How to self publish. A step by step, best of my knowledge, tutorial.

This is not a smart ass post. Someone recently asked me what happened to the in depth post I did last year about self pubbing. I can't remember who and I can't find the message now. So I'm going to  tell you what I can. Other people might do it differently. Again like everything, it's not one hundred percent tried and true, there's wiggle room.

Okay first how....well I use Word 2010. I don't know how to use any other writing format. This is what I use, this is what all of my publishers have used. I don't know anything about open office, or drop box, or scrivener or if that's even what that is called. So everything I know is based on Word.

I format a Word doc with 3 pt tabs, 1.5 spaced lines with no extra space between paragraphs. One inch margins. Nothing in the header or footer. No page numbers. I use Bookman Oldstyle or Book Antigua fonts. 12 pt. Which ever looks nice to you, but make sure it looks like book font. Nothing crazy like Comic Sans or Calligraphy or cursive script. I use those two because they're easy on my eyes.

When you write, you should automatically do a hard page break between chapters. To do this leave your cursor at the last line of text go to the INSERT tab and hit page break. This will automatically take you to the next page, and it will make a hard ending to that chapter so that if you add to it later there will always be that break between chapters.

I am assuming that everyone knows their way around Word here. I really am. Page set up. Paragraph set up. That you know how to format a Word Doc for submission right....please say right.

Okay after you've been through word humpteen million times because it has a mind of its own and will add blank pages and those page break things really don't matter much to them sometimes....you gotta manually scroll through the manuscript to make sure everything is set right.....well okay let's do this step by step from this point.

Your document should look like this:

Title page.
Copyright page.
Acknowledgement/dedication page.
Brand name acknowledgement page.
Table of contents page (optional) Hyperlinked no optional if you include a ToC page.
Manuscript starts here.
About the author.
More books by or reviews for....whatever you like here. Or even a preview of the next book.

Don't add your cover yet.
Save this as your final draft and put it away in a safe place. You'll need it for later.

Now you can do this one of two ways, either works.....

Add cover. Go to your Title page and press enter a couple of times. Go back to your very first line and go to the INSERT TAB. Click the option to add a picture. Add your cover. Size your cover. Then hit page break so that your Title page is page two if it didn't do that automatically.

Then go back through your whole document to make sure you didn't just add in blank pages or totally fuck up your chapter placements.

Okay, so the other way is to not add the cover yet. I'll tell you why in a moment. This step is entirely up to you......so Next.

If you have added your cover now save your document again, so that you don't lose this format. I do with cover and without cover so I can tell which is which.

And then save it again but this time as a PDF file if your word program offers that option. If it doesn't I'll tell you how to make one in a bit.

You need your cover on the PDF so this is what I do first. My PDF.

Okay now is where the with and without cover options come into play. For your other formats. Mobi or epub.

If you load straight to Amazon and you have your cover on your document you can end up with two covers in the final product. If you load straight to Barnes and Noble, you get a box asking if you would like the cover you added separately to be added to your Doc. So whichever way you are doing this is the option you choose.

If you're loading straight to All Romance ebooks then this is what we're going next. I'll come back to Amazon and Barnes and Noble in a bit.


Okay...are you still with me so far? Have I lost you? Essentially you need two save documents at this point. One with a cover and one without a cover. If you have the ability to make a PDF you should make one using your with cover copy.....and check that too, I mean seriously CHECK EVERYTHING. Because MEATGRINDER!

So now if you are planning to use ARe you should know that you have to have a separate file for each format that you plan to offer there. ARe does not format for you. At all. And all files must not have any spaces. The only exception is an epub file which must have the .epub at the end of the file name or it won't take as an epub file.....so a file should be your book title with no spaces or . - / of any kind except for .epub.....are you following me?

And for making all of these formats you'll need a service that will convert Word docs into other formats. I use Calibre ebook management found HERE

Okay so to use Calibre you're going to have to save one more word doc format..... Take your with cover file and save it as a web page or a web page,filtered.....there is a drop box with all of these options in the save feature....if you've ever saved to RTF or to an earlier Word version you should know where to find this....if you haven't then it's the second bar under file name when you save......and make sure you save this under a different title, I usually go ahead and save this as the title with no spaces....because sometimes it will over ride your original document and you'll lose the formatting....going back from web page is a pain in the ass to reformat.....okay? Okay!

