Creating the Complete Reader Experience

So my book draft is with the editor and the cover designer is doing her preliminary research, leaving me to…

1. Twiddle my thumbs, scratch my chin and think about all of those other things I could have included within the book but didn’t.

2. Catch a bug/head cold/virus/who-the-hell-knows-what-this-is-but-I-know-that-it-sucks!

3. Work on related web content.

Okay, this last one is definitely the most fun of the three. It’s fascinating to me how much the reading experience has changed since five or ten years ago, not solely with the rise in popularity of e-readers and nature of the most popular reads but also its “value-added” content.

dreamstimefree_249922_webContent

In the genre I’m exploring, contemporary romance, I can expect at most author websites now a plethora of bonus material for readers to sink their teeth into after they’ve become attached to the characters…items like author-suggested audio playlists tailored to specific plot points; additional scenes or re-engineered scenes featuring a different POV; Pinterest photo galleries to highlight locations featured and fantasy casting possibilities for the characters; and mock interviews with characters or in the most exquisitely clever way of Olivia Cunning (appropriate surname!), a whole mock website devoted to a book’s celebrity figures as she’s done with her Sinners on Tour series. Her ability to coordinate the branding and everything related to the characters from one book to the next is masterful. Hats off to her.

I’m actually looking forward to this part of the process, because in the real world – aka my day job – I have written the content for many websites over the years, but this one will be the most meaningful to me personally—and fun.

I would be very curious to hear from any fellow voracious readers of romance especially, including some of my favorite book bloggers…What kind of additional content do you look forward to most when you’ve finished a book and are looking for more opportunities to connect with the book, the author or other readers? I’d welcome your suggestions.

Now if I could just keep my hazy mind focused while the cold meds are in the bloodstream, I could get quite a bit done in this area. Instead much of my time this weekend was spent half-sleeping, half-reading my Kindle, half-chatting on Twitter and half-staring at the wall, eyes glazed over. 

<Sad exhale> Can’t wait to be operating on 100% capacity again. For now, I’ll continue to dream up ideas, jot them down when I have a moment of clarity and stay within a few feet of the guest bed in case the urge to pass out arrives.

Toodles for now…and happy reading!
ck

The Great and Powerful Question…Why?

This past week has been an enlightening one, and sometimes an amusing one, too. So much to do, so much to learn. And on more than one occasion during the week, I found myself interacting with some of my favorite book bloggers. Up until now, I’ve communicated with them as a follower and avid reader.  But what was amusing was that after all of this daily bantering back and forth, many of them weren’t aware that I was writing my own book. THE MUSE UNLOCKED is slated for a June 2013 release.

So it dawned on me.

How can we really get to know the people on the other side of the screen if we don’t truly know anything about them…outside of the person they choose to be in the social media landscape?

On Twitter, for instance, people know me as the punny goofball slinging zingers and one-liners, dropping plops of commentary here and there, inventing vocabulary words and quoting favorite films and Seinfeld episodes. But I’d bet most don’t actually know why I’d be writing a book, let alone a contemporary romance.

Hmm.

Maybe…I should…tell them.

Now, there’s a concept.

So, here you go. A little explanation goes a long way. This goes especially to those of you I’ve gotten to know through the lovely worlds of Twitter and Facebook.

I’m not some reader who simply woke up one morning and decided to write a book. You may or may not know that my day job involves flinging words around, too. I write articles for a living for local magazines and occasionally, for special sections inside one of my hometown’s metropolitan newspapers. I write professional bios for people and help businesses tell their stories through their websites, blogs and marketing materials. And sometimes, I even help people tell their own stories as a — shhhh! Don’t tell! — ghostwriter! When I’m not writing words for other people, I work on my book and in those fleeting free moments when I’m not reading gobs of books, I do what other writers probably do. I write poems. I write essays. I write song lyrics. I blog. (Duh.)

I write. I write. I write. It’s all that I know how to do.

Damn. I’m starting to depress myself.

And what did I do before that? I worked in other fields with disguised avenues for writing. They call them…marketing, advertising, promotion, communications, financial aid (okay, yeah, that last one doesn’t make sense to me either and neither did the job, but it paid the bills for a bit). Wherever I was, I found a way to do what I love to do best… throw words at the wall and see which ones stick.

