Cover Reveal and Pre-Ordering

Finally, after way too many months, I’ve gotten my act together and am preparing to re-release Little Bird. That means a new cover!

Little Bird HiRes

Isn’t it pretty?

The release date is October 30, 2015, but it will be available for pre-order soon. I’m just waiting for all the links to go live. Once they do, I’ll add them here.

Edited to add buy links:

Amazon

iTunes

Kobo


Coda Nominated for Book of the Month

Coda has been nominated for book of the month for January 2014 over at BDSM Book Reviews. Voting is open until February 12, 2014. If you’d like to vote for Coda – or one of the other awesome books nominated – you have to join their yahoo group, which you can do here.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Coda yet, it is available for free download from Goodreads and All Romance eBooks. If you like reviews first, you can read BDSM Book Reviews take on Coda here. And, not only is Coda free, but it’s also fairly short at just 6,600 words or so. Perfectly sized for a reading snack.


You were looking for what now?

Another blog that I read occasionally puts up an article about the search terms people used to find the blog, along with the blog owners often baffled and always snarky response to those search terms. I look forward to these semi-regular posts because they never fail to make me laugh. But I didn’t think a similar article would work on my own blog. I mean, let’s face it. I’m just a little fish in a really big pond of romance writers. I didn’t think people were searching for my site at all. I assumed most visitors were following links from facebook, goodreads, twitter, or one of the many blogs who’ve been gracious enough to help me promote my books.  Besides, even if people were searching for my site I couldn’t imagine that the search terms they used to get here would be that unusual.

That is, until I actually looked at my site stats.

The vast majority confirmed my suspicions. Things like:

Nothing unexpected there. Then there were a few that were rather…perplexing.

  • www.liza name themes
  • www.liza school pictures not on facebook

I don’t know what either of those people were looking for but I’m pretty sure they didn’t find it here.

But, there among all the other search terms, there was one that really stood out for me. That really made me stop and consider it for a moment before finally deciding yes, whoever this person is, they are my people and they belong here on my blog.

beard tickling sex

It’s true. I am an admirer of beards. Vanessa North and I have had many a pervy beard discussion on twitter and skype. And, lucky for me, Mr. Gaines has a fantastic beard.

Mr. Gaines, giving me the evil eye because I was blinding him with the flash. But let's ignore that and talk about his amazing beard.

Mr. Gaines, giving me the evil eye because I was blinding him with the flash. But let’s ignore that and talk about his magnificent beard instead.

I think beards are sexy and, you know, if we’re being honest, they do tickle sometimes. So this search term makes perfect sense to me. It speaks to me.

But there is one thing that has me worried. To the best of my recollection, the only reference to beard tickling sex on this website is in the excerpt of Little Bird, when Savannah wonders if Lee’s beard might tickle.  It isn’t much, just a brief little thing, and I fear that someone searching for beard tickling sex will be disappointed by that meagre offering on a subject that undoubtedly deserves so much more.

So, to whoever it was who found me by using that search term, I apologize if you were disappointed in my contribution to the topic and I resolve to do better. You’re the kind of person I want hanging around and reading my dirty words. If you want more beard tickling sex, it is my duty to give it to you. (And I’d also suggest you follow me on twitter because that’s where the really dirty conversations happen.)

To the rest of you…there will be another installment of “You Were Looking for What Now?” at some undetermined time in the future when another search term used to find my website tickles my fancy.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the beard tickling sex too.


Coda is available now!

Coda is now available on Goodreads for free download. I’m working on releasing it in a few other places (Amazon, B&N, All Romance eBooks, etc.) and will add links to Coda’s page as it become available from additional vendors.

In other Coda news, BDSM Book Reviews reviewed it yesterday. They gave Coda 5 paddles for the story and also a 5 sting factor for the kink.   To say I am thrilled with this review would be a massive understatement. Plus, they gave me this awesome button to plaster all over my website:

BDSM Book Reviews


My Birthday Present for You. Yes, You!

What’s that you say?

I don’t know when your birthday is?

True enough but it also doesn’t matter because I’m going to give you a gift for your birthday on my birthday, which is next Friday, January 31.