Now you open Calibre. And the first thing you do is save your book to Calibre. using the very first thing you see. A red book that says ADD BOOKS....make sure you save the web page version with cover....this one must have the cover.....this is where the term meatgrinder comes in.....okay now second step there's a gold book icon two spaces over. the CONVERT BOOK icon. Click that. On this page you're going to add your cover. And over to the right you're going to add the correct book title with proper caps and spacing. Then the correct author name. And the publisher. That's all you need. This is how the file will pull up on ARe.....then up in the top right hand corner is where the option for the various formats are. It's set to epub as the default....go ahead and do the epub version first. just go down to the bottom right and hit the OKAY button. and it will meatgrind your web page into an epub version. To make each additional version you'll have to hit the convert books icon again but your book should be saved each time so you just make the next version. If you need a PDF it's an available option.....just remember that Kindle is Mobi, Nook is epub, and PDF is adobe reader versions and are the three most common formats.

I save each of these formats into a file in my documents so I can easily access them. And remember the file must be saved with no spaces or ARe will kick these back at you. But I'll get back to ARe later.

Right now you should have every file you need so let's talk about where to put your books.

So first---
Smashwords.....I don't use Smashwords. Some people swear by it. It made my head hurt to deal with and I could only get one book to be accepted for outside distribution and that book was never distributed outside Smashwords....so I pulled all of my books and made a grand $18 in the three months that I had them there...and well, this is your option. If you choose to use Smashwords well disregard everything I've written and go straight to Smashwords and do all of that up there ^^^^^^ their way.

If you plan to use Amazon, B&N, and All Romance ebooks in addition to Smashwords then format according to Smashwords first and then start with the Calibre conversion directions.

If you plan to skip Smashwords and load directly to Amazon, B&N, and ARe then this is where I'm going next.

Okay Amazon first. You need an account with KDP...Kindle Direct Publishing found HERE. Set up your account in your real name. Seriously. Don't set up your account in your pen name. Unless you have a business account/LLC in your pen name you need your legal information here. Your real social security number. Your real bank account info. Your REAL NAME. Your pen name will be added to each individual book when you list it. Your contact information will not be made public. It's as safe as safe gets. If you have a problem with them having any of this, well you should just stop now because you won't get paid.

Okay now, to create a book on Amazon hit the add new book function and follow the directions. It's not hard. But they've made recent changes to the cover uploader and your cover pic file should be a jpeg with the longest side being no less than 1000megapixels.....so you should probably get your cover artist to be ready to resize if you don't know how.....cover loaded then load your book. You can use the actual Word Doc if you don't want to go through all of that formatting with Calibre. KDP will format a mobi for you. Use the file without the cover. Or you can load the premade mobi file we made with Calibre. Which ever looks better. Seriously don't worry about making anything fancy like special fonts for title and don't add page numbers or a header or a footer because the conversion will wipe all of that out. And most of the time you're going to end up with that extra space between paragraphs and sometimes your tabs will be wicked huge.....sometimes I put in the PDF file and it works better....seriously, just check your conversion file. Make sure it's all there. then go to page two and pick your royalty and rights options. World wide rights. 70% royalty for $2.99 and over. Why they give you the option for 35% is beyond me. For under 2.99 you have no option but the 35%.

My advice, don't do the Kindle unlimited or select options. You'll do much better putting your books with other vendors. Not everyone has a Kindle. And my opinion of the community pot type of getting paid is that like with everything else, all books are equal, but some books are more equal than others if you follow my meaning. Oh and that whole don't put all of your eggs in one basket thing too.....

Okay no on the select, no choice on the lend, click accept terms and publish. Takes around twelve hours for your book to show up on Amazon. Sometimes less sometimes more.

Moving on to Barnes and Noble

Just like with Amazon you'll need an account. B&N calls theirs Nook Press. Go HERE to set up your sell account with them. Just like Amazon. Follow all of their instructions. It's not that hard....but be warned, B&N's meatgrinder has a tendency to cut off the last few pages of a manuscript. So make sure you check everything. Unlike Amazon you can actually edit your manuscript in their system. Or even write it in their system. Files can be the converted epub or they'll meatgrind your doc for you. And it takes a few hours to have the book featured on B&N. B&N pays 65% on everything over 2.99 and 40% under 2.99. And like Amazon they pay monthly, after sixty days....which means that all payments are made two months after your book earns those royalties, which is pretty much standard for all monthly paying publishers....In other words if you load a book today and make any money you will get paid on the last day of the month two months from now. July=September....August=October and so on. For both Amazon and B&N....

