Behind the Scenes: Making the Rules

Making the RulesThis is me, screwing up my courage.

*pause to admire the image this presents*

So far in my backlist ebook efforts, I’ve put out just that–reverted, out-of-print books. Stories that have already been vetted by editors, approved by readers.

This time, not so much. But sort of.

(In writing, clarity is everything. The above words illustrate this rather well, don’t you think?)

When I was writing for the Silhouette Bombshell line, I had a loosely defined series I call the Hunter Agency Series. They weren’t really marketed as such, but I built a number of books around the same little agency, and in 2005 or so, had two of those in the works with a brand-new contract.

Ohh, how I loved the Bombshell line…

Two of the already published books featured the irascible Kimmer Reed and her newly found partner, Rio Carlsen. And, as it happens, the very week I turned their third story in to my editor, the line was cancelled.

Many Bombshell books found new homes–Hidden Steel, for instance, went to Five Star, while other authors were able to massage their stories to fit other lines.

I couldn’t; the Bombshells were about kick-ass female characters and the guys who were strong enough to be with them, and mine all drove their stories to the extent that changing that foundation piece would collapse the story.

So Making the Rules (which I called Basque to the Rules for so long that I pretty much forgot it had a real title) waited for some clever idea/opportunity to come along.

Oh, look. Suddenly I’m putting out Backlist Ebooks. So why not take it one step further–?

It took some doing–I did a scorchingly thorough second and final draft process, sent it out to readers, and found someone to do CE/proofing on it.

And then there was the part about screwing up my courage.

But hey, I can’t let my kick-ass character down, can I?

So, la! Here it is! My orphaned Bombshell, finding a home…



Kimmer Reed is a Hunter Agency operative, a street foundling escaped from an abusive family and raised to be code-name Chimera–a fierce, savvy loner with a natural gift for reading people. Now on her first assignment with the one man she trusts–the one man she can’t read–she finds herself overseas in the Basque countryside, framed for the theft of the very antiquity she has been sent to guard and doubting her ability to work with a partner at all–never mind the man she loves.

Rio Carlsen, former CIA field officer who left the agency with scars both physical and emotional, joins Hunter Agency field operations with reservations–and only because his partner is Kimmer. Now he’s caught in the schemes of a woman from Kimmer’s past. Political terrorism, antiquities theft, and revenge–this woman wants it all, and she’s on her way to getting it.

Framed, cut off from the agency, and tangled in Basque Nationalist splinter terrorist groups, the biggest challenge Kimmer and Rio face is coming to terms with their pasts and with each other–so they can live through the day on the way to saving it.


We’ve been made.

Caught under the bright light of the power station floods on a crisp spring midnight with the grinding hum of power lines crawling over the air and the big tricky spy deal about to go down, and Hunter agents Kimmer Reed and Rio Carlsen had been made.

Chimera and her newly code-named Phoenix, finally back into the game—and yeah…already made.

Kimmer saw it on the face of the man across from them—the flicker of disdain and anger, there and then gone again. Oh, he tried to hide it, but no. Not from Kimmer.

Does Rio see it? She had no idea, not while he stood there with his Phoenix persona in place—the only man she couldn’t read with her uncanny knack of seeing truth, simply because she loved him.

That left nothing to do but play it through. She gave the man a good hard eye and demanded, “You have it?”

Only the faintest of hesitations. “Yours was the highest bid,” the man finally said—a dull little man, habitually bartering in national secrets: this time, a computer key that would give the bearer access to U.S. weapons in development. A key that Kimmer’s supposed masters in North Korea were eager to obtain.

But the man was stalling. Waiting for his people to move in from the darkness that surrounded the eye-searing light of this stark meeting ground. Asphalt and steel and humming wires, all lit into harsh detail against blackest shadow.

We need that key.

And Kimmer didn’t know if both she and Rio had been made…or if one of them could still bluff. And if so, which one…

Rio gestured his own impatience—moving closer, an unspoken threat. “If you have it, let’s see it.”

The man looked up—up at Rio, taller than tall, wheat-blond hair slicked back for the op. He smiled, tense and mean. “Yes, you’ll get what’s coming to you.”

Rio. It was Rio. Cover blown.

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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22 Responses to Behind the Scenes: Making the Rules

  1. Robert says:

    So glad you published, it was a page turner, or in this case a page scroll-er.

  2. KarenJG says:

    OOOh!! OOOh!!! WANTWANTWANT! (I loved the Bombshells too, especially the Hunter Agency books.) Now I HAVE to buy an e-reader, because I don’t think I could read a whole book on the computer. (Due to eyestrain from the backlighting, not to mention the inability to curl up on the couch with it.)

    The question remains, Kindle or Nook????????