Growing up, I was the kid who wrote the paper the teacher hung up on the class door, who won first place in the local student essay contest (or maybe it was 2nd), nabbed the city-wide poetry contest title, served as editor of her school newspaper and actually enjoyed writing compositions and research papers.

Yeah. I was that kid.

I was also the one who was secretly writing satirical advertisement copy, skits with no home to showcase, screenplays in secret and song parodies for no real reason other than…just because.

And now, I’m trying to write a book. Holy hell.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been in training for this for…about 42 years. Almost 43. (Ack. It hurts my head to think it…)

But that still doesn’t answer the question of the day…

WHY THE HELL AM I WRITING A CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE?

Three big reasons really, aside from the fact that I enjoy reading them myself and that they’ve inspired me to write creatively again.

 REASON 1.
Women readers of contemporary romance are often older than 24, so why shouldn’t the lead characters reflect that part of the audience? We want to see characters like us experience romance, too — and not like the boring, ho-hum romance novels of yesteryear when Dynasty hair and big shoulder pads were all the rage. I was determined to revolve a book around a leading woman who wasn’t a virgin fresh out of college. My lead character is 38, not 24. She still has her blushing moments, because blushing has no age limit if you’re having an insecure moment and as we all know, those never go away. Not really. Not for anyone. I wanted to show a fully matured woman in control of herself, her career, her life, and allow the reader to watch her delight again in the whimsy, unpredictability and passion of new love. And she doesn’t have to be a Freshman college student to experience that.RedHeelREASON 2.
Love and sex are funny sometimes, and humor is a part of life. Some novelists know how to use humor really well and integrate it into their dialogue like J.A. Redmerski and Colleen Hoover, but unfortunately, I find these authors to be few. I am swooning plenty but chuckling so rarely when I read contemporary romance. I want to experience the full range of emotions when I read – laugh and swoon and cry, maybe all at the same time in some instances. I don’t think I’m alone. And let me tell you: some of the most fun can be had with a little bit of sexy banter between two people who clearly want to jump all over each other. I’d love nothing more than to let the reader listen in, and laugh and swoon along with them.

and finally…

REASON 3.
Older women and younger men can make quite an intriguing and sexy pair. So I wanted to show it. I’ve read dozens and dozens of contemporary romance and erotica titles over the past year and I can only think of two off-hand (one Olivia Cunning title and another, a Tiffany Reisz) that even attempted to show what sexy fun this combination can be. In my book, a 38-year-old woman and 28-year-old man find mutual attraction can exist between two people from different age brackets. I say, it’s about time that it’s not the 32-year-old man sweeping away the virginal 22-year-old woman. Nope, stiletto’s on the other foot in my book, and I really hope my readers will enjoy this different take on romance.

There you go. Something more about the  Twitter or Facebook friend you follow but perhaps don’t actually know, and my three big reasons why I am writing this book, this genre and from this particular approach. I can’t wait to share more about the book in the weeks to come leading up to its release.

I’ll have another snippet from THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming your way very soon. Stay tuned! And if you have any thoughts to share about contemporary romance novels today or about my reasons shared, I would love to hear from you. Bloggers, fellow authors and fans — you are absolutely welcome to chime in with your own feelings on the subject.

Happy reading!
ck

My Recent Book Reviews

Ever since some of my friends learned that I was writing my own novel, I get one question more than any other (besides “how’s the book coming along?”) —- and that question is:

So what are you reading?

BookSpines

Sometimes I stop and give them the lowdown. Other days, during those crazy deadline-drowning weeks, I send them the link to my Goodreads profile page and suggest that they friend me there to keep up with my latest reading adventures. But since some of my recent titles read have been some much talked about titles across Twitter and Facebook, as well as on the “Want to Read” lists on GoodReads, I thought I’d share reviews about these recently read books.

Keep in mind that when I do a review I do not provide you a plot summary or a mini-book report. Hell, if you want to know what it’s about, just go to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com and look it up. You can find everything you want to know about the book itself there. I provide a review focused on the reading experience – what I think of the characters, how believable the plot structure was and what I liked or didn’t like about the various components like dialogue, tone, use of characters, etc.

