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A rant about ebook piracy wherein I channel my inner Lewis Black

Book with pirates flag(ATTENTION: There will be a great deal of profanity in this post. You have been warned.)

Well, fuck me. I did my usual check for reviews this morning and stumbled across a pirate site called readpremiumbooks dot com that has Empress of Storms.

612 downloads. Allow me to repeat that — SIX HUNDRED AND TWELVE DOWNLOADS. And that’s just from this one site. That’s $1,709.32 that I lost, assuming that people would have bought it through Amazon. That would’ve been enough to pay our bills this month and have cash left over for Christmas presents (and things are really goddamned tight around Castle Cameron right now).

And you wonder why I despise pirates. Not all of us are bestselling authors who can blow off piracy as a left-handed form of promotion. For some of us that income means paying the bills, or the mortgage, or picking up necessary medicine. But apparently people think I don’t need that money — hey, I’m a writer, I must be rolling in it, I won’t notice one pirated copy.

Surprise, motherfucker. I notice. So do my creditors. And I can’t even send these RPE fuckers a DMCA takedown because they advertise themselves as an “external affiliate” who cannot guarantee the presence of a particular file because they draw from third-party sites.

But losing income actually isn’t the most irritating thing about this. Want to know what’s really chapping my ‘nads? EoS has 41 fucking reviews on this site, all of which appear to be five stars. I can’t get people to leave me reviews on Amazon, but pirate sites? No problem. Goddamn it, I offered the book FOR FREE if people would just leave an honest review in return. Not one nibble did I get. But they’ll go to a pirate site that could be loading their ereaders with Cthulhu knows what sort of malware to get reading material AND LEAVE REVIEWS THERE.

And people wonder why I drink.

Empress of Storms 25% off at ARe! @allromance #cybermonday #sale

Empress-of-stormsBanner03I’m still running that 25% off sale on Empress of Storms at All Romance eBooks, so if you haven’t picked up a copy yet you should go and do it now! For everyone who has already purchased a copy, thank you SO much. Your interest in my first foray into high fantasy erotic romance is truly appreciated.

Now that the holidays are winding down, however, could I ask you a huge favor? I really, really, REALLY need reviews for the book, ideally on Amazon but I won’t say no to Goodreads, B&N, or any other online retailers. I’ve reached the point where my social media self-promo is getting a little redundant and I don’t want to annoy people with repeated ads. I’ve purchased advertising on various sites, but right now reviews are desperately needed to promote the book, bump it up in Amazon rankings and pull in new sales.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before if you’re stony broke and just can’t afford an ebook right now, contact me with your preferred ebook format and I’ll send you a copy. All I ask is that you leave an honest review for me — and yeah, if you read it and absolutely hate it, then go ahead and say that. I know Empress isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d rather have someone saying, “Yeah, sorry, this bites” than someone blowing smoke up my ass.

Okay, back to work!

Want a free copy of Empress of Storms? #ebooks #kindle #romance #fantasy

Empress-of-storms-CustomDesign-JayAheer2015-smallpreviewNow that I’m back from my vacation and am tanned, rested, and ready, it is time to get serious about reviews for Empress of Storms. If you bought a copy, I adore you to pieces and ask you to pretty please leave a review somewhere — Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, whatever. It’s all good.

If you can’t buy a copy, man, I totally understand. Times are tight, the holidays are coming up, and your money needs to go elsewhere. So here’s the deal — email me at nicolacameronwrites.com and tell me what your preferred ebook format is, and I will send you a copy of Empress of Storms.

In return, I ask that you leave a review for me at one of the places listed above. If you’re a blogger, I ask that you post the review on your site. Empress is getting some really good reviews, but I need more to promote the book. The more copies I sell, the more likely I am to write a sequel. Or heck, start a new series. There’s always room for a new series, right?

(I can hear my Muse cackling into her mojito in the background.)

So if you’re willing to get a free ebook in exchange for reviews, let me know. And as Bartles and Jaymes were wont to say, I thank you for your support.

Happy Release Day, EMPRESS OF STORMS!

Empress-of-storms-banner2

Lord, I’m tired. But I had a hella fun release party last night that was well-attended and responsible for a nice spike in sales, judging from the numbers I’m getting from Amazon and ARe.

But first, thanks must go where they are due. Huge thank yous go out to everyone who attended, to the people who made production of this book possible (killer betas Ceit, Peter, and Lisa, editrix extraordinaire Michelle, and inspirations Daniel and Rooney), to the awesome Jay Aheer who made a stunningly gorgeous cover, and to mu husband Ramón who tolerated an increasingly dirty house and held my hand while I tiptoed into the waters of epic fantasy romance. You people are all in the will.

