Merry Kindlemas!

Harlequin/Mills&Boon rock the freebies on Kindle

Hey folks! 🙂

If you’re looking forward to getting a new eReader or tablet this Christmas, either as a gift or when out shopping for yourself, I thought I’d share what it’s possible to get free from Amazon Kindle – not just in the occasional promotions, but as regular items.

Like many tablet-owners, even though my very basic Wi-Fi Android colour touchscreen was a steal at only £44.99, I have the Kindle app installed, and I do browse the store for free books. Buying a Kindle, after all, is about spending a hefty chunk of cash, on what is essentially an empty bookshelf that you then have to buy books for. So I’m not going to cough up print list prices when I can wait a few months and buy those print editions for a penny, just the same as usual… 😉

Those of you who know me as a reader/writer will know I have a soft-spot for romance fiction (even though I generally write about hit-men, zombies and psychos myself), especially Mills&Boon. What I’ve recently discovered is that you can get a great many of the books in their recent back catalogue, completely free on Kindle.

This is a fantastic idea for M&B books. Especially for readers like me, since my local supermarket no longer stock them.

Being category romance, set up for subscription readers, their turnover of new books is possibly the largest of any publisher. Keeping them available in the Kindle store as free books is no loss on the company’s part. It may round up many new readers, plus supply fans of their current authors with access to a hot and professionally-released backlist.

The best way to find these freebies is to type one of these titles in, or a favourite author name, and look at the ‘Customers also bought…’ list on the product page.

It’s worth noting that although the books I’ve included here are the usual novel-length M&B books, which you can currently find free in the Kindle store, you’ll also find Harlequin/M&B short stories and novellas, in both paid and free sections. A useful guideline is that anything under 200 KB file size is a shade short for a novel – some may say ‘short story’ or ‘novella’, while others are given away by customer comments, who perhaps didn’t realise the book wasn’t the expected full-length read.

If you’re new to Kindle books this Christmas, it’s worth looking at the file size to figure out if it’s your kind of read length – for example, some may be as short as 90 KB, while my own special extended ebook of Death & The City: Heavy Duty Edition, is a whopping 1277+ KB. Some ebooks have a ‘print length’ in the details to give you an idea, while others show from the ‘Look Inside’ 5% preview feature how short they are. (My Look Inside of the Death & The City leviathan is four and a half chapters!) I have seen previews of stories so short that the preview was only the title and copyright pages – invest a bit of time learning your way around.

Other books I’ve recently downloaded as free, include A Little Bit Of Everything For Dummies by the reknowned ‘For Dummies’ collection, and Alice In Wonderland. You’ll find every classic you could possibly want for free on Kindle, from Jane Austen to Bram Stoker.

You’ll find promotional offers on ebooks as well, in short freebie slots, so you’ll find different books in the Top 100 Free every week – so worth checking back in for surprise treats. These short slots can be anything from 24 hours to 5 days, depending on the author or publisher’s schedule.

You don’t need any special Amazon membership to ‘purchase’ (download) books listed as free to buy. If you want to borrow books from Amazon, the current scheme is for Amazon Prime membership US customers, where Kindle readers can borrow one title per month. I imagine if I was there, I’d be looking at the NYT bestsellers, listed at that controversial print price for my library loan borrowings 😉

Death & The City: Book One

On that note, you’ll be able to download Death & The City: Book One and Death & The City: Book Two by yours truly (check to see whose blog you’re reading, that’s a clue), both free from Amazon Kindle on the following dates:

25th and 26th December 2011 (48-hour free promotion, PST)

1st and 2nd January 2012 (48-hour free promotion, PST)

Death & The City: Book Two

Lara Leatherstone – not her real name, she got it from an internet Porn Star Name Generator…
…And Connor Reeves, also not his real name, as it turns out – how he came by his, is less clear…
Both are obliged to work their way through the To Do List of ‘Hollywood Hit-Men’ – a breed mostly preoccupied with gold chains, impressing barmaids, and shady contracts – erasing these unwanted pests with the minimum of paperwork. Or pay.

