Book Nerds Anonymous gives To Have and To Hold four out of five nerds.
“refreshing” “inventive” “great lead characters”
Amani Zarin is a real genie housewife and the star of 101 Nights from Boroughs Publishing Group. She’s relocated from Jinnistan to Jersey to figure out a way to save her homeland. After a sensual wedding night, she settles into a suburban life of swinging neighbors, wandering deer, afternoon champagne cocktails, an angry genie ex, and a scientist husband who monitors her every move. Can she last for 101 Nights or will she bring down the house with a flick of a fiery finger? Reluctant Rapture is the second book in the 101 Nights romance series. The first book is To Have and To Hold. Each book is only $1.99 from Boroughs Publishing Company.
Authors need reviews. Am I right? You want a potential reader to know what other readers think about your book. More and more statistics in this insta-pubbed crowded world tell us that “word of mouth” is still the best way to promote your book. [Read Jane Friedman's blog on "Using Word-of-Mouth (Not Media Attention) to Sell Books."] And here’s a piece from NPR about using word-of-mouth. Essentially, the publisher gives out lots of free copies and hopes people like it enough to spread the word.
And how do you get that word of mouth? Simple. You get people talking about your book. Not so simple. Well, reviews are one way to do that. Even non-professional reader reviews posted on Amazon send Amazon analytics into overdrive. Get a certain number of reviews within a certain number of days from the book’s release (I think it’s something like 30 reviews in three days) and your book may rise to the top of a recommended page. Supposedly, you don’t even need good reviews for that to happen. But another source I read indicated that the reviews really need to be three stars or above. (I could get the source attribution for you, but I’m on deadline with another book…just go with it.) The inclination might be to rustle up a couple of dozen relatives and ask them to quickly post a two-liner on Amazon (20-word minimum) saying:
“I loved this book. You should get this book today! You won’t be sorry. I don’t even know what genre this is but I loved it anyway because my second cousin told me I do. Five Stars!!”
Those types of write-ups may populate your Amazon page, but they’re really not going to do anything for your sales. And you know it. You probably gave your relatives copies of the book and that’s as far as it’s going to go. So, ultimately, you’re not helping your sales and you may detract from the credibility of your buy page. Bottom line, get legitimate reviews. It’ll take some time to identify the reviewers who might like your book. Much like word-of-mouth, this takes another old-fashioned effort….good ol’ legwork. Check out other books on Amazon that might be similar to yours; read the reviews and see who the reviewers are. Email addresses aren’t always included, but you will get a snapshot of many blogs that review your genre. Contact the blog, send a copy of your book, and hope for the best.
Which is what brings me to the point of this blog. The best doesn’t have to be five stars. I just received a three-star review from The Vampire Book Club that I really appreciated. It was clear, pointed, and right on about the major elements of the book. She shared what she liked about the book and the strong aspects of it. Basically, she had nothing bad to say other than it wasn’t the type of book she normally reads. The Genie Ignites was more of a thriller or romantic suspense…which is what I intended it to be. So, I’m very pleased with the review. And she leaves the reader with this pithy summation:
“The author knows how to pull a switcheroo that left me wanting to read the next book, just to see what happens.”
That’s a sales pitch right there for the second book in the series, The Genie Smolders…which releases next month from Boroughs Publishing Group.
101 Nights is my new series, called Romantisodes, from Boroughs Publishing Group.The first book is To Have and To Hold and begins the story of Amani Zarin, an ambassador from Jinnistan, and Jason Masters, the physicist who can help her save her homeland. She doesn’t trust humans, but she’ll have to trust him….or at least tolerate him. Their first meeting is on their wedding day. Irritation soon turns to intrigue.
Here’s an excerpt from that first auspicious encounter:
The conference room echoed with a collective exhalation of relief. Westcott fixed Amani with an arctic glare, tugging at the pressed lapels of his charcoal Gucci suit; then he considered the man beside her with a gaze that was both smug and sympathetic, as though to say, Better you than me. Closing her eyes, Amani steeled herself. She had avoided looking at the man at her side, Jason Masters, her new husband, had avoided looking at him all through the ceremony and before. Now she glanced at him sidelong.
Despite her barb at Westcott and the people who worked with him, Dr. Jason Masters was by no means little. Amani was taller than most human men, yet he was taller than she by a forehead. That irked her. Neither was he bad-looking. For a human. Okay, he was hot. She had come across the term in her cultural research of the human world and liked it. Hot. Forged from fire, her people reveled in flame. This word suggested the comfort of Jinnistan’s scorched mountains, the joy of riding Sinbad into the Bitu Valley so rife with fissures to the center of the earth that the air crackled with fire.
Her new husband’s jaw flexed, and cocking her head Amani assessed him further. The poor guy was agitated. But, who wouldn’t be? It was his wedding day and he was meeting his bride for the first time. Oh, and by the way, she was a genie. And in a bad mood.
