Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aurally Yours...

I am delighted to announce that I've signed a contract with AudioLark to produce an audiobook of my novella "Wetter Has Never Been Better" which was previously published by Phaze Books as part of my debut collection, fine flickering hungers, and is currently available as a single-title ebook via all major ebook vendors.

Tasked with crafting an ad campaign to make the rainy season an attractive tourist destination, Stormy Delgado travels to Costa Rica and discovers exactly why Wetter Has Never Been Better.

WARNING: The protagonist in this story has plentiful, uninhibited sex with a variety of partners… all in the rain. And, because this is fiction, it’s all wonderfully satisfying and hotter than hell.

$4.99
Author: Alessia Brio
Coming 3/2010

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Second Verse, Double the First

Purple Prosaic
If you recall, I posted that my first month's self-publishing earnings SEXtupled the last author royalties reported by my primary publisher, Phaze Books. Well, I am delighted to report that my second month doubled the first!

I re-released several new titles in November, but it was October releases that carried sales -- with the lesbian fiction again leading the way. One title (Boiling Point, a $1.99 short story) accounted for  half of my revenue through ARe, and it has become the #1 bestselling lesbian title on that site. Two other of my lesbian fiction titles are in the Top 5, as well. :-)

As with October, Kindle sales were again led by a heterosexual romantic comedy short entitled Legally Binding. It's erotic but not explicit, and it's so short (1750 words) that I was embarrassed to price it at 99 cents. (That's the lowest Amazon's Digital Text Platform allows.) The lesbian erotica does well on Kindle, but nowhere near as well as on ARe.

There were a few sales on Smashwords, and 1 Romance eBooks nudged onto the charts with the sale of two titles (which is enough to warrant my uploading more titles). Nothing on Lulu or Scribd, and no direct sales. Although all my titles have been approved by Smashwords for "premium distribution" (via Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, Shortcovers, and Sony), very few of them have actually appeared on those sites. I look for a spike in Smashwords revenue once that distribution occurs. Reporting of such revenue, however, I expect to be... um... delayed.

December will bring a new distribution channel: My Bookstore and More. I signed the contract late last month and just received the upload instructions yesterday. I'll begin uploading titles this week. MBaM is Samhain Publishing's shopping cart, so I'm hoping for a sales boost there!

Oh, last thing: Print sales are not included in these figures (because sales are negligible).
It's all about the e, baby! Until next time...

peace and PURPLE passion,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I left a comment on Allison Brennan's post about Harlequin Horizons over at Murder She Writes. Several comments have appeared after mine, yet mine is still awaiting moderation. Well, I don't feel like waiting to chime in, so I'm *ahem* self-publishing it. (And, because I can whore my work on my own blog, I've added links.) Here 'tis:
Thanks, Allison, for an insightful post.

It absolutely baffles me to think that an intelligent being would opt for HH’s platform when there are several established and reputable digital publishing platforms that ask NOTHING to host a self-published book. They take a percentage of each sale, but that’s true of HH and its distribution channels as well.

I started self-publishing last month (and, Shiloh, I’m happy to report that that 100 copy sales benchmark definitely does not apply even to re-released work) and places like Smashwords (with its "premium" -- and FREE -- distribution to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Fictionwise, and Shortcovers) make it easy to succeed. Amazon’s Digital Text Platform is free and will get your book on the Kindle rolls. And the folks at All Romance eBooks, where my sales are greatest, are absolutely wonderful to work with.
An author doesn’t have to use self-publishing as a last resort. For some, it’s a lucrative and viable alternative to jumping through the “traditional” publishing hoops.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Emperor's New (Media) Clothes

This past weekend, I attended—for the 4th consecutive year—the La Jolla Writers Conference. I have always come away from this small conference with a renewed enthusiasm for the art of writing as well as the business of publishing. I have met some wonderfully generous authors, agents, and industry professionals who served on the faculty—without compensation. People like Robyn Carr, Mark Clements, Jane Green, Alan Russell, Steve Berry, James Grippando, Margaret Weis, Linda Lael Miller, Ken Kuhlken, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Warren Lewis, David Morrell, Stephen J. Cannell, Eldon Thompson... to namedrop but a few. There are more. Many more.

In past years, self-publishing received a wee bit of attention from self-made mogul Greg GodekPrint self-publishing, that is. Print-on-demand might have been mentioned… in passing.

This year, however, was the first time digital publishing appeared—officially—on the agenda.  I was thrilled. In fact, the new media session went a step further than even I'd anticipated, bypassing small press and epublishers completely. Author and podcast guru, Steven R. Boyett adamantly forecast a time in our NEAR future when the layers (agents, publishers, distributors) between artist and consumer would go the way of the dodo.  It's already happening in isolated instances. He should know. His podcasts are a good example.

Having just launched my own self-publishing label, Purple Prosaic, a month ago, this was—as you can imagine—music to my ears.  In my first month of operation, I earned SIX TIMES my last royalties check* just on re-packaged and re-released short stories, so I know first hand the accuracy of Boyett's assertion: the savvy new media consumer doesn't give a rat's ass about the so-called stamp of legitimacy bestowed by a middleman. That's just what we've been led to believe by those who have a vested interest.  Whatever services those middlemen do provide (and there ARE unquestionably value-added services in the mix), legitimacy in the eyes of the new media generation is not one of them.

At a time when most authors are still defining the formula for success as the traditional agent plus New York contract, this news might sound ominous. To the new media entrepreneurs and consumers, well… it can't happen fast enough.

I'm ready.

peace and passion,

* One third of the way into its 2nd month, Purple Prosaic has earned two-thirds of its 1st month revenue.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Survey says: SEXtupled

Purple Prosaic
...with change (and a few hours remaining in the month). That's my revenue report for the first month of self-publishing via Purple Prosaic. That's right. In just one month, with just a fraction of my backlist, I earned more than SIX times my last author royalties check. I think that data more than supports a continuation of this little endeavor, don't you?

