Ultimate Skin Exposure

Skin Game This is it, the last week leading up to the release of SKIN GAME, and I need your help to launch it in a big way. How can you do this?

(1) Twitter about the book. Not random “buy it!” spam. Mention what you liked about it in 140 characters or less. If you haven’t read it, say why you want to read it. Use the #SkinGame hash tag so people can find what you have to say about the book. Talk about it with people you follow. Be my buzz-leaders!

(2) Post the cover on your blog, MySpace or Facebook page, along with the blurb.

(3) Tell people about the book by whatever means you feel comfortable. I’m not asking you to send mass mails. Please don’t! But if you have friends and family who might enjoy it, tell them about SKIN GAME and what day it comes out. (It’s November 3.)

(4) The book may start appearing in stores this week; I know Rosie bought a copy at Borders already! That being true, make a field trip to your local bookstore and take a picture. Either email it to me or upload it and send me the link. I’ll also want to know where you found it (what town, state and where in the bookstore).

This contest starts today. Each of the above is worth one entry. Once you’ve done something on the list, post a comment saying you have. That will let me track better. You don’t have to comment each time you Twitter, though you can if you want.

resized_nook What’s in it for you? Well, one lucky winner will receive a B&N Nook. That’s right. I’ll preorder it for you. When the ship date comes around, it will arrive in your mailbox.

Runners up will receive:

A $50 gift certificate to Buy.com, where you can get whatever you want
A $25 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice
A signed copy of Chris Marie Green’s A DROP OF RED
A signed copy of Patricia Briggs’s BONE CROSSED
An ARC of Kylie Brant’s WAKING THE DEAD

If you want the Nook or any of these other awesome prizes, you need to hit the streets (and the internet) and create me some massive buzz this final week. I’m counting on you guys to help me rock it!

Contest ends Tuesday, November 3 – winners announced same day

2nd Week Orgy Winners

Like last time, if you guys don’t email me your addresses within a week, then I keep the book money and taunt you with the books I bought for myself instead. And so without further ado, here are our winners for the week:

Mandi – Set the Dark on Fire
Sara M – Bitter Night
Jonathan – Norse Code
Julie D – ARC of Finding the Lost

Congrats, people! The sooner you email me, the sooner we can send your prizes to you. On Tuesday, we begin our final week of celebrations leading up to the release of Skin Game — with a special mystery prize along with the book orgy. It’s gonna be epic. Come back and see for yourself!

2nd Skin Game Book Orgy

Skin Game So here we are, just over two weeks before release. Are you guys excited? I need y’all to be revved up about this book, as it’s my first romance and my first release as Ava Gray. That’s why we’re having another week of the book orgy. There are more awesome books up for grabs this week. To win, all you need to do is show up. The more you comment, the better your chance to win because I’ll be picking my winners through a random number generator. As always, no spamming, no random links.

Here’s who I have in store for you this week:

Jill Sorenson

stdof I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jill, and she’s a fun person. She’s also a very talented author. I read her book CRASH INTO ME, and I loved it. I haven’t had the chance to read this one yet; it’s still in transit from Amazon, but I have heard tremendous things. She writes sexy romantic suspense, and I think y’all would love this book.

Diana Pharaoh Francis

bn I had the pleasure of reading this as a blurb; it’s a totally kick-ass urban fantasy, and I really loved it. I gave the following quote: “In the deliciously epic Bitter Night, Diana Pharaoh Francis has married the Charles de Lint-style old school urban fantasy to the new college of asskickery in a pagan-pirate handfast. I totally loved this book.”

I think that should be enough. But in case it’s not, try this: “High-energy, gritty…will keep action fans coming back for book after book.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Francis sends urban fantasy on its head in this fast-paced, dynamic story. Loved it, could not put it down. Unusual and terrific.”
—Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hunting Ground

I don’t think I need to say anything more.