I’ll bet you can guess what it is too, but in case you need a hint I’ll give you a really big one right now…

Coda

And while I have your attention, don’t forget to go here and enter Musa Publishing’s Warm-up for Winter contest. You can enter every day this month to win books and other great prizes.


Warm up for Winter with Musa

Enter daily to win one of 17 promotional paperbacks
 

Outlaws by William Weldy
Only A Hero Will Do by Susan Lodge
First Frost by Liz DeJesus
Glass Frost by Liz DeJesus
Trusting Sydney by Helen Hardt
Taming Angelina by Helen Hardt
Treasuring Amber by Helen Hardt
2012: The Rising by Joanne Hirase
Typical Day by Gary K. Wolf
Obsession by JoAnne Keltner
Stained Glass byMindy Hardwick
Grape Bubblegum by Beth Bowland

Dragon Drop by Jerry Ackerman
New Girl by Joan B. Flood
The Fox’s Mask by Anna Frost
Unforgettable You by Marci Boudreaux
Storm’s Fury by Nya Rayne

And one of 30 e-books:

3.99 by Richard Satterlie
100,000 Midnights by Aaron Smith
A Company of Thieves by David Pilling
A Place to Call Their Own by L. Dean Pace-Frech
A Reason To Stay by L.S. Murphy
A Sense of the Ridiculous by Heather King
A Willing Spirit by Cindi Myers
Alaska Heat by Vella Munn
An Incident on MSR Tampa by SS Hampton, Sr
Apple of My Eye by Elizabeth Botts
Baiting The Hook by Mary S. Palmer & David Wilton
Between by Clarissa Johal
Black Widow by Lena Austin
Bring Me To Life by Scarlett Parrish
Captain Westwood’s Inheritance by Lynda Dunwell
Contingency Plan by Anita Ensal
Crazy Greta by David Hardy
Daughter of the Earth and Sky by Kaitlin Bevis
Deep Into The Night by Tracie Ingersoll Loy
Dragon Revealed by Nulli Para Ora
Enchanted Realms by Eleni Konstantine
Forget the Misteltoe by Lizzie T. Leaf
Her Goblin Prince by Thalia Frost
High Stakes by Chad Strong
ICE blue by Susan Rae
Identity Thief by Milo James Fowler
Keeper of Directions by L.K. Mitchell
Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi
Little Bird by Liza Gaines
Looney Dunes by Anne Skalitza
Masquerade by Sloane Taylor

All entrants are eligible for the Grand Prize Drawing January 31

Grand Prize 
Warm Up for Winter Basket
Snuggly Blanket
$20.00 Musa Gift Certificate 
Starbucks Coffee
Coffee Mug
Specialty Chocolates

 PLUS
 5 paperback books: 
Marissa’s Choice by Kadee McDonald
The Dominus Runes by Peter Lukes
Walking the Dog by Linda Benson
Love Lies Bleeding by Laini Giles
For his Love by Nya Rayne



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners of paperback books who reside outside the Continental United States will receive their prize in e-book format.


Happy Birthday, Big!

Today is Big’s eleventh birthday so I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about him.

My friend Crystal’s mother was a Shar Pei breeder and in the fall of 2002 she had a litter of four puppies.  When the puppies were three days old Crystal took me out for a visit. It was love at first sight. I was completely, utterly smitten. And it wasn’t just the puppies. Crystal’s mom had several adult dogs too…I don’t remember now how many but there were maybe five or six. They were all related to the puppies in one way or another and they were all really nice dogs. Shar Pei are, naturally, aloof. It’s a breed thing and these dogs were no exception. But Shar Pei also have a reputation for being aggressive and none of these were. Some were more friendly and curious about me than others, and some were clearly shy, but not one of them were growly or unpleasant. To me, this was a very good sign.

Christmas Eve 2002

Christmas Eve 2002

I picked Big out of the litter before his eyes were even open. I don’t know what made me choose him, maybe it was fate. But I knew this was the puppy for me. And I couldn’t have been more right. When he came home he was, from the very start, an easy puppy. He didn’t misbehave and he wasn’t destructive. The law firm I was working for at the time was in an iffy part of town and I was frequently there alone so my boss let me bring Big to work with me. In truth, Big went most everywhere with me and I think that, along with his good breeding, is the reason he’s such a good natured dog.  Mr. Gaines and I often joke that if someone broke into our home Big would cheerfully give them the grand tour and, in exchange for a few ear scratches and a treat, show the burglars where we keep the “good stuff”.

