Update on the experiment in FREE + a plug for an indie book tracking program

I really should post something about love this week, but I’m in a time crunch. So let me just say I love y’all, and that’s my love for the week.

Quick update on “The Swimsuit Shop” – it’s currently been downloaded over 200 times from Smashwords and bought with real money by seven people through Amazon, which hasn’t yet marked it down to free. It also doesn’t seem to have shown up yet at the various distribution channels that Smashwords distributes to – Sony, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc. It will be interesting to see the “sales” figures when it’s free in all those markets. And whether it bumps the sales of the novels hyperlinked at the end of it.

The second item is a quick plug for a program developed by a guy named Marcel Popescu, in answer to a blog post by Dean Wesley Smith about how difficult it is to keep track of online sales because of all the different distribution channels and the ways they report their figures. Marcel’s a programmer and took up the challenge. He designed a nifty little program that my publisher and I use called Indietracking, from www.indietracking.com. Still being developed, but if you or someone you know is publishing stuff online and can download the various sales reports from Amazon, Smashwords, etc., you might want to download this and give it a try. Pretty darn slick.


An experiment in FREE

Now if you’re like most people, that FREE got your attention, didn’t it? Our psyches just lunge for that something-for-nothing thing, even if the something is never really free. It costs us our time, at least. Sometimes it makes us jump through all sorts of hoops to get it. But still we do the jumping because, hey, it’s FREE!!!!

So my dip-a-toe-in experiment, which I was goaded into by a bunch of friends who are into e-publishing in a big way, is to have Fiero Publishing do a Smashwords release of my e-short story, “The Swimsuit Shop,” for FREE. (Don’t you feel yourself getting excited every time you see that word?)  At the end of the story are links to my anthologies, novels, and short stories, and a sample from What a Man Wants, the whole idea being that at least some of the people who grab the free story will be introduced to the rest of my oeuvre. Of course, some of my friends and many of the big publishing houses are doing this regularly – offering a free takeaway in the hopes you’ll want to sample the rest of the goods. They swear it works. To me it seems a little redundant in an e-book world that already gives away free samples of virtually every book on offer, but I guess anything that grabs a few more eyeballs can’t hurt.

So I hereby forcibly rip my head out of the sand and give it a shot.

What’s happened so far? Fiero put up my story on Smashwords for free and on Amazon for 99 cents on Monday. It went live on Smashwords almost immediately and has become the fastest “selling” e-story of mine to date, averaging 60+ downloads/day. It increased the views of the hyperlinked e-books to about 15 or 20 per day. The numbers fell off drastically on day 4, as the story’s position on Smashwords’ New Free Releases was now back to page 8 behind all the other new free releases coming out.

Meanwhile, it took three days for “The Swimsuit Shop” to actually go live on Amazon. As soon as it did (actually before it officially did), it sold a copy at 99 cents. The e-book sampled in the back of that story sold a copy the same day, at $4.99. Eventually Amazon’s web-crawling robots will discover that “The Swimsuit Shop” is offered for free elsewhere and knock down the Amazon price to free, Smashwords will also get a copy of “The Swimsuit Shop” shipped to its extended distribution channel, “The Swimsuit Shop” will be hyperlinked and flaunting itself for free everywhere, and the e-book economic model as we know it will come crashing down around us.

Will its “sales” reach the extraordinary best-“selling” heights of the other free e-books out there? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I have to get writing so that if it does I have more to offer a ravenous readership of romance readers. (Say that five times quickly.)

Later, y’all.

Give me a proud and gloomy man. NOT!

A study out today from the University of British Columbia showed over 1000 men and women photographs of members of the opposite sex and asked them to rate the sexual attractiveness of the person in the photo. Findings? Men rated women who smile more positively than those who don’t. But women, foolish creatures, rated the men who looked gloomy or proud or even ashamed more positively than those who were smiling.

What gives?

The researchers suggest it’s a power thing. Women are more attracted to displays that suggest confidence and power, which smiling does not, while men are more attracted to sexual availability, which you get with the smile.

All I can say is that I get it, the whole brooding bad boy thing, but it does make me wave my hands up in the air in alarm and disgust. My experience says that men who look proud or gloomy tend to be…proud or gloomy.

Unsmiling proud tends to translate to self-centered, or at least work-centered, with a low ability to read the needs and emotions of others. Great if all you’re looking for is a breadwinner. Not so great if you actually want a lover and life partner.