Okay on to All Romance ebooks....which is for romance novels. But they also have divisions for non romance as well, go and check out their sites....HERE

To publish on ARe you must have a publisher account. Find the publishers/authors tab on their main page and follow the instructions to set that up. Now when I set mine up you had to be a recognized name, or rather you had to already be an author in their system. I don't know if that's changed. If you're with a publisher and have books there you should be fine. If not, well, I guess you follow their instructions on getting recognized....I can't say beyond that. It's been three years since I set up that account and in the publishing world that's an eon.

Okay so now is where all of those handy dandy formats you made come into play. But first you have to set up your book info. Sign into your publisher account and click the Book Maintenance tab. Click Add a Book. And follow the instructions. Note on cover pic....the file must be 200 by 300 or they won't accept it. Sooo you need three book files, a big one for Amazon, a little one for ARe and a normal one for you and Barnes&Noble......I know I know I have a scar on my forehead from banging my head.....Remember no spaces when you load each individual book file....and if you make a mistake and it kicks it back chances are you'll have to re load everything. Don't forget to put a price and categories. Just look at everything.

Okay, at the bottom, you will see an iBooks option. If you want your book on Itunes or whatever then follow those instructions. Cover pic size will be completely different...and I'm still waiting for the two I have set up to be accepted.....so o.O

And about payments from ARe. They pay once each quarter. So 45 days after one quarter ends you get all monies from that quarter. Which means around the 15th of the second month of each quarter. And a quarter is a three month time span. 1st quarter is January-March. 2nd is April-June. 3rd is July-September. 4th is October-December. Payments are made in Feb. May. August. November.



Okay clear as mud?


Now about finding people who do covers and edits and stuff. Start with the ones you've worked with at a publisher. See if the cover artist or the editor you felt did the best job or one you worked well with does freelance. After that it's a matter of looking around.

About ISBNs......okay here's the thing about the ISBN and ebooks.....legally you are not required to have an ISBN for an ebook. And despite what the ISBN site says you absolutely do not have to have a separate ISBN for each ebook format. Legally you HAVE to have an ISBN for a print book. And you must have a separate ISBN for a hardback book and a paperback book.....following me?

Now Amazon and B&N don't require an ISBN and will assign you their own number. Amazon is an ASIN and it's only good with them. All Romance asks for an ISBN but there is a way around that if you don't want to purchase an ISBN....I just use my pubname like so.... MJCELESTE0001 as long as it's 13 digits and they haven't said anything about it so far. But if you want to list with KOBO you have to have an ISBN and to my knowledge there's no way around it. Therefore I don't have any books at KOBO.

Now there are ways to get a free ISBN if you feel you must have one. Smashwords will assign you one for free, but they own it not you. Therefore you can only use the sites that they post to and you can't go over to any of the other sites on your own with that number.

I'll talk about print in a minute....

And I'll tell you this, ISBNs are expensive. I mean really expensive. But remember YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE ONE TO SELF PUBLISH. You're not going to go to jail. Nothing is going to happen to you if you don't have one.

Now all that said, if you REALLY must have one then BOWKER is the US agency that sells them. If you're international I believe each country has it's own agency, so google for your country. If you must have one the best advice I can give you is find a couple of people who will go into it with you and buy a bulk lot of ISBNs. It's the cheapest way. To check out prices for US ISBNs click HERE but please please remember everything above and also remember they will tell you what they tell you because they are in the business of making money.

Okay now about print and how to self publish "real" books.

I use CreateSpace. And CreateSpace provides ISBNs free for using their service. But like with Smashwords, they control the number. It's their number and they control where the books are placed for sale. That said, you can buy at cost any amount of books you want and you may sell those books in anyway you see fit. As in you can go to your local independent bookseller and see if you can get your books placed on their shelves in a consignment type fashion. You can take your books to conferences and festivals and set up tables with your books. You can sell your books from your own personal website. At whatever price you set. Once it's in your hot little hands they don't care. They got paid. I will say this much tho, signing up to have your books placed in the expanded market categories i.e. Barnes and Noble forces you to sell your books at a very high price for very little to no royalty to you. Sticking to the original market i.e. Amazon and you can sell for a sane price and still make a small royalty....but that's totally up to you.

