Tag Archives: eBooks

Going Wide – A Post For My Author Friends

Oct 18, 2016

I’m going to start this blog post with the thesis statement. If you read nothing else, read this:

Going wide is not a magic bullet means of staging a protest against Amazon because you don’t like recent KU payouts! It’s a long-term strategy for diversification that requires long-term effort, patience, and above all, a plan.

There. Whew! As long as we understand that, this blog post is going to go well.

I am a firm believer in the idea that it’s better to have as many books in wide distribution as possible than to keep all of your eggs in one basket. Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more of my fellow authors either thanking the heavens that they are and have been wide from day one, or wishing and lamenting that they didn’t owe so much of their career to the mostly fickle whims (and occasional cringe-worthy errors) of The Great and Powerful ‘Zon. Building a career in which your books are available on every platform where readers want to read them is ideal, but there are some definite things to watch out for if you’re about to jump into the wide transition.

THIS:  Don't do it!

THIS: Don’t do it!
Courtesy of Madison Gostkowski, via Flickr Creative Commons

Facts are facts. Amazon just IS about 60% of the eBook market. On a good day. Now, that number might be way higher for some and way lower for others, but on average, I think it’s still about 60%. Maybe even more. Honestly, I think for me, Amazon represents about 85% of my book sales. The key is that those are flat-out sales, not page reads that net a fluctuating amount of money based on other people’s page reads or are subject to bizarre technical problems (like the one that seems to be a problem right now). Sales are much more dependable than page reads, and depending on the length of your book, net you more income than all the pages of your book would.

So if you have been exclusive to Amazon and put your books wide, you will no longer collect on page reads, but you will have the steadier income of Amazon’s 70% (or 35%) royalty rate per buy.

Sounds obvious, but I feel the need to state it. Because one key factor to consider in the decision to take your books into wide distribution is to do a little math and figure out if the total income from your page reads is more or less than, say, 15% of your sales royalties. If the amount you are making on page reads is less than 15% of what you’re making overall for royalty sales, you might not find yourself screaming at the end of the month when all the sales numbers come in.

Different genres perform differently on different devices. As a general rule, historical and sweet do better on Amazon, and contemporary and spicy do better in wide distribution. Though my recent personal observations are that they all do about the same on Barnes & Noble. (But B&N these days is a whole other, weird story). If you’re a sweet historical western writer, you might find yourself with a bit of an uphill struggle if you’re going wide. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

I have a theory about why this is the case. It has to do with audience demographics. Amazon has made Kindle eReaders really affordable. You can get a Kindle Fire for about $50 if you catch a promo. Conversely, iPads cost around $399 for the cheap models these days. Barnes & Noble has sort of given up on the Nook—although you can get one for about $129—and are pushing Samsung tablets, which start at $139, on their site. You can get a Kobo eReader for as little as $89, but Kobo does most of its business in Canada and other English-speaking countries. Things being what they are, in a general sense, readers who love sweet and historical books are often from more rural areas and have tighter budgets, whereas readers who indulge in the steamy contemporary stuff tend to be from more urban areas where people are into flashy gadgets.

That’s a HUGE generalization, btw. Another factor in Amazon’s market dominance is that they started the eBook revolution and have strategically marketed Kindles for years more than the competition. Plus, if iPad owners are anything like me, they spend more time playing games on those puppies than reading books.

So whether everything I’ve heard and am assuming is gospel truth or not, the facts remain—sweet and historical do well on Amazon, steamy and contemporary to well everywhere else.

Courtesy of Susan Schultz, via Flickr

Courtesy of Susan Schultz, via Flickr Creative Commons

If you build it, they will come…as long as you put a LOT of effort into getting them to go there. Which of course is the thing that everyone wants to know the most about and figure out. How do you get readers to find your books on other platforms besides Amazon?

Man, I wish I had a perfect answer for that! I can only start by telling you what other platforms don’t quite have the same way Amazon does—algorithms. Sure, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo (and maybe Google Play, but I know virtually nothing about them because their pricing policy scares the *%#^$%#! out of me) DO have “Also Bought” sections, but I don’t know if they work quite the same way as the ones on Amazon do. They have categories that you can search through, but books don’t end up ranking the same way they do at Amazon, and for some of those sites, searching through the categories is an exercise in frustration.

