Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

The End

Tonight I finished writing  Silenced .

As with any of my previous four books, coming to the end of a novel is always a double-edged sword.  A feeling of accomplishment mixed with a bit of sadness that this story is over and these characters that have grown throughout the course of the book are sailing off into the sunset one last time.

As most of you know, this is the fifth and final installment of The Intoxicated Books, so for me this is a big deal.  Most of these characters have been a figment of my imagination for about twenty years, and however silly it sounds, I’ll kind of miss writing for them.

My goal was to finish writing the book sometime in November.  I’d say that wrapping things up on the first of the month pretty much shattered that goal.   I wanted to have a finished – but not perfect – manuscript when I uploaded the preorder to Amazon.  And to be honest with you, I wouldn’t be embarrassed if this version I just finished went live.  I’m a pretty clean writer, and my final copy never looks that different from the rough draft.

Admittedly, I have an unorthodox approach to publishing.  I’m of the rare breed that likes to finish very early, read it once, then set it aside for a while and start writing on the next book.  About a month after the first read through, I go back and read again to make any other changes.  My sideloaded mobi copy gets highlighted and notated, then I go back to the Word doc and change the real thing.

I usually have ARCs ready well in advance.  Not that many people care about them, but I do have four or so people in my back pocket who will read and review for me.  Once that’s done, I focus my attention on formatting the print copy and of course, writing the next book.

This time will be different.  I’ve already decided that I won’t be doing a massive release day rollout, or a preorder event, or a blog tour, because I don’t really feel like I’ve benefited from them in the past.  In fact, my paid marketing tactics for book four left me so upset that I seriously thought about erasing the entire novel (which I loved), cancelling the preorder and never releasing it to the public.  With that horrible aftertaste in my mouth, I can’t treat any future books in that same manner.  I have a couple marketing ideas that I’m tossing around, but nothing set in stone.  Whatever I do end up doing will be controlled entirely by me and distributed by me, because I’ve learned it’s a good idea to trust only myself.

And in addition to me embarking on writing completely different characters, I’m doing something else unprecedented shortly.

I’m taking a break from writing romance.

Chasing Echo  is by no means a romance book, but it’s definitely a love story of sorts.  However, I’m categorizing it as Contemporary Literary Fiction.  I can’t even realistically call it Women’s Fiction, because it will be told entirely from the viewpoint of the male character.

Because I think ahead, the next two books on my plate after that will more than likely be Women’s Fiction, and that will mean that I won’t be writing anything of the Romance genre for at least a good two years.  Maybe longer, because I have some pretty decent concepts for Chick Lit tales as well.

Why?  I’m tired of sex.

I’ve always been an outsider in the Romance genre, because my series has been notoriously difficult to categorize.  People looking for an alpha male, mommy porn novel are bored to death.  People looking for a clean romance are turned off by my foul language.  And The Intoxicated Books are probably the closest things to romance that I’ll ever write.   I do have a very loose concept for a new romance series, but that will be very, very far off, if in fact it develops into something more.

I’m having so much fun coming up with ideas for standalones that the thought of being bogged down in another series doesn’t appeal to me at this point.  I’ve blown my series wad with these characters, and I can’t imagine anyone else taking their place.

Like I’ve said many times before, I write for selfish reasons.  I don’t write what sells, but some people end up buying it anyway.  I write stories that I want to read, tales that I don’t feel have been done before in the way that I can do them.  And true to life, most of what I write does have romantic elements.  Relationships permeate your entire life – for good or bad.  And I think that comes across in what I create.

But the idea of writing full on romance, or even masquerading like I do, feels like a lie.  And the only thing I’ve wanted to do during this journey is be true to myself.

Reality Check

Sometimes when I sift through social media and the blogging world, I feel as though I am the only author who doesn’t want to make this my full time career.  Does that make me any less serious about the craft?  Does that make my novels any less enjoyable than someone who does only this?  I don’t think so.

In many instances, full time authors are praised for “doing what they love”.  I agree that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do.  Some days, what I would love to do has very little to do with writing or even my actual 9-6.  Some days, I would love to curl up in bed and sleep all day while getting paid.  Wouldn’t you?