Here are a few more stats:

The entire revenue is from ebook sales (and most of it previously published material, at that). No print sales are included (although I did re-release fine flickering hungers in both paperback and commemorative hardcover).

The majority of sales (67%) came through All Romance eBooks *blows a kiss to Lori & Barb* with Amazon Kindle in a distant second (27%) and Smashwords finishing third (6%). (Of note, the Smashwords titles have not yet been distributed via Fictionwise, Barnes and Noble, and Sony. Thus, Smashwords figures will *crosses fingers* be growing.)

There is no revenue to report via direct sales or on the titles available on Lulu, Scribd, or 1 Romance Ebooks. I'll keep plugging away at Lulu because it feeds into the weRead app on Facebook and Scribd because I'm getting plenty of hits there that will hopefully someday translate into sales.  I'm not going to invest more time/effort into 1 Romance Ebooks until I see at least a sale or two of what's already available there.

Three titles (Boiling Point, Say It with a Strap-On, and Hallowing Eve) account for 48% of the titles sold.  THEY ARE ALL LESBIAN FICTION.  I find this very interesting given that I've heard two of my publishers (Phaze Books & Torquere Press) report that the lesbian fiction in their catalogs doesn't sell well. Now, my stats may be skewed by the fact that these were the first three titles I released -- and thus, they've had all month to accumulate sales -- but I don't think that explains it all.  I'm both puzzled and pleased by the success of these titles -- and I'll definitely be writing more in the genre.

Thanks to all the readers for their support!

Until next time...

peace and purple passion,

~ Alessia

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rainbow Awards: Sapphistocated


Sapphistocated is a finalist in the "Contemporary Fiction - Lesbian" category of Elisa Rolle's first Rainbow Awards, and I would much appreciate your votes.

There are a slew of other categories in which to vote, but I only care about *cough* mine.  Just kidding.  I think everyone who reads rainbow (GLBTQ) fiction should pop over to her LiveJournal and vote in all the polls, regardless of whether or not they vote for Sapphistocated (which, by all accounts, they should).

Thanks, y'all!

peace and rainbow passion,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ahoy, authors! There be pirates in these waters!


The category of "Romantic Fiction" on the AstaTalk forum is a big one. Apparently, those who believe they shouldn't have to pay for ebooks have a huge appetite for the genre.

It makes me wonder what makes these people tick. Where does a person acquire that sense of entitlement? Do they shoplift in meat space, too? Are they self-proclaimed Christians? Are they so dirt poor that they can't afford to buy what they steal?  Do they have hard drives full of all manner of electronically pirated media -- music, movies, books? What are their demographics? I'm quite curious.

It is no surprise that those who post in search of "free" ebooks typically do so under nicknames and have their profiles set to private. They know they're doing wrong. KNOW it. Hence, they hide. And they sneak. And they steal.

They steal from me and those like me: authors, publishers, editors, and cover artists. And they'll keep doing it until someone does something to stop them. The "authorities" aren't much help at this juncture, so that someone is US.

So, when you become aware that your work is being pirated, post a link to where the book can be LEGALLY obtained. I recommend:
Thank you for your interest in my work. I would appreciate it if you would not steal it on this or similar sites. Not only is it wrong, it also deprives me of the income that I use to pay my bills. We -- author and reader -- have a symbiotic relationship. I'm doing my part. If you don't do yours, I may not be able to continue to write books for your entertainment. This book can be legally obtained via the following link:
INSERT BUY LINK HERE
In appreciation, if you send me your receipt, I will be happy to (insert incentive here).

Please post links to your activism in the comments. Perhaps we can make a difference.

peace and passion,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Flash

Christine dipped her finger into the wine glass and with it drew a large, wet heart on her lover's stomach. "The difference between my love for you and yours for me is, as I see it, that mine IS conditional. I don't want unconditional love. I can't respect it because it's too much like worship. No, I prefer to be loved conditionally. Attach strings to your love. I want lines in the sand of your emotional desert, things I could do that would damage us. Without them, you're just a dog to me... and I'm a cat person."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dude, we're not in Kansas anymore

The title of this post was something I overheard while weaving my way through the lobby of the Atlanta Marriott this past weekend. It was spoken by a hotel guest who was not there to attend Dragon*Con, and it pretty accurately describes the event. Having attended my first Comic*Con this year as well, I can report that I much preferred Dragon*Con. It was far more about getting your geek on, whereas Comic*Con was a bit too Hollywood for my tastes.
Memorable moments from my first (but not last) Dragon*Con:
Learning the Thriller dance* alongside several hundred geeks in a wide variety of costumes, then doing it an hour later for the official attempt in a ballroom with 902 others, thereby breaking the world record. (Guinness hasn't blessed it yet, but it will. I'm sure.)
Turning to a complete stranger afterward and receiving a zombie fist bump. :)
Credit card receipts from vendors like "Intergalactic Trading Co" and "World in Chains."  (I bought myself an awesome white katana -- since I already have kimono silk waiting to be sewn into costume awesomeness -- and a pair of green cat's eye contact lenses, plus gifts for my kids.)
Having the delightful Felicia Day autograph a Coming Together T-shirt that we'll auction as a charity fundraiser.
Attending Babylon 5 & Stargate ensemble cast panels. It's fun to watch them interact! (Would've preferred to see Claudia Black & Ben Browder on a Farscape panel, since I'm not a Stargate aficionado, but it was still fun!)
Watching the first two seasons of The Guild in a ballroom packed with several hundred other fans.
Abney Park! Oh, and the fan steampunk marriage proposal during their show. Lots of folks got teary-eyed, even the band. :)
There are a few photos uploaded to Facebook (friends-only access), and I'm sure I'll add more as they surface.

