Time to break free!

Many people have asked me online why I only have the first “Anything He Wants” story on Amazon. When I first published the story I signed an exclusivity agreement with Amazon through their KDP Select program which enabled me to use the Kindle Online Lending Library and also have the story free for five scheduled free days. Was it the right choice? I’m not sure, but I do know that Amazon has been VERY good to me and allowed me to reach the top 20 (!!) on the Kindle Store Bestseller lists, as well as the top 10 in Romance.

That contract, fortunately, was only for a short while, and as of today I’m free to post elsewhere. What does this mean for the series?

We’re about to find out!! Right now I’m gearing up for a HUGE launch tomorrow on Kobo, AllRomanceeBooks, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, and would appreciate your help in getting the word out. This could mean THE WORLD for the series…or it could mean little. I’ve felt so trapped with the limited distribution that I’m fairly bursting at the seams now to get these stories out to the world! It has been you, you, and YOU who has gotten us this far and I’m asking you to help me one last time! Tell your friends with the Kobo or Nook readers, the ones who like reading on their computers, those who read off their phones – “Anything He Wants” will be available for the masses starting tomorrow!

YIPPEE!!! 😀 😀

There’s nothing like…

There’s nothing like going out to your car one morning to find the passenger door ajar and your paperwork piled neatly in both front seats and the passenger floorboards. Apparently our naive habit of only locking the car doors when we remembered caught up with us, and allowed somebody to rummage through the vehicle. There wasn’t much for them to take but all the change from my cup holders is gone. We haven’t identified anything else out of the ordinary.

To add insult to injury, the thieves left the door ajar all night so the battery was toast. We managed to get that jumped by my old Maverick; I thought we were okay but the Dude wanted to check it out first so we drove around a bit, parked it in the driveway, turned off the car then tried again.

*click*

Arg!!

$130 battery later I’m left shaking a futile fist at the neighborhood thieves as they did manage to get us for some funds. I was just relieved both garage door openers were gone – both the Dude and myself have taken motorcycles lately so the remotes were in our jackets. If they’d gotten into the garage now THAT would have been a disaster.

Interesting side note: apparently the old car battery was leaking badly and had already eaten through part of the metal bit holding it down:

20120716-111358.jpg
See the white bit? Half is eaten away.

Considering that battery is right over the passenger leg compartment, that coulda been one mean accident waiting to happen!! *EEK*

DearAuthor mentioned me in an article

Many moons ago, before I was actually a published author, I was an aspiring writer. Back in those days, I poured over blogs and websites about the publishing world, read articles on how to write/plot/etc, and had a few go-to favorite sites for news on What Was Happening In Publishing. Dear Author was one blog/website that, while I didn’t always agree with their stance on some issues, I regarded as a good industry source.

Yesterday they did an article on serial fiction and, holy crap, they mentioned me!! Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably saw my squeefest (it was pretty epic), and a day later I’m still absolutely tickled. Their mention wasn’t really a shout-out or recommendation but, well, it was no less awesome:

One author who is burning up the charts is self published author Sara Fawkes whose series “Anything He Wants” sells on Amazon for .99, $2.99, and $2.99 for the published versions so far for a total of 111 pages of fiction. Serials can build anticipation and lead to increased word of mouth.

😀 I’m still grinning about it.

AHW4: Chapter 1

My editor is going to kill me. :) I think you guys deserve this though.

Blame @andriiisantiii, she convinced me to do this. It’s still fairly rough draft but… Ah heck, you guys just want to read the story don’t you? 😉

***

AHW4

Chapter 1

I was eight years old the first time I got the flu. It was bad, enough so that I had to be rushed to the hospital. While I couldn’t remember much, I did remember vividly the aches and pains as my body struggled to rid itself of every last vestige of the foul disease.

Waking up in that hospital room felt similar, like waking from a painful dream. Eyes still closed, I turned my head to the side, the simple movement making me dizzy and nauseous. At my moan there was a commotion next to me then a strangely familiar man’s voice said, “Get the doctor.”

