Friday, June 29, 2012

Absolutely Eric 4-Star Review from Booked Up!


Absolutely Eric has gotten many nice reviews, you can see a list on the Boston Boys Series page. I love it when reviewers give my books a review, but sometimes there are ones that just seem to understood the book exactly the way I was trying to portray it, like this one from Booked Up Reviews. Naturally, these are the kind of reviews I like the most ^.^

Quote: "I loved this book and I loved Eric’s funny expressions  ("spankalicious"). I also liked the slogan on his t-shirts. It showed  how free spirited he is. I think, however, he does it to draw attention  to his exterior so nobody can see his interior."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Funny Yaoi ^.^ Plus Winners.


The winners of the Manga-Romance Blog Hop have been contacted.

Congrats Charlie Cochet and Lilly Jones!

I had at least one yaoi reader who's taking her babysteps into m/m romance. This hop was supposed to introduce m/m romance to yaoi readers, so I'm going to give an extra prize to yaoi reader Krowhop. She'll receive a copy of The Walls Have Ears.

Junjou Romantica
by Nakamura Shungiku
Snorted my head off when I saw this:

Oni ni Hatsujou, by Amagi Reno


Friday, June 22, 2012

Manga and Romance Blog Hop


I'm a huge Manga fan - or more specifically Yaoi fan. Yaoi is "boy love" (M/M).

Koisuru Boukun, by Takanaga Hinako
I have a lot of yaoi books in my bookshelf and I never tire of reading them. The art is beautiful, the stories are romantic and they very often make me laugh too with the jokes and humor (in fact, yaoi humor has influenced my own m/m writing). My favorite yaoi authors are Nakamura Shungiku (Junjou Romantica and Seakiichi Hatsukoi), Takanaga Hinako (Koisuru Boukun), Sakuragi Yaya (Renai Kyoutei Nukegake Nashi!), and Minase Masara (Gokujou no Koibito). But there are others who are amazing as well. 

Gokujou no Koibito, by Minase Masara
I came from yaoi to m/m romance and I discovered that there are different rules to the two. M/M romance is more realism, more serious, while yaoi is often lighter. That is not to say that yaoi is only comics in the comical sense. Works like Koisuru Boukun and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi are very deep and my heart gets wrenched out every time I read them. A yaoi book can affect me as much as a romance book can - sometimes even more - both with the story line and with the facial expressions. The phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" is very true when it comes to yaoi.

Kousuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako
Other differences is that in yaoi, the roles of top and bottom are usually fixed. There's no switching. The bottom is the smaller, effeminate guy who also tends to be hot tempered and often inexperienced in sex and sometimes also quite oblivious/innocent. The top is the taller, more masculine and is often the one who has a calm, patient temperament and is more experienced. Things are not always that way though and I haven't found two yaoi stories with exact same kind of characters (it's amazing how the authors can create unique characters), but I have only once seen the fixed-top/bottom rule broken. 

Okay, I'll stop now. Seriously, I could go on forever, hehe. This is supposed to be a giveaway ^.^ (yes, I got that emoticon from manga...).

Sekaiichi Hatsukoi by Nakamura Shungiku
Before I get to the good part, if there's any yaoi fan out there who'd like to try m/m romance, I had a new release yesterday and it's free! Half-Baked Promises can be downloaded from Goodreads (pdf, ePub, and mobi formats - download pdf to read from your computer screen if you don't have an e-reader).

I'm offering one of my books to two people who comment below along with their email address. Please state which book you would like to have if you win. If you don't want to leave your email address on the internet then feel free to contact me at eripike at gmail dot com (don't forget to say which book you'd like to win. I will do a random drawing for winners and contact them on Monday.

What do I have to offer? One of the below:

A Life Without You:
Jesse's like a bar of soap: the tighter Adam holds on, the faster Jesse slips away. Or thats how it feels to Adam. It doesnt help that Jesse has a girlfriend back home and claims to be straight, but there's no way with all the sparks and physical intimacy flying between the two roommates.

When Adam believes he has reached his ultimate happiness, the bedroom walls come crashing down with a visit from Jesses girlfriend.

