Sunday, 29 March 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 3

Links to: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 

I hope you're enjoying the story so far!






Chapter 3

It was after midnight when there was a brisk rap on Julie’s front door. She rushed to answer it before her daughter woke up.
“Where is she?” Sabrina asked, bursting through the door.
“Shhh. Olivia’s asleep. Viv’s on the couch.” Julie nodded toward the living room. “Thanks for coming on such short notice.” She closed the door behind her friend.
“Not a problem. I ditched my date early. It was no biggie ‒ he was just a ‘better him than nobody’ date for Valentine’s Day.” She slipped off her coat and handed it to Julie.
“Whoa! That’s what you wear for a ‘better him than nobody’ date?”
Sabrina smiled and twirled, her auburn curls flying from her shoulders. She was wearing a cream-coloured halter dress with two strands of pearl beading accentuating her exquisite back.
“I thought I’d throw the poor guy a bone. After all, he bought me five courses at Café Vert.”
Julie whistled softly. “Olivia and I had homemade chicken fingers and sweet potato fries for dinner,” she said wistfully.
“Sounds good to me,” Sabrina said as she followed Julie into the living room.
Viv was sprawled in a corner of the couch with her eyes closed. She was wearing grey sweat pants and a “Hello Kitty” t-shirt, a treasured Christmas gift from one of her Grade 1 pupils. Her long blond hair was pulled back into one of Olivia’s scrunchies, and her face was puffy and red from crying. An empty wine glass sat on the coffee table next to her.
“Oh, hon, I’m so sorry.” Sabrina sat down on the couch and pulled Viv into a hug. Viv sniffled, opened her eyes, and rested her head on Sabrina’s shoulder.
“S’okay, Bri. I felt bad before, but not anymore. I don’t feel anything anymore. I’m dead inside.” Sabrina glanced over her head at Julie, who frowned.
“That bastard, Kyle,” Sabrina sputtered. She rubbed Viv’s back in tight, angry circles. “I never liked him. He took advantage of you, Viv. Of your beautiful, generous, loving nature. You’re too good for him ‒ you always were.”
“S’not true.” Viv detached herself from Sabrina’s arms while peering blearily at her. “Kyle took care of me. I was hopeless before him. He taught me stuff. Like how to roast a chicken. How to do the laundry. He even did my taxes.” Her face crumpled. “Now who’s going to do my taxes?” she sobbed, collapsing into Sabrina’s arms. Julie snatched a bunch of tissues from the box on the table and mopped Viv’s face.
“You don’t need Kyle, Vivvie,” Sabrina said over her weeping. “An accountant can do your taxes.”
Viv stopped crying and lifted her head to peer at her friend. Sabrina nodded encouragingly.
“S’right,” Viv said with a sniff. “Who needs stupid old Kyle?” But her face fell, and she toppled back onto the couch. “Who am I kidding? I do!” she wailed.
Sabrina stood up and pulled Julie a short distance away to where Viv couldn’t overhear them. “How long has she been like this?” she whispered.
Julie checked her watch. “Almost two hours. She was hysterical when she got here, so I gave her a glass of wine. But we’ve almost polished off the bottle, and I’ve only had one glass.”
“She can’t go back to her apartment like this.”
“No. She can stay with me for a couple of nights. I’ll tell the school tomorrow that she’s sick ‒ let her sleep it off ‒ but we’ll have to figure out a better plan over the weekend. I just don’t have enough space for her here.”
 “She can move back in with me, temporarily. It’ll be tight, but we’ll make it work.” Julie nodded gratefully, and they returned to the couch, taking a seat on either side of their soggy friend.
“Sweetie, you’re going to sleep here tonight,” Julie said. She stroked Viv’s hair. Viv nodded and wiped her face with her sleeve. “Stay home tomorrow. I’ll tell them you’re sick.”
Viv shook her head. “No, I gotta go in. Tomorrow’s Super-Star Friday.”
“Super-Star Friday? What’s that?” Sabrina asked, looking at Julie.
“Every Friday, one of Viv’s students dresses up like his or her hero. Viv takes the kid’s picture and puts it on a special wall of fame.”
Viv hiccupped. “Tomorrow’s Noah. He’s gonna be Spider-Man. Can’t miss it. Can’t let him down.” She sighed and slumped against Julie’s shoulder.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. You get some sleep, and I’ll wake you up in time for work. How’s that?”
Viv nodded without opening her eyes, exhausted from her ordeal.
“Good.” Julie slid out from beside her and went to fetch a throw while Viv nestled her head on a pillow and fell asleep immediately.
“Poor thing,” Sabrina whispered as Julie draped the throw over Viv. “I’d like to kick Kyle right where it would get his attention. Didn’t she have any inkling that this was coming?”
Julie shook her head. “Totally blindsided.”
Sabrina sighed. “Sometimes I just hate men.”
“I’ve got no use for them whatsoever,” Julie replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stay tuned for Chapter 4 on Wednesday, April 1!