Why was that voice familiar? Who… Thinking made my head hurt so I gave up for a while, trying to keep as still as possible. After a moment the nausea subsided and I cracked open one eye, then the other.

I was in a well-lit room, the bright fluorescent lights above like knives in my skull. Figuring for the time being it would be better to keep my eyes closed, I listened as several people filed into the room.

“Ms. Delacourt, my name is Doctor Montague. I’m going to need you to open your eyes.”

“Hurts,” I mumbled, my tongue stinking to the roof of a dry mouth. I tried opening my eyes again and it was a little better this time. The room and its occupants were fuzzy; the tall figure beside my bed leaned in close and shined a light in my eyes. I flinched but the pain from before was already subsiding and he only did a few sweeps before pulling the pin light away.

“How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been hit by a bus.” The doctor spoke very good English but I could hear the slight French accent in his words. “Am I still in Paris?”

Oui, you were brought here soon after your little incident.”

“Where’s Jeremiah?” I struggled to pull myself upright, ignoring the explosion in my head and the doctor’s restraining hand. “Is he okay?”

“He’s been coordinating with French officials on investigating what happened. Discreetly.”

It took me a moment to recognize the familiar from beside the bed. I barely made out Ethan’s bald head through bleary vision. “So he wasn’t…?”

“No, he wasn’t poisoned,” he replied, correctly guessing my unspoken question, and I let out the breath I was holding. “He’s been going through various channels to try and find the culprit. I sent word that your awake, he should be here any moment.”

Hearing that Jeremiah was on his way eased a burden inside my chest. The doctor handed me a glass of water as I glanced toward the clock, then the dark window. “How long was I out?”

“Three days,” Ethan replied and I coughed on the water I’d just swallowed. The big man shifted. “We didn’t know how it would end up. Lucky for you, Jeremiah has some medic training.”

“I almost died?” My words were a whisper and I found it difficult to come to grips with the idea.

“Officially, you did. Twice.” The doctor took my cup and set it on the table beside me I finally saw clearly. “If not for the, hm, insistence of Mr. Hamilton we may not be having this conversation.”

I stared at my hands for a long moment, emotions all jumbled together in my head. “I’m tired,” I murmured, sliding back down the bed.

“Before you sleep,” Ethan said, stepping toward me, “I’d really like to ask you a few questions about the man who brought the bottle to your room.”

Everything in me went cold. “You think he was the one who…?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out.”

The familiar deep voice made my heart leap. Jeremiah walked into the room and stood at the foot of the bed before looking at the doctor. “How is she?”

“Awake, and that is a good sign. I’d like to keep her at least another day for observation.”

Jeremiah nodded at the doctor, who stood and silently left the room. I blindly reached for Jeremiah’s hand when he took the empty spot beside me, not caring who saw or thought what. Fear settled over me like an oppressive blanket. Someone tried to kill me.

“What do you remember about the man who delivered the champagne?” Ethan asked as I clung to Jeremiah’s hand.

“He was ordinary,” I said, then winced at the phrase. Way to be unhelpful. “He was dressed like a hotel employee, white with medium brown hair and brown eyes I think.”

“Hair and eye color can be changed,” Jeremiah interjected. “What about facial features? Any scars or moles?”

Thinking made my head ache and I closed my eyes, trying to picture the brief glimpse I’d had of his face. “He had kind of deep set eyes, thin lips and was a couple inches taller than me. Um, I think he had a mole on his left temple and a scar on his chin, but I don’t know how much of that was makeup.”

Jeremiah and Ethan’s gazes met briefly and my heart sank. I probably just described half the country.

“What did he sound like?” Ethan asked finally after scribbling notes on a small notepad.

“He spoke English really well, I thought he sounded American.” I thumped my hand on the bed in frustration. “I don’t know. He seemed like a normal hotel employee and I didn’t think to look that hard.” A thought occurred to me. “What about the security cameras? There has to be something on them.”

Both men shook their heads. “We already checked. Whoever it was knew exactly where even hidden cameras pointed; we never got a face shot.”