Now Jesse has to decide if he can come to terms with his sexuality, while Adam has to learn to accept that Jesse might never be able to crawl out of the closet.

Absolutely Eric:
Eric Wesley is short and snazzy, hot and happy. Or thats what he thought. After three years of living on the wild side hes tired of being a playboy and wants to find love.

Eric, however, has never been in love before and doesnt see that the guy whos been gazing at him all summer might be Mr. Right. Alexander Centauri isnt only style-less and clumsy, but also terribly awkward. After a miserable date, Eric plants Alex on another guys lap and goes after Mr. Wrongwho looks so right.

When Eric realizes his mistake, it might be too late.

Hot Hands:
For weeks, college student Casper has been the victim of sail-by goosing and groping. The problem is that Casper would very much like to get more than groped by those wonderful, big, hot hands. 

With a journal full of clues, he sets out to discover who his mystery groper is. However, he may be in serious trouble once he discovers the ominous identity, trouble that has nothing to do with the light bondage involved.




Grade-A-Sex Deal:
When College professor Daniel Corrigan was brutally kicked out of his home after revealing his true sexuality to his wife, he had to make a whole new life for himself. For the first time in two years Daniels main heartache isnt the none-existent relationship with his two kids, but the fact that the grade-A-sex deal with his student Troy Anderson is about to expire. After a whole semester of office fun, Troy has managed to squeeze his way into the core of Daniels soul. Daniel, however, is positive hes nothing more to Troy but a teacher who can modify a grade.




The Walls Have Ears:
Short and scrawny college student Harley Santos has a strange relationship with the guy on the other side of his bedroom wall. For weeks, the two have been masturbating to each others voices, but they have never met in person.

When Harleys roommate (Ryan) is asked out on a date by one of his neighbors, Harley is devastated that his wall-mate mistook not-hot Harley for super-hot Ryan. Helping Harley through his heartache is Tasha Novokov, the other neighbor, who is tall, dark, and impossibly handsome.

When Harleys affections shift to Tasha, his heartache hits an all time high because with all the girls hanging around, Tasha has to be straight.

But there's more!

We're offering a grand prize to one of the people who comment on any of the blogs in this hop. You can gain one entry for every blog you comment on. You can find more info here (but really, you just have to comment on the blogs, leave your email, and you will be entered).

As for me, I have a follow button I'd love for you to push - if you're interested in keeping up with me and whatever silly things I have to say (oh, and updates about book releases and such). I also have a newsletter option, if you want to get news in your email box. I'm also on facebook and twitter. You can find all these buttons on the right side of this blog. None of this is necessary to take part in this giveaway though.

Are you a yaoi author? I'd love to swap a book of mine for a book of yours, if you're interested :)

First impressions in Sekaiichi Hatsukoi below. Don't you just love Takano San? ^.^

Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, by Nakamura Shungiku
Here are the other blog participants:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Half-Baked Promises is Out


Hi guys,

Just letting you know that my FREE read, Half-Baked Promises, is out. I'll be working on getting the story up on Smashwords over the weekend. I was formatting it for Smashwords today when mom came over and told me that my little one and a half year old nephew just died, so I've put the formatting on hold. I'm sorry for the delay, it's just hard to focus right now.

You can download pdf, mobi and ePub on Goodreads. There's also a discussion thread on Goodreads, if you're interested.

Blurb:
One more day, that's all Kevin needed. One more day to finish this tax audit and get the hell out of town and back to his normal, everyday life. So it absolutely figured that some over-muscled moron with a pneumatic dick substitute would wake him up at the ass-crack of dawn and shoot his plans right to hell. At this point he'd try anything -- maybe a bribe?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More on eBook Piracy - What Can You Do?


Because my kids decided they both needed to sleep in my bed tonight, I've barely slept for more than two hours. That's given me a lot of time to think about last night's post about piracy. Instead of spending last night  writing Jazz's story, like I was going to, I started the night off by googling "Erica Pike" and "Absolutely Eric" to see if there'd been any new review-site reviews. I forgot to write "Review" in that search string and got up all these pirate sites that had my books. Some even had In His Pocket, which is a free read, but okay.

