Locke and Blade – Lynn’s New Release!

LockeandBlade_WD Here’s the latest release from me. It’s really a re-release, and not much has changed. It’s been edited a bit, so if you already have it, skip it, unless you love the new cover. I want to thank MLR Press for letting me republish this novella. It’s one of my favorites.

Blurb – When Locke and Blade must work together to solve crimes, but will dislike turn to attraction in the heat of fighting their enemies?

Christopher Locke is a man with a tarnished reputation. When he’s transferred to Waterford Station to serve as inspector, he meets Jonathan Blade, his new partner. Jonathan thinks Christopher is a brute. Chris thinks Jonathan is a snob. Both think the other is more than attractive, which might be more dangerous than the enemies they must face.

Except – Jonathan Blade slammed the door of his office, crossed to his desk, and fell into his chair.
“The God be damned!” He ran a hand over his face and then leaned back and closed his eyes.

What had Wilson been thinking, bringing that big brute here to Waterford? They were two men short, true, but Locke? He looked a ruffian, every inch of him, never mind the way the man’s muscles strained at his uniform, or the way the scar on his chin piqued Blade’s interest. Why hadn’t the healers removed the jagged line? Why leave it to mar the man’s rugged good looks?

Was it a symbol of something? A reminder? A vanity?

A man such as Locke would, no doubt, try to take charge; perhaps try to win Blade’s spot as second-in-command. He might try to test his skills against Blade’s, but Blade knew he’d win in that contest. No man or woman had bested him during their station’s competitions, or in actual battle.

Blade always got his man. Always.

Locke’s dismissal—well, not a true dismissal from the force, but a transfer—had been all the talk around the mess tables. Gossip moved fast through the small patroller community; some bloke at Locke’s old station knew someone here, or perhaps the addler’s network carried the information, but no matter how, theories buzzed around like flies on a dead rat, and none of them good.

Blade had heard the man had beaten a suspect to death with those huge hands of his. The thought of that sent a shudder down Blade’s spine. Physical violence was nearly unheard of in their world, unlike the world they’d separated from two hundred years ago. That world had been vicious, brutal, and terrified of majik . Still was, for all they knew. Not many had crossed the portals and lived to tell the tale. Their best majikians had banded together to split the world apart, majik and non-majik, created the portals and fled that world for this one, where majik and civility ruled.

Had Locke come from off-world, crossed one of the hidden portals and managed to inveigle himself into their society? Perhaps that explained the scar.
Blade sat up and pulled open one of his drawers. There had been a missive from headquarters a few months ago about a new training program, one that incorporated physical means with majik.

In the back of the drawer, behind his notebooks, he found the crumpled bit of parchment. He pulled it out and smoothed it down on his desk blotter.
He’d dismissed it at the time, but now, with the arrival of Locke, he began to wonder if Wilson had brought the man here to train them all in the new fighting techniques. Surely Wilson would have told him, his second, about those plans?

An uneasy feeling crept over Blade as he read.

The letter described how they leaped and rolled, firing wands at will, and teleporting in and out of the field of battle to gain strategic advantage. How they’d learned physical combat methods also. It went on to say the Avalon Patrol Station had trained all their patrollers and inspectors in this new form of combat and it had been highly successful in fighting Lord Blackmoor’s men.

Blade didn’t like it when he’d read about it then and he didn’t like it now. Majik was subtle, beautiful in its use, and elegant in form. The wand was a gentleman’s weapon, and only the most skilled inspector could wield it with deadly effect. He’d killed men before in the line of duty, cleanly, with his wand, without using a blood weapon or his soiling his hands. He could imagine that great brute Locke using his fists to beat some poor farmer into submission, and Blade refused to be reduced to the same low element.

If Wilson thought they’d all become hooligans, bravos, and villains in order to fight the new crime wave, he’d have to do it without Inspector Jonathan Blade. And to be saddled with the man as his partner? Wilson had surely lost his mind.

And yet…there was something intensely attractive about Christopher Locke. Something drew Blade to him, like a bee to clover, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it might be. Something in his eyes, something painful and filled with sorrow, a hunger, perhaps.

Blade snorted.

More likely the sheer size of the man. Although Locke was only a few inches taller than Blade, the man weighed more, and by the size of the muscles in his arms and thighs, he would be more powerful.

But only physically. Blade was unwavering in his belief that in terms of majik skill and power, he would win.

Would Locke’s speed and strength win over Blade’s majik?

Not bloody likely.

Well, whatever this new method was, he wasn’t interested in using his fists. The very idea was beneath him and the rank of inspector of the patrol.
A voice niggled in the back of his mind. You’re attracted to him…admit it.

Bloody hell, he couldn’t think that way. First, the patrol frowned on fraternization among staff and secondly, their society did not approve of men desiring men. It wasn’t outlawed, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. Still, he’d heard rumors of some stations where inspectors were more than friends.

Lovers.

That word raised the hair on his arms and the back of his neck.

Men couldn’t be lovers, could they? They could share their bodies, he’d heard whispers, but what of their hearts? He’d never seen it, not in his thirty years, and as a man who desired men he’d come to accept he’d have to keep to himself, squelch those needs, keep them buried for the rest of his life.

That longing had been there ever since the first time he’d noticed one of the young grooms on his father’s estate. and fFelt that first hardening of his cock at the sight of the lad’s half-naked body as he jumped into the small creek running through their lands.

The boy’s hair had dripped wet and dark down sun-tanned skin, his teeth showed white as he laughed, and Blade had felt that first throbbing pull of attraction. He’d promptly shoved it down inside his very soul, terrified to admit it to himself or let anyone else know about it.

Luckily, his older brother would be the one to create the next heir, and Blade had been left to pursue his dreams of being in the patrol service.
Now his life was the patrol, the One God, this station, and he’d do nothing to jeopardize it. Not even for the pleasures of the flesh or the hope of a lifelong companion.

The One God had no written commandments forbidding men to lie together and he knew it happened in some corners of their society. There were whispers that among the holy fathers, friendships deepened into more.