And come to think of it, thanks must also be paid to the ineffable Jenny Trout, who brought this whole foofaraw to my attention and made me think, “Huh. You know, I could self-pub an 80K book in six weeks with pro editing/cover. Okay, let’s try.”

And hell, let’s thank the woman who kicked it all off. If it wasn’t for Payne Hawthorne, her cock-juggling thunder cunts, and her challenge, I wouldn’t have a book that’s currently climbing the fantasy romance chart at Amazon. So thank you, Payne.

Of course, now that it’s out there I have to do all the promotion. The book is currently priced at 99¢ and will stay there until 11/21 so you have plenty of time to go get it at sale price. After 11/21 it goes back up to the regular price of $4.99, so get it while the getting is good.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

And remember, if you do buy a copy please leave a review at your place of purchase. Review honestly help and get a book more exposure, which gets it more sales, which means Nicola can feed her cats the GOOD kibble.

Okay. Time to get back to my NaNoWriMo project. Bwahahahahahahahaha!

(Apropos of nothing, I counted up how many rounds of editing I did on this last night. After the first draft there were two rounds of editing which resulted in a draft sent out to the betas, a third round where I added in all the beta comments, a fourth round where I added in the editorial changes, a fifth round where I got rid of weasel words, a sixth round where I nuked as many adverbs as I could, and a seventh round with Scrivener’s spellchecking/grammar tool where I cleared out all the spelling/grammar/punctuation goofs I could find. I suddenly feel content with myself.)

Apparently I can write fantasy. Who knew?

EoSInspirationSo far I’ve gotten feedback on Empress of Storms from two of my beta readers. These are people I trust to tell me when I’m fucking up, and apart from some spelling/punctuation errors they’ve been enjoying the story. One BR, who is gay, said that he was even kinda frustrated because his husband wasn’t home and my smut made him want to jump hubby and, I repeat, “bang him like a screen door in a hurricane.”

When a MF story has that effect on a gay man, you know you’re doing something right.

While I’m waiting for copyedits from the team I’m going through and doing a third edit/polish and setting up the ebook formatting. It will be available in all formats through Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords, and will be available as a print book through CreateSpace by next week (I need to format the interior and get the page count to Jay so that she can calculate the spine size and do the front and back cover for me).

And of course we’re doing a release party on FB this Sunday, so make sure you come over and join in the festivities. The lovely and talented L.D. Blakeley will be joining me to cohost and we’ll be doing giveaways, posting pics, and generally having a grand old time.

Apropos of nothing, I got into a discussion about inspiration so I thought I’d share the pics that I’ve been staring at for the last six weeks while I wrote feverishly. The hilarious thing? I had no idea they’d been in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo together (why, yes, I’m kinda slow when it comes to popular culture).

I go by visuals and sometimes voices when I look for character inspiration, then I work out their backstory and how they behave as the story progresses. Actors work well for this because I know how they sound and can use them as mental paper dolls as I write. I already had Daniel in mind when I started writing Matthias (warrior king, tormented by his wife’s death, not thrilled about this new marriage, thousand yard stare, you do the math), so when I stumbled across a picture of Ms. Mara I thought, “Ooh, yeah, she’s got grit and determination, and she can pull off regal at the same time. She’ll work as Danaë.” It wasn’t until someone asked me if I was a Girl fan that I discovered what I’d done. I probably need to see the movie at some point.

Oh, I’ve also been asked why I’m using Nicola M. Cameron on Empress of Storms. I lifted the idea from the late, brilliant Iain Banks who wrote mainstream fiction as Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. It was a way of differentiating between the two genres without having to use a pseudonym, and I decided to use the same trick here, especially as I noticed the rather sharp falloff of sales with my MMF novel Deep Water. Nicola Cameron is pretty much associated with MM/MMM fiction by this point, so if you pick up a Nicola Cameron book that’s what you’ll get, whereas Nicola M. Cameron writes MF fiction with occasional forays into MMF. That should keep everyone happy.

Mid Week Tease: Empress of Storms #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15*bangs head on keyboard*  Empress of Storms is now through its second draft and is off to the betas. Now I can go to bed. The scene here takes place after Matthias and Danaë’s first argument as a married couple. Of course, when you argue with a mage, little things like unexpected thunderstorms tend to happen. Oops.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

When widower King Matthias IV of Ypres is called upon to fulfill a treaty with the neighboring country of Hellas and provide a royal consort for young Queen Danäe, the only Ypresian royal available for marriage is himself. Can he overcome his grief for his late wife and risk letting a blue-haired witch queen into his heart? And can Danäe, only half-trained as a water mage, root out a magical threat against Matthias before it kills the man she’s loved since childhood?