Greg Van Eekhout

NC My husband loved this book — and he’s kind of picky– which is why I’m giving it away. I figure I should show some love to Andres’s favorites as well. I’m sure I’ll love it too when I get a chance to read it. This book comes highly recommended by people I trust, and I’m excited about reading it. You guys should be too.

Shannon K. Butcher

ftl Finally, I have a special treat: an ARC of FINDING THE LOST. This is book two in Shannon’s paranormal romance series, and it’s not out yet. But you can get a sneak peek here, if you’re one of the lucky winners. My awesome editor totally hooked me up with some sweet, sweet prizes. You know you want this book. How sexy is that cover?

So those are the prizes: three books and one ARC. Four winners, who will be announced on Friday. Here’s the question you have to answer to enter:

Which one of these books do you want most? There can be only one!

(Note: since drawing is random, you may not win the one you ask for.)

Orgy winners

Wow, that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I am allotting the books to winners in order names were drawn. Here we go:

Quatrain – CC
Gateway – Mishel
The Last Will of Moira Leahy – Laurie F
Wicked Enchantment arc – Pam K

Y’all need to Email me your names and addresses. If I don’t hear from you within a week, then I’m keeping this book money for myself. Mwahahaha! And I will taunt you with the books I bought. On Monday, we’ll have the second week of the orgy with more books and arcs. Yummy.

The Skin Game Book Orgy

Skin Game It’s less than a month now until the release of SKIN GAME. This has been one amazing autumn and it’s only just getting started! What a long, crazy road it has been; I’ve wanted to publish a romance pretty much all my life, and so this is the culmination of all my dreams. I am thrilled, of course, with my success in science fiction and urban fantasy, but I’ve been a romance reader (along with SF&F) all my life. So this just totally kicks ass.

People have asked me why a pen name for romances and why specifically Ava Gray. You can find those answers here.

What are people saying about SKIN GAME? Well, they’re loving it.

“4 1/2 stars. A sexy sizzler of a story about a con girl and an assassin, with just a soupçon of paranormal, this book will cause compulsive reading. If you loved Linda Howard’s Death Angel, then lunge for this one.” –Romantic Times

Because I’m so happy, I want to share that glow with y’all. And that’s why we’re having a proper book orgy up in here for the month of October. I’ll be giving away a slew of books by authors I love. To win, all you need to do is show up. The more you comment, the better your chance to win because I’ll be picking my winners through a random number generator. As always, no spamming, no random links.

Here’s who I have in store for you this week:

Sharon Shinn

quatrainMy goodness, I love her books. If you’ve spent any time on the blog, or know me at all, you’ve probably heard the “I used to buy Sharon Shinn books instead of food” story. I won’t tell it (that’s basically it, except with a few more superlatives thrown in). gatewayAnyway, Sharon has two books coming out in October: talk about an embarrassment of riches! Her books are called Quatrain and Gateway. The former is a set of four novellas, set in four different worlds, each written with Sharon’s rich, lyrical style. The latter is a YA based in an alternate reality St. Louis. I had the pleasure of hearing Sharon read from it at ArmadilloCon and it’s wonderful! I’ll be giving away one of each.

Therese Walsh

LWoMLThis is our next giveaway item. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is one of the best books I’ve read all year. The writing is just lovely: deep, evocative, poignant and lyrical. This is a book that’s so beautiful, it hurts to read it. I’ve seldom read anything so magical or so perfect. In a way, this book is literature, but it’s not the kind where everyone dies in the end or sets forth the belief that sadness cannot be healed, that grief cannot be overcome. This book is powerful and incandescent; it’s about love and family and secrets and heartbreak, but it’s also fearless and strong and utterly irresistible. I’m giving away a copy of this book, too. Therese Walsh is going places, and you’ll want to board the train early.