Blade knew his own body’s urges and he sated them alone, in his room, picturing vague male bodies entwined, as if seen through a veil of gauze, imagining everything from touching to rubbing, even kissing. What more could men share?

Certainly not what men shared with women. His father and older brother had told him of that…his father to educate; his brother to brag.

Just thinking of that young man of his youth made his cock grow stiff. He adjusted it in his trousers, shifting in his chair. The touch of his hand sent a wave of pleasure through him.

A knock sounded on his door and he jerked his hand away.

“Enter!” he called out, snatching up his quill pen.

The door opened and Christopher Locke stood there.

To win a copy of the ebook, comment here. I’ll wait until Wednesday to pick a winner.

Here are some of the buy links –
MLR Press
Amazon
ARe

Recent Events by Lynn Lorenz

It’s my turn to blog. Just a few days ago, the unthinkable happened. A Muslim man, armed with several weapons, entered a gay nightclub filled with Hispanic gay men and killed over 50, wounding another 50, at least. The total death toll could be higher.

From all accounts, it was both domestic terrorism and a hate crime against LGBT people.

Everyone is shaken to their cores, horrified by this event, and the loss of so many lives and the wounding of many, many more. I’ll say everyone, because if this mass murder doesn’t sicken you, there is something very wrong with you. I’m guessing there are people who relish this act, but I’m not talking to those people. They are lost.

There is much to say about how and why this happened, and from what I can tell, only two reasons. One we can’t fight and the other we can.

We can not fight ideas. There is no bomb, no weapon, that can slay ideas, especially those ideas that tell people to hate other people who are not like them. We can’t find every person who believes in these ideas, and kill them. It’s impossible.

But we can fight how these people kill so many people and that’s by enacting major changes in gun control. By making it impossible for anyone to purchase automatic weapons built solely to kill people, like the AR-15, the most used weapon in the many assaults on people here in the US.

How we do that is by electing officials who also believe these laws need to be changed, loop holes closed, ID checks for every gun sale, and others. No the laws won’t stop the ideas, but they will stop the carnage.

This November, let’s clean house and the senate. Please take the time to learn what the opposing and sitting officials’ records are against and for gun control. It might not be a Democrat, it might be a third party candidate. The trick about voting for change is there have to be people, men and women, who are willing to run to affect that change. Be informed.

Just cleaning house and replacing current leaders with new leaders who don’t believe in enacting that change just puts us in the same boat as before. I don’t hold out much hope with the current government who refuse to do what’s necessary to protect it’s citizens, even from themselves, because after Sandy Hook, where an armed man slaughtered school children – children – and these same legislators did nothing about it, I don’t believe they will do anything about a nightclub full of gay men being slaughtered or wounded.

This November, vote for change. Make one of your platform issues gun control. Vote those who refused to change the laws to protect our children, because, believe me, every one of those people in the Pulse club were someone’s children, out of office.

Vote for change. Vote for our future. Vote for our children.

My Heroes by Lynn Lorenz

I love the military. Grew up all around them in my family. My grandfather served in WWI and WWII, due to lying about his age to get a job with the railroad. He was born in the country where they didn’t hand out birth certificates in the 1890’s, his actual date of birth was a long argued point for years. My father joined the Navy and served in WWII. My uncle-in-law was air force, and so were his two sons.

I grew up visiting Eglin AFB in Florida during the summers, to hang with my aunt and uncle and my cousins and remember going to the PX and the on base movie theater. They lived in on-base housing, but it was a nice townhouse. I was always amazed when my aunt would drive through the gates and the soldiers would salute her. I didn’t realize at the time my uncle was one of the highest ranked non-commissioned officers on base. He trained fighter pilots during Vietnam. They lived in Okinawa for several years and we threw a huge seafood boil when they came back to the states.

All of these military men in my life were men I looked up to – my heroes. And like many of those men who served in WWI and WWII, they never really talked about it. But my paw-paw was big in the VFW, and I grew up knowing all about the organization. They have a soft space in my heart, and it’s one of the charities that I support.

So it’s no wonder I love to write about military men, either as Lynn Lorenz or as Theodora Lane.

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One of my first military books was It Takes a Hero, about a soldier wounded in Iraq. He loses half his leg and has to deal with it once he’s stateside. Here’s a brief exerpt…
I placed another unanswered call to George. I worried he hadn’t gotten the news about me, that he was still in Mosul wondering where the hell I was, or if I’d bugged out and left him there to sweat out the hot nights alone.
Then, I worried he was lying injured in some field hospital. Or dead.
Or horribly wounded, just down the hall from me.
Drugs make you have terrible dreams, you know.
I dreamed it was George, not Quint, that I’d pulled from the street. That I’d turn him over and he was dead. Glazed blue eyes staring up at me.
That he and I kept missing each other as we pushed our wheelchairs down the corridor. I’d just glimpse his close-cropped blond hair as he turned a corner. Pushing hard, I’d reach the corner, only the hall would be empty.
Every night, I woke up in a cold sweat.
But I never dreamed about my leg. Funny, huh?
And every night after waking up drenched, I cursed God. I’d never been what you call churchgoing, but I did believe. Out here in the desert, with the bullets flying, you find God real damn fast.
I’d found Him on my first mission patrolling the streets.
I lost Him lying in that bed.
* * * * *
Five days before I was going to be sent stateside, George walked into my room.
I’d been staring at the place where my foot should have been when I heard his cough.
He lingered in the doorway, as if amputation were contagious. For a moment, I thought he would bolt, then he stepped in. God, he looked so good. Alive and healthy, his all-American good looks made even more handsome by his uniform, but I’d always been a sucker for a man in uniform.
“Got here as soon as I could.” He fidgeted with his hat, his eyes locked on the part of me that was missing.
“I’ve been calling you.” Shit. Where had I picked up that pathetic whine?
He shrugged. Swallowed. Still didn’t look me in the face.
“Tony, I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
I wanted to ask him about what. That he hadn’t bothered to call me after I’d left a message every day for two weeks? That I’d lost my leg? That he was leaving me?
“I’m so sorry,” he repeated.
“You said that.” I held my voice steady.
Seems that was all he had to say.
At last, his eyes met mine and I saw his terror. His fear. His repulsion.
Oh yeah, it was over.
Hell, he’d never said he loved me. I’d never said it to him, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d hoped he felt something for me. Felt I was more than a fuck buddy, just a warm body to pass the time with in the desert.
He looked back at my leg. Did he see himself pushing me around in that damned wheelchair, or the horror of having to touch the stump hidden under the sheets?
He reached out and touched my arm.
That was all the good-bye I got. He turned and left.
All the way to Germany just to dump me. At least, I lied to myself, I meant enough to him to do it in person.
I couldn’t blame him. Who wanted to be saddled with a cripple?
He had his career. We both did. Or I had. Twelve years into my thirty, I’d planned to retire at fifty-five, full pension, full medical, and start a new life still relatively young.
Instead, my career was over.
Still, I got the full medical.