Most of the time, however, I’m very much content to work an actual job Monday through Friday and then write on the weekends.  I don’t subscribe to the starving artist theory that one has to suffer for their talent.  Me, I can do both!

I’ve grown accustomed to my lifestyle working outside the home.  I like driving my brand new car, living in a nice home in a good school district, not penny pinching at the grocery store and being able to splurge on little extras without giving it a second thought.  Realistically, if I were to write full time, I’d have to give all of that up.

Never mind the fact that I work for a company where I feel that I’m valued.  They want me to accept more responsibilities and are ready to help me grow.  They’ve shown this time and again, and I don’t doubt that this will continue.  They are also incredibly supportive of my writing career, from the very top executive all the way down.

I understand that some self-publishers have done so out of necessity.  Either due to a disability, a job loss, or because they want to spend time at home with their young children, it’s their choice.  And it’s a difficult path to walk down.  Trust me, I’ve experienced job loss in my family before and it is tough.  Even if my own experiences would have occurred after the self-publishing revolution, I wouldn’t have immediately thought of writing as the answer to all of my prayers.  Yes, it works for some.  You’ll hear their stories and become inspired.  But what you won’t hear are the stories of the thousands just like them who didn’t get discovered.

Here’s a reality check for you.  Granted, my numbers are a little skewed because I don’t self-promote like I should.  I don’t need to, because I do this for the love of writing.  But I do sell on a consistent basis.  Even without talking myself up, readers still find me (maybe because of the permafree series starter) and keep buying.  I have preorders on record for a book coming out in 5 months that I’ve barely even mentioned.

Even so, this year (my best year so far since my first book was published in 2013) I will make less in book sales than I do during a single week at my 9-6.  And that’s total royalties, not taking into account the expenses that I shell out for book covers, giveaways and the occasional paid promotion.  At this level, I make sure I promote enough to wipe out all of my royalties so I can claim a business loss.

If I truly, honestly, wanted to work full time as a writer, I wouldn’t do it until I was making at least as much as I do outside the home.  In other words, I would have to sell more books every single month than I have ever sold combined the entire time I’ve been published.  I’m not naive.  I know it will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens.

But still I keep writing.  Because it is what I love to do.  I’m telling the stories that I want to tell, which aren’t in the genres that are getting big sales.  And there is a terrific freedom in being true to myself and writing the books I want to.  Yes, my books dabble quite heavily in the romantic realm, but they aren’t the flavor of the month variety, capitalizing on the stepbrother/millionaire/rockstar/whatever craze.

It doesn’t make me any less ambitious than the next author out there who pours his or her heart and soul into their work.  It just makes me less worried about the end result, because in the scheme of things, reception to my books doesn’t matter.  I write for myself, and for the select few who have discovered me and found something they like there.  I don’t need to appeal to the masses, and that’s exactly how I like it.

In the end, we all have to decide what our goals are and use those as a means of determining our own success.  Am I successful at what I do?  The answer is a resounding yes.

End of Summer Blow-Out Sale

SUmmer Blowout Sale1Who doesn’t like a free or sale priced book?  Anyone?

As most of you know, I set Intoxicated to permafree at all retailers back in May.  I’m always looking to get the word out to new readers, so when my author friend Zoey Derrick came up with the idea for a group of us to help promote our freebies and rock-bottom sale priced books, I was totally on board.  I am so excited for my book to be included in this list of fabulous reads.

This event will take place between September 1 – 7, just in time for you to start reading over the Labor Day Weekend.  Because, face it, not all of us are party animals.

But wait, there’s more!  We’ll also be having giveaways and other fun stuff all week long.

There’s a Rafflecopter going up with some great prizes, plus some flash giveaways over on Facebook.

Rafflecopter Link

Facebook Event Link

For the complete list of authors and books participating, please check out

Join us and get to filling up your Kindle for those cold months ahead.  I know I will be! :)

summer blow-out! (3)

Falling Out of Love

I’ve been away for awhile.

