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Animal Fascination Inspires Tribal Shift

 (excerpted from a post originally shared on Jianne Carlo’s blog 10/4/13)

Tribal Shift is a full-length novel that’s packed with so many of the elements I enjoy, especially my love of fantasy and fascination with animals.

I think the latter is something all of us shifter writers must have. I, for one, watch a ton of Animal Planet and am always amazed by the wondrous creatures that share this world with us. Fact really can be stranger than fiction, and some of the species discovered in exotic locations are even more fantastical than anything we authors come up with.

Kalya, the heroine of Tribal Shift, offered me the chance to—pardon the pun—go wild with my imagination and include dozens of different animals. She’s an omnimorph—a shifter who can morph into almost anything. Throughout the novel, she transforms into everything from a Secretary Bird to a jaguar, and she can travel by air, land, or water. And Rasik, the caracal shifter who loves her, is no less amazing.

Because I incorporated so many animals into Tribal Shift, I had to do a lot of research for this book. While I certainly didn’t bog down the story with too many facts (there were scorching sex scenes demanding attention, after all), I did want to be certain I was accurate in my descriptions and what I had the hero and heroine do in each form. I learned more than I expected and had a blast in the process.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the more interesting tidbits I discovered, so here are some nifty facts:

(1)  Secretary Birds can grow to be four feet tall. That’s as tall as some of my younger relatives and wouldn’t be a big adjustment for a shifter, since the bird spends most of its time on the ground walking on two legs.

(2)  Tigers are the largest cat species and can reach up to eleven feet in length. They have canine teeth about three inches long! Kalya definitely uses this form to her advantage when some power-hungry leopard shifters try to hurt Rasik.

(3)  Unlike the noisy spotted hyena, the striped hyena is less vocal and usually silent. As Rasik and Kalya witness, this quiet menace can be far more frightening.

(4)  A crocodile can’t move its tongue (it’s attached to the bottom of its mouth). That feels very strange to Kalya, especially since she can’t change her facial expression while in crocodile form.

(5)  The maned wolf has a roar-bark that can be quite startling. Kalya shocks her runaway cousin when she yells at the girl while in the body of this wolf.

Tribal Shift is filled with hot romance, lethal danger, and a safari-like adventure that will carry you across the wilderness. I hope you’ll come along for the journey.

E-book: Amazon: US, UK, CA, AU Barnes and NobleiBooks Kobo InkteraInside Romance

Print: Createspace Amazon: US, UK, CABooks-A-Million Barnes and Noble

Getting Free E-books Safely and Legally

I recently signed up for Blasty after it was recommended to me by several authors. I knew when I went into it that I wouldn’t like seeing how many times my books have been pirated. Even so, I was unprepared to learn that I’ve been robbed of about $50,000 worth of e-books! To put that in perspective, one of my publishers just sent me a monthly royalty check for $2.19.

Now, I know most of the people downloading pirated copies would never have paid to buy my books legally. They would say that since they weren’t going to make a purchase anyway, what’s the difference? Why should they be deprived of reading the book? Well, I’m never going to buy a mansion, but you don’t see me breaking into one while the owners are away just so I can enjoy lounging around it for several hours. The kicker, though, is that no one has to be deprived of reading an e-book anyhow.

There are legal ways to get free or cheap e-books that support authors. I wrote a whole article about it in August of 2012. I think that post bears updating and repeating, because I really do want to stay positive and encourage all the voracious readers out there to get ahold of the books they want the right way. As an added benefit, these methods are way safer for your computer. In using Blasty, I came across half-a-dozen pirate sites that tried to load a virus to my computer (just for visiting the page, not even hitting that download button). You certainly don’t want to crash a $500+ computer trying to steal a $3.99 book.

So without further ado, here are some great ways to legally download those e-books you want:

1. LIBRARIES – If you’re a reader, you can’t tell me you don’t love the library. With so many libraries stocking their Overdrives with e-books, you don’t even have to leave home. Downloading e-books from the library is free to patrons, yet it also helps out the authors. The library purchases a copy of the author’s book to lend out. If the librarian sees that the book is popular (feel free to borrow it 50,000 times!), then she/he will be likely to order more titles by that author. This gives us writers exposure to all the readers in that library system and can really help our rankings. I get at least half of the books I read from my library.

And if your library doesn’t have the e-book you want, go to their website and look for something like “Send Request” to ask your library to either borrow the book from another library through Interlibrary Loans or to purchase a copy of the e-book for the Overdrive. You can also just use the “Contact Us” on the library website to contact a librarian, or you can visit the library in person. Your taxes are already supporting the libraries, so you might as well use them.

