Tag Archives: fiction

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 Pixabay.com)

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 https://insideromance.com/search?type=product&q=allie+ritch. Now through 5/31/17, Inside Romance is offering 20% off when you enter the coupon code displayed at the top of their site.


Lisa M. Owens and her book Damaged

My guest today is author Lisa M. Owens, who is here to share her book Damaged. Welcome, Lisa!


This story started out as a simple writing assignment. When I published my first book to LSB, I was required to attend a writing class. We had a simple assignment: write a short story about two people who meet on a flight to Texas. My imagination started working overtime and I turned in what I thought was a simple writing assignment. But before I knew it, Trisha and Austin were practically screaming at me to finish their story.

So I did.


Damaged Ebook Cover

Freedom isn’t free.

Staff Sergeant Austin Chandler learned this lesson well. Dealing with the devastating truth that his military career is over, he is discharged from the Marines and returns home from fighting the war in Afghanistan with battle scars he fears will never heal. But the truth is a bitter pill to swallow when he arrives at the airport and realizes his wife has abandoned him when he needed her the most. Broken in body as well as in spirit, Austin suffers not only from the slow-healing scars on his back, but also the wounds that her desertion has left on his troubled heart.

Until a chance encounter with a beautiful artist leaves him wondering if perhaps some things are meant to be. Trisha Morgan has secrets she desperately wants to hide. With a troubled past and abandonment issues of her own, she fears love only leads to rejection and pain.

But can two wounded souls break through the battered barriers of each other’s hearts?


Damaged Excerpt

Trisha had thought that she would never see him again. Even though he wasn’t hers, he had never been hers; she had always thought of him as her marine.

That airplane flight to Texas had changed her life for the better. It had opened her eyes, in more ways than one. Because of him, she had realized that she had never truly loved Ty and she never would have been good enough for him. Or for his family.

Trisha Morgan had often fantasized about what would happen if she ran across the tall, broad-shouldered, good-looking Marine again. They had had an instant connection, they had both felt it. But since both of them had been attached, nothing more than a new friendship could evolve between the two of them.

Austin Chandler walking in on her while she was as naked as the day she was born was not one of the many scenarios that she had envisioned.

Wet skin. Long legs that seemed to go on forever. Waxed bikini line. Delicately-painted red toenails. Pink-tinged, erect nipples. Large, full breasts still wet from a recent shower. Small droplets of water that he could lick off drop by delicious drop.

She shrieked with surprise, her hands drawing her towel even tighter around her shaking body.

A sudden thought occurred to her.

He wasn’t wearing a ring.

She screamed the sound sharp enough to shatter glass. Wrapping a fluffy, blue towel around her slender body, she paused, apparently not knowing what to say.

When Austin was finally able to raise his eyes from admiring her ass…ets, his dark brown gaze slowly travelled up her perfectly proportioned body before focusing on her flushed, embarrassed face. It was her. The girl from the plane over three years ago.

Their eyes met and time seemed to stand still. This was fate, destiny, kismet.

Trisha stood there trembling. She had imagined this moment for so long, yet when it finally came, it was nothing like she had expected. She had never been one of those girls who hopped into the nearest bed with a complete and total stranger.

But Austin wasn’t a stranger, she struggled to remind herself. She had met him before. He was her hero, her knight in camouflage. He was her marine. She smiled. She wondered how he would feel if she were to confess that little secret to him. Would he be upset or would he be flattered?

A small hint of a smile played on her lips and he dropped his duffel bag onto the ugly, stained orange carpet of the hotel room floor. He had dreamed of this moment, he had longed for it. He had longed for her. On the bed, against the wall, on the tile of the bathroom shower stall, any way he could have her.


Links to find Lisa






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Why Re-Releases Are Exciting

New and shiny always draws attention, so we all know why a brand new book release is exciting. But what about re-releases? They are just as worth celebrating, and let me tell you why.

When you get a new hairstyle or a new outfit, how do you feel?  Pumped up? Happy? It’s still you under there, and you haven’t really changed, but it’s fun to freshen things up once in a while. And some people may not have met you before, so it’s a nice way to make a great first impression.

A re-released book works the same way. Does the book tell the same overall story? Yes. But it has been newly polished and updated, and it has slipped on a sexy new cover it wants to show off. The book is ready to attract attention and meet new friends, or maybe even get reacquainted with an old buddy or two. Re-releases not only went through rigorous editing the first time around; they’ve usually gone through revisions and re-edits yet again before their new debut. That means you’re probably getting an even higher quality book.

