Left Coast Crime conference, Pt II: Six Valuable Tips

Random House first edition (1967) of the Marshall McLuhan classic.by CJ Verburg

Four days of panel discussions by a whole kaleidoscope of experts in the book business led to an equally kaleidoscopic range of conclusions, predictions, and advice. Here are some highlights:

1. Don’t waste your time seeking an agent and a traditional publishing contract.  It takes forever to get an agent, if indeed you can find one at all; then it takes her/him forever to find that one editor who “gets” your book. Advances–up-front payments against future royalties–are history. You’ll still have to do most or all of your own marketing; the publisher will only support your book for its first few months out the gate; and they and your agent will take most of your earnings.

2. Don’t self-publish.  You’re a writer, not a designer, editor, and marketer. Take advantage of professional help! Your agent isn’t just your negotiator, but your career manager–objective and irreplaceable.  Without one, most serious publishers won’t even look at your manuscript.  And without a traditional publisher, you can’t join guilds such as Mystery Writers of America, so you’re not eligible for the Edgar and other awards that can propel your book to the top.

3.  Blurbs are crucial.  Before you publish a book, spend at least 3-6 months sending out ARCs (advance review copies) to big names in your field, to garner some quotable praise you can feature on your cover, website, social media, etc.

4. Nobody believes blurbs anymore.  It’s well known that many people quoted on book covers and in other PR haven’t read the book. On Amazon and other social media, reviews are constantly bought and sold.  Even reputable reviewers pick and choose from a tiny selection of books prescreened by their editor.

5. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are a dying breed.  More and more people every day switch to e-books, and even those who prefer print books usually buy them online.

6. Independent bookstores are thriving.  For the past two years, more bookstores have opened than closed. They’re changing their focus, adding more events and long-distance orders; they’re successfully adapting to the changing industry.

What everyone agrees is that it’s the Wild West out there. Publishing is in upheaval. The e-book and print-on-demand revolution mean that more books are being published every year than the year before. Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. How all this will shake down is a question being asked every five minutes, and answered with new start-ups, apps, and how-to guides which come and go as fast as books themselves.

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. It’s the age of wisdom, it’s the age of foolishness; it’s the spring of hope, it’s the winter of despair. We have everything before us, we have nothing before us. Where have we heard this before?

 

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Left Coast Crime conference, Pt I: the amazing Louise Penny

Penny-small

How the light gets in: Louise Penny interviewed at Left Coast Crime 2014 by Andrew Martin, her publisher at Minotaur

by CJ Verburg

I never go to writers’ conferences.  In my (mumble mumble) years of experience, “I never” usually means “but I will very soon, surprise!” Thus, when I heard that Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Cara Black, and 800 mystery writers and fans, including several remarkable authors I’d “met” on LinkedIn’s Crime Fiction group, would be at Left Coast Crime 2014 in Monterey, I realized I was overdue for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and nearby historical sights.

The first I heard of Louise Penny was just a few months ago.  It wasn’t the rave reviews that made me pick up her first Inspector Gamache mystery, but the title of her latest book:  How the Light Gets In.  Any writer with the perspicacity to choose one of Leonard Cohen’s finest lines for a book title has already piqued my curiosity and won my tentative respect.  (Confession: my next Cory Goodwin mystery has the working title “Another Number for the Road.”)  My first happy discovery when I started turning Penny’s pages was the little Canadian town of Three Pines, a setting remarkably similar to the village of Quansett in my Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod mysteries.  A kindred spirit for sure!  By the time I finished her second book, I was a confirmed fan.

Penny-Black

Stepping in for Deborah Crombie, who wasn’t feeling well (“because of what I put in her food”), Louise Penny interviews Cara Black on Saturday afternoon.

Louise Penny in person is beautiful, funny, articulate, diffident, brazen, charming, flirtatious, and unpredictable.  Interviewed on Friday afternoon by her editor at Minotaur, Andy Wilson, she talked frankly about how she came to mystery writing, and why it took her four decades to tackle what’s now her vocation.  She always wanted to write.  She was terrified she’d screw it up.  She became a journalist so that she could try it without risking massive failure.  Eventually her husband goosed her into taking the big leap with those three magic words:  “I’ll support you.”

