Category: The Industry


Y’all Better Get You Some

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Lisa and I have a Facebook group. I know, I know. Some of you are saying, What for? While others are asking, What took you heffas so long? And of course, What’s in it for me? I’ll answer all three questions. The purpose of the group is to keep our fans in the know about upcoming books, and to reward you for your loyalty over the years. And, of course, to sell books. It took us a long time to do this because basically we are the world’s slowest writers and we didn’t want anything to take away from that.

What’s the benefit? The main benefit is that group members will have an opportunity to buy our books at least one week before anyone else. This will be time sensitive, so if you’re not a member you’ll probably miss out. Lisa and I also plan to have other premiums for members like t-shirts and possibly some type of meet and greet in the future. Keep in mind that we’re both introverted as hell so the meet and greet might not happen if we don’t get a lot of people in our group. So tell your family and friends to come on in. We’ll also post snippets from upcoming books, and answer any questions you might have.

Sign up now to get the best seats!!!

Y’all Better Get You Some

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I’ve been working very hard to wrap up Pussycat in Peril. As y’all know, I really love my pussycats and have a lot of fun writing these stories. The covers are fun too. From the start of the series back at Loose Id, I wanted the covers to have a comic book feel to them because in my head these women are superheroes. Larger than life. Able to leap tall buildings, yadda. I remember giving the artist pictures of She-Hulk and other similar comic book heroes, but also pictures of Pam Grier as Coffy. No, I’ve never seen Coffy, or any blaxploitation film. My mama was having none of that, but I have seen the posters and screen captures and they are bad-ass to the extreme. So I wanted me some of that.

The Pussycat book covers, more than any others have a style book. The backdrop must be an international location. The Pussycat books are in a way a tribute to what I loved about romance novels when I was a youngun; they allowed a small town girl like me to travel the world and I thought that was hella cool. So those exotic locales must be incorporated as well. PDS_2x3The heroine has to be an active figure, no damsels in distress, and she has to have a weapon. That hasn’t been a problem thus far, but will be in the next Pussycat book, Diamonds on the River, because she’s a jewel thief and doesn’t do weapons. My son wants one of my books to have a woman with an missile launcher. So I have to keep that in mind. He also wants me to write a book with a boy defeating an evil monster that eats the children in his village. Yeah, this gig is a family affair.

Anyway, back to Pussycat in Peril. I’ve really struggled to come up with a concept for this book cover. I bought a stock photo a while back, and it’s good, but it doesn’t really capture the vibe of the story. For one thing, I really want this heroine to be wearing a hijab. For a lot of reasons, but mainly authenticity. They’re stranded in the mythical North African city of Laritrea under siege by a ISIS type group. It would be normal for her to wear a hijab, and she wears an abaya to conceal her rifle as she’s a sniper. I want him to wear a keffiyeh, though they’re not common in the region, primarily because of all those sheikh books in the 1980s. I hated those books with a passion and made my hero, who is Egyptian Arab as unlike those stories as possible. For one thing, my hero is an American Marine, born and raised in Tennessee. So yeah, you can see my problem. A stock photo, with a man and a woman, she must have a weapon and both must be in traditional clothing. The main problem with her is that in most stock photos when a woman has a gun she’s also half naked. I guess it’s supposed to soften her aggressiveness or something. But having fired a semiautomatic weapon I can tell you, hot shell casings are very much a thing and if you get one of those down your bosom, well, yeah, not fun. Also, if she’s wearing a head cover  it would be ridiculous for her to be half dressed below the neck. The struggle is real.

Since I started self-publishing, nailing down the cover image I want is one of the first steps in writing a book. I keep an idea folder on my computer and I start by storyboarding the cover and sometimes the scenery. I’ve started doing this on Pinterest as well. If you’re interested in this process, check me out on Pinterest. Sometimes we have to make changes when Whit and I don’t agree on the concept, or the image doesn’t work for some reason. He’s very particular about the type of photos he works with and it took me a minute to grasp the technical aspects of cover art. And then there are those times when he just doesn’t like the picture. No technical reason. He just thinks it’s ugly. Given all that, this is the first book I’ve written in a while that didn’t begin with the cover. As I said, I found some stock, but it didn’t really grab me. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I finally found the pictures I want, with emphasis on pictures. This cover is going to require four, possibly five stock photos. Whit’s going to have to do a lot of meshing. Unfortunately, Whit hates meshing.

In a word folks, this cover is going to be amazing. Watch this space. With any luck it’ll be out before Easter!!!

“Acts of Wars” Excerpt

roslynholcomb:

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Lisa posted this excerpt from Acts of Wars on her blog.

Originally posted on Lisa G. Riley.com:

A little something to commemorate Hump Day. Happy reading!

Gregor Glinka stared through the windowpane at the dark city street outside his home, his long fingers cradling and caressing the bowl of the brandy snifter he held with both pale, narrow hands.

“I hope you are right, my love, and the Abomination returns with the information you need. I do not trust her. One should not trust any of her kind; the how of their existence would naturally make them a faithless group.”