Some believe that online piracy helps boosts sales. They say that the author gets word of mouth and free promo. I say that it doesn't happen unless people actually leave positive reviews, and most of the people who download illegally don't leave reviews.

Look, I get it. Some people don't have the money to buy these books. I don't like it, but I get it. However, take a look at this:

I was scrolling through sites about eBook piracy and came upon a very good one written by The Intern. I had things I was going to quote from that post, but after reading the comments, I'm going to quote a couple of those instead.

Comment by Josh C:
I spoke with a young lady who suggested we (people in general) should not have to pay for food or water because we need it to live. She went as far as comparing it to charging for air. I asked who got the air for her. A blank stare was her reply. No, she doesn't need to pay for food or water if she can learn to get it for herself. Otherwise, she owes for what she consumes.

Very valid point. I was impressed. However...

Comment by Soubriquet:

Well, I'm all for kindle piracy.
Why? Because real books have a significant physical cost in manufacture, shipping, packaging, and inventory control. 
Within that, there's the cost to the publisher, of fees to the author and his/her literary agents.

When a publisher offers an ebook, the cost in reproduction for each customer is minimal. There's no printer, no paper, no ink, no warehouse, no truck fleet, no cardboard cartons, no parcel tape. And no unsold product costing money as it gathers dust on the warehouse shelves, awaiting its eventual sale to a remainders store, or a pulp recycling mill.

There's still an author's fee, but why, tell me, why is the ebook price as high or higher than the physical book's?
Greed?

I like real books. I have thousands of them. I could probably build a house out of them. There are notes scribbled, telephone numbers and addresses of long lost acquaintances, chance strangers met at 30000 feet over greenland. My real books are old friends. They're worn, stained, torn, and read and re-read.
They're real. 
Ebooks? a few meg of code.
Can't hold it in your hand, drop it in the bath, prop up a table.
A largely imaginary product. Retail at maybe 20% real book price might be fair. No DRM.
But of course, a big undercut in price would outrage sellers of real books. 

So they're overpriced. Unfairly overpriced.

Pirate on, Mateys.

Woah! At first I just stared, re-read it, and stared some more. Then I realized that it's not the "I don't have money" that really pisses me off, it's attitude like this.

This guy has thousands of "real books" (of print and paper). He has money to buy them. But because ebooks aren't "real books", he's not going to pay for them.

I just had to leave him a reply, and here it is (slightly modified):

Oh my God. This just made me go O.o Srsly?

If you had any idea about the amount of time that goes into writing and editing a book, you would hopefully be thinking differently. It takes me two months to write a full-length book and another two months to edit the hell out of it. That's four months of my time that I'd like to be paid for. 

Then there's content editing, once your signed, proofreading, formatting and promotion/advertising (all these are preformed by different people) and agent if you have one. These people need to be paid and they won't be if everything gets pirated. Then the publisher needs to stay in business and get their share (which isn't large after everyone else has been paid, by the way). But that's not all. The books go to retailers who take the biggest cut. So why are the ebooks "expensive"? Because people need to get paid for their jobs! It's not greed, it's everyone getting a little bit of the cake so everyone gets paid. The problem is that people want those books NOW instead of having to wait for them to reach discount sites, like Fictionwise who regularly has 45-65% discounts of all titles (that hurts my wallet too, but not as much as not getting anything at all).

It's not just "a few meg of code" - come on. It takes hard work on all sides to produce a good book. You might as well say that politicians, teachers or lawyers shouldn't be paid because they don't produce anything physical. 

Please consider this the next time you're downloading illegal megs of code: Most authors are barely scraping by. Not all of us are Neil Gaiman who is well established and made his bucks before the age of ebooks [there was a link to Neil Gaiman who said that pirating has helped boost sales of his physical books]. Pirating may very well help his sales, but for the rest of us who aren't rich and famous? Pirating prevents us from getting money we need to to buy food! Those who hurt the most by pirates are authors who aren't signed by the big houses and don't get advances. They rely upon each sale to make money for their work.

As for free stuff? Most authors have free-reads on their websites so people can get a taste of their writing. Maybe not the big authors, but those small ones who really take a beating when people start pirating them. You can also visit sales pages like Amazon and read the first three chapters in most books if you're afraid to buy before you try. There's no need to steal.

