Jenny Brown's Blog
February 10, 2012
The good news is that my publisher is finally waking up to the impact of pricing decisions on sales and has dropped the price of my debut novel, Lord Lightning, to $2.99 for the month of February.
My next book, Perilous Pleasures which comes out at the end of March, will also be discounted. It's priced at $4.99.
Of course, if sales don't improve at these lower prices, the publisher will assume that dropping the price is not a useful strategy. So let's hope readers respond by buying more copies at these new, lower prices.
September 6, 2011
Now that year is over, and I've completed 97 reviews. You can check them out here:
Jenny Brown's Goodreads.com Reviews
The best part of posting the reviews has been that it gives me the ability to go back months later and recall exactly how I responded to a given book. In the past, I might remember that I liked something, but the exact reasons would tend to fade away.
On the other hand, because I can't give every book a rave review, I'm probably piling up authorial karma for myself when I am completely honest about my responses to what I read. Being honest presents difficulties since I know people are out there reading and reviewing my work. I also know what a day-spoiler it is when they post harsh criticisms.
For that reason, as the year went on, I made the decision not to rate or review quite a few mediocre, but obscure, books I read this year. I knew the authors had received little from their books but the joy of publication, and I didn't want to ruin their days, especially if they were books that had little or no other reviews posted.
However, I felt no such compunctions in reviewing books whose authors received huge advances, massive publisher support, book tours, and sycophantic reviews that did not match up at all with what I found between the covers, especially when there were lots of other reviews repeating the judgements of whoever had anointed these authors as literary stars. I figured the authors of these kinds of books can survive a few discouraging words far better than most of us, and because I had read so many much better--and less hyped--books over this same year, I felt it worthwhile to warn readers who share my tastes that some of these books were a total waste of time and money.
What do you think? Do you review the books you read? If you do, how do you feel about what you do?
August 24, 2011
So this motivates me to do a lot of research about the things I put into my own books. I check the words I use in an etymological dictionary to make sure they were in use at the time of my story or not long after--since it takes a while for new words to appear in print. I research material details. If something appears in a room my characters walk through, it is often because I found it pictured in a contemporaneous print.
But I'm learning that using historically accurate facts in a novel can backfire, because the actual historical fact can conflict with what readers think they "know" based on their much more recent experience.
My hero's uniform is a case in point. Since I assigned him to an actual regiment that took part in the the Indian war I describe him as having fought in, I made a point of researching his uniform very carefully. I started out looking for images online and found a picture of a toy soldier from the same regiment. However, that toy soldier was dated a few years after my story took place, and further research into the history of that regiment taught me that my hero's regiment had been converted from a dragoon regiment to a hussar regiment the year after my story concludes, and that their uniform had been changed significantly after this conversion.
So that sent me back to do more research. Fortunately, through the magic of Google Books, I was able to find a book published only a few years before my time when my story was set that listed the specifics of the uniforms of each British Army regiment, including my hero's. It gave the color of the body of the uniform, the color of the facings, and of the lace, distinguishing between that found on officer's uniforms and that of the common soldier. Feeling on safe ground at last, I used it.
Only to have a reviewer insist I had gotten it wrong because her father-in-law--who one assumes was not in active service in 1820--had worn a uniform of a different color when he was in an Irish cavalry regiment. This, discrepancy, apparently, convinced the reviewer that my book was riddled with inaccuracies, an opinion she passed on to countless readers who when they pick up my book--if they bother--will approach it with the "knowledge" that it's all wrong.
Another reviewer who writes that she is of Indian descent, took issue with the name Trev uses to refer to the language he speaks with another Englishman who has spent many years in India. I had called it Hindustani, but the reviewer insisted that the language spoken in India is called Hindi. Well, yes, that is true today, but two hundred years ago, Englishmen in India spoke a different language when conversing with the locals--a lingua franca called Hindustani--which was a mixture of Hindi and Urdu (the language of the Mughals who still ruled large tracts of India.) This, too, was something I'd checked out before employing the phrase--but once again, what the reader knew about the present day made her assume what I'd done was wrong.