Sometimes I think Big is a cat living in a dog’s body. There is nothing he enjoys more than a nap, something he does for roughly twenty two hours a day.  The last time we were at the vet, she asked if I thought he was slowing down any now that he’s getting older. All I could say was, it’s hard to tell…he’s never been fast.

Whew, I'm tired!

Whew, I’m tired!

He does still have bursts of energy. About as much as he ever did. Just last night when Mr. Gaines came home from work, Big stood at the top of the stairs, play bowing and dancing around with excitement. He’s never been one for toys or fetch or tug, but he definitely lets you know that he’s happy to see you. And he still appreciates a good game of chase and the occasional wrestling match with Lola-dog.

Chasing Lola. Michigan, Christmas 2012.

Chasing Lola. Michigan, Christmas 2012.

One of Big’s other great joys in life is eating and he will happily eat a lot of thing many dogs don’t like, apples and oranges for instance. Bananas are probably his favorite thing. And he’s very polite about it, you never have to worry about inadvertently getting nipped when you’re giving him a treat. Most larger pieces of food, you can hold for him and he’ll eat it bite by bite, just like a person would. Except pizza. He seems to believe that pizza must be eaten by the slice in one gulp and we will try to do exactly that if you give him the chance. One of the first time Mr. Gaines met Big, we ordered pizza for dinner. Having seen Big eat things properly before, Mr. Gaines offered him a piece, expecting him to take a bite, chew it up, and then come back for more. But instead, Big opened his giant maw (really, it is life-flashing-before-your-eyes-horrifying to wake up and find him standing over you yawning) and inhaled the entire piece. There was much coughing and gagging as Big chewed it into submission and, for about thirty seconds, Mr. Gaines was terrified he’d just killed his new girlfriend’s dog. That was the end of offering Big an entire slice of pizza.

Now Mr. Gaines and Big just share a slice. Summer 2008.

Now Mr. Gaines and Big just share a slice. Summer 2008.

He is rock solid off leash. I have no doubt I could (though I obviously never would) walk down the middle of I-95 with him and he’d never take a wrong step. I don’t think this is because of any great training on my part. He just wants to be with his people and doesn’t see any reason to stray. Nothing is better than mom and dad. Because he’s so well behaved, both on and off leash, we’ve taken him all over. He’s been to Florida, Kentucky, and back and forth between Michigan and Virginia more times than I can count. He’s hiked in Shenandoah National Park and toured Gettysburg, Antietam, and half a dozen other parks and battlefields.

Shenandoah National Park, Summer 2008

Shenandoah National Park, Summer 2008

He has a plethora of nicknames: Biggles, Bigglesworth, Bigenstain Bear, Pumpkin Butt, Little Man. He thinks he’s emperor of the world (don’t ask). He doesn’t bark or whine to go outside, instead he gets right up in your grill and stares at you…a cold, unblinking, unfeeling stare. That look has woken me from a dead sleep almost every morning for the last decade. He follows me everywhere and stands between me and the stove while I’m cooking, just in case I might maybe possibly drop something. (Lola-dog is trained to lay at the threshold and watch but, obviously, that training didn’t go so well with the boy.) He watches TV, especially Food Network. He loves riding in the car. The other day, Mr. Gaines and I were moving our cars around. Big ran out, jumped in the Escape, and refused to get out until after I’d moved it.

Joe Cool

Joe Cool

My life has changed in a lot of ways since I first brought that wrinkly little puppy home, mostly for the better. But even when things were bad, the outlook always seemed a little brighter because I had Big by my side. For eleven years now he’s let me bury my face in his neck and cry when that’s what I needed. And he’s been there to make me laugh and smile with his silly antics and strange Chewbacca like noises when that was what I needed. And somehow, he always knows which of those is exactly what I need.