If you claim that you're doing the author a favor promo-vise by pirating, you really aren't unless you leave them a good review. That's the least you can do for the struggling author if you don't intend to pay him/her for their work. 

Attitude like yours just pisses me off. Yes, I'm in a bad mood. I just discovered that the number of illegally downloaded copies of my books is bigger than the number of sold books. It sucks. And my books are even overpriced, they're $6.99 and $7.99 - that's not an arm and a leg for most people. The paperbacks are more expensive, because I'm writing for a niche market and they're printed in less quantities - $12.99 and $14.99. I agree that the big houses can afford to cut their ebook prices, and they should, but people don't just pirate from the big houses, they pirate from everyone because of this way of thinking.

That was a lengthy reply, I was angry, but really, he had it coming. He has money to buy the books, he's just not going to because it's just a "few meg of code" and not real products. I don't like to judge people who do things like downloading illegal copies of products, but people like this...

Here's the thing, if you don't have the money to buy books, there are other - legal - ways to get them:
- Take part in giveaways. It won't get you the books right away and it might not get you the books you really, really want, but you eventually do win some books and can save up for the ones you really want.
- Go to your local library. Okay, so M/M is hard to find in a library, but there are online libraries! Lendle is one and there are even ebook rentals. Just google "ebook library" or "ebook rental" to get a free/cheap option to get the books you really want.
- Join review sites as a reviewer. They get loads of review requests every month and there's a good chance that the authors you know will send in requests. There are loads and loads of m/m review sites out there. Not all may be hiring, but some are. To see a few, visit Manic Readers and see the review sites that are associated with them.
- Launch your own review site and open it for reviews. It's free, if you use Blogspot or Wordpress (I personally recommend Blogspot). They're also easy to set up and maintain. Authors want to have their books reviewed, so you're almost guaranteed a couple to begin with and then it'll probably grow so fast you'll have trouble keeping up (and can "hire" (for free) assistance for other reviewers). You could even contact authors and ask if you may have a book of theirs to review on your site - most will jump at the chance and send you a copy (just make sure you send them the link to your site so they'll see it's legit).
- Join Netgalley. There are a few M/M publishers who load their books there and people can request them for free in exchange for a review. Some publishers are picky about who gets to review their books, but some aren't as picky. Just make sure you write in your profile where you'll post your reviews (review site, Amazon, B&N and/or Goodreads, for example) and you're almost guaranteed a lot of books to read. Maybe not the specific ones you really, really want to read, but free books all the same (and then you can save up for the ones you really need).
- Wait for the books you really, really need to hit Fictionwise and buy with a large discount. They have big sales almost every month and you can google their discount codes or join the M/M Romance group on Goodreads and check out Jace's monthly list of discounts (updated daily).

These are just some ideas. Most of them take a little bit of work on your part, but since the author had to work hard to write the story and deserves to get paid for it, that little bit of work doesn't sound unreasonable, does it? I'm sure there are many more options, but these should get you started. 

If you need easy-step help of setting up a Goodreads account (I swear it's easy), then I'll be glad to help. Email me at eripike at gmail dot com and I'll either take you through it or post that guide on my blog.

The thing is that authors are very appreciative of every book sold, but they're also appreciative of good reviews. If you're not going to pay for their books, then please, at least leave them good reviews. Here are some of the location you can find my books to review (you know, in case you did download illegal copies and now feel kinda bad about it): Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Reviews/ratings help, silence after reading doesn't. Kindly also do this for other authors you've read illegally and help them promote their books.

Again, thanks so much to those who have spent their hard earned money on my books. The more prospects I have of making this into a career, the more motivated I am to write more books! :)

Header Image: Soadahead.com

Piracy Boosts Sales


Piracy Boosts Sales. Uh-huh, and the cow really did jump over the moon!

