What’s so hot about #gay #military men? (Aside from EVERYTHING?) @surrenderboxset

UnconditionalSurrender_500x750In the midst of all the Ellora’s Cave drama, I completely forgot the Unconditional Surrender box set comes out tomorrow!

And the blog tour’s already underway! Drop by the HEA at USA Today blog for the answer to that eternal question: What’s so hot about gay military men?

The amazing Jody Faltys hosts us for an exclusive excerpt from Cassandra Carr’s Civilian Master, as well as a HUGE giveaway featuring prizes from most of our 13 authors!

I’ll be winging my way toward Chicago – and GayRomLit! – tomorrow. Be sure to stop by my table for some exclusive Unconditional Surrender swag, including T-shirts and fridge magnets!

Strong. Sexy. Sizzling.

There’s nothing like a man in uniform, and sixteen of today’s hottest gay romance authors are celebrating military heroes and the men brave enough to love them.

These brand-new novellas feature all branches of the service and offer something for every reader. Almost 300,000 never before published words!

Join me, L.A. Witt, Keira Andrews, Annabeth Albert, EM Lynley, Rhi Etzweiler, Lia Davis, Kerry Adrienne, Cassandra Carr, Amelia C. Gormley, Lucy Felthouse, Brit Blaise & Sasha Devlin for stories about hot fighting men with big hearts (and even bigger… *koff*)…

 

Available now at the following e-tailers:

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo / All Romance ebooks

 

It’s “Bend Over & Grab Your Ankles” time… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

1331650427320_1257046 Today I spoke to a local copyright/intellectual property attorney, who basically confirmed what I’d already figured out: Write that $2K check to Ellora’s Cave and be done with it, because even retaining an attorney to look over EC’s execrable contract will most likely cost me at least that much.

So, okay, I’m screwed. Looks like my only recourse at this point is to pay EC their extortion fee and hope to God it doesn’t get invalidated when they inevitably file for bankruptcy.

My GoFundMe campaign‘s still on, though it looks like it’s stalled out at $810.00. Much as I detest asking people for money, I would appreciate anything you can contribute.

I’ll leave the campaign up for the remainder of October, then see how much I’ll have to put on my credit card(s).

At this point it’s no doubt more financially prudent to simply let the Icon Men series go, but the mere thought of letting EC sell my hard work off to the highest bidder makes me physically ill. I can’t rest without doing everything in my power to keep that from happening.

If only I knew the answer… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

one-night-a-thief-broke-into-my-house-looking-for-money-so-i-got-up-and-helped-him-look-a9bfdLike everyone else in this social-media-addicted world, I’m on Facebook and Twitter. And Google+ and LinkedIn and ContactMe, all of which I’ve leveraged to (hopefully) make my $2K goal to buy back the rights on my Icon Men series from Ellora’s Cave.

I know everyone gets tired of seeing people asking for money to finance start-ups or whatever. My tweetstream’s clogged with Kickstarter and GoFundMe pitches every fucking day, which is why I was initially so resistant to going the crowd-funding route myself. I don’t want to be part of the endless white noise.

So when someone on ContactMe emails me to say (paraphrasing here), “Hey, you’ve published 35 books. Why do you need my money for this? Don’t you make enough to buy your rights back without shaking the whole world down for it?” all I can say is…

Good question. Wish I had a good answer for you.

But the fact remains that, even after publishing 35 books – even after nine new releases this year – I still have to count every penny. That trip I’m taking to Chicago for GRL this week? It’s all going on a credit card. Hell, I may have to put my rent on a credit card next month.

The fact also remains that this writing career is all I’ve got. My disabilities have kept me out of the regular working world for ten years. Okay, technically (if you want to go by SSI’s definition) I am not disabled, despite crippling depression and bi-lateral arthritis in my knees which makes even getting up from a chair difficult. You try acing an interview when you’re 54 years old with creaky knees.

I’m not saying this to garner hugs or sympathy – I can’t stand people who constantly play the “poor me” card. But I also get very, very angry when people act like I’m trying to scam them, because I wouldn’t even be asking for help if one of my own publishers wasn’t trying to scam me.

Okay, I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but I’m far from the worst. My books rack up 4 and 5-star reviews. I give good value for money. And yeah, I know everybody expects 100,000 word novels for $1.99 these days, but I simply cannot afford to price my books that low.

Those three Icon Men books EC’s holding hostage? Over the past two weeks, I’ve given away more copies than EC’s sold (according to my royalty statements) from January to May of this year.

Which makes me want to cry.

