Extraction – Cover Reveal

By now, most of you have learned from my Facebook account that I signed with Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Agency. Yes, I have an agent! Which means I’m doing NaNo in order to finish Out of the Pocket by December 1 for her. Feel free to be my writing buddy there. I’m Lex Valentine. (Duh. LOL)

But I’m not here today to talk about NaNo and other news. I’m here to reveal the cover for my newest book, Extraction. This military MM novella will be released by MLR Press on November 18.  You can probably guess who the cover artist is. 😉

Meanwhile, here’s the pretty!

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Two soldiers, former lovers, each think they are saving the other from a South American drug cartel, all the while rehashing their broken relationship.

Green Beret Shane Cullen has been undercover for the DEA with a South American drug cartel. Eighteen months into his assignment, and unbeknownst to Shane, the cartel’s number two man is captured by the U.S. Marshals and starts to talk. Shane’s mission becomes endangered. His Special Forces commander calls in a favor and pulls in Shane’s former lover and teammate Elliott Hutchens for an extraction.

Elliott hasn’t seen Shane in almost two years, since his lover walked out on him. But Shane’s in trouble and doesn’t know it, so Elliott can’t refuse the mission. Getting himself captured by the cartel in order to force Shane to rescue him is the easy part. The hard part comes when Shane discovers he’s the real extraction, not Elliott. Shane’s bad temper ended their relationship once before. Will it get in the way again or can these two soldiers work through their issues and find their way to a happy ever after?

Extraction will be available for purchase on November 18, my oldest brother’s 76th birthday. I think that’s a sign of good luck, don’t you?

If you would like to win a copy of Extraction when it’s released, leave a comment. On release day, I’ll be back to let hubs pick a winner.

You know, it’s good to be back, even if hardly anyone knows or remembers me. 😉

November 18: Hubs picked Brad’s comment number so he will receive a copy of Extraction! Everyone else is invited to come by the release day party for another chance to win a copy! Congrats, Brad!

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News & New Stuff from Lex

lv_the-pixie-prince-_coverlgSo I have new stuff! Oh, yeah! About time you all say. I agree. It’s been too long. I’ve forgotten how to promo. I’m getting no comments on a blog post at my friend Tara’s to win a copy of my newest release. Has everyone forgotten me? And how do I get them to remember me now that I’m back? If you have any ideas, please do let me know cause I think I’m lost.

Anyway, here’s the news: I signed a total of ELEVEN contracts with Loose Id and mailed them all in this past week. One contract is for Partners, the dystopian I wrote with VJ Summers. The other ten contracts are for the Tales of the Darkworld and related short stories. They will be back, revised and refreshed, and I hope will draw new readers. And yes, I’m sure Treva and Jana at Loose Id will be after me to finish this series.

I got an email September 20 giving me back the rights to the 4 books I have at Ellora’s Cave. This was, of course, before Tina emailed all the EC authors about the closing and offering everyone their rights back by the end of the year if they gave up the royalties owed them. Not sure yet what I will be doing with those books. I also got the rights back to Scrambling from Loose Id. I chose to take them back because I’ve always thought it was overpriced. I will be completing the award winning sequel to Scrambling (it won the Rebecca) but I’m not sure yet what I’m doing with the pair of them. The Christmas Cowboys series has gone to my editor at Decadent. What’s that you say? You didn’t realize I was published by Decadent? Well, I am. But not as Lex Valentine. And no, I’m not giving you the name I’m published under there. 🙂

flyinginthefaceofconvention_200That leaves one book at Liquid Silver and all my MM novellas at MLR Press. Now, you can add one to that list. I haven’t gotten a contract for it, but Kris Jacen did indeed receive a brand new manuscript from me, 23K words called Extraction. That brings me to…

TWO new releases! One is the self pub, Kindle Unlimited release of Flying in the Face of Convention, a 7K story I wrote for the RWA anthology Premiere, edited by the wonderful Sylvia Day! The second release is The Pixie Prince by Loose Id. The Pixie Prince has been sitting in my vault of manuscripts for three years since I got the rights back to it from Cobblestone. I was very happy to send Max to LI and I’m really happy to have him back out in the world.

If you read mostly MM, please check out Flying in the Face of Convention. It’s a great story, short but full of sexy guys and a HEA. You can get Trey and Jordan HERE. And if you read MF paranormal, you’ll want to read The Pixie Prince! MAX IS BACK! YAY! You can get Max HERE.

You can also leave a comment on Tara Lain’s blog for a chance to win a free copy of The Pixie Prince. Click HERE to do that. And finally, if you sign up for my new NEWSLETTER, you could win an audiobook! Sign up HERE. I promise not to spam you! And please do friend me on Facebook as I often tell the world about releases and news there rather than here. But I promise to start blogging more. I promise!  After all, I gotta find all my lost readers don’t I?