There's so much that I probably forgot about. And I'm sure other people do it differently. And really I welcome other opinions and advice. As I've said in the past there's no set way of doing anything and this is what I do and what works for me.

I hope this helps. I hope this isn't too hard to follow. And seriously, if you have questions just ask. I'll see if I can answer.

Mercy

How to handle success when you're not a social person.

I have no idea where this is going. It's just something that I feel I need to write.

I'm not a social person. I'm so incredibly introverted that I have to aspire to Hobbit most days. Unlike many introverts I'm also incredibly shy....mostly it's a deep seated feeling that I'm not good enough to talk to anyone that I've never been able to rid myself of. I was told that I was worthless and that nobody wants to hear what I have to say. For twenty years. That does not go away. Ever.

I have a fear of being around people that is so intense that there are weeks that I never leave my house. I used to work in the service industry. I've seen the worst of humanity. I'm happier this way.

I get to write my stories. I make a decent living on my stories now. So that I don't have to go work with the masses of people who look at me like I just fell off the weird wagon.

The part about being a writer that terrifies me is promotion. I don't know how to do it. I have Facebook and Twitter. Twitter leaves me shaking my head. 98% of what I see on twitter is from people I've never heard of sending disjointed messages out into the world that I can't follow. Or it's retreets or ads....so really I don't go there often. I check to see if I have any notifications a few times a week. Mostly I see my name linked to pirate sites, or reviews for goodreads, or there's that person with the same name who doesn't speak English. I see maybe one tweet directed at me personally. Sometimes days after it was sent because it wasn't sent to my twitter handle.....so yeah, I pretty much leave Twitter to the ones who can follow that. It's noise to me.

I have a presence on Facebook. I post a great deal. I move on. I comment sometimes if I know the person and here's the thing....if I actually see their posts scroll past on my timeline. Some days I see the same ten people all day long. And nope it's not on Top Stories. Other days I see not one single person that I recognize. Not one. Some of those people aren't even friends with me. I get the random this person was tagged by that person posts. I see kids birthday parties. I see strange things. Posted by people who don't talk to me and I don't talk to them.

I have around 1200 friends. I'm not sure I know that many people in real life. Some of those 1200 are real people in my real life, some are even family....and I feel like I've lost touch with them having therm right there where I can find them.

I post my randomness. I go somewhere else. I write. Or watch a movie. I have dinner with my family. I go out with my family. On vacation. Just random drag me out of my cave days so that I don't actually turn into a piece of the decor.

I come back to dozens of red flaggy things. Messages. Friend requests.

And for the most part it's likes and the random game request or attend my release day party things.

So here's the thing, most of the things I post are usually long gone by the time I get back to them. Most of the time unless I see something that says there's a comment I keep going....sometimes FB doesn't even tell me there's been a comment. It tells me all about the great conversation someone else is having all the time, but rarely about my own.

Most of the time I feel like I'm alone in a tunnel shouting into the wind.

But there's this other part of it that scares me even more.

People talk back. I mean for awhile at least. I'm not really great at knowing what to say. I try to say thank you when I get a direct post. I try to answer emails. I try to pretend like I know what to say to people who love my work.

But in reality, I have no idea what to say.

I have no idea how to handle attention. ANY attention.

I just want to get my books out there.

The rest of it....scares the shit out of me.

Uh hi, yes thank you....I'm happy you like my stories. Thank you. I have no idea why you like my stories. But thank you. If I don't answer you on FB or Twitter or in email....I apologize. I try to get to everything. But this is moving so fast most of the time I'm lucky to get to anything at all.

