April 6, 2015

On the move

"Isn't moving one of the seven major traumas?  Death, divorce, colonoscopy..." - Det. Lenny Briscoe (played by the late Jerry Orbach), Law & Order

I haven't been online a whole lot in recent weeks because my husband and I moved a week-and-a-half ago.  Looking for a "retirement cottage" has dominated our lives since last August.  We took some time off to regroup from what seemed like a never-ending search when our real estate agent became ill just before Thanksgiving (sadly, by January she was in hospice and she passed away in February at the age of 52 from recurrent pancreatic cancer).

As is always the case, we knew the moment we walked into the 1932 Tudor that this was it.  We decided ahead of time to make a complete change from the brand-new house in a subdivision thing and buy a house on a regular street with no restrictions on things like hanging our laundry out to dry in our yard, provided the yard was private and fenced in (which it is).

This house represents the first one we've owned that other people have lived in previously; our other two homes were both purchased brand new.  Fortunately, this house in addition to having plenty of room, had the features we were hoping for, like light dimmers, ceiling fans, and a cemented patio.

The move has been remarkably organized, considering we are also selling our existing house and have to get it prepared.  But it's a huge job, so I don't know how long I'll be away from the Internet.

Do you have any stories about moving, good or bad,  you'd like to share?




March 13, 2015

Author Branding:  Lynn Emery

I love it when an author's work can be easily identified at a glance without looking at their name. When I wrote for the old Arabesque line (which had various owners over the years), they chose a brand for my romance novels that featured faceless heroes and heroines.  I thought it was nifty.

At the start of my indie publishing days I hadn't given a lot of thought to author branding, which was in keeping with my not knowing what the heck I was getting myself into.  But after I'd completed the third and final connecting book in the series that began with my first indie title, Save the Best For Last, I noticed a startling lack of resemblance between the cover of the first book and that of the last two. While Something Real (book #2) and Man of Her Heart (book #3) were done in bold red and blue, Save the Best For Last had a black background with pink and yellow prominence in the foreground. They looked about as much alike as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in that old movie, Twins. 

I contacted my cover designer, and we set to work coming up with a new cover for Save the Best For Last. The artwork chosen was also done in red and blue, and while the three covers now meshed, there was really nothing other than similar colors to link them together:



But enough about me.  Over the next week or so, I want to show examples of true branding.  Let's start with author Lynn Emery.  Lynn writes stories set in her native Louisiana, and in her covers you can practically reach out and touch the Spanish moss, feel the heat of the bayou, and see the mist rising over the swamp. They transport potential readers to the Bayou State so that you can smell the gumbo cooking.

Let's take a look, and you'll see what I mean:








See what I mean? Lynn's covers evoke the mood and mystery of the bayou (the latter is particularly appropriate, since this particular series happen to be mysteries).  I don't even have to look at her name on the cover; one glance and I know these are Lynn Emery novels. They are also strikingly attractive and are of a quality equal that produced by designers at the Big Five publishers.

Lynn has several series, and they are all branded for easy reader identification. For more information about her, please visit her website, and/or her author page on Amazon.

If you're in the market for a good cover designer, these covers of Lynn's were designed by Pati Nagle
February 19, 2015

NEW BOOK ALERT:
Don't Stop Till You Get Enough by Chicki Brown



About the Book:
New York City on-air television personality Greg Stafford is different from his brothers. He has a secret that none of the family knows about until he is arrested and the story hits the media. A scandal ensues, and he is suspended from his job for breaking the morality clause in his contract. In order to keep his position, he is ordered to submit to therapy. Little does he know that the woman who will become his counselor will become the most important person in the world to him...