Penny confided that she gave the name of Nichol to Gamache’s awkward, brash, irritating, foot-in-mouth young assistant–a very real character, whom she clearly understood from the heart–as a play on her own name.

Asked about her most recent book, which has won so many kudos and superlatives it’s almost embarrassing, Penny quoted the full chorus of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”  These are lines I get a chill just quoting; perhaps they ring a bell for every artist as they do for me:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

One last piece of good news: Penny’s next book is finished and in the publishing pipeline.

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Laissez les bon temps rouler! Mardi Gras discount!

LBB-2014-AReby Charisse Howard

If you can’t make it to Carnival in New Orleans, sail back in time two hundred years and celebrate with Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer!  Climb aboard a Louisiana bayou pirate ship for a night of spicy romance at the illicit 1814 Mardi Gras on the bayou island of Grand Terre, for a special now-through-Tuesday price of just $1!

On Smashwords, click here and use the code SU94C (not case-sensitive);
On AllRomanceEbooks (ARe): just click here.
Vite!  Vite!  The coupon expires at dawn on Wednesday.

With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the puritanical Americans banned the rowdy French celebration of Mardi Gras.  While Napoleon fought to conquer Great Britain and continental Europe, the newly United States launched the War of 1812 to snatch Canada from the distracted Brits–and to stop Britain from snatching sailors off American ships.  le-corsaire-noirOnce again, as they had 200 years before, the Louisiana bayous became pirate territory.  Jean and Pierre Laffite and their comrades ran an Amazon-sized smuggling network, buying and selling and capturing goods from French, British, Spanish, and American ships alike.

By 1814, Andrew Jackson, who didn’t know that the War of 1812 had ended in stalemate, was on his way to fight the Battle of New Orleans. redcoats1 It wasn’t a wasted clash:  Jackson’s victory would tip the scale in the peace negotiations.  But that Spring, the only Americans who could celebrate the great French tradition of Mardi Gras were the buccaneers of Barataria Bay.  Join the fun for a night of hot romance and revelry with Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer–half price from now until dawn on Wednesday, March 5.

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A Dazzling Week of San Francisco Book Adventures

by CJ Verburg

Coming up this week are three remarkable book-focused events.

laura-sheppard

Laura Sheppard

isabel-michon

Isabella Michon

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the Mechanics’ Institute presents “The Inside Scoop on Book Promotion.”  In a rare appearance on the stage instead of behind it, MI Events Director Laura Sheppard will reveal how she (and others who book author appearances) decides who’ll fill her few coveted presentation spots. Professional publicist Isabella Michon will further illuminate the challenge of winning media attention for one’s books. This special open-to-the-public meeting of MI’s biweekly 5:30 PM Indie Publishers’ Working Group promises to be a don’t-miss event for every writer and/or publisher who’s reached the end of his/her Twitter-Facebook-Reddit-Pinterest-Vine-YouTube tether.

IRClogoIn the digital age, it was only a matter of time until that popular phenomenon the writers’ conference went virtual. IndieReCon (“making indie-publishing a mission possible”) offers a slate of online speakers and panels this coming Tuesday through Thursday on topics from “How to Write Fast” to “Getting Started on Goodreads.” Highlight speakers include Indie-revolution pillars Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler (12 to 2 PM Tuesday), C.S. Lakin, Joel Friedlander, Mark Lefebvre, Joanna Penn, and David Gaughran.

Book_Promotion_Forum_logo.1Another online highlight:  From 1:05 to 2 PM on Tuesday, Book Promotion Forum offers a free online webinar.  Berrett-Koehler’s Vice President of Editorial and Digital David Marshall will share highlights from this year’s Digital Book World Conference in an hour-long discussion with Book Promotion Forum President (and Berrett-Koehler Social Media Strategist) Kat Engh.

