month, has a 99% failure rate, and means public scrutiny and journalistic insult for the 1% of us that do succeed.

Just check me in to the loony bin, folks. Because I love every minute of it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm Profiled Today at Pop Syndicate, and Why The People at Amazon.com Are A Bunch of Stupid Un-American Asshats

First off, the good news. I'm profiled today at the PopSyndicate blog. This is my most high-profile blog tour appearance yet, so it's pretty cool. Check it out by clicking here.

Second, here's the bad news. I've been meaning to blog about this all week, but I kept having to deal with a bunch of stupid mommy-and-housewife crap and kept putting it off. But now I have a whole hour to myself to rant about the completely asshat censorship bullshit Amazon.com pulled over Easter weekend.

For those of you who haven't heard about it by now, over Easter weekend nearly 58,000 books (including several of mine) where rendered unsearchable on Amazon.com due to their supposed "adult content." In an apparent effort to become more "family friendly", Amazon.com started removing the sales rankings of books that supposedly contained "adult" content. By removing the sales rankings from the books, Amazon essentially made the titles nearly impossible to locate on its site, since only books with sales ranks will come up on bestseller lists, or even come up on topic, title, or authors searches. In many cases, without a sales ranking attached, the only way you can find a deranked title is by searching by ISBN---and who the hell memorizes ISBNs? (I certainly don't, and I used to be a book-acquisitions librarian.)

Once a book is "deranked" from Amazon, it basically becomes impossible to find---and buy. With many small-press and out-of-print titles available only on Amazon.com (what with Amazon putting small independent booksellers out of business, but I digress), Amazon.com essentially made thousands upon thousands of books impossible for Americans to read. Can you say CENSORSHIP?

Big Brother, anyone?

What kinds of books got "deranked" on Amazon? Gay and lesbian books were deranked, for one. At one point, there wasn't a single GLBT-positive book searchable on Amazon (if you typed "homosexuality" into the search field, the only books that came up were homophobic titles like How Not To Be Gay). Erotica titles (heterosexual and gay) as well as many romance novels were deranked (mine included----grrr!), and even nonfiction and medical books on the topic of human sexuality were deranked. Feminist books got deranked. Books on the occult, left-wing politics, and even great works of literature were deranked. Amazon.com apparently decided that the American public does not need to read the works of E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Helen Gurley Brown, Annie Proulx, or Augusten Burroughs due to their "adult" content. National Book Award-winning books were deranked; even New York Times bestselling authors were deranked. (Even the children's book Heather Has Two Mommies, which explains lesbianism to gradeschoolers, was deemed "adult.") Yet books like the annual Playboy Centerfolds anthologies, books on how to run a successful (and illegal) dogfighting business, and even The Anarchists' Cookbook (contains recipes for making bombs and napalm in your own kitchen) were deemed perfectly acceptable for general public consumption.

In other words, if you wrote a book that a) has something to do with sex-positive and/or gay-positive content and/or anything too "lefty", Amazon didn't want anyone to buy your book. Amazon later said this targeted deranking was due to a "cataloging error," but authors who contacted Amazon.com to inquire why their books were no longer searchable were told in writing by Amazon's own staff that it was due to Amazon's new family-friendly "policy."

The public backlash against this stunning act of censorship was swift and far-reaching, thanks to social-media sites like Twitter getting the word out quickly. (Big-name celebrities like Demi Moore got involved in the online #amazonfail protest on Twitter; so did former child star and Internet celebrity Wil Wheaton.) The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor (two papers not at all known for their liberal ideologies, natch) published scathing editorials attacking Jeff Bezos and Amazon for daring to attempt something so inherently un-American as outright censorship of an entire class of books and writers.

Amazon immediately went into damage-control mode, saying that the whole thing was just a "glitch." Even a few hackers tried to take credit for doing it from the outside without Amazon's knowledge, but those claims have been discredited. But with evidence of Amazon's deranking of gay-themed books going back several months at least, along with plenty of evidence that Amazon's own staff said in writing multiple times that the deranking was "policy," (not to mention how specifically targeted the censored books were) I don't believe for a minute that this was a "glitch." This was a sinister attempt by a major corporation that now controls a huge chunk of the world book trade to control and censor what Americans read.

