Facebook Ads Could be Worth It, But For One Factor, Guest Post by Peter Salomon

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I’d like to welcome not only a fellow writer, but also a college classmate of mine! We reconnected via social media several years ago to share our ups and downs, tips, and other facets of being a writer in today’s world. His debut novel, Henry Franks, debuted in 2012 and was hailed as “the thinking teen’s horror choice of the year!” He has a new release, All Those Broken Angels, due out this fall. As a debut author in this new social media age, he’s been experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. One of these experiments was with Facebook Ads, and he was gracious enough to write up his findings for all of us. It includes some real-time notes he made while the ad was running, so you can see the engagement and costs. So without further ado, Welcome, Peter!

One of the first things I did after officially becoming a published author is to create a Facebook fan page. Well, it was maybe top twenty things. At first it was only friends and family Liking the page, after all I was a debut novelist and not exactly well known. I still remember how thrilled I was when the first actual stranger clicked Like. A Fan!! Oh, wow, I have a fan!

So, as the book came out and the Likes started growing, it never did get old when someone clicked Like on the fan page. Even now, with my second book coming out shortly, I still feel that thrill when a new person clicks Like.

But things have changed in the land of Facebook. And not for the better from the perspective of an author with a Facebook fan page.

How I Got Started With Facebook Ads

When I hit 200 likes on my Facebook fan page I received an email from Facebook Ads offering me a $50 credit for a Facebook Ad. Since I was able to set it up to max out at $50 it wasn’t going to cost me anything to experiment so I figured it was worth seeing what would happen with a Facebook ad.

At this point in the experiment I started keeping track of what was going on (the following text is from my contemporaneous notes while the ad was live):

Contemporaneous Notes & Questions

So far I’ve been ‘charged’ $5 of the $50 and 23 strangers have ‘liked’ my fan page in the 4 days that the ad has been active. If that rate continues I’ll have added 100+ ‘likes’ in a month…which is a lot of new eyeballs viewing my page and my posts and, potentially, buying my books. Of course, that’s a mighty BIG ‘if’ there but so far it’s been fairly positive. I’ve been able to sort of extrapolate to see what those 23 people liking the page have meant by looking at my blog stats on those posts which I linked to from my Facebook page and it does look as though some of those people did click through (of course, there’s not really a great way to verify that but I’m making the assumption here…) and the views of my trailer for the next book on YouTube has been watched a number of times this week so maybe that’s from some of the people clicking the Facebook ad getting to my Facebook page and clicking through to YouTube since that’s the first post on my page. Again, a sizable assumption…
The one thing I do know is the 23 new ‘likes.’ Is that worth $5? It’s DEFINITELY worth ‘free’, which is what I’m currently paying.

This is the data from each of the 3 receipts I’ve received so far:

  • Likes – Ad 1,050 impressions (2 clicks)      $1.59
  • Likes – Sponsored Stories        7 impressions (0 clicks)   $0.06
  • Likes – Ad        1,026 impressions (4 clicks)      $0.85
  • Likes – Sponsored Stories        14 impressions (0 clicks) $0.08
  • Likes – Ad        6.606 impressions (6 clicks)      $1.76
  • Likes – Sponsored Stories        10 impressions (0 clicks) $0.04

Under ‘targeting’ I chose the following:

This ad targets 12,000,000 people:

  • who live in the United States, who like #Psychological thriller, #Mystery fiction, #Supernatural fiction, #Horror fiction, #Ghost story, #Science fiction or #Thriller (genre)
  • who are not already connected to Peter Adam Salomon.

—–

After doing some more research I was able to create a new ‘buy’ ad with a link to Amazon, also being paid for from the original credit. After 6 days with the new ad, I ended up deleting it. Why? Because, for the 6 days it ended up costing over $12 (so probably $13 or so a week). What did I get for that $12? Well, pretty much nothing. 18 strangers clicked on the ad to ‘Like’ the ad. Yes, they didn’t click through to like my page, they merely liked the ad. Which is useless. Only 2 strangers saw the ad and then searched to Like my page. No one clicked through to Amazon. Yes, no one.

I’m up to 32 new likes on my page, so only about 1-2 a day since I started the new ad. Oddly enough, it appears that the more expensive ad (that linked to Amazon) was the main ad that was popping up since the other ad didn’t get much exposure at all. I’ve killed the pricey one and we’ll see what happens now. I also changed the text on the ad to “The thinking teen’s horror choice of the year” (from the Booklist Starred review) so we’ll see if that changes things at all.