Matthias got to his feet as his wife came back in. The only way to describe her was bedraggled.

His irritation had settled during her absence. He had no idea that she’d been dealing with rumors that she’d killed King Cresus. Suggestions that Luna was his by-blow would be an additional and unnecessary humiliation.

And now, seeing Danaë damp and miserable like this, all he wanted to do was sweep her into his arms and get her warm and comfortable again.

“Shall I have Flavia fetch you dry clothes?” he offered.

She shook her head, damp curls swinging in front of her face. “I can do it,” she said quietly. “She’s tending to Luna. I don’t want to bother her right now.”

She went to her trunk, rooting through it for a night shift. Matthias turned his back to give her some privacy. “I can mull us some wine, if you like?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He went to the small brazier warming the tent, picking up the set of fire tongs hung on its side. He shoved them into the brightest part of the coals to heat, then busied himself pouring two goblets of wine. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re right. Making it look like you’re raising my illegitimate child would be humiliating to you. I won’t do that.”

He could hear the rustle of fabric behind him, but she didn’t reply. He pulled the tongs out of the brazier, eyeing the dull red of the metal, then plunged them into the goblets. The surface of the wine bubbled and hissed, sending up spiced steam.

Picking up the goblets he turned to her, then stopped. She stood there in her dry nightshift, towel in one hand, as silent tears rolled down her face. Dripping off her chin, they made dark spots on the bodice of her shift.

His heart ached. “Oh, little bird,” he murmured, crossing to her. “Please don’t cry. I’m sorry. I was an ass.”

She shook her head, wiping at her tears. “No, you were right. I should have told you about the star chamber,” she said, gulping. “I’m sorry. I was terrified of how you would react.”

He put down the goblets and pulled her into his arms. She pressed her face against his chest, shuddering now. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she cried, her voice muffled by his tunic.

“Shh,” he soothed, rubbing her back. “It’s all right, shh.”

Sometimes a storm had to be allowed to blow itself out. He waited until her sobs had subsided, then kissed her hair. “I’ll tell you what I told Darius,” he murmured. “I have complete faith in you. I know you loved your father and would never do anything to harm him. Whatever happened that day, it wasn’t your intention. And I sincerely doubt it was your fault in the first place.”

She hiccuped softly. “I wish I could believe that.”

His hand came up, cupping her head and stroking her wet hair. “Then I’ll believe it for you until you can.”

She choked out a laugh, pulling back far enough to look up into his face. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you, Matthias, I truly don’t.”

He smiled. “I wonder the exact same thing. Come, let’s get your hair dried, and then we’ll have our wine.”

He plucked the towel from her hand, using it first to wipe the tears from her face, then to soak up the rainwater from her hair. When he judged he’d gotten it as dry as possible, he tossed the towel onto a trunk and picked up one of the goblets, handing it to her. “I don’t think that chair is strong enough for you to sit in my lap,” he said, “so let’s sit on the bed where you can pull the covers over you. I don’t want you catching a chill.”

“A few minutes in the rain isn’t going to make me sick,” she said, but let him take her to the camp bed and tuck her in a sitting position under the warm blankets. He went to the other side, still holding his goblet and shucking down to his tunic before crawling in next to her.

“Not a drop spilled,” she said, giving him a shaky smile. “I’m impressed, my king. That takes talent.”

“A remnant of a dissolute youth. Then again, I have all kinds of talents that you haven’t seen yet,” he said, putting an arm around her and pulling her close before sipping his wine. The warmth and spiced sweetness filled his mouth. “For instance, did you know that I played the flute?”

She was in mid-sip of her own wine and choked slightly before swallowed. “No, I didn’t. May I hear you play sometime?”

“Not unless you long for deafness. I said I played it, not that I played well.”

That made her giggle. “Talents. Did I tell you that our chamberlain also taught us how to juggle?”

“Why in the world would a professional criminal be able to do that?”

“It can entertain a crowd and provide distraction while your partner is jimmying the back window.”

He thought. “I do believe the cook has some rolls left over from dinner. I can have them bring some in if you’d like to demonstrate.”

“I think another time might be better.” She relaxed against his side, her damp head resting on her shoulder. “We’re really married now. We’ve had our first argument.”