Of course it is possible, even with detailed research, that I will get some things wrong. I'm not writing for the Journal of Regency Studies, but for a reader who wants a deeply moving, passionate love story. At a certain point I have to let go of the research and follow my characters where they may lead me.
But I do want to assure those of you who do care about getting things right--and since my publisher has made a point of promoting my books as books that do get the historical details right I know you're out there--that I have done my research, quite a lot of it. So if something looks wrong, give me the benefit of the doubt, or if it really bothers you, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to explain my reasoning and listen to what you've found that might contradict it.
July 30, 2011
I'd been scheduled to appear on the blog to discuss Star Crossed Seduction and had already written my post, so rather than let it go to waste, I'm going to share it with you here.
Setting: London in 1820s.
Subgenre: Regency Historical Romance
Hero: Captain Miles Trevelyan, nicknamed Trev
Heroine: Temperance Smith
One sentence summary: In this Scorpio-themed book, a war-weary Cavalry officer, who is looking for a night of dalliance, rescues a beautiful pickpocket from arrest, but their casual encounter leads to a no holds barred battle of the sexes that threatens their very lives--unless they can heal their wounded hearts.
Scene you like most and would never cut: The scene that ensues when Trev, hoping to get the heroine out of his system, makes an assignation to meet her at a location she has let him believe is a brothel. It isn't.
Thing your heroine would never be caught dead doing/saying: God save the King! Temperance's whole life has been shaped by the republican ideals that brought her to London in the wake of a rabble-rousing revolutionary.
Tell us one quirky thing about your hero? Trev is fluent in several of the languages of India and has earned a reputation as being an expert in the interpretation of Sanskrit manuscripts--including the Kama Sutra.
What is your heroine's occupation: After the death of her lover, the revolutionary, Temperance and two young girls have supported themselves by picking pockets. Their only alternative was to work for the local bawd, Mother Bristwick.
What is your hero's occupation: Trev, who grew up in a military family, is a cavalry officer recently returned from fighting in India's Third Maratha War. But his real love is the "little jobs" he undertakes from time to time for the scheming head of India's Political and Secret Department.
What do you think readers will like best about this book: The intense battle of the sexes Temperance and Trev engage in as they pit their well-honed seductive talents against each other in a futile struggle to avoid the obsessional attraction that draws them together.
How does Star Crossed Seduction connect to Lord Lightning? Lord Hartwood and Eliza make a brief, but important appearance in this story when Eliza attempts to rescue Temperance from her chosen way of life by inviting her and her fellow pickpockets to become inmates at her new Refuge for Unfortunate Females Conducted on Strict Astrological Principles. Temperance, as you might imagine, doesn't take well to being reformed.
What's next: My next book in the Lords of the Seventh House series, which is not linked to the first two, will be the Pisces book, Perilous Pleasures. The hero is a Scottish lord with a tragic past who has taken a vow of chastity after falling under the sway of a mysterious teacher. I've paired him with a cynical Virgo who is the ugly daughter of a beautiful courtesan--the same courtesan the hero believes sent his sister to her death during the French Revolution.
1. What's your favorite kind of story to get lost in? I love long, beautifully written, complex emotionally wrenching stories where we get deep into the head of a masterful man who must go through painful growth before he can win our--and the heroine's--hearts.
2. What's the first book you remember reading? The first picture book I remember loving was If I ran the Zoo. The first chapter book was: Mara Daughter of the Nile. Or was it Johnny Tremaine? I've always loved stories with a historical setting.
3. What would your occupation be if you were no longer a writer? If reality was no bar? Fronting a heavy metal band. But if we have to stick with the possible, the sad truth is that I've been a writer for so long I'm not fit to do anything else.
4. What do you do to unwind and relax? Read.
May 14, 2011
I'm loving this cover because the characters look so much like the way they appeared in my mind's eye when I was writing their story. Temperance, the seductive pickpocket who is the heroine of Star Crossed Seduction, looks so much like what I imagined it's spooky.