—–

2 weeks, $25 spent ($12 of it pretty much wasted on that ad that had people liking the ad), close to 50 new ‘likes’ on my page. If we ignore that $12, it’s pretty much right around $25 a month for (estimating here) 100 Likes. That’s well worth it if I keep that rate for the next 12 months until release of ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS (being over 1000 ‘fans’ would be a great thing for marketing then, no?). Might be worth continuing even after the credit runs dry. Who’d have thunk it?

—–

With 8 days left in ad campaign there was $8 left of the credit (still a little ticked off at the wasted $12 but oh well). 20 more new ‘Likes’ and I’ll be at 100 for the length of the campaign. So it’s going to translate to something close to $0.50 per ‘Like’ (massively estimating here and ignoring the wasted $12). If I keep the campaign going (having to spend my own money for the next 12 months, which would be somewhere in the $500 range, give or take) at that rate I’d be closing in on 2000 Likes by the time ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS comes out.

—–

So, the $64,000.00 question (or, in this case, $500 question) is: Does having ‘Likes’ on a fan page on Facebook lead directly, or indirectly, to actual book sales upon release of a book? 
Other than paying the money and waiting until Fall 2014 for release of ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS I don’t really see any way to actually answer that question (and even after release there’ll be no real way to tell other than to maybe ask those who have ‘Liked’ the page if they bought the book. I can’t see where it can possibly hurt to have more access and more eyeballs seeing posts about the book, no? 
And, in the grand scheme of things, $500 isn’t a TON of money (though it is a bunch…).

—–

At the end of the ad campaign I was at 298 Likes on my page. I began at 202. ‘Spent’ $50 of fake Facebook credit money and ended up with close to 100 new Likes from complete strangers. I’d have easily hit 100 if I hadn’t wasted the $12 on that secondary ad which only collected its own Likes for no reason whatsoever. I’m not 100% sure that 100 new Likes on my fan page will translate to any additional sales.

What does this mean? And the new role of facebook’s algorithm

For the amazing update to all of this: In December 2013, Facebook once again offered me a $50 credit (usable for one month only this time, this is important as I don’t recall their being a time limitation on the first credit). Well, I jumped at the chance. Results? Once again 100 new Likes in less than a month, so I am now over 400 Likes. Unfortunately, the ad credit ran dry before I had spent all $50. I actually ended up only spending about half of that credit. So, $50 would have ended up buying closer to 200 Likes. Which tracks pretty well, all things considered, with the original buy (if you include the wasted money on the first credit).

But, here’s the final kicker:

Now, with the new algorithms that Facebook is using that takes eyeballs away from ‘Fan Pages’ I’m no longer sure how many views each of my posts are getting. I do know that even with more ‘Fans’ I’m getting fewer views due solely to Facebook’s new and improved ‘algorithms.’

To compare, I’m NOT going to spotlight ‘big’ posts (such as announcements or cover reveals, which get more views due to shares, etc), instead, I’m just going to choose a random post: Specifically May 6, 2013. This post was PRIOR to the first credit, so at the time I had somewhere in the range of 200 Likes. The post, linking to a poetry post on my blog has the following text beneath it (added by Facebook): ’68 people saw this post’

For the sake of comparison, here is a poetry post from Jan. 22, 2014, when I was over 400 Likes. Again, the post simply links to a poetry post on my blog: ’22 people saw this post’

In other words, while my Likes DOUBLED, the actual eyeballs seeing my posts was cut down to less than one third.

That is due solely to Facebook’s new algorithms (there are countless articles and posts about that, simply Google it. The easiest way to explain it is that Facebook wants ‘businesses’ which they lump people like me into since I have a fan page, to PAY to boost posts).

My conclusion

Prior to those new rules I was definitely leaning toward buying the Facebook ad with the intention to push the Likes on my fan page over one thousand. Do the math: old rules, 200 Likes, 68 views. 2000 Likes would have been close to 700 views, close enough to 50% to make it worthwhile to have that many Likes.

New rules: 400 Likes, 22 views. 2000 Likes, 100 views? Somewhere in the neighborhood of FIVE PERCENT? And how many of those 5% are ‘friends’ who have liked my page? With the Likes via the Facebook ad, those are strangers. You know, actual fans! People I’d love to be able to communicate with, to connect with.