So if you can’t rely on the sites themselves to position your books in such a way that readers can find them, how do you get readers to find them?

In a way, the answer is “The same way you get readers to find them on Amazon.” Through targeted promotions, newsletters, and Facebook ads. You have to target them specifically for each of the other retailers, though. For example, with a Facebook ad, you’ll want to have a specific Facebook ad that targets iBooks readers (or B&N or Kobo, etc.) and you’ll want to make those links available. And as with everything else, scoring a BookBub ad with links to all of those retailers does wonders for your visibility on those platforms. Same goes for those other promotional sites and newsletters.

Now, there’s one new thing that Kobo is doing that may or may not end up being helpful there. They’ve recently started beta-testing a promotions tab, which will lead to select books being featured on a special page on their site. It’s something you have to ask them for, though. My friend Angela Quarrels wrote a whole blog post about that, so I’ll send you over to her. (P.S. Her post is part of an entire series about, you guessed it, going wide!) But I can tell you that I emailed them, they put me in the program, and I have my first test in those waters at the end of November. I’ll let you know how that goes!

One other thing that is probably going to get me in deep trouble with someone… If you happen to find yourself at a conference and are able to set up an appointment with the iBooks rep, that’s always worth a shot. But honestly, I met with them a couple of times, they promised me the moon, and I got literally nothing. It hasn’t endeared me to their process all that much.

But really, at the end of the day, it’s a long-game. As I said, I highly, highly recommend going wide with as many books as possible, but it takes exponentially longer to build up a fan-base on other platforms than it does on Amazon. If you’re thinking of going wide because you’re fed up with Amazon and you imagine that the moment you put your book up for sale on other platforms you will see a similar amount of sales immediately…um, it ain’t gonna happen. I know one writer who got fed up with Amazon, pulled her books from KU, put them wide, and then was massively disappointed when she “only” sold a couple dozen copies elsewhere on her first day wide. (This was a few years ago) I had a hard time not laughing. Selling any copies wide right out of the gate is a very good thing!

Yes, go wide. But go into it with lower expectations. Remember that it takes longer to build an audience on other platforms than it does to build one on Amazon. You have to put the effort in, seek out promotions, and invest time in making them work. But once things do start to work, the benefits are awesome. No more reliance on Amazon’s page counts and the corresponding snafus! Higher royalties for the books that you actually sell on Amazon instead of page reads! And sales from other platforms which can serve as a buffer for the Weirdness of the ‘Zon! But it is work, and it’s not right for every book every time. I still have my sweet historicals in KDP Select. But one of the reasons I’m trying to move away from sweet is so that the books I’m writing will have greater sticking power on those other platforms.

It’s an ever-changing business, and those who survive are the ones who seek out opportunities and change as everything else changes.

If you have questions about something I didn’t cover, feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer!

PANIC! And Ways To Get Around It

Mar 15, 2016
Panic at the Disco

This is the only acceptable kind of panic!
image courtesy of BluEyedA73 via flickr creative commons

I’m going to be brutally honest with you. There is one thing that I can’t stand in life, the universe, and everything. And that thing is panic. Whether it’s people panicking about the fate of our country in this current election year, panicking because there’s a spider in the sink, or panicking because Amazon has changed the way they do this, that, or the other thing, panic for panic’s sake is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be concerned about elections, spiders, or Amazon. All three of those things are decidedly concerning (some more so than others). And I’m not saying that actions shouldn’t be taken to avert disaster. By all means, ACT. But do it with a level head. Go out and vote for the candidate you think will steer your country in the right direction (and not just in presidential elections—state and local elections are actually FAR more important than national ones, but that’s a topic for another day). Get a newspaper and swat that spider—or gently move it to a place where it won’t harm you.

And as for Amazon? Wait, watch, and plan accordingly. But by all means, don’t get your blood pressure up as you scream, tear your hair out, and wail that we’re all doomed. DOOMED!

Okay. To anyone who just asked “What is this Amazon thing we’re panicking about?” Congratulations, you’re a normal person and not a writer. But if you are a writer, chances are you’re tempted to go into high panic mode right now.