In Pacific Nights, I wanted to write about WWII. It was an era that I’d grown up hearing about, watching movies of it, and hearing and dancing to the music. So of course, I wanted to do my own gay version of South Pacific, where two men are plunked down on a island to watch the enemy.

Here’s a bit of that story… (Sorry no cover yet. It’s between publishers)
“Change of plans. We’re jumping.”
“Jumping? What? Where’s the ship? I thought we were going to land and take a boat to the island?” He sat up and rubbed his eyes under his spectacles.
“Didn’t I just say change of plans?” Mike swore. “The landing strip is under fire. We have to jump from here.”
Hamilton struggled to his feet and caught his balance as the plane pitched and rolled. “How?”
“Parachutes. Jesus, I thought they said you were a fucking genius.” He guffawed and tossed the harness and the canvas chute bag at Hamilton, nearly knocking him down. “Put these on, Einstein.”
Hamilton stared at it. Then he shrugged on the harness and adjusted it around his legs. “How does it work?” The thing hung on him, unbuckled, almost too big for his slim frame.
Mike stared at him. From the scene the man had made in Masker’s office when he’d been told Mike would be on the mission with him, Mike knew he’d be trouble. The professor had taken one look at Mike and refused him, as if he’d had a choice. For Mike’s part, he didn’t like the idea any more than Hamilton. The professor had that air about him, as if everyone else was a lowlife, and being a lowlife himself, it ate at Mike.
He might be a lowlife, but he was the lowlife who was going to keep Hamilton alive on that island.
Mike stepped closer and fastened the chute to the harness. He touched the first pull. “Here’s the major chute rip cord. Once you’re out the door, count to five, then pull it. If it fails”—he looked up and caught Hamilton’s light blue eyes staring back at him—“pull this one.” He put his hand on the reserve cord. “It’s the emergency chute.”
Those eyes took him in with such intensity he had to look away, just like Hamilton had stared at him across Masker’s desk. That assessing look unsettled Mike.
“Got it. Count to five and pull.” Hamilton nodded. “When?”
“Coming into position!” the navigator shouted from the cockpit.
“About now.” Mike told Hamilton.
Fear flashed in the professor’s eyes, then his gaze darted to the still-closed door.
“Don’t worry. I’ve done this loads of times. You’ll be fine.” Why he felt he had to reassure the professor was beyond him, but what did it hurt? Still, if it had been anyone else, he’d have kicked his ass right out the fucking cargo bay door.
“Right.” Hamilton straightened and gave Mike a sharp nod.
Mike turned and waved at the private to stand ready. The kid pushed the first crate into position. Mike threw back the lever and pushed the door open. Wind rushed through the cargo hold, loose papers flew, and the noise made his eardrums ache.
“Ready!” Mike watched the cockpit for the signal.
The navigator leaned back, listening for the mark, and shot his thumb up.
“Crate one away!” Mike shouted.
The kid pushed it out the door, and the crate disappeared into the darkness, the tether ran out, then snapped back, opening the chute. He caught it and hooked it to the next one with swift efficiency.
“Crate two away!”
The second crate fell, and the private hooked up the last one.
“Crate three away!”
The last crate had disappeared into the blackness, and Mike turned to the professor. “You’re next.” He grinned around his cigar. He wanted to see what the guy was made of, and if anything showed a man’s mettle, it would be jumping out of a plane in the dark over a small, uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The professor removed his glasses, folded them, and placed them in a pocket of his jacket, pulled on his helmet, then moved into the opening, his hands gripping the metal frame of the door.
“On my mark, Professor.”
“Call me James.” Mike could barely hear the words over the roar of the wind and the engines.
Braced against the wall of the plane, Mike glanced at the cockpit. The navigator and the pilot were working on something. As they conversed, he waited with one hand on Hamilton’s shoulder. The heat of the man’s body came through the drab green shirt and flak jacket. Ropelike muscles flexed beneath Mike’s hand, and he felt the rapid rise and fall of Hamilton’s chest. Mike wanted to pull away but kept his hand in place.
The plane tilted as it made a slow curve around for the second pass. The night whipped by outside the cabin. There was a half-moon, enough light to see by, but not bright enough to be dangerous. Not like the deadly spotlight of a full moon, thank God.
If they made it to the ground alive, everything should be fine. If there were still no Japs on the island. If they weren’t patrolling the waters. If they hadn’t heard the plane.
Too many goddamn ifs.
The navigator turned back to Mike and put his thumb up.
“Now!” Mike pushed, but the professor didn’t go; his white-knuckled grip on the edge of the door held him back.
“Let go! Jump!” He pushed again, but the guy didn’t budge.
“I can’t!” Hamilton’s pale eyes met Mike’s dark gaze and Mike read the fear and the trust in them.
“We’ll go together.”
The professor nodded. Mike stepped up beside him. “On my mark at three.”
“One. Two. Three.”
Both men stepped out of the plane and into the night.