So, yes, Facebook ads are worth the money if your sole interest is in increasing the number of people Liking your page. However, due to the new algorithms, no matter how many Likes you have, fewer people are actually seeing your posts.

How to correct this? PAY to boost the posts, in addition to paying for the Facebook ad? I think the credits from Facebook are applicable to the ‘Boost Post’ function. If so, and if Facebook gives me another credit, perhaps I’ll test that and update this essay. Until then, however, I’m hesitant to spend money on Facebook ads without knowing if the ‘Boost Post’ function will have a lasting impact (in other words: does boosting one post, or even a couple, increase views going forward or only for those specific posts). I’d be far more likely to spend the money if the effect had staying power.

In my opinion, Facebook has done a great disservice to small businesses and the self-employed by these new algorithms. Worst of all, though, they’ve done themselves a disservice. I was all set to not only buy a Facebook ad to run for the next year but to recommend to other novelists that they do the same. After all, I pretty conclusively proved that their ads do produce Likes.

Instead, I’m left recommending people NOT give Facebook money for their ads solely due to Facebook’s own rules. That’s a poor business model, no?

And then there’s this, which sheds more light on the interplay of Likes and Engagements. Just who is liking your page?

Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions or questions on this topic as I find it fascinating and am always looking for new ways to connect with my readers and to meet new readers!

About Peter Adam Salomon

PeterSalomonPeter Adam Salomon graduated Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a BA in Theater and Film Studies in 1989. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, was published by Flux in September 2012. His next novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, a ghost story set in Savannah, GA, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2014 by Flux.

His short fiction has appeared in Demonic Visions I and II and he was the featured author for Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. His poem ‘Electricity and Language and Me’ appeared on BBC Radio 6 performed by The Radiophonic Workshop in December 2013.

He was also a Judge for the 2006 Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writer’s Contest and served on the Jury for the Poetry Category of the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards.

Peter Adam Salomon lives in St. Petersburg, FL with his wife Anna and their three sons: André Logan, Joshua Kyle and Adin Jeremy.

Upcoming Release ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS

AllThoseBrokenAngelsComforted by a shadow. Haunted by the truth. Richard Anderson was the last person to see his friend Melanie alive. She vanished when they were six and while the police never found Melanie, a part of her remained—a living shadow that is now Richard’s closest friend.

For ten years, Richard has never questioned the shadow that keeps him company . . . until a new girl moves to town, claiming to be Melanie. Desperate to prove the girl is a fake, the shadow leads Richard to the place where her killer buried her bones. But Richard finds skeletons from several different children . . . and evidence suggesting that perhaps the shadow isn’t who she says she is.

More About the Book | Author’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pre-Order

Guest Post: Stephanie Lawton on The Art of Genre Hopping

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Excited to have fellow Mobilian Stephanie Lawton on my blog today to talk about her new release, Need, which is the follow-up to her debut release Want! Take it away, Stephanie!

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Thanks, Angela, for the opportunity to say a few things about my new release, Need, genre-hopping and nontraditional publishing. Quite a mouthful, that, but I assure you they’re related and relevant to most writers.

In an ideal writing world, we don’t sit down and immediately conjure up the perimeters of a specific genre. Instead, we tell our story the way it needs to be written. Only when it’s finished do we begin to think of its marketability and where it fits in the pigeon holes of the publishing world.

Nine times out of ten, it’s easy to tell where a book belongs. Narrator under eighteen? It’s probably YA. Silk sheets and a red room of fun toys? Probably erotic romance or erotica (or perhaps comedy, but I’ll leave that one alone …)

So what happens when your story genuinely doesn’t fit a specific category, or doesn’t fit well enough to be a sure thing for an agent or publisher to be comfortable selling? Answer: You go indie.

For some, this means hitting up indie publishers, which are doing quite well in this changing market. They’re also generally more open to well-written stories that may not conform to what’s currently popular or projected to be so. The good ones still demand quality, but they often see the value in putting something out there that appeals to specific readers, or readers who are tired of the same big-house tropes.

This is where I lucked out with my romance series. The first book, Want, was published as upper-YA. The story hinges on the heroine being seventeen, but the issues she’s facing are very adult and all the rest of the characters in the book are adults. Is it YA? Not really. But is it adult? Most potential readers would automatically assume it’s not based on the narrator’s age.

A year after publication we’ve seen the rise of a category known as New Adult. Bingo. And guess who pioneered this wildly successful trend? Indie writers (many self-published) and indie publishers.

