Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 1 Pre-Release

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One month to go. You are almost there with comprehensive pre-release strategy that will have your book come out of the proverbial gates a-swingin’! To date we have broken down what to do each month leading up to your book’s launch date, including media kits and contact procedures, arranging for public speaking events, internet presence with social media, organizational methods, graphic design and branding, and interpersonal relationships.

There is no easy way to say this, even with all the hard work you’ve put in so far, the months right before, during, and immediately after your launch are absolutely critical for your book success. History has shown in the traditional publishing industry that book sales are strongest in the first 90 days after release. It will be your measuring stick; and it has also proven to be the time when most books reach bestseller status. Even if that isn’t your goal, it certainly can’t hurt and, when dealing with traditional publishers, can show a strong presence enough to get your book on limited shelf space in stores.

In this section, to make sure you have as strong a start with your book release as possible, we will cover the following:

  • The media blitz
  • Tour scheduling
  • Street teams

The media blitz

You have a strong media list curated if you’ve followed Parts XXXXXXX on my blog. You have the press release polished and snazzy. You have your one-two punch media pitch. Now it’s time to put it all into action. Pitches and press releases should be sent out approximately four to six weeks before your launch date. While we know the world works in lightspeed paces, it takes real time for a reporter to cover a story, including working with their and your available schedules. If you start at the six week window, I recommend follow up reminders and additional releases weekly to keep on their radar.

Radio/Podcasts

Hosts often plan their guest appearances a few weeks in advance. This includes podcasts. They’re busy people, and they have their own marketing pre-release they have to account for. You will most likely need a combination effort with emails and phone calls to get a guest spot. I’ve found it often takes six or more contacts before you get the host’s attention without being too annoying.

The prep work for radio and podcasts is easy. Make sure your voice is well modulated; if you’re a heavy breather or throat-clearer, make sure to avoid doing so. It’s okay to have someone record you in advance like a mini-interview and then listen to yourself so you don’t sound awkward. Since I’m profoundly hearing impaired, I’ve had friends record me and listen to the recording on my behalf to make sure I don’t do things I might be missing. The same feedback can be helpful for normative hearing people too. Every little bit helps. The best audio tip to give about doing a radio/podcast interview is to remember to smile. It will make your host more comfortable with you (if you are in studio) and will make your voice sound open and friendly. The best preparation tip I can give is to have your top two or three points written down in front of you. Radio (and often podcasts) aren’t long, and they often have multiple guests. You may not get a lot of time to talk so make sure you get the most out of your time with the most important information.

TV

Television can seem daunting. The camera is terrifying to many. Especially writers who are often introverted by nature. But you can use the fact that television is visual to your advantage, even if you don’t like the spotlight.

Find visuals that relate to your book. Depending on your book’s nature, you might be able to do some sort of “show and tell,” have photos or illustrations. For instance, if I was to write and promote a book around my blog posts 8 Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores and 5 More Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores, I could have models demonstrate the “do’s” and “don’ts” of thrift store-found fashion. Just ensure that you clear everything in advance with the production team and host who will need prep time to set the stage and react.

Even if you don’t have anything more to go along with your book, being an engaged and enthusiastic guest is good TV. Read a little on how best to dress for the program (or ask the stage manager), and then just do what you do – tell a story, only the story is how entertaining or impactful to others’ lives you and your work will be.

Tour scheduling

Again, you’ve done the work: media lists and scheduled interviews, set book signings, and planned for live events – now it’s time to promote them! Check with radio stations/podcasts about advance promotion of events; many will. Most bookstores promote who is going to be there well in advance with in-store signage; maybe you can even get them to put you on their marquee out front along the roadside. In addition, many bookstores air or publish their own press releases, send newsletters, and do special promotion to VIP members. Conferences and conventions always promote on their websites, even if you’re not a big name celebrity, in the program, and on advance PR.

Let’s face it, like authors, some venues promote better than others. Some do virtual zero promotion. You must remember to ask what promotion efforts they have planned. If they don’t have press releases planned, offer one you’ve written. Tell them they’re welcome to use it on their website and social media as well. Do you have a blog following? Promote there. Keep your signing and speaking schedule posted on your website’s homepage, put it on social media, send it to relevant websites before, during, and after your events. Get your street team (that we’ll be discussing shortly) to get involved however they can.

Keep media releases of different lengths. You want one that covers your whole engagement schedule. You also want short announcements for each event. The media isn’t likely to pick up every event, unless you’ve made some sort of impression on them, but overall odds are good that many releases will get some level of coverage.