EG's Doubtful Guest, CAM's Heather Plunkett, & FOE CJ Verburg

EG’s Doubtful Guest, CAM’s Heather Plunkett, & FOE CJ Verburg

The evening was a blur at Edward Gorey’s 89th birthday party at the Cartoon Art Museum on Thursday, celebrated by the guest of honor in absentia owing to his decease 14 years ago. The slideshow didn’t function, but Fantod readings reliably predicted gloom all around. As Yerba Buena Third Thursday art fans drifted hither and yon, tea and wine flowed, and lovely macaroons and madeleines became food for memory, I read “The Osbick Bird,” which also was read by Julie Harris, the late actress and FOE (friend of Edward’s), at his 2000 memorial party in Yarmouth Port. For more, read Edward Gorey On Stage: a Multimedia Memoir.

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Are You Ready for Edward Gorey’s Birthday?

EG+real puppets2by C.J. Verburg

Edward Gorey visited San Francisco only once, on a R&R break from his tour of duty in the U.S. Army during World War II. Since his death in 2000, the City of Love’s embrace of this brilliant Chicago ->Boston ->New York ->Cape Cod artist and author only seems to grow warmer.

It was in 2000 that the Edwardian Ball was launched. This increasingly legendary Steampunk celebration has mushroomed in 14 years from a fringe event into a multi-floor two-day festival, a bizarre Beaux-Arts bazaar of vendors, music, vendors, performances, vendors, acrobatics, dancing, and above all, costumes displaying every imaginable variation on Edwardian and Victorian, Goreyesque and Goth.

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2000 also marked the first birthday party for Edward Gorey at the Cartoon Art Museum. I had hosted parties for Edward, who generally loathed and avoided them, on Cape Cod during the late 1990s when we were collaborating on theater projects. He strongly urged me not to fly back East for his 75th birthday, so instead, I got together with CAM to stage a sampler performance of some of his theater pieces, plus a giant cake. I sent him photos, not suspecting that less than two months later he would die from a heart attack.

EGcakeThis year Edward Gorey’s birthday–February 22–falls on a Saturday. CAM’s celebration, two days earlier, will be part of Yerba Buena Third Thursdays, a monthly evening of open museums and galleries in the area around Yerba Buena Park. If you’re in downtown San Francisco on Thursday night 2/20, drop by 655 Mission Street anytime between 5 and 8 PM to peruse the current exhibitions, watch a slide show, have your Fantods read, or buy a book written, illustrated, and/or inspired by Edward Gorey.

If you’re on Cape Cod in March, you can catch any of three preview screenings of clips from Christopher Seufert’s affectionate documentary film of Edward Gorey’s life and work in the late 1990s.  Edward and Chris met when our town of Yarmouth opened a local-access TV station, C3TV. EGwatchingBiggestEternally curious and experimental, Edward (and I) signed up to learn how to use this new medium; Chris was the resident expert. TV animation wound up not being a medium Edward chose to pursue, but Chris was fascinated by the media he did pursue, and pursued him. Over Edward’s theatrical groans of protest, Chris and company followed him everywhere with cameras rolling. For the price of some inconvenience (along with plenty of admiration), the legacy to which Edward paid no particular attention during his life is now bolstered by footage.

HauntedTWherever you are on February 22, take a moment to look closely at one of Edward Gorey’s extraordinarily intricate and beautiful drawings; read one of his startlingly simple but unsettling books. And don’t forget George Washington. This day has given us plenty to celebrate.

 

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Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey! Party This Thursday @ CAM

Cartoon Art Museum’s Third Thursday presents:
Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey!
Thursday, February 20, 2014, 5pm to 8pm

Free and open to the public

EGcakeSan Francisco, CA:  Join the Cartoon Art Museum as we celebrate the late Edward Gorey’s 89th birthday on Thursday, February 20th, 655 Mission Street. Doors open at 5pm; festivities begin at 6pm, including wine, tea, cookies, and entertainment.  Join in dramatic readings from Gorey’s works led by his longtime collaborator Carol Verburg! Look into your future with a prophetic Fantods reading by Paige Z! Costumes welcome but not required.

Edward St. John Gorey (1925–2000) is famous for the bounty of books he wrote and illustrated, featuring his distinctive humor and astonishingly detailed crosshatch ink drawings. Gorey was also a playwright, a Tony award-winning costume and set designer (for the Broadway production of Dracula), and the creator of the animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery!