And I have a new m/f series I’m finishing the first book on, about a band of ex-special forces guys who do rescues. But I also have a space military story The Ambassador’s Daughter with a heroine whose family has a long history of soldiers and who is an former Earth Marine. She can kick ass if she needs to, but fitting in is difficult on her new world.

The_Ambassadors_Daughter-Theodora_Lane-200x320Here’s the scene where her father explains her heritage to her prospective in-laws….
At this, Lady Diane gave a small soft snort. Jonathan slowly brought his gaze to her and spoke softly. “Do you have something to say, Lady Diane?”
She raised her chin and glared at him. “Indeed I do, Ambassador. You may be sure my son is a match for your daughter, but I’m not sure the opposite is true. I had hopes Stephen would find a more…traditional woman to marry.”
“When you say ‘traditional,’ you mean, from here on New Commonwealth?”
“Yes. He may be swayed by your daughter’s exotic ways, but in the long run, I wonder if she will fit in here on New Commonwealth.” She smiled, but her blue eyes were steely.
Brett frowned and looked at Stephen. He stared open-mouthed at his mother.
The duke still sat back, his chin now resting on his fist, taking in the scene.
“If I know my daughter, fitting in will be the least of your worries. Brett doesn’t ‘fit in’, she leads, madam.” Jonathan leaned back in his seat.
“She may lead on Old Earth, but here, the women follow what society dictates. Miss Butler may find herself fighting a battle she can never win.” Jonathan locked his eyes on Lady Diane and exhaled. Her eyes were so blue. He hadn’t noticed before. He blinked and then leaned forward to make a point.
“Lady Brandon, let us concede that will be something Brett will have to deal with herself. Hopefully, with your guidance, she will find it an easier time than you suppose?”
“There was also the hope that Stephen would find someone with impeccable bloodlines.” Diane again stared at Jonathan; her gaze never went to Brett.
“Madam, if you are implying Brett’s bloodline is less than any woman on New Commonwealth, you are very much mistaken.” Jonathan’s voice dropped as he sat up straight and placed both hands on the table.
“Am I, Ambassador? Just because you were rewarded for your military deeds I can’t assume that your bloodlines are of the right quality.” She placed her chin on her hand, elbow on the table, and waited for his rebuttal, as if enjoying sparring with him. Her lips curved up in a slight smile.
Jonathan took a deep breath, held it, and then slowly let it out. God, the woman is infuriating. She needs to be either spanked or…kissed. Maybe both.
He spoke slowly, and his voice was very soft. “Madam, Brett can trace her lineage back to Colonial America, to the 1700s. She is a registered member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a Daughter of the Confederacy. Her forbearers fought in the Spanish American War, in World War I, lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor, and died on the beach at Normandy in World War II. They fought in Korea, Vietnam, and in the Gulf Wars. She has great-grandfathers on both sides that fought in the First Interstellar War. Her bloodlines are without question, madam.” He finished with a sharp nod to Lady Brandon.
Softly, Brett added, “And her father led the Old Earth space fleet to victory and was injured in the line of duty ten years ago against the Ottoman jihad.” She smiled at Jonathan lovingly. He reached out and touched her hand where it lay on the table next to his.
“And Brett served for six years with honor, earning the rank of major.” He finished with a squeeze of her hand. “Look where you will, Lady Brandon, you will find no one better.” His gaze fell back on Lady Diane. Hopefully, she’d listened to the litany of Brett’s bloodline and realized that as much as Lady Diane was of royal blood here on New Commonwealth, bought and paid for by her forefathers’ money several hundred years ago, Brett was a type of royal blood on Old Earth bought and paid for by her ancestors’ lives.
“Ambassador Butler, in the old days, a young woman came with a dowry. It was expected that she would bring certain assets to the marriage. Nowadays, we don’t practice that anymore, I’m afraid. However, I wonder just what Brett will bring to this marriage?” Lady Diane sat back and waited for his reaction.
“Dowry, eh?” Jonathan rubbed his chin. “Well, there’s the ranch in the hill country, that’s twenty-five thousand acres, her mother’s homestead, and four thousand head of prime Black Angus cattle; all her mother’s jewels, which she is already in possession of, although she rarely wears them. The income from the ranch, of course, is yours also, Brett. Last time the accountants ran the estimates of fair market value, it was,” he paused, closed his eyes, and tallied it up in his head, “just over fifteen and a half million North American dollars. Is that dowry enough?” He tilted his head at Lady Diane and frowned.

So yeah, love the military. They are my heroes. Back in the day, very few women served, but I sure respected those wives like my aunt and my grandmother who stayed home, worked, raised kids, made meager pay stretch, and waited for their men to come home, one way or the other. God, that’s some kick-assery, for sure.

Memorial Day is just a day off work to some, but for my and my family, it’s a way to honor and show respect to those living and dead, who have served and do serve our country.

Who are your heroes?

Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say by Lynn Lorenz

I’m too tired for this. Most days I give no fucks.
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Ten years ago, no one knew anything about authors. Maybe if you were big enough, you went on a morning news show. But readers contact you? Nope. Much less every day, or once a week, or have an email you could write to, or a FB author page you could ask questions on. It was sort of nice, I think, having that privacy, that anonymity.

Nowadays, we expect authors to be at our beck and call – doing the promo wild thang – making sure readers knew us, our cats/dogs/kids, and could chat about our upcoming books and the hot guys from the last book, and not just on promo loops or FB party days, but All The Time.
writer distracted by internet

And that’s fine – for those of us who want to do that. I’m out there, and frankly before FB, I had much more interaction that mattered through email. I’m not talking about likes, or reactions on posts that most of my friends don’t ever see. I mean the fan/reader emails about my books. I had tons of reviews, most of which have been deleted from Amazon recently. I have hundreds of those love letters saved, but around 2-3 yrs ago, they sort of dried up. As FB rose in prominence as the way to contact authors, emails (for me) waned. I still get a few, but not like I did from 2008-20012 or so. And I loved getting them. So much I saved them.
got mail

Mostly because there were only a few writers who wrote gay romance. People got to know us by email. And we knew each other, because the writing community was so small. Not so much now. You might think it’s small, but trust me, there are dozens and dozens of authors whose names I don’t know, have never heard of them or they heard of me. It’s like it reached critical mass and exploded. And that’s okay. Don’t we say, there’s room for all of us?