During my respite from blogging, I’ve actually been living out my author dream pretty well.  Just like the words of wisdom that I read from some other blogger sometime quite long ago, many authors start to hit their stride somewhere around the fourth or fifth book.  I’ve found mine and it’s a beautiful feeling.  For some reason, it’s the sweet spot and if you’re doing things right, by that point you should be pleased with your sales figures.  If you’re not, it’s time to re-evaluate what it is you’re writing and how you’re promoting yourself.

I’ve always been a genre bender.  I’ve always had difficulty categorizing what exactly the hell it is that I write.  It’s easier to list off what I don’t:  paranormal, historical, fantasy, sci-fi.  For The Intoxicated Books, I settled on classifying them as contemporary romance.

But I’ve always known they were different.  They don’t fall into the typical romance book mold, even though there’s plenty of falling in and out of love.  But there’s humor and heartache and family drama too.  And there are definitely some romance buzzwords that don’t show up in my writing, though I certainly am not afraid of the F-bomb.  As such, readers looking for a cookie cutter alpha male story with hot, hot sex aren’t going to be impressed.  That’s perfectly fine.

That’s part of the reason that I decided to market Book 5 in the series in a completely different way, if at all.  It’s something that has been brewing in the back of my head since the debacle that was the release of Book 4.  The moment that I realized without question that I didn’t fit in where I had placed myself.  The moment that I realized that I didn’t want to play the competition game.  The moment that I decided it wasn’t fair to myself to pay someone else for a marketing campaign that left me in tears and wanting to cancel the entire damn thing.  Though Book 4 is quite arguably my favorite in the series (but I say that about all of them when I write them), for a few weeks I absolutely hated it and regretted ever writing anything.

Marketing your books shouldn’t make you feel like total hell.

So I stopped, and then the magic happened.

Of course, there is always room for improvement, and no one ever sells as many copies as they ultimately dream of.  But my expectations are reasonable, and I’ve always been very clear that I do this on an extremely part time basis.  I don’t spam book links to various social media accounts, nor do I even post everywhere frequently.  Yet most days, I get paid sales on at least one platform.  Sometimes I get more paid sales than free downloads.  And I realize that by accomplishing this, I’m doing better than a large percentage of self-publishers.  I’m not greedy; I’m humbled that I have found repeat readers.  Readers who get hooked on the first book, who maybe did pick it up as a perma-free, and who dutifully come back and purchase the remaining books in the series.  I’ve even gotten preorders for Book 5, which doesn’t come out until February, simply by having it available at most retailers already.

And you know me.  I am always thinking ahead.  Book 5 is over halfway done on the laptop, but complete in my head and I’ve moved on from those characters.  They write themselves for me, after having been with them for the better part of twenty years.

I was sitting on ideas for about 7 standalone books, along with a very basic concept for another series.  They range in flavor from chick lit to steamy romance, but never to the point of erotica.  I might read it, but I don’t see myself writing it.  And considering that I will have to start writing one of them to put a teaser chapter at the end of Book 5 before it goes live, I knew I needed to make a decision on which figment of my imagination was going to come next.  I had almost decided on one of them; the one most fully formed with a title, tagline, entire plot and a cover vision.

Then Tuesday happened and another brand new idea took precedence.  In the span of twenty-four hours, I had all of the above plus character names and a half-assed blurb jangling around in my brain.  I was writing scenes and dialogue, envisioning the beginning of the book in my screenplay-esque way.  And I knew without a doubt that it would be the next book going up for sale.

Guess what?  It’s not a romance.  Sure, there will be romantic elements.  But this will be dark and depressing, a haunting novel that will hopefully stick with readers much the same as it’s consumed my thoughts lately.  It’s the story that I feel I need to tell next, genre be damned.

Call it women’s fiction, or literary fiction, or whatever you’d like.  And take the plunge with me if you want to.  For I don’t write for sales, I write for myself.  And maybe I’ve found that being a little off and unpopular is exactly where I want to be.

If you’re really observant, you’ll catch the title here, hiding somewhere on this blog.  But that’s all I’m ready to say at this point.

Stay tuned.




So I was messing around on Google, which I don’t do nearly as much as my husband thinks, and I came across a hit several pages into the search results for myself that piqued my interest.  It involved the eFestival of Words and my very own novel, Shattered.