Gloomy tends to be…well, someone who’s down a lot. You really want to hang around someone who’s down all the time.

My goodness, girlfriend. This kind of evolutionary claptrap is about as useful as the one that draws us all towards those silent, brooding protector types. You want to tame a Special Forces Operative, wounded soldier, cop, fireman? Really? Welcome to men who’ve been trained to shut down their emotions so they can get the job done, but rarely are able to open them up again when they’re off the job. Just saying. Not even going to get into the randy habits of most of the firefighters I’ve known. There are an awful lot of failed marriages among the protector groups. Just saying.

So I guess we can all enjoy the fantasy of snagging and taming the strong and silent type. And of course sometimes these guys are just as perfect as the fantasy. But I hope y’all keep your heads above the evolutionary muck we’re stuck with when it comes to actually choosing a mate. Confident, competent men smile too!

How to make your hubby feel loved – #3

How? Give him a little storge.

Say what?

Storge (pronounced store-gay) love is the love you give your kith and kin, assuming you actually do love your kith and kin. It’s sometimes described as “familial” love and usually refers to the love you give your parents or children. And in the ideal world, this love is boundless, giving whether you get anything in return. It’s powers a person like Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree, in that it can take mood swings, rudeness, and disregard, and still just keep on coming. Why? Because love is thicker than water. Because this isn’t some chosen relationship you can sever with a quick trip to the divorce courts. This is a commitment to the core.

And yes, it could get abused. I don’t believe anyone should be sticking with someone who physically or emotionally beats them. But abusive cases aside for the moment, can you imagine what it would mean to totally commit your heart to your hubby and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that, as long as they don’t beat you (see above), you will love them through and through, faults and all, right to the bitter end.

Scary, yes?

What would happen?

Love and the Integrated Brain

Hi all. Ever hear of Dr. Dan Siegel? He’s the handsome guy in the pic to the left. He put a book out recently called Mindsight. Lots of science and brain research, but Dan also tries to bring it all back to practical applications too. Like learning how to accept and handle your anxiety. Like reconnecting to your emotions. Like integrating your left and right brain.

Even more than all of this, though, was something I got out of actually getting to hear him speak live. He talked about our “minds” as being emergent, self-defining entities which monitor and regulate our flow of information and energy. And what was truly exciting was that the flow of energy and information occurs not only inside our own bodies but also between us and others. And that relational flow actually impacts the formation of our brain patterns. It’s a big part, according to Dan, of who we are as healthy human beings. We need to train our minds via attentional exercises like meditation to be better at observing and regulating (read: encouraging in a controlled, healthy way) that interpersonal flow of energy if we want to become fully integrated, a state in which our mind is clicking along on all cylinders and realizing its healthiest potentials.

Sure there are value judgements inherent in what he deems healthiest, but he’s darn persuasive and has a very sexy voice.

Besides, the interpersonal flow of energy is I figure a lot of what love is all about. So if we can just learn this mindsight stuff, observing and regulating our flow (sounds very kinky), then I figure we can get better at loving, right?

Dan Siegel wants to save the world. I just want to save relationships. Everyone all together now – Ohmmmmmm,,,

How to make your hubby feel loved – #1

Come up to him and say, “You know, you just haven’t been getting enough TLC. You’ve been working hard, looking after everyone else, and I think you need someone to do a little looking after you. I’d like to do that for you tonight. What can I get for you or do for you? What do you need? What would make you feel really loved?”

Then listen.

Act on it.

Love and sexism

Okay, ears fuming here on behalf of my teenaged daughter who just came back from an Ultimate (kind of like football but with a Frisbee). She’s one of the best girls on the co-ed team, and among the better players overall, but does she get passed to by the guys? Rarely. This was doubly infuriating because she was playing a swing position that should be passed to regularly by a good team to tire out and confuse the opposition. Instead, the macho heads on her team kept going for the long bomb or passed to other guys who were completely surrounded (because the other team had figured out my daughter’s team didn’t pass to girls so the girls weren’t guarded). Infuriating.

And what does this have to do with romance? Just this. Guys, if you’re reading this and still believe that guys being guys means being head-up-your-ass about what girls can/should do versus what guys can/should do, you’re living in another era. And girls, if you’re of the same mind as them, you are too. It’s not about women’s lib or women’s rights; it’s about recognizing that every person is an individual with different strengths and weaknesses. And if you can’t recognize strengths in the person you’re attracted to and try to help them overcome their weaknesses, then you’re not falling in love; you’re just stuck in lust.