Look, just because an author doesn’t want to maintain a place where readers have instant access to them, and believe me, FB and promo eat up a huge amount of our time, is no reason to think something nefarious is going on. It might be. But then again, it probably isn’t. A lot of writers are not social creatures. A lot of interaction really bothers them – they shut down, turn off, and for some it fucks with their creativity and writing.
vamp

My way of dealing with the push and pull of “promo/put myself out there,” is that I’m thinking of hiring a PA just to deal with some promo/contests/etc, because I’m swamped with it and have little time to actually write. (anyone have a suggestion for someone who wants to intern for no/little money, let me know.)

I’m here for the writing. The stories. The characters and their heartbreaks. Their HEA. And I do love to talk to readers. I could talk for days about books and romance and how and why I write.

But if someone, or several someones, decide to write the books with a team of people to help them, so what? It’s one way. Personally, I could never give up control of my books. Ever. That’s why I don’t write with a partner. It’s mine! Gimme! Don’t touch the precious!
myprecious

When I was writing like a dynamo, I was doing a novella a month, a novel in three months, but it was with publishers, and subject to their control of edits, formatting and publication. I wrote 40 books from 2008-2015, but I had at least 8 more books sitting in files that I haven’t even touched. I’ve self pubbed a few books, and let me tell you, if you’ve got that book written and edited, it takes little to format and upload. But it does take time. Cover art can be done in a few days. And that takes money. So, time and money.

That being said, if a group of people decide to work together to put out a book out under one name, I don’t care. But readers might, especially if they find the writing is inconsistent or there is shoddy editing. They might complain, but they have the right not to buy any more of those books. No one is forcing them to buy. There is Amazon Sample, after all. Just sample it, if it’s not up to par, don’t buy it. Personally, I never buy books without sampling and it’s saved me a ton of money. (This excludes my very small list of authors I’d buy sample unseen.)

You might not know it, but a lot of big name writers in mainstream fiction write a first draft and then turn it over to their publisher, who has it edited, and fleshed out. It’s a thing. So, to me, it sounds like a writer created her own personal publishing company, each person takes a different role, she writes, someone edits, someone may flesh it out, a formatter, a cover artist, etc. Voila, book!

And if several writers did this, then there would be enough books to churn out every week for quite a while. So they could take advantage of the Amz analytics to create best sellers. So these people are smart, they’re using the system, which everyone knows about, to win. They’re using the price point and KU, and Amazon first to “capture the market” so to speak.

How they split the money is another thing, and totally up to them.FB_IMG_1446351213291

And I understand with all the recent to-do with author identity, plagiarism, etc. going on in our community, some are quick to wonder and speculate. I get it. We’re all gun-shy, sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
But is this deceiving anyone? Not really. Did you really need to know there were several persons writing the books or one person with several helping? Not really. This has been going on in the publishing industry for ages.

Is this because they’re hitting the bestselling lists? Probably. Are they gaming the system? Not really. Are they going to stay on top forever? Probably not. Does it mean they’re plagiarizing? Probably not. Does it mean they’re converting m/f to m/m? Probably not.

So maybe we should stop waving our arms, clutching our pearls, and just let it go.
let it go No author owes readers interaction. We never did before, and we still don’t. Interaction is the writer’s prerogative.

Frankly, I’d rather have people email me or post on FB about their experience reading one of my books, good or bad. That they posted a review cuz they loved it so much. That’s what means the most to me. I’ve been a bestseller. I’ve had books bomb. I’ve had months of fantastic sales, and months where I couldn’t buy a Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and I love those suckers. It’s knowing someone liked me, they liked me! that means the most.

I’m here for the long haul. Have been since 2008. I’ll ride the ups and downs, the “who are you” and “What do you write?” and the “I’ve never read one of your books” and the “OMG! It’s Lynn Lorenz!” moments. The collapse of a few publishers and the mad dash to get those books back out there. The loss of half my backlist and my income, until it is re-issued or I get around to self-pubbing them.

I might be a “has been,” or not the flavor of the day, or not the name on everyone’s lips or have people begging to review my books, but I’ll hold my body of work up against anyone’s. I consider myself one of the old timers, and I’ll keep writing. It won’t be as fast or prolific as it once was, but it’ll be out there.

In the meantime, please, remember authors are people too, and have lives, and can’t always interact and write at the same time, like walking and chewing gum. And if they get creative in publishing, or write dino-sex books, or whatever, to get their names out there and make some money, that’s okay too.

I wish people would get over this idea that making money by writing is a bad thing. It’s a good thing, it’s a tangible reward for doing something right. It’s how we get paid, folks. Making money is necessary. If we didn’t make money, we’d probably have to stop writing and get a second job. That was my position all those years ago. I wanted to tell stories, but I needed more income, without going to a horrible part time job. I was fortunate that people loved my books.

Its bad enough our books are stolen by people who claim to love our books, either by piracy or read and return. Let’s hope Amazon will stop that practice, or at least clamp down on offenders.

The attitude, of “they’re in it for the money” is like, to me, yeah, what’s your point? Yes. I write to earn money. What about it? I also write for other reasons, all good. Reason like here’s a cool story and love is love and everyone deserves a happily ever after. Can’t I write for all those things?

Damn, this went on freaking forever.

One more thing. Let’s be kind to each other.

Is Amazon Really the Bad Guy? By Lynn Lorenz

NoGoodDeed_LL_432I’m guilty of it – blaming Amazon for creating a world where most writers can’t make enough money to pay for extras, let alone their bills.