So let’s hear it for books undergoing a makeover. Re-releases are definitely exciting.

World Building vs. Relationship Building

One thing contemporary romance writers don’t have to worry about is world building. After all, the setting of contemporaries, by definition, is the world as it is today. The characters are regular human beings with no special powers, and the settings are identifiable. All I have to do is mention New York or Paris or London, and you automatically have a picture in your head, even if you’ve never personally visited those places before.

Those of us who write speculative fiction like SFR or PNR have a much more difficult time. I can’t just refer to planet Quixotok and expect you to form a mental image of it. Is it a desert planet? Jungle? Industrial? Are the skies blue or purple or red? Is there even any breathable air there? I have to describe this planet if I want the reader to visualize it. I also have to go into a certain amount of detail about the people/aliens, culture, and customs on this planet, the same as I would need to describe the special abilities and social arrangement of any group of paranormal creatures I might create in another book.

While I’m building this whole world for these aliens or supernaturals, I also have to make sure I spend enough time on the romance. The relationship between the main characters has to build too. It’s not always easy to balance those two elements, and there’s rarely a perfect 50/50 split. If there’s more world-building than romance, the book tends to get classified, for example, as romantic science fiction or science fiction with strong romantic elements.  If the romance is definitely the main focus, then the work gets classified as a Romance, but with the subgenre Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Paranormal.

What kind of balance do you like to see in your mixed-genre romances?

Fall In Love with One-Liners

Followers of my blog know I enjoy one-liners. These are short snippets from books that grab your interest, make you smile, or cause you to fan your face — sometimes all three at once. When I put out a call for one-liners from my fellow authors, I got an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. Thirty-one writers submitted the lines below.

They include Allie Quinn, Allyson Lindt, Annette Mardis, Clancy Nacht, Daisy Banks, Draven St. James, Elle Rush, Emma Weylin, Eva Lefoy, Gordon L. Rottman, Haley Whitehall, Houston Havens, Jessica E. Subject, Jianne Carlo, K. Vale, Laurel Richards, Layne Macadam, Leela Lou Dahlin, Michele Michael Rakes, Neil Plakcy, Paisley Brown, Pauline Saull, Rita Bay, Rosanna Leo, Shiloh Saddler, Sotia Lazu, Tami Lund, Tara Lain, Tara Quan, Whitley Gray, and Xakara.

Thank you to all these authors for participating and making this post so much fun.


“Looking at him nude and bathed in moonlight, I understood the temptation to take a bite.” Wild Side by Laurel Richards

Hot lust flooded her body, incited by the nearness of her mate. — “Breeding Season” by Allie Ritch in Children of Nanook Boxed Set

“Don’t need any foreplay,” Tania muttered. Axe chuckled. “Tough. I do.” Prymal Lust (Prymal Book 1) by Jianne Carlo

“I want you right now,” she whispered. Well, he would show her what right now really meant. Under the Cover of Moonlight (Moonlight Assassins series #2) by Allie Quinn

“Actually, I’m debating whether you’re charmingly candid or irritatingly blunt.” Shore Feels Right by Annette Mardis

“I’ve never been the settle-down-with-the-high-school-sweetheart kind of girl.” Predator’s Claim (Gemini Island Shifters 4) by Rosanna Leo

The kiss lingered in that place between bawdy and chaste, the kind of thing that always had a respectable hemline but never wore underwear. Its Sweetest Form by Xakara

“Nicolette learned naughty girls eventually face consequences.” The Caretaker’s Lady by Rita Bay

Aiden grabbed the bag of homemade jerky out of the refrigerator. “You smell like my mate.” Dark Forest by Emma Weylin

“Touch her and you’re minus the ability to procreate.” Prymal Obsession (Prymal Book 2) by Jianne Carlo

Jace pressed his forehead against Merek’s slick back. His canines still ached from the desire to sink into Merek’s flesh. “Why what?”  “Why didn’t you claim me?” Merek asked. Scent of a Wolf by Draven St. James

“Five foot, eight inches and nin-” and then it hit her. He was five foot eight inches tall with a nine inch cock. She gasped. “Nikias!” Phantom Desire (Book 2 of the Psychic Menage Series) by Houston Havens

“Oh, I see you found my penis.” Download My Love by Eva Lefoy

Hello. I’m the guy our mutual friends have asked to be your sex instructor. How’s it hangin’? Artistic Endeavor by Whitley Gray