Amazon has two things going on that have people ready to shift into panic. First, they’re cracking down on eBooks that either don’t have a Table of Contents or that have one at the back of the book. Many authors do put their TOC at the back of the book, both because one of the formatting programs out there does that automatically and because moving the TOC to the back gives you more content up front for readers who click on the “Look Inside” option on the Amazon homepage while searching for books.

But the reason why The ‘Zon is cracking down is because there are scammers out there who are raking in the dough through the Kindle Unlimited program by throwing up (and I do mean that in both senses of the word) trash books of hack work or plagiarized content—hundreds and hundreds of pages of it per “book”—and including links at the front of the book, sending readers straight to the last page so that they collect literally tens of thousands of dollars in false page reads.

This is bad. Amazon is trying to combat it (in spite of what nay-sayers assume about The ‘Zon not really caring. I think they care, but this is an enormous problem, and I don’t think they have the manpower, or enough magic wands, to tackle it and make it go away INSTANTLY, like we serious authors would like).

Non-panicked solution: Fix the TOC in your books. It took me less than a minute to fix the one they sent me a notice about. You lose space for that “Look Inside,” but you gain…well, not having Amazon send you nastygrams.

The other thing that has people in a panicky tizzy over at Amazon is their efforts to investigate the possibility of selling used eBooks. (Note the key words in that phrase: Their efforts to investigate the possibility—it’s nowhere near being a sure thing, as a certain newsletter would have you believe) That is exactly what it sounds like. A reader buys an eBook. They read it. They resell it on some Amazon-operated market. I used to do that all the time with paperbacks at my local used book store.

Authors are panicked because this would seriously cut into their profits. It totally would. IF readers actually jump on the bandwagon and list their books for resale once they’re purchased. IF Amazon is able to get all of the permissions they need and get past the new copyright laws which are being debated this year. IF it becomes something that makes sense for readers to do. There are a lot of ifs involved in this whole used eBook equation. And as far as I know, Amazon is still just looking into it. I also read somewhere that it would only be books in the KU program. Not sure about that.

So what do we do, panic??? Do we panic now???

NO!

Non-panicked solution: Avoid KU. Distribute your books as wide as possible. Put effort into marketing to iBooks and Kobo. Um, I’d say Nook too, but I think Nook is about to go under. For real this time.

Sub-solution: Authors, stop giving away Kindles as giveaway prizes! This is not rocket science. The reason Amazon sells so many eBooks is because they deliberately and calculatedly got as many Kindles into the hands of as many readers as possible. Amazon sells Kindles WAY below the cost of production, specifically so that they can control the eBook market because more readers have their devices than have iPads or Kobo readers. We can market to iBooks and Kobo until we’re blue in the face and have spent a zillion dollars, but if readers only own Kindles, we’re SOL.

iPad

image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via flickr creative commons

The inherent problem in this is that Kindles sell for as low as $49, while the cheapest iPad I was able to find was $269. Yikes! Makes it sort of hard to go giving those puppies away, right?

Actually, I don’t have a solution for that. It is what it is. It sucks.

Sub-solution #2: Produce paperbacks of your books that are formatted in such a way that you can sell them for competitive prices. The reason indie authors do so well in digital format is because we can undersell NY Publishers by a lot. Well, NY pubbed paperbacks are costing about $7 or $8 these days. Produce paperbacks that can sell for less and market those to your readers, and you might stand a chance.

In fact, I’d love to see more indie authors invest in paperbacks (and audio, but that’s super expensive) and do a big push to get people to buy paper. But it has to be cost effective for the reader.

At the end of the day, everything Amazon is doing makes life easier and books cheaper for readers. THAT’s why they’re so successful. They will continue to do that until…well, they’ll just continue to do that. We as indie authors have to face that fact, scale back the panic, and start thinking about ways we can keep our heads above water, avoid the thumbscrews Amazon is putting to us, and give our readers the best, cheapest reading experience possible. BUT, Amazon is an inevitability in this publishing game. We HAVE to deal with them, and since we have zero control over what they do—and I mean zero—we need to learn to adapt instead of balk every time they change a policy.

