Tara Neale

April 21, 2012

My Personal Journey Into This Brave New World

Filed under: erotic romance,erotica,romance — Tara Neale @ 9:14 am
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I know that I said last week that I would review Savvy Author PJ Sharon’s Young Adult novel Savage Cinderella. But several things have happened this week…bad and great. I felt that I simply could not do justice to the review. So taking my creative license (who issues these things anyway?), I decided to share the good, the bad and the ugly of my own Indie publishing road this week.

I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. The one time I got into serious trouble at school was because I was writing a fairy tale for my baby cousin…in math class. In high school, I took Creative Writing class…twice. And I even placed in a regional poetry contest.

But then life…two marriages and six children happened. And writing got put on hold. But writing is something that kept raising its head and just would not die. In 2008, I began to write again…erotica for a free website. I won a contest there in 2009 and thought…here we go. I tried submitting a few things to publishers, but while they liked the ideas they felt my writing was lacking (and when I read most of it…they were right).

In 2010, I started to take online classes at Savvy Authors and have taken dozens in the past couple of years. But again I got side-tracked with real life. But this time, I never completely gave up the writing thing, producing a few more short stories in the next year or so. Then in fall of 2011, we had to take my young daughter, Emily, out of school for health reasons. I became a full-time homeschool mom and carer for a special needs child. It is exhausting work in itself.

But I did not want to give up work completely. So I decided that with the advent of e-readers and the explosion in self-publishing that I would give this writing dream a real go. Writer became my job. I took more classes. I developed writing habits…getting up early to write before my daughter wakes. Still something kept me from taking that final step…from actually publishing something. Perfectionism? Fear of failure? Fear of success?

This month I am taking a few more classes at Savvy, one of them is…E-Publishing with Suzanne Rock. One of the assignments was to get all of our stuff up-to-date; stuff being email signatures, blogs and websites. As I did that I kept saying…Tara is a homeschool mom and aspiring indie writer. ‘Aspiring got on my nerves. Here I am preaching at all of you about this ‘brave new world’ of e-publishing…and hopefully helping other amazing writers make their dreams come true. But I was still…aspiring…waiting on the side-lines.

I decided NO MORE. I had written a short story that turned into a novella for Literotica (the site I mentioned earlier) Earth Day contest. It was doing pretty well. So brilliant me decided to edit this novella, do a cover, format it and put it on Smashwords as a free read to start building my back list.

The story was fairly clean, but I still worked on edits and adding a few bits that made it even better. I started in by downloading the Style Guide for Smashwords…which is NOT as bad as it seems. BUT then I got to the cover. So I have basic skills is design from my old job as fundraising manager.  I found some license free photos that I liked for the cover so it was a matter of merging those and adding text. Simple enough?

NOT! The trouble came in that I do not have any software other than Paint and Word so I could not do the things I wanted to do. I could not really afford to go with getting someone else to do it since I would not be making any money off this one. So I tried downloading some software…and got more than I bargained for. Something besides just the software got on my computer. I ended up having to wipe the whole thing.

Thankfully I have learned from previous mistakes and had all my files saved to disk so I did not lose any of my work. Then it get betters…I had to re-purchase Microsoft Office because my old product key did not work…and the download took forever. I also had to make several calls to their support center for help…that will appear on my phone bill too. Total cost of this book is around £100 or $150 and counting.

Lesson learned…if you are going to do this thing, you can’t afford to be ignorant. You have to be prepared to be a jack of all trades…graphic designer and computer security expert. So I made another  decision…I have enrolled in a design course at the end of this month that will teach me Adobe Photoshop and will purchase that respected brand of software (no more free downloads…they aren’t free).

But after all that…I DID IT! I finished the 3rd round of edits on Thursday morning…and since I was not sure if I had formatting correct I tried the meat grinder at Smashwords. In less than five minutes, my book was available to readers as a free read. I am now published. No more ‘aspiring.’ And it feels amazing. So far in three days, I have almost 100 downloads…and my book has not even completed the review process for inclusion in other catalogues…like Kindle/Amazon.

Now I have taken that jump…I have a new respect for everything that these amazing writers do to give us these books. Their blood, sweat, tears and life goes not just into the writing but the covers, the formatting and all that promoting. So as one indie writer to all the rest of you…THANK YOU for all you do to bring us stories and characters that we might otherwise never have.

And next week…I promise I will get back to the reviews…with PJ Sharon’s Savage Cinderella.

April 13, 2012

Coyote Gorgeous by Vijaya Schatz

Filed under: book review,romance — Tara Neale @ 9:11 am

Title: Coyote Gorgeous

Author: Vijaya Schatz

Source: Amazon

Price: The bargain basement price of around $1

Heat: Warm and heartening

Rating: Drop-dead gorgeous is more accurate

Genre: Para-normal (Shape Shifter)

One of the best things about being a writer is the things you discover while doing research. That’s how I discovered Coyote Gorgeous by Vijaya Schatz. I was working on my own story about a shape shifting Native American (his preference is running wild as a mustang…which fits right in with his job as an animal protection officer).  I discovered the term for this in Native American folklore was skin walker. When I googled the term up popped this book by Vijaya Schatz.

