Tag Archives: Freebies

SWHM Guest: Cecilia London

My friends, March is almost over, and I’ve let Smithsonian Women’s History Month pass quietly. There will likely be some changes at ALBTALBS (and ideally a more usual schedule – that’d be a change of pace for sure…) – and some “retroactive” posts… but as you see, we have the fantastic Cecilia London guesting with us, and she’s got a double relevant post – discussing Women’s History Month as well as her books – one of which is currently free. Whee!

My earliest political memory is of drawing a mustache on Walter Mondale while my best friend drew a beard on Ronald Reagan. We had just been handed a special election copy of Weekly Reader. Don’t judge me, or her…we were seven and in parochial school. I hadn’t yet realized that my parents were moderate to liberal independents with rebellious voting tendencies that have only gotten more radical with age. I was convinced I was a Republican.

Flash forward a few years to eighth grade, when I took a highly questionable test on a school computer that declared me a liberal. Liberal? From everything I’d been told, that was a very dirty word. I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of it. But I embraced the results and zoomed head-on into high school.

By the time the 1992 elections came around, I knew the score. I’d watched the Hill-Thomas hearings. I’d gotten sick of seeing all those arrogant men acting like they owned the damn country. And I was ready to dedicate my life to public service. I wanted to be like my idols – Pat Schroeder, Geraldine Ferraro, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan – all the women I’d read about in the paper or seen on TV. I wanted to be a member of Congress.

I love political memorabilia.

Easier said than done, of course. I supported Jerry Brown up until the convention, when I finally admitted that Clinton was going to be the nominee. I had hope in Bill along with Senator-elect Carol Moseley Braun, who had scored a huge upset victory against Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary. I was a fresh faced, idealistic fifteen year old convinced that this so-called Year of the Woman and Clinton’s election could get us going…somewhere. It had to…right?

Hey, an old copy of the Chicago Tribune! I keep EVERYTHING. If I ever drop off the social media map without warning, please send someone to check on me. I’m likely buried in a pile of old newspapers and copies of Entertainment Weekly.

My parents and I visited Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1993. I was so excited. A friend of mine gave me a copy of Pat Schroeder’s first book (Champion of the Great American Family) as a joke since she’d gotten it at a book sale for fifty cents (it was not exactly a commercial success). Pat Schroeder was my idol. The idealist. The feminist. The woman who along with six others marched up the steps to the United States Senate demanding an inquiry into the accusations Anita Hill had made against Clarence Thomas. And I was determined to meet her.

Remember this? That’s then-Congresswoman Barbara Boxer leading the way.

(You can click on the photo for more information.)

Yes, I wanted to meet Pat Schroeder. And Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, and Barbara Mikulski, and Patty Murray, and any other female member of Congress I could find. These women were my superstars, my celebrities, my inspiration. Sadly, Representative Schroeder was not in her office when I visited. Her staffers let me sit at her desk and my parents snapped a photo. They offered to have her call me at my hotel but (being the shy kid I was) I stupidly said that wasn’t necessary. To this day I wish I would have said yes. Who knows what that conversation might have been like?

Pat Schroeder declined to run for re-election in 1996. I was devastated. But I understood. She’d spent 24 years in the House. Progress had been made, but not much. She was one of the trailblazers, making it easier for other female candidates to run and win. But had anything in the promise of the Year of the Woman actually been achieved? Perhaps. But we have miles to go before we sleep.

So what’s the point of this piece? To drop some names, share some personal anecdotes, (eventually) plug my books? Whenever February and March roll around, I always wonder why some folks get up in arms about Black History Month and Women’s History Month. I don’t mean those of us who celebrate it. I mean those who feel such celebrations aren’t necessary.

Hopefully those of you reading this guest post have recognized all the names I’ve mentioned so far. But if you haven’t? That’s why we need Women’s History Month. It’s not just about female politicians and social activists (though they have driven a lot of this country’s political evolution) but inventors, writers, lawyers, architects, astronauts…and not just the ones that show up in mainstream history books. This is about more than Jeannette Rankin and Geraldine Ferraro and Shirley Chisholm…more than Fannie Lou Hamer and Toni Morrison and Sally Ride… it’s about all of those accomplishments that have been buried because the gatekeepers have deemed them to be insignificant.