His full lips formed a straight line—an attempt to appear stoic or munificent? No. Neither. He appeared raw and somewhat bewildered but resigned to his task. A good scientist with a difficult hypothesis. A hypothesis that was even now standing in front of him.
He turned, and the expression on his face was both wary and…surprisingly playful. “Do I get a kiss?”
His voice was smooth and deep. For an irritating moment he seemed pleased with what he saw, with Amani, then Amani’s gaze whipped back to the Covalink CEO, the main architect of this spectacle, who’d scoffed and turned away. Sudden anger at Westcott’s demeanor, her situation, and humans in general got the better of her. In one graceful flip of her hand, Amani flung back the curtain of hair from her shoulder and flourished three fingers at Westcott’s retreating back, preparing to singe his suit just enough to make her feel better.
“Whoa, there!” Her husband’s grip on her wrist was faster than she would have given him credit for, and Amani was startled to find herself staring into eyes the color of the Topaz Caves on the far side of Jinnistan. A lock of brown hair had fallen across her husband’s broad brow, and he twitched his head as though to shrug it away. The strands clung together as though damp. “Not a good idea.”
“Is any of this a good idea?” she snarled at him, consciously ignoring the tiny coterie of Covalink executives and Jinnistan ambassadors who were now beginning to mingle. With a twist of her arm, she dislodged his grasp. If not for the flower-laden pedestal at her hip, she would have moved entirely away from him.
She barely saw his lips move, but his voice was low and rueful. “Too late now.”
Their faces were close enough for a kiss, she realized. Her husband stared back, not blinking, his black eyelashes as thick as the fringe on a hand-tied carpet. The way they shadowed his amber eyes reminded Amani of a soft feather caressing her naked back, and the thought sent a shiver down her spine. Even more potent, for the second their gazes locked she felt challenged and equal at the same time. Her shiver radiated outward, wrapping around her waist and making her suddenly all too aware of his closeness. Something inside her trembled.
He quirked his lips. “Now, how about that kiss?”
Smirking like a child, she leaned into him. “Fine.” She knew her duty. Kissing a human would be no more momentous than stepping on an ant—for her. For him? Well, he would be the ant. The contact would provide a nice electrical shock on those soft, full lips. “Pucker up, pretty boy.”
Her husband settled a tentative hand on her waist and lowered his chin. Those impossibly thick lashes drooped further, and a flutter whisked through Amani’s stomach. Almost of its own accord, her head tilted toward him. Like they were lovers. Like she wanted to be kissed by him. Like she had no control over the desire flushing through—
Alarm spiked through Amani at her body’s betrayal. Needing to be back in control, she squeezed her eyes against her heightened awareness of his broad hand on her hipbone, and when his grip tightened, warm and oddly comforting, she had to resist the urge to wriggle against his palm. Instead, she purposefully stiffened and grasped his forearm as though to immobilize him. The fine woven fabric of his navy suit jacket was smooth and cool to her fingers, and beneath its softness the long cords of his flexor muscles tensed like steel cables. A vein throbbed at the side of his neck just above the starched collar of a sky blue button-down shirt. He hadn’t worn a tie, which she always found to be a strange constrictive garment that merely highlighted human ineptitude, as if they needed to be leashed into place. One point for Dr. Masters.
They moved as though in slow motion, and for an instant Amani’s eyebrows knitted. She could see that his skin was dark, the complexion of someone who labored in the sun and not the soft intellectual she’d expected. He was physically strong, too. She could feel it in the sudden set of his body. And he was alert. She could tell that he was frequently outdoors.
Parting her lips, she eased her head into the space at his shoulder. There, swirling her head in a small arc, she inhaled through her nose.
Her husband lurched back, eyes wide. “Did…did you just sniff me?”
She nodded, considering. “Interesting. You don’t smell like gravel. Most humans smell like gravel. Or dirt.” She felt her lip curl at the thought. “But not you.” There was something fascinating in the air between them. Specifically, something that emanated off him like an aura.
“I beg your pardon.” Pulling back, he shot a glance at her uncle, and from the corner of her eye Amani caught Azon’s exasperated headshake. The other witnesses seemed to realize there would be no romantic clutch to seal the deal and clustered around the tray of drinks, muttering and grinning with self-congratulations. A wheeled cart laden with canapés and shrimp cocktail pushed into the room and was immediately surrounded.
Amani returned her attention to Jason. She’d expected to be accosted by his scent, not enveloped. Lifting a finger to her lips, she closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she wagged a finger at him. There was an honest note of amazement in her voice as she said, “You smell like thyme and wood chips.”
He ignored the comment and tugged her closer. The satin cowl of her midnight blue sheath dress brushed the pearl buttons of his shirt, and the rhythm of his heart seemed to suddenly permeate the slinky fabric of her dress. She imagined that the pounding of her own synced to his. But that was impossible.