You can get The Dating Do-Over for just $0.99 this week using a Smashwords coupon to purchase the book in the format of your choice. All you have to do is click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of the page and leave your name, e-mail address, and a message saying that you want the Smashwords coupon for The Dating Do-Over. I will e-mail the coupon to you ASAP. But hurry - the price will go up as more chapters are posted!

If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Wattpad Experiment - Part 2


Since I began the Wattpad experiment last Saturday, which is serializing the first half of The Dating Do-Over on Wattpad to try to increase the book's visibility, I've tried a few strategies. The first was to create a diary of my experience with Wattpad on Wattpad. Since all the stories I've seen on the site have covers, I quickly created one using Microsoft Publisher. There's the cover at the top of this post. I created a description explaining how the experiment came to be, published a first chapter explaining how the experiment was to work, and a second with the Wattpad link to The Dating Do-Over.

Here's the link to The Wattpad Experiment:  Or This is the Exciting Part!
And here's the link to The Dating Do-Over as it appears on Wattpad.

Next I wondered how to get some Wattpad readers. I discovered this manual:  How to promote a story and have fun on Wattpad. Basically, it talks about how to promote your book on social media, provides HTML tips on how to format text, add links and book covers (which was useful to me in posting with group discussions, but didn't seem to work while posting the book chapter), the do's and don'ts about Wattpad spamming, etc . . .

Here's the link to How to promote a story and have fun on Wattpad.

Then I checked out the "Community" tab at the top of the site, which had 4 drop-down options. "Clubs" was useful. Each literary genre has a club, and authors can promote their stories in their book category. The Dating Do-Over's category is romance, so using the HTML tips from the manual, I posted the cover, synopsis, and Wattpad link for the book. I also had a look at the discussion threads in the Romance forum and found a discussion about what was the most romantic thing that ever happened to you. Since this was the topic of my 2015 Valentine's Day contest, I was able to contribute to the discussion.

Finally, I posted the second chapter of the book yesterday, right on schedule.

What are the results? Wattpad counts the number of people who've had a look at your story, as well as the votes for when someone likes your story. So far I have 10 look-ins for The Dating Do-Over, and 3 look-ins for The Wattpad Experiment. Hopefully that number will grow as I post more book chapters over the following weeks. I'll also be posting the chapters here on Sundays and Wednesdays, so don't forget to check back .

If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 2

Link to Chapter 1.

As promised, it's time for Chapter 2 of The Dating Do-Over.