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

* I'm the occasionally-visible pirate wench behind the dude in the blood-spattered white T-shirt.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Flash

Leah studied the small gift in her hands. A token, really. Inexpensive bordering on cheap. Certainly not a burden to the giver, requiring more thought than coin. Nevertheless, she wanted—needed—it, and she absolutely hated the fact that she had to ask for it. Anyone paying attention, the ultimate gift, would have known. Anyone truly committed to her happiness would—should—have known. She shook it. Its heft felt hollow, contrived, desperate; not fulfilling as it would have been if spontaneous. Sighing, she flung it against the wall. Even its physical impact disappointed her. "Too little. Too late."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Flash

Stepping off the roller coaster, Chloe blinked in an attempt to balance. Her body still swayed with the memories of the excruciatingly slow uphill climbs followed by the inevitable gut-wrenching plunges. How long had she ridden; how many circuits? She couldn't recall when she last felt terra firma beneath her feet. Her first steps were unsteady, tentative, but as she distanced herself from the ride, her confidence grew. It felt good to be moving on her own terms, at her own pace. Leaving the ride behind, she lifted her eyes to the horizon. There, she smiled. I'm going there.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Catching up on reviews

A couple months ago, I set up a blog to house Phaze's reviews. Promo goddess Crystal Bright has been busily archiving reviews there (as well as posting the new ones). Last night, she posted two old reviews from The Romance Studio that I hadn't seen yet. What a treat!

Artistically InclinedArtistically Inclined
Alessia Brio and Will Belegon
Contemporary erotic romance
ISBN: 978-1-59426-950-5
January 2007

Cyndi is artistic, talented, passionate about her work. Roger owns a hardware store and hobnobs with top talents in Pittsburgh’s sports world. The two work at keeping their relationship erotic. For Valentine’s Day Cyndi suggests they each write down five fantasies and share them. Roger adds his own twist to the suggestion by saying they can’t have sex or orgasms until Valentine’s.

This writing duo pens a quickly read novella that explores the artistic world and scenery of Pittsburgh while heading like a speeding bullet toward the acting out of the couples fantasies.

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Explicit

Reviewer: Dee Dailey
March 26, 2008


fine flickering hungersfine flickering hungers
Alessia Brio
Erotic romance anthology
Available from Phaze
ISBN: 1-59426-540-2
November 2005

fine, flickering hungers by Alessia Brio is an anthology of erotic short stories and poetry. As there are too many to review separately, I'll pick a few to give you a taste of this sensuous, yet unusual book.

Wetter Has Never Been Better is the sensuous story of Stormy and the extremes she will go to in order to land a huge account, the country of Costa Rico, at the ad agency she works for. A "challenge" has been issued by the execs ­ create an ad that will make tourists want to head to Costa Rico during the rainy season - and Stormy plans on winning that challenge…but how? Why not head to Costa Rico and see what might be special about the rainy season? Her discovery surprises and pleases her and introduces her to more than she ever expected, which leads to a winning presentation! This is a very hot story. Luckily, there is another story, Topping Love, that picks up where this one leaves off and introduces family and friends of Charlie, the man Stormy starts seeing once she's home! Very interesting story ­ I wonder where the author got the idea of using pizza toppings!

Carly has always been a follower ­ never a leader! On this night, when she's out with Jenna, her best friend, she finally decides to take the lead. However, Jenna isn't one to follow, until tonight! Carly, upon reaching her Boiling Point, gives Jenna no choice in the matter and Carly's dreams come true...but what happens now? We find out in the next story, Say It With A Strap-On. Carly buys something special for her next encounter with Jeana...if she has a next encounter! They occasionally talk on the phone but not about what Carly believes needs to be talked about! Jeana calls and invites her to dinner. She accepts and things go from good to great, as far as Carly and Jeana are concerned... until Jeana's husband catches them! So what will be next for these ladies?

This was a most unusual book, with a combination of poetry and short stories. Alessia Brio stories and poetry flowed and they were written with a touch of humor and a lot of heat!

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Explicit

Reviewer: Pam
January 15, 2006

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Flash

The process of first recognizing, then accepting, that the relationship was never going to be what she most wanted it to be drove Maria into an emotional abyss. Too tired, too angry, and just too fucking too to haul herself out of the pit, she stretched supine on its floor and wallowed in the muck of ennui. It sucked at her soul, and she knew she should divorce herself from it rather than continue to hope for change. Move on. Alone. Perhaps forever alone, or at least until she could scour the stain of such transient beauty from her skin.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A little kinky, a lot sick, and completely unexpected.

Time WarpIt's an old review, but I like it...

TIME WARP - Alessia Brio

Fury HeatSheets

ISBN: 978-1-59426-522-8

Erotica Contemporary

Heat Rating: Nebula

RRTE Rating: Foreplay


Alex has a strange affinity for the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie and it holds special memories for her. Each year on Halloween she and her husband Dan celebrate their Halloween anniversary with hot sex and watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This year however is a bit different. Dan is leaving Alex to go back to his first wife, but Alex plans a last celebration Dan will never forget.


A little kinky, a lot sick, and completely unexpected. Having read Ms. Brio previously, TIME WARP was not what I expected.


Isabelle Spencer -4/25/07

Monday, July 06, 2009

BWAHAHAHA!

"Second, there is a certain segment of digital publishing that is publishing porn under the guise of romance thereby diluting the brand of serious romance digital publishers."

Diluting the brand. Oh, that's rich! Let's talk instead 'bout the "serious romance digital publishers" who are publishing the "porn under the guise of romance" like, for starters, the publisher of a recent #romfail snarkfest. Rather than holding up Aphrodisia for public scorn, Dear Author instead opts to use an example from an author cooperative that has never claimed to be publishing "romance." eXcessica, on the other hand, has always been upfront about what it is (and what it's NOT).* I really can't say the same about any of those serious romance digital publishers.

To me, the referenced post sounds a whole helluva lot like a recent controversial blog post by the president of a large, purportedly professional romance writers organization. Same holier-than-thou attitude. Y'know, elitism *can* be a good thing if it raises the bar. This sort, however, only sounds petty and defensive.

Back to work...

peace & passion,


* P.S. It's no secret that I admire Ms. Kitt for what she's done with eXcessica -- especially, precisely, for not sucking up to romancelandia while doing its own thing and bothering no one. It just goes about its business, not seeking "acceptance." I figure the quality of the material it puts out could be improved at about the same ratio as the "legitimate" (Oh, wait! That's an RWA word.) um... "serious" (Oops, 'nother one!) um... nevermind.