Between Ellora’s Cave and Kindle Unlimited, my sales have been decimated over the past few months. I’m getting money from the “borrows” on a couple of self-pubbed books I’ve put into KU, but that amount fluctuates wildly from month to month. I still make fairly good sales on Nook and iTunes, but none of the other third-party venues sell worth squat.

I’ve thought about putting all my self-pubbed titles into Kindle Unlimited, but that’s a risky move. What if I don’t even get any “borrows” on them? Plus, I don’t want to lock out readers who buy from Nook or iTunes.

So, sorry, Dude from ContactMe, that’s all I’ve got for you. Other than working hard and publishing regularly, I have no clue what it takes to be a success in this brave new publishing world. I’ve tried every type of promo available, from blog tours to going to cons to giving away a brand-new Kindle Fire. But these days even big-ticket prizes don’t attract much attention – everybody’s got a Kindle or Nook by now.

If people don’t want to pay a fair price for a well-written, well-edited, professionally packaged product – and I will stack my self-pubbed titles up against anyone’s, self-pubbed or traditional, in terms of quality and packaging – I can’t make them. But I’m not willing to give it all away for nothing.

I value my work more highly than that, even if no one else does.

Getting closer to buying back my #rights! #ellorascave #problems #royalties

1311739123125_4120542As of tonight, my GoFundMe campaign‘s up to $745.00! Almost halfway to my goal of $2K!

A huge THANK YOU! to all who’ve contributed.

It’s come to my attention, however, that GoFundMe has backed some rather controversial fundraising campaigns – I won’t go into the particulars here, but it doesn’t sound good – so I’ve come up with an alternative way to contribute.

You can PayPal me your contribution at: bittermint2007@gmail.com. Please please PLEASE make sure to put “EC rights buyback” or something similar in the comments field, so I can account for it properly.

Should my fundraising campaign not reach its goal, I assure you that every dime I receive will be refunded. That’s the main reason I chose GoFundMe – they allow relatively headache-free refunds.

It’s sad that I even need to say this, but I swear on my life that THIS IS NOT A SCAM. I have no intention of taking the money and running. I’m sick at heart that I actually have to ask people for money. I was raised to be self-reliant, but… well, who can fight something like this on their own?

Believe me, I’m just as eager as the rest of you to forget about EC’s WTFuckery. Getting my rights back would be a good start.

Now, HERE’S how you run a publishing company… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

1341887652968_3591532Or rather, the accounting arm of one of the web’s biggest ebook distributors, Draft2Digital.

I switched from Smashwords to D2D for my self-published titles a couple of months ago, and man, what a difference! No more of SW’s dreaded Meatgrinder or  impossible-to-decipher royalty reports.

And their customer service is aces, too. Here’s their very professional response to my inquiry about royalty payments:

“Thanks for writing in with your question. You can expect a payment to be sent to you tomorrow or Monday.

We do require a minimum threshold of $10 (on a PayPal account) to be met before we send out payments. In July, you received less than the $10 amount in sales, which is why a payment has not been issued yet.

But In August, you had quite a few sales at B&N. Barnes & Noble pays on a 1 month delay cycle, so book sales made in August at B&N get paid to us at the end of September, and we pay you by the 15th of the following month (which would be October 15th).

Just so you have the data, Kobo and Scribd pay on a 2 month delay, so books sold in August are not paid to us until the end of October, and we pay by the 15th of the following month (November 15th).

CreateSpace, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Page Foundry pay on a 1 month delay, so books sold in August through one of these vendors do not get paid to us until the end of September, and we pay by the 15th of the following month, which would be October 15th.

I happen to know that the person who sends out payments hopes to take a few days off next week, so he is trying to get all payments submitted by tomorrow in advance of his vacation. During a typical month, you can expect payment by the 15th.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.”

This is how it’s done, folks. A single, succinct email detailing exactly when the various third party vendors pay D2D, and when I can expect to see the money in my own account.

Which begs the question… why can’t Ellora’s Cave do this? Why are they so damn close-mouthed, tight fisted and downright paranoid about their entire royalty-paying process? Is it because no one with access to the actual accounting system knows what they’re doing, or….

Or.

I’ll just leave it there for right now, but I’m sure you all can draw your own conclusions.

Okay, Mercury in retrograde…

MjAxMi1iNDc2ZTA1MDU1NTI1Y2I0 You win. I’m throwing in the towel. Between what’s been going on the last couple of weeks (ICYMI, scroll down and read my other posts – I can’t bear to rehash it all again), my two works-in-progress (which I’ve been too stressed to work on lately) and the crowning blow – aka, United Airlines cancelling my flight to GRL – I’m spent.