    Will you be doing the one with Owen, too, or did that one not get past the noodling stage?

  3. Doranna says:

    Robert, thank you! I’m SO glad you liked it. You were the first to read it!

    Karen, the Owen book has a couple of chapters written. I’d be happy to play with it–I *so* wanted to write his story!–but frankly…this one has to show me that I can pay for the time to do it.

  4. KarenJG says:

    Makes sense. I hope it goes well! (I was going to say “sells out” but that’s a nosuchthing in e-publishing!) If it does prove out as a viable use of your time, here’s hoping you can get to some of the other “continuations” I’ve long wanted to see – Kelyn’s story being the top of my list, but there are others as well…

  5. Doranna says:

    Karen, I have a number of books on that list, too…

  6. KarenJG says:

    Well, my nook is charging up. Smashwords is sending me a confirmation email.

    This ebook was the thing that propelled me off the bubble (most expensive e-book ever??). I went with nook because, well, for one, I could get it today. 😉 But there are other reasons that, in the long run, are more important – the user-replaceable battery was a biggie, as was the fact that it’s built on an open-source platform. I think it’s likely that somebody somewhere will write an app to provide the functions I want that it’s missing – (html and txt format reading being the biggies) faster than amazon’s proprietary system will add the functions I want that the Kindle’s missing.

    Or so my thinking – or, maybe rationalization – goes.

  7. Doranna says:

    What’s the Kindle missing that you wanted?

    (asks she who is about to make the leap…)

  8. Doranna says:

    And oh! I was so caught on that I forgot to say HOW COOL! I mean, that’s some serious ebo-boo! (Even if you were going to do it anyway. Leave me my little illusions…)

  9. KarenJG says:

    Software-wise, the Kindle is only missing support for ePub format. The Nook is missing a lot more – .doc, rtf, txt, and html to name the main ones. (However, the “support” for those on the Kindle isn’t all that great – you have to “email” it to your kindle and let its software convert it.)

    But the thing is, most of the “missing” stuff on the Kindle is hardware – if your battery dies, you can’t replace it yourself, you have to send it in. And it doesn’t have any expansion slot (Nook lets you expand the storage capability with your own micro sd card.) Most of the missing stuff on the Nook is software – and the Nook runs on the open-source android platform. There are already a ton of people writing apps for android. They’ve already added some functions through their software upgrades, and they have the beginnings of an “app store” for Nook applications (very rudimentary, of course).

    So my thinking was, the “problems” with the nook are more easily addressed, plus the universe of people who can/will address them is very large. Whereas the “problems” with Kindle are mostly built in, meaning I’d have to buy a whole new one if a later edition “fixes” them. Plus the proprietary platform means that only their people will be working on “fixes.”

    On top of that is the philosophical argument – In my view, Amazon’s strong-arming of publishers on prices, will reduce the universe of professionaly published authors, not expand it. Here’s why: Publishers required to operate on ever-thinner profit margins, due to Amazon’s bigfooting, will be less and less willing to take a chance on new authors, or take the time to let a mid-list author build an audience. I don’t like that, and don’t want to support it.

    Even though I’ve read that the new Kindle’s screen is sharper, I opted to go with the Nook.

    Plus, I could get it today. 😉 That wouldn’t have been enough if the other things hadn’t had me leaning in that direction anyway, but it counted for deciding today, when it suddenly became important to decide soon. (I always knew there’d come a day when a book I wanted was ONLY available in e-format. And today was that day. So…)

    And I’ve already started reading “Making the Rules.” 😉

  10. Doranna says:

    Karen–So I’ve been researching the ereader thing on and off as I wait for contracts to go through; I hadn’t seriously considered the Nook, but when your savvy self went for it, I had to check it out, and I have to say–I like what I see!

    I’m guessing that Calibre can convert things for the Nook, also, so some of those format restrictions won’t be too onerous in the meantime…

  11. Giselle (megan on Fb) says:

    *sigh* want it all!!!!

    Thanks so much for the discussion on hardware/software and e-book readers! I’m clueless and need the push to delve into and learn abt them.

    I do SO want to read all your books, Doranna! Love Love LURVE Feral Darkness, my fav of those I’ve read.

    • Doranna says:

      Giselle, you do my heart good!

      There’s a great resource page on Backlist Ebooks, written by Pat Ryan, that creates some clarity about the e-reading world.

      I found some good comparison links yesterday…might make a blog of it one of these days…

      Kindle does have software that uses other devices (such as a computer monitor); it’s not something I can use for (insert various reasons), but my mom is loving it! ;>

      Me, I’m learning a ton just from the various conversion efforts, so I’m not as lost as I would have been before I started with that.