Excerpt:
The gentle chime on the front door sounded, and Rhani waited until her receptionist escorted him into the office. Before her stood one of the best looking men she had ever seen, which was quite an accomplishment in a city the size of New York.
“Mr. Stafford? Rhani Drake. Nice to meet you.” They shook hands, and she mentally chastised herself for the prickling sensation running across her skin when their flesh touched. She had seen him numerous times on TV, yet meeting him in person was a jolt to her senses. The first thing she noticed was his height. He towered over her five-feet-six inches. His scent registered with her senses next. The cologne he wore had a luxurious, spicy fragrance¾a mix of grass, cloves, jasmine and some other delicious scents. Dressed casually yet stylishly, his appearance came across as easy-going and self-confident.
Rhani glanced up just in time to catch his questioning expression.
“Is there something wrong?”
He removed his hat but kept the shades on. “No. It’s just…I expected you to be older.”
For some reason, hearing this pleased her. “Is my age a problem? I assure you I am well-qualified.” Rhani pointed to her framed diplomas on the office wall then waved a hand toward the sofa.  “Please have a seat.”
He sat with his long legs open, his elbows on his knees and studied the room for a long moment. “Nice office.” The emotionless tone of his voice didn’t convey his appreciation.
“Thank you.” Once she settled into the chair at the end of the sofa, she crossed her legs and rested her notebook on one knee. “Tell me why you’re here.”
He flashed the dazzling smile she’d seen on the TV screen so many times. Her stomach flipped, and she wanted to slap herself. “You already know why. I’m sure Thad told you when he made the appointment.”
Annoyed by her sensual reaction to his presence, Rhani purposely didn’t return his smile. “He did, but I’d like to hear your take on the situation. And do you mind taking off the sunglasses? I like to make eye contact with my clients.”
He poked out his lips, moved them from side to side then pulled of the shades and put them in his shirt pocket. “I got arrested for…having sex in public, which constitutes breaking the morals clause in my contract. In order to keep my job, I have to attend counseling for a minimum of three months.”
“Is that the only reason you’re here?
“Excuse me?” He met her gaze for the first time since he’d arrived, and she had to look away. His light eyes were evident on television, but looking into them in person was a different story. They were hazel—an intriguing combination of several other colors including green and brown with less melanin than brown eyes, but more than blue.  Why would she even be thinking about this at the moment? Rhani blinked, straightened and returned to her questioning. “Did you come to counseling to keep your job or to deal with the reason the therapy was ordered to begin with?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw, a square jaw covered by a smooth, neatly trimmed beard. “I need my job.” His voice deepened in timbre and intensity.
“I think you’ve answered my question. You’re saying you don’t want to be here.”
He gave an insolent shrug.


**********


WHERE TO BUY:


  
INTERACT WITH CHICKI BROWN:
Chicki's Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Chicki's Amazon Central Author Page
Goodreads



**********
Talk about art imitating life!  Okay, so Greg Stafford's dilemma sounds a lot juicier than the reason NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was removed from the air, but it also sounds like a lot more fun!

Like what you see?  Show Chicki some love by leaving a comment! 


February 18, 2015

NEW BOOK ALERT:
"Love After War" by Té Russ



About the book:
Connie and Drew have been butting heads since they were teenagers. With Connie refusing to talk about anything from their past, Drew has never figured out what made them go from friends to enemies.
Drew decides to finally get to the root of their lifelong feud when Connie ends up in Texas for a remodeling project. When the truth comes out, it just might bring out some feelings both of them have been refusing to acknowledge for over a decade.

About the Author:


Growing up an introvert, Té Russ found solace in literary arts at an early age. She found reading to be a vehicle to broader horizons and writing a form of self-expression. She began writing love stories in her adolescent years as a way to expel her youthful thoughts of love into words. Since then she has gone from writing stories and thoughts of love in journals to attending college for journalism and falling in love, which has allowed those youthful words of love to blossom into a series of stories in her romance novels. Though she has an immense appreciation for the sheer smell that books collectively exert, she also has found balance to her introverted nature with adrenaline inducing activities. So if she does not have her nose pressed deeply into a book or her pen ticking through a pad, you may also find this mother of three baking some tasty treats, jumping out of airplanes, cheering her husband on at the top of her lungs at MMA fights, buzzing down the interstate on the back of motorcycles, or kayaking.