I slumped in the bed. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Jeremiah’s phone went off, and he pulled it out to check the screen. “I need to take this,” he said, pulling his hand free from my grasp. “Ethan, see if you can find an artist to draw what she remembers. I’ll be back.”

Tears pricked my eyes as I watched him leave the room. Silly girl, I chided myself, blinking hard, he still has to do his job. It still hurt to have him gone however, there was security in his presence that I didn’t feel with a simple bodyguard.

“You know, this whole deal hit him pretty hard.”

I looked over at Ethan, wiping at my leaking eyes. The bald man wasn’t looking at me, too busy typing into his phone, but I could still sense his attention. “What do you mean?”

He didn’t answer for a moment, intent on his phone, then clipped it to his belt and looked at me. “How long have you two known one another again?”

The question felt like an interrogation and I frowned. “A few days, why?”

Ethan grunted. “He’s pulled out all the stops trying to find out who did this. I haven’t seen him this driven in a long time; even the last time someone tried to kill him he wasn’t this motivated.”

My mouth dropped open. “What?” I said, voice barely a whisper.

Ethan shrugged one shoulder like it was nothing. “A man like Jeremiah, given the cutthroat business he does, gets threatened a lot. It was not long after he agreed to sponsor my company that someone tried to shoot him outside his building.” Ethan snorted. “Jeremiah had already broken the man’s wrist and taken the gun by the time I got close. Turns out the gunman wasn’t even the person with a beef, he’d been hired to do the dirty work.”

“What happened next?” I asked when Ethan lapsed off, looking at his phone again.

“Nothing. The boss told me to find out who was behind it and let him know, then got on a plane for Dubai. Didn’t seem worried in the slightest.” Ethan peered at me. “Maybe it’s because you got hurt on his behalf. Either way, Celeste has taken over business operations while he focuses on this manhunt and tries to keep the press from getting wind.”

“So, the person on the phone…?”

“Was probably one of his contacts. If he didn’t want us to listen in, it was probably one that I don’t approve of. Either way, he’s gone to extremes on this one.”

Jeremiah chose then to come back inside, stowing his phone in his pocket. I got my first glimpse outside the door and saw two men dressed in black standing on either side of the entryway before the door closed again. “I have the boys looking for an artist now,” Ethan said. “Hopefully we can get someone up here within the next few hours.”

“Good.” Jeremiah moved to my bed then frowned down at me. “You should be resting.”

“Who was that on the phone?” I asked bluntly. When his eyes narrowed, clearly annoyed with the question, I persisted. “If it has something to do with me then I should know. Who tried to kill us?”

Jeremiah glared at Ethan but the big security expert had his eyes back on his phone, deliberately ignoring our conversation. “I’m not sure yet,” Jeremiah finally said. “I gave them the description you provided and they’re hopeful. Now, rest.”

My body demanded I follow the order – I’d been fighting against sleep anyway, but I still struggled to keep awake for one last question. “You won’t leave?” I asked, pushing myself deeper under the sheets.

His eyes softened a bit. “I’ll be nearby,” he promised, and at his words I finally closed my eyes, letting my exhaustion overwhelm me.

*

I stayed in the hospital for three more days under observation. The doctor seemed optimistic about my recovery, but I felt weaker than a baby. Needing help to do simple things like walk proved frustrating and I was determined to do it on my own. After I slipped and nearly fell trying to get myself to the attached bathroom however, Jeremiah ordered that I have constant help available, whether by nurses or bodyguards.

Most of my days were spent sleeping, but it quickly grew boring staying in the hospital bed. When I mentioned this to Ethan, an ever-present fixture in my room, a brand new tablet, still in the box, appeared beside my bed soon afterward. The device gave me something to do with my spare time, and I spent most of it researching my new boss.

I’d joked before that I knew the Wikipedia version of his life, and as it turned out so did the rest of the world. There were articles on him that mentioned he was an Army Ranger, talked about his charity work, and went into detail on his business ventures, but I knew all this already. The media threw out words like “mysterious” and “enigmatic” when they described him, and the words seemed appropriate given the lack of any in-depth information through nearly all channels. Articles on the corporate changeover after his father’s death were similarly shallow, mainly analyst predictions where the company would go under new management, if a man who had minimal business education could really take over for the tycoon Rufus Hamilton, and so on.