Coyote Gorgeous is definitely the right term for this red hot Native American hero. Kaletaka is an artist, whose sculptures of animal-men creatures of mythology are taking the art world by storm. He is also a man of unique powers who is just coming into his own. Madison Huntley is a Game Ranger who is trying to overcome her past. The only daughter in a family of cops her job as a ranger is a sore point with the family…along with her refusal to hunt. Added to that is a boss, who is a former lover and continues to harass her.

When horses, dogs and other animals begin to be killed in and around Kaletaka, Madison is called to investigate…and to keep a lid on things. But there is no keeping a lid on the sexual attraction between Madison and her prime suspect, Kaletaka. How can she give herself to the man that she believes did such vicious things to animals? How can she deny herself the pleasure that this man’s hands offer as he sculpts her very soul anew. And…did he do it?

This book is a brilliant mix of some of my favorite romance genres…paranormal, suspense and Native American. The characters are strong and likeable. And Ms. Schatz does a breath-taking job of building the suspense elements, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with the question of…did he or didn’t he.  She really does not reveal much of anything until the final chapters…and I won’t say anything more.

I suppose the one disappointing thing about the book would be its pace. In places it moves so fast that it can be hard to follow. I would find myself going back to re-read sections to make sure I got things straights. In other sections, the action would be slow and mired down in details. But I will say that overall, the story that she weaves is more than compelling enough to overcome these momentary potholes.

So if you adore Native American heroes, flawed heroines and complex stories spiced with mythology, paranormal experiences and… (I’m not telling with this final twist), this novella may just be what you need to fill up a few hours this weekend. For the price, it is an excellent buy…from another fabulous indie romance author.

Next week, I step away from romance just a bit as I review a Young Adult title by Savvy Author PJ Sharon.

April 6, 2012

Spanked Princesses: The Pianist by Erika Moran

Filed under: book review,erotica — Tara Neale @ 10:47 am

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Title: Spanked Princesses: The Pianist

Author: Erika Moran

Source: Amazon

Price: The bargain basement price of around $1

Heat: Erotica, but not offensive blatant

Rating: Thought-provoking and delightfully refreshing

Genre: Erotica

When I began this review, I was committed to exploring all genres (even though I won’t lie…sci-fi and paranormal are my favorites). So when I was contacted by a writer from my Savvy Authors group about her erotica, I thought ‘what the heck?’ I’m not a prude by any means and have even written some pretty naughty stuff under another pen name. But what I found when I opened this e-file was shocking, amazing and delightful. This is absolutely the best erotica I have ever read.

Spanked Princesses: The Pianist is the story of a very young trophy wife, Kristina, who has a bit of an attitude problem. She is proud, haughty and arrogant towards others. Matters come to a head when another piano teacher quits after Kristina says some cruel things to her. Her husband, Jack, is not at all what readers might think of as ‘the older man.’ In his early forties, he is still too hot to handle with long hair that clashes with his Armani image. And there is no ex-wife that he tossed aside for his trophy. His first is dead, and he cared deeply for her, just as he cares for Kristina. In fact, the piano lessons are about the memories of his first wife, who played beautifully.

If this book breaks all of the stereotypes of older men/younger women, it does so even more for the complex issue of discipline or spanking. Kristina first learns of the joys of spanking, not from Jack but from a friend whose husband ‘corrects’ her. She finds it liberating, a concept that escapes Kristina at first. Jack, on the other hand, is a man with a deeply hidden secret. A top (dominate personality) who has hidden that side of himself from his new wife. The journey of discovery…and yes, love…that takes this couple to a new level of intimacy is breathtaking.

Ms. Moran is a powerful writer whose use of dialogue to drive the story is a thing of beauty. One of the most refreshing things about this book is it use of ‘common language’; it reads the way we speak. That makes it an enjoyable and easy read for almost everyone. At the same time, the author introduces readers to the often misunderstood world of dom/sub and discipline in a compassionate and realistic manner. This book is much more than it appears on the surface with themes of love and loss, acceptance and rejection, and self-discovery. It is a journey into the complex nature of humanity itself.

You know me, I always have to find something to ‘complain’ about, because we all know that nothing is perfect. In this story, the only that was hard was for me as an older woman to identify with the heroine. I kept thinking…she’s acting like a child because she is one. I also found myself thinking…she needs a good spanking. But then I realized that what I was doing was identifying with Jack instead…and I have to admit I got a bit curious about my own nature. Is there a hidden dom in me? How would I handle a boy toy? What about this story…in reverse?

The best way to read this book…is as a couple.  Guys, if your wife loves a good romance, but you have always longed for her to try something a bit more…buy her this book. Girls, if you love a good romance novel, the racier the better, then step over the line and explore yourself a little deeper. Grab your Kindle and the two of you snuggle under the covers with this erotic journey of a couple pushing the boundaries of love and intimacy. Then perhaps take a page from their book…talk about it, laugh about it and maybe even try a bit of it. Who knows where it might lead?

Next week, I bring out the beast of a different kind in the paranormal, shape-shifter romance Coyote Gorgeous by Vijaya Schatz.

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