Some folks, however, are annoyed that eXcessica even exists -- kinda like some "career focused" folks are annoyed that epublishing exists. (Don't track that hypocrisy into the house!)

Re-covered

Same hot stories, new cover art:

San Diego Sunset Erotique Switch Amichu

Sunday, July 05, 2009

How the rednecks do it...

Finale fireworks from my hometown, population less than 5K. Sing it with me now: And the rocket's red glare/The bombs bursting in air/Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

FIREWORKS09

Saturday through Monday
30% off everything using code
FIREWORKS09

Friday, June 26, 2009

Magic Mojo

My hypochondriac daughter inspired this bit of creativity. Take the largest bottle of chewable Vitamin C you can find, and replace the label with this... and allow the child to self-medicate. :)

Magic MoJo Medicine

Cause I'm the Mom

This is going on my kids' bedroom walls, framed. The Cafe Press poster reads:

DO YOU LIKE LIVING IN THIS HOUSE?
WAYS TO ENSURE I DON'T KICK YOU OUT:

Place all dirty dishes in the kitchen sink before going to bed each night. (Bonus points for rinsing.)

Place all dirty laundry down the chute before going to bed each night.

Ensure all dirty laundry is right-side-out and, if necessary, spot treated.

Do not use upholstery or bedding as a tissue. Boogers & snot-glaze do not belong on the arms of the sofa or the sides of your mattress.

Do not use upholstery or bedding as a napkin, either. Wipe greasy fingers on a napkin or even on shirt! (See above re spot treating.)

DON'T SPILL STUFF.

Don't create environments ripe for spilling stuff. Leaving glasses of juice on the table for the cats to knock over during the night is just. plain. stupid.

If stuff is spilled, fetch someone who knows what the hell they're doing to aid in its clean-up IMMEDIATELY -- not three days later, after the nail polish has become a permanent part of the decor.

Wipe the kitchen counter (and NOT onto the floor, either) after preparing food.

Don't give the cats people food unless you're prepared to have your nose rubbed in cat puke the next day.

Turn off lights & televisions when you're the last person leaving a room.

Learn how to thoroughly wipe your ass (without clogging the commode). No one wants their clothing laundered with underwear that look as if they were used as toilet tissue. It's just too damned gross.

REPLACE THE TOILET TISSUE if you use the last of the roll. (Don't know where it is? ASK! It's NOT hidden, and it's not a secret.)

Speaking of the toilet, should you take a Black Sunday dump, please wipe the underside of the seat so that it doesn't dry craptacularly speckled. (See below re microwave and splatters.)

If you make a mess, CLEAN IT UP! Leaving it for someone else is rude and inconsiderate, no matter how old you are. Period.

A good example: the microwave. It takes all of 30 seconds to wipe away the Beefaroni splatters if done while they're still wet. Two hours later, a power tool is required. Popcorn grease? Same thing.

If I step on a Lego in my bare feet again, everyone will be punished. It will be brutal and likely involve forced consumption of dead bugs. Lesson? PICK UP YOUR TOYS!

Thanks. Your cooperation will make life so much more pleasant for everyone. I'll be happier, and you won't have to sleep on a park bench.

Love, Mom

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And I'll cry...

The words I wrote for his funeral card:

Quote:
In your every deed,
Husband, father, friend,
Thank you for teaching us,
The true meaning of the word
GENEROUS
The true spirit of the word
SELFLESS
The true power of the word
HEART.
From a journal entry...

Quote:
March 21, 2006

Yesterday, I did my yoga stretches in a different room. Don't ask me why 'cause I have no clue what possessed me to vary my routine. Anyway, I was on the floor in front of the recliner where I typically sit while writing. It's a second hand La-Z-Boy that I inherited when my mother redecorated her living room several years ago. It was my dad's chair, and if I stare at it for a minute & then close my eyes, I can still see him sitting in it -- like the visual echo of a camera's flash.

From my vantage on the floor, I caught sight of something under the chair -- a piece of paper. I knew what it was before I wormed my hand through the skirting to fetch it, but I was surprised by the force with which the memories flooded my mind. It was a football parlay -- dad's favorite illicit pastime.

December 15, 1996. His choices were circled and the margins bore random notes in his hand. New England (given 7) over Dallas. Detroit (given 11) over Green Bay. Minnesota (by 7) over Tampa Bay.

It's been almost seven years since he died, and I miss him today as much as ever. The man defined the word "generous." In fact, those football parlays were the only thing I can recall him doing solely for his own enjoyment. I'll save my memento. Later this morning, I'll pull that box from the top of my closet and I'll add one tattered piece of white paper to his favorite ball cap, pocket knife, and chambray shirt -- and I'll cry.
Happy Father's Day, all you Dads out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

#rwachange

If you're a writer of romance or erotic romance, you're probably well aware of the kerfuffle about RWA's stance on epublishing and epublishers (a/k/a "author mills"). It's the same tired song, but--thanks to Kristen Painter and ESPAN, a new-ish RWA chapter for epublished authors--there appears to be more (and more organized) energy pushing for change. (There is also a Yahoo!Group for those interested.)

When the RWAchange [at] gmail.com account was established to coordinate a ribbon campaign for next month's conference, I offered to design an e-ribbon for use on blogs & such ('cause grassroots advocacy just turns me on). Deidre Knight said "Go!" and the results are below. There are also T-shirts, buttons, stickers, etc. in Coming Together's Cafe Press shop.*

RWA+Change+e-ribbon+1a.jpg
RWA+Change+e-ribbon+2a.jpg
RWA+Change+e-ribbon+3a.jpg

Images are also hosted here:

http://www.alessiabrio.com/images/RWA Change e-ribbon 1a.jpg

http://www.alessiabrio.com/images/RWA Change e-ribbon 2a.jpg
http://www.alessiabrio.com/images/RWA Change e-ribbon 3a.jpg

Folks are welcome to link directly to the images if they wish. (Oh, and follow the madness on Twitter with the #rwachange hashtag.)

peace & passion,


* If there are any other products you'd like to see there, just leave a comment. I primarily focused on buttons, stickers, and summer apparel/T-shirts, but Cafe Press has many more options.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pimpin' My Flash

Flash Fiction 40 ContestStory Voting Rules
Voting begins at 9 a.m. EST today (June 15).
Voting will take place from June 15-June 26 (midnight EST on June 26).
You must be a registered forum member to participate in story ranking.