Toast.

Burnt to a fucking crisp.

So I’m going on a social media diet for the next few days. I’ll check Twitter and Facebook in the morning and evening, but aside from that, I’m staying away. I’ve got too many voices in my head, too many warning bells going off, and it’s killing my productivity. I need to silence the noise so I can hear my characters again.

I’ll be back next Monday, hopefully with a better attitude and a few thousand more words under my belt. :)

And now for something completely different… #excerpt #courtland #gofundme

MjAxMi1hNTI4NmZjMTY0OTNjZDUwI don’t know about you, but I need a break from this never-ending Ellora’s Cave debacle. It’s kept me sleepless and on edge for the past couple of weeks, and I am fucking tired of it. I can’t let it beat me.

I won’t let it beat me.

As of this writing, donations on my GoFundMe campaign are up to $570.00! A little over a quarter of the way to my $2K goal. If you can spare a few dollars to help me buy back my Icon Men trilogy from Ellora’s Cave, you’ll have my heartfelt gratitude – and a complete set of all three books once I republish them.

This week’s going to be all about climbing back on the ol’ writin’ horse and getting some work done. L.A. Witt and I are nearing the end of our tattoo artist/porn star book, and I’m currently 90-odd pages into A Year in the Life, the first book in my new Courtland series.

Speaking of… as a little reward to all of you who’ve borne with me through this mess, here’s the first scene of A Year in the Life

Chapter One

Bilal

“Here we are,” Seth said, tires crunching on gravel. My bleary eyes popped open as he swung through the front gate and bounced along a short stretch of driveway. The impressive two-story house—no, mansion—came into view, towering over the nearby carport and a copse of tall, leafless trees. If it started snowing again this weekend—as the angry gray cloud cover hinted—hopefully this time it wouldn’t bring the power lines down with it.

“You okay?” Seth prompted, pulling into the carport next to a white Lexus SUV. “You haven’t said a word.”

“Sorry,” I said, rubbing the grit from my eyes. “I must’ve nodded off.”

“You’ve been dead to the world since we rolled out of Ithaca. What’s the matter, too many all-nighters lately?”

“Depends which kind you mean.” We climbed out of the Zipcar Seth had rented, the cold hitting me like a brick. I hastily pulled up the hood on my parka.

“Well, it’s not the kind where you spend the night at my place.” He opened the trunk and tossed me my bag. “Unless you’ve been getting up in the wee hours to study.”

“I think you know the answer to that.” Smiling, I leaned in for a kiss, my hand curling around the back of his neck. Funny how comfortable I’d gotten expressing affection for him, within the realm of proper discretion. I’d been sleeping at his place regularly these past few weeks, and yes, I’d done my fair share of studying there as well. But once I crawled into that soft, warm bed—and Seth’s gentle embrace—nothing could tear me away. “Will your parents mind if we…”

“They’re not gonna pitch a fit if you want to sleep in my room. But if you’d rather not, we don’t have to.” Sinking his gloved hand into the front of my parka, he pulled me close, our foreheads touching. “It means a lot to me that you decided to come along.”

“Thank you for inviting me. My first real American holiday.” We kissed again, then started for the house. It really was quite striking, all dark brick with gabled windows and polished wood trim. I stopped at the bottom of the front stairs and took it all in. “Reminds me of that old movie with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.”

Seth laughed. “The one where the house burned down at the end?”

“You’ve seen it too?”

“My mom’s favorite cable station is Turner Classic Movies. I don’t think she changed the channel the whole time I was growing up.” He jerked his chin at the door. “You ready?”

I nodded, not sure my flip-flopping stomach was on board with this, but there was no turning back now. Four steep, icy steps up and there we were, the door looming before us like a giant guarding a great treasure.

Seth twisted the knob and it swung open, the huge wooden slab squeaking on its hinges, revealing an empty foyer. “Mom? Dad? Eric? You there?”

“Here, darling!” came a feminine voice from down the hall. “Come say hi.”

Seth dropped his bag on the floor and hung his jacket on the coat tree. I followed suit, divesting myself of my parka and thick wool gloves. Delicious, savory odors floated through the air, teasing my half-empty stomach. We’d stopped at a Starbucks drive-thru on the way out of Ithaca, but I’d fallen asleep before I finished my hot chocolate.

The décor was surprisingly cheerful despite the dark, heavy, carved wood staircase that dominated the entire space. A large round table stood in the center of the foyer proper, a giant vase full of yellow roses resting on what looked like a handmade lace tablecloth. If the outside of the place reminded me of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, the inside was more like that Masterpiece Theater soap opera about the British earl and his family.