So to summarize: Don’t panic. Separate fact from hearsay. Seek to understand changes when they are made, and adapt your publishing and marketing strategy to best harmonize with those changes. Seek to understand the market you’re writing for, their needs and their habits. And don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Weekend Excerpt – Howard Haskell Takes A Bride

Feb 27, 2016

It’s the weekend, and I’m slowly getting back into the swing of maintaining my blog after an…interesting month. So here’s a little snippet of an upcoming release for you! Howard Haskell Takes A Bride is a juicy prequel to the second half of the Hot on the Trail series and The Brides of Paradise Ranch series. Ever wonder how the eccentric Howard Haskell met and married Elizabeth? Well, here’s your answer. This short novella will only be available in the Love’s Prelude box set, coming April 26th. You can preorder it now! Here’s a peek…

loves prelude2

Elizabeth let her mind drift as Madeline went on with the story. She didn’t care what the snotty Miss Gertrude Havers had done to flirt with an unsuitable gentleman. She didn’t care about gossip and innuendo. Her heart ached in her chest, as if it was being called by some unseen force that she could feel but not hear. The western horizon was dark, but the darkness, the unknown was filled with excitement. The story of the West had only just begun to be written. Handfuls of settlers and trappers had made the perilous journey to places with strange names like Oregon and California. They’d brought back stories of rich land and opportunity for those willing to risk all to take it.

Elizabeth was not a risk-taker. She knew that, just as she knew Gertrude Havers was a fool to accept a love note from a man her parents didn’t approve of. But all the same, she longed for something different, something grander, something…more.

“Why, she must be daydreaming of him now.”

It took several more seconds for Elizabeth to catch that her friends had stopped gossiping and were now staring at her. With a start, she dragged her gaze away from the window.

“What?” She patted her coal-black hair, wondering if a piece of the elaborate style she’d had her family’s black maid, Trudy, fix for her was coming loose.

Elizabeth’s three friends exchanged knowing looks and coy smiles.

“See, I told you. Luckiest girl in Cincinnati,” Henrietta said.

“Or rather, Jonas Armstrong is the luckiest man,” Isobel added.

Ice ran down Elizabeth’s spine. “Yes. My parents are very happy with the match.” She glanced down, hoping to hide how unhappy she was.

“Jonas Armstrong is the handsomest, most enterprising young man in Cincinnati.” Madeline congratulated her. “He’s going to be as rich as Croesus before he’s thirty years old, if his father’s business empire continues the way it has been.”

“And we’ll be able to say that we’re best friends with his wife,” Isobel laughed.

Elizabeth tried to smile. She tried to encourage herself to feel something for her fiancé, to be grateful for the position she was about to take in society. The best she could manage was mild interest, but it didn’t outweigh the mountain of resentment at being handed off to a man she’d hardly had time to get to know as a pawn in her father’s business dealings.

“You can do more than simply call yourself a friend to the wife of the richest man in Cincinnati,” Elizabeth said. “You can rescue her from the drudgery of filling that position.” Indeed, she would need her friends around her once her life was shackled to the rock of responsibility.

Her friends laughed. “You sound as if you’re going to the gallows instead of to a bed of satin.” Madeline cuffed her on the arm.

“I would give anything to be in your shoes,” Henrietta sighed.

“Would you?” Bold as brass, Elizabeth slipped out of her dancing slippers and pushed them across the floor to her friend. “Here you go.”

More tinkling laughter sounded from her friends, but all Elizabeth could think was how good it felt to wiggle her toes.

Before she could retrieve her shoes, prickles shot up the back of Elizabeth’s neck. She glanced up, subtly searching the crowded room to discover the source of the prickles. Someone was watching her. The light and color and sound of the ball was a raging distraction, but that didn’t stop the feeling. Her heart beat faster, as if fate was tapping her shoulder.

And then she saw him. Half a room away, standing in the frame of one of the French doors leading to the balcony, stood the most striking man Elizabeth had ever seen. He was tall, inches above the whispering couple that stood beside him. His shoulders were broad and his brown hair perfectly coifed. Most arresting of all was his smile. It was broad, bold, absolutely sure of itself. His smile reached his eyes, illuminating them across the distance. If she hadn’t known any better, Elizabeth would have thought that he was the mayor—no, the president, the king, the emperor. Her heart fluttered up to her throat, and she could feel the heat rise to her cheeks. The regal young man—master of all he surveyed—was smiling at her.