I've been checking out the pirate sites and my books are all over the place! More people have downloaded than people who've actually paid for my books. How wrong is that? Now I'm wondering why I'm even bothering going through the months of writing, editing and promoting only to have my hard work stolen. Honestly, I could be using the time to make a lot more money doing other things. I don't care what justifications they give for uploading/downloading copyrighted material. It's illegal and it's preventing me from making money to buy food for my kids. Small-time authors like me aren't rolling in gold, people! We're just scraping by - and I, specifically, am toeing the poverty line (I'm not kidding here - I'm not even paying for that GRL trip, I'm being sponsored to go). Seriously, I'm disgusted.

I'm copying a "justification" to prove a few points. It's written in regards to the music industry. This is from a site called Ron Paul Revolution:

This new post about illegal downloading is the prompting of a band I like that was complaining about illegal downloads on facebook. Apparently 2 million copies of one of their albums was downloaded illegally and they are releasing a new album on tuesday. This means their band is being heard by many many people that may not have heard them otherwise. Even more, they actually said that THEY specifically do not make any money from the CD sales. So for the band, they actually get more out of illegal downloading. : /

I find it ridiculous that so many bands and people believe that illegal downloading is hurting bands and the recording industry. Companies that fail to change eventually fail. There are other companies that are cropping up that sponsor bands in a new way, and soon, the RIAA and the recording industry will fail to these new companies.

It's only a matter of time, and perhaps we won't be downloading "illegally" but instead sharing freely in order to promote bands. Many bands are already against the recording industry and for music sharing. I think I posted about illegal downloading already...but oh well. This time I have links. Also, the band I was talking about is RED.


Okay:

1) The reason the artists are not making money from direct CD sales is probably because they've signed a contract and gotten pre-paid. Once they've sold enough albums and made the record company that money back, the band will start to earn royalties from CD sales. It's the same with the major book publishers and it's called "earning out an advance". So no, currently that band isn't making money, but they will in the future - or they may not ever get there because people just download their stuff instead of paying for it. Mind you, there are no advances in the m/m book industry, so every download hurts the author's pocket directly.

2) "This means their band is being heard by many many people that may not have heard them otherwise." Okay, fine, I'll agree with this. But this is for bands who then go on to sell tickets to concerts. Authors don't have that. We just have our books.

3) "Companies that fail to change eventually fail" - Er...fail at what? Giving away their products? How the hell are they supposed to run a business if they do that? It's possible to buy almost every song ever produced online now, but they're still getting downloaded illegally. It's the same with books - most are out in ebook formats now, but they're still being downloaded (I heard that people used to scan paperbacks and share it that way online before ebooks). 

4) It's only a matter of time, and perhaps we won't be downloading "illegally" but instead sharing freely in order to promote bands." Come on now, that sounds sooooo...weird (tempted to say "stupid" here, but I don't know all the facts). If you're thinking along these lines, then, okay, let's just give it all away. Hello! We're trying to make a career here and you're not helping, even if you believe you are - not in the book industry. Sure, some downloaders will leave positive book reviews (and trust me, it's the least they can do after stealing, even if they didn't like the book), but that's only a fraction of a fraction of those who download. Sure, they'll talk about the author and give him/her name recognition, but that just means that more people will head over to the pirate sites to download. There will be some who are honest and buy the books, but let's face it, with the world the way it is today, most won't. 

Okay, so maybe comparing file sharing in the music industry to file sharing in the ebook industry isn't the best idea, because the two are different (not that I'm sanctioning illegal music downloading - no way). I should probably find blog posts were people are justifying ebook downloading and answer it here. Hell, I might just do that.

If you're a person who downloads copyrighted material, please consider what you're doing. You're stealing from me and my kids. I don't care if you never end up reading the book, by downloading you're sanctioning the illegal act of file-sharing copyrighted material. You also may be compromising the morals of those around you, giving the message that it's okay to take something without paying for it.

I have never downloaded an ebook that I didn't pay for. I don't download copyrighted TV material or music either, unless I've paid for it. I do use pictures for my blog that I find on the internet. I give credit to each one, a link back to the site I found them on. Is that illegal? I don't know the specifics for pictures, but at the university we were taught that as long as we cite it, it is okay. I know a link back isn't a proper citation, but it's usually impossible to know who snapped the shot since it's been posted over and over and over on various sites. Mind you, I feel even more sorry for photographers than I do authors. At least an author's work will (almost) always be linked with their name.