Love yas!

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Trading Opinions

I know I haven’t been around in a long while. I’ve been busy and well, tired. Really tired. But stuff has happened since the last time I took to my own personal forum here. To catch you up quickly, here’s a rundown.

BitterBonds_200New sequel to Broken Bonds released. Bitter Bonds was #1 on ARe and top ten gay romance on Amazon. Entangled was #1 free gay rom on Amazon, now still top ten. Got a contract for the revamped Insolent. It’s in edits now. Working on Out of the Pocket (sequel to Scrambling), Fire Storm (next Tales book), and Subs for Lunch (short story in the Souls in Bondage world.) Have five books now in production for audiobooks, Unbreak Me (narrated by Rebecca Roberts) and the first four Tales of the Darkworld (Shifting Winds and Hot Water by female narrator Jenny Urban, Fire Season narrated by Chip Wood, and Ride the Lightning narrated by Sarah Pamero.) In particular, Fire Season sounds soooo exciting! There’s news on the health front (perimenopause still kicking my ass) and the family front – my kid went to stay with her dad after he hadn’t spoken to her in about 5 years and my MIL has been in the hospital since the 4th of July. My hubs’ stepdad with Alzheimer’s has to go into a home now since my MIL can no longer care for him.

What can I say? Life is busy and ever changing.

EROTIC - Reviewed by LASRSo you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. Now that I’ve gotten past the what’s new with me crap, I’ll get to the subject of today’s rant. Well, maybe rant is too a strong word. Definitely, I have something to say and since I’m on my blog, I guess I think you all have the right to hear my opinion! LOL And that’s what I want to talk about…opinions.

Reviews have become a hot button these days. Giving away books in trade for an honest review. Paying for reviews. Not getting reviews unless you practically twist someone’s arm to give you one. Review places springing up everywhere. Review places only reviewing books from authors who pay for ads on their site. Review places only reviewing authors who are friends of theirs. Goodreads snark reviews. Amazon reviews of books not even read. Misinformation in reviews. Authors trading reviews.

Rated 5 cherryThe list of subjects related to reviews is a lot longer than my little list. Books I have with publishers are always sent out to the publisher’s list of sanctioned review sites. A lot of publishers carefully weed out review sites that have trashed their authors’ books and send only to those sites that seem to offer honest, positive reviews of their books. I rarely seek reviews from review sites for books I have with publishers. I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Instead, I focus my promo elsewhere.

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Now, for my self-published books, I have actively sent them out for review and lately, I’ve joined some Facebook groups where people will accept a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review or where authors trade books for review. The trade for honest reviews has been slow, but that’s okay. I don’t want or need to be one of those authors blasting across Facebook that I have 150 five star reviews. (At one time, Rainbow Award Finalist and Jessewave Top Ten Book of 2009 Fire Season had over a dozen 4.5 and 5 star reviews, but 150? Not even counting Goodreads and Amazon did it hit 150.) Frankly, I don’t believe the veracity of those claims or at least, I don’t believe all of them. I have the evil sense that they went to Fiverr and paid $5 for a bunch of 5 star reviews from people who never read the book.

RR-cir-125Now, the authors exchanging reviews thing is a little different. As a published author, and as a person with very little time to read, I don’t waste my time on books that are not my specific reading genre. So if an author of a self-help book solicits a review from me in exchange for reviewing my book, I’m going to turn him down. I don’t read self help books much and I don’t feel it would be right of me to read something I don’t really want to read. And I’m sure I don’t want to force my gay rom on a straight arrow author. I can just imagine the fiasco that review would be!

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But you know, I see all those requests for trading reviews (trading opinions really) from the self published authors on those review groups on Facebook. Once in awhile I’ll click on the link to the person’s book to see if it’s something I might want to read. Usually, it’s not. Today, however, there was one.

I clicked the link which took me to Smashwords, thinking maybe I could trade reviews with this author. I clicked the sample function to check out the book. Guess what I found? A prologue that was an info dump. A first chapter poorly written and punctuated with more info dump and a plethora of passive voice. I don’t believe it was edited. And if it was edited, the author wasted the money she paid for the edit. It was not a book I would have contracted back when I was an acquisitions editor. The author needs to hone her craft better because what she put out was entirely sub-standard.

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So how can I justify doing a trade of reviews with her? Yes, her book is in the genre that I read. Yes, I could give her an honest review, but that review would be hard pressed to make two stars. And if I reviewed her book and honestly said I didn’t like it and noted all the stuff I said above about the lack of quality in the writing, editing and content, would that author then be angry enough to trash my book in review? It would be her honest opinion after all except that it would be biased based on her anger at my review of her book.