The silky, heavily-accented voice came from behind him, and Gregor turned from the window to look at his lover of fifty years. She was a beautiful woman, and her beauty had been what had attracted him initially, but other qualities beckoned him to her side time after time. Ambitious as she was beautiful and with equal parts vicious and good, she had powerful magic in her and…

View original 4,056 more words

Acts of Wars Cover


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Fresh out of Photoshop. I can’t believe how amazing this cover is. This is the cover for the sequel to Rumors of Wars. Coming this spring.

Photo from The Reed Files

Cover Design Whit Holcomb

Cover Model Kimberly Cherí Graham

50% Rebate at ARe!!!

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Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, All Romance Ebooks (ARe) is having a helluva blowout sale. Customers will pay the full listed price using credit card or Paypal and ARe will give them back 50% of the purchase price in eBook Bucks, their in-store currency. Customers will be able to use those bucks toward future purchases. I love eBook Bucks, which is why I shop almost exclusively at ARe, and this sale will be insanely awesome. If you’ve been wanting to try one of my books, this is the perfect time.

Making Cover Magic

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Book covers are not something I used to spend a lot of time thinking about. I generally buy by author and blurb, so before I started self-publishing, it was well outside my wheelhouse. I’m very fortunate that I have a husband who is a graphic designer by trade and is able to do the magic to make my cover ideas happen. I also adore Taria Reed at The Reed Files for finally giving us the type of beautiful diverse images we need.

This is the most recent cover my husband magicked for me. This the image he started with.

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My character wears her hair in braids. So he had to add them.

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She also has a darker complexion, so that had to be changed also.

My male lead actually has chestnut hair.

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This book takes place in Laritrea, which a fictionalized version of the North African country, Libya. So I wanted a background of some Roman ruins.

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Then he did the comic book style that really fits this story to a tee. I’d say, altogether he put in several hours on this cover. And if I told you what his typical going rate is, you’d faint. I’m just very lucky I get free labor from him!

The process is just so very awesome. And he’ll sit there and patiently tweak it until he gives me exactly what I want. Just awesome. Most of the time, the ideas are all mine, but sometimes, he’ll surprise me, like he did for Buttercream.

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Everything about that cover was his idea. I remember getting so annoyed because I had to find photos of the inside of a bakery. What difference does it make? I whined. And, of course, it makes all the difference in the world.

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My only real contribution to this cover was the font for the title. Y’all don’t want to know how long it took me to find that freaking font. I absolutely adore fonts, and will pay a ridiculous amount of money for them. I had to have that B, nothing else would do.

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This cover took him two whole weeks, mainly because he simply wasn’t feeling it, and actually created another cover that he didn’t want to use. It’s hard sometimes because I’m impatient, but he is an artist and if the groove isn’t there it simply not there. It’s not like on his job where he has to produce whether he’s feeling it or not, and I have to remind myself of that all the time.

My guy is amazing and wonderful in so many ways, but I adore him so much for the way he supports and fulfills my dreams, even when I’m being an absolute nag about it.

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As always, it’s up at Smashwords and ARe first. Will probably be up at Amazon and B&N tomorrow, but you can get your formats at either SW or ARe, if you’d rather not wait. Another fabulous photo by the awesome Taria Reed, and a knock your socks off cover design, by my better half. Y’all better have some.

International Readers

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I’ve been kicking around the idea of having some of my books translated for some time now. Given that it can cost upwards of $5k I doubt it’ll happen, but it’s fun to think about. So, to get an idea of what language I would choose I started looking at the countries of origin for my blog clicks. To my surprise the fourth country after the US, UK and Canada was Bosnia-Herzegovina! What? Then I realized I’ve been talking a lot about trans stuff of late, and that’s probably skewed my results. (Are there a lot of trans folk in Bosnia-Herzegovina? I have no idea.) Anyway, to control for that effect I looked back two years to see my most popular countries. I expected Brazil to rank higher, as Portuguese was one of the top languages I was considering, but Brazil only ranked #10, well after Switzerland and even Korea. I’m assuming that Korea ranks high because of US Service members, but I could be wrong. I’ve been wondering about my appeal to the Swiss for quite some time now. I wish someone from Switzerland would post about the subject. I get a surprising number of hits there. I have to assume they have a high rate of African immigrants, but I don’t know for sure.

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The most interesting factor to me is the fact that I get hits from nearly every country on the globe. Besides Bosnia-Herzegovina, I’m stunned to get so many hits from Saudi Arabia. Of course, I talk about a wide range of subjects here and there’s no way to control for what they clicked on once they came here, but it’s still fascinating to see. I’ll probably still go for Portuguese should I hit the Lotto or something. It has such a large population of black/blackish people, and so many West African countries speak it as well.

What do you think? Should I go for Portuguese, or is there another language you think would be more popular?


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I’ve had a lot of inquiries about the original Pussycat Death Squad book. (And I really appreciate it, because these books really are my heart.) It came down in late summer because I got the rights back from the publisher. You might have noticed, I got the rights back to six books in the past few months and I’ve been working my poor husband like crazy to get new covers done. He works full-time and this is his busy time at work. And, much as he would deny it, the man is an artist. And yeah, (whispering) he has an artistic temperament and since he’s working for free…yeah, I have to take my covers when he gets around to them. He’s working on the new cover and he should have it finished by the end of the week and it’s a beauty! I know I say that every time, but the man just amazes me.