Both books will be completely free in both promotions scheduled. No catch, just Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me!

And enjoy those Harlequin/M&B freebies – let me know how many more you come across!

🙂 xxx

Mills & Boon’s New Voices

The Mills & Boon New Voices contest (Football sentiment not included!)

Yay! I did it! I submitted a first chapter into the contest. Neptune’s Island is my first stab at direct romance writing.

And I found a suitable category – warm and fuzzy. I mean, Warm and COSY. As I can’t switch off my wit when writing, I was really pleased to see that romantic comedies come under this roof. Mine’s a rom-com with a sense of adventure – the holiday-read chick-lit.

No zombies in this one. Although at least one of my other outlines that I had in mind involved zombies, in the paranormal scheme of things, I’m saving those for later.

I’m surprised there aren’t more entries in this category yet. I thought chick lit was hu-u-ge. I love a sense of humour with my romantic stories. I read a few straight ones, mostly paranormals, and a few romantic dramas – but I have to be careful because quite often I’m inserting my own jokes into scenes at the back of my mind. Like that person in the cinema you can sometimes hear, who has a comeback occasionally funnier than the one Dwayne Johnson just said.

There are some great plot lines on the site already – fab identity mix-ups, awkward situations, and some great suspense openings. It’s very inspiring. The busiest category is Contemporary Romance, which I guess has the scope for everything that involves complex webs in relationships, skeletons in closets, old flames, and up-to-the-minute issues alongside the more traditional ones. I avoided that one, I suppose, because I haven’t had a relationship in real life, and wouldn’t know or identify with a real-life scenario or complex issue if it bit me. Biting is very boring in my concept of real life – it comes under Common Assault in nightclub incident reports, or ‘abuse of staff’ in a hospital ward. Extraordinarily dull.

I ended up with four ideas, but you only get one entry – and since I’ve found the door is open to chick lit and romantic humour, I’ve had more ideas arriving all the time. So I’d definitely be interested in writing more romance in future.

The competition entry website is a bit glitchy, and every time I click on a link or try to post a comment it crashes at the moment, but they’ve got ongoing maintenance to try and keep it afloat!

It’s nice to have freedom of imagination, even if nothing romantic has happened in real life yet. My friend Sophie Neville was discussing the age-old issue of husband-hunting with me at work the other day, and how she worries about her acquaintances currently in the market and the problems they face. She knows I’m also permanently single with no history or boyfriend experience, and when she asked my age, there was a full minute of rather horrified silence 🙂 I heard that life begins at forty, but I didn’t realise it meant literally ‘begins’ – I’ve had one blind date morning coffee since my 40th back at the start of July, and it’s lucky I’m more interested in dieting and writing at the moment, because dating so far has possibly been the biggest waste of petrol I’ve used in my life. The only other thing dating does so far is add to my caffeine intake 🙂

It is true that basically it just means I haven’t met the right man yet. It is really bizarre meeting up with guys you don’t know, and chatting over coffee. Perfectly normal and pleasant conversations, usually. But no chemistry. I know what a crush on a guy feels like, or regular physical attraction, but so far those things have completely failed to turn up on dates. Quite a few I’d have been open to second dates or longer chats – to see if it’s true that you’re meant to let someone grow on you first – but as it turns out, I haven’t been asked by any of those guys for second dates.

Luck of the draw, I guess. I’m not looking for dates any more because I’m too busy – but it isn’t the case that ‘not looking’ means you suddenly get asked out all the time. It just means guys click on the next online profile.

I could try just going out where there are people, but I don’t have any friends nearby because nobody else wants a 40-year-old single woman around either 🙂

So I’ll just fantasise about romance instead for now, and write it down – it’s much easier than finding it in real life.


Now that’s what I call a cover…

This one broke my world speed record for deciding whether or not to buy the book when I saw it in the bookstore. I think my exact decision-making process was “FWORRR!”

It’s staying where I can see it while writing. I might even read more than those pages in the middle when I get time…

Send him round. I’ve never had a real live muse before 🙂