I know how to introduce a woman to pleasure. — “Alien Sex Therapy” by Allie Ritch in the Alien Sex Ed Boxed Set

“It should only ever be my name on your lips when you let go, Kyr. Just me.” Hard Act to Follow (Shooting Stars Book 3) by K. Vale

“You think you can make me beg for death?” “Only a little death,” she said with a wink. Unmasked by Allie Ritch

“I’m never going to hurt you, my Sunny. I need brightness in my life.” His eyes were dark with need. Before the Dawn by Emma Weylin

“I seldom get such a heated gaze from a man.” Country Crush by Shiloh Saddler

Of all the women on Earth — hell, in the universe — for him to be set up with, Madame Eve had to pick the one lover he could never have. His Alien Virgin by Jessica E. Subject

His mind clouded with lust. He shouldn’t be watching Mica, but looking away wasn’t an option. He was mesmerized. Grey’s Hidden Fire by Draven St. James

“Maybe she’s been replaced by a pod person.” Drama Queen by Elle Rush

But, had he the right to give her — this perfect, beautiful creature — his love, tainted, filthy and foul as he was? Timeless by Daisy Banks

The handsome half-breed could be the perfect man for her. Wild and Tender Care by Haley Whitehall

“True, what were you thinking trying to hook me up with a man who should be on the cover of Out of Your League magazine?” The room was so silent you could’ve heard a mouse peeing on a cotton ball. A Haught Date by Leela Lou Dahlin

How did something with no solid form provide so much pleasure? Sexy Suitors from Space by Paisley Brown

Then he was gone, leaving him alone with his strange, unmet desires. Saltwater Lover by Shiloh Saddler

He had his own plan — one no one else knew about — the only plan capable of destroying Planet Core forever. Never Gonna Say Goodbye (The Underground #3) by Jessica E. Subject

“If you run” — his grip tightened — “I’ll catch you. Then I’ll tie you up and haul your ass back to the city.” Catching Red (Undead Fairy Tales Book 2) by Tara Quan

Suddenly his face broke into a sexily shy smile. He released her arm. “You’re a woman of spirit,” he said. “That really appeals to me.” Secrets in Paradise by Pauline Saull

She wasn’t sure she wanted to be closer to him, but she knew she didn’t want to push him away. Midnight Heat (Moonlight Romance, Book 2) by Haley Whitehall

If I ever go back home, how can I admit to doing this? I’ll be laughed out of the fairy court. Valentine Wishes by Daisy Banks

“I’m here for you, my woman. You’ve chosen me.” Fiona’s Wish by Daisy Banks

“I am here to service you, my lady. Not myself.” Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance, Book 1) by Haley Whitehall

She looked at me with a smug crooked smile from under her shawl. Fire flickered in her eyes like lightning. That shoulda told me something about her then. The Hardest Ride by Gordon L. Rottman

He really meant to make it last all night and give a new meaning to the word ride, but he couldn’t stop the urgent flame her touch fueled within him. In the Dead of Cold (Moonlight Assassins series #1) by Allie Quinn

He lay back and moaned, loving the rider’s rough handling and shoving his hips forward for more. Perfect Ride by Shiloh Sadlder and Eva Lefoy

“I wish Kenna and I could share a real love, the self-sacrificing kind. The kind that never gives up and eventually works. She deserves it.” Druid’s Wish by Emma Weylin

Ice ignored her and in a voice as cold as his name demanded, “Who sent you the flowers?” Desire Unleashed by Layne Macadam

He may have a pretty face, but it was clear Danikyle had rocks in his head. Star Crossed Lovers by Layne Macadam

“Please, madam? May I not eat my apple without this diatribe?” A Gentleman’s Folly by Daisy Banks

“Our diver is anything but an inattentive imbecile.” The Shore Thing by Annette Mardis

“Not you.” His voice was raw. “I will spend an eternity in Hell before I watch you die.” Spell Bound by Emma Weylin

“There are worse things than death,” he snapped at her. Bring Me to Life by Emma Weylin

Essentially, Allie was caught in a cancer catch-22. Getting Her Money’s Worth by Annette Mardis

No matter how rattled she was, how wasted she felt, she clearly saw what was in store for them. Karen had undergone a transformation at some fundamental level. She would never be safe again, she would always be hungry, she must always be on guard, she must always think ahead. The Tears of the River by Gordon L. Rottman