2. FREE READS – A lot of authors offer free reads—either permanently or for a given week or weekend. Jump on these offers! If the author is new to you, this is a great way to try out their work. At the time of my writing this, there are over 100,000 free e-books on Amazon alone. You can find free books in lots of different places, including

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Barnes & Noble:




Inside Romance:

Coffee Time Romance:

3. GIVEAWAYS – Every author I know does a giveaway at some point, and there are also the fantastic TRR Parties at The Romance Reviews, where readers get to play games to be entered for prizes. Yet you wouldn’t believe how many people skip these giveaways, or they win and never collect their prize. Your chance of winning can be 100% if you’re the only one who takes the thirty seconds to enter. The best part is that entering these contests boosts traffic and helps us authors get the word out about our books. You can increase your odds of winning even more if you follow a blog hop, where multiple authors participate and offer prizes. You’ll see announcements for giveaways on Twitter and other social media, as well as author websites. Don’t miss the giveaways and contests on review sites, either. Here are just a few:

Long and Short Reviews (LASR):

The Romance Reviews (TRR):

Coffee Time Romance:

Hearts on Fire Reviews:

4. BOOK BLOGGERS/REVIEWERS – Authors everywhere are desperate to have their books reviewed, yet there aren’t enough reviewers to handle the demand. You don’t have to be a fantastic writer yourself to do a review. Just write a paragraph or two saying what you honestly thought about a book. It’s so simple: explain what you liked about the story and what you didn’t like about it. That’s it! As author Pippa Jay commented, you can start by reviewing a few books you’ve already read. Here are some sites looking for reviewers:

Manic Readers:

The Romance Reviews (TRR):

The Romance Studio:

Joyfully Reviewed:

Night Owl Reviews:

Long and Short Reviews:

Coffee Time Romance:

Hearts on Fire Reviews:

As a last resort, you can e-mail the author directly to request a copy for review. We’d much rather gift you an e-book than see you go out and get a pirated one. As long as you hold up your end of the bargain with a rating and review on Amazon and Goodreads, we authors are happy to work out a trade.


So please keep reading, and get those e-books the ethical way. I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the readers out there who have bought my books and supported and encouraged me to keep writing. Thank you!


See the original post “Legal Alternatives to Piracy” at


Picture from (Creative Commons)

How Gilby Got His Own Story

(excerpted from a post originally shared on Jianne Carlo’s blog 6/19/13)

Each book I write has its own journey and its own challenges, and In Season, the sequel to Mating Season, is no exception.

I first concocted Mating Season after the notion of doing a winter-themed work collided in my brain with a wildlife documentary that had inspired me. When Mating Season was released, I had no idea it would become my most popular work. I was flattered and thrilled to see how well readers received it and then shocked when a couple of people mentioned wanting to see more in the series. Huh? Series? I hadn’t thought of doing a sequel to Mating Season, but once the idea was planted in my head, I kept thinking about it.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized Gilby deserved his own story. There were a couple of obstacles, though. In Mating Season, Gilby was a short, chatty fellow who tended to blurt out whatever was on his mind. He was also loyal, brave, and honest. I refused to change him. I think we’ve all read series where the secondary character from an earlier book somehow morphs into an entirely different personality by the time he takes center stage. Gilby wasn’t going to get bigger or quieter or any more tactful. He already had a lot of excellent qualities and was fine the way he was. He just needed to find someone who could see all his good points and love him for his true self. He needed the heroine, Miksa. The challenge, which I hope I succeeded at, was to present Gilby to readers in such a way that they see him as Miksa does.

The second difficulty I faced was to keep the story fresh and flowing well. I didn’t want to repeat what I’d done in Mating Season, but there were certain elements that had to be included because of the first book. Namely, I was still going to have the arctic planet of Jensen, the Children of Nanook (the frost-bear shifters), and the challenge of finding love in a frozen wilderness.

I hate to say something unbearably clichéd like every snowflake is unique, but in the end it did come down to a simple matter of Gilby making In Season special. He’s a very different type of hero, and thus his story has its own flavor. Gilby isn’t like Koll, and his romance with Miksa isn’t either. As for keeping good pacing, I opted to make this work a short novella to prevent the story from lagging or dragging out. Like Gilby, In Season is short and sweet. I really hope readers enjoy it.

Amazon: US, UK, CA, AU Barnes and Noble iBooks Kobo InkteraInside Romance

How to Find Great Books in a Glutted Market

For the purpose of this post, what I mean by a great book is two things: (1) A book that is reasonably free from misspellings, poor sentence structure, bad prose, and outright mistakes. (2) A book that speaks to the individual reader. This is entirely subjective, but we all have personal preferences as to genre, theme, and author voice. You can love one story and hate another even if both are well written, and only you can determine what kinds of books you really enjoy.

But how do you find the books that are good quality and that you personally would love to read? With the massive number of e-books out there, how do you sift through them all to find the right one? Most of us probably download a book within the first ten pages of results on the bookseller’s site, even though the most incredible book could be on page thirty. We simply aren’t going to scroll that far. So we have to find other ways to narrow the search.

Once upon a time, you could count on certain publishers for the books you wanted. As more publishers close up shop, however, and even big-time authors switch to indie publishing in order to offer readers less expensive books, this has become a far less effective method of focusing your search. But here are some other ways you can try to find the right book to read.

(1) This is a bit of a no-brainer, but one easy method is to keep reading books by authors you already know and like. In order to stay informed about the author’s catalog and new releases, you can do several things. If you don’t mind mail in your e-mail Inbox, you can sign up for the author’s newsletter if they have one. You can also follow the author on social media. For example, I’m always sure to announce my new releases as well as discounts and other promotions on Twitter (@AllieRitch) and Google+, and a lot of writers have Facebook accounts. You can also follow your favorite authors on Goodreads, Bookbub, Manic Readers, or The Romance Reviews.