Having working knowledge of eFestival of Words and respecting some of the authors who have been nominated/won their categories in previous years, I was more than intrigued.  So I clicked on the link, learning that the nominees for 2015 had recently been named.  In order to access the complete list, I had to register for an account, which I did.

Lo and behold, somehow Shattered has been nominated for Best Chick Lit / Best Women’s Lit.

Okay, so I understand how the nominating process works.  People with ties to the publishing industry (authors, editors, bloggers, etc.) nominate their peers in order to celebrate the best in indie publishing.  All nominations are made anonymously, and authors cannot nominate a work that they are intimately connected to.  So no, I didn’t toot my own horn.

Which means that someone out there somewhere respects my work and that’s extremely flattering.  Or they had absolutely no idea who to vote for in that category, so they just named me instead.

In any case, of the three books that were eligible for the nomination (Changed was released too late for consideration), Shattered is the one that I would never have guessed would be chosen.  While I’m proud of all of my books, I realize that Shattered is the red-headed stepchild of the series.  It’s forever lurking in the shadows of the first book, which it’s a companion to.  Though some have read and enjoyed it as a standalone, it really isn’t.  And it doesn’t pack the emotional punch of the third novel, which can be read on its own.

What comes next in the grand scheme of things is that a committee selects the finalists in each category, then those finalists are voted on by the general public beginning July 1st.

A number of factors are considered in choosing finalists:  book cover, book blurb, quality of reviews and social media presence among them.

I realize that Shattered doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.  Why?  Because what works for me as an author bucks tradition.  I am the epitome of someone who does everything wrong according to conventional wisdom.

For example:

1.  Book cover – I love my covers personally, but they don’t look like other people’s covers.  No half dressed man candy, or couples almost nearly kissing.  Granted, in the Chick Lit / Women’s Lit category, there’s a bit more leeway on this than in the broader romance genre.  My covers are artsy and definitely recognizable as being tied to the series, but some people hate them.

2.  Book blurb – Okay, Shattered probably has the best blurb (in my opinion) of any of the books in the series.  But blurbs are harder for me to write than the actual book, so what do I know?

3.  Quality of reviews – Out of all four books I have released, Shattered has the fewest reviews on Amazon.  On Goodreads, it has a few more than Designed.  They are all honest and genuine though, so that’s a plus.

4.  Social media presence – Yes, I have a Twitter, Facebook, Tsu, Google Plus and Goodreads account.  I have a blog (duh).  Google me and tons of stuff pops up.  But my experience with all of this is that the less I  post, the more I sell.  No kidding.  This past month, I’ve been virtually silent and it’s been my best month yet.  And forget about a street team or a PA.

So, I’ll take my nomination and run with it, being happy that I can forever associate a fleeting token of recognition with something that I wrote.  It’s really more than I ever expected, or than most authors like me ever get.




This past week, Amazon price matched Intoxicated, making it free across all platforms.  All in all, it wasn’t as lengthy of a process as I expected it to be.  I believe that I started on 5/7/15 by changing the price at Smashwords, then waiting for the trickle down effect to take place.

Every day since the book went free at some of the bigger sites (iBooks, B&N, Kobo), I clicked over to Amazon to see if they noticed.  I reported my own lower prices quite a few times, even though I’ve heard that it’s not effective if the author does it.  I did enlist a few friends to help, but I’m not positive that more than two other people reported the lower price.

The tipping point in my eyes is when I uploaded Intoxicated to Google Play as a free download.  Not because I plan on selling tons of books there, or even uploading the rest of the series there, but solely because I stumbled across advice that suggested this was a surefire way to get Amazon to make your book free.  And the logic makes sense.  After all, Google is, well, Google.  Imagine when the search engine results pulled up for your book, showing free at Google, and paid at Amazon.  With the way Amazon dominates the ebook market, it’s not good for them to be publicly undercut.

Sure enough, within two days of my book going live on Google Play, it was also free at Amazon.  I had achieved success, and didn’t even know it until I saw the first three free downloads hit on my dashboard, a lovely green color among the (very) sporadic red line of paid sales.

