Medieval Romance in Wide Distribution

The Beauty Bride, #1 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixThis weekend, I republished my medieval romances at all portals, and rebuilt the links here on Delacroix website. The series data is still populating at some portals, but the books are there.

I did my usual metadata check – this is a good opportunity to confirm BISAC categories, keywords, and add any missing ones, plus update the formatting on the book description if necessary. I also double-checked the pricing in all territories to make it more consistent across all portals. It’s kind of interesting because the price of each book converts to other currencies when you first publish it. Over time, there ends up being a lot of variation, since currencies change value against each other. Each portal lets you over-ride the conversion and manually set prices in a certain number of territories (13 at Amazon, 16 at Kobo, 51 at Apple, many at GooglePlay) so I updated that this time. Each portal has different parameters and rules about pricing, though, so it ends up being a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. You should find that my full-length romances are $4.99US, $6.49CA, $6.49AU, £3.49 and EU4.49 at all portals.

The Crusader's Bride, book one of the Champions of St. Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

I also made some pricing changes at Ingrams, which should make it easier for your local bookstore to stock or order trade paperback copies of my books.

These are the series that are wide again:
The Rogues of Ravensmuir

The Jewels of Kinfairlie

The True Love Brides

The Brides of Inverfyre

The Bride Quest

The Champions of St. Euphemia

Unicorn Bride and Pearl Beyond Price

Rogues & Angels

I also have a sale this week, and will tell you about that free series starter Thursday.

Tomorrow, I have another bit of news about KU to share.

Medieval Romance & Kindle Unlimited

As I’ve done several times in the past, I tried an experiment this spring and enrolled my medieval romances in KDP Select, which meant that Kindle Unlimited subscribers could read them free—and I’d get paid for page reads as well as sales. While there are authors who do very well in KU, I see a similar pattern each time: it works really well until suddenly it doesn’t. I just don’t have the knack of making KU work over the long term.

My books were enrolled at the beginning of April. Their term in Kindle Unlimited ends July 1. They’re not going to be renewed for another 90-day term in the program: next weekend, I’ll make them available at all portals again. I’ll let you know when that’s done.

Exclusive three book bonus for subscribers to Claire Delacroix's Knights & Rogues medieval romance newsletterI’ll also restore the newsletter sign-up bundle of three free series starters – including The Princess, The Beauty Bride and The Crusader’s Bride. I had to remove this because books enrolled in KDP Select have to be available exclusively at Amazon. On July 2, that won’t be the case anymore. I’ll include the download link in the July newsletter, in case you signed up when the bundle wasn’t available.

Three of my time travels have already come out of KU—The Moonstone, The Last Highlander and Once Upon a Kiss, as well as the bundle Timeless Loves—and I’m republishing them at all portals now.

The Flatiron Five Boxed Set Update

Flatiron Five: The First Collection, a digital bundle of the first three contemporary romances and romantic comedies in the Flatiron Five series by Deborah CookeA reader contacted me last week to ask about an update to the Flatiron Five Boxed Set. This was a really good question and I had to think about it a bit.

The boxed set as originally published included Simply Irresistible, Addicted to Love and In the Midnight Hour. The issue is that there’s a new series starter, and that Just One Fake Date, while it’s Tyler’s story, is a different story than Simply Irresistible. Currently, the boxed set is unavailable – if you have it on your e-reader, the cover is at right. There’s no page for it on the website anymore, because it’s no longer for sale.

What I’ve decided to do is update the boxed set with Just One Fake Date and the two updated stories, Just One More Time and Just One Night Together. If you own the boxed set pictured at right, you’ll be able to download the new edition (which will have a new cover) as an update. I’ll do this around or slightly before the publication of Just One Silver Fox, which is just about the time that Just One Fake Date will become a free series starter.

Just One Silver Fox, book six of Flatiron Five Fitness series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThe thing is that if you download this update, the existing file will be over-written. That means you won’t have Simply Irresistible anymore. There’s no way around this, so you’ll have to choose whether to take the update, or buy the new editions separately.