Books available on Amazon


Excerpt, Love After War:



“What are we doing here, Andrew?” Connie asked, annoyed.
“This is where were having lunch,” he replied simply. “You still eat pizza, dont you?”
They were standing in the waiting area of Uno Chicago Grill, simply known as Unos in the area.
It looked a lot like a pizzeria they used to go to as kids in the summer in Galveston. She wondered if hed brought her here on purpose.
“Yes, I still eat pizza, but–”
“Great, here comes the hostess to seat us.”
The lady barely looked at Connie; she was so busy eyeballing Drew. And flirting just a tad too much.
“Can I get you anything to drink, honey?” she cooed, while brushing her hand up and down his shoulder.
“Constance?”
“What?” she asked, tearing her glare away from the woman.
He tried to hide the smirk on his face. “What would you like to drink?”
“Iced tea. Sweet.”
“Ill have the same thing,” he said, never taking his eyes off of Connie. “Iced tea. Sweet.”
“Im sure its not as sweet as you.”
“Im hardly sweet,” he replied, causing the hostess to laugh a little too hysterically and all but throw herself into Drews lap.
After she was done fawning over him, she sauntered off with an exaggerated sway of her hips.
Connie couldnt wipe the scowl off of her face and Drew was about to say something when Miss Laughs-a-lot returned.
“Joss will be your waitress today, but if you need anything, dont hesitate to call.”
Connie watched as the woman slipped a piece of paper down in front of him. She rolled her eyes as the woman walked away.
“Unbelievable,” Connie murmured.
“What is?”
“That... woman. She was throwing herself all over you, Andrew.”
He shrugged. “I suppose she was a little flirty.”
Connie laughed. “A little flirty? Andrew, please! She was two seconds away from giving you a lap dance right in front of me. And she didnt acknowledge me once. It was as if I wasnt even here. For all she knew I could have been your date or girlfriend, but she didnt care.”
“But you do?” Drew asked, with a raised eyebrow.
“Excuse me?”
“Well, youre not my girlfriend. And technically this isnt a date, just lunch. So why do you care if some hostess flirts with me?”
“You are completely incorrigible! Its simply rude of her to flirt with a man in front of lady company. And its just bad customer service to ignore patrons. Besides that, I dont care who flirts with you or whom you flirt with.”
“Ah, but thats the thing! I didnt flirt with her. In fact, if I recall, I never took my eyes off of you.”
Connie opened her mouth to argue, but she couldnt because he was right. Drew seemed to have barely to noticed the hostess.
Well–
“If I didnt know any better, Barb, Id say you were jealous.”
He watched as the color rose up her neck and filled her cheeks. “Andrew McAllister, I am not jealous of some floozy hitting on you!”
He chuckled, and then said, “‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks!’”
She scoffed. “Quoting Hamlet does not make you cute.”
“So what does make me cute?” he asked, his voice filled with a hint of intrigue.
Connie threw a napkin at him and he laughed out loud.
Joss, the waitress, showed up then and took their food orders. She was clearly a young girl, probably a college student and was completely enamored with Drew as well. Thankfully, she wasnt shameless like the hostess. The poor girl could barely speak. She kept looking at Connie and stealing glances toward Drew, as if he were the sun and just too bright to look at directly.
Drew ordered for them, remembering exactly how Connie liked her pizza.
Another thing from their past, she thought. But she let it slide this time, because the poor girl nearly knocked over their glasses of iced tea.
“Im so sorry,” she apologized to them both.
“Its all right,” he said to her.
Connie nodded. “Dont worry honey, no harm done.”
The girl scuffled off to put in their orders and Connie couldnt help but laugh.
“The great Andrew McAllister, turning women all over the place into crazed fools.”
“Except you,” he said sarcastically.
If only you knew, she thought.
“Im not the only one causing trouble in here,” he said, interrupting her thoughts.
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“The man sitting at the table behind you, at your five oclock...”
Connie used the excuse of tucking her hair behind her ear to glance over her shoulder and caught a man averting his eyes from their direction.
“Hes been staring at your legs since you walked past him.”
“What? Thats ridicu–”
“The man at the table behind me, at your two oclock.. .”
He waited for her to glance over his shoulder and then look back at him.
Well,” he said, slightly annoyed, “Lets just say hes been looking a little bit North of your legs, South of your neck.”
She gasped at what he was implying.
“How could you know that?” she asked in a whisper, leaning closer toward him.
“Part of my job is to make sure I know everything going on in my surroundings.”
“Well, I guess you do your job pretty well.”
He shrugged. “Im still alive.
There was something in the tone of his voice when he said those words. If she didnt know any better, she would have thought it sounded like remorse.
-------------------------
 Love After War is available now at Amazon! Purchase yours today! And if you're intrigued, show Té some love and leave a comment below!