“I believe you’re right.” He squeezed. “I’m so sorry, little bird. I didn’t know the last year had been so bad for you.”

“I know. And I shouldn’t have lashed out at you like that.”

He kissed the top of her head. “Is there anything I can do to make things better for you? In Hellaspont?”

He felt one shoulder twitch. “I’ve done my best to be a good ruler, following in Father’s footsteps. The rumors are dying down, despite Pelas’s best efforts.”

“Is that the little toad of a grand magister? Your brother mentioned him.”

“Yes. Also my magecraft tutor. You can understand why I was more than happy to abandon it after Father’s death.” She took another sip of her wine. “Do you know what the worst part of all that was? The look on Mother’s face when she found out about the accusations. It was bad enough to have lost the love of her life, but to find out that her daughter was suspected of his murder? I’d thought she would be on my side like Darius was.” She let out a shuddering sigh. “But Pelas’s accusations found a foothold, even after I was cleared of all charges. From that point on until her death, she avoided me. She’d speak to me if I went to her rooms or if we had to appear in public together, but she never looked at me again. The last time I touched her was in her coffin.” She closed her eyes, eyelashes a sooty shadow against her cheeks. “I didn’t want to watch you turn away from me as well.”

He hugged her again, tighter this time. “I may argue with you, little bird, but I promise I’ll never turn away from you,” he said. “Rest easy in that. I wouldn’t be taking all this trouble to find Lukas if I didn’t want to hear his side of the story. I know it’s slender, but there is a chance he’s innocent in all this.”

She took a deep breath and let it out, relaxing. “You’re a good man, Matthias.”

“I do my best.” He put his own goblet on the side table, then plucked the goblet from her relaxing fingers and placed it next to its twin. “I think we should sleep now, don’t you?”

“Yes, please.”

He eased her down until she was lying flat, pulling the blankets up to her chin. She turned onto her side towards him, giving him one last sad smile before closing her eyes.

He watched her sleep, and wondered how he would be able to protect her with a mountain range in the way.


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83K Or Bust: Day Thirty-eight through Forty AND a Cover Reveal

So, this happened at 7:31 AM this morning:

Finished

Which means I finished my rough draft within six weeks. Now, obviously I need to edit, get it out to betas, incorporate their comments and corrections and do a final polish before I release it, and as you can tell from the date that’s not going to happen in one day (damn you, sinus infection. I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL). So I pushed the publication date out to November 8.

Now, I had promised that I was going to do a cover reveal once I’d finished the rough draft. So, courtesy of the amazing and talented Jay Aheer, allow me to present the cover for Empress of Storms.

Empress-of-storms-CustomDesign-JayAheer2015-smallpreviewIt’s so pretty! You can understand why I was doing backflips when I got it.

And now, on to second draft editing so that I can get this puppy out to the betas on Monday. Editor powers, activate!

The last few day’s stats:

Started With: 76,291 words
Wrote: 6,775 words
Total word count: 83,066 words.
What else did you do today, Nicola: You don’t want to know

Writing Tips: Finish what you write. Even if you think it sucks, even if you know it’s never going to sell, finish it anyway. Why? Because it’s a good habit to get into, because you don’t know what an editor will like, and because you will feel like King Kong on steroids once it’s done. Writer’s high is a real thing, my friend, and I promise you will walk around with a ridiculous smile on your face for at least a day after finishing a project, especially a novel-length one.

Mid Week Tease: Empress of Storms #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Almost finished with Empress of Storms, thank Cthulhu, so I can come out to play again on Wednesdays. Here’s a snippet from the royal trireme after a long and difficult day.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

When widower King Matthias IV of Ypres is called upon to fulfill a treaty with the neighboring country of Hellas and provide a royal consort for young Queen Danäe, the only Ypresian royal available for marriage is himself. Can he overcome his grief for his late wife and risk letting a blue-haired witch queen into his heart? And can Danäe, only half-trained as a water mage, root out a magical threat against Matthias before it kills the man she’s loved since childhood?

Matthias kissed her temple as he rubbed her back through the thin fabric of the chemise. Her skin felt moist and warm. He wanted to strip away the cotton and run his hands over the delicate wings of her shoulder blades, down to her waist. He loved the way her hips flared out like an amphora, fitting the curve of his hands perfectly.

“If you’re tired we can simply sleep,” he offered. “The gods know it’s been a long day.” He had any number of questions about what had been in the report on her desk, not to mention what was going on between her brother and his cavalry officer, but he sensed they would be better asked tomorrow.