Viv pulled the mustard-and-rosemary-encrusted rack of lamb from the oven and set it on the counter to rest before resetting the temperature to 375°F. The individual cappuccino soufflés were in the fridge ready to go into the oven ten minutes before they were ready for dessert. The Scallops Yakitori was on the table.  Potatoes mashed ‒ check ‒ brussel sprouts with bacon on low on the burner - check ‒ Spanish red wine breathing on the table ‒ check. It was all good.
She rummaged through the cutlery drawer for the box of matches and hurried to light the two white candles on the table. It looked like a page out of a decorating magazine with its white linen cloth and the red placemats and napkins she had picked up on sale after Christmas. The smoke from the blown-out match curled toward the ceiling while Viv took an appreciative sniff from the wine bottle. The Toronto Life wine critic was right; she really could smell raspberry, chocolate, and vanilla in the bouquet.
Viv heard a key turning in the lock and tossed the matches back onto the kitchen counter. Running her fingers through her hair, she started toward the door with an eager smile as Kyle stepped into the apartment.
“Kyle!” she sighed, wrapping herself in his arms and snuggling against his chest. He smelled deliciously of musky cologne, and his black alpaca overcoat was soft against her cheek. He dropped his briefcase and overnight bag on the floor and pulled her onto her toes for a kiss.
“I’ve missed you, Sugar Lips. Boy, something smells good.” He let her go. “I’m starving ‒ I haven’t had anything except a bagel since breakfast.” Depositing his scarf and coat on a chair, he put an arm around her waist. “Wow, you look hot in that dress! Did you just get that?”
“Uh huh. From the money Daddy gave me for Christmas, so it didn’t cost us a thing. Do you like it?” Viv twirled so that Kyle could appreciate the dress, a red metallic with skinny straps and a short skirt.
“I’ve always liked you in red. You should wear it more often.” He drew her to the table and lifted the casserole lid. “What’s this?”
“Scallops Yakitori.”
“Looks great.” He nabbed a skewer and tore a scallop and mushroom from the end with his teeth. “Good.”
“Never mind about the food.” Viv turned him around to face her. “Tell me about the interview. Did you get the job?”
“I sure did.” The grin on his face was huge.
Viv threw her arms around him and kissed him. “That’s fantastic! I’m so proud of you!”
“Thanks, baby. All my hard work is finally paying off.” He patted her bottom. “Come on, let’s eat.”
She released him, and they sat down at the table. He bit into another scallop while she beamed at him.
“Did they give you a start date?”
He nodded, picking up the wine bottle and sniffing. “March 1st. What’s this?”
“It’s a 2010 Ribota. But that doesn’t give us much time. I’ve got to give notice at school, and we have to let the landlord know.”
He poured wine into their glasses. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s not spoil dinner with the details. It looks like you’ve made another fabulous meal.” He handed her a glass and picked up his own. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Viv.”
She clanked her glass against his. “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart.”


Kyle ran his spoon around his dessert cup and licked it before dropping it onto his plate. “That was so good, but I ate too much.” He leaned back in his chair and patted his flat stomach. “I’m going to have to go for an extra-long run tomorrow to burn this off.”
Viv spooned some of the chocolate sauce from her cup and let it melt onto her tongue. “I can think of a good way to start burning calories tonight, if you like,” she said, playing with the spoon against her teeth.
“Come here, Sugar Lips.”
She sashayed around the table and slid onto his lap. Bending to reach his mouth, she kissed him with a tantalizing slowness, feeling the rush of heat from his lips course all the way down to her toes. When the kiss had ended, he bit the dress strap off her shoulder and nuzzled her skin with his lips. It tickled, and she giggled.