After a great couple of days of writing, I'm feeling very disheartened and unmotivated right now...

Okay, end of rant, but not end of subject.

I want to send out a special thanks to the honest people 
who actually pay for my books. 
My kids thank you too!
*Hugs*

Header image: World News Inc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reader Appreciation & Other Updates


Hi guys :)

I've been checking out my books and shorts at Amazon, B&N, etc. and saw that some of you have left reviews there. I want to thank you for that. So much! I am humbled and deeply touched that you've gone out of your ways to leave ratings/reviews. The review site reviews are important, but general reader reviews are just as important.

Absolutely Eric is finally available on All Romance eBooks and Bookstrand. It's also available in print at Amazon and B&N. I try to update the Boston Boys Series page whenever I get a new update, but I'm considering making a new blog for this series alone. Hey, I need a place to discuss the characters and post tidbits ^.^ Sometimes I forget an eye color or what type of a car Cal-Al owns...

Another update would be my writing. I sorta kinda got distracted from Jazz by writing the first bit of Cold Heart (Hot Hands #2). The fifth in the College Fun and Gays series was supposed to be Welcome Brother...but I'm putting that one on hold since I'm not happy with it. I'm excited about Cold Heart and figure why make people wait a year when they could have it in a few months? It's from Hot Hand's perspective and takes place not long after the end of Hot Hands.

Okay, back to writing...

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Plotting and Inspiration


I spent the better half of yesterday plotting Jazz It Up. For some reason I'm having difficulty writing the beginning of that story, and I almost always write from beginning to the end. I think I may have to abandon the beginning for now and just jump into the next scene. 

I have about half the book plotted, with conversation snippets and how everything plays out. I didn't do this with A Life Without You and had to edit A LOT. I did plot Absolutely Eric out, mainly because I kept thinking up funny things to write and needed a place to put them. I had to edit Eric a lot less as a result (some have said that Eric's book is all over the place, but that's just how Eric is. He's all over the place. I think the book is very well edited, but it's by no means a simple, easy-read book). 

So yeah, I just don't think I'm a seat-of-my-pants sorta person! I like structure and I like to be able to stick things in the right places when I think them up. It also makes editing easier because I'll know where everything is and I can switch scenes around before I write them. Things may take a different turn, I expect that since it always happens, but that's okay. I can adjust the whole skeleton as I go ;)

So Jazz, get read to be written! Took a month to write Eric, I plan to take the same time writing you (or less, if I can!). He's a cool, laid back guy with a past, and we're going to explore that past a bit.

Who is my inspiration for Jazz? Young Marcus Schenkenberg (OMG - Squeal with me!). Yeah, Jazz is a pretty boy. You won't believe whom I've pared him up with ^.^

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Cover and Book of the Month!


I finally got around to creating that cover for the free story: Half-Baked Promises. It's the one I wrote for the Love is Always Write event for the Goodreads M/M Romance group. I don't have Photoshop or anything like that, so it was just plain old PowerPoint, but I think it turned out okay. Now I just have to figure out what standardized texts I'll need at the beginning...

I was very excited to learn that Absolutely Eric was chosen as the Book of the Month for that same M/M Romance Group on Goodreads! Thanks to everyone who voted. Someone's also nominated A Life Without You for next month, but I doubt I'll get this lucky twice in a row. I'm very happy with and honored by this month's BoM.

While I'm at it, Absolutely Eric can now be bought in paperback from Amazon, B&N and other places.

More news:

My buddy NJ Nielsen has released her first novel! It was released by MLR Press last Friday and it's called Rules Are Meant To Be Broken. It's a vampire story and like everything else Norma produces it's very fresh with a great voice. It's the first in a very long series called The Lines of Marsden. I was lucky to have read this while it was in the editing stages, but I hear it's changed quite a bit since (I've bought a copy and am about to read it!).


Another buddy of mine, the super cute Cole Riann, has opened his own review site: The Armchair Reader. It doubles as his own personal blog. Cole's a very cool guy. He likes reading, knitting and baking. And vikings. We have a lot in common! Though...the most I've managed to knit are hats and mittens. I never got the hang of socks. I do love baking though and vikings are totally my thing ^.^