By day four of my stay I was walking on my own again, just in time to leave the hospital. Our exit felt like an espionage movie: I was shuffled to the basement garage by the bodyguards and carefully packed into a waiting limo that I assumed would take us to the airport. Jeremiah watched over everything, never leaving my side, even maintaining a possessive grip around my shoulders as we drove out of the parking garage.

I dozed through most of the trip, using Jeremiah’s shoulder as a pillow. I awoke once an indeterminate amount of time later to see we were no longer in the city but didn’t think anything of it, nodding back to sleep until the car finally stopped. Jeremiah shifted under me and I lifted my head, gazing blearily out the window. This definitely isn’t the airport, I thought, rubbing my eyes. “Where are we?”

Jeremiah didn’t answer the question, merely edged toward the door as it was opened from the outside. “Come find out,” he said, taking my arm to help me out of the car. I didn’t immediately recognize the structure. Nearby was the faint sound of water and a monument that looked vaguely familiar.

Several men in dark suits were scattered around the area and one black man came jogging up to us. “The place is secure, sir,” he said, and as Jeremiah nodded I finally realized where I was.

“You brought me to Utah Beach,” I whispered in stunned surprise. I’d only mentioned the location once to Jeremiah, so this was proof he was really listening to me. The wind off the water was chilly, cooling the already cold winter air; the sky was overcast and looked like it might spit snow at any moment. Looking around at a place I’d only seen in pictures online, I found myself inexplicably tearing up.

Jeremiah took off his jacket and slipped it around my shoulders when I shivered. “You mentioned this was someplace you wanted to visit.” He looked uncomfortable and edgy, and I wondered if it was my tears. “They have a Visitor’s Center with artifacts from the beach itself, but we can go down to the water if you’re up for it.”

His voice was gruff and his demeanor short, but I didn’t care. Happiness suffused me at the sight of a place I’d always dreamed of visiting, and I slipped my hand through his. Jeremiah stiffened and I saw him swallow, then his fingers relaxed into mine. “Help me inside?” I asked, burrowing myself deep inside his coat.

His gaze softened as he peered down at me, then he lifted my hand to his lips. “I’d be honored.”

July goals redux – AHW news

Hi again guys!! I’m getting a lot of questions on the release dates for AHW4/5 and, given its obvious appeal, figured I could do a status post on the series.

I’m getting ready to wrap up part 4 sometime this week; it’ll still need edits by myself and the lovely Delta (if she’s still willing, probably should hit her up soon to make sure), but once it’s finished I’ll announce a release date.

Part 5 won’t be ready until August but I can assure you this one (provided I don’t have any more snags in the road *glares at knee*) won’t take long to write. Yeah I know, famous last words, but it’s fully outlined with lots of action (my favorite thing to write!) and actually parts are already written. I can’t give a precise date just yet but as soon as it’s completed or nearly so I’ll announce the date. Part 5 will complete this chapter of the story – exciting things loom on the horizon (a good loom, like a handsome broody man) but for now remain Super Sekrit!!

Hope you all are having a wonderful day. Almost the end of the work week – the EDJ hasn’t yet told me whether we work Saturday but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 😀

Things that make my head go ‘splody

I try to keep politics, big name controversies etc off my blog, but sometimes I get so riled up that I need to rant.

You know what I find funny? LOLcats. Cute animal videos. Dennis Leary. South Park. Tiny weener dog puppies in a hotdog bun.

You know what I don’t think is funny?

Rape.

So when I’m pointed via Twitter to this lady’s story about a comedy club experience, of course I get outraged. I’ve never in my life actually heard a rape joke – maybe I’ve been lucky with my “comedy” exposure, maybe it’s a niche market.

But you know what really pissed me off?