“Who is he?” Isobel asked what her heart was crying out.

Henrietta and Madeline turned to look as well.

Madeline hummed and tsked. “I think that’s Mr. Howard Haskell.”

“Who?” Henrietta wrinkled her nose.

Howard Haskell. Elizabeth repeated the name in her mind and heart. Something about it sizzled. Or perhaps that was his smile. He looked at her as though she was a rival to the sunrise. No one had ever looked at her with such longing, such appreciation before. Her heart beat double-time.

“Do we know him?” Isobel asked.

“No, and from what I understand, we don’t want to.” Madeline tilted up her nose.

“Why not?” Henrietta asked.

Madeline sniffed. “He’s an upstart nobody from who knows where. My papa says that he’s been nosing around Commerce Street for months now.”

“Why would anyone want to do that?” Isobel made a face.

“Maybe he’s in business?” Henrietta offered.

“More likely he’s looking for a job or trying to get involved in some scheme or another,” Madeline said.

“He could be a businessman himself,” Elizabeth offered. Yes, with a proud smile and confidence like that, she had no doubt he was an entrepreneur of some sort.

Madeline sniffed. “Him? Not likely. Everything I’ve heard suggests he’s loud, brash, and coarse. He’s certainly not our type, you can be sure of that.”

Elizabeth nodded, but she wasn’t so sure. Howard Haskell had an air of excitement about him, a presence that made her feel as though he was inches away, even though he was at the other side of the room. He gave her a feeling, several feelings, and one of those was that he was indeed completely her “type.”

 

Be sure to order Love’s Prelude ASAP. It’s only 99 cents! At Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Release Day! – His Bewildering Bride

Jan 30, 2016

It’s here! The day is finally here! Book 3 in The Brides of Paradise Ranch is now available, either as the spicy version, His Bewildering Bride, or the sweet version, Wendy: The Bewildering Bride. A big shock is in store for Haskell, Wyoming, but it could also be the beginning of something wonderful. And for this weekend only, both books are available for only $0.99! Grab them before they go to regular price! Here’s how it starts…

HisBewilderingBride_Wendy_2covers

Chapter One

Nashville, Tennessee – 1875

Hurst Home stood at the end of a long street in Nashville, near a bend in the Cumberland River. To the outside observer, it was nothing more than a plain, rather large house shaded by oaks. Its quiet front porch was sometimes occupied by modestly-dressed young ladies, but more often than not, it seemed to be nothing more than a serene, somewhat neglected dwelling. The only thing unusual about the house was the high, stone wall that surrounded it and the wrought-iron gate that discouraged casual visitors from stopping by.

To Wendy Weatherford, Hurst Home was a blessed oasis of relief in the middle of a life of turmoil. She checked over her shoulder as she approached the front gate, fumbling for the key in the brocade reticule she carried. No one was paying her any mind—the street where Hurst Home stood was dozy in the best of times—so she quickly unlocked the gate, shifted the basket on her arm that carried her sewing, and slipped through.

Once inside, she locked the gate behind her. She didn’t have anything—or rather, anyone—to fear, but more than a few of the young women she’d gotten to know since seeking refuge at the home were hiding from someone or another. For their sake, she was contentious about keeping the house safe and unnoticed. She hurried up the path to the front porch, unlocked the front door, and skipped inside.

The world inside of the secure walls of Hurst Home was as different as night to day from the outside.

“Has anyone seen my scissors?” Miriam Long shouted from halfway up the main staircase in the hall.

The burbling chatter of half a dozen ladies in the parlor to the left of the hall stopped, and one of the girls shouted back, “No. They’re not in here.”

From the wide dining room on the right, spritely red-head Talia Lambert popped out to say, “Are you sure you didn’t leave them in the kitchen when we were baking bread?”

Miriam huffed a dramatic sigh and struck a long-suffering pose—the back of her hand pressed against her forehead—as she leaned against the wall. The move showed off her perfect figure and the long waves of her blonde hair. “Will I never cease misplacing valuables?” she lamented.