As I expected, perma-free works better on Amazon than it does on other outlets.  Though making it free at other retailers has guaranteed at least a few downloads per day, the response elsewhere has been nothing like over at Amazon.  It was fun the first day to periodically check my dashboard to see the downloads climbing by what I considered to be leaps and bounds.  Mind you, I did nearly no promotion of this – just a simple tweet, a Facebook post, and a mention over on Tsu, so most of the downloads came from people stumbling across it themselves.

For the first two days of free at Amazon, I did so much better than I expected.  Intoxicated hit right around sales rank 1,200 of all free books at its peak (at least what I witnessed) and was also (just barely) in the top 100 of both the Romance and the Women’s Fiction categories.  Pretty good for an experiment.

The interest has subsided since, which I fully expected.  I’ve submitted it to a couple of free book websites for editorial consideration, as I’m hoping I can get some promotion at no charge.  I’ve just started a targeted Facebook ad for the next week, but am not throwing a whole  lot of money at  it.  So far, I am the only click, because I couldn’t stop myself from trying it out to make sure the damn thing worked.

What’s my goal here?  Ultimately to get people to take a chance on my series by reading the first one for free.  And the early results are promising.  Prior to Amazon setting it to free, I’ve had a few paid sales of Book Two at the other retailers.  And a purchase of the rest of the series at Smashwords, each subsequent book selling two days after the last.  And since going free at Amazon, I’ve gotten one new review of Intoxicated, and paid sales of Book Two each day.

Still not setting the world on fire, but it’s a start.  I’ll take it.

Loss Leader

After a lot of debate, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and price the first book in my series at perma-free.  I know that starting out, I was hugely skeptical of this practice, and I’m still not entirely sure that it will work out for me.  But it’s worth a shot, right?

Besides, Intoxicated is the book that I always give away if I’m doing a mass freebie.  It’s the one that I want people to start with, because all the others come after it chronologically, even if they focus on different characters.  And it’s the one that’s been pirated, so there’s already plenty of free – unauthorized –  copies floating around.  Why not make it legit and have a way to actually track how many downloads I get?

As you might already know, Amazon does not let you price your books for free.  Sure, they have their free days for those that are exclusive, but the list price has to be 99 cents or above.  The only way to get a book perma-free there is by price matching.

So I’m enlisting the help of all of you if you’re fair game.  It’s easy to report a lower price to Amazon; you just scroll down on the book’s page until you find the link to “tell us about a lower price”.  Then you click, copy and paste the other retailer’s link, and specify what price is being charged there.  Repeat for each retailer and you’re done.

I’ve changed the price to free at all retailers that I control.  Smashwords, iBooks and Kobo had it free within hours.  Barnes & Noble will have the price updated shortly.  Now we’re just waiting for Amazon’s algorithms to kick in and price match.

Here’s the links you’ll need to help out.  And by all means, if you use one of the other retailers anyway, be sure to download your own copy.  I’ll add B&N when the price change is effective, and I’ll definitely advise when we’re successful over at Amazon.

Update as of 5/11/15:  B&N is now free (it was a penny over there for a few days), and I lowered the list price at Amazon to 99 cents, but I still need your help in getting it free.

Thanks for your help!





Barnes & Noble

Standing Alone

Is the series king?

Common wisdom in the fiction world tends to back this up.  And it’s certainly understandable.  If your readers grow to love your characters, what better way to keep them excited about your next book than to continue telling tales with the people they are comfortable with?  Provided that the stories are still fresh and that you aren’t dishing out too much of a good thing, this can be a useful tactic to keep your fans where you want them – poised over the one click button.

Series also provide for some unique marketing opportunities.  You’ve probably heard the oft-repeated gem that some authors swear by:  offer the first book for free.  Obviously, this works much more effectively if you’re already a few books in and can hook your readers into continuing on right away.  Even if your first book isn’t perma-free, you might still enjoy this “I’ve got to know what happens now!” phenomenon.  Chances are, if someone raves about the first book, they’ll eventually pick up at least the second one.  Maybe they’ll even get around to reading it one day.

Something that isn’t talked about quite as much?  The difficulty that comes with gaining exposure for subsequent books – especially when you’re relatively obscure.  When you’re trying to gather reviews prior to release, it can be a daunting task to try to convince someone that:  a.) It’s worth their time to read Books 1-3 in order to catch up and be in the loop, or b.)  You don’t have to read the other books to enjoy this one.