And lust, my friends, doesn’t last. Be understanding, caring people first and you might, you just might, have a shot at real love.

Lust and sexism are natural bedfellows. Jungle beast time. But love and sexism rarely the twain shall meet. So pass the frigging disc!!

ET romance – how long does it last?

ET – same initials for Elizabeth Taylor and Entertainment Tonight. Coincidence? I don’t think so, honey!

Anyway, the divine Elizabeth Taylor has died and we are left to ponder what it all means. Not the acting, the AIDS activism, the friendship with Michael Jackson… No, we’re left to ponder what her series of marriages really means about the natural timeline of a marriage. A recent new story reported that the seven-year-itch is now more common than the three-year-itch. For Liz, it was apparently a five-year-itch.


Marriage 1 to Nicky Hilton (no, not Paris Hilton’s sister) lasted from May 1950 to February 1951. Okay, she was just getting her feet wet and he was apparently abusive.

Marriage 2 to Michael Wilding lasted from February 1952 to January 1957. Bingo! Five years. And they remained friends after the split.

Marriage 3 to Mike Todd lasted from February 1957 to March 1958. Only one year, but he died, and she claimed in a late interview that he was truly the love of her life. So I’d say they’d have made five years.

Marriage 4 to Eddie Fisher lasted from May 1959 to March 1964. Bingo again! Five years. Even with cheated-on wife Debbie Reynolds pulling the nation’s heartstrings like Jennifer Aniston did after Angelina stole Brad.

Marriage 5 and 6 to Richard Burton, the first time from March 1964 to June 1974, the second time October 1975 – August 1976. You see how that averages out to about five apiece? All kidding aside, Liz seemed more than usually determined to make it work with Dick, but I wonder whether that’s just because the Vatican stepped in at the beginning told them what they were doing was a sin (since they were both married to other people when they met and started messing around). Both had a bit of rebel in them, maybe determined to prove the Pope wrong.

Marriage 7 to John Warner lasted December 1976 to November 1982. A little over five, even though he was Republican politician and she a Democrat.

Marriage 8 to construction worker Larry Fortensky lasted from October 1991 to October 1996. See? Even a goofy marriage born in the Betty Ford Clinic couldn’t nudge this one past five years. Liz had her internal clock. The alarm clock went. It was time to move on.

It all makes her time with Richard Burton that much more notable in retrospect, doesn’t it? Not only did she defy the Pope, but she stuck with him well past her normal five-year span and remarried him a year after the divorce just to be really sure there was no way they could make it work.

And if all this sounds a little flip, well, it is. But deep down I have a great deal of respect for Ms. Taylor’s gusto. It hurts to love and lose (or combust or fall into a state of loathing him whom you once loved), but she just kept getting back up on the horse, so to speak. This was a woman who loved passionately, if not well. She was a whole series of romance novels; she just missed the happily-ever-after part.

May you and yours experience the passion but also avoid becoming a movie star and nail down that HEA with good hard work.

Until next time…

Love Quotations

Some quick quotes about love pulled off www.1-love-quotes.com:

“In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love you want the other person.”
-Margaret Anderson

Yeah, I can kind of get that if you define romantic love as the early stages of love that often have more to do with pining and wanting and endorphin release than any real knowing of the other person. Except I believe that romantic love can carry into deeper love too so that you want the other person but also want what’s best for them.

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
–Robert Heinlein

Yeah. Like that. And by Robert Heinlein. Who’d’a thunk?

“In my wildest dreams, you always play the hero. In my darkest hour of night, you rescue me, you save my life.”
–Bliss and Cerney

I like this one because it is so darned romantic as in romance fiction. Not sure it’s the healthiest approach to love, but hey, lots of us want to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (while the other half wants to do the rescuing). I just hope all the rescuers and rescuees find more balance as their love grows.

And I’m going to finish this admittedly dashed-out little post with the one that actually stirs me, as a romance writer, more than any of the others I’ve read. Only fitting it be by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the truly great, if troubled, American writers of all time.

“I love her and that’s the beginning of everything.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald

The beginning. I love it. That love is a beginning. What better place to end than there.


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