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“That Deep Dark Lonely Place” Where Writing Comes From

by CJ Verburg

3172cemetery_statueAlmost every time someone famous dies unexpectedly, someone else labels that death a tragedy.  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death last Saturday night was a tragedy, in the Greek sense: not just unexpected, but perversely made inevitable by his own choices.  Among other things, it has unleashed a good deal of muttering about “that deep dark lonely place” which is said–usually by non-artists–to be the wellspring of creativity.

The deep dark lonely place popped up again at a recent online publishing hangout.  The speaker was talking of the “community” of writers from which 21st-century books emerge.  In contrast to what I used to call the John School, i.e., the postwar literary circle comprising successful writers from Barth and Cheever to O’Hara and Updike, the present school is school-less.  The Johns gave us shelves full of novels about sex, love, competition, and alienation in academia, because academia was where they lived–a prime source of their income, prestige, and visibility.

Just as the internet has shaken publishing companies out of their old niche, it has shaken out the academic community of writers.

Of course, “community” is used nowadays to mean any diverse group which the speaker wishes to treat as if it were monolithic: the gay community, the black community, the  community of nations.  Somewhere a pundit is probably commentating even now about the Facebook community, the Twitter community, the Pinterest or Reddit or Wattpad community.

new-housing-development-in-provence-sami-sarkisJust as the real-estate community redefined the word “home” to mean what used to be called a house, the word “community” is wielded as a kind of demographic comfort food.  In our hearts, we all want a home.  We all want to belong to a community.  Our need for achievement seesaws with our need for affiliation.

Think of any online group you’re active in.  How community-like does it feel to you?  Would these folks invite you over for a cup of coffee?  Drive you to the hospital in an emergency?  If the NSA (which sees all and knows all) accused one of them of a crime–say, murder or terrorism–would you leap to his/her defense?

When an actor performs in a play, he places himself in the hands of the other actors onstage.  Like a trapeze artist, he trusts that when he jumps, he won’t fall to his death; someone will catch him.  That is the place where art comes from.  Call it community; call it home.  It is not deep, dark, and lonely.  Art happens in the safe place where you are free to do your best work.

dollhouse 2When I write, the fictional characters I create become a community.  I know I’m inventing it, the same way I used to invent a family for my dolls.  Still, whether I’m writing a play or a novel, I’m in a place that gives me immense emotional satisfaction (punctuated with hair-tearing frustration) as long as I’m fully immersed.  Coming out is a jolt:  What’s all this, then?

Years ago I taped up a twisted Beatles line over my typewriter:  When I write, everything seems to be home.

Why does writing, or performing or directing, or painting, or designing a book cover, feel like home?  I don’t know for sure.  I know that, like my dollhouse, this mini-world is more manageable than the big one outside.  The people in it may be charming, irritating, or frightening; they’re rarely boring.  And although they are full of surprises and demands, they never seriously threaten me.  Here, I’m the NSA: I see all and know all.

Art is escape.  Oasis.  Sanctuary.  It’s reality that’s a deep dark lonely place.

 

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20 Tweets from Stardom: Authors Redefine Success

backup-singers-180x120

“Is this the way love’s supposed to be?”

by CJ Verburg

20 Feet From Stardom is an inspiring, heart-wrenching film about those unsung heroines known as backup or background singers.  It takes us behind the scenes with a dozen or so of the brilliant and fiercely dedicated African-American women who propelled 20th-century soul and rock-&-roll bands to success.

Watching it left me pondering that famous line of Andy Warhol’s:  “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  One of the film’s most sobering stretches is a parade of album covers celebrating the launch of one great backup singer after another into her long-awaited solo career.  Most of them sank without a ripple.

Warhol’s observation has popped into my head lately like the mystical answer from a Magic 8-Ball as I’ve read the newest data about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, author expectations vs. author satisfaction.  It’s a remark so often quoted and misquoted that it’s become a cliche–verbal Muzak we don’t really hear anymore.  Back in 1968, when it first spread through the so-called counterculture, it struck shivers into me and many other aspiring artists, like an eerily prescient fortune cookie.