All the articles written IN DEFENSE of the comedian’s actions. Wow, folks, way to ace Douchebaggery 101. Ha ha, it’s SO FUNNY to ruin a girl’s life through non-consensual* forced sex. Ooh, even funnier, let’s make it a gangbang! Hilarious!!

Fuck you.

I managed to escape a rape attempt once and it screwed me up for a long time. I know women who didn’t escape, who survived the horrific act, and spent years dealing with the psychological aftermath. People have killed themselves over the pain, unable to live with the guilt and shame.

Is suicide funny now too?

If there is a subset out there that enjoys rape stories, the damage and loss of power/self that comes along with it, I don’t want to know them. Several articles had YouTube videos of previous skits don’t by Daniel Tosh (of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0”) that focus on rape as humor – I didn’t watch them. This whole thing makes me sick.

Filed under Head Splody. Cuz that’s what I’m about to do.

* Yes I realize women have rape fantasies, yes I realize there can be consensual forced sex. However, in REAL LIFE those actions have a number of rules and guidelines usually talked about in advance. If you and your partner want to explore rough sex, then for fuck’s sake REMEMBER TO SET A SAFE WORD BEFOREHAND.

New sales venues coming in July

July is kind of exciting for me because it means that, finally, I can expand my best selling series to other distribution venues.

“Anything He Wants 1” is published on Amazon through their KDP Select program which, essentially, means that it is/was exclusive through Amazon. When the two sequels came out I didn’t opt in for Select so those were free, but without that first book it was senseless to put them up on sites like Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and iTunes.

On July 16th, the last day of the Select promo, that all changes. The entire AHW series (and all sequels) will be made available at ALL venues, not just Amazon. That means that people who use B&N Nooks and Sony/Kobo/etc ereaders will be able to get their hands on the series. I’m pretty excited by the prospect and was hoping to get AHW4 out in time for the launch but that isn’t looking very likely at the moment. Still, for those of you who’ve asked for different venues than Amazon, it’s coming, and coming fast.

So exciting, I can’t wait to see what happens with the new venues!! Kobo will be starting Writing Life, their own self-publishing wing, sometime this month. That’ll be a whole new market for me and, from what I’ve read so far, Kobo caters to an international crowd.

Yikes!! Maybe I should start seriously looking into those translation services!!
😀

July goals

Alright, this morning I was feeling super sentimental and huggy, now I’m down to business. 😉 Well okay, as businessy as I ever get lol.

I’ve found, through trial and error (mainly error), that I do better by making goals in lists. This isn’t an OCD thing, more like a Sara-is-disorganized thing. A sad fact I have to work around every day but I’ve found my ways of coping. 😀

So, the goals for July (in no particular order):

– finish AHW4, get it edited and published; work on AHW5 (both of these are already planned out and plot-intensive)
– finish ALL my mirrors, including the promised Jeremiah side and part two of Loki’s POV
– explore further an option that fell into my lap this morning (why yes, it IS Super Sekrit…at least for now 😉 )
– try and finish the assassin novella for an August edit
– figure out what to do with “Back In The Groove” (pull it and republished the full story later or serialize like I did with AHW)

Yes I know, it sounds like a modest month but it’s amazing how things can pile up and take longer than you originally thought. This is all of course on top of my other daily chores and routines. I have other ideas percolating in the back of my head of course but am trying to complete my current projects before moving on.

*HUGZ*

Surprise, you’re popular! (OMG)

I read an article once about how Susan Boyle, after winning “Britain’s Got Talent”, had to check herself into a hospital to recuperate from the stress of dealing with her sudden popularity. I remember wondering what was so hard about that – after all it was just singing, what’s the big deal? I gotta say though, the last couple months have been a whirlwind around the Fawkes household and, while I’m nowhere near her fame, I kind of understand where she was coming from.

In June, I watched AHW1 rise through the Amazon Top 100 in the Kindle store, and its sequels follow onto that list. Currently AHW1 is in the teens, with the sequels bouncing around the #70s. For a relative unknown (that’s me) to get on the list not just once (miracle enough) but THREE TIMES…wow. I think Hugh Howey did it with his scifi Wool series but, seriously, it almost NEVER happens, even to the big name guys!