So if you’re expecting a Cliffs Notes version combined with a  critique, quit reading now. You won’t find what you’re looking for. But if you are looking for an honest unsolicited reader’s opinion that’s SPOILER-FREE (because I am completely committed to preserving the pristine joy of the reading experience), read on! I will not ruin it for you here by sharing too much plot information or reveal any big twists or character developments, you can rest assured.

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Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren   (**** out of ***** stars)

I had just experienced a “drought” in my steady downpour of reading just prior – having started another book two weeks earlier and hitting a stalemate. After finally picking it up again and finishing it that morning, I was ready to get back into my steady diet of romance books. Yes, I was ready for my nightly dive into a new title and despite all of the others I had recently purchased and downloaded on my Kindle, this had to be the one I chose next.

I was amazed how over the place my emotions were during this book. [Click here to read the full review.]

Hot Ticket by Olivia Cunning   (**** out of ***** stars)

For the first time in a long time, I found myself trudging through a book’s beginning. Why? Why was that, I wondered. I had always enjoyed Olivia Cunning’s sharp-as-a-tack writing and dialogue, steamy portrayals and fun, sexy, rockin’ characters.

Maybe after going full-throttle reading for so many months – practically a new book finished every day or two – and being weighted down with so many client assignments to finish at one time, I might have experienced a sudden struggle with ANY book I picked up and delay as I did with this one. [Click here to read the full review.]

Collide by Gail McHugh   (**** out of ***** stars)

So I picked up this book not because anyone recommended it to me, but because I kept running into it during my book title perusal. I couldn’t figure out why. Each time I would read the description, it sounded interesting enough but for whatever reason, I didn’t buy it.

Earlier this week, I gave in. I heeded the signs and made the investment. And it turns out…that was a great decision. [Click here to read the full review.]

The Final Piece by Maggi Myers (**** out of ***** stars)

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book by Maggi Myers. I have not read anything by the author before and the book came as a recommendation from a friend with similar reading tastes. It was a lovely surprise even though it broke one of my cardinal rules of books that I enjoy – I have a really difficult time when books separate my lead characters for great lengths of time. Simply put, it bothers the crap out of me!  [Click here to read the full review.]

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker   (**** out of ***** stars)

This was suggested to me by a friend, and I am so glad that I took the suggestion. It was a nice departure from some of the previous books I’ve been reading.

Most of all, I was excited to be introduced to a lead female character that I genuinely WANTED to know more about. In TEN TINY BREATHS, we meet Kacey Cleary – she’s strong, funny, smart and determined, and she’ll do anything to protect her sister. She truly is someone that, as a reader, I am ready and willing to invest some emotion. [Click here to read the full review.]

This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas   (** out of ***** stars)

Oh boy.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, OH BOY.

I’m gonna get creamed for this one, I’ll just bet, because everybody loves THIS MAN by Jodi Ellen Malpas. The book itself and “this” man, Jesse Ward. Everybody, I think except maybe…me.

Okay, now here’s the kicker – you’re staring at my 2-star rating and probably already hate me if you are one of the many obsessed fans of this book, but I do have to confess: yes, I bought the next book and yes, I even read it. And I’ll probably buy book 3. So how the hell did that happen when I gave it a 2-star rating? A deserved rant, I must admit. [Click here to read the full review.]

Beneath This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas   (*** out of ***** stars)

So did you notice the change… since reading my review of the first in the THIS MAN Series?

It graduated from 2-star to 3-star. So I guess this means I liked it more, huh? Nah. Then I must have liked Jesse more, right? Definitely not. Ava more? Not a chance.

No, I didn’t enjoy it more but I was more intrigued, because while I had a clue where the author Jodi Ellen Malpas was going to take us, I truly had no idea to what extent the reader would go. I felt the first book reminded me too much of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and its plot structure. So I didn’t know what to expect with book 2. [Click here to read the full review.]

Rule by Jay Crownover   (**** out of ***** stars)

I was forewarned that if I had an early e-book version of this novel that I might be subjected to typo-a-plenty. And that I was. But am happy to report that apparently there is a newer, cleaned up version of it now available.