In my series, I took a hybrid approach to this.  My books do go in order, building one upon the other.  I think it’s because of their genre.  Since I categorize them as a mix between contemporary romance and chick lit, they deal with relationships – both romantic and platonic.  Things that occur in Book One still get mentioned in Book Four.  Characters grow and react to things that have happened in the past.  It’s not like a mystery – for instance – where the character development isn’t the point, it’s the plot.  That being said, while Books One and Two are joined at the hip, Books Three and Four could be read as standalones.

I’ve had readers successfully pick up the series at both Book Three and Four (and a couple even at Book Two) and be perfectly happy with the experience.  Most of the time, they indicate that they are so intrigued by the hint of what came before that they need to go back and read the others.  Which is a win in my book for sure.

Occasionally, I do hear from someone that wishes I would have held their hand a little bit more and led them through the forest.  These are the people who I haven’t won over, who won’t continue on (or go back) for whatever reason and that’s fine, too.

In a perfect world, readers would start at Book One and go forward in order.  That’s the ultimate experience, no matter what book I’m marketing that day.  And if you listen to the fans that have read from the beginning, they’ll tell you the same thing.

I’m not the type of writer who wants to bore people with 100 pages of backstory in every book.  And considering that there are now four of them, that’s over 1,200 pages and 400,000 words to recap.

For that reason, my marketing plan for Book Five will be drastically different.  It can’t be a standalone by design, since it’s the end of the series.  For it to make any sense, you’ll have to read all the others before it.  Which renders a blog tour relatively useless, because there have only been two blogs that have featured reviews on every single book.  I’ll likely open up ARCs to those readers that have read and reviewed all the others and call it good.

Me being me, I’m already planning out what happens next.  After this series is said and done (with a companion book very likely), I’m moving forward with a few true standalones, which I plan on marketing the hell out of.

My hope is that the standalones will impress new readers enough that they’ll check out the series.  And read it from the beginning.

Death of Me

Several months ago, in the infancy of the launch for my upcoming release, I joked that this book may just be the death of me.  Honestly, I didn’t know how prophetic those words would be.

This time out, I had some new ideas – things I wanted to try.  I’ve been around the book releasing block a few times now and have established some opinions as to what I think works and what doesn’t.  And, with Amazon finally allowing self-publishers the opportunity to list preorders, I had yet another tool in my arsenal.

Excitement reigned in the early part of this year as I sat with a newly finished book on my laptop and visions of a marketing plan dancing in my head.  Like the previous installment of my series, this novel can be read as a standalone.  It also builds quite nicely upon the rest of the action, so those who are reading in order will be pleased as well.  Unlike Book Three, this one is not dark and twisty and profound.  This one is light, naughtier than I’ve ever gone before, and snarky with a fair amount of angst for good measure.

It’s also my favorite of the series.  Then again, I say that about all of them when they first come out.  Quite honestly, though, it was the easiest one yet for me to write and format in all of its versions, and that in itself is endearing.

I’ve already covered here the Facebook strategy that I used to try to drum up early reviews.  This was marginally successful, though I didn’t give out anywhere near the 75 copies that I had limited myself to.

I also offered ARCs to the Facebook group that my tour company runs.  The usual suspects read and reviewed, for which I am grateful, but no new interest.

In addition to the Release Day Event that has become a tradition since Book Two, I also scheduled a Preorder Blitz that happened at the end of February.  And this is when the headaches started happening.

I’ve had the beginnings of a Goodreads comment war on an early review that literally had me in tears.  No, I really wasn’t personally involved, but still.  I’ve had  winners of my preorder giveaway that did not claim the ebooks that I gifted to them on Amazon, though the money has clearly been debited from my account for the purchase price weeks ago.  I’ve had a winner who wouldn’t respond to me at all, but accepted the prize without as much as a “thank you”.

To which end I threw up my hands in the air and asked myself why I bother with any of this anyway.  Not the writing, but the marketing part.