“Remember, my lady, as things are tonight, the commander may like this part of his reward less than you.” A Perfect Match by Daisy Banks

“I have a personal interest in this particular assignment, Allison. When Brianna and her family safely leave town, I intend to sleep with you.” The Resort by Tami Lund

“Later, when Collin and I make love to you, I want you wearing nothing but that cute little Santa hat you’re wearing now.” An Angel for Christmas by Allie Quinn

Sharing her bed gave her a delightful thrill; right now she didn’t feel alone. Soldier in Her Lap by Haley Whitehall

“So you want to have sex with me because I’m here, I find you attractive, and I won’t be a complication in the future? I see you have high standards.” The Tenant by Sotia Lazu

“So you’d rather take your chances in the love van than the rain? At least now I know your limits. You’re not worried I might be bad news?” Conflict of Interest (Bits & Bytes, #1) by Allyson Lindt

This was his room — he had every right to be here. She was the stowaway. Midnight Kiss (Moonlight Romance, Book 3) by Haley Whitehall

“It’s just a dance,” Aspen whispered. Garren knew nothing with Aspen would be simple. Covert Delivery by Draven St. James

They couldn’t compete with the ladies who danced for her. The Virgin Madam by Shiloh Saddler

I bend over him, knowing he feels the press of my dick against him, and it worries me. I whisper low. “Do you want me to feed you?” Saving Kane by Michele Micheal Rakes

“Hark! Do I hear the mating call of a closet case? Say it again, sir, that we all may bask in your repression!” No Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht

“Warren Updegrove was so deep in the closet he was about to find Narnia.” Love on Stage by Neil Plakcy (coming fall 2014)

Mayhap tomorrow his world would come to rights and he’d find his Sal. Your Heart My Soul by Daisy Banks

Noah had kissed him. Probably just to prove Will was gay, but no such proof was needed. Will’s cock was a compass that pointed due Noah. Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain

Simon’s head bowed. Michael put his finger under Simon’s chin and tilted his face up. “Don’t hide from me.” Fused by Fire by Draven St. James


If you would like to read more one-liners, check out the following posts:

One-liners (Part 1)

One-liners (Part 2)

Hooked on One-Liners – Part 1

Hooked on One-Liners – Part 2


Love Scenes: More Than Physical

Writing an effective love scene is more than describing the actual mechanics of the act. Otherwise, romance novels would read like biology textbooks, and where’s the fun in that? These scenes also require more than good use of the five senses. They demand context and emotion. Take the following scene, for example:

(1) She sat, unmoving, as he stood behind her chair and ran his hands over her shoulders.

“So tense,” he said.

He massaged her knotted muscles until she relaxed. If he could make her feel this good with such a simple touch, she couldn’t wait to enjoy the rest of the night.

Goose bumps popped up, and her skin tingled when he shifted his hands to the front of her blouse. She watched, trembling, as he loosened the buttons one by one.

Okay, that’s heating things up. It looks like the beginning of a hot love scene. But look at what happens with a few minor changes:

(2) Tied to the chair, she sat unmoving as a he stood behind her and ran his hands over her shoulders.

“So tense,” he said to mock her.

His grip tightened over her knotted muscles. It was a simple touch, but it made her dread what he had in store for her tonight.

Goose bumps popped up, and her skin crawled when he shifted his hands to the front of her blouse. She watched, shuddering, as he loosened the buttons one by one.

The “he” in the first example is obviously the hero. In the second example, he’s the villain. How do we know? Several ways:

(1) Context — We know the heroine is tied to the chair in the second example, so she’s probably not there of her own volition. Unless she signed up for a bondage game, of course, but we know that’s not the case because of

(2) Word Choice — He “mocks” her in the second example, and she “dreads” being with him. He even makes her skin “crawl” not “tingle.” Then we also have her

(3)Emotional Reaction — In the second example, the heroine dreads being with him and has to brace herself. She doesn’t anticipate enjoying the evening with him like she does in the first example.

Context is the easiest element since the writer has the whole work to establish the characters and their relationships and motivations. Word choice and injecting emotion can be trickier. Some people interpret a word like “grabbed” as a violent motion, while someone else might simply think of it as “to pick up or take hold.” Revealing emotions can sometimes be tricky to show not tell, especially in the midst of a scene with a lot of physical sensation. It can be difficult to show that the characters are falling in love as well as lust.

It takes the right combination of all these elements to make a love scene really sizzle. When that happens, though, the result is a nice hot read.