Here's how to vote (for ME):


  1. We're using the star ranking system (examples: 1 = terrible, 5 = excellent) to rank stories.
  2. To rank a story after you've read it, click on "Rate Thread" in the upper-right hand corner. Choose a ranking for that story (1-5)
  3. You may read and vote on as many stories as you want. But please only vote on the stories you've read.
  4. Only one vote per forum members per story.
  5. No lobbying for votes on this forum, although you're welcome to ask for votes elsewhere.
  6. No replies to stories or other forum discussion about individual stories until the contest is over!
Your support is most appreciated (i.e., the check is in the mail)!

peace & passion,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The ePublishing Restaurant

I've read (or, rather, attempted to slog through) some pretty lousy books published by big, New York houses. You know, the type you want to fling across the room? The type you'd throw away if you hadn't plunked down cash to buy them?

I've seen some hideously lame and/or puerile movies released by major studios where the only thing keeping me from stomping out of the theater was the fact that I paid money for the seat.

Name your entertainment industry, and I can give a comparable experience. In no instance, however, have I painted the entire publishing house or movie studio with the awfulness of one of its author's/actor's performances or editor's/director's skills. Have you? Are you even AWARE who published that book you hated? Who released that movie you hated? Who directed it?

Why, then, do consumers tend to do so with ebooks? An epublisher farts, and suddenly the entire house is judged by one book, its stable of authors blog-tarred and Twitter-feathered. WTF?

The latest debacle is a fine example. I've never read a book from Siren-BookStrand, but I'd bet money they're not all examples of poor judgment or lax editing. Hell, even if no editing was done at all, some books will be better than others simply because some authors submit cleaner work.

Instead, online communities treat epublishers like most people treat restaurants. Bad meal? Don't go back. It's all the chef's fault, after all, and nothing on the menu can be trusted.

Right?

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

Monday, June 01, 2009

Airing Tonight (June 1st)

Catch me live (okay, recorded live) at the Romantic Times BookLovers Convention. The interview airs tonight at 9:30pm Eastern on All Romance's What's Hot in Romance. The MP3 will be archived on the Blog Talk Radio site and downloadable in case you can't catch the show live... erm, played back live from the live recording.

I had a great time chatting with Cat Johnson, and I even read a bit of my story "Double Decker" from Sapphistocated.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stealing Home

Squeeze PlayI squealed when I got the email informing me that Coming Together: With Pride was a finalist in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards' Anthology & Ebook Fiction categories. Then, a day later I got the news that Squeeze Play had taken top honors in the Erotica category (as well as being a finalist in the Ebook Fiction category). Can you say WOOT! ?

Winner - Erotica


Tasting HimAnd to add to the squee-worthy scoring, I have a story in one of Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthologies which took top honors in the Erotica category of the IPPYs!

37. Erotica
Gold (tie):
Tasting Him/Tasting Her: Oral Sex Stories, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Geek-Squee!

BaltiCon 434
This weekend, I'm attending my very first sci-fi convention. This is odd, considering that I've been a huge (okay, not HUGE in the eat-sleep-breathe sense of some, but significant) fan of sci-fi since I learned to read. I didn't play "Cowboys & Indians" in the streets of my youth; I played "Kirk & Spock." (In case you were curious, I was always Kirk -- spewing my space seed into multi-colored, scantily-clad alien vixens across the galaxy.)

Growing up, my true "friends" were epic fictional characters in written form. Paul Atreides. Polgara. R. Daneel Olivaw. Hope & Spirit. Thomas Covenant. Arwen & Aragorn. Han Solo. Lessa of Pern. Lazarus Long and his long-lived, polyamorous family. They kept me company when I was just too weird for "normal" people. Actually, I preferred their company to that of "normal" people. Normal is boring.

I used to go to bed at night "praying" (in my atheistic fashion) to wake up in a world where Heinlein-esque "marriages" were accepted and encouraged. I fantasized many a time about being a Jondalar & Ayla sandwich. *fans self* I wanted Master Robinton to have been my music teacher, not the megalomaniac employed by my junior high.

And so, it is with great anticipation and no moderate amount of geek-squee that I head off to BaltiCon this weekend as an invited guest/panelist. While the con starts today, I won't roll into town until tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, camera in hand. My first panel is Saturday night:
9pm
Seducing the Editor - Getting Published in Erotic E-books
Kathryn Lively, J. M. Snyder, Nobilis, and me
Seducing the Editor. Heh. Then on Sunday night:
9pm
Promotion for the Smut Peddler
Kathryn Lively, J. M. Snyder, Nobilis, and me

10pm
Doing Good while Being Bad - the "Coming Together" anthology series
Alessia Brio (a/k/a me) with Will Belegon and Helen E.H. Madden
Everyone in attendance will receive a print galley of Coming Together: With Pride (while supplies last, of course)
And the Ghost of Honor? Edgar Allen Poe. Dude! Hope to see y'all there.

peace & passion,


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Friday, May 15, 2009

At First Whip Creamed

Whipped Cream Reviews had this to say about our Urban Phaze short, At First (which also appears in volume 1 of Coming Together: At Last):

What happens when a gentleman from Chile with old world manners collides with a modern day sexually liberated American woman? Plenty!