Motherfuckers.

The public backlash and massive PR gaffe Amazon now finds itself mired in rivals what Coca-Cola dealt with back in 1985 when they tried to impose New Coke on the masses. I think that for decades to come, business schools across the world will use the "amazonfail" debacle as a textbook example (along with New Coke) of a major corporation completely misjudging its customer base. In fact,"amazonfail" is worse than New Coke----New Coke was just stupid. But censorship of any kind, let alone on such a massive scale, is evil. And the public knows it. Amazon tried to pull a fast one on us, but obviously Amazon underestimated just how smart its customers (avid readers and book buyers) really are.

Americans of all political stripes, from the far left to the far right, detest censorship. The First Amendment is sacred in this country. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have died over the past 230 years to protect our right to free speech, which includes the right to read whatever we want without fear of reprisal. It goes without saying that censorship is un-American. And if anyone should have understood that, it should have been the world's biggest bookseller.

My books remain deranked and unsearchable on Amazon, and I have been unable to get a straight answer on when the sales ranks will be restored (Amazon says "soon" but it hasn't happened yet).

Now would be a very good time to buy your books from one of Amazon's online competitors:
Powells.com
BooksAMillion.com
BN.com (Barnes & Noble)
Fictionwise.com
AllRomanceEbooks.com

Never forget that this has happened. Never. And vote with your feet, folks. Take your dollars elsewhere.

Peace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Tax Day! Read sexy books.


Hey folks! Today at Ravenous Romance, check out my short story "Hot Sticks, LLC", which is included in Ravenous Romance's SEX AND TAXES anthology. SEX AND TAXES is chock full of hot stories that will forever change the way you look at the IRS. Happy April 15!

Also today at Ravenous, they're running a special on short stories. Only fifty cents apiece! (regular price is $1.99). At this price, you can order ten stories for five bucks, and create your own anthology. You can even write back to Ravenous, tell them which ten stories you chose and why, and they might publish them together as an anthology based on your suggestions. Here's your chance to be an erotica anthology editor! Check it out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guest Blogger today at Writer Beware blog

I'm a guest blogger today at the popular Writer Beware blog, writing on the topic of exploitive practices in the theatre world targeted at playwrights. Check it out.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my rant about the recent Amazon.com anti-gay, anti-sex, anti-feminist (pretty much anti-everything remotely controversial) censorship debacle. (Yep, my smutty books were among the 58,000 deranked/censored titles).

Peace.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guest Blogger, Sephera Giron----Author of the Sexstrology Series


Today we welcome astrologer and erotic romance author Sephera Giron to the blog. This is a very long post, but I'm happy to post it in its entirety. Enjoy!

-----------


Love, Erotica, and Astrology
Sèphera Girón peers into her crystal ball and sees many erotic romance books....

Is spring here yet? We’re waiting oh, so patiently here for it just outside of Toronto! While we’re waiting for the weather to break in the northern climates, lots of writing gets done! The best thing about living in Ontario and being a person that finds no joy in snow related activities means that I do a lot of writing in the winter.

This past winter, I was especially prolific, even for me. I delivered six books to Ravenous Romance.

Admittedly, I edited one of the books, The Sexstrology Anthology, but it’s related to the other books. Twelve authors wrote erotic romance astrology stories set in my fictional town of Hermana.

The Sexstrology series was created for Ravenous Romance’s Lovestrology line. These are books that can be read alone or as a series. You don’t have to read the other books to enjoy any of these erotic romance books. For the series, I combined several of my interests and talents. These include: astrology, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witchcraft, tarot cards, and sex
I’ve been reading tarot professionally and casting horoscopes for years. At Ravenous, I’m the one who casts the daily horoscopes.