Then I’ll create a second boxed set, including Just One Hometown Hero, Two Weddings & a Baby, Just One Second Chance and Just One Silver Fox next summer, and publish it around the time that Aidan’s book is released. Aidan’s book will be the first in a new contemporary romance series set in Harte’s Harbor. I may also do a boxed set of the four books in the Flatiron Five Tattoo series next summer.

I’ll get the covers done closer to the end of the year and will put up a pre-order for the second boxed set once the first one is updated and available.

That’s the plan!

Thirty Books

One of the games I play with myself is inspired by Agatha Christie’s foresight in writing Curtain decades before it was actually pubished (to make sure that Hercule Poirot’s series had a beginning and an end. I talked about that in this blog post.) I’ve been writing and publishing for 28 years. That’s not going to continue indefinitely. (Sadly, I am not immortal.) So, if I write 4 books a year and I actively write for another ten years, that’s forty more books from my fingertips. Let’s round down and say thirty since this publishing stuff seems to get more demanding all the time.

Which thirty books do I most want to write?

Which thirty books would be smartest for me to write? There are plenty of variables to juggle here, including creative fulfillment, growing revenue, completing series, and making my readers happy.

Dragon's Heart, book three of the DragonFate Novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeI could just carry on as I have been in recent years, creating a series, writing the books in it, then creating a new series. I could continue to alternate between sub-genres – which is good for creativity and replenishing the well, but less good for building momentum in digital sales.

Or I could make a plan. I like plans so this is a tempting option.

What open tickets do I have?

First, there are pre-orders:
Dragon’s Heart (July) and Dragon’s Mate (October) , books 3 and 4 of the DragonFate Novels.
Just One Silver Fox (January), book 7 of Flatiron Five Fitness
The Wolf and the Witch (April), book one of a new trilogy of Scottish medieval romances, Blood Brothers. (This is one of those publishing decisions: Scottish-set medieval romances are more popular and I have an idea for a trilogy. I’m curious to see how it performs compared to my other medieval romances.)

Just One Silver Fox, book six of Flatiron Five Fitness series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeSo, that’s four books.

Then there’s what has to be written to complete various book series but hasn’t been scheduled yet:
• two more DragonFate Novels, one for Theo and Mel, plus one for Sebastian and Sylvia
• the other two books in that new Scottish medieval trilogy, Blood Brothers
• two more Brides of Inverfyre books, The Stolen Bride and Nigel’s book
• two more Brides of North Barrows books, Anthea’s story and Eurydice’s story
• six more medieval romances in the Rogues & Angels series, starting with One Knight’s Desire
• three medieval romance novellas in the Kinfairlie Tales series
Wyvern's Wizard, book 11 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke• three more Dragons of Incendium stories, starting with Wyvern’s Wizard

That adds twenty more works, although not all are 100K in length. Am I going to write all of these books? I’m not sure. I should think like a publisher and concentrate on the stories that are going to build my sales.

At a minimum, I see the DragonFate Novels (4 in total), Blood Brothers (3 in total) and Just One Silver Fox (1) for a total of eight books.

I also want to write a spin-off series in the F5F world, set in Harte’s Harbor and beginning with Aidan’s book. This makes sense both creatively and financially, as my contemporary romances sell well and I enjoy writing them. So, I’ll plan for that series to be seven books long, a book every seven months, starting next summer. I’m up to 15 books and my plan carries me into 2025.

What about the other fifteen books out of that thirty? There are lots of candidates. I’ll have to compare results at the end of 2021 and see whether Blood Brothers or DragonFate performed better, then choose between those sub-genres for my 2022 not-contemporary-romance schedule. I’m not looking forward to that decision, but in the meantime, there are plenty of books to be written and published, and I have a plan.