The next Pussycat book is Pussycat in Peril. It’s the third book in the series and is about Astaria, who, if you will recall was the second in command to Lelia in Pussycat Death Squad. Astaria has found herself trapped back in her home country in the middle of an internecine war and must be rescued by her husband. (Her husband? Where the hell did she get one of those? And more importantly, why?) It’s a marriage of convenience story, and those have always been one of my fave romance tropes. It was also strongly influenced by Roberta Gellis’s The Kent Heiress. To the point of, dare I say it? Being FAN FICTION!!! Quelle horreur! Gellis’s story takes place during the French Revolution and I always wanted to do a contemporary story of that nature, but couldn’t really come up with a suitable setting. Then the Arab Spring happened, and voila my imagination was off to the races. (No, I  don’t know why I’m speaking French this morning, but the setting of this story was a former French colony.) I’m loving the heck out of this story, especially since the Arab revolution and the aftermath is still very much in the news.

Astaria, the heroine is of East African lineage, and like all the Pussycats is as lethal as she is gorgeous. As a sniper in the counter-revolutionary forces she has no trouble living up to the “Hot Shot” title Kaeden has given her.  Kaeden Nassir, the hero is just awesome. An Egyptian American Marine from Tennessee he is everything a hero should be; madly in love with the heroine, and prepared to die to protect her. Suffice it to say, it would behoove you to be careful any time he has his precious “Arkansas Toothpick” in his hand. As for the photos at the top of the page, Astaria’s father was an archaeologist excavating Roman ruins in their home country. The pictures are of Roman ruins in Libya and, as I’ve mentioned before, Laritrea is loosely based on that country and activities occurring there. I’m hoping to have it ready in time for a Christmas release.

As always, thank y’all so much for your support. I love writing these stories and it’s still amazing to me that y’all enjoy them as much as I do .

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When Lisa and I met seven or eight years ago (Has it only been seven or eight years Lisa? Somehow it seems much longer!) I tell people all the time that Lisa is the little sister I never had (and probably never wanted), though she actually acts like the big sister. It’s amazing that we met online and only met in person a few years ago. We had written both Given and Stolen before we were ever in the same room together! I love the way the internet makes such things possible!

Historicals were always my first love and I knew I wanted to write some, but i also love paranormals and saw no reason not to put them together. I wanted shape shifters and other beasties that are black and actually help, you know, black people. There are no slaves or magical Negroes in any of our books. In these books you see free black folk going in to rescue enslaved Africans and at least one cheetah shapeshifter ripping the throat out of slave catchers. And we’re not even going to talk about the antics of one pissed off bear and a crafty owl!

We loved these stories so much (and don’t worry, Matthew’s story and the raid on Harper’s Ferry, is coming) that we based our urban fantasy series, beginning with Rumors of Wars in the same magical system. I also love resistance movements, and to me the Underground Railroad was the most amazingly successful resistance movement in the history of mankind. All these passionate people working together to overthrow a system of terrorism and tyranny. Totally amazing and yeah, more than just a little bit sexy.

When we got the rights back to these books and my husband started working on the covers, I told him we wanted something amazing. Something that would literally take your breath away. And as always he came through spectacularly. Here are the blurbs for both stories, and as always, y’all better have some.

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As a member of Eshu, those who can shift into any animal at will, Jacob Adams is used to knowing and getting what he wants. And when he meets Mary Katherine Day as they work together on the Underground Railroad, he not only knows that she’s going to be his wife, but he expects her to accept her fate willingly. A businesswoman of independent means, Mary Katherine has no interest in marrying, which to her mind is bondage only slightly less vile than the slavery she works so hard to help others escape. Jacob embarks on a campaign to lure her into his bed by awakening her virginal body to the delights to be found there. Though she struggles against her sensual nature, Mary Katherine eventually succumbs to the irresistible lure. Initially she’s convinced that they can maintain their sexual relationship without marriage, but it quickly becomes apparent that their passion is too intense to hide in such a small town and she is risking a horrible scandal that could destroy her life. Shortly after they’re married they are forced to confront ancient enemies and a secret that could ultimately destroy their relationship.

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Despite the forces allied against her Grace Adams is determined to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad and also a doctor. She is Eshu, able to shift into any animal form at will, and she knows this ability will help her in her difficult missions. Then one tragic mistake alters the trajectory of her ambition. Grace has not only to demonstrate her ability as a conductor, but also to resist the sensual allure of her passion for Dr. Parker Quinn.

Parker is a stationmaster on the Railroad and resistant to the notion of a woman, especially his woman, engaging in such a dangerous undertaking. But her passion only makes him more determined to have Grace for his own, despite the scandal and the laws against miscegenation.

Although Grace loves him, she doesn’t want to marry. She knows the domineering Dr. Quinn will be even more restrictive than her father, but he won’t be deterred. It will take all of their passion and determination to survive social scorn and legal challenges while they make both their goals come true.

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