Trev, my hero, is a bit harder and more mature than this cover model, as you'd expect of a man who has been on active service in a war zone in Northern India since his early teens. He's also more magnetic, dominant, and commanding. But in real life, people like Trev don't spend their time posing for artists, so I'm happy that my wonderful cover artist was able to find a model whose appearance comes so close. If you like this cover, you won't be disappointed with what's on the pages inside it.
BTW, the cover artist is the incomparable James Griffin. You can see more of his work on his blog, Paint Layers. He also did the cover for Lord Lightning . I feel so fortunate to have someone of his caliber bringing my characters to life.
In case you're wondering what The "Kiss and Teal" medallion is all about, my publisher, HarperCollins/Avon, is using the launch of its September Historical Romances to promotes Ovarian Cancer Awareness.
The logic behind this is compelling. These romances reach a million women a month--the audience that benefits most from learning about the symptoms that should send a woman to her gynecologist for further screening. HarperCollins will also be donating a goodly sum to the charity that runs the Teal Ribbon campaign for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Because I know some people who have survived this deadly cancer I'm happy to be participating in an effort to break through the fear and silence that usually surround it.
April 3, 2011
Lovers or Enemies?
Captain Miles Trevelyan, on leave from active service in India, is heading out for a night on the town when he rescues a beautiful pickpocket from arrest. She's the perfect choice for a few days of dalliance--beautiful, cunning, and completely disposable.
But Temperance has no intention of becoming the plaything of a man who wears the uniform of the solders who murdered her lover. Disarming Trev with a kiss, she escapes. But her sultry kiss opens the two Scorpio adversaries to an obsessive attraction that neither can elude--or possibly survive.
* * *
The back of the bookmark will entertain you, too, as it gives you instructions, by astrological sign, for "How to Win His Heart."
I'll send any of my American readers a Star Crossed Seduction bookmark if you mail a self-addressed stamped envelope (use a $.44 stamp)to this address:
P.O. Box 402
Turners Falls, MA 01376
Not only will you find out how to win his heart, you'll also be among the first to see the striking cover of Star Crossed Seduction (which is still embargoed by my publisher.)
March 2, 2011
Reading proof can be a dispiriting undertaking because by the time a book has reached the proof stage you aren't allowed to change anything substantial. So it follows, as night follows day, that the proof stage is the time where previously hidden flaws decide it is time to reveal themselves and glare balefully off the page at their hapless author.
But not this time! I'm even more enthusiastic about this book now than I was at the copyedit phase. Problems have been solved. Rough edges smoothed. And best of all, now that it's done, I will never have to read it again!
Only those of you who are fellow authors will know what a comforting thought that is. I must have read this book some seventeen times by now. Slowly and with great attention to detail.
Now all I have to do is wait and see whether you and thousands of others enjoy it. I hope you do. But at this point there is nothing more I can do to ensure that happens. It's up to Trev and Temperance, the pair of truly star crossed lovers who took over my life for a year and would not quit until I'd told their poignant story, to do that.
February 11, 2011
My editor tells me Lord Lightning has sold well for a debut release by a hitherto unknown author, even though it came out at a time when retail book sales across the industry were under a lot of pressure and during a month when there were 31 other historical romances released at the same time.
Some of you have wondered why my publisher has set the Kindle price so high. The answer is not, as some ignorant people post online, that the publisher is greedy. Far from it. The issue is this: brick and mortar bookstores order tens of thousands of copies of Avon's paperbacks. If the download was priced much lower than the printed book readers would go to the store, look through the books, decide which ones looked interesting and then download them, leaving the printed books sitting on the shelf unsold. Those books cost the publishers a lot of money to print and ship, and if people buy the download instead of the paperback, the bookstore strips the cover, throws the book away, and the publisher has to refund the bookstore the full cost of the unsold book.
Even worse, when too many of the printed books come back from the stores as unsold returns, the next time the publisher releases a book by the same author, the stores won't stock it. Because so many shoppers--even those who download--are still looking at bookstore books to determine which books they want to buy, if the book isn't in the stores, the author's sales will plummet. So Avon and other big publishers are pricing e-books in such a way that people who find the book on a shelf are not motivated to download them instead of buying the book they hold in their hands.