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“How does it feel to be on your own? A complete unknown? Like a rolling stone?”

Already the news media were transforming the nature of fame.  (Media was still plural then; so was data.)  We had thought of fame as a magic doorway or bridge: Once you reached it, you were IN.  Work really hard, be true to your heart and your craft, and you’ll arrive.  Then you can sit back and relax, as the airlines say, and live happily ever after.

A number of people who boarded the gravy train early still believe this.  20 Feet From Stardom is a powerful reminder that for most striving artists, whose talent and hard work aren’t boosted by a well-timed lucky break, it’s not that simple.

Over the next 45 years, as lifelong careers and even regular paying jobs thinned out, and more and more people turned to arts, sports, and entrepreneurship, success changed. Instead of a threshold you can cross into the Emerald City, it became a benchmark–a one-night motel along the Yellow Brick Road.  Congratulations, you’ve arrived!  Now, move on down the road.The Emerald City

Three recent reports from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest emphasize what a challenge this redefinition poses for writers (and publishers) of books.

In the fall of 2013, a DBW article by lead writer and Queens College sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg announced an ironic finding.  Whether an author is self-published, traditionally published, or both (“hybrid”), s/he is dissatisfied with the results.  Regarding “everything from the royalty rates hybrid authors receive when they traditionally publish (7.9% are very satisfied) to the number of copies sold by self-publishing authors (4.6% are very satisfied), authors are generally unhappy.”  Those whose books are traditionally published tend to believe they’d have done better if they had self-published; while self-published authors think their books would have done better if traditionally published.  The grass is greener on the other side of the fence?  More like: Hey!  I ran a great race, led the pack across the finish line . . . Where’s my trophy?

In December, Weinberg reported that income remains a big source of dissatisfaction.  The much-touted Cinderella stories of authors such as Lisa Genova, E.L. James, and Gillian Flynn remain fairy tales for the vast majority of book writers.  “Few authors are getting rich off of their writing or even earning enough from their writing to quit their day jobs.”

few authors are getting rich off of their writing or even earning enough from their writing to quit their day jobs. – See more at: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/self-publishing-debate-part3/#sthash.B2xkoHSk.dpuf

This past week, Weinberg unveiled findings from the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey regarding authors’ expectations: “Authors, especially not-yet-published authors, believe that publishers will provide us with market expertise and distributional reach that we don’t have on our own and that we have greater chances of reaching fans and stardom if we go the traditional route.”  As the previous survey data show, however, fans and stardom remain elusive no matter how a book is published.

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Jo, Judith, & Lisa gave Sting, Michael Jackson, & the Rolling Stones (among others) the sound that made them famous.

At the same time, all over the online network I’m hearing from writers who’ve had a modest hit or two and hope for another one soon, as well as writers who, while not famous, are earning enough from their books to keep the wolf from the door.  Most of these are either self-help/how-to authors or series authors of genre fiction: mystery, romance, thrillers.

A leitmotif in 20 Feet from Stardom is that talent and commitment aren’t enough to make a star; it also takes a powerful ego, ambition, and tenacity, bolstered by good luck.  For writers, the democratization of self-publishing is luck that cuts both ways.  While it has granted many an aspirant’s wish to see her or his words between covers (literal or digital), it’s also swamped the market: In 2012 alone, more than 390,000 new books were published.  In the 21st century, how many writers will show the combination of genius, ferocity, and timing to blast out of the shadows into the spotlight?

How do you define success for yourself?  Will you be frustrated and disappointed as long as there are other writers who earn more fame and money than you do?  Is it satisfying enough to see your words in print, and to know that people you’ve never met are paying to read them?

The backup singers in 20 Feet From Stardom all talk about the thrill of making great music and the synergy of collaboration, even if they’d rather be the star up front.  For 21st-century writers, the most probable and practical approach to success may be to enjoy surfing each wave of recognition when it rolls in, large or small, and then enjoy the hard work of paddling out of sight with the rest of the crowd until the next wave rises.