And you guys! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! I can’t believe how many of you are tweeting, commenting and Facebooking (is that even a word? Lol) and I just want to love on you all. But holy crap is it overwhelming!!! I always said that, if I became “popular”, I’d always reply to every comment I received but WOW, that’s no easy task!!! I’m your typical average Jane (motorcycle fetish aside 😀 ), used to Facebooking and tweeting only with RL friends and family, so the sudden rush of folks is seriously like whoa!!

One thing I have to say though: THANK YOU!!!!! It’s been ALL of you that’s helped me accomplish this, this miracle, and from the bottom of my heart I’m so thankful. I’m trying to whittle away at the emails and tweets and comments – I want to reply to everyone! – but please be patient with me!!! I spent much of this week with a gimpy knee, nevertheless trying to keep up with a toddling nephew I rarely see, and finding time to write. It’s a balance I’m still trying to work out, plus I’d hate to disappoint you guys with bad product. I’m no Susan Boyle (hah, you do NOT want to hear me singing in the shower!) but I want to do my best for you guys while still maintaining some sanity and a social life.

Man…you all are an incredible lot. Thank you for your support and I hope I can keep entertaining you for a long time to come. 😉

How I write

The last week or so has been hectic in Casa de Fawkes, part vacation and part house arrest. I managed, in my infinite clumsiness, to hurt my knee last Thursday and have been off work since then. Over the weekend I also visited my family up north as my sister and nephew were down from Canada and I very badly wanted to see them.

As can be guessed, this has thrown off my writing schedule a bit.

I have several projects and ideas I’m juggling, from freebie mirrors to be posted here to possible audiobook versions of my current titles, to ideas that pop into my head and threaten to derail my plans, to a needy puppy who’s afraid of fireworks. Alright, the last one may not be writing related, but she does tend to try and make whatever I’m doing her business. Maybe I should get a cat instead…

*looks into those adorable eyes and little black nose* ….Nah!

Anyway, onto the process. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could just sit down at the desk and type out everything in one go? Unfortunately, my writing process is something like this:

– work the EDJ; come home tired from that
– go to the computer, open up the Word file
– remember I need to check on laundry; get up and do that
– go back to the computer, look up new forum posts
– check email
– remember I’m here to write, open the Start menu and fire up Word
– check Facebook while it loads, lament how I never post there
– let puppy outside; see the cute face at the door, let her inside
– let her out again because she really did want to be there, but she wanted ME out there too
– let puppy inside, try not to trip over Bouncy Cuteness
– click over to Word; go to Recents and choose WIP
– go check Twitter
– …go check email again
– check forums again
– FINALLY, as the sun is going down (no joke), open up file. Do a quick edit on previous paragraphs to get myself in the mood, start/finish paragraph
– let dog out
– lament how I’m horribly unproductive, curl in a ball in corner and cry
– write a bit
– let dog in
– realize it’s almost 9pm and I have to work in the morning
– continue writing
– angst over whether this is the direction the story should go
– lay my head on the desk to think, wake up six hours later. WTF?!

Does it sound like an unproductive day? You’d actually be surprised, I can be highly productive with a schedule like this – I need distraction and multitasking (yay ADHD) or I go nuts. This week however has thrown me all off; it’s the holidays, I have family in-State, and I’m otherwise stuck at home with a gimp knee. Poop.

So, projects for this month:
— Finish, edit and publish AHW4; hopefully get AHW5 (last book for this series!) almost completed
— Publish Loki and Jeremiah mirrors
— Look into audiobooks
— Look into translations

I’ve had several people ask why AHW1 is only available on Amazon and not other sites. Based on a somewhat-accidental click of the button (twice, my bad!) I locked my first story into Amazon Select, which means that Amazon has sole distribution rights. HOWEVER, that ends in the middle of July so I’ll be putting it out there for the world to find, and I’ll need your help getting the word out. I’ll be sure to let you know links etc, and may throw something in for good measure. 😉

Love chatting, but now it’s back to writing!! ….Oh dear…

*sigh* How do I say no to that?