“Don’t think I forgot about getting you something special for Valentine’s Day,” he said in a husky voice. The other strap slipped from her shoulder while Viv squirmed against him.
“I know. There was a phone message from Superior Jewelers when I got home,” she said in a breathy voice.
He lifted his dark head to gaze into her eyes. “So, you think I bought you jewelry this year?” One of his eyebrows arched as he smiled teasingly at her.
“I’ve been wondering what it was ever since I got home from work.”
“Well,” he said, sliding a brown velvet box from his jacket pocket and holding it up on the palm of his hand for her inspection, “I’d better not keep a lady waiting.”
Viv gulped. Ohmigod, the moment she had been waiting for was finally here! She held her breath as Kyle lifted the lid. Nestled inside were two golden drop earrings with diamond-encrusted hearts. Her own heart plummeted.
“Pretty, aren’t they? The store only had them with emeralds, so I had to special order them to get diamonds. Do you like them?”
“I don’t understand.” Viv dragged her eyes from the earrings to stare at him.
Kyle frowned. “You don’t like them?”
“No, sweetheart, they’re really nice. I just thought that with the new job and the move to Vancouver and all, it might be something different.” She looked away, feeling disappointed and small. “I thought you might want to propose to me tonight.”
Kyle stood up, forcing Viv to scramble from his lap.
“Look, we need to talk.”
“What about?” She was suddenly apprehensive, and began fidgeting with the ring she wore on her right hand. It was a single pearl with two diamond chips on either side. Daddy had given it to her on her sixteenth birthday.
He drew Viv to the couch and they sat down. “This new job is going to be a great opportunity for me, you know. It’s going to make my career.”
“I know. Jenkins, Weber, and Chan handle some of the biggest sports stars in Canada. They’re a great firm, and you’ll do a wonderful job for them. You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”
“Are you kidding? I’m so ready for this. Plus, I’ve been wanting to make a fresh start somewhere, and Vancouver is just the city to do it in.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
Kyle took her hand and gazed into her eyes.  “I’m going to Vancouver on my own.”
Viv’s stomach sank. “I don’t understand. Do you mean you’re going ahead to find us a place to live?”
He shook his head. “We’ve been together a long time, Viviane.”
“I know. Six years.”
“Yeah. It’s time we decided where this relationship is heading. I think it would be best if we spent some time apart to really think things through. We were awfully young when we got together, you know. Just kids starting out after school.”
Viv’s bottom lip started trembling. “You mean, you don’t want to get married?”
“Not now. This job comes with a whole lot more responsibility. I’m going to have to focus one hundred percent to be on top of my game. I can’t be worrying about anyone else. You want me to be a success, don’t you, Viv?”
“Well sure, Kyle.”
He nodded and flashed her one of his dazzling smiles. “I knew you would. You always want what’s best for me.” He started to rise from the couch, but she snatched his arm and tugged him back down again.
“But maybe I can come visit you in a couple of months, after you get settled.” Her eyes searched his face for reassurance. It couldn’t be over between them. “We could talk then, see where we are.”
He paused, one knee on the couch. “I think it best if we made a clean break, don’t you? You’re young, Viv. You want marriage and kids. I can’t do that now, but I wouldn’t want to hold you back if you found someone else. It wouldn’t be fair to you.”
He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it before standing. “Let’s make this as painless as possible, shall we? I’ll come by tomorrow to pick up my clothes while you’re at work.” He glanced around the room. “Most of this stuff is junk, anyway, so you can keep it or donate it to charity. I don’t want it.”
He threw on his things and picked up the briefcase and overnight bag. “I’ll put my apartment key through the mail slot when I’m finished. Take care of yourself, Sugar Lips. You’ll always have a special place in my heart.”