And that brings me back to the whole conundrum of whether or not to participate in these review swaps. I guess I need to read the samples first before I decide to do a swap and read the other author’s reviews of other people’s books too. After all, if I can clearly see in the sample that an author needs to go back to the classroom, that’s not a book I want to be involved with even in terms of a review. And if I can see from an author’s other reviews of books that he/she is snarky and/or mean or doesn’t write an honest review where you can see that they read the book, then I don’t want that person reviewing me. I’d rather do without, thank you very much.

fourjunkiesratingsA trade of opinions, er reviews, is only good if it benefits both people. If you’re going to trade reviews, make sure you’re willing to give the book and the author a fair shake. Only do reviews of books you would normally read. Check the book sample out first so you aren’t stuck reviewing something substandard or something you can’t say anything positive about. Check out the other author first and make sure your book is something they would probably enjoy reading.

Don’t set yourself up for failure! Asking someone who is straight and doesn’t read romance to review a gay rom is asking for trouble. It’s like subbing a sexually explicit BDSM book to a Christian inspirational publisher. You’re doomed to be disappointed.

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Thus far, I haven’t engaged in any trading of reviews. The stuff I’ve been interested in is either written by someone who doesn’t read my genre or, like the book I mentioned above, has been so poorly written I know I couldn’t give it a positive review. And I won’t review something I can’t say something positive about.

So I guess my little rant about trading opinions is that you need to use caution doing this because the old saying really is true. Opinions (aka reviews) are like assholes. Everyone has one and occasionally it stinks…to someone.

Happy Saturday everyone!

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PS: Yes, the graphics used in this post were all earned by my books. If you’re interested in seeing how my latest releases are doing at review sites, here’s some info:

For Bitter Bonds, 5 paddles from BDSM Book Reviews and 4.5 stars from Joyfully Jay!

4 Sweet Peas from Mrs. Condit Reads Books for Mixed Tape Vol 2 which has Save Your Love in it.

4 stars from Smile Somebody Loves You for Save Your Love and 2.5 stars from MM Good Book Reviews. (It was a positive review but the book was too sweet for the reviewer!)

What You Know

Sometimes, not just in this industry, but everywhere, what you know is because of who you know. I learned a lot about reading contracts and understanding trademarks when we worked with a team of trademark attorneys in West Los Angeles on domains and branding and trademarks for a company. The jargon isn’t hard to get if you break it down into bits instead of reading and trying to get it all at once.

writing-300x298As an author, you do yourself a mighty disservice if you get excited to receive a contract and don’t read AND understand what you signed. There are a lot of authors in this industry who have been ripped off and hurt when a publisher closed it’s doors. There are lots of authors hurt every royalty payout day because they signed a contract that gave the publisher the right to basically charge that author for the cost of doing business.

What you know – or rather what you don’t know – about your publisher and their business practices and their contract clauses can hurt you. Maybe not today, but at some time it could. If you get a contract, and you don’t know what those clauses mean, you need to ask someone who does. Not someone at that house, but an independent someone. Find out the truth. Know who and what you are dealing with before you give your baby – your manuscript – into their keeping. Make sure you know how much of that cover price you are entitled to or whether most of it will go to the publisher for things like their credit card fees and shipping costs.

Take a run over here to Mary Winter’s blog where she shows you what kinds of clauses in a contract are huge red flags for an author. This blog post could save you money and heartache. I advise you to read it, bookmark it, and use it as a guide to helping you discover what you should know.

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Snoopy Dancing

Today I am Snoopy dancing. It’s not because tomorrow is my birthday either. It’s not because today is my hot Scottish friend Darrie’s birthday. It’s because Mary at Pink Petal Books offered me a contract for Shifting Winds! I am now an official author! Well, at least as soon as I sign the contract and send it to her. 😉

I suppose now, Declan and Althea (whose name will revert back to my original name choice of Elysia) will be my favorite characters because they were the ones to be accepted by a publisher first.  Actually, Lex and Alaric are still my fave characters, even though Alaric isn’t my character.  No other characters could ever take their place. However, Declan and Elysia are truly special. I knew it as I was writing them.

Now, I think I’m running out of words to convey my excitement. So I’ll just leave you a link to the post I have on Sunlight Sucks today. It’s called Vindicated and it’s about reading my email in bed and discovering I’d been offered a contract. So, you all head on over there to read that post and I’ll just kick back and do some more Snoopy dancing.

Happy Halloween everyone!