There were many demands from readers for a second book to find out what happened next to a certain character, so I penned Need. This time, I wrote from the main male adult character’s POV (I can’t call him a protagonist or antagonist and be completely accurate). He’s twenty-eight, beyond New Adult and well beyond YA.

Plus, when his story began pouring out, it was really adult, as in practically erotic romance. When I first sent it off to my indie publisher (right of first refusal and all that) I figured there was no way they’d let me get away with veering so far away from the first book’s genre. I honestly expected a big ‘ole “Hell no!” complete with finger snaps.

But guess what? They loved it. What’s more, readers are loving it.

The moral of the story, boys and girls, is to take a chance, write what you love, and trust that there are options for your story and readers who will jump at the chance to delve into something off the beaten path.

Happy writing and reading!

Need’s blurb:

NeedIsaac Laroche is cursed. All he wants to do is hide out and feel sorry for himself. Never mind that he got caught sleeping with his seventeen-year-old piano student, or that he abandoned her when the truth was exposed.

Isaac’s feisty high school sweetheart has different plans. Heather Swann has returned to their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to regroup after breaking up with her troll of a fiancé. She’s restless and looking for a diversion, but she bites off more than she can chew when she sets her sights on rehabilitating Isaac with her unorthodox sexual, mental, and physical plans.

The two quickly reconnect, but their happiness is threatened by family secrets, old vendettas and the death of a beloved father-figure.

Can Heather handle Isaac’s baggage, or will her own come back to haunt them both?

Where to get your hands on it:

Inkspell Publishing (paperback and digital) | Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook) | Amazon (paperback and Kindle) | All Romance eBooks (digital) | The Book Depository (paperback) | Kobo (digital)

Author bio:

photo 3After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.

A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.

Links for stalking!

Author website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thanks Stephanie for giving us this peek into indie publishing! Visitors, have you found this to be the case too with indie books? Have you let a story take you where it needed to go and found acceptance? This is definitely an exciting time to be a writer!

Guest post: Kate Meader’s recipe for the sexy in FEEL THE HEAT? Humor!

katemeader_BlogTourBanner (1)

I’m so excited to have one of my Beta partners on my blog today, Kate Meader! Her debut novel released just last week from Grand Central’s Forever imprint, and boy-howdy is it awesome! I first came across her in the blog hop Six Sentence Sunday, and as soon as I started reading her snippets, I was hooked on this story! Not only did it have a scrumptious hero, but it had fantastic humor; my kind of read! So we struck up an online friendship, and I Beta read Feel the Heat, and she Beta read Must Love Breeches and have been Beta partners since. Given that her brand of humor is what attracted me to her writing, I asked if she could touch on humor in her writing. So take it away, Kate!

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Thanks to Angela for hosting and letting me talk about Feel the Heat, the first book in my Chicago-set Hot in the Kitchen series about an Italian restaurant owning family and the sizzling, sexy chefs who love them.

Have you ever read those “survey” results in Cosmo or the like where a woman will rate what she thinks is most important or sexiest to her in a man? They never say that he has to be built like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson or that he has to have more jaw than necessary. Sure we won’t throw that guy out of bed for eating chips but invariably, it’s intelligence, compassion and—ding ding ding!—a sense of humor that rises to the top of the list. Every woman (and plenty of guys) want a man who can make them laugh. The fantasy guy of romance novels might be the brooding alpha who’s so tortured and possessive that he makes his lady’s life miserable, only compensating for his assholic behavior by burning up the heroine between the sheets. But for women IRL, a guy who brings the funny gets us every time.

Well, lucky for you, dear reader, the hero of my debut foodie romance, Feel the Heat, brings the best of both worlds—I had to make him a little arrogant after all. And British. (Same difference, I hear some of you say.) Jack Kilroy is an amazing chef, a born leader, a man who has women eating out of his hand. Often literally. So he also has a few insecurities, mostly about whether people want to use him for his fame and his wealth, but he’s what I call “happy alpha”. He doesn’t dwell on his problems too much and he certainly doesn’t hesitate when it comes to Lili DeLuca. Jack is sure he wants to date this smart mouth woman—and viral videos of steamy kisses, butts with their own Twitter accounts, and his bitch fork-wielding fans are not going to stand in his way.