I took women’s studies and African American history classes in college but never learned all the details of Chisholm’s historic 1972 presidential run until I was well out of law school. I had to seek the story out myself (in a wonderful documentary entitled Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed, which I highly recommend). And she is (IMHO) a relatively high profile figure in women’s history. This is the kind of information that should be taught in every high school American history class. And it is not.

Anyway…back to my story (and my books!). As I grew older, my political drive lessened but I remained interested in public policy. I went to law school, dedicated to serving the public in some capacity. But I began to realize that the gamesmanship required to gain elected office wasn’t something I was willing to do. I decided to work in the public sector in a non-political capacity. But my creativity was sapped…until October 2013.

I was still a dreamer in law school but those three years force you to process your thoughts in a different way. I stopped writing poetry and short stories to focus on briefs and motions but had a very active imagination. And I created these two vibrant characters in my head – a male and female member of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle. But I had no vehicle for them. They languished in my daydreams for almost ten years until I had a food poisoning-induced dream in which I pictured them as valiant patriots fighting a fascist regime.

The overall plotline of my series has evolved but thanks to that questionable barbecue, The Bellator Saga was born. And despite current events, I assure you I am not writing metafiction (so far as I can tell).

In a way, Caroline Gerard (my heroine) is an idealized version of the public figure I’d hoped to become back in high school. Moderately liberal, fiercely passionate about human and civil rights, genuinely kind and decent. Her romantic lead may at first appear to be a caricature – millionaire, playboy, Republican, silver fox (if you dig the older dudes like I do) – but…

Gratuitous teaser included in guest post at no extra charge!

I wanted to humanize my characters. Make them real. Because we all have foibles. We all have flaws. It doesn’t matter if we’re high profile or not. We’re all just people. Granted, Caroline and Jack are larger than life in any number of ways, but I hope that they’re relatable.

I wanted to explore a few deeper issues in The Bellator Saga – which is best described as It Can’t Happen Here blended with, uh, a lot of sex. What would happen if a fascist were allowed to take office? How easily could it happen? How would Americans react? And more importantly, how would those with money, power, and influence (like Caroline and Jack) respond when dissent is batted down viciously (though clandestinely)?

It would be easy for a person of privilege to flee instead of fighting, but Caroline chooses to throw down the gauntlet. As I developed the plotline it was vitally important that she not only be a badass (in the intellectual, politically active sense) but a compassionate, loyal person who would defend her ideals and her country until the very end. It was also important that she and Jack have an egalitarian relationship grounded in a deep emotional connection and an undying passion for one another.

The series is different; I will grant you that. The first two books, Dissident and Conscience, are told in a non-linear fashion, with parallel present/past timelines converging at the end of book two. The journey continues in Sojourn, as Caroline continues to wrestle with her memories of a beautiful past while struggling in an uncertain present.

The last three books in the series will be released in 2016, and a box set of the first three books was released on February 29. The Bellator Saga has a bit of everything but is at its heart an epic romance. It’s got a meaty plot and parts of it can be difficult to read (I don’t sugarcoat anything – totalitarian regimes don’t play nice), so you’ll likely either love it or hate it.

I hope that if nothing else, Caroline has lived up to the women I admired as a child. Because of them I continue my activist spirit in a different way – through the written word (and sometimes as a lawyer, I suppose!).

Thanks to Lime for having me, and here’s more Shameless Author Stuff!
Website, Facebook, Twitter: @authorclondon

Currently Free is Dissident
Dissident“I will always be with you…”

Rising Democratic star Caroline Gerard hasn’t had an easy year. After losing her husband, she is raising two small children alone while trying to navigate the tricky and sometimes shallow halls on Capitol Hill. A string of nasty speeches has her scrambling to apologize to any number of candidates, including newly elected Republican Jack McIntyre. Falling in love again is the last thing on her mind.