I have always written my books first and foremost for myself.  I don’t write to make sales.  I don’t even publish for the tax write-off that I’ve been able to get from two straight years of business losses.  I write because I love to do it.  I love creating and the entire frustrating process of seeing a story through to the time it goes live and gets printed in a paperback version.

And if some readers want to join me along the way, then that is great, too.

I’m seriously considering not doing any presale marketing for my next book.  Just quietly put it out there for sale and see if anyone notices.

It will help save my sanity.

And, after all, it worked for Beyonce.






Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Changed

Out of all of the bonus content type posts that I write, the top ten list I do for each book is my favorite.  It’s an opportunity for me to share some insight into why things ended up the way they did in the finished product.  I also try to limit the spoilers, but add to the anticipation of what’s to come.  Whether I accomplish any of that is up to you to decide.

So without further ado, here’s my top ten list for Changed:

1.  The very first sentence in Chapter One does poke fun at Book Three. “Flashbacks suck.”  If you’re reading along in the series sequentially, you already know that Blake’s book was full of flashbacks.  If you read the top ten list for Designed, you’ll know that I was hesitant to include as many of them as I did, but couldn’t really see any other way around it.  So leave it to Gracie to say what many people were probably thinking – right before she flashes back, though to just a few hours prior.

2.  After I committed  to the name for Book Four, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it sounded more fitting for a paranormal romance rather than a contemporary one.  I named the installments fairly early on and have regretted some of them ever since.  Shattered because everybody and their brother seems to have a book with a similar title, and Changed, because it evokes a picture of someone falling in love with a werewolf or something.  I promise Will does not shape shift in any way.  Changed, as the cover art suggests, is a nod to Gracie’s job as a bank teller.

3.  Gracie and Will are the first characters whose appearances I’ve actually based off of real people.  It’s a big thing nowadays to have a dream cast, and I haven’t been able to do that with Matthew, Lauren or Chris.  Blake is so unique, I have a picture of her that I don’t think could be compared to anyone else.  For Gracie, I’ve always imagined a cross between Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel, except with brown eyes.  Will’s doppelganger is way more obscure, but when I saw him on a YouTube video, I knew I’d found him.  The goatee was inspired by him, because I never really mentioned facial hair in any of Will’s previous appearances.

4.  Gracie’s obviously read 50 Shades.  There’s a lovingly snide remark that I threw in there.  Can you find it?

5.  I usually listen to music when I write, but during this book I kept turning to two songs in particular.  Which are?  “Twinge” by Chevelle and “True” by Amaranthe.  I guess I like songs that begin with T.  But really, take a listen to both of them because they’re pretty awesome in their own right.

6.  Gracie is the only main character that hasn’t cried yet.  Definitely of the girls and likely of the guys, too.  We all know that Lauren and Blake have turned on the waterworks.  It’s also been hinted at that Matthew, Chris and even Eric (!) have gotten misty-eyed once or twice.  Will doesn’t count, since he hasn’t been a main until now.  So will Gracie’s dry spell end?

7.  Gracie intimidated me to write as a main.  In her supporting role, you could always count on her for the best line in each book.  This was intentional, because I always had her be the voice of reason, saying the things you as the reader wanted to say.  And she always had an off-color, unfiltered way of saying it.  The pressure was on to make her that witty throughout this book, balancing humor and seriousness, because not everything she’s up against has been or will be a joke.

8.  I so wanted Gracie to buy a coppery orange luxury car.  I could have sworn up and down that there was either a Lexus or Volvo out there that fit the bill, but when I did my research, I learned that they were apparently no more.  I did have fun car shopping though, and for several months I got ads in my Facebook feed for overseas Volvo delivery.

9.  Try as I might, I couldn’t find a reason for Matthew to get naked in this one.  It’s been a tradition in all the other books to have the original Intoxicated book boyfriend in some state of undress somewhere within the story.  I tried to think of a reason for him to lose clothing here, but it just didn’t make sense.  He is still, however, quite hot.

10.  The Grace/Christopher friendship just kind of wrote itself.  I had so much fun writing the two of them together.  They establish a brother/sister kind of relationship during this book, and they engage in a bit of oneupsmanship as far as giving each other a hard time.  But when things go awry, Gracie can count on her Chris.