Eduardo and Vivian run into each other – quite literally on a busy street in Washington, DC. A huge crowd had gathered to listen to a young charismatic speaker and Eduardo was rushing through the crowd oblivious to the beautiful woman in the yellow dress…that is until he collided with her knocking her to the ground. Determined to make amends for his unchivalrous behavior Eduardo invites Vivian to a small café for some Cokes to quench their thirst on this steamy DC Afternoon. However, Eduardo is once again embarrassed by his behavior as he inadvertently spills a Coke on Vivian’s sundress.

Coming to the rescue is Lupe, the waitress at the café and Eduardo’s friend. Lupe suggests Vivian and Eduardo retreat to his apartment where Vivian can wash the sugary concoction off her dress. Arriving at Eduardo’s apartment the sexual tension mounts and Vivian finds herself orchestrating the pas de deux much to the amusement of Eduardo who is not used to the more open sexual mores of American women.

I was a bit befuddled about who the dynamic speaker was that Vivian found so enthralling. [HINT: MLK, Jr. ~ Alessia] The authors never explained. Could it be Malcolm X who Vivian casually mentions later in the story? I felt if the authors went to the trouble of setting this scene of dynamism, they could have let the reader in on who they were referring to. [Clues aplenty. We did everything but type his name. ~ Alessia]

I did learn a new Spanish word – chupadita - which was interesting and self-explanatory. I thought the sex scenes were hot and very well described. Eduardo and Vivian learn that love and sex are the same in all languages.

Their chance encounter leads them to discover they have much in common despite their disparate backgrounds. The language of sex, however, is universal which they both discover on a steamy Washington afternoon. A good story.

Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by: Azalea



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Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Butt at 5:12

Just in case you were interested...

Romantic Times Convention Recap on Vimeo.





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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Emperor Has No Clothes!

The cyclic RWA kerfuffle has resurfaced, this time on Twitter under the #RWAchange hashtag. Electronically published authors have their knickers in a twist again... or, rather, still... because RWA treats them like wannabes rather than the real deal. Nothing new there. A recap of the past iterations will suffice:
  1. Why should I support an organization that doesn't support me?
  2. RWA needs to wake-UP and join the 21st century.
  3. We have to change the organization from the inside.
  4. I only keep my membership because my chapter RAWKS.
And, my standard retort: Why should I CARE about RWA? The readers don't.

Yeah, I'm a member... at least until it expires. I joined, initially, for reason #3. I renewed for reason #4 (Passionate Ink). Last night, I was "this close" to joining ESPAN ('cause grassroots advocacy turns me on) before I came to my senses. My money is better spent elsewhere.

I wish the optimistic inside activists all the luck in the world in their quest. I have no energy for it, though, because I see it as moot. Even if proponents of change are successful in revamping RWA, what then? Is it going to result in a net gain for ebook authors? Kinda doubtful. I mean, does RWA influence sales numbers for the authors it already embraces? Why, then, would a digitally published author believe that RWA acceptance would make any difference whatsoever to her/his career?

The same amount of time and energy directed toward CONSUMERS of our work would have a far greater impact on our bottom lines, methinks.

This is about belonging to a club. That's all. RWA could just as easily stand for "Real Writers Association" (a legend in its own mind) and, as with other exclusive clubs, people will stomp and rant, kiss all forms of ass, pout, and even litigate in order to belong. Never mind that "belonging" doesn't DO much--if anything--to further an author's career.

RWA will teach aspiring authors how to woo an agent, you argue? First of all, if you're epublished, you're not an "aspiring author." You're already the real deal. Secondly, why do you WANT an agent? Epublished authors don't NEED agents. Why pay a middleman unless you're still convinced that to be a "real author" you must be New York published?

This is not intended to poke those authors whose goal is to be New York published. To each their own. No, it's intended to bitch slap those epublished authors who continue to allow RWA to dictate their legitimacy. Enablers! How about we just let our successes speak for themselves? RWA, as well as the traditional publishing industry, can embrace epublishing & POD... or eat its dust.

peace & passion,



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Monday, May 04, 2009

Ravenous Ranting

There is a big, honking blog post today by Jane of Dear Author entitled Why I'm Not Wild About Ravenous Romance. In it, she outlines her reasons -- clearly and concisely, as usual -- for her dislike. I started to leave a comment there, then decided that my thoughts were better placed in my own space, since I'm liable to ramble off topic and wax pseudo-philosophic and make precious little sense.

Since becoming a published author in 2005, I have never hidden the fact that I primarily write erotica. I write about people (or other sentient beings) and how sex changes/evolves them. I tell their stories. I have also made it abundantly clear that I don't like being "shelved" with the romance genre. Unfortunately, that's where the industry puts most erotic fiction, so I inhabit Romancelandia as a matter of necessity, and I certainly enjoy some aspects of it. But from a strictly artistic/creative perspective, I do not fit that mold. Yes, some of my work does fit the romance genre, albeit in non-traditional ways. Most does not.

Romance is plot-driven. It is about the developing relationship between hero & heroine. (Aside: I cannot STAND the use of those terms. They do as much to marginalize the romance genre as miscategorized erotica, in my opinion. Want to be taken seriously? Stop using fairy tale words.)

Erotica is character-driven. It is about the transformative power of sex. It can occur in any permutation, from solo to menage. It doesn't have to be, but often is, explicit. It doesn't have to, but often does, sexually arouse the reader. Erotica, therefore, is NOT porn. (Porn's primary focus -- okay, that was overly generous -- porn's sole focus is arousal. It works on primal reflex.)

Erotic romance is NOT erotica. It is romance that includes explicit sex and is fully intended to arouse the reader. (This is going to piss off some people, but...) Erotic romance IS porn, in that sense. It is porn with plot, with happily-ever-after icing to make it respectable -- or less reprehensible -- to those who are offended by explicit sex for the sake of explicit sex. Ideally, inclusion of the explicit sex is integral to the story rather than gratuitous. Note I said ideally. This idealism, I believe, is the source of the schism within the romance community.