I enjoyed this book from the beginning. It was nice for a change to read about some characters that already had a backstory but whose dynamic between them was evolving instead of the usual love-at-first-sight, instant orgasmic reaction that I witness in most of the books that I read. And gah, I’ll admit – still do enjoy…damn, I’ve become an easy target, haven’t I?!  [Click here to read the full review.]

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What are the latest titles that you’ve been reading and would you recommend them? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to comment here or email me at chris@kuhnstories.com.

Happy reading!
ck

Morning Book Morsels for 02.02.13

I have been missing in action, haven’t I? I’m sorry…

From the blog, yes, I have been,  but from books – mine or others – hell, no, I’ve been as obsessed as ever. In fact, I thought this might be a good time to pass along some updates.

  • BOOK UPDATE FROM ME – So if you’ve been following along here or on my previous blog, you know that I’ve been working on my first novel, a contemporary romance.  I’m happy to say that I am now officially two-thirds of the way through the story (about 70,000 words)! I am also thrilled to report that I seem to have located my book editor and can’t wait to work with her. She and I met together for the first time this past week, and I truly believe we’ll make a great team. Most exciting of all, it was the first time that anyone else has laid eyes on Cate Mullen and Oliver Sand —their first four chapters, at least! — and I was thrilled to introduce her to them and their story just as I cannot wait to introduce them to you!http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23685146There are a lot of tasks (many thrilling and many daunting) still at hand but as long as the content itself flows steadily and I’m able to tackle these other very relevant elements and decisions as I go, I say I’m still on schedule for a summer release. The “exactly when” may still be a bit of a mystery (even if the book isn’t that genre), but ever the optimist when it comes to this, I’m going to stick with June 2013 for now and continue aiming for that! I will keep you posted. If you’d like to stay in the loop on its release, become a subscriber to this blog today to get the latest news of when it will be available and for those in the Tampa Bay area about any special launch events held locally or online.
  • E-BOOK RELEASES FROM OTHERS – Can you believe it? We’re finally just days away from two hotly anticipated releases?  On February 5, readers can check out e-books from rock erotica writer Olivia Cunning with her fourth Sinners on Tour installment Hot Ticket (can’t wait!) and Sylvia Day‘s A Lush Kiss of Surrender, a novella in the Renegades Trilogy (which I will admit I have not read yet). Having just read the three other Cunning novels merely weeks ago, I am on pins and needles awaiting the latest rock romance even though I understand paperbacks are already out there and available in some places. But I have become a Kindle convert and so I shall wait it out…gasp…another three days. Oh the horror…
  • TEASERS, TEASERS, AND MORE TEASERS – Many authors have been dazzling us these past couple of weeks with teasers. If you’ve missed the links, maybe I can catch you up right here. For teasers to the still untitled book 3 of the Gabriel trilogy from Sylvain Reynard, check out the author’s most recent blog here where he includes links to the specific book bloggers hosting his two previous teasers. And let me tell you, they are so very worth the effort to locate. Trust me. Mmm……S.C. Stephens, who has all of her fans (this one included!) panting as they wait eagerly for the return of sexy rocker Kellan Kyle and his band, has been kind enough to hold up her end of the bargain following a successful Facebook campaign and share the release of not only chapter 1 but most recently unveiled chapter 2 of the third and final installment of her series Reckless. Dig in, fans, if you dare. I, myself, am afraid it will be like a really fine chocolate or moscato and just leave me wanting more and have opted to hold off until the whole book is available, March 5. Sigh. Yes, perhaps I am a bit of a Joan of Arc. So shoot me. (Or perhaps hoist me up and set me on fire would have been more accurate here…) Oh, and if you’re truly a Kellan fan (who isn’t and if not, are they a zombie then?), you may also want to check out an extra-special Kellan-POV version of Chapter 6 of the original book in the trilogy Thoughtless, which Stephens also recently shared as a special thank you to readers……And one final teaser, if you happened to miss it. It’s short and sweet but we’ll take what we can get when me miss our favorite book characters, won’t we? Jamie McGuire released a third teaser prior to the early April release of Walking Disaster at her blog, so be sure to check it out if you’ve waited far too long for the return of one Mr. Travis Maddox.
  • Finally, while I perhaps have been a bit lazy as a blogger, my reading habits have stayed loyal and true, I assure you, and so has my commitment to review everything I read starting this year. You can check out all of my recent book reviews at GoodReads.com by clicking here. In particular, some recent reads like Jodi Ellen Malpas’ This Man and its follow-up Beneath This Man, as well as Shelly Crane‘s Significance series, Jay Crownover‘s Rule, M. Leighton‘s Up to Me and Tiffany Reisz‘s The Prince left very distinct impressions…and not always matching the consensus of other readers. And hey, if you too are an avid reader, particularly in the romance or erotica genres, reach out to become my friend on the site or subscribe to follow my reviews. I have a little over 20 already written (yes, it HAS been a busy reading year!) and I may be able to offer some insight before you make the purchase. And I promise that I’ll never spoil it for you as a reader but may point out some aspects to the style of the book that you either love or hate, so I could you save you some moula or frustration. Just stop by my page on GoodReads and let’s crack open a merlot, shall we?