Wendy cleared her throat. Miriam had come to Hurst Home straight from the theater, where she was in danger from an unscrupulous manager who thought he could sell more than just tickets to see Miriam perform. Wendy had only known the woman for three weeks, but that was enough to know that you could take Miriam off the stage, but you couldn’t take the stage off of Miriam.

“Here.” Wendy searched in her basket to find her second-best pair of scissors as she approached the stairs. “You can borrow mine.”

Miriam’s face lit up. “Oh, Wendy. You really are a darling.” She skipped down a few steps to meet Wendy as she came up. Wendy offered the scissors, Miriam took them, then kissed Wendy’s cheek. “I don’t care what they say about former slaves getting above themselves these days. You’re the most darling of women, no matter how you were born.”

Without the faintest idea that her words could be hurtful, Miriam skipped the rest of the way down the stairs, brandishing the borrowed scissors, and swung around the corner into the parlor with the others.

“I am ready to do battle with the quilt,” Miriam announced to the others, out of sight.

Wendy sighed, exchanging a glance with Talia, who continued to stand like a frail shadow in the doorway.

“She means well,” Talia whispered.

“I know.” Wendy managed a smile. “Unfortunately, she’s right about what people say.”

She turned to head up the stairs to take her work to her room, but Talia called after her, “I doubt that.”

Talia skittered away from the dining room doorway and followed Wendy upstairs. Wendy waited for her, and the two walked together up to the second floor and the room Wendy had been assigned when she came to Hurst Home.

“You’re the most talented seamstress I’ve ever seen,” Talia went on. “I know it, Miriam knows it, everyone in the house knows it, and soon all of Nashville will know it too. It…it doesn’t matter what you look like.” She lowered her eyes, a bright flush coming to her cheeks, betraying that she didn’t fully believe what she said.

Wendy opened her door, set her basket on the chair just past the doorway, then turned to fold Talia in a friendly hug. “Would that the world was filled with more kind hearts like you,” she said. “But I fear it will take more than the end of slavery and the passage of a few laws before my people will have the opportunities they deserve.”

“But things are better now, aren’t they?” Talia asked, sitting on Wendy’s bed and glancing up at her with big, innocent eyes. “Your people are free. You can go to school, engage in a profession, own land, vote.”

Wendy nodded as she sank to sit on the bed with Talia. “For now, yes. But laws that harm can be passed as easily as laws that help. And there are still many who look at me and see the evidence of their own defeat instead of my skill or my heart.”

“I don’t understand.” Talia’s face fell. “I’ll never understand.”

Wendy reached out to hug her dear friend. As she did, creaking came from the stairs. A moment later, Elspeth Leonard—another of her housemates, a somber, proper Englishwoman who was slightly older than the rest of the women in the house—appeared in the door. She smiled kindly at the sight of Wendy and Talia.

“Wendy, I was told you had returned.” Elspeth had a voice and an accent that soothed and charmed. Of all the women in the house, Wendy felt as though she could carry on the most stimulating conversations with Elspeth. But there was no time for conversation today. “Mrs. Breashears told me to alert you that she wishes to see you as soon as you have a moment.”

Brow raised, Wendy exchanged a look with Talia. She stood. “I’m ready now if she is.”

Elspeth smiled. “She’s in her office.”

Wendy crossed out to the hall, Talia following her. The three women headed back down the stairs to the first floor. The noise from the parlor had grown tenfold since Miriam joined the women there. They were all laughing and talking over each other, and someone had sat down at the piano and was banging out Stephen Foster tunes.

“Thank heavens they’re not allowed to make that much noise all night,” Elspeth whispered as they turned the corner and headed to the back of the house. “None of us would ever get any sleep.”

Talia giggled, and Wendy shook her head, smiling over the truth of it.

They reached the door to Mrs. Breashears’ office, and as Wendy knocked, her two friends waved goodbye and went on their way. At Mrs. Breashears’ call of “Come in,” Wendy slipped into the room, shutting the door behind her.

“Ah, Wendy. I’m glad you’re home. Please, come, sit.” Mrs. Breashears jumped straight to business, gesturing for Wendy to take a seat in one of the chairs across from her desk. As soon as Wendy was seated, she went on with, “You know that we have an association with a frontier town in Wyoming, correct?”