Admit it — you started writing because this story kept working its way into your brain. You couldn’t stop thinking about it, playing it over and over in your head, until you finally had to write it down or explode. That’s how it was for me.
Until I sold my first book, and realized I was now in the “business.” And I sold the next book. and the next.
And the money rolled in – and I bought stuff for my family – new washer and dryer, vacations, etc. I had a day job that paid the bills, but this gave me wiggle room.
But things change…

Back when I started writing, in 2006, Amazon wasn’t really a major player. There was Fictionwise, ARe, and the publisher sites. Most publishers would release a title for 2 weeks to a month exclusively on the site – then send it out to the third party vendors.
I loved it! I could make the bulk of my money at the site, getting the full royalty percent of my 35% – the publisher got their 65% – and everyone was happy and costs were met. Yay! My main publisher would pay monthly, so I knew there’d be a big payout the first month I published, then another hit when the title went to the vendors a month later. I’d see that reduced % of money show up a few months later. More money!

No one bitched about paying $4.99 to $7.99 for an ebook from a well known and respected publisher. I sold tons of books at these prices. I bought a freaking car on those prices. Nothing special, but it was new. Every year I’d been doubling my sales income.

Then something happened. Amazon became important. So important. Necessary. So very necessary. And publishers let them be important and necessary. Now, they released their titles on Amazon the same day, because wow! We needed the reviews and the rankings. So we can sell more books, because, look, it’s so easy to buy and download to our Kindles. So everyone took a hit for what was supposed to be “more sales.” Amazon takes quite a bit on the books to “let” you publish, leaving less money for everyone. Except Amazon. My 35% became less. The publisher’s 65% dropped. We started to see a few epublishers quietly disappear.

It became this game of rank and reviews and people paying for reviews and reviewing books that weren’t even out yet, and angsting over bad reviews that could kill your Amazon ranking! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And hitting the top of the lists meant your book didn’t die a horrible death.
Because readers stopped buying at the publisher sites. They might have gone there to see what books came out that week, but gee, you can do a search on Amazon for your publisher and wham! Click and buy.

How did we forget that Amazon was a business? In the business of making money not in the business of being good to authors. Fair maybe, but not kind or generous. Hey, if it quacks like a duck…so why were we so shocked when we woke up and Amazon ruled the publishing world, changing business models on the fly and on the whim?

Then the storm gates opened. The world of self-publishing arrived and anyone who could figure out the formatting started writing and publishing, and the flood of new authors and books drowned everyone. Suddenly, in the LGBT genre lists, the ranks swelled to tens of thousands. The number of pages you had to wade through to see books you might want to look at grew to beyond what any normal person would even conceive of searching through. If your book was on page 6 of the list, goodbye sales! No one ever got there.
And as for searching, Amazon’s search engine sucked, so the value of their best lists increased, and ranking, and vote for me, and, and, and….panic ensued.

So people started lowering prices. Not just by a buck or so, but by all the bucks. Free! $.99! and the best ranks swelled with those cheap books and the readers loved it! And Dinosaur sex! And novellas for a buck. And then box sets! All ten books for $.99! And readers loved it!
Authors were scrambling. Like me. I wrote shorts stories so I could have something in the $.99 range. Did a free book with 10 authors, short stories. Readers downloaded over 10K copies. For free. It would boost my sales! Nope. I didn’t see it. Frankly, I have no idea if anyone read my story, because I’m pretty sure the fan bases of the other writers read their fav writer and then put it away. That’s what I’d have done. Skimmed the blurbs and put it away. We did another free set, same thing. No boost in sales, but thousands of downloads.

Then KU!!! Readers could by a subscription for 10 bucks, and read all these great books! Yay! Only authors had to split a pot of lucre and not put their books up anywhere else than Amazon. Ouch! Some did great, or said they did, but Amazon did best of all! Sort of. So they changed the rules and started paying on the number of pages read. For me, most of my sales are actually on AllRomanceebooks. I sell a lot of pdf and mobi there. Why would I give up the lion’s share of sales to sell only at Amazon, where I’m not really selling that much. But hey, I’ll give it a try.

I tried one book on KU, a $2.99 novella, right when they went from reads to pages read. I won’t be buying that vacation on that money. I hear readers who have KU complain they can’t find any gay romance there. I’m waving over here! See my book! It’s there! But with the tens of thousands of books on KU, how the hell can anyone find my book? It’s free! Sort of.
I’m pulling it at the end of the 3 months, by the way.

And Facebook – the place we thought we could reach out to reader and friends and promote our books? Well, seems like FB holds back on the % of “friends” who can see you posts. Like only 3% on average. I have 2K friends, but only about 60 of them see my posts. So FB has “author pages” where you can pay to boost those posts so more of your readers can see them and know about your books! Yay? And then, you might get cornered by FB and have to prove you’re an author or have your page, that isn’t really helping you sell a damn thing, taken down. Not sure that’s such a bad thing.
But you can host a group of readers who love your books, if only all your friends could see the invite or without having to tag people to let them know, and then FB comes along and stops it, cuz, dayum, you’re doing too much sharing!

Bloggers became burned out and quit. Some are so overrun with books to review they shut the doors to work on what they have already. Everyone is scrambling for promo ops that WORK. I have no idea what that means. Honestly. I’ve done the blog tour. Results? Not really.

So, circling my wagons back to the title of this – Is Amazon the bad guy in all this?

My answer is we ALL own a part of this nightmare –
Amazon sure didn’t help authors. But they made it easy for authors to take control of their publishing lives, good or bad. But they produced a flood of badly written, poorly if at all edited, books, which gave self-pub a bad rep. But they paved the way for authors, who couldn’t find a publisher due to content, or didn’t want to play the publishing industry games, a place to be discovered.
And why would they let someone read a book and then return it?
But neither did the publishers, when they gave in to pressure and gave away a chunk of their money, and author’s money, to get the front of the line, only to be swallowed up in the massive slush pile of Amazon. And paying quarterly, holding up money due authors and publishers, who now have to run the bulk of their business 90 days in arrears. Which means they pay their staff 90 days after the money comes in or they have to float their payroll. And that’s never a good thing, unless you’ve got a lot of money sitting around.
And neither did readers, who flocked to the cheaper books, leaving the publisher house books with their more expensive prices to flounder in the flood. How can anyone resist a sale? Most readers don’t have a lot of money. I get that, it’s why I’ve always written books of all lengths for my publishers, so the prices of my books spanned from $2.99 to $7.99 Still, some readers are loyal and will look for their favorite author’s books, if they know about them.
But FB? How do they know about them? Gah!
I saved authors for last. We didn’t help ourselves either. We shot each other in the foot. Self pub authors crashed prices, undercutting each other until there was no room left and we were giving our hard work away for free or $.99. We should have gotten together and refused to sell below a certain price, but that’s price fixing and illegal. Dayum.
Quality dropped, and readers started to return books.
Some for reviews from non-real readers, tipping the scales. Some of us used those “street teams” to post a flood of reviews or just “pick my book to read” on Goodreads, which now circles back to Amazon. My mind boggles. Panic isn’t pretty.