He’s not perfect. Not by a long shot. He slobbers and drools on everything. While he almost never barks he has an entire symphony of other annoying noises: huffs, grunts, snorts, snores (OMG, the SNORING!), and these weird yodeling sounds that really do sound like a Wookiee. He has separation anxiety and has destroyed more than one door or window that dared to come between him and his people. He sees the vet more often than I see my own doctor. I think I bought a yacht for his old vet in Michigan, and we are well on our way to buying a Porsche for  his vet here in Virginia. We’re lucky that so far his myriad medical issues have all been relatively minor and easily managed.

But for all of that, my life has been immeasurably richer because he’s in it. Now that he’s getting to that age and I’m starting to worry. The average life span for Shar Pei is eight to ten years. We’re already past that and, though he is still spry and healthy, I know that isn’t always going to be the case.

So today, we’re going to celebrate another year with the best dog ever. We’ll take him out for a burger and let him get whatever he wants at the pet store and come home and cuddle and nap. He’s given me so much over the years, it really is the least I can do.

Happy Birthday, Biggles!

Happy Birthday, Biggles!


Cover Art for Coda

Like many people, Fridays are my favorite day of the week. But one thing I love even more than Fridays is getting new cover art. It is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the publishing process. Yes, I like actually writing the book and editing is hard but rewarding. But getting the cover art is on a whole different level. It makes the project feel real because that’s the first thing the world will see and it’s fascinating and thrilling to see how the artist brings the story to life. I wish I could get new cover art every day because it really is that exciting for me.

Today I’m revealing the cover art for Coda. It’s a short story I’ve written and will be releasing as a free read. You could think of it as sort of like a second epilogue to Little Bird, although Lee and Savannah don’t make an appearance in Coda. Or, alternatively, you could think of it as a prologue or introduction to what will be the second novel in the Tangled series. I don’t have a release date yet but rest assured, it is coming and I will keep you updated on when and where it will be available.

But for now, join me in oggling the cover art!

Coda

Happy Friday, everyone!


Little Bird Release Day is Finally Here!

Squeeee! It’s the big day! *thud*

*picks myself up off the floor, hoping no one saw that*

Full Size - 510 x 765, 72 dpi

Ahem. Okay. So, here are buy links:

Musa Publishing          Amazon          Barnes and Noble          All Romance eBooks

Now, with that out of the way I’d like to take a minute to talk about my pen name. And yes, this is still related to release day. Sort of.

I knew from the beginning that if I were to get published I’d need a pen name. I’d been a paralegal for 15 years and I didn’t think it would be very good for my career to have clients, attorneys, judges, other legal staff, etc. accidently stumbling on my erotic romance novels. But what to call myself? I briefly considered using my middle and maiden names but, honestly, that’s a pretty generic name. Think along the lines of “Jane Smith”. I mean, it’s a perfectly good name but it didn’t stand out or have the pizzazz I was looking for in a pen name. It’s not often you get to name yourself and I was going to be picky about it until I found just the right pseudonym.

So I started thinking about things that were important to me. What could I name myself that would have meaning? Wine N. Chocolate? Appropriate, yes, but not exactly what I was looking for.

And then it came to me in one of those blinding flashes that seem to come out of nowhere sometimes.

Gran

This is my grandmother. Her name was Louisa and today would have been her 97th birthday. There are really no words to explain what a huge part of my life she was. Nor can I adequately express what an amazing woman she was, other than to say she was an inspiration, a role model, and the best piano player and pie maker I’ve ever known. She lived next door to us while I was growing up and then, later, she moved in with my mom and stepdad so she was just always there, a constant presence in our lives.

I admit, it wasn’t always easy having her so close. There were no wild parties at my house when I was a teenager because even when my folks were out of town Gran was still there, peering out her kitchen window. (Not that I would have done that kind of thing anyway, Mom. Swear to God!) But for the most part, it was a wonderful arrangement for all of us and, because she was so close, I had a very close relationship with her. I am incredibly thankful for the time we had together, the memories I have of her, and the significant part she played in my life.

Given all that, it seemed a fitting tribute to take my pen name from her. So, I shortened Louisa to Liza and settled on Gaines, the town of her birth, for a surname. It covers my tracks in the legal community, has substantially more zing than my middle and maiden name, and, best of all, allows to me feel like Gran is always near.

So, today is a little bittersweet for me. I am wildly-flailing-like-a-maniac thrilled to really, truly be a published author. When I first saw the Amazon listing for Little Bird I screamed so loud Lola-dog actually howled along with me.