“Yes.” Wendy’s heart sped up. She’d heard all about Haskell, Wyoming from the minute she set foot through the door of Hurst Home. It was all the girls could talk about once their imaginations turned to the opposite sex. “Two of Hurst Home’s women have been sent to Haskell as mail-order brides.”

“Precisely.” Mrs. Breashears nodded, folding her hands and resting them on her desk. “And when you first came here, one of the questions on the information sheet I asked you to fill out was in regards to whether you would be open to considering marriage to one of the ranchers or frontiersmen in Haskell, should the opportunity arise.”

“Yes.” Wendy scooted to the edge of her seat. “But I didn’t think it was all that likely that you would be able to find a match for me.” She had heard of some former slaves seeking their fortunes out West, where there were more opportunities and where common folk looked the other way in regards to skin color. From all she’d heard, the West was so desperate for new settlers that they didn’t care what a person looked like or what their background was. That was why so many foreigners were coming from Europe to make new lives.

“You’re in luck,” Mrs. Breashears announced, interrupting her thoughts. “For I think I’ve found exactly the young man for you.”

“Really?” Wendy couldn’t keep the smile off her face. This was it. This was what she’d wished and dreamed of for so long—a husband, a family of her own, and a future filled with possibility.

“Yes, his name is Cody Montrose, and he works as a ranch hand on Paradise Ranch,” Mrs. Breashears explained, picking up a telegraph and reading through it.

Cody Montrose. Wendy repeated the name to herself, pressing her hands to her stomach. Wendy Montrose, Mrs. Cody Montrose.

Mrs. Breashears cleared her throat and went on. “As I understand it, Mr. Montrose is a bit on the lively side. I’m assured he’s a good man,” Mrs. Breashears pushed on. “I wouldn’t consent to match any of you girls up with a man that fell short of my high standards. I have been given to understand that he needs a little settling, though.”

Wendy shrugged, her smile growing. “I don’t mind. Just because I’m not a hummingbird doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy their company.” Like Miriam, for example. She could never keep up with the girl’s antics, but she enjoyed her company nonetheless.

Mrs. Breashears seemed relieved. “I’m glad to hear it. We are looking for a woman who can be a steadying influence. And if it helps, each of the young men from Paradise Ranch who are willing to take a bride are having homes constructed for them. So even if Mr. Montrose does prove to be a handful, you’ll have your very own house to maintain while he goes off to work on the ranch every day.”

Wendy smiled at the thought. “A woman could put up with a lot to have her own house.”

“Indeed.” Mrs. Breashears winked. “Though as I said before, I am assured that Mr. Montrose is a good man.”

Wendy shifted forward. “Does Haskell have a dress shop or a tailor or any establishment that could use my sewing skills?” Sewing may have been her job and her means of putting food on her and her mother’s table for years, but she still loved it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Mrs. Breashears tilted her head to the side. “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. Certainly there must be something.” She fussed with the papers on her desk for a moment. “Oh dear. I really should educate myself more about the town before I rush about making promises.”

“It’s all right.” Wendy reached across Mrs. Breashears’ desk to touch the older woman’s arm in support. “I’m so grateful that you were able to find a man that suits me that I would live in a remote shack if I had to.” Anything to get away from the sadness and misfortune that had marked her life so far. It wasn’t as if she had any family left in Nashville, or even Memphis now, to miss her.

“I’m so glad.” Mrs. Breashears sighed in relief. “So shall I telegraph them, letting them know it’s a match?”

“Yes, please.” Wendy beamed.

 

Ready to read more? Both His Bewildering Bride and Wendy: The Bewildering Bride are available now! And they’re $0.99 for this weekend only! So grab them while they’re on sale.

Click here to purchase Wendy: The Bewildering Bride, exclusively on Amazon

Click here to purchase His Bewildering Bride on Amazon. Or click here for iBooks. Or here for Barnes & Noble.

Release Day! His Dangerous Bride/Eden: The Dangerous Bride

Jan 10, 2016

It’s time! It’s here! Although technically tomorrow is release day, I’ll let you in on a secret… The books are live on most platforms right now! And, you guessed it, both are available for an introductory price of 99 cents for a VERY limited time only! Grab ’em cheap while you can! So are you ready for some adventure with Luke and Eden? Here’s a taste of His Dangerous Bride (spicy version) aka Eden: The Dangerous Bride (sweet version):

HisDangerousBride_Eden_2Covers

“Miss Eden Gardner?”