Jason glanced down at their connection, at the mutual rising and falling of their chests. The wrinkle of a question returned to his brow, and with a jolt of amazement Amani understood that he had felt what she did.
Her new husband’s words were hushed, but his eyes glinted with a strange gratification. “Is that you or me? I can’t tell.”
Stretching her neck away in a vain attempt at detachment she said, “I’m nothing like you.”
To read the entire story, download it today for your ereader.
What Would You Wish For
Zubis is the genie star of The Genie Ignites, a paranormal romance that’s a finalist in the Abalone Awards for “Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance.” Our reporter caught up to Zubis via satellite in the desert. Here is his interview:
Zubis appears quite comfortable sitting on a folding canvas chair in a steel-gray linen tunic, open at the neck, and pair of loose, white, gauzy trousers. [In this reporter’s objective opinion, he is devastatingly handsome.]
Q: Is it hot there at the edge of the Rub-al-Khali in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zubis?
A: [eyebrow goes up] Just Zubis, please. Yes, it can be quite hot. Especially when the lovely Bethany O’Brien stands close.
Q: What are you doing in the desert, Zubis?
A: [appears solemn, though those curlicue glyphs, barely covered by a fall of dense black hair along his brow, have begun to glow.] I await the arrival of Bethany. Only she can liberate me from my 3,000 years of bondage. I was condemned in the time of Solomon and have waited 3,000 years for her to return…. [a glint returns to his golden eyes.]
Q: Eh…return? How old is she exactly?
A: Well, in this incarnation, she is a delectable 32 years old. But her heart first belonged to me when she roamed the earth as the Asima Uruk in the time of Solomon.
Q: So what happened to her?
A: [The rugged lines across his brow deepen with concern.] She died. I was cursed and could not save her.
Q: Wow. That’s sad. Now what?
A: She will come. I will remind her of what we once had and she will be mine again. [He brings his fingers to his lips and his gaze is distant for a moment.]
Q: Sounds pretty straightforward. What’s the hold-up?
Ouch! Was that an electrical shock that you just shot at me?!
A: Hold-up? [He rises to his feet. He is quite large.] Have you ever stood bent against the fury of a harmattan, the gritty West African trade wind, as it bites into your flesh? Have you flicked a scorpion from your ankle before it could strike? Have you felt the unmitigated fury of a female jinni as she uses her wicked wiles to betray your true love? Have you ever lost everything you cared about until only the hope of love remains?
Q: Um, no.
A: Then you should read The Genie Ignites. [He winks and seats himself.]
Q: Well, um. Geez. What was I saying? [fanning self] Any wishes left in those snazzy trousers of yours?
A: [His gaze is steady] I think I could pull one more out…
Q: Okay, that’s a wrap! [Speaking to someone off camera: Book me on the next flight to the desert!]
A: Hold on, lovely. No need to fly. We have the power of the jinn at our disposal. With a flick of your finger, you can download my chronicle and I will meet you there.
Q: You got it, handsome! Somebody download The Genie Ignites to my smart phone STAT!
Join me as I fly first class on Genie Air, glass of champagne in hand and nibbling a savory serving of honey-and-currant couscous. Hurry along, now. The second book in Zubis’s series, The Genie Smolders, releases later this month.
Pick up your copy today for Kindle, Nook, Smartphone, or most ereaders.
Isn't that what we look for in a good hero...even if he doesn't show his soft side right away. It should take some coaxing. And that's half the fun of the journey through a romance. Hard bodies, for sure, are what the jinn have.
Here's a description you might like from the recent release of 101 Nights. This first installment in a five-part book series is called…
Explore the passion of the jinn through the eyes of a genie who's never forgotten the woman he loves...
The Genie Ignites tells the story of Zubis and Bethany O'Brien. This paranormal romance novel is a finalist in the Abalone Awards, which recognizes "Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance."
Pick it up today at Boroughs Publishing Group for $3.99
Here's another Boroughs Author!
(BTW, don't forget to check out Boroughs' writing contest! Many of the Lunchbox Romances that have been featured STARTED in last year's Boroughs Love @First Sight Writing Contest!)
Kellyann Zuzulo writes romance fiction about genies. She is the author of a new series, 101 Nights, as well as the novel The Genie Ignites, which is book one of The Zubis Chronicles from Boroughs Publishing Group.
I just got word today that my book, which is published by Boroughs Publishing Group, was ranked among the top three for my category, which was Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal. The Abalone Awards recognize “outstanding ethno-cultural romance.” While Zubis is a jinni and Bethany is a human, the cultural issue in The Genie Ignites is the divide between her Western world and his Eastern view, which is steeped in the legend, traditions, history, food, and lifestyle of the Middle East. But true love sees no color, sees no difference in how the heart loves. I’m so honored that my novel was selected. The winner will be announced at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in July. It’s time to make a wish.
Go download your copy of The Genie Ignites. It is the first book in The Zubis Chronicles series. I think you’ll like it.
The second book, The Genie Smolders, is due out in May.