What makes these two so perfect for each other is that Lili is rather unimpressed by Jack’s fame and is unafraid to take him down a peg or three. Oh, his assets are undeniable but if he thinks he can sway her with those gorgeous green eyes and his disruptively handsome cheekbones, he can think again. When they first meet, Jack has made a shambles of Lili’s restaurant kitchen, so she jumps into clean-up mode—and takes a jab at Le Kilroy while she’s at it.

She glanced down at his hand resting on her golden skin. By the time her eyes had made the return trip, she was shooting sparks. Back off. Hooking a stray lock behind her ear, she returned to her task—cleaning up his mess and making him look like an arse. A cloud of unruly, cocoa brown hair pitched forward, obscuring her heart-shaped face and giving her a distinct lunatic vibe.

It would take more than a death stare and a shock of crazy curls to put him off. Teasing her was too much fun.

“I’m pretty fast, love, and if you can move with superhero speed, we’d get it done in a jiffy.”

Another push back of her hair revealed a pitying smile. “Don’t ever claim to be fast, Kilroy. No woman wants to hear that.”

Ouch.

Best of all, he’s not afraid to look silly to get her attention. Here, Jack shows up at Lili’s apartment after screwing up royally (as only a guy can do):

The sound of a scuffle bounced through the intercom followed by more foreign babbling. A full minute passed.

“All right, you’re going to be sorry,” he said, inducing a flap of panic in her chest. Would he try to break in? Bang on her door until one of the neighbors called the cops?

If only. It was worse. Much worse.

Jack Kilroy started to sing.

The caterwauling made by the most deluded of wannabe contestants on American Idol had nothing on this. Hearing such a sound blasting from her TV was one thing; listening to it through her intercom was quite another. His voice had not improved any since the last time she’d heard him mangling a tune, right before she clocked him with a frying pan.

“Lili, I just met a girl, she’s called Lili…” This, to the tune of “Maria” from West Side Story.

Someone on the street cheered. Encouraged, Jack raised his voice a couple of inadvisable octaves. Another voice punctuated the lyrics with shouts of “Lili” a half-beat late. There was a pause as Jack told his accompanist in no uncertain terms to shut the fuck  up.

Who doesn’t love a guy who will sing for his woman on a busy Chicago street? Jack is a balls-out passionate guy and his single-minded focus combined with his great sense of humor slowly breaks down Lili’s defenses. So we won’t say no to the handsome lug but if he isn’t making us smile, then forget about it!

Tell me about the funniest guy you ever dated. Did you keep him or did you let him get away?

During the Feel the Heat release tour, I am giving away foodie-related swag: one Grand Prize and five smaller prize packs! Details and pics on my website. Enter using Rafflecopter!

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FEEL-THE-HEAT-coverFEEL THE HEAT by Kate Meader

Hot in the Kitchen, Book 1

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT . . .

Photographer Lili DeLuca spends all her time managing her family’s Italian restaurant, instead of following her dream of getting an MFA. When famous British chef Jack Kilroy unexpectedly challenges her father to a cook-off, Lili decides she’s tired of playing it safe and vows to seduce the tempting Brit. But once a video of her and Jack kissing goes viral and her luscious butt starts trending on Twitter, Lili fears she’s cooked up a recipe for disaster.

GET INTO THE BEDROOM

Jack Kilroy’s celebrity has left him feeling used and used up. While Lili’s oh-so-sexy moans when she tastes his delicious creations turn him on, he’s even more aroused by how unimpressed this beautiful, funny woman is with his fame. He knows they could be amazing together, if she could only see past his bitch fork-wielding fan base. Now, as he’s about to start a new prime time TV cooking show, can Jack convince Lili to realize her own ambitions – and turn up the heat in his kitchen?

Amazon – Barnes & Noble

KateMeader-authorAbout Kate

Kate Meader writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, to-die-for heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boons thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, and she’s there. She has a bachelor’s in law (useless), a master’s in history (not as useless), and another master’s in library and information science (yay, using). When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library. Her stories are set in her adopted home town of Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero. For news, excerpts, and recipes, check out her website at www.katemeader.com.

Ways to stalk her:

Facebook –  Twitter – Goodreads –  Blog

Book Monday: Guest Author Donna Cummings and I Do… Or Die

Today I’m super excited to bring you Donna Cummings whom I’ve gotten to know via various online methods, and whose sense of humor and advice has helped me through several writerly journey bumps. She’s also a valued Beta reader. Writers talk about the need to have other writer friends to go to when they’re feeling out of sorts (or panicked) and Donna’s become one of those for me. Thank you, Donna!