Friends who blog? Ask them to mention your upcoming events if their readers are in your target audience. Keep the upcoming events in front of your own readers by making them part of your regular newsletter. Keep it relevant on social media by updating frequently. Post it at places like Shelfari and Goodreads on your profile. Certainly have it available on your Amazon or Barnes and Noble profiles.

At every interview, mention where you’re going to be next. I always mention my next event and the one following that, especially if the first date is close to the interview air date. That way people have two chances, and someone who goes “Darn. I’m not available on such short notice” will have a second option that is further down the road to attend. Keep those interviews linked on social media, website, and blog. Helping to drive continual traffic to the host’s or reporter’s site by posting your interview links is an easy and good way to thank them.

Remember to set up Google Alerts to let you know when your name and book title are posted anywhere on the web. It will be important to know how your information is getting out there and beneficial to see who is the most effective at distributing it. Doing so will allow you to streamline your communications going into the future. That’s not to say to cut out traffickers that weren’t the best, but you can reach out to them later and prioritize your go-to promoters first.

Street teams

This is an older term that stems from radio. Radio stations used to have interns flood the market with flyers and promotional items. Don’t we just wish we had that kind of manpower and budgeting? Well, in part, you do. At least the manpower.

Do you have a handful of good friends and supportive family members that can be counted on? Who had read your manuscript before it was published? Often times an author can count on their beta readers as the basis for their street team. From there, you can build outward. But first you have to take a little bit of time to train your street team on what it means and how they can help you.

Establish willingness

“You must always ask; never assume.” Just because a beta reader had time to read and critique your manuscript prior to publication doesn’t mean they will have time to join your street team. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. To incentivize street team members you can always offer something: a signed, advance-review copy of the book is often appreciated, a small gift that relates to your book, even tee shirts. Sometimes the team members just likes be the “first to know.” Every team is different.

Establish tasks

This is what you need. Typically, it’s best to ask street teams to complete easy, inexpensive tasks like:

  1. Ask local stores to carry your book and contact you for a signing;
  2. Request their local library branches purchase your book;
  3. Write early, positive reviews of your book on Amazon or favorite online seller, submit reviews to relevant blogs, and post to social media;
  4. Put up advanced flyers and posters about upcoming events at coffee shops, universities, or other popular hangout places;
  5. Attend your events, often acting as a “plant” to ask questions, start conversations;
  6. Invite people, especially their friends, to your events;
  7. Call in during radio or podcasts with questions;
  8. Suggest your book to local book clubs;
  9. Provide a gift of your book (maybe one that you provide to them) to influential people they know;
  10. Talk your book up with people they know!

Some people balk at the concept of “plants” in an event’s audience, but there is nothing unethical about having people who genuinely enjoyed your book in the audience at events. Thinking of it from the big marketing point of view. Companies give out free samples and trial sizes all the time in hopes people will talk up and also buy more of their product. That is all a good street team does in essence: they talk up your product and get people buying!

 

Okay. So we have covered what to do in the month prior to your book launch. If you’ve followed the steps each month then you should have a comprehensive book marketing strategy that will blow the roof off your book release.

 

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
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Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Book Formatting

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BC Brown Books Kindle Self Publishing Book Formatting

We’ve covered how to establish a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and how to set your product pricing and royalties in the Getting Started post and we’ve talked in more detail about the individual product details in the Book Basics post. With all that great information, you’re ready to go, right? Except…wait, what is your product?

If you’re reading this I’m to assume you’ve written a book.The question remains: have you formatted it for upload? Book formatting isn’t as simple as uploading a Word document. Don’t despair however. It isn’t hard either. With a few easy steps you can make sure your book is professional quality when your reader opens their Kindle and sees your work.

Preparation for publication

Many writers choose to write in chapters which affords editing ease and also reorganization. Like many other authors, I don’t write in a linear fashion, instead relying on a mixture of plotting and scene “stitching” that often has me jumping from place to place in a novel. Doing so would be impossible to keep in one text document, no matter the format, so I keep each scene or chapter in separate documents that can be readily accessed.

When it comes to prepping your novel formatting, you need to put your edited document in a single file from start to finish, front cover to back cover. A lot of writers find that the successful conversion format is a Word document that has been saved as an HTML document. You can do that using the “Save As” command in Word. Doing this will keep any embedded files in the document fixed in their proper spot. No one wants a weird chapter heading illustration jumping about in the final document upload. In this same regard considering any columns or tables in the document formatted as text or graphic images. (Be advised: if you are unfamiliar with graphics programs, stick with the text format or work with someone who has design knowledge.)

