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by Anne Calhoun
an excerpt of anywhere from 50-1500 words, depending on the book’s length. My publisher, Ellora’s Cave, prefers an excerpt to be within the first few pages of the book. With Amazon you can search a book’s contents for particular words, or random pages. So, for example, if you’d prefer your book to have sex scenes with handcuffs, you could search for “handcuffs” and get a taste of what the book has to offer (try it with the print version of LIBERATING LACEY). But with the publishers’ sites – Samhaim, Ellora’s Cave, what-have-you – you can’t search. All you get is the chosen couple thousand words.
As a reader, this is tough for me. While writers must ensure the first few pages are snappy, interesting, sexy, and guaranteed to grab the reader, I personally don’t browse books that way. I open the book to a random section. If the writing grabs me in the middle of the book, when the author should be clipping along, pulling out U-turns and surprises and conflict-upping moments with every chapter, then I go back and have a look at the beginning. I also know, as a writer, that sections in the middle of the book are my favorites. Don’t get me wrong – I love the beginning of LIBERATING LACEY, where Hunter and Lacey get down to brass tacks after a not-so-casual conversation in a bar. It sets up their characters perfectly. Newly divorced Lacey knows what she wants – a hookup – and goes about getting it. Hunter’s not intimidated by a strong, purposeful, classy woman. By the end of the first chapter they’ve had sex, and they both want more, not because the sex was smokin’ (it was, of course) but because of the dialogue and their personalities.
But that’s not my favorite scene. If I could have chosen any random 1500 words to tempt the reader into buying LIBERATING LACEY, I would have chosen the excerpt available on the Liberating Lacey page on my blog. Or the excerpt I’ve included below, which sets up one of the more emotional scenes in the book. I think these scenes draw me because they’re so heavy on the emotional ramifications of an ever-deepening plot (in this case, the consequences of casual sex). That’s why I read and write romance, for the emotions, which are harder to set up in the first three to five pages. Goals, yes. Emotions…not as easy to do, which is why I skim in the middle.
Here’s the excerpt, not available anywhere else, unless you buy the book!
It wasn’t just her lips. Her entire body both welcomed and maddened him, the soft give to her breasts and stomach, the way her thighs cradled him, the brush of the baby-soft skin of her inner arm against his back. He’d always enjoyed the slow, sexy build of foreplay, loved women’s bodies and all the mysterious, amazing things they could do, but with Lacey, he couldn’t detach. Kissing meant he had to touch. Touching meant he wanted to crush her under him. Getting her under him meant he had to be inside her, and when he got there the only thing that kept him from losing it and going all caveman on her was the knowledge that he’d scare her to death if he did.
Right now his prehistoric ancestors were beating drums just under the surface of his rational brain. He lifted her skirt, the fabric sodden in his fist, and pulled down her panties. She must be making up for lost time or something, because she never said no. Asleep, tired, irritable after a bad day, whether he asked for a quickie or a marathon session that lasted four hours she never said no, and she wasn’t now, either. He stuffed the wet scrap of fabric in the pocket of his cargo shorts and fumbled with his zipper.
The shorts were low on his hips, his throbbing cock getting pelted by the rain before he looked up to meet Lacey’s anticipatory eyes. She’d asked if this heat was normal for him. It wasn’t. If he got caught having sex in a public place by someone with a grudge or a holier-than-thou attitude, he’d get fired so fast he’d get rug burn on his ass from the carpet outside the chief’s office. First the parking lot, now the park. Even her driveway was considered public, with an expectation of being seen. Around Lacey his sense of self-preservation took a scarily long hike.
Today it looked like his career was safe because shitshitshit, “I don’t have a condom,” he said, knowing she didn’t either. She’d left her purse at home.
She peered up at him through her lashes. Lacey never left the house without mascara because her short, reddish eyelashes disappeared without it. The rain had smudged the makeup around her eyes, a shockingly slutty look for her that, combined with her swollen lips and sexy gaze, did nothing to convince his cock to stand down. “You have your wallet,” she said.
He did have his wallet because he didn’t care if she was as rich as the queen, if she was out with him, he’d pay for the mocha and lunch. But while he had money, he didn’t have protection. “The cupboard’s bare, beautiful. I meant to buy more yesterday but didn’t get to…”
He couldn’t finish the sentence because she’d reached between them to stroke his shaft. Cold water streamed down her forearm, over his balls, making them tighten but he was so hot steam should have been rising from his body. Just to torture himself he cupped one breast through her shirt and thumbed the hard, thrusting nipple, kissing her while he did. She could get him off here. It wouldn’t take long. Then he’d take her home, dry her off and love her up until he was ready for round two.
She might have said his name twice because her voice was raised, urgent. He forced his eyes to focus, saw both intensity and hesitation in her face.
“I’m on the Pill.”
He knew that, had seen the container with its twenty-eight tiny pills in her bathroom.
“I’m safe,” she said and stroked her thumb over the tip.
Sure she was. Shit, she’d been with one man before him. She was the one who should be worried. He didn’t keep score but even the approximate number was a fucking scandal.
She stroked him again, tip to base, before he uncurled her fingers from around his cock. “I can’t think when you do that, beautiful, and I’d better be coherent for this conversation.”
Obligingly she laid her hand flat on his stomach and looked up at him, complete trust and wicked temptation in her brown eyes. “I’m on the Pill. I’m clean,” she said. As if he hadn’t heard her.
“Fuck,” he whispered. He’d resisted temptation before because kids should be wanted and mistakes happened. Because women lied about all kinds of things, birth control not the least of them. But fuck, oh fuck, now that the option was out in the open he wanted to be bare inside Lacey. His whole body ached with wanting.
And Lacey was honesty personified.
GIVEAWAY TIME!What do you like in an excerpt that prompts you to buy the book, or does the excerpt not factor in at all? Do you only buy certain kinds of ebooks – BDSM themes, or shapeshifters, or ménage, or reunion stories, and the excerpt makes no difference? Is it about voice, or a suspenseful setup, a character who grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go?
Let me know by leaving a comment and I’ll choose one winner of a paper copy of LIBERATING LACEY! And stop by my website or blog to check out my upcoming Spice Briefs releases and other news. Many thanks to those Naughty Girls Next Door for allowing me to guest blog!
**Note** The contest ENDS Sunday, March 28th.