Authors, especially not-yet-published authors, believe that publishers will provide us with market expertise and distributional reach that we don’t have on our own and that we have greater chances of reaching fans and stardom if we go the traditional route. – See more at: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/author-survey-results-expectations-of-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/?et_mid=657899&rid=240980085#sthash.sRnF9GOi.dpuf
The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey – See more at: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/author-survey-results-expectations-of-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/?et_mid=657899&rid=240980085#sthash.sRnF9GOi.dpuf
The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey – See more at: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/author-survey-results-expectations-of-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/?et_mid=657899&rid=240980085#sthash.sRnF9GOi.dpuf
The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey – See more at: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/author-survey-results-expectations-of-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/?et_mid=657899&rid=240980085#sthash.sRnF9GOi.dpuf
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Barbary Corsairs in the Regency?!?

by Charisse Howard (first posted on charissehoward.com)

redcoats1If you saw my previous post “The Regency Abroad,” you’ll recall my rereading Jane Austen and wondering: Who are these “officers” who keep popping up, turning young ladies’ heads, and then marching off again?

When His Royal Highness Prince George took the sove-reins from his ailing father and launched the Regency, his country was at war. (Britain was often at war. It’s an island. Like Manhattan, it depends heavily on imports.) Ever since the French Revolution had paved the way for Napoleon to become Emperor, things were prickly across the Channel.

USmapRegencyNor had Britain forgiven Spain for the Armada, as well as continuing to meddle in the New World. The Americans had booted the Brits out of their former colonies. When Napoleon sold France’s vast Louisiana Territory to the newly United States in 1803, that left only Spain on the south end of the East Coast, hanging onto Florida. On the north end, Canada remained British.

Thus the War of 1812. The U.S. had a vision of stretching from sea to sea, but at this point, that meant from the Gulf of Mexico (we want Spain out of Florida!) to Hudson Bay (we want Britain out of Canada!).

LBB-2014-AReThe British thought it would be nicer if they kept Canada and also got back into Florida. They made friends with the Spanish. They tried to make friends with the Louisiana Bayou buccaneers. That’s the back story for my “Regency Rakes & Rebels” romance Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer.

But America was a minor distraction. Why had Napoleon sold Louisiana? To fund his invasion of Britain. (See “The Regency Abroad.”)

Napoleon was a steamroller on land, but in the English Channel (La Manche, from his side) and on the Mediterranean Sea, he was no match for the Royal Navy. Still, it took years to prove that.

corsair-figsCroptIt also took some help from the Barbary Corsairs.

The Afghan-American writer Tamim Ansary has written a terrific book, Destiny Disrupted, which describes in detail how the mainly Christian world and the mainly Muslim world cohabited. Switching for a moment to the Muslims’ point of view: Europe was a little peninsula, Britain a tiny faraway island. The center of the world–culture, commerce, civilization–was the Maghreb and the Levant. That’s roughly the area which today’s Westerners call North Africa and the Middle East.

Dotted along the northern rim of the Maghreb were major ports such as Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli. Collectively, this was the Barbary Coast, so called for the Berbers who lived there. The ruler of each port collected fees from other local shippers, from Europeans, and also from the corsairs–the Mediterranean version of buccaneers.

Barbarossa_Hayreddin_PashaThe corsairs’ heyday ended two centuries before the Regency era. Its central figure, Hayreddin Barbarossa, started as a pirate and wound up a pasha, thanks to his naval victories for the Ottoman Empire.

During the Napoleonic Wars, France’s blockade of Britain opened up a new market for corsairs. Naval battles were the gentlemanly way for the Brits to win control of the northern Mediterranean. But why overlook the usefulness of freelancers? The need to capture enemy ships and their cargo created a new generation of corsairs.

And that is the back story for my new “Regency Rakes & Rebels” romance, working title Lady Caroline & the Corsair, due out the first of February!

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Welcoming the New Year with a New Look (& New Books)

Noisemakers  favors - DofNext month Boom-Books will celebrate our Third Anniversary.  So we’re overdue for a visual overhaul!  That’s kept our new year busy, and as you can see, it’s going gorgeously.  Next week we’ll launch our new blog schedule.  Meanwhile, mystery author CJ Verburg and romance author Charisse Howard are hard at work on exciting new projects for 2014.  Stay tuned!

 

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