She looked up at him, blue eyes dark in the flickering light from the oil lamps. “I am tired. But I know our time together is limited, and I don’t want to waste any of it.”

“Time with you is never wasted,” he said, and found he meant it. “I’m happy to hold you in my arms and let you sleep.”

“Matthias.” Her voice was low and laced with something he recognized, a weariness that had nothing to do with the physical. Being a good ruler wasn’t all about wearing crowns and waving to the populace. It was a difficult and time-consuming job, juggling the well-being of a people with the attendant issues of finances, politics, the devising and passing of laws, the defense of the realm, and doing one’s best to make sure that one left an appropriate legacy for the next generation. He’d been doing it for over twenty years and couldn’t claim that he’d mastered the role. Danaë had had the responsibility dropped on her unexpectedly and had been at it for only a year. Her fatigue was palpable to him.

She needed the chance to relax, to hand over the responsibility of her position and simply be. He could do that for her.

He pulled her closer, feeling himself rouse at the warmth of her body. “Or you could give me a great gift,” he murmured. “Let go. For tonight, let me take the burden from you and make the decisions. I promise you, you won’t regret it.”

Her eyes grew even darker, pupils expanding and compressing the blue into thin rings. “I don’t know.” It wasn’t a disagreement so much as a tremor in the elemental pull between them. He could sense her need to to yield to him, if only for one night. He knew what it took to give up control.

He bent down to kiss her, savoring the softness of her lips as they opened to admit his tongue. He could taste wine, salt, lemon, fish, and something underneath that was purely Danaë. She moaned softly into his mouth, clinging to him as if she would slip to the deck without his arms around her. He explored her, mapping every ridge and soft spot with care and precision.

When their kiss ended he could see the spots of high color along her cheekbones, and the pulse beating in her throat like a hummingbird’s wing. He caressed her face, stroking the flushed silk of her cheek. “Let me do this for you, little bird. Let me give you this ease.”

After a long moment, she nodded.

“Good.” His cock throbbed at the spiced honey scent of her desire, the ripeness of her breasts and hips. He wanted to pull her to him, ravish her against the bulkhead, mark her as his own. But this wasn’t about his desire. Tonight would be about her and what she needed.


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83K Or Bust: Day Thirty-seven

surrenderthemanuscript(Image borrowed from the inimitable Rachel Caine.)

Yeah, I got nothing. I’m at the point where I’m just trudging towards that light at the end of the tunnel.

Today’s stats:

Started With: 74,211 words
Wrote: 2,080 words
Total word count: 76,291 words.
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cat chores, broke up cat fights, went food shopping, did web support work for a client, mailed off jewelry sales.

Writing Tips: There is nothing wrong with promising yourself treats to meet a word count or deadline. Carrot and stick works very well for a sound psychological reason.

83K Or Bust: Day Thirty-six

surrenderthemanuscript(Image borrowed from the inimitable Rachel Caine.)

I have made an executive decision. November 1 was an arbitrary publication date for EMPRESS OF STORMS, mainly chosen because it was the beginning of the month. Due to the sinus infection I had during the past five weeks and other sources of stress, however, I lost well over a week’s worth of writing time.

So I am pushing the release date back to November 8. That gives me enough time to do a good, solid edit and polish, and means my beta readers won’t have me hanging over their shoulders saying, “Are you done yet? Are you done yet?” Seven weeks still ain’t bad for going from zero to “Oops, it’s on Amazon.”

Also, by doing this I’ll release EMPRESS OF STORMS on my late mother’s 75th birthday. When I told her about my first science fiction sale, she sighed and said, “I wish you wrote romance — that way I could show it to my friends.”

Be careful what you wish for, Mom. You just might get it.

Today’s stats:

Started With: 71,134 words
Wrote: 3,077 words
Total word count: 74,211 words. I am now officially less than 10K away from finishing and should have everything wrapped up on Wednesday. BOOYAH.
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cat chores, cleaned out the fifteen tons of dead leaves at the bottom of the pool, thank you weekend storm, did laundry, had dinner with a friend of Ramón’s, ran errands, and worked on jewelry.

Writing Tips: Missing a deadline is something to be avoided whenever possible. When it can’t be avoided, however, don’t beat yourself up and ask for an extension. Even a little extra time can mean the difference between a shittily edited manuscript and one that’s as clean and tight as you can make it. So suck it up, admit that you blew it, and ask for more time. Editors and publishers can be surprisingly understanding. They want your best product, after all.