Anya Bast

wickedenchantment Finally, I have a special treat: an ARC of Wicked Enchantment. Anya is both an awesome person and an gifted author, so I know you’re all dying to get your hands on this one. Click the cover to read the blurb because, WOW. how awesome does that sound? If you love yummy, sexy fae, you don’t want to miss this. It’s the first book in a new series, and you can get a hold of it right here, this week only.

Those are the prizes: three books and one ARC. Four winners, who will be announced on Friday. Here’s the question you have to answer to enter:

You’re having a party with fictional characters. Which heroes or heroines do you invite? Limit yourself to ten. If you want a more intimate party *nudge nudge wink wink*, include less.

True story

I finished Shady Lady revisions today. The book is now with a couple of trusty beta readers and I have washed my hands of it for the time being. Here’s some stuff you might not know about me:

When I’m working hardcore, I’m insanely focused. I do only the minimum to keep this house running. My family takes up a lot of the slack, and they are awesome. Sometimes I forget to eat. Often, I forget to eat. You wouldn’t know that by looking at me, but it’s true. I work on a book to the exclusion of all else, just about. These revisions were challenging because my work day was broken up with promo and guest blogging. So that meant I burned the midnight oil instead. I went with less sleep. I lived in my jammies. Clean ones, of course. Showers are not optional.

That means I haven’t had on a decent outfit in weeks. (I don’t count the jeans and t-shirt I wore out to the family restaurant on Wednesday night. My brother in law owns part of a restaurant, and I love hanging out there because it’s close by. Great for when there’s no way I’m cooking.) It also means I have no idea what my conference clothes are doing; you know, the nice ones I wear on special occasions…and to conferences. So today, I dragged out my good black pants and a black shirt with white and brown embroidery around the neck. (I’m going out to lunch with the family and want to look decent.) Both shirt and pants are … TOO BIG. The shirt is quite large, and the pants are 2-3 inches gapping in the waist. Finally, my work ethic is having some impact on my body! You know, that doesn’t involve sweating and working out. Maybe the forgetting-to-eat thing had something to do with it. I never try to lose weight because I am of the opinion that weight loss / weight gain, the yo-yoing, is worse than just being whatever you are, eating reasonably well and getting a fair amount of exercise. I’m at peace with my body. But it’s never a bad thing to find out your pants are a little too big. *grin*

Anyway, apart from the contests I’ll be running on my blog, I’m going to unplug for a bit. That means I’ll be off the internet as much as I can be, enjoying my time off and spending it with my family. If it’s urgent, mark it so in email, okay? I’ll be back around in a week or two.

Showing Empathy

Have you ever thought about what this means? Are you a good listener? By which I mean, you’re not thinking about other things or plotting a scene in your head, or deciding what you’ll say when it’s your turn to talk next.

Maybe it’s because authors can become egocentric that I’m thinking about this today, but I decided to write this post because I think it’s an important reminder for all people that the world is a big place, and everything isn’t about you.

I mean, we all have a tendency to make things about us and filter things through our experiences. Sometimes we don’t get what the other person is saying because of it. We all have a tendency to do it. But we can’t let our self-involvement get in the way of caring and making connections. We can’t let jealousy or envy color our responses. We live in an age of ennui, when there’s an excess of everything except compassion and kindness. sad_smiley

I challenge you to think about your last conversation. Were you an engaged listener? Did you come into it without an agenda? When was the last time you talked to someone just because you wanted to, not because you had something you needed to get out of it? To some extent, this behavior is natural and human. It’s only when it occurs to the exclusion of showing empathy at all that it becomes problematic.

If you tell me your sister has broken a bone, and I’m like, I broke a bone once, that’s a problem. The proper response should be along the lines of, OMG, how? Is she ok otherwise? I hope nobody else was hurt. Are you all right? Or some combination thereof. Not because you know your friend’s sister or because it impacts you in some way, but because her hurt presumably hurts your friend. Right?

I wonder if all the modern conveniences have impacted our ability to focus on other people. We live in a me-world, and sometimes it makes me sad.