Recently, at the Romantic Times BookLovers Convention, I overhead a prominent, multi-published romance author repeatedly proclaim how "filthy" her books are and how that made her less-than-worthy to the romance powers-that-be (whoever they be). Good on her, I thought! The world needs more filthy fiction. But her statements also made me realize that every "romance" author, regardless of their level of success, feels marginalized by the publishing industry in some way. We all yearn for acceptance. That, I believe, is the sand in the swimsuit when it comes to Ravenous Romance. It is perceived as an obstacle to acceptance.

(Aside: Personally, I believe that our best means of achieving acceptance and respect is to lead by example. Tarring those who do not adhere to our standards, whatever they may be, achieves nothing. Snark begats snark. Excellence begats excellence. So... begat, damn it!)

Sure, erotica can (and often does) qualify as romance -- and vice versa -- just as fantasy can qualify as YA or inspirational as sci-fi. Genre is merely a label, and books often carry multiple labels. That is a GOOD thing. However, since love and sex cross-pollinate, a great deal of confusion and controversy ensue over which label belongs where.

Love and sex have been butting heads since the dawn of relationships. That sex is necessary for procreation just complicates the recipe. Add organized religion, which uses sex to control people, and stir. Voila! We have controversy soup. The fuss within the publishing industry is but a wee mirror of this overarching theme.

Back to the case against Ravenous Romance. Jane makes some valid points about the quality of writing and editing. In the examples I've seen, there is room for much improvement. (Does poking fun at these mistakes have a positive result, or does it just serve to make the pokers feel superior to the pokees? Smells like Star-Bellied Sneetches to me.) However, I can say that about many publishers, especially in their infancies. As it grows and matures, as with all houses, the quality of its product will improve, or it will flounder. Survival of the fittest.

In the meantime, I doubt Ravenous Romance will significantly tarnish the shiny *snort* reputations of either romance or epublishing. Its ability to ruffle feathers with its hubris (and the PR money behind it), on the other hand, seems unbounded and will continue to provide much entertainment within the blogosphere.

peace & passion,

OF NOTE: I have a very short story in one of Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthologies published by Ravenous Romance. (It is erotica. Not romance. At all.) As an insider, my view of the publisher and its business practices differs, and I believe there is much to learn from its approach to epublishing -- both pro and con. Further, I have a great deal of respect for Rachel's work, and am delighted to be included in any collection she assembles -- especially *TOOT* Tasting Him, which is a finalist in the IPPYs!

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sapphistocated Review

Sapphistocated
Loving Venus - Loving Mars had this to say about Sapphistocated:

I’ve read a few anthologies now from Alessia Brio and to date, I haven’t been disappointed. There are always some very interesting and unique stories in them and Sapphistocated is no different. In this book, four authors whose names I’ve come to recognize as well known in f/f, lesbian romance and erotica, but not had the chance to read yet, are represented and it was a great chance to get a taste of each author’s writing.

What I liked with this book was the variety in stories. Each had a different flavor and ranged from very sweet, with characters who are soft and real, to gritty, in your face type characters who learn something about themselves. All the stories were well written and definitely grabbed my attention.

Double Decker by Alessia Brio- Tess is a very confident woman. She has her days, but then she has her SOL days, sex on legs days in which everything just falls into place. She’s participating in a karaoke contest in which the prize is a weekend trip to a resort and she really wants to win. It’s a quarterly contest held in a dyke bar, the Double Decker, and she knows she has a good chance to win. And she’s lucky because it just also happens to be an SOL day for her as well. She always manages to find someone to go home with after these karaoke contests, but on this night there is only one woman she wants. But that woman has no idea what Tess feels.

This story is one in which the over confident person get a little comeuppance. Tess as a character came across at very arrogant. She knows she’s hot and she’s sure she’s the best singer. She’s also very confident that she can seduce anyone in the audience to get who she wants when she wants. I had mixed feelings about her. She’s not someone I would normally like and the fact that she goes on and on and on about how great she is through most of the story got a bit tedious.

I wished there would have been more interactions with the woman she does want and less of the build up of Tess’ ego. I wanted more tension created between them. But Tess does get knocked down a few pegs when the one woman she does want seems to blow her off. Tess does then recognize that she got too cocky and that’s what turned the story around for me. Plus, there’s hawt sex. I’m shallow like that, what can I say. B+

I Know What I Want- Jolie du Pre- Allie is working as a waitress in a sucky job, but she’s gorgeous enough to eke out a small living modeling on the side, which is what she’d rather do. One day a friend of a photographer calls Allie and tells her she has a modeling job for her and will pay her 2k per hour to be a centerpiece at her party, but she needs to interview her first.

Vivian, the woman who hires her, is an older and very wealthy woman who comes onto Allie sexually but cuts Allie off before really doing anything. Allie is very intrigued by her and wants to be with her. Vivian then plays this game with her of making Allie feel that she is interested and yet blowing her off all the time, controlling the relationship totally. Even after they have sex and Vivian says she loves Allie, she never quite gives Allie the satisfaction that she will really be with her.

When Allie gets a call from a major fashion magazine that wants her to be their main model, she goes to NY and although Vivian has said she would come, she doesn’t. In the meantime, Allie gets with the assistant of the magazine editor and they fall in love. Then Vivian shows up.

I have to be honest; the end of this story was very abrupt and a bit disappointing. While I got that this is about Allie deciding what she wants, I felt that the stronger part of the story, or lets say the part that was the most developed and had the more interesting dynamics, petered out.

Vivian is such a delicious, mysterious character. She in total control of that relationship with Allie and had some really interesting Domme characteristics that made her exciting. She’s very cool and yet, very patient with Allie as Allie tries to figure out what the deal is with Vivian. Yes, Vivian is very manipulative, but the cool mystique around her made her the most compelling character in this story.

The beginning of the story is all about Allie and Vivian, but then it shifts to Allie and the assistant. Allie is just your normal type girl with no real outstanding qualities who’s enthralled with Vivian and wants her, but also gets really pissed off with being dicked around. She has a more normal, realistic relationship with the assistant, but is unfinished with Vivian. When Vivian comes back into town, she calls Allie acting like nothing is bad between them and Allie blows her off. Then it just ends. What? Wait… don’t stop.