Jack McIntyre might have a reputation as a playboy, but he has his sights set solely on his new colleague. Can he break through Caroline’s grief and capture her heart?

Told mostly in flashback and set against a chilling fascist backdrop, Dissident is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, passionate contemporary romance, and undying love.

For readers 18+. Ends on a cliffhanger.

And for The Bellator Saga which includes the first three books…
The Bellator SagaTwo souls intertwined. One epic love story.

Get swept away in the passionate romance between political opposites Caroline Gerard and Jack McIntyre in the first half of The Bellator Saga.

This set contains the first three books in the series, Dissident, Conscience, and Sojourn.

Dissident
Rising Democratic star Caroline Gerard is reluctant to fall in love again after losing her husband. Can Republican playboy Jack McIntyre break through her grief and capture her heart? Told mostly in flashback and set against a chilling fascist backdrop, Dissident is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, passionate romance, and undying love.

Conscience
Caroline faces the biggest challenge of her life when confronted with the cruelty and sadism of her captors at The Fed. Hope fades quickly, even as she holds onto her one last bit of sanity and her unshakable belief that her husband will rescue her. But is that faith just a mirage?

Sojourn
Reeling from her experiences at The Fed, Caroline tries to forge ahead and create a new identity. But that’s hard to do with the ghosts of the past constantly whispering in her ear. She is determined to find the rebellion and move on with her life, but what will she find when she arrives there?

Includes bonus material featuring a deleted scene from Sojourn, a sneak peek at Phoenix, and a never before released love scene told in Jack’s first person point of view!

Special Guest: Carrie

Carrie swore up and down she’d have all the html perfect, so I’m not going to needle her too much about stuff 😉 – especially since it was her birthday yesterday. So, anyway, guest post! Go! And remember to wish Ms. Carrie a very happy [belated] birthday! 😀

Thanks Lime for letting me guest on your blog today!  It’s quite the
honor, and well worth the year wait 🙂
Many of you probably don’t know me, after all my blog, Seductive Musings, is relatively small and I don’t really do Twitter, or Facebook, nor do I hold big fancy contests giving away e-readers and such.  I just blog about romance books that I am interested in and like to talk about with my virtual “friends” (ie blog readers).  Occasionally I have thoughts I like to share with anyone who happens to want to read it, like today’s post.  If I bore you incessantly, apologies, feel free to skip to the end and just say hello, LOL.
Today I thought I would share with you my thoughts about the “free” read.  Many publishers and authors like to offer free digital books, novellas and short stories to readers as a way to entice readers to buy more from that author.  Frankly, I think this is brilliant!  Because really, who doesn’t like something for free, especially a great book?  And therein lies the catch.  In order for this marketing tool to really be effective (ie sales of more books) the freebie has to be an excellent representation of what that author or publisher is trying to get us to buy more of.   “Excellent representation” being the key words.Caution:  Here lies manypitfalls, perils, and dangers!  A free read is a great way to test drive a new to you author, and unfortunately I don’t think that very important fact that this may be a readers first introduction to an author is taken into consideration often enough.Let me share with you a few of my free read experiences…some of which were great, others were complete disasters, and maybe the worst scenario, a not so good free read for a fantastic author.

One of the first free reads I came across was Anne Stuart’s The Wicked House of Rohan.  I had just read Ruthless and found out that Rohan was a free prequel to the book I had just read.  I really enjoyed Ruthless and wanted more, so I was eager to read Rohan.  However, Rohan, IMO was a complete mess.  I actually really disliked it.  The story was kind of all over the place, and way too short, created more questions, than answers (and not in a good way that would make you want to read the upcoming books in the series, but to avoid them at all costs kind of way).  This was a free read disaster for both me and the author.  It’s time I could have better spent on other things, and was not a good representation of the type of story I knew the author could tell.  If I had read The Wicked House of Rohan first, I never would have read anything else by this author.  To this day I’ve not read another of her books.  So there you go.