But I’m also a little bit sad because today is Gran’s birthday and, perhaps even more so, because this is the first MAJOR LIFE EVENT I’ve experienced since she passed away. And while I’m quite sure Gran wouldn’t approve of the actual content of my book, I think she’d have been proud of my accomplishment nonetheless. I can’t help but wish she were here to share it with me. And, you know, everytime I see or hear my pen name, I sort of feel like she is.


Why I Write Romance

We’re three short days from the release of Little Bird and I’m a basket case. It’s a little bit scary to think about. I want people to read and enjoy it, of course, but it’s intimidating to think about them doing so. And, to make matters worse, Mr. Gaines is out of town this week for work so it’s just me and the dogs, wallowing around in my neurosis.

This is Lola-dog’s “get over yourself” look. She’s been giving it to me a lot lately.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about over the last few days is why I write romance. When I first sat down in front of my laptop with that terrifying cursor blinking at me in contempt, I thought, “Okay, Liza, what are you going to write?” I was asking myself what kind of characters I wanted and what kind of plot could I throw at them. But the question of genre never even occurred to me. I just knew I would write romance. Why is that?

An easy answer would be that romance is the top selling genre. By a lot. Of course, I realize writing romance is no guarantee of success just because the genre as a whole is wildly successful. But it can’t hurt. It’s an economic argument and, thinking about it now, it makes a lot of sense. But at the time, when I was first getting started, it never crossed my mind. Romance could be the worst selling genre and it’s still the genre I would choose.

For me, I think a lot of that has to do with my long history as a voracious reader. In a good week, I can read seven or eight books. In a bad week, it’s still at least two or three. While I do read a bit here and there in other genres, I primarily read romance and it’s been that way since I was a young teen. Okay, I just checked the publication date of a Danielle Steel book I remember stealing from my Mom and reading as a new release. It was published when I was 13. The first romance I remember reading was a Kathleen Woodiwiss that I’d plucked off my Mom’s bookshelf. After that, I progressed to Mom’s Danielle Steele and Julie Garwood collection and Jennifer Blake novels borrowed from my Aunt C. There was no turning back.

My cousin CC (Aunt C’s daughter) and I tore through books as fast as we could get our hands on them, reading and rereading them and incessantly talking about it. Before long, we were writing fan fiction (although we didn’t know that’s what it’s called) about boy bands and movie stars. (Steven Seagal? Really, CC?) I was a romance writer even then!

I loved the books but I equally loved that I was part of a community – even if it was population 2, CC and me. The books were great but what made it even better was that I had someone to talk about them with. CC and I swooned over hero’s, analyzed plots, and reimagined some of the stories in whole new ways. My reading experience was so much richer for having someone to enthusiastically share it with. This kind of experience is also common in other genres, especially SF/F, but romance was the bug that bit me.

And guess what? Not much has changed. CC and I might live 600 miles apart now but when we talk the conversation always comes around to romance novels. Even as I write this, my author pal Vanessa North is nagging me to hurry up and finish reading a book she recommended to me, so we can talk (okay, let’s be honest, gush) about it together.

It’s always irked me that some people are so dismissive of romance as a genre. And now that I’m involved in the larger romance community, interacting with other authors and readers, it’s even more irritating. Romance is full of flat out amazing books that are sex positive, challenge boundaries, and explore a wealth of complicated and complex characters.

Do they sometimes have problematic themes? Sure. But even then, there is open dialogue in the community discussing those issues. I think the depth of conversation that goes on at places like Dear Author and between authors and readers on Twitter would shock the hell out of people who easily belittle the genre as porn. Listen to this podcast and then tell me, with a straight face, you think romance is shallow. More than once, I’ve walked away from a book examining my own thoughts and feelings on sex, gender, race, class and any number of other topics. It might or might not change my mind but it gets me thinking and that can only be a good thing.

So, after all of that, the ultimate answer to the original question is twofold. I started writing romance because it’s what I read and I will continue to write romance because it is a thoughtful, dynamic, nuanced genre full of incredible books and people.

I think next time someone asks me why I write romance my answer will be, “Why would I ever write anything else?”


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