He was out the door just as the tears brimmed over and cascaded down her cheeks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stay tuned for Chapter 3 on Sunday, March 29!

You can get The Dating Do-Over for just $0.99 this week using a Smashwords coupon to purchase the book in the format of your choice. All you have to do is click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of the page and leave your name, e-mail address, and a message saying that you want the Smashwords coupon for The Dating Do-Over. I will e-mail the coupon to you ASAP. But hurry - the price will go up as more chapters are posted!


If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization


Sunday, March 22, 2015

As I promised you in yesterday's post about the "Wattpad Experiment," I'm going to be posting the first half of The Dating Do-Over, one chapter twice a week, from March 22 until May 16.  Chapters will be posted on Sundays and Wednesdays, so stay tuned.

Cover design by Design Your Cover

During the Women’s Liberation movement, women were told that they could have it all.
Later, they discovered that having it all was exhausting.
This book is dedicated to all those women who still haven’t figured out what they want.




Chapter 1

Viviane Nowak hummed as she toted the bulky grocery bags up the last few stairs to her second-floor apartment. She was looking forward to impressing her boyfriend, Kyle, with a gourmet dinner. Pausing to unearth her keys from the abyss that was her purse, she wrestled the door open and kicked it shut behind her. Oops, the message light was blinking on the phone. Carefully depositing the bags on the living room floor, she plunked herself down on the sagging couch, kicked off her shoes, and called voice mail. 
“You have one new message. Message received at 10:15 a.m.,” the automated voice intoned.
“Hello, Mr. Weaver? This is Dennis calling from Superior Jewelers on Thursday morning. Just wanted to let you know that the special item you ordered came in and is ready for pick up. The number here is 1-800-555-0199. Let us know when you’re coming. Talk to you soon. Bye!”
Viv inhaled sharply and punched in the number on her phone, her heart fluttering with excitement as she waited for the call to connect.
“Hello, Superior Jewelers? Is this Dennis? Hi, I’m calling on behalf of Kyle Weaver. You left a message for him on his home phone. He was on a flight from Vancouver this morning. He’s been by the store already? Oh, that’s great. I was afraid he wouldn’t get the message in time. By the way, I’m Kyle’s girlfriend. I don’t suppose you could tell me what the ‘special item’ is he ordered? What’s that? Yes, there are lots of secrets on Valentine’s Day. No, I understand. Okay. Thanks. Bye.”
Viv ended the call and sat still while the information that Kyle had special-ordered something from a jewelry store sank in. Three seconds later, she was bouncing up and down and shrieking with joy while the sofa springs groaned in protest. Forcing herself to calm down, she called one of her two best friends. The phone rang twice before it was picked up.
“Julie, guess what,” Viv blurted.
“Heddo?”
“Olivia, is that you? It’s Viv. Where’s your mommy, honey?”
There was the sound of footsteps crossing the floor and a voice saying, “Did you answer the phone, Olivia? Give the phone to me, honey,” while the two-year-old squawked, “Heddo? Heddo?”
Finally, a voice said, “Hi, it’s Julie.”
“It’s me. You’ll never guess what happened.”
“What?”
“There was a phone message for Kyle from a jewelry store when I got home.”
“Really? What’d it say?”
“It said that the ‘special item’ Kyle had ordered was in.”
“What do you think it was? Wait, you don’t think?”
“I do. I think that Kyle bought me an engagement ring!”
“Oh, sweetie, that’s fabulous! I’m so happy for you! How romantic.”
“I know. It’s just perfect. The most wonderful man in the world is going to propose to me on Valentine’s Day. This is going to be the happiest day of my life.”
“What about the job interview? Has he called yet?”
“No. We agreed not to talk about it until he got home from work. He doesn’t want anyone to suspect he’s applied for a new job until he’s sure he got it.”
Something clattered to the floor in the background, and Julie said, “No, Olivia, wait for mommy. Viv, I’ve got to run,” she said, returning to the conversation. “I promised Olivia we’d make cookies, and she’s getting antsy. But I’m so pleased for you. It’s about time Kyle proposed.”
“I know, but he’s been worth the wait.”
“Uh huh. Call me tonight, if you get a chance. Let me know if Kyle got the job, and what the ring looks like.”
“I will, if I can, but I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be doing some pretty heavy celebrating.”
“I bet. See you at school tomorrow.”
“Bye, Julie.”
Viv put down the phone and stared around the apartment in a happy daze. It had been their little love nest for the past six years. Sure, the walls needed a fresh coat of paint and the furniture was mostly shabby hand-me-downs from their university days, but Kyle had insisted that they not go into debt buying new stuff until he had finished articling and she had a permanent teaching job. Later, when their careers were established and they could afford a roomier apartment, he had convinced her to spend their money paying down his student loans ahead of schedule so they could save on the interest. He was so smart with money and so disciplined; not like her, having trouble sticking to a budget. She was lucky that Kyle was planning for their future.
She smiled at the place fondly; they had made a lot of happy memories here. Part of her would be sorry to say goodbye if he got the job in Vancouver. It would be really tough leaving her friends and her father behind, not to mention the kids at school, but entertainment law was a competitive field, particularly here in Toronto, and this opportunity could be a real boost to his career. Oh, she could hardly wait until Kyle got home and told her what had happened!
Viv glanced at her watch. Five fifteen! Less than two hours to prepare dinner and do her hair and make-up. She wanted to look especially pretty for when he proposed. This was going to be a memorable evening for both of them, one they could share with the grandkids someday. Scooping the bags up off the floor, Viv trotted into the kitchen to start dinner.


For Chapter 2, check back on Wednesday evening!

As of today, I will also be offering you, my loyal blog readers, a Smashwords coupon that will allow you to download the entire e-book in the format of your choice for just $0.99! All you have to do is click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of ths page, leave your name, e-mail address, and a message saying you want The Dating Do-Over Smashwords coupon, and I'll e-mail it to you ASAP. But hurry! The price will go up as more chapters are posted.


If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Wattpad Experiment

                 

Once an author  begins to feel more secure in her craft and has a few published titles to her credit, the next thing she starts to feel anxious about is discoverability. This is especially true of an indie-published author because she doesn't have the promotional assistance of a traditional publishing company behind her. What is the good of having a writing career, she asks herself, if people aren't finding her books? She knows she must be patient - it takes time to build an audience - not everyone can be on the bestseller's lists with her first book - but she must do something to help her readership grow besides writing and publishing the next book. So she tries all sorts of things - guest blogging, scrambling after book reviews, running sales, contests, and giveaways, and buying what ads she can afford - but it is slow going.