A framed abstract painting hung above the stairs. It seemed a bit out of place, until I noticed the artist’s signature, a sloppily yet artfully scrawled, “S. Thompson.”

I smiled. “Looks like your family supports your artistic endeavors.”

“Yeah, literally. Eric’s bought everything I’ve finished the last couple of years.” Seth cocked his head down the hall. “Want to meet my mom?”

Nodding, I followed him. The door to the room at the end yawned open, revealing an animated, petite blonde woman sitting behind a hulking wooden desk piled high with files, mail and an open laptop while she chattered away on the phone. The lovely smells seemed stronger back here—were we right above the kitchen?

A delighted smile spread across her lips as we walked in. She waved us toward the two chairs in front of her desk. “Listen, hon, I have to go,” she spoke into the phone. “Seth’s home for the weekend. Lunch next week? Not sure I can take the time off, but we’ll talk about it later, okay? Happy Thanksgiving.” With that, she hung up, bounced out of her seat and darted around the desk to throw her arms around Seth. “It’s so good to have you home, sweetheart. How’s life at Big Red?”

“The usual—frozen and miserable.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek before stepping back and reaching for me. “Mom, this is Bilal. Bilal, my mom.”

I stared at her outstretched hand for a long moment, the burble-burble of the wall sized aquarium doing its best to drown out my thoughts. Why was I hesitating? This was Seth’s mother. I’d met his father a few weeks ago, when Seth and I had taken a weekend trip down to the city.

“Mrs. Courtland,” I began—

“Allison,” she said, sliding her warm, slender, pale fingers around my light brown ones. “Or Ally, if you prefer. I answer to both. And Mom, of course.” Tiny crinkles sprang up around her mouth and eyes when she smiled. How charming. Considering Seth’s father’s age, I figured she must’ve been in her early fifties, though she certainly didn’t look it. “Our other guests won’t be arriving for another couple hours. Go on upstairs and rest for a while if you want.”

Heat flooded my face. “That’s very kind of you.”

“Well, we’re not making you sleep on the couch.” That twinkle in her eyes made me wonder just how much Seth had told her about how we’d met. “If you’d rather watch TV or read, the living room’s the first door on your left as you enter the foyer. Now if you’ll excuse me…” She gave Seth another kiss before heading for the door. “I’d better go see if Carmela needs help in the kitchen.”

And out she went, her shoes tap-tapping on the hallway’s glossy black and white floor tiles. “She likes you. I can tell,” Seth said, smiling.

“She’s barely known me five minutes.”

He laughed. “Let me put it this way—if she didn’t like you, she’d be making you a reservation at the Travelodge in town. C’mon, I’ll show you around upstairs.”

We grabbed our bags and walked up the plush, carpeted stairs. The place really did look like a British mansion that’d been magically transplanted to upstate New York, except for several more jarringly contemporary paintings, all signed, “S. Thompson,” all in widely different styles. “Was this your experimental period?” I joked.

“What d’you mean, ‘was’? I still haven’t found my groove.” He stopped in front of the third door on the right and opened it, waving me inside.

It was easily twice as large as the bedroom at his apartment in Collegetown. No TV, but a fireplace and plenty of bookshelves, even a small studio area set up near the window, with a covered easel, some paints, brushes and colored chalk. A box of miscellaneous found objects just like the one in his apartment, waiting for inspiration to strike so he could start sculpting again. Drop cloths covered the floor, stained with turpentine and multi-colored blobs of spilled paint. Through the large, light-flooded window I caught a striking view of the gardens in back of the house. The grass had long since turned brown where it wasn’t dusted with snow from the last flurries a few days ago. The rosebushes were now gnarled and naked, the pond nearby well on its way to being frozen over.

“I can’t believe you gave up all this space to move into that cramped apartment,” I said. “You could’ve easily commuted.”

“For that you need a car.”

“So why don’t you have one?”

“Don’t want one. I can get around town perfectly fine on foot. If I ever need a car, I can always rent one.” He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. “I spent every summer since I was ten playing in that pond. And every winter ice skating on it.”

“You grew up here, then? Or in the city?”

“Most of the year we spent here. My folks wanted me and my sister to attend the same Catholic school my stepdad did here in Geneva. We’d visit the city a few weeks a year, in between summer trips to Europe.”