A free read that I also thought was a failure, was Lorelei James’ Slow Ride.  And unlike the previous book, it’s not because the story was bad, in fact I actually loved it because it was a snippet into the lives of characters that I had already come to love.  That, right there was the problem with this short story as a free read.  It was written as a freebie for readers of the already well established Rough Riders series, not any reader who may happen upon the free read.   If you didn’t already know the characters, then more than likely you wouldn’t connect with the characters since you learned very little about them, just a moment from their lives.  Which makes this book as a free read, a complete and utter failure.  The writing was good (as always), but it didn’t present this series in a favorable light, which is why I thing the book suffered in the Amazon reviews, and it made me sad
because Ms. James is one of my all time favorite authors!  Hands down,
I will buy whatever she writes because I know it will be good.  But if I
was a reader who had never read one of her books….then Slow Ride
wouldn’t necessarily make me want to buy more of her work because there was little to no character development.  Slow Ride would have been much better as a free read on the author’s site, or newsletter as a “thank you” to fans of the series, instead of a possible introduction to the series, which is what many of the free reads are to readers.

Now I’d like to share two free reads that I thought were very effective because it made me want to read more by the author.  The first is All’s Fair In Love & Seduction by Beverley Kendall.  I don’t know if she wrote this as a free read to promote the rest of the books in her Elusive Lords series, but if she did then I give her big kudo’s because All’s Fair didn’t read like a “freebie”, but just a great story that happened to have been free.  And it also made me want to pay to read the rest of the books in this series.  Brilliant!  And exactly what a free read should do if you are using it as a marketing tool.

The second book that was fabulous freebie (unfortunately it’s not free any longer) was Sweet Release by Pamela Clare.  This book was originally published in print several years ago, then went out of print, and was re-released by the author last year.  And occasionally Ms. Clare will have this book, or one of her others, as free reads, which is how I first read it.  I think this is the best type of free read.  It’s a book that was never written to be a free read, it’s just a great story that happened to be offered for free.  I know there have to be many readers, like myself, who send many many thanks to Ms. Clare…not necessarily for the free read,  but for the opportunity to discover her books.  I think she is an AMAZING author that I might have missed out on if it had not been for a free read.  I have purchased all of her backlist, and even purchased and given a few of her books away on my blog as gifts, resulting in countless other sales I’m sure (because they are that addictively good).  Right there, is why free reads are so powerful.

I know some of you may not agree with this, but if the free read ain’t great, then there is no way I am going to spend any of my hard earned, and very limited book buying money on anything else by that author!  It is why picking the right story for a free read is extremely important.   Because if I don’t already read your books, you have one chance with me with that free read.  I think the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is very appropriate in this instance.  Otherwise it’s sayonara, unless of course a book comes to me highly recommended by someone I trust to have similar romance reading tastes as mine, like Lime.  I know I can’t be the only one who does this, and I often wonder if I’ve missed out on some great reads because of this standard.  If I would have read Lorelei James’ free read first, before any of her other books, I really doubt I would have sought out her books.  As a result I would have missed out on one of my favorite authors.  Scary.
While there are many pitfalls, perils, and dangers associated with a free read, it can also hold a tremendous amount of power, and this is why the idea of the free read is brilliant….I just wish that a free read meant a good read 🙂  Here’s my motto for free reads…”if your gonna make it free, make it good!”   Ah, my own little Romance reading utopia, LOL.  Since that world doesn’t exist it’s back to reality. I thought I would share with you some current free reads on Amazon that have promise of being good reads…

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Have you had some crash and burn free reads, or did you discover a now favorite author with a free read?  If so, what were they? And have you read a free read by an author that you love, but didn’t so much care for the free read?  I’d be really interested to find that out as well. That way I can either avoid them, and commiserate with you, or we can dish about favorite free reads and if I get lucky maybe even find a few to add to my TBR 🙂
Have a great rest of the weekend and thanks for sticking with me!