Deep breath. Inhale and exhale that breath I didn’t know I was holding.

What’s the best advice I can give you about writing?

It would have to be the same thing I said eight years ago.

Write another book. Write for the love of it and for getting it out of your head. But please, for God sake, learn the craft of writing. Never stop learning. Learn how to edit. But most of all, write the damn book.

Why I don’t review books by Lynn Lorenz

NoGoodDeed_LL_432 I know reviews are important. I think they are awesome, good or bad. I love getting reviews. Someone has read your book and bothered to remark on their experience. I read books, and many times, if the books are by mainstream authors who I have never met or contacted, I will click a star rating at the back of the book on my Kindle.

I don’t give reviews – just a rating. Why not more? Why not expand on what I like about it? Or not liked? Yikes!
Welcome to the snake pit…right this way…your seat is ready.

I know a boat-load of authors, I’ve been doing this for 8 years. Some I’ve met in person, some online, some I like as people, others not so much, some I love but don’t care for their writing. (Please don’t try to guess who this might be, I’m talking in generalities). The point is I know people. And some people know me. Giving my opinion on friends’ (let’s call them friends for now) books smacks of bias. I enjoy books for my own reasons, and what I like, I admit, might not be what others like, and vice versa. I frequently find some of the books being raved about…uninteresting. I have types of books I love and don’t love, just like everyone else. I love a good western. I love mysteries. I love cozy mysteries and noir.

I’m too old to read a book that doesn’t appeal to me right away. I don’t have enough time or energy.
I also don’t want anyone to say “They’re friends. Of course she gave it a 5 star.” I try to stay professional as much as possible as a writer. Being impartial is hard. Especially with friends. No way would I tell a friend “Hey, read your book. Hated it!” Nor would I ever write a review about a book I hated or DNF. Now, if a friend asks me to read their book and give an honest opinion about it to them and them alone, I’m happy to do so, as long as they can hear what I say and still stay friends. Like a critique group. Otherwise, I keep my opinions to my self.

My dad used to say, “Keep your hands in your pockets and your big mouth shut.” Wise, wise words.

So, I think it’s just best if I keep my ratings to myself. Especially books in my own genre. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. “She’s just jealous.” “She’s friends.” etc.

That doesn’t mean to say I won’t say something nice about a book I’ve read, especially if I thought it was good. I might post it on FB. I might recommend it when people ask for books to read. I might say, “So-and-so knocked it out of the park with this one!” or “I love her heroes.” But I’m not posting them where they “count” like Amazon, ARe, or Goodreads. If I really like a book, I’ll tell the author, either in an email or on FB, which is where I interact with most people.

And frankly, when I do this it’s as the “real” me, not the author me. And I think that’s even better, cuz it’s word of mouth. No spoilers. No explanations. Nothing but “Hey, I liked this book.” And I have a few authors who I’ve shared posts for, just cuz I like them or their books.
And now that FB has this link between authors and friends and is removing reviews, I have even more reason not to review. What’s the point if it just gets removed because FB thinks we’re besties?

And finally, my life is really busy. I barely have time for writing and everything else. Writing reviews would be the last straw and I’d have to stay up all night to get everything done. I need my beauty sleep. People can tell you, I’m no good without my sleep. It isn’t pretty. And I want to keep the few friends I have, so it’s best if I just read and skip the review.

I hope everyone understands. I’m a writer, not a reviewer. There are others who do a fabulous job of it already out there. God bless them.
Just not me.

What about you? Are you a writer who reviews books? In your genre? Where do you post them? Under your pen name or real name?

WIP Weekend

We thought we’d bring you up to date on what we Ladies of Love, Lust and Laptops have been up to lately.

Emily Mancini writing as Marci Boudreaux is re-releasing Unforgettable You

cover_300When life throws a widowed innkeeper and a world-famous movie star together they share an unexpected romance. But is their love strong enough to survive their real lives?

Desperate to keep her ailing mother-in-law, Doreen, in the woman’s home, Carrie Gable agrees to board a handful of Hollywood’s most elite actors at the manor. Despite her resentment of the demands being placed upon her, she can’t help but be taken in by actor Will Walker.

Will, in a last-ditch effort to save his career, has agreed to a project he has no interest in. The more time he spends with his egotistical co-stars, the more drawn he is to Carrie. Long nights spent talking about the paths their lives have taken make him realize he’d rather have a simpler life, but his ties to L.A. aren’t as willing to let him go.

With the temptation of stardom pulling Will in one direction and the need to care for Doreen tugging Carrie in another, the couple struggle to hold onto the happiness they were missing until finding each other.

This will be re-released March 4, 2016.    Click here to BUY

 

Sara Daniel – Sneak peek at The Bad Boy’s Gift by Sara Daniel   Coming March 29, 2016

His gift is the only thing left from the love they shared…and she plans to sell it.

 

The bad boy of Regret Hollow had received an engraved invitation to return to town. Zane DeMonde smirked and flicked the card in the trash.

“Did you actually read the invitation?” Ken Hawkins demanded, striding toward the discarded paper.

“I don’t need to,” he assured his business manager. “Those people don’t warrant a reply. After sending me out with a boot to the ass, no matter how much they kiss my ass now, they won’t convince me to give them the time of day.”