Personally, as a reader, the focus of this story was on the wrong person, it should have been on Vivian who was the more complex character. What makes her tick, why she’s acting like she is, does she really love Allie or is it a game… so much about her I wanted to know. Not so much about Allie. And the D/s elements that were hinted at, but never really developed, were also way more intriguing than the story between Allie and the assistant.

So I’d have to say that on quite a few levels this was a really cool story, but there was disappointment in the ending, which left me wanting a lot more. B+

Better with Age by Beth Wylde- Olivia is a woman heading into middle age and alone. She has a grown daughter who’s in college and is coming home for a night for her birthday before going back. Olivia is lonely, suffering from empty nest syndrome, but gets by keeping busy with her job.

Aleesha is also an older woman who hasn’t really found that person with whom she can really love and settle down with. She’s come back to her home town and bought a small bakery and is just living life… that is until quite by coincidence, Olivia shows up to pay for a cake she ordered for her daughter’s birthday.

Olivia and Aleesha were lovers in high school until Olivia’s mom caught them together and forced Olivia to drop Aleesha or she and her father would cut all ties with her. Being young and naïve, she let go of Aleesha. Now meeting Aleesha after all these years, the sparks fly again between them and they find that they cannot resist each other.

Oh what a totally sweet story this is. I loved, loved it! Beth Wylde really captured that feeling between the characters of a love that never dies and that feeling of coming home and rightness that happens when you find and are in the presence your soul mate. Neither one of these women have found a person who could replace the other or give them what they had together and they get immediately that after all those years that they still feel the same with each other.

I also thought their fears and vulnerabilities about their much older bodies being desirable to the other to be very touching as well. Olivia and Aleesha are just two characters that are so easy to relate to and it’s a nicely written, very satisfying story. And it's always nice to read a story about two older characters who find love. A-

Drawn by Yeva Wiest- Sydney is a cartoon artist who gets a little too involved in her characters, is definitely a butch who has very specific tastes in what she likes in a woman’s looks, and… she’s a player. She hasn’t had any nookie for a while and while creating a character, she creates the perfect woman but with two heads that can be swapped. One head is for the character’s nice personality and the other for the evil one. When Sydney goes in to see her boss to show her the new character and story, she likes what she sees in Beth, her boss’ assistant. Beth is tall and willowy and just Sydney’s type. She asks Beth out and Beth agrees.

But wait… who also shows up in the office is Alice, the boss’ daughter. She’s round and voluptuous, has huge breasts and heavy thighs and Sydney has an immediate reaction against her thinking Alice is too fat for her. And yet, there’s something about Alice that Sydney finds herself attracted to. The next day when Sydney goes to meet Beth for a date, Alice just happens to be in the hall of the apartment building since she lives in a nearby apartment and again, Sydney finds against herself that she feels this intense attraction to Alice.

Alice gets that Sydney has judged her straight away as too fat and keeps cool with Sydney even though both of them are aware of some kind of attraction going on. After a while it becomes too much for Sydney when she finds herself thinking of Alice non-stop and getting all up in that soft, round, womanly body and she finds any excuse to meet with her.

First, all around, this was a very quirky story, which had a bizarre fantasy element going on with it. Sydney’s drawing, Kisha, messes with Sydney all the time, demanding her attention and doing awful spiteful things. Sydney also has sex with her. It’s written in an odd way so that I never quite knew what’s going on with that. It’s obvious that when Kisha is involved that it’s Sydney’s imagination and maybe even the two parts of herself being expressed, but it’s written as Kisha literally doing those things, so that part is a bit strange. Ultimately, I didn’t really get the point of that, why it was even there really.

What I really got off on in this story is how Yeva Wiest has Sydney all flustered about suddenly being attracted to a woman who is so not her usual taste and who changes the usual dynamic of her being butch who loves femmes. And Ok, I liked that she falls for a fat chick and that it’s Alice’s curves and fullness that turns her on. I just like stories in which a character finds themselves acting out of character and being totally turned on by that.

Then there was the weird night Sydney had with Beth. Truly, this story went into bizarro land a few times and it was very entertaining, like being in a lesbian erotica story written by Seinfeld. B+

Sapphistocated was a general, all around good read and I’m glad that I finally got a chance to read a few stories from some authors I’ve been meaning to get to. It’s definitely a nice collection of distinctly different stories, but all ending on a good note. And the sex in all of these stories was deliciously written and sizzling as well.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- very erotic and steamy f/f, some minor anal, strap on. Mostly vanilla.

Grade: B+


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Romantic Times BookLovers Convention

Well, we're off to Orlando this morning... by car. We'll be stopping in Clemson, SC for an all-too-brief visit with dear friends and expect to roll into Orlando mid-afternoon on Wednesday. Google Maps says each leg of this trip is 8+ hours. Oh, joy! But, I fully intend to work on edits for Coming Together: Against the Odds while Will is taking his turns behind the wheel. I have my adorable little Eee loaded up & ready to go, lots of CDs packed, and plenty of energy drinks. I wish I could say I was "up" for the madness that is RT, but I'm just not. I'm not excited about my costumes AT ALL. Plus, I'm still annoyed at how the RT machine marginalizes ebooks & small press.

The ebook expo, for example, is Wednesday afternoon from 4:30 'til 6:30. Hardly "prime time." More like nap time. However, it is Earth Day and I will be celebrating the release of Coming Together: Al Fresco, an ebook exclusive from All Romance eBooks.

Also on the up side, I'm really looking forward to finally meeting Piers Anthony (especially since I both did the cover and edited his latest book with Phaze), seeing Robyn Carr & Barry Eisler again, and handing L.A. Banks her contributor copies of Coming Together: At Last.

Except for a couple of sessions, I'll be hanging out at the Phaze table in Club RT most of Thursday and Friday, and I am participating in the Saturday book fair (although I've no clue what -- or even if my -- books will be there for me to sign). Stop & say howdy if you're attending!

Alternatively, you can follow the festivities with the #RT09 hashtag on Twitter.

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

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