From the Keeper Shelf – 7

When I was a teenager in suburban Toronto, we used to take the bus and subway to go downtown. When I went with my friends, we went to the Eaton Centre, tried on clothes, window-shopped, and often went up to Sam the Record Man to buy an LP. When I went alone, I went to Bakka Books, an SFF new/used bookstore on Queen Street W. I spent hours there and routinely traded in my paperbacks to get new ones. I bought Marian Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon there when it was a new release (yup, it was the cover that made the sale) as well as many MANY other books. They were great at finding older titles that were no longer available new – at one point, I had a complete Michael Moorcock collection. I used to have a keeper bookcase of SFF classics in well-loved paperbacks, but when I moved one time, I just couldn’t bear another box of books and off they went. I’ve regretted that decision ever since.

Bakka Books still exists. It’s been sold a couple of times and moved a couple of times. Now it’s called Bakka-Phoenix Books and is near the U of T downtown campus, on Harbord Street. It’s owned by my friend Kate’s son, Ben, which I think is pretty cool.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinToday I’ll talk about one book that’s still here from that collection, because I couldn’t bear to let it go. Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is an amazing book. The premise is that an envoy (Genly Ai) goes to a planet (Winter), in order to convince them to join an intergalactic union. He’s a diplomat and an alien to this culture, and the book takes the form of his reports. The book is beautifully written. The world-building is intricate and vivid, perhaps particularly because Genly Ai is confused by the culture he visits and documents it with precision.

“Our entire pattern of socio-sexual interaction is non-existent here. The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept….Yet you cannot think of a Gethenian as “it”. They are not neuters. They are potentials; during each sexual cycle they may develop in either direction for the duration of that cycle. No physiological habit is established, and the mother of several children may be the father of several more.

There is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves; protected/protective. One is respected and judged only as a human being. You cannot cast a Gethenian in the role of Man or Woman, while adopting towards “him” a corresponding role dependent upon your expectations of the interactions between persons of the same or opposite sex. It is an appalling experience for a Terran…”

This book was first published in 1967, but it raises enduring questions about gender assignments, roles and expectations. Genly Ai’s are shattered by his time on Winter and I enjoy watching his perspective change.

The other thing I love about this book is that Genly Ai believes it is his responsibility to give advice to the Gethenians. This doesn’t seem to go well, but he can’t understand why—until it’s explained to him that the Gethenians think it’s rude to give advice to others, that to do so is to imply that the recipient isn’t sufficiently bright or competent to figure things out on his/her own.

You can find the book on Goodreads, right here.

The 50th anniversary edition of The Left Hand of Darkness is on Amazon.com right here.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s website is here.

 

 

From the Keeper Shelf – 6

There are so many things that fascinate me about Agatha Christie and her books. First, there are the books themselves. I started to read her books as a teenager because I loved mysteries, and I was quickly hooked. There was a time when I had a list of which of her books I’d read – before the Internet, we had to scour “Also by the Author” lists in the front matter of print books to look for titles we might have missed. I admire how prolific she was, how consistent she was with each book (in terms of delivering to reader expectation over and over again, yet also mixing it up a bit) and how she obviously thought about the marketing of her books. I have a hard time thinking about my own books as products – even though I know they are – so am impressed that she clearly did as much, and did it before there were blog articles everywhere explaining why it was imperative for authors to do so. I read a few years ago that her literary estate sold 6 million copies of her books each year. That’s an incredible number, especially since she passed away in 1976 – that’s a lot of years without new content to drive visibility in stores.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Mysterious Affair at Styles was her first published book and also the title that introduced her sleuth Hercule Poirot – as well as Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp. She wrote the book in her late twenties and it was published before she was thirty, which is impressive in itself. The mystery is fun – with Hastings missing the point a lot of the time – and has a strong sense of place. It’s set in England at a country house, near the end of the first World War. People’s finances and situations are changing and that’s reflected in the situations of the characters in the book. (This series of blog posts about favorite books is making me realize how much I enjoy complicated households and stories that explore the relationships between different characters.) It’s not my favorite Christie book, or even my favorite Poirot mystery, but it’s the beginning and an excellent place to start.