(2) Eventually, you’ll want to try a new author. This is where all that scrolling comes into play, if you’re trying to find something just by browsing. Remember, though, that where you browse and where you buy don’t have to be the same place. If huge booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble have you going cross-eyed, maybe you should browse on a different site. For instance, a site like Inside Romance (created by those who brought you The Romance Reviews) has hundreds of books, not millions, and offers two different viewing methods while browsing: covers or covers with blurbs. You won’t get slammed with as many choices, allowing you to look more closely at your options. Be it Kobo, Inktera, or wherever, go to the site that offers you the browsing method you like best. Then you can either purchase the book there if you already have or decide to create an account (especially if there’s a sale going on), or you can head to your bookseller of choice to search for that title specifically.

(3) Sample an author’s work. Start with the blurb. Is it well written? Does it have you interested in the book? The blurb is your first introduction to a writer’s ability, style, and the book they’re trying to sell. If the blurb has you intrigued, then you can take the next step and read the excerpt. Many booksellers offer excerpts on their sites, or almost every author I know has an excerpt on his/her website. You can see here that I have a whole page on my site dedicated to excerpts from my books. Sites like Amazon also allow you to preview the first chapter on the book page. This is a great way to take the book for a test drive before committing to it. Most of the books I’ve purchased have been ones that hooked me with the blurb and/or excerpt, which I’ve come across at a TRR Party, blog, or on social media.

(4) These days, there are lots of free or low-cost e-books. That’s great for the pocketbook, but I think we all know how much chaff there is among the wheat. This is where you need to be a bit of a detective. If the authors are new to you, make sure you check out their resumes, so to speak. Are all their books free or $0.99? Have they written more than one or two titles? Are any of those titles longer than a short story or tiny novella? (I’m not targeting short-story writers here, but rather the huge proliferation of short works presented as if they were novels. You see a glut of these after every NaNoWriMo).

Professional writers who work hard to hone their craft and present readers with the best version of their books need to earn enough to cover the charges for editing, formatting, cover art, and advertising. Those writers might offer a couple of free or low-cost options to get readers to try their work. In my case, I offer Sexy Shorts for $0.99, so readers can try five complete short stories that include standalones and stories set in my Alien Sex Ed series and Children of Nanook series. This is basically a form of advertising for us authors—a gamble to try to get new readers hooked on our work. But serious writers aren’t going to undervalue their books to the point of giving all their titles away for nothing. If you see an author who has published very little and/or underprices their full catalog, your chances of getting a great book from them are incredibly slim.

If you’re considering a new-to-you author and the book is an indie title, I would also recommend checking if that author ever published through a non-vanity press before going the indie route. I’m indie publishing most of my titles now, but only after going through established online presses for over a decade. I can’t tell you how much I have learned about the writing craft and the industry from publishers like Loose Id, Liquid Silver Books, Cobblestone Press, and others. And that’s not even to mention the networking those publishers have afforded me with editors, cover artists, and of course, other authors. I believe writers who skip this step altogether and go straight to self-publishing are missing an incredibly important education. That’s not to say they can’t still write great books, but it’s my opinion that they’ve handicapped themselves. I can’t tell you how often I have an Editor-of-Novels-Past whisper in my head when I write now. If you’re browsing and trying to make a choice on whose work to try next, go with the writer who has more experience and has paid his or her dues.

How do you find a great book to read? Have any good tips for book browsing? Please share.


(Photos are free for commercial use, no attribution required, from

Out Now! Unmasked

Looking for a steamy psychic romance? Unmasked is now available.

Amazon US  Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon AU Inktera

Kira has a unique psychic ability. She can control sexual desire. After being hurt by men in the past, she has decided to use her talent to interrogate them for information. She works freelance and does well in this lucrative business until she finally meets her match. Dixon Hazard is a political activist in possession of files that could damage several high-ranking officials. She works to uncover the location of those files, but she’s shocked to discover she’s not in control of the lust between them. Dixon sees beneath the mask Kira wears and uses the attraction between them to gain the upper hand. Is he just using her, or will he fulfill the dreams of romance she thought she’d abandoned?

Previously published by Cobblestone Press and Loose Id. This work has been re-edited.

Amazon US  Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon AU Inktera


Loose Id Drops Prices!

If you’re looking for a great bargain, go over to Loose Id. The well-known erotic romance publisher is dropping prices, especially on books that are the first in a series. Get my vampire romance Drinking Partners for $2 off, my polyamorous romance Husbandry for $2 off, and the rest of my books for $1 off.


A New Place to Shop for E-books

The Romance Reviews, well known for its TRR parties, announced the grand opening of Inside Romance this month. It appears to be an easy site to navigate, with the option of browsing by theme, by subgenre, or by using the Search at the top. I’ve loaded all my indie books to the site, which you can find at Now through 5/31/17, Inside Romance is offering 20% off when you enter the coupon code displayed at the top of their site.