  12. Giselle (megan on Fb) says:

    oooh, forgot to say, that it reminds me of Andre Norton’s writing.
    spare, but eloquent and totally rockin’!

    She wrote abt unicorns, too. Get Of The Unicorn, which has been OOP lo these many years – wish I could find a copy, mines disappeared. ; )

    • Doranna says:

      Giselle–Awww! AWWWW!!! That is just…AWWWW!

      (McCaffery wrote Get of the Unicorn? Says she who happens to have it. Or maybe “she” should check her shelves first, given the number of moves made since it sat so securely on the shelf…)

  13. Lorraine says:

    This is the best cover so far. But (you knew there was going to be a “but,” right?) — that stupid little kindle in the lower right-hand corner messes up the title. I try to remember that when putting a cover together. It does limit you, but at least potential readers see the full title. Just my 2 cents. (Sure doesn’t bother the Smashwords version.)

    • Doranna says:

      Lorraine–Oh, I know! Lesson learned! I’m glad you like the cover, though. There were some elements about it that were really exciting when I was building it, and I was hoping it might get a good reaction…

  14. KarenJG says:

    Doranna, I think there’s a third party solution for epub on Kindle – converts it to a format Kindle can read, much like the Calibre solution for the others on Nook.

    They each have their pros and cons, which is what kept me on the bubble for so long. In the end, I just decided that I liked Nook’s “pros” more. Or maybe Kindle’s cons bothered me more than Nook’s. And the philosophical cons weighed heavier than the technological cons, too – not just Amazon’s strong-arm tactics, but the “closed” aspect of the Kindle. By not supporting the epub format that other booksellers and libraries use, they’re trying to lock you into buying only from them. (I guess that’s another form of “strong-arming,” huh?)

    But the technological cons aren’t small potatoes either – like Mac (and MS Word, for that matter) you only get the features *they* decide you need, not the features *you* decide you need. Of course, that’s mostly true of the Nook too, but at least they give the user more control right out of the box, and the developer-types more options to play with.

    • Doranna says:

      Karen, what’s deciding me–and I’m just about decided!–is that the Nook 1) can take library books; 2) the loaning capabilities; 3) the ergonomics. I held a Kindle and had trouble with it because of the control locations at the bottom. I think for either device I’d need a case to thicken the Nook (I get hand cramps with thin items), and I’m not happy about the Nook weight, but…

      I do wish that “Nook” wasn’t so close to “Nookie.” Ahem.

  15. KarenJG says:

    Ahem. You got something against nookie? 😉

    I found the Nook comfortable to hold, because the back has a slightly contoured edge that gives my fingers a better grip. But that’s me. Actually, I enjoyed reading on it more than I thought I would. It has some drawbacks, but I was surprised how much I liked the benefits (which I hadn’t considered that important before using it). Like being able to read while eating without the usual contortions. Or being able to increase the font size when my eyes got tired. I like the library book feature, as well as the ability to buy fictionwise books/stories for it, too.

    Oh, and I forgot the final piece of the puzzle – the current management fended off a “corporate raider” on Tuesday. Technically, it was just a proxy fight – but Burkle, the guy trying to wrest control of the board from the founder, Riggio, gave every sign of being the kind of “investor” who would strip the company of its assets and leave it a broken, bloody shell. And Riggio was the one who promoted Lynch (the guy who managed the development and introduction of the Nook) to CEO of the whole company.

    All in all, I’m happy with my choice. I’m also happy with my first purchase! (Finished it last night, and about to go put a review of it at smashwords.)

  16. Doranna says:

    Karen, ha! Nothing against nookie. But as someone who tends to nickname her devices and habitually used tools…that one is going to lead me into trouble.

    A review! A review! Oh, yeah, baby!!!

    (Another blog topic…why reader reviews are so critical in the world of ebooks…)

  17. KarenJG says:

    Review left at Smashwords. Just a heads-up, though, Making the Rules still hasn’t shown up at All the other ones you’ve epubed through Smashwords have, and I know they’re an “authorized seller” of Smashwords ebooks. (I went there to leave a review there, too, which is how I know it’s not there.)

    I’m not a big namer of inanimate objects (although I did name my laptop Mr. Slick, because at the time, it was!), so I didn’t think of that complication. Perhaps you could call it The Nookster? Or Nookita. (I just watched Nikita, can you tell?)

  18. Doranna says:

    Karen–Nookita! OMG! Now I have to get one just so I can name it THAT!

    MTR won’t show up at B&N for several weeks. It’s a weird distribution flow. And by they I might pull and and go directly through PubIt.

    Thank you so much for the review (and I’m glad you liked it!). Leaving reviews is one of the few ways readers in this climate have any control over whether there will be more of the sorts of stories they like to read…

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