And then I feel horrible because I don't answer every thing. Or that I'm not what people want me to be. I'm not glamorous. This isn't glamorous. My bathroom needs to be cleaned and there's no one to do it but me. The dog needs a bath. I still need to clean the windows in back where the animals press their noses and bodies. There's a layer of cat hair over everything in my house.....or I put on headphones and close the door and let my imaginary friends dictate their stories to me. I talk to myself. I actually don't speak much. I have four kids. Life is school and homework and dinner and take your bath. Please don't back talk me....for the love of all that's holy do we have to watch Caillou again for the nine millionth time......this is what I know. This is what I do. I'm boring. I'm insecure. I'm neurotic. I have depression anxiety issues that keep me bouncing around like a balloon.

I can't cope with the idea of conferences. I've been to a few. I can't even fathom why anyone would want to have one of my books. Much less have me sign it.

I'm a nobody. I'm a nothing. I'm just this person who writes stories. Everything else....I don't know where it came from or what to do with it.

So to say this simply....I apologize if I'm not what you expected. I'm just me. I'm a nobody with a mental condition, I hear voices in my head.

So yeah, I guess the advice I can give on how to handle success is....not one clue....and may you have more success with it than I have.

MJ


Shift in Time is live everywhere



Available to buy at



Early Release Day: Shift in Time



I am pleased to announce that Shift in Time is now available. Early yes I know I said I wouldn't post it early but something came up and I won't be home to load the files on Wednesday. It's done. Been over and over....but I'm sure there might be something we all missed...I'm sure I'll hear about it.

Right now it's only available on All Romance ebooks. Amazon should come online sometime tomorrow afternoon...my time...central time zone. I'll deal with Barnes and Noble later.

So....

here, go.....hope you enjoy it. I had fun writing it. And no it's not angsty. No deep dark anything. Light and fluffy...like a panther.

All Romance ebooks



 

Shift in Time: Release date: July 24th.


I am doing the final proof edit on my very first shifter novel. I plan to release it on July 24th....as early as Amazon will allow. How novel an actual set release date. Haven't done that in a long time.

So are we ready for a teaser?

  Official
Shift in Time blurb
True love’s first kiss will not break a curse.
Everyone knows that. Even a Normal like Morgan Monstros knows that.
But Fane Llewellyn isn’t everyone. He’s like no one Morgan has ever met.
Small, fragile and fierce, Fane doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from. He remembers pain and loneliness. Decades of pain and loneliness. And Morgan Monstros. He could never forget Gan. Gan was his from the day he came to the island. And Fane would fight to the death to keep Morgan safe. Even if he has to fight the whole world to do it.
Take one powerless witch, a sassy Siamese familiar, a panther shifter with amnesia, a meddling wolf clan, and a coven of witches hell bent on war, swirl all together and you get the perfect spell for all out mayhem…..oh yeah and there’s chocolate cake too.