Eden spun as her name was called. Right away, she spotted a distinguished gentlemen in an expensive suit, a gold watch fob glistening across his waistcoat, and an attractive older woman in sensible but stylish cotton.

“Miss Eden Gardner,” the woman said, a statement this time instead of a question. She picked up her pace, coming forward with outstretched hands. “I’m Mrs. Josephine Evans, and you have no idea how overjoyed I am to welcome you to Haskell.”

“She took the words right out of my mouth,” the gentleman said. He came to a stop in front of her and touched the brim of his hat before taking her hand in a firm shake. “Charlie Garrett, at your service.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet both of you.” She wasn’t even lying at that. Her shoulders relaxed and her back stopped aching. It was because of these two, and Mrs. Piedmont, that she was getting this one-in-a-million chance to start over.

As soon as she let go of Mr. Garrett’s hand, she searched behind him, scanning the area around the station. “Where’s my husband?”

Mrs. Evans’s brow shot up. Mr. Garrett sputtered, then burst into a hearty laugh. “No beating around the bush with you, I guess.”

Eden crossed her arms and smiled at him. Handsome, tail end of his prime. Confident, competent, and likely able to take her down before she knew what was happening. Yes, she liked Charlie Garrett at first sight.

“I never saw much point in beating around any bushes,” she told him and Mrs. Evans. “It’s a waste of time when seconds matter.”

“Is that so?” Mr. Garrett’s lips twitched as he worked to get his grin under control. His eyes held experience, understanding, knowing. She’d have to watch out for him.

A slow but equally satisfied grin spread across Mrs. Evans’s face. “Oh yes,” she said, rubbing her hands together as though relishing a prize. “She’ll be perfect. Luke won’t know what hit him.”

Damn. By the sound of things, Eden would get along with Mrs. Evans like they were two peas in a pod. And if what Mrs. Breashears had said was right, Mrs. Evans was Luke Chance’s adopted mother, which meant she’d be Eden’s mother-in-law. Haskell was growing on her already.

“I’m here, I’m here!” a call came from the row of hitching posts to one side of the train. “Sorry I’m late.”

Mr. Garrett and Mrs. Evans turned, and Eden leaned to the side, arms still crossed, to get a look at the man who was climbing down from a handsome chestnut gelding. He moved with the horse as though the two of them had one mind, looping the reins around the post with hardly a glance. When he turned in Eden’s direction, her heart stuttered in her chest.

“Well, hello,” she hummed.

The man strode forward with wide, sure steps. Cocky steps. The kind of steps that said he could handle any situation and keep smiling while doing so. His shoulders were broad, his arms strong under sleeves rolled up past his elbow. A hint of dark blond hair was visible under the brim of his worn hat, and straight, white teeth flashed as he smiled. He hopped up onto the platform with ease. Eden had half a mind to ask him to turn around so she could get a look at his backside.

“Are you Eden Gardner?” he asked, striding to a stop between Mr. Garrett and Mrs. Evans. He raked her from head to toe with a fiery gaze that said he liked what he saw.

Hot damn.

“That’s me.” She stepped toward him, holding out a hand.

He took it, his grip firm and warm. “Luke Chance. Pleased to meet you.”

His confidence, his strength, that hint of mischief in his eyes as he smiled at her—yep, she could have done much worse in a man. Now all she needed to do was make sure he sealed the deal before he saw right through her and called it all off.

“All right.” She looked at Mr. Garrett, then Mrs. Evans. “He seems like he’s got all the right parts in all the right places. I’ll marry him.” She nodded. The faster the better.

 

Like I said, His Dangerous Bride and Eden: The Dangerous Bride are live on most retailer platforms right now. And remember, they’re only 99 cents for a VERY limited time!

Click here to be taken to Eden: The Dangerous Bride on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Click here to be taken to His Dangerous Bride on Amazon.

Click here to be taken to His Dangerous Bride on iBooks.

Nook link coming soon.

Kobo link coming soon.