Quite a few readers have been asking me what my next book will be and when it's coming out. I'm thrilled to be able to tell you that my next release is the Scorpio book, which will be out this September 28. The publisher chose the title, Star Crossed Seduction, and they've given it a cover that I think is even better than the spectacular cover of Lord Lightning.
The cover for Star Crossed Seduction is both romantic and tasteful. But what really excites me about it is that the people on this cover look exactly like the way I imagined the characters in the story would look.
I'm not allowed to show you the cover yet, but as soon as I can, it will be posted here, along with more information about the story. I can tell you that people who have read and enjoyed Star Crossed Seduction and Lord Lightning tell me that Star Crossed Seduction is the better book.
Beyond that, this month I'm wrapping up work on the third book in the Lords of the Seventh House series, which will be the Pisces book. I'll tell you more about it once my editor has had a chance to weigh in on it this spring.
November 2, 2010
Even better it was nominated in the "Historical K.I.S.S. Hero" category, spotlighting Lord Lightning himself, the inimitable Edward Neville.
I couldn't have asked for anything better. My hope was that readers would fall in love with Edward as deeply as I did and this nomination suggests that they have.
You might be interested to know that when the hero of Lord Lightning first showed up and informed me that his name was Edward, I was concerned. This was several years before Ms. Meyer had published Twilight and is name sounded a bit stodgy to me since the bestselling authors were writing about all those dashing Wulfs and Aidens and Blazes.
But I stuck with it because my hero insisted it was his name and because "Edward" is a real English name of the sort real English aristocrats would have given children born in the late 18th century who of course, are the people who grew up to be our Regency heroes.
Now of course, Lord Lightning's first name is fiercely trendy again, and I've even been accused of jumping on a bandwagon when, in truth, my eccentric hero got there long before that parvenue vampire boy.
October 19, 2010
Because I live out in the middle of nowhere with very few chain bookstores anywhere nearby and wanted to see my book on real life bookstore shelves I put together a contest where people could upload photos when they spotted Lord Lightning. Several lucky spotters will win prizes.
You can see the spottings--including the one by the guy wearing a kilt--on this page:
Where's Lord Lightning?
But to tell the truth, it's been nerve-wracking couple weeks as I wait to see how my brand new first novel will do in the marketplace. I finally heard from my editor this week, and she tells me that sales have been very good. That was a huge relief.
I'm also starting to get some fan mail, which is very heartening, though I'm also starting to get the occasional extremely negative review, which my friends who have a lot of books under their belts tell me is normal. Hopefully the people who love Lord Lightning will outnumber those who hate it. If you liked it, do let me know!
While waiting for news over these past weeks, I've occupied my time by posting on quite a few romance blogs whose owners were generous enough to ask me to drop by.
You can find the whole list of guest blog posts and links to the blogs where they appear on this page: Jenny Brown's Blog Tour.
Among my favorite blog appearances were two interviews. One appears at Not Another Romance Blog . Another I enjoyed greatly was hosted by the pirates over at Romance Writer's Revenge .
Christina Phillips, whose debut romance, Forbidden has the most gorgeous cover you'd ever want to see and features an intensely erotic story set in one of my favorite settings, Roman Britain, interviewed me at her blog, Christina Phillips.
Finally, fellow Avon author and friend Miranda Neville and I interviewed each other over on The Season Blog.
Miranda writes witty Regency-set historical romances that stand out from the crowd. I love the way she respects the history of the period and how she takes her stories away from those boring ballrooms and shows us nooks and crannies of the Regency world we haven't seen before. The Dangerous Viscount (Avon) is her latest. Don't miss it!
In another week it will be time for me to turn away from the exciting life of the published author and get back to what it is that published authors mostly do--which is to sit at their desks typing while the house around them deteriorates into total decrepitude since stopping to clean would interfere with the creative process.