What’s my favorite of her books? Hmm. I don’t think I can pick just one. I like Peril at End House, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders, Death on the Nile, and Cards on the Table. (These links will take you to the book’s page on the Agatha Christie website.) I quite like the books with Ariadne Oliver and have often wondered whether Christie was writing a send-up of herself. Ariadne is a mystery author. She appears in Cards on the Table and – another favorite of mine – The Pale Horse.

Curtain by Agatha ChristieBy the time of the second World War, Poirot was established as a popular character in fiction. Here’s an example of that marketing savvy: Agatha Christie wrote the end of Poirot’s story in advance of her own death. She wrote the first version of Curtain during the war, when England was being bombed, in case she didn’t survive. The story is that she continued to update it over the years. It was published in 1975, right around the time of her own death, as Poirot’s last case. As a result, her long-running series has both a beginning and an end, which is very clever in terms of marketing. Poirot’s cases can also be read out of order, which addressed the potential issue of a bookstore not having a particular backlist title available in print when a reader was ready for it.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles was originally published in 1920 which means it is out of copyright. There are many versions available now which aren’t really great editions—I bought a print one by mistake and the typesetting was terrible. I ended up buying this older version (top right) published by Harper Collins in 2004, because I found a new copy. I like the editions with her signature and it’s cool that the design came full circle with the edition of Curtain at left. If you’re shopping at Amazon, read the reviews. The original edition of The Mysterious Affair at Styles included a layout of the house, which is often left out of these editions. You can also use the Look Inside feature to see what you’ll be getting. (There’s one, for example, with the cover top right on the product page, but the description is really long and different from the original copy. Look Inside shows a different cover and the reviews complain of the lack of a map.)

Here’s the Goodreads page for the book.

Here’s the Agatha Christie website and here’s the page for The Mysterious Affair at Styles there.

From the Keeper Shelf – 5

What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin

We’re going back to historical fiction today with What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin. Once upon a time, I used to discover new books and new authors by browsing at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. I really did pick books by their covers, or at least I’d pick them up for the first time because of their covers. This trade paperback has a beautiful cover. It won the Commonwealth Prize in 2000 and was prominently displayed in the store at that time. The  quote from the NYT Book Review is on the back cover of this edition: “A sumptuous tour of [India}, that rich and poor and calm and chaotic country.”

“Sumptuous”. Sold!

And I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it. This is a glorious book. It’s a story of a man taking a second wife in the hope of gaining an heir, and the change in dynamics within his household. It tells of the new bride’s expectations and the existing wife’s struggle to accept the change. At the same time, the greater picture in India is one of political change and religious conflict. This is a layered story, rich with historical detail, teeming with strong characterizations and conflict. It’s so beguiling that it pulls you right into the story – I just looked for a pull-out quote and ended up reading for half an hour. The author’s voice is wonderful.

If you’ve never read Shauna Singh Baldwin’s work, give this book a try.

Edited to add: I wrote this post a few weeks ago when I was queuing up books in this series of blog posts about my keeper shelf. Recent events and initiatives made me realize that my keeper bookshelf needs more diverse voices. I’ll let you know what I discover to add to my shelf in the upcoming months in case you, too, want to hear some different voices.

Here’s the book at Amazon.com

Here’s the book on Goodreads.

Here’s the author’s website.

From the Keeper Shelf – 4

This choice might be another surprise for you. Today’s pick from my keeper shelf is Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King.

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen KingThe first Stephen King novel I read was his first book: Carrie was published in 1974 but I read it when I was in high school. I see that the paperback edition I read was the first one, published in 1975, but I didn’t read it until a couple of years later. I was in Grade 9 and I borrowed it from the library. It’s funny to see all the bans against this book, which I read at 13 and no one much worried about it. My favorite King book was The Dead Zone, and I’m surprised that I don’t have a copy on my keeper shelf. I think I wore out that mass market paperback – it was the one published in 1980. The Shining spooked me (as it’s supposed to) and I moved on to other authors. It was years later when a writer friend declared that Dolores Claiborne was King’s best book. I think The Dead Zone is pretty amazing, so I was intrigued and picked up a copy. (I have this one at right, which is a reprint.)