To draw together my many interests to create a base to weave my tales, I created the mythical town of Hermana which was founded by witch sisters escaping the Salem prosecutions. A couple of centuries later, the town is thriving and draws a lot of tourists. Many of the residents of Hermana are psychics and witches of some sort and my Sexstrology series concentrates on twelve main women, each single and a different sign of the zodiac. They form a coven under the guidance of eighty year old Lucy and every month, they meet to celebrate one of the ladies’ birthdays and to cast a love spell.

The first book is about a Sagittarius tarot reader, Maggie. It’s great fun to write about a different woman each month and to follow her adventures in love. Maggie is a hedonist, and sleeps with pretty much every sign of the zodiac in her book while trying to figure out how she feels about a Virgo that has captured her attention.

The Capricorn woman is a vampire and medium. She sees ghosts (is haunted by some of her victims in fact), plays the violin and is discriminating in her sleeping partners and her prey. She meets a gorgeous Gemini on New Year’s Eve and the book follows her rather dark adventures in trying to find him again.

For Aquarius, I created a journalist who has a bit of psychic ability and can see ghosts. She’s a natural skeptic but many weird experiences in Hermana have convinced her that ghosts do exist. She explores a haunted asylum in California with a hunky Scorpio man she met through the internet on her paranormal group.

My Pisces lady is an aura reader and teaches art class. Her new, much younger student, a Taurus, has many talents that make her drool. Their lust sends them through a painting where they must discover what evil is leaking into Hermana.

Exploring the signs of the zodiac and their different attitudes towards sex has been interesting. I use the most basic popular views of the sun sign to create my characters. Sagittarians as a rule are very enthusiastic and adventurous people (Walt Disney, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Woody Allen). Capricorns are dark and mysterious (Edgar Allan Poe, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson). Aquarians are analytical (Lewis Caroll, Oprah, Abraham Lincoln) and Pisces are passionate (Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Harlow, Tammie Faye Baker). At least, those of the traits I chose to focus on for the purpose of my stories. The different degrees of lust have been interesting to play with. Some characters, like my Sagittarian, view sex as a necessary pastime while other signs are pickier about it.

People who follow astrology may complain that sometimes I match lovers in signs that are noted to be incompatible. Since none of us know the characters’ full charts, we can’t judge them on their sun signs. And as we know, humans tend to do what their loins tell them to do no matter what their sign!

As an example, in my own life, in my twenties, I married a Sagittarian whom I should have been totally compatible with and intellectually, we are. It was fun and adventurous and a whirlwind romance. We met at our summer jobs and discovered we attended the same university and actually had good friends in common. We were married by Valentine’s Day while still in school. After graduation, we decided to start a family and had two boys. Then around the ten year mark, we parted ways because in the big picture, we married before we actually knew each other very well and it was the day to day lifestyle stuff that was dragging us down. Impulse is typical for Sag and Aquarius. In fact, we are still friends, but just not good marriage partners.
My second husband is a passionate, clingy, emotional Pisces who is supposed to not be compatible with an impatient, analytical, detached Aquarius like me. We met when he came to me for a tarot reading at a flea market. Sparks flew (literally, when our hands accidently touched, a jolt surged through me, not a carpet shock!) though I didn’t know what I would do with him, he was so not the type I was “used to” but I told myself “open heart, open mind” (since what I was “used to” obviously wasn’t working for me!) and after a few dates, I was hooked on my fish man. He proposed a few months after we met but I had cold feet from the first time around. We lived together for six years before getting married in 2008 since we both had impulsive city hall first marriages with people we didn’t know. His first marriage didn’t even last five years but it was with a Gemini (who became pregnant in the first month or so of their dating, so there’s that air sign impulse thing again on her end and of course he’s the clingy water sign with romantic notions) and I can’t imagine how they even survived that long with all the mind changing and flip flopping from both of them! My second husband and I share Virgo moons and that is where our own compatibility lies. It also means that we both enjoy experimental sex and are open to adventures...He was a willing participant in helping me research which 64 positions of the Kama Sutra to use in “Kama Sutra Seductions Deck,” which I call “flashcards for lovers.”