Excerpt

Tension flared at the base of his neck between his shoulders. Morgan shrugged away the sensation hoping it wouldn’t settle in for the night. The sky in the west was pale enough that he could see white fluffy clouds skidding along. Some stars peeked out, but the moonlight overpowered their brilliance. A full moon on Samhain rarely happened. The council would certainly meet tonight. At the witching hour. Morgan glanced down the hill toward the town. The younger kids were in for the night. The teens were probably on the mainland if they were old enough for a retreat. They didn’t call their community a coven. The old word not PC in this day and age. Retreats and business meetings. All things that Morgan shunned and no one seemed to notice. Just a normal. He didn’t matter.
His stomach roiled with hunger. Except he wasn’t hungry. He’d eaten earlier. The feeling was external. As was the tension. He couldn’t connect with Fane. The house was quiet. Extremely quiet. He closed the front door and turned off the porch light. The little electric candles in the pumpkins would flicker all night lighting the house on the hill but the candy was gone and the light went off. Setting the bowl on the entry table he made his way through the house to the kitchen. Fane’s shoes lay on the floor near the door. The food on the stove untouched.
“Fane?” he called, his voice echoing in the empty house.
Tension tightened his shoulders. He felt dizzy as the world outside spun around his head. He moved into it reveling in the freedom. The moon seemed so close. He needed to run with it. To howl. To be free. Hunger pains brought Morgan to his knees. He wanted to eat. To hunt. He needed to hunt. He needed to feel the heart stop. To taste the tang of blood as it cooled on his tongue. He soared with the moon landing on a balcony. Something smelled so good. Hot and sweet. He licked his lips. A heartbeat so close.
Morgan shoved his hands over his ears. He rolled onto his back on the floor. The ceiling lights the only thing he saw. Pain sliced through his gut. Hunger. Longing. This incredible need for blood. He fought the bile rising in his throat as he battled to close his mind to the threat. Fane. It was Fane. He felt his despair. His primal roar filled Morgan with fear. Magick was in the air. His cat nature was still very much a part of him. Morgan knew this. He tried to understand. He could feel him. Fane was wild. Lost inside his own head. The moon magick worked on him. Sending him higher to the widow’s walk on the top of the house. Morgan could see the world beyond the island. Dolphins out past the breakers. A tanker heading out to sea. He found no blood here. Mice scurried in the grass down below. Creatures with cold in their veins. He could sense the being in the house. The one he craved.
Morgan scrabbled to his feet. Fear overrode good sense. He locked the doors. Locking Fane out to chase the moon. He ran up the stairs locking the attic entry behind him. The windows were all closed when he went downstairs. Fane wouldn’t be able to get inside. He closed the doors to the other rooms on the off chance he’d missed something and locked himself into his room.
Anger roared in his head. Nearly blinding him. He fell to his knees searching for balance. A thumping sound came from the window, the curtains blowing in the breeze, the moonlight framed him, crouched on the floor as if ready to spring.
“I smell you,” he said, his voice lower than Morgan had ever heard him speak. He felt the timbre caress his skin. “I’ve smelled it all day, for several days, I just didn’t know what I smelled.”
“You scared the hell out of me,” Morgan climbed to his feet. He felt silly now for letting his imagination run away with him. Fane hadn’t reverted to animal form. He was just the same as he was downstairs. Maybe a little more intense but that was about it. “How in the hell did you get all the way up here anyway?”
Fane didn’t answer he rose to his full height, his nose flared as if he were tracking something…delicious. His long fingers clawed at his clothes pulling and tugging in that graceful feline way he had about him until he strode across the room in all of his glory. The moon seemed to love him, she bathed him in her light making him appear to be on fire. Morgan reacted. Violently.  Angry that anyone could elicit such a response from him he shoved the man away from him as soon as he drew close.
Fane smiled, his eyes flashing in the pale light, he moved sinuously around Morgan almost as if he were stalking him. “Don’t you want to play with me, Morgan? I want to play with you.”


I'll see ya Thursday :-)



Shot Through the Heart



While the site was languishing in disuse I released Shot Through the Heart. The western historical I wrote ten or so years ago. That one. The one with the head hopping and all kinds of epic drama-ness.

Yes I know it's het.

So it's out. On Amazon only for right now. I'll get it ready for wider release soon. Until then enjoy this excerpt..............




Across town, Alayne sat on the floor in her dark room, hidden between the bed and the wall where she watched the spectacular light show going on outside her window. Rain pounded the tin roof of the house, and Alayne felt isolated from the rest of the tenants, the noise of the storm completely blocking all sound but her own breathing. Unfortunately, it completely blocked the sound of the heavy tread of Garth’s boots as well.
    She didn’t hear the scrape of the key in the lock, neither did she hear the knob turn. Alayne jumped as the door swung open and banged against the wall, her panic turning quickly to anger at the gall of the man, for she knew without a doubt that this time she had locked the door.
    “I know you’re in here, kid, so stop hiding,” she heard the weariness in his voice and felt a pang of guilt at the merry chase she had led him that night. However, the guilt was fleeting and she didn’t move an inch or bother to answer him. He deserved everything she had put him through, if not more for dragging her to that place. Breaking into her room just added to the growing list of offenses he had inflicted upon her. She wasn’t about to answer him. After all she hadn’t done anything wrong, it was all him, and she hoped that maybe he would take the hint and if she ignored him long enough, go away.
   
Garth held his lamp into the room at arm’s length, the kid’s hat hung from one bedpost, his boots lay on the floor, socks draped carelessly onto of them, but there was no sign of the boy. Regardless, he stepped into the room, closed the door behind him, and moved to the center of the room where the lamp illuminated the entire room including the boy. Garth set the lamp on the dresser and leaned against the far wall facing the boy who sat slumped against the wall between the bed and the window.