This is a really interesting book, both in terms of story and structure. It’s structured as a confession and is essentially one long scene, written in first person. The protagonist has a strong voice, so strong that her presence is tangible. Her story is one of secrets, and of maybe doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Dolores is accused of killing her employer, a rich woman who visits Maine during the summers and is known to be difficult. Dolores insists that she didn’t kill Vera, but confesses to a different murder—that of her husband, years before. She tells her story out of order, illuminating complex characters and revealing the intricacies of the relationships between them. By the time she explains how she did it, we’re totally on her side that her husband deserved his fate. Don’t start reading this book unless you have time to read it right through to the end. This is a compelling page-turner that holds tight. If you’re a writer, read it once for pleasure, then once again to analyze how King spins his web.

Now I need to find myself another copy of The Dead Zone to decide which I think is the stronger book…I think I know which one I still love best, though.

Here’s Dolores Claiborne at Amazon.

Here’s the Goodreads page for Dolores Clairborne.

Here’s Stephen King’s website.

From the Keeper Shelf – 3

It’s a little bit sad to write about this book, which I love, because the author very recently passed away.

Daughter of Prophecy by Anne Kelleher BushDaughter of Prophecy was written by Anne Kelleher Bush. I have the original Warner Aspect edition from 1995, with that gorgeous cover by Thomas Canty.

Oh, I loved this book! It’s a magical, marvelous blend of science fiction and fantasy with a dash of romance. It’s set in a dystopian future in which America has reverted to a kind of feudalism – and a king allies with a sorceress in an attempt to build an empire. The worldbuilding is fabulous. There’s a lot of conflict in this book and it’s a compelling read, faintly medieval in tone – and yes, there’s even a map. (You know how much I love maps.)

It was first in a series, but – as is so often the case when I love book one – I didn’t continue to read the series. I am the only person in the world who prefers standalone books over series – except when I read mysteries. C’est la vie.

It appears that this book is out of print, so you’d only be able to buy the edition I have as a used book. There is an ebook edition available in Kindle Unlimited, which links to an author page with her subsequent books published as Anne Kelleher, but doesn’t link to the original book. (Possibly because the author name is different.) I’m not sure why the cover artist – whose work isn’t on this new edition – is listed as a co-author on the new edition, but there you go.

Here’s the book on Goodreads.

Here’s the Warner mass market paperback listing on Amazon.com.

Here’s the new ebook edition at Amazon.com

It doesn’t appear that Anne Kelleher has a website right now, but that might be in transition. What happens with her work going forward will depend upon the choices made by her literary estate. You might want to follow her at Amazon or Bookbub to receive updates.

From the Keeper Shelf – 2

I warned you that my keeper shelf is very jumbled and here’s the proof of it. The second book in the front row of the top shelf is a completely different genre than yesterday’s book.

The Other Bolyn Girl by Philippa GregoryToday, I’ll talk about The Other Bolyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I have the Harper edition from 2011, which has the actresses from the movie version on the cover.

This is historical fiction and a big chewy read. It’s written in first person, which gives an immediacy to the story, and is about Anne Bolyn’s sister, Mary. What I love about Philippa Gregory’s books is that she obviously does a lot of research but she has a gift for leavening it with action and dialogue. Her books take me a while to read because there are always many characters and points of view, but I feel as if I’m right there with the characters. There’s a lot of fiction and non-fiction about Anne, so I enjoyed the fictionalization of her sister’s story. It’s always intriguing to see how a writer picks through the documentation that exists about an historical person and puts together a compelling story.

This work was also made into a movie but I haven’t seen it. I do tend to watch Michael Hirst’s mini-series The Tudors whenever I re-read this book. The pageantry is glorious in that production and it echoes what is described in the book.

Here’s the book on Goodreads and here it is on Amazon.com

Here’s Philippa Gregory’s website.