So I approach my lovers in my astrology books with an Open Heart, Open Mind, which incidentally is the name of the first Sexstrology book (Sagittarius) and the concept is used in the monthly love spell, because, hey, it works for me!

The love spell that the women perform every month consists of three parts. There’s the actual ritual or spell that they all gather together to perform. There’s the required feng shui of their home by Cancer Ellie and astrology charts prepared by Gemini Gwen. If the lucky lady follows all the advice, she may wind up with Mr. Compatible.

The idea of each woman having a specialty such as tarot reading or aura painting is exciting to me, for I’m curious about so many things. This gives me a chance to explore subjects that I enjoy while writing about love and sex.

People who have read my other work (such as Hungarian Rhapsody, Mistress of the Dark, Borrowed Flesh, The Birds and the Bees) know that I deliver when it comes to the racy bits. This is because I enjoy writing about sex and like to explore different ways to experience pleasure. (My Virgo moon is showing again!) My characters sometimes have more balls than I do when it comes to the bedroom. It’s a fun way to express myself and I hope you enjoy reading the “naughty bits” as much as I enjoy writing them.

So that’s a bit of what I’ve been trying to do with my new series. I hope readers enjoy the erotica, the occult aspects and the stories.

Thank you, Jamaica, for letting me crash your blog.

Now, everyone, go read your free daily horoscopes at Ravenousromance.com and let me know what you think!

Here are links to trailers I made for Open Heart, Open Mind and Cursed. Bear in mind, these are the first trailers I’ve ever made but they give the idea.

Sagittarius: Open Heart, Open Mind
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch1Vy_HiuwI
Capricorn: Cursed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98GnU9fV8yk&feature=related

Sephera Giron
I’m on Facebook, My Space and Twitter. Come on by and say hi. You can join my newsletter through my website.
http://www.sepheragiron.com/
http://www.ravenousromance.com/component/option,com_author/Itemid,70/id,12/lang,en/task,view/

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Guest Blogger Courtney Sheets, author of KONA WARRIOR


Today we welcome Courtney Sheets, author of the paranormal erotic romance novel KONA WARRIOR to the blog. Take it away, Courtney!


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First off, I’m really excited to be here today! Thanks to the talented Jamaica Layne for having me. Second how great is it that I get to blog about Hawaiian Mythology, sex, and that elusive first novel.

I’m a newbie to the world of romance writing. Not in the sense that I just started writing but in the sense that my first book, Kona Warrior, was published recently by Ravenous Romance. I have a stack of rejection letters a couple inches thick. I could probably wallpaper my den with them if I was so inclined.

For every fifty no’s you get a yes. Or so a wise college professor once told me. It doesn’t matter I was taking a musical theatre class at the time, I think the adage holds true for the writing world as well as the theatrical one.


The written word has held me captive from an early age. You all know what I mean. I’m talking the "bad poetry in the kitchen" phrase. We’ve all been there. I didn’t seriously start to write in the “I want to make this my career” sense until about my mid-twenties. While tolling away as a salesgirl in a department store, I bought a book called Write and Sell Your First Novel and a copy of The Writer’s Market. I was ready. I was prepared. I was going to write the next bestseller. I would be the next Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Boy was I in for a wake-up call.
I wrote and submitted, submitted and wrote, off and on for the next year and a half. The rejection letters kept piling up until I realized a very important thing---my writing was dull. I don’t mean dull in the style, simply the genre I had thrust myself into was not conducive to who I am. I was not being true to myself or my craft. This is when I discovered paranormal romance.
I devoured paranormal from the minute I picked up my first Christine Feehan book. Until one scorching hot summer’s day---I live in Las Vegas, it’s like living on the sun---I was standing in Borders and looked up to see vampire romances as far as the eye can see. Row and upon row of Tortured Gothic Vamps and the slayers who love them, and not a single Greek God or Aztec princess among them. I was annoyed. Ms. Feehan, while in my opinion a good storyteller, had started to get a little redundant. I wanted something new. With some many amazing cultures in this world you'd think publishing would branch out. So I decided I would write my own paranormal. And I did write one, a tremendously bad Banshee story that is now locked in a vault safe from human eyes lest readers be turned into stone. That book cratered around the time I took a trip with my family to the Big Island of Hawaii. There I found what I need to kick start my true writing path. Two helpful items in particular come to mind, the beauty of our fiftieth state and Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Warren Beckwith.