Today, for Book Monday, not only is she going to give us an excerpt from her new release, but she’s also going to confess a habit she has regarding books. Take it away, Donna!

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I’m always curious to see what people are reading. My neck can stretch giraffe-like just to get a peek at the title of a book they’re carrying. If someone is engrossed in a book while at Starbucks, all of a sudden I need to walk past them on my way to get a refill. Of napkins.

When I’m visiting someone’s home, the first thing I seek out is their bookshelves. I’ve learned to hide my glee when I see rows upon rows of books displayed for my viewing pleasure. And I never, ever say out loud (well, not anymore), “Oooh, wonder what they have that I need to take home with me!”

Seeing books lined up on shelves, or piled on tables, or teetering in a big stack on the floor, it’s easy to determine which ones have been read more than once, and which are just for show. This is trickier to accomplish when e-readers are involved, although if someone is on Goodreads, we can poke through their virtual shelves to see which books they’ve read, or want to read–and way too many of those end up in my own lists as a result of my rigorous “research”.

The heroine in my current release, I Do. . .or Die, tries to figure out the hero from viewing various items in his home, including the bookshelves. Shelby has been shot at, twice — the first time at her friend Alexa’s wedding. Shelby has to spend the night at Detective Ryan Nichols’ house for her protection, and this is her first time checking out the inside of Ryan’s home:

It was a place designed for a man’s comfort, not to impress female guests. A honey colored leather couch took up a large portion of the room, flanked by a couple of matching club chairs that were obviously well-used, probably whenever his policeman buddies dropped by. A large—no, make that a really large—flat-screen TV covered most of one wall.

Alexa and I had just been discussing the correlation between the size of a man’s flatscreen TV and his—

Detective Nichols was a very tidy person, with not even a single random burst of clutter. That was distressing. People who had everything in its place kind of freaked me out. For one thing, how did they find time to keep everything in its place? And for another thing, why would they want to spend all their time doing that?

He leaned against the closed door, his arms folded across his chest, watching me stroll around his sparse living room.

I trailed a finger over the police league softball trophies covering the fireplace mantel. Another flaw. He probably liked to work out all the time, while I—well, I did try to lift my martini glass with alternating hands, so I could evenly develop my bicep muscles. But I couldn’t do that every day. My liver was too delicate for that kind of exercise regime.

Detective Nichols cleared his throat. “Think this will do for the night?”

I nodded, a little sad, yet relieved, that I’d uncovered these deal breakers. Not that it really mattered, since I’d only planned on getting in bed, not getting involved, with him. Still, a girl needs to have standards, even with flings.

“Are you letting me get accustomed to my surroundings?” I asked. “Like a new puppy or something?”

His lips turned up in that way I found too sexy, and my stomach did all kinds of silly flip-floppy things. “As long as I don’t have to swat you with a rolled-up newspaper, I think we’ll be fine.”

“Beats the hell out of bullets.”

I halted, peering at him as the words sank in. It always came back to that. No matter what else happened, I still had to deal with the shock of being shot at. Twice. In one day.

At a wedding. And then in a police car.

“You know, Shelby, you’ve got a pretty good sense of humor about all of this.”

“Oh, that’s only because I’m in that numb phase right now. Wait till I get a good night’s sleep and realize how incredibly insane all of this is.”

I wandered over to a bookcase, something he’d probably gotten from the Ikea catalog and put together himself. I loved to see which books people had, and which ones were never going to be read, based on my assessment of their personality.

This man loved mysteries. Thankfully for me, it looked like he’d actually read a lot of them, so he would know how to solve the one I was embroiled in. Or give advice to the detective he’d be handing me off to in the morning.

Do you like to investigate other people’s reading materials? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Official Blurb:

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood’s personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?

But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.

Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe | BookStrand

About Donna:

6a011168847f76970c0147e0d1c81c970b-200wiI have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

In addition to I Do. . .or Die, my available books are Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency romance. My contemporary novella, Back on Track, part of the Strangers on a Train collection, will release from Samhain on April 2, 2013.

How to stalk her:

Website/blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

How Hot Can Cold Make You? The Seductive Powers of Chilly Stuff

beer_hires_croppedToday I’m honored to be the first guest poster on fellow Beta reader Kate Meader’s blog! I talk  about using chilly stuff in love scenes and I share a couple of snippets using cold beer bottles, plus an original recipe!

What are some of your fave love scenes using ‘cold play’?