Happy reading!

ck

Your Handy Guide to Future Book Releases

For those of you as swept up in the adventures of some of our favorite mutual authors, I thought I would provide a public service in the form of a convenient, at-a-glance guide to upcoming follow-up book releases. I’m always struggling to remember what is supposed to come out and when as I chat with other fans of these books.

This by no means covers the entire contemporary romance/erotica genre – just a dozen or so authors that I read consistently, and from my interaction with some of you on this blog, Twitter and GoodReads, several of you do, as well.

Keep this list handy as you await opportunities to pre-order and download. And keep in mind that the dates may not reflect when all formats of the book will be available (that is, Kindle vs. Nook vs. paperback, etc.) But if it’s available in some form or another, that’s certainly a wonderful start!

From time to time, I plan to update this list and post for fellow fans. We wouldn’t want to miss out on a new book that’s available for pick-up or download, would we? I should think not.

Most of this information has been pulled from the authors’ websites or current listings on Amazon.com. Otherwise, I didn’t speculate. I won’t do that. It’s far too tempting, because if I could, I’d make all of them have a release date of…um…let’s see Friday, January 19, 2013 maybe? Works for me!

For those authors whose books do not have an official release date or title yet announced, please feel free to share that information if this is no longer the case. I will happily update that info right here. I might even skip or do a jig for you. Seriously. 🙂

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Oh, and once I have a release date for my own first book, tentatively JUNE 2013 (fingers crossed!), I will be posting that here, as well. Of course. I’m not a completely silly and senseless woman.

Happy reading!

ck

BOOK FOLLOW-UPS ~ RELEASE DATES
– as of 1/17/2013 –

Olivia Cunning HOT TICKET Fourth release of the Sinners on Tour Series (previously Backstage Pass/Rock Hard/ Double Time)  February 5, 2013
Sylvia Day A LUSH KISS OF SURRENDER Novella in Renegade Angels Trilogy  February 5, 2013
S.C. Stephens RECKLESS Follow-up to Thoughtless/Effortless  March 5, 2013
Jamie McGuire WALKING DISASTER Follow-up to Beautiful Disaster from Travis’s POV April 16, 2013****expected to be moved to 2wks earlier after FB campaign 
Sylvia Day ENTWINED WITH YOU Follow-up to Bared to You/Reflected in You  May 7, 2013
Samantha Young DOWN LONDON ROAD Follow-up to On Dublin Street  May 7, 2013
Rebecca Donovan OUT OF BREATH Follow-up to Reason to Breathe/Barely Breathing June 2013
Tiffany Reisz THE MISTRESS Fourth release of the Original Sinners Series (previously The Siren/The Angel/The Prince)
July 30, 2013 
Olivia Cunning SNARED Fifth release of the Sinners on Tour Series Fall 2013
J.B. McGee FORGIVEN  Follow-up to Broken/Mended

2013 – date not yet announced

M. Leighton WITH CASH Follow-up to Down to You/Up to Me Not Yet Announced
Sylvia Day A TASTE OF SEDUCTION Final installment in Renegade Angels Trilogy  Not Yet Rescheduled
Sylvia Day STRIPPED DOWN Follow-up to All Revved Up Not Yet Announced 
Sylvain Reynard title not announced
(aka GABRIEL BOOK 3)
Follow-up to Gabriel’s Inferno/Gabriel’s Rapture Not Yet Announced