Beckwith’s book is the definitive collection of Hawaiian myth. For a long time it was the only written record of many of the tales of Pele, Lono, and the other gods. With good old Martha by my side and a view of Kilauea, came the idea for Kona Warrior.

As I wrote about the ancient Hawaiian tradition, I came to respect Hawaii and it culture heritage more and more each day. Hawaii myth is an oral tradition passed down by generation to generation. However much of that was done in secret as the Christian Missionaries who first came to the islands forbade the telling of pagan stories. Also the hula was outlawed. Hula was one way the native Hawaiians told stories.

I submitted the completed novel to several big publishing houses and luckily some nice intern had slipped a note onto the usual form letter rejections. My problem you see was not my manuscript, but my synopsis and query letter. You see I was dull again. From this I learned that not only does your novel need to sing, but your query letter and synopsis need to suck the reader in as well. Without that powerful first glimpse into your world, you will never get out of the gate. I sat down and revamped everything. Made it punchy, gave it more zip, put in more sparkle, okay I’m done with the clichés now. What I’m trying to say is look at your submission package as a whole product, not as three individual pieces. That package represents you.
Double and triple check everything before you submit to publishers or agents. Like an actor, the product you are selling is you.

The best advice I can give to someone trying to break into writing comes from a paperweight my mother gave me after another rejection letter hit me. It says “You haven’t failed until you give up.” Find your niche, be true to your art, and keep trying.
For more information on Kona Warrior, go to http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/kona-warrior.php?flypage=0

While you there take a look around at all the great stories Ravenous has to offer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Exciting News about Ravenous Romance, and Two Guest Bloggers This Week!

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I was out of town for a few days, and I'm also catching up on some deadline work. This week will be a busy week here on the blog, with two guest bloggers and some exciting market news.

First of all, I'm pleased to report that my erotica epublisher, Ravenous Romance, is featured in today's issue of the New York Times. Today the NYT's Books section published a fascinating article on the state of romance publishing today, and gave special attention to erotic romance in particular. Even more exciting, the article makes special mention of my very own startup erotica epublisher, Ravenous Romance, and my fabulous agent (and sometime editor) Lori Perkins is quoted in the article. (To read it, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/books/08roma.html?pagewanted=2&_r=2&ref=arts)

Since we Ravenous authors have officially hit the big time, I'm celebrating this week by welcoming two of my fellow Ravenous authors to the blog as guests. First we'll meet with Courtney Sheets, author of the paranormal erotica Kona Warrior, and then we'll sit down with Sephera Giron, author of the Sexstrology series, among other titles. More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Posting on behalf of Sara Gruen, author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and THE APE HOUSE

Hi everyone. Today I'm taking a break from my regular blog posting to do a favor for my friend and colleague, bestselling novelist Sara Gruen (author of the megabestselling novel WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and the highly anticipated novel THE APE HOUSE, due out later this year. I had the good fortune to know Sara via the online writers' groups Writers.net and Backspace before she became famous, and as a longtime lover of her writing am happy to post the below for her today. If you have any $$ to spare even in these tough economic times, please consider making a contribution.

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From Sara---

"The Lola Ya Bonobo in the Congo is the only sanctuary in the world for bonobos, the most critically endangered great ape in the world. The Lola Ya takes in orphaned babies (usually victims of the bush meat trade), raises them, and reintroduces them into the jungle when they are ready. Their population of 64 to 66 has been devastated by a human flu over the last couple of weeks that has carried off 6 babies and infected at least ten others." http://www.friendsofbonobos.org

"I am heartsick. If you've been to my Web site (www.saragruen.com), the baby shown holding my book on my flash page died last week. If you can help, with any amount at all--five bucks, ten bucks--I and the bonobo babies personally thank you. I've donated as much as I can. I know the economy is in the tank, and if you can't donate financially, PLEASE help spread the word via blogs or Web sites. If you can help, I thank you a million times.I mean it. THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart."