Kindle books following their own page formatting, especially as readers come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to remove any page numbers or references to page numbers. Footnotes (if necessary) should be replaced with hyperlinks that navigate readers to another section of your document like an End Notes page. If writing non-fiction, hyperlinks embedded directly in your text is very useful since Kindle includes basic web function. If you use this feature however I’d warn readers somewhere at the book’s front matter that navigating away to the websites may slow their device.

Acceptable formats

KDP accepts the following file formats for upload:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • Adobe (.pdf)
  • HTML (.htm or .html)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Zipped HTML (.zip) – useful for HTML documents with images
  • Mobi (.mobi or .prc) – Mobipocket file

Word and Adobe seem to be the most commonly used file formats, although Mac Pages is up and coming. Plain text (.txt) once uploaded allows you to preview the document before saving. Amazon does recommend you upload the work in a single HTML file. If unfamiliar with that process, you can use the “Save As” function and choose the HTML format. When using Plain Text, remember that Kindle will automatically re-size and re-order the text. Amazon recommends using little formatting in text files and even using as few hard returns, or hard line breaks, as possible. In my experience, I shy away from using PDF. Amazon does not guarantee the conversion quality of PDFs.

Graphics and images

For most writers this will primarily concern cover art and back cover art. However there are a number of authors who choose to include graphics within the book itself. Fantasy is a prime example. Many authors will upload a chapter heading graphic, such as a House coat of arms or a themed graphic.

Kindle will allow the following graphic formats:

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPEG
  • Bitmap or BMP
  • Graphic Interchange Format or GIF
  • Portable Networks Graphic or PNG

Cover images however can only be in TIFF or JPEG format.

Always remember rights when selecting art and illustrations for your book. Some authors will use images found on the internet, but I caution against that. Unless you have downloaded the content with a full rights release from a reliable source, stick to images you’ve created or purchased (again examining the usage rights you are entitled to). Remember that just because you’ve purchased artwork does not mean you have full use of it.

Basic image formatting guidelines
  • Imagines larger than 450 by 550 pixels will be resized
  • Image files must be 64kb or smaller with aspect ratio of 9 to 11
  • Increase an image’s sharpness slightly but not too much
  • For a full-page image on Kindle, resize it to 450px by 550px

Book covers

Well, what is there to say about this except…your book needs one. Unless you have some considerable skill in graphic design, you should hire a professional cover designer. I know many of you are thinking But I can’t afford that! No fear, there are dozens of professional cover art sites with stock cover arts you can use. I particularly enjoy SelfPub Book Covers. Inexpensive, a large portfolio you can select by genre or surf by artist, and they pull the cover art out of rotation once it is purchased, guaranteeing you a unique cover.

Upload and preview

With these few tips you are well on your way to formatting your book properly and uploading it into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All that is left is to try the upload and preview the document, from start to finish, to make sure there aren’t any discernible issues. If there are, identify them and go back to your document to double check. Then simply repeat. Do this as many times as possible ensure your upload is a professional quality as possible. Keep in mind that people will not only judge you on your writing and marketing abilities, they will also judge your work on its quality of appearance.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                           

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5 Easy Ways to Support an Author

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You love to read? You have a favorite author you just can’t wait until they publish their next book? Show ’em some love.
5 Tips to Support Authors
5 Ways to Support an Author

  1. Write a review. This seems simple but the truth is few readers take the time to review a book once they have read it. Reviews don’t have to be difficult. Writing a simple line or two is easy: “I read a lot of…and I enjoyed this story. The story was exciting and kept me reading to the end.” Seems basic but will encourage your favorite author to keep writing. Not to mention, if on Amazon, will increase that author’s visibility to other readers, leading to more writing by your favorite author. Win-win!
  2. Tell your friends. Bookworms tend to know a lot of other readers. Tell your friends about your favorite author and their books. Nothing helps support your favorite author like readers buying their books. We are fond of eating. 
  3. Share with your friends. There is nothing like the gift of a book. Have you ever finished a book and thought “I wish there were someone I could talk to about this book!” There could be. Buy a copy for a friend you think would enjoy it. Even if you only decide to gift your copy of the book to a friend, it’s still beneficial. Your friend may fall in love with your favorite author and buy more of their books, write reviews, etc.
  4. Use the public library request system. All authors, no matter how popular, need exposure to readers. Nothing gets a writer more exposure than being available in public places where the demographic is perfect: all readers (well, mostly). Putting a Request to Stock into your local library may give your favorite author access to a town they haven’t yet been found by readers. (I should also point out that it isn’t misleading to put in a request to stock even if you own the book. Just remember to rent it at least once, maybe twice, to be fair to library resources.)
  5. Share your author on social media. Like the book? Tell the world! Literally. Social media connects many of us with hundreds of thousands, even the potential of millions, of people a day. When you have a favorite author, find them on social media; follow their sites; and share stuff you find interesting on their sites with your own friends. Two things happen by following an author’s social media a) you are telling your friends online how much you like an author and helping them reach new readers, and b) you’re front and center for sneak peeks, new contests and releases, and goodies your author is giving away. It’s win-win!
There are five easy tips to show your support for your favorite authors. How do you show your support? Are there more ways not listed?
 