“That’s an interesting ass fixation you have.” Ken grinned. “I’ll have to hint at it when you release your new painting and see if the critics can divine where it comes into play.”

Zane snorted, relieved for the distraction from the place he could never exorcise from his mind. “Speaking of which, have you planned a debut for the new pieces yet?”

“I’m waiting for the buzz about this auction of your early work to reach its peak. Then I’m going to book a top venue and capitalize on the momentum.”

“What auction? What early work?”

“If you bothered to read your mail, maybe you’d know.” Ken retrieved the invitation from the trash and slapped it on the desktop. “Four original pieces from a private collection that have never been on public display are going on sale. The woman in charge won’t give any details about them until the day of the sale.”

“Sounds like fraud to me. No one in town would want anything of mine, even if they could afford it.”

“If you really think it could be fraud, we better be damn sure before we start pointing fingers. The woman running the event is Julianne Truman. Ring any bells?”

Zane froze. Her name rang all his bells.

Theodora Lane’s WIP – Maximus Garage: Logan’s Promise  (no cover yet)
Blurb – For five ex-special forces men, Maximus Garage is more than a place to work. It’s a refuge, a safe house, and a place where they can use the special talents they honed in the military.

Logan Spiers held his best friend Billy Walters as Billy died in Iraq. Logan promised him to take care of his kid sister, Shae. It’s years later and Shae’s in trouble. Her father has gone missing in Brazil. Logan swore to help Billy’s little sister, but

Shae’s all grown up and all woman. She’s a Texas tornado and nothing, not even Logan, will stop her from finding and rescuing
her father.

KaLyn Cooper – Just released 2 books. Click on the cover of Claimed by a SEAL to read the first chapter.

Claimed cover w KW logoThree years ago, Stacie Vandercoy was stuck undercover in Iraq for six months with Jeff “Rock Star” Lennon, the arrogant SEAL who thought he was God’s gift to women. But he couldn’t have her. Fraternization is against the rules. And still is as they infiltrate home-grown terrorism in Norfolk, Virginia. Can she continue to resist him? Does she have to?

Jeff Lennon had been forced to do things he didn’t like as a Navy SEAL, and now as an agent for the terrorist division of Homeland Security’s Border Patrol. For years, his only real regret has been what he couldn’t to do to Stacie back in Iraq. He’s been given another chance to claim her heart, body and soul. In the meantime, they have to stop a terrorist attack somewhere in the Norfolk area, during Fleet Week.

Even the agency’s psychologist isn’t sure Stacie can pull off pretending to be Jeff’s wife. What lengths will Stacie and Jeff go to assure the mission’s success? And what will they both lose in the process?

 

Tami Lund – I’m currently working on the fifth book in the Lightbearer series.
BTW, the prequel, First Light, is FREE for a limited time, if you haven’t yet started the series! Click HERE for your FREE copy.
So far in this series, we’ve focused on shapeshifters and those curious magical creatures called Lightbearers, with their renewable magic the shifters want so badly. In the next book, however, I’m introducing a new being – Cupids. Nope, they aren’t chubby little diaper-clad babies with wings and bows and arrows. According to the Cupid in my story, they don’t even start Cupid school until they are fifteen, and most have lousy aim. So forget your stereotypes, and take a look at this introduction to Cupids:

“I like my women with straight hair and kinky personalities.”

Adora blinked, but managed to keep her expression bland, her stature stiff.  The man lying on the couch across from her turned his head and admired her legs.

“Long legs, too.  I like long legs.”

Adora uncrossed her legs and tugged at the hem of her pale blue skirt.  This entire setup felt like some sort of counseling session. She wasn’t a counselor, she was a Cupid. 

“Yes, well, I will take those requirements into—”

“Type of being isn’t so important.  I mean, look at me.  I’m a classic mutt.  I don’t have any right being choosy.  But if I could, I’d definitely choose a faery.  Now those are some seriously smokin’ females.”

Adora stared at the horns on his head, the warts on his face, the faint outline of undeveloped gills on his neck. He had never developed the ability to breathe underwater because, according to his dossier, he had an unnatural fear of large bodies of water. Judging by the smell radiating off him, Adora doubted he came into much contact with water at all, not even to bathe.

There isn’t a faery in any world who would have you.  Adora stood and smoothed the front of her dress, rolling the scroll she’d been pretending to write on, and with a flick of her wrist, caused the thing to disappear.

“Thank you for your time and your… insight,” she said tightly.  “I am sure someone will be in touch.”

The other being clamored to his feet and lunged across the small space, capturing one of her hands between both of his own.  “What about you?” he asked eagerly.  “Maybe you are the one.”  His gaze roved over her magenta, pixie cut hair, her large, almond shaped eyes, the small bit of cleavage he could see over the neckline of her dress. Adora used her free hand to rake a lock of hair out of her eyes and tried not to wrinkle her nose against the scent of putrid eggs.

“Hair’s a bit short, and now that you’re standing, I can see your legs are, too.  Still, I could make concessions.”

Adora wrenched her hand from his grasp and took a step away.  “I am not in the market for a mate.”

“Why not?” The man sounded genuinely perplexed.

“I am a Cupid.  My task is to find true love for others, not for myself.”

“Well that’s just stupid,” he spat.  “You’re the ones who profess true love to the rest of us.  Hell, I’ve always thought I just wanted to get laid once in a while.  Your kind are the ones who convinced me I should probably look for a mate, instead of just a good time.”  He shook his head, well and truly disgusted. “Now, I suggest you might be the one, and you blow me off.”

“It isn’t that I’m blowing you off, it’s that I cannot find true love or a mate.  That isn’t how it works.  Cupids do not fall in love.  We only help others seek it for themselves.  Now if you’ll excuse me…” Without waiting for a response, Adora pulled on her magic.  Nearly translucent wings sprouted from her back and began beating madly, faster and faster, until her feet lifted from the ground. 

 

Do any of  the above books make it to your To Be Read list? Leave us a Comment. 🙂