Love,
Sara

Peace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guest Blogger Lisa Lane!

Today we welcome to the blog erotic romance author Lisa Lane. She's posting about sex, science fiction, alien sex, and sexual identity. Take it away, Lisa!

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Thank you so much for having me here today! I am very excited to have the opportunity to talk about my sexy, sci-fi space trek, Lust in Space, alien sex, and sexual identity. We all know how essential of a topic alien sex is . . . okay, so it’s a strange subject. Today, I’d like to show you just how important alien sex can be—both to science fiction and to our sexual attitudes as individuals and a society.

As human beings, it is natural that we identify ourselves in numerous ways, one of which being sexual identity. Although we might define various orientations and roles, for example a gay man in a committed relationship, the association between one’s sexual identity and one’s place in the larger scheme can vary greatly depending on culture and generation. Authors have used themes based on gender orientation, sexual orientation, and role for centuries; science fiction makes for an especially vast venue with which to explore the topic.

Aliens take that theme to the extreme.

Imagine, if you will, a time and a place in which sexual identity might be defined in terms even broader than those known and accepted by current cultural mores. Here, humanoids come in shapes and sizes that force one to redefine any preconceived thoughts regarding compatibility and mass.

Take the Locaru, for example. These little people are not much bigger than a bumble bee, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in confidence and creativity. When Locaru Jim falls for human bartender and exotic dancer Leah, he is able to convince her very quickly that size does not always matter . . . and that a vibrating body can come in peculiarly handy.

But I digress. The world I speak of delves much deeper into the subject of sexual identity, by exposing the very different mores and functions of its various inhabitants. The aliens who offer the most insight into sexual identity are the predominantly bisexual Esirians and the asexual shape-shifting Gatgars.

Esirians, dubbed the “Unicorn People,” both because of the horns that grow on their foreheads and their near extinction as a race, live mostly in small refugee camps scattered across the galaxy. The crew of spaceship Pandora’s Hope are lucky enough to get tactical officer Suxien as a part of their crew—and then, later, a duplicate of her from an earlier time, after a space-bending venture goes terribly awry. The two Suxiens answer the unusual question, “If you were bisexual, and a duplicate of you were to enter your life, would you have sex with yourself?” Suxien’s character is also the archetypal feminist, a woman who knows her place in society—as an equal to all races and all sexes she encounters—and she isn’t afraid to set straight anyone who might think otherwise.

The Gatgars reproduce asexually, the entire race being technically female. When they take human forms in order to tolerate the climate control inside Pandora’s Hope, they find their new sexual roles worthy of experimenting thoroughly. What would you do, if you could be a virgin female one minute, and then a well-endowed male the next? What would it feel like to reverse the two very different roles again? The Gatgars have fun exploring, so much fun that they become disinclined to give up their sensuous human bodies . . . and are willing to take over the ship, if that is what it takes, in order to keep them.

I had a lot of fun layering the theme of sexual identity throughout the story, exploring the various roles out there. At face value, Lust in Space is the simple-yet-complicated love story of Captain Nora Bradley and her First Officer, Robert Smith, with further sexual antics arising through a diverse ensemble cast. I think that is what makes this novel suitable for such a broad audience, and yet still able to go as far as it does. The pushing of societal norms is a little more forgivable, when it takes place two thousand years into the future, in space. Norms have to be altered and pushed, because times change. Just how much those times change depends on the story and the boundaries set by the author. I personally think it would be a crime to have such a vast literary template and not use as much of it as possible.

Plus, writing alien sex is a lot of fun—I hope it is as much fun to read!

For more information on Lust in Space, go to http://www.ravenousromance.com/breathless/lust-in-space.php

While you’re at Ravenous Romance, be sure to stick around long enough to check out all of the breathtaking covers and hot titles—you’ll be glad you did!

Lisa Lane