    “What do you want?” Alayne asked sullenly. She wouldn’t forgive him for dragging her to that place…ever. He had crossed the line, even if he did think she was a boy. He still had no right to subject her to that sort of humiliation.
    “To make sure you got back all right,” Garth said, letting one leg slide out from under him until he was sitting on the floor in front of her. He looked tired, and worried.
    “As you can plainly see, I did, now get out,” Alayne said, refusing to look at him as she continued to hope he would take the hint and leave.
    “You embarrassed me tonight, kid,” Garth said, completely destroying any sympathy she may have had for him.
    “I embarrassed you… I embarrassed you. Of all the nerve…you arrogant ass. I didn’t drag you to a whorehouse. I didn’t haul you around by the collar on a busy street. I didn’t set you up with a thirteen-year-old child prostitute. I didn’t do anything wrong in running way. It was all your doing Mr. Burnett, now please leave before I really get angry,” Alayne whispered. She didn’t trust herself to speak up for fear of telling the rest of the world of her misadventures that night.

    Garth sighed, leaning his bare head back against the wall. This was a fitting end to a wonderful night, he thought in disgust. “Yeah, okay, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have insisted that you go. Hell, kid, any normal fifteen-year-old would have jumped at the chance to see the inside of a whorehouse. By the time most normal boys are your age, what goes on between a man and a woman is pretty much an obsession.” He regretted the words the second they left his mouth. Worse yet, he regretted even thinking what he had been thinking all night. To the boy’s credit, he didn’t react to the accusation and Garth began to believe the boy was simply a late bloomer and that he had no knowledge of that side of life.

    “But I’m not a normal boy, am I, Garth?” Alayne turned her attention from the window and the storm raging outside, piercing the man with an angry gaze. “Your whores think so, ‘pretty boys like me prefer other pretty boys”, I believe that is what your Lucy said after you left… I was hiding beneath the parlor window you see,” she said, waving a hand airily in explanation. “I figured you would chase me so I hid. Cowardly of me, I know.” Alayne said calmly, searching his face in the dim light for some sign of his thoughts.
   
“I don’t know, kid, are you normal?” Garth said, thinking he had found the answer no matter how much it pained him but it didn’t feel right. Nothing about the boy had felt right from the moment they’d met but damned if he could figure out what it was about the boy that nagged at him like a mosquito. “You don’t walk like a boy, you don’t sit like a boy, you don’t even eat like a boy. Damned if I know if you’re normal kid. I’ve never met anyone like you.”

    Thinking she had covered those details better, Alayne was shocked by this new revelation. “So maybe I’m not a boy,” she suggested, thinking fast to keep her secret no matter what. “Maybe just maybe I’m a fifteen year old girl masquerading as a boy. Maybe I cut off all my hair, bound my budding young breasts, and put on boy’s clothes because I had heard too many atrocities against women alone out here. Maybe I didn’t want to end up in a brothel somewhere peddling my virginity away to dirty cowboys like that child, Millie, who you wanted me to bed tonight. On the other hand, maybe your whore is right, maybe I am a freak who prefers males to females. Which is it Garth? Would you like for me to strip down right now to make your decision easier?”



Blurb 



The year is 1876 and Alayne Murray is alone. Her parents deceased, no close extended family. All she has left is her family farm and hope that her twin brother is alive somewhere out west.
Texas in 1876 is no place for a woman alone. Alayne cuts her hair and dresses in her brother’s clothes. With no one but herself to depend upon, she journeys west to find her brother or her brother’s grave.
Garth Burnett is a gunslinger with no future. He signed on to help a local sheriff keep the peace in a small town never realizing that there was nothing but peace to keep. Bored out of his mind and longing for the wilder side of life he’d left behind he plans to pick up and leave Harmony…one of these days.
Except this kid with a sob story about his missing brother lands at his feet. And the sheriff has gone missing. And things just aren’t as dull as they once were, with Lane Murray around to fight with.
Distracted and angry Garth misses what’s right in front of his eyes. The kid, isn’t just missish, he’s a Miss. One determined to get her man. If it kills them both.

From the wilds of Texas to a New Orleans mansion, Alayne takes Garth on a wild ride that is never quite what it seems.

Warning: This isn’t your ordinary girl posing as boy meets man of her dreams historical. Beware of triggers including graphic violence and sexual situations.




Shot Through the Heart is available on AMAZON