One day she reads about Wattpad in an article about indie publishing. She has heard about it, but never tried it. In this article, she discovers how a first-time author posted her romance, chapter by chapter and for free, on Wattpad, building a readership of ten million people before publishing it on Smashwords, where it became one of the site's top-selling romances and one of Smashwords'  twenty-five best-selling titles. Not only did the new author get all kinds of input from the Wattpad readers about what they liked and didn't like about her book as she was writing it, but all kinds of buzz to help promote it when she was ready to publish.

By now you've guessed that the author who is trying to increase her discoverability is me. I write in two different genres, mystery and romance. The mystery series I write, now in its third installment, is doing fine. It's thrilling when I see the second and third books selling separately, which means that people enjoyed the first book and are buying the rest of the series, or when, glory be!, someone buys all three books at once. In the romance department, however, things are a bit different. I've written two stand-alones, one a sweet regency, and the other a contemporary romantic comedy, so they don't have the support of a series going for them. The regency does okay - sales are slow but steady - but my contemporary romance, The Dating Do-Over, which came out last September, could use a boost. And what better place to try it out than on a website with a built-in audience? 

Serialization has been successfully done before. Charles Dickens, as a matter of fact, published all of his novels as serials first. But he was printing them in newspapers or magazines and getting paid as he grew his readership. I will not get paid for publishing The Dating Do-Over as a serial on Wattpad, nor am I willing to give away my book, a sacrifice, however, that some new self-publishing authors make when trying to build their readership. Suffice it to say, I would not ask you, if you were making bottles of ketchup for a living, to supply me with free ketchup.

However, I would be willing to publish half of The Dating Do-Over for free with the incentive of giving Wattpad readers a Smashwords coupon that would enable them to buy the entire e-book at a discounted price in the format of their choosing. I would do this on Amazon Kindle too, by the way, if they had a coupon system, but they unfortunately don't.

So here's how the experiment is going to work. The Dating Do-Over has thirty-one chapters. I'm going to post the first sixteen chapters on Wattpad, one chapter twice a week for eight weeks. Let's choose the days now. I will post a new chapter each Sunday and Wednesday. The e-book is priced at a competitive $3.99. For the first 3 weeks, I will offer Wattpad readers the opportunity to purchase the entire book for just $0.99 with a Smashwords coupon. In return, all they will have to do is visit this website, click on the "Contact Cathy" at the top right of the page, leave me their name and e-mail address, and I will e-mail them their Smashwords coupon. However, once the first three weeks are gone, the price of the book goes up $1. From week 4 to week 6, they can purchase the e-book for $1.99. That's half-price and quite a deal. From week 7 to the end of week 8, the Smashwords coupon will allow them to buy the e-book for $2.99. That's still a bargain at a third off the price. At the end of the 8 weeks, however, the coupon deal is over, and Wattpad readers will have to pay the regular price of $3.99 to purchase the e-book. 

This is so exciting! I'm going to blog about how the experiment is going, so stay tuned to see how effective Wattpad can be. And just to show that I value my blog readers, I'm going to do the same thing right here. That's right, I'll be posting the same sixteen chapters, starting March 22 with Chapter 1, right here on my blog, and offering the same Smashwords coupon deal. So, if you'd like to read Chapter 1 of my romantic comedy, The Dating Do-Over, for free, and get a Smashwords coupon to buy the book at one-third off the price, come back tomorrow. Cheers!




If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

"The Marriage Market" Preview


The next project on my author's to-do list is to revise The Marriage Market, a sweet regency, stand-alone novel. The Marriage Market was the first book I ever wrote back in 2008. Its inspiration came from a dream - occasionally my subconscious hands me a story concept on a plate - and I went for it. But when the publishing rights reverted back to me in 2014 from the e-publisher I was working with, I decided not to re-release it along with The Affairs of Harriet Walters, Spinster and Framed for Murder. It needed some reworking, but with three additional novels under my belt, I feel ready to tackle it now.

And now, here's the opening scene from The Marriage Market.