“Sounds idyllic.” Indeed, Seth’s whole life seemed like something out of a fairy tale, yet he didn’t behave like our more snobbish, wealthy classmates. The ones who’d told me I didn’t deserve to be at Cornell, and that the government should either lock me in chains or deport me back to Iran. “I envy you.”

“Don’t start drooling yet. We also went to school year-round, no matter where we were. We had to read a book a week—I mean, a real book with a plot and everything—and be able to discuss it, plus keep up with all our other classes so we wouldn’t be behind when we got home. And we had chores.”

“What chores were there for you to do in a hotel?”

“Walking the dog. My mom used to have a cute little chiweenie that passed away a couple years ago. If we were staying in one place for a while, me and Lizzie were in charge of keeping our rooms clean, just like we were at home. So, yeah…” He kissed my throat. “I guess we’ve been spoiled, but we haven’t been spoiled rotten.”

A car rolled through the front gate just as he finished talking. It looked like another Lexus, black this time rather than white. But instead of pulling into the carport, it drove up to the front steps. Now that the car had stopped moving, I saw why—there was something strapped to the roof. “Who’s that?” I asked.

“My dad and Eric with the Christmas tree.”

“Already? Isn’t that in another month?”

“We put up the tree and decorate it together after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s kind of a family tradition. You’re welcome to join us if you want.”

How touching. How personal. How strange that, after all the intimate nights we’d spent together, what he’d just offered felt even more intimate. And yet, it did.

“Thank you,” I said, the words sounding completely inadequate to my ears. Four years I’d spent keeping my head down, concentrating on my studies, when the real reason for my aloofness was… Well, it should’ve been obvious to me a lot sooner. Perhaps this was the universe’s way of helping me make up for lost time.

“Want to go downstairs to meet my stepdad, or would you rather…” Seth whispered in that teasing tone I’d come to adore, “take a nap?”

My gaze flicked to the bed, and… my, how inviting. Between nights spent at Seth’s and nights spent studying in my dorm room until three or four a.m., sleep had been a bit elusive lately. Not that I thought for one minute Seth and I would be getting any sleep if we slid under those covers right now…

Turning to face him, I murmured, “Does your door lock?”

“Nobody’ll come in without knocking.”

“Even your little sister?”

“Her room’s at the end of the hall. She won’t hear us.”

Still not entirely reassuring. “Would you mind locking it anyway? For my peace of mind?”

I thought I’d caught a flicker of exasperation in his eyes, but either he’d concealed it quickly, or I’d simply imagined it. “I’m not that tired,” he said. “I’ll go downstairs and let you rest in privacy.”

“But—” He cut me off with another kiss, then started for the door. “Seth, I don’t want to turn you out of your own—”

“It’s fine. We’re gonna be here three more days. Plenty of opportunities for naps and sleeping in.” Smiling, he opened the door and stepped into the hall. “Don’t worry, I won’t let you sleep through dinner.”

The door bumped shut. I should’ve put up more of a fight, but another glance at that bed and I couldn’t stop yawning. I tugged the curtains closed, kicked off my boots, crawled under the covers fully clothed and sank gratefully into oblivion.

A Year in the Life: A Courtland Novel (c) 2014 Cat Grant

GoFundMe update… #ellorascave #problems #royalties #rights

Rottenecards_55703938_grc7c2b45dIt’s only been two days, and my Help Me Buy Back My Rights campaign on GoFundMe’s already up to $500! A quarter of the way to my $2,000.00 goal!

It’s been truly gratifying, even a bit overwhelming, seeing the donations roll in, along with notes of encouragement.

If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still time. Click on the link above and give whatever you can – every penny counts!

All donors will receive the deluxe omnibus box set of my Icon Men series when it’s republished.

If you’ve already donated… “thank you” sounds so completely inadequate, but it comes straight from my heart. So, thank you. :)

Some GOOD NEWS for a change! #rainbowawards #finalists

job-excited-work-coworker-censored-ecards-someecardsElisa Rolle’s Rainbow Award finalists were announced today – and look! I’m in four categories!

LGBT Erotica – Breaking Free

Gay Erotic Romance – The Only One Who Knows (with L.A. Witt)

Gay Contemporary Romance – Takedown

The Only One Who Matters (with L.A. Witt)

My heartfelt congratulations to all the other finalists – it was a wiiiiiiiiide field this year! It’s an honor simply to be nominated among such august and accomplished company, but rest assured, I will walk all over them in five-inch heels to win!

(Heh – joke’s on them. I haven’t worn heels in AGES!)

So, if you’re looking for a hot, plotty non-EC read this weekend, give these torrid tomes a try!  :)

 

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