I’m so delighted to welcome one of my all time favorite writers to the blog today, the inimitable and remarkable Julie Leto, in celebration of the (re?)release of two of my all time favorite books. Jules (as I like to call her) is a multi-multi published New York Times bestselling author. We go way back, sharing a state, a few RWA chapters, many friends, some publishers, one fabulously successful Christmas anthology (back on shelves this month, called I’ll Be Home For Christmas), and daughters the same age. Well, we don’t share the girls, but we commiserate over each new phase in their lives. (We’re at teenage hormones right now, so be gentle on both of us.)
As if a 14 year-old wasn’t challenge enough, Julie is braving the wild waters of self-publishing with the release of two books that were originally published in 2005/6. I’ve invited her to talk to us about the new releases and the singular challenge of “labeling” a book. Do it right, and your book can be a blockbuster. Give it the wrong “category” and you could be lost forever. Julie and I share lots of war stories, but one of them is the joy (where is the sarcasm font when you need it?) of having a book shelved in fiction instead of romance. One of my books met the fate of fiction-shelving a few years before Julie’s. Ah, there was my funny, poignant, contemporary chick lit stuck right next to John Steinbeck. Let’s see Grapes of Wrath or Hit Reply? Were you one of the nine people that read my amazing, breakthrough book? No, I didn’t think so. Once upon a time, there was no coming back from a disaster like that…but that time has changed. Enter the world of independent publishing and new life for books that really can’t be “labeled.”
Please welcome my dear friend, Julie Leto, who defies labeling….
First, I want to thank Roxanne and all the amazing authors at Murder She Writes for allowing me to hijack the blog for the day! I’m thrilled to be here to introduce you to a…well, see, here’s where I run into a problem.
I have a new series of books out. Only the books aren’t really new. The first, Dirty Little Secrets, was originally published in 2005 by Simon & Schuster as part of their Bad Girls of Downtown Press promotion. The second book in the series, Dirty Little Lies, came out in 2006.
But at the beginning of this year, I successfully regained the publication rights to these two books and set out immediately to have them digitized, repackaged and re-released. The inside stories are pretty much the same (with some editing corrections made that slipped through in the previous print versions) but they are bright and shiny and new everywhere else. And I’m really excited about how the books came out!
The first time the Dirty books came out, they did not sell well. (That’s hard for an author to admit, but I’m not the kind of person who blows smoke up people’s posteriors, you know?) Why didn’t they sell well? Did the books suck?
On that, I can tell you that NO, they didn’t suck. I can honestly say that the Dirty stories are some of my best work. The problem, as I see it, is that a) the books are hard to label and therefore, b) readers couldn’t find them.
A book that is hard to label isn’t necessarily a bad book! I wrote the Dirty books the way I felt they needed to be written, without paying excessive amounts of attention to where they’d be shelved in the bookstore. This is not something I normally do, but sometimes, I just have to be me. 🙂 So are they romantic suspense? Well, yes, they are. And if they weren’t, I would be here at MURDER SHE WRITES to tell you about them! There are secrets and lies (hence the titles!) and villains and ulterior motives and characters who are both more and less than what they seem. There are red herrings and questions that my characters have to answer before they can achieve their goal and save the world…so to speak. These aren’t James Bond books.
Or are they? There are cool gadgets and explosions and gun fights and hand-to-hand combat. The books have handsome men and sexy women—but the sexy women are the main focus and they, namely my main character, Marisela Morales, has the most at stake. The pace is fast and the dialogue is faster. By the time you shut off your Kindle, Nook, Sony or other e-reading device, bodies will have littered your screen…in more ways than one.
The books are not strictly romance, though Marisela does has a very hot, very conflicted relationship going on with her ex-boyfriend, Frankie Vega, who was once her partner in crime. Only they aren’t criminals anymore. Or are they? They don’t work for the cops. They don’t follow laws. They do, however, work for a group called Titan International. They are the people the CIA calls in when they don’t want to get their hands dirty. Or they are hired by the rich and powerful who need something done without anyone knowing about it. And it’s not always bad things…in Dirty Little Secrets, they are hired to save a kidnapped child. In Dirty Little Lies, they are protecting a man who has an assassin after him.
But though Marisela is only sleeping with Frankie, he represents her very checkered past. She can’t help but grapple with what’s she’s going to do about the new men in her life—men who symbolize her promising future, like her boss, Ian Blake or his mysterious majordomo, Max.
And then there is Marisela. She’s usually defined as a “sexy Latina” and she is that. But she isn’t just that. She’s resourceful, smart and confident. Those sound like good things—and sometimes, they are. But her resourcefulness, smarts and confidence sometimes get her into more trouble than she knows exactly what to do with—and these books are about her figuring out what she wants to do with her life, both professionally and personally. These are hard questions…but then, Marisela isn’t usually interested in things that are easy.
Whew! I’ve told you quite a bit about my series…which right now consists of the two reprints, but will, in the new year, include new adventures for my saucy private detective and her band of questionable cohorts. The books are meant to be fun, exciting, sexy, intriguing and tense. They’re suspenseful, adventurous, romantic romps that are dark, gritty and no-holds-barred.
How’s that for a label?!
You can go here to read an excerpt of the first book, then link over to read excerpts of the second or to Amazon and Barnes & Noble to buy. The books are for sale digitally for only $3.99!
So how to do you feel about labels for books? Are they helpful to a reader or do they sometimes mislead you? Or are you, like me, often pleasantly surprised to find more to a book than the label slapped on it by the publisher? One commenter will win a $20 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Buy something that defies labeling!
And big PS. If you subscribe to Julie’s Mailing List/Newsletter via herwebsite, you’ll be entered to win a brand new Kindle! And if you sign up before December 10th, you will learn how to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet! Go…here now!