Chapter One


  With one daughter approaching a marriageable age and another not far behind, Admiral and Mrs. Larke had a problem to consider. They discussed it in the admiral’s dressing room as they reviewed his wardrobe, a task necessitated by his recent retirement from the British Navy.
  “Caroline is adamant in her opinion? She will not marry a navy officer?
  “So she says, Frank.”
  “Well, that is rather insulting, considering her father’s profession.”
  “No, you mustn’t look at it in that light. She has the utmost respect for the Navy and its members — particularly for you, of course. She simply does not wish to marry someone of that profession. This shirt collar needs mending. What do you think of the jacket?” Mrs. Larke pulled the article from the trunk and gave it a shake.
  “It will do.”
  “Here, stand up and try it on. I haven’t seen you wear it these past thirty years.” She stretched up on tiptoe to assist her husband. The admiral’s figure was more distinguished than it had been in his civilian days, and the buttons failed to fasten. He began to flush with the effort and brushed her hands away.
  “Never mind the jacket, dearest. Let us return to Caroline. She was always such an amiable girl. Whatever have you done to give her such a low opinion of the Navy?”
  Mrs. Larke, a mere bird of a woman, drew herself up to her full height and glared at her husband. “Do you accuse me of complaining to the child, sir?”
  The admiral sank back into his wing chair. “No, of course not, Martha,” he grumbled. “You have always been my strong right hand on the home front. There is none more game and reliable than you. You are not a complainer.”
  Mollified, Mrs. Larke knelt beside his chair and helped to remove the jacket. “Caroline is an obedient and genial girl, but underneath that sweet exterior lays a flinty will. I always tried to hide my nerves from the children while you were away fighting that villain, Napoleon Bonaparte, but Caroline guessed my fear and decided against the life of a navy wife. She once told me that she wants a husband who will sit in front of the hearth with her at the end of the day. I know how lonely the life of a sailor’s wife can be, Frank. I said that she could go to sea with a captain husband, but she wants her own home. Caroline is nineteen now, and eager to marry. I think that we should help her to find a stay-at-home husband.”
  Admiral Larke harrumphed. “But we live in Portsmouth. Not marrying a navy officer leaves out almost all the eligible gentlemen we know. Just whom is she going to marry?”
  Mrs. Larke laid the jacket next to the trunk and stood. “I know it’s a problem. I’ve been talking it over with my sister, and she thinks it best we move away.”
  “Move away! But I’ve just come home after thirty years at sea!”
  “I understand that this is upsetting. I’m very fond of our home myself, but there is more than Caroline to consider. Have you not noticed a change in Patricia?”
  “Confound it, madam, she has not voiced a prejudice against the Navy too, has she?”
  “No, I mean in her appearance.”
  “Not my little sprout!”
  “Your little sprout is seventeen, just two years younger than Caroline. She’s becoming more womanly every day. In two or three years, we will be looking for a husband for Patricia too. We should be living where there is a selection of fine young gentlemen to choose from. We don’t want our daughters to settle for just anyone, do we?”
  The admiral sighed. “Did you and your sister also decide where we should move to?”
  Mrs. Larke nodded. “Bath.”
  “Bath! That’s a little dear, isn’t it?”
  She folded her arms across her chest. “Yes. Dearer than Portsmouth, but less expensive than a house on a good street in London. Listen to me, pet. I’ve been running this household on the same budget you gave me when you made captain fifteen years ago. It’s time to loosen the purse strings. We shall begin with new clothing for you. Your uniform must retire too. We’ll not find a fine gentleman for Caroline with you wearing clothes fit for the gardener!”
  The admiral sighed and lowered his head in defeat.

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Monday, 2 March 2015

LibraryThing Giveaway of "The Dating Do-Over"


If you're a member of LibraryThing and would like a chance to win an e-book copy of my contemporary romantic comedy, The Dating Do-Over, today is your last chance to enter the contest. Here's the link. Scroll down the list and you'll find it with a deadline of March 3.

School teacher Viv Nowak has a sympathetic heart and abominable taste in men. She expects an engagement ring when her live-in lover of six years lands a terrific job in a new city. Instead, she gets dumped . . . on Valentine’s Day! Everyone, from her best friends to her father to her estranged mother, has an opinion on how she should fix her life. Her friends even insist on a dating do-over. But will they like her choice when she finally knows what her heart wants?

Available from Comely Press. Click on the "The Romances" tab on my website for purchase information.

If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.