@BCBrownBooksBC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane       

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Treading Twitter Tutorial

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#this #that #???… Using social media is a great way to reach readers. But how do you know exactly how to reach the readers you’re looking for? #Hashtagging is a way of targeting the readers a writer wants. But, again, where do you start?

Every time you turn around it seems like there is a new Twitter #trend to follow. If it all seems a little confusing, I don’t blame you. Twitter, like so many social media outlets, has a natural evolution. Unlike Facebook or Google+ however Twitter evolves almost as fast as the feeds update – every second.

If you’re a writer looking to utilize Twitter as optimally as possible, knowing the right #hashtags to drop in is beneficial. Knowing where to start is a little dizzying though. Below is a short list of common Twitter #hashtags to help get your post into the right reader’s feeds.

  • #amwriting – Believe it or not, readers like to follow along with writers as they are working. It makes a reader feel like they are in the middle of the writing process. Plus it is a quick, easy way to show your readers that you are steadily working toward the next project release.
  • #blog – If you’re writing but not blogging, you are losing out on readers, old and new. Blogging is an easy way to keep new material constantly in front of readers. Plus blogging allows you to connect with other authors. Leading to the next hashtag.
  • #blogfest – Participation in blog tours and hosting or being hosted by other authors. Readers (and other authors) will follow this tag to find out about new stories or authors out and follow their work (or connect with in cross promotion purposes).
  • #writers and/or #authors and/or #poets – This one is fairly self explanatory. Readers use this to tag and follow writers.
  • #adviceforwriters – For authors wanting to write about tips or tricks for other authors, this little hashtag is phenomenal. Readers will use it as well to feel more like part of the writing process.
  • #reading – Good for posting reviews or maybe teaser snippets of work. Also good for following authors for your own entertainment. It has some great unknown authors.
  • #writetip – Good for promoting your posts/articles but also for your own research. There is a lot to learn here.
  • #mondayblogs – A great source to connect with other writers and promote your work through their various Twitter feeds.
These #hashtags are good places to start when dipping a toe into the deep water of Twitter. Remember that Twitter, like other sites, are ever evolving and changing. Active #hashtags in January may not be as relevant in May. Keep an eye on your #hashtags and monitor their effectiveness. It may not be something obvious, but you should receive some ReTweets or Favorites from each. Twitter is built on a community of sharing and information providing. That’s an important thing to remember – if you don’t ReTweet “RT” and share people’s Tweets, they will be less likely to share yours. Be polite and RT.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short FrictionQuixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Blog Tour – MaryLynn Bast – No Remorse & One Bite to Passion

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No Remorse Blurb:
Due to her unusual birth, Amber has abilities no other werewolf has ever possessed. On the run since childhood, the lone wolf avoids contact with other werewolves at all cost, continually moving, constantly looking over her shoulder and always alone. Everything changes when Amber saves a werewolf from the mere brink of death, Blake, the only werewolf to ever protect her. Love blossoms, but not without tribulations when Amber realizes she must help her new pack rescue a member who is being held hostage by a rival pack. Warring with emotions of going from lone wolf to the pack leader’s mate, Amber must decide if she is willing to risk Blake’s life to know true family and friendship despite the fact that the Council is hell bent on locating her and will stop at nothing until she is found. Will Amber’s special abilities be enough to keep everyone safe?
 
No Remorse

Excerpt:
Amber recalled the night vividly. She stayed in her room while her mother and Byron argued over them leaving. She had listened intently when her mother warned Byron that Tommy would not believe that Amber was his daughter.
At the time, it hadn’t made sense to Amber what she was hearing. Her mother had been raped by multiple werewolves and that any of them could be her father. Amber shook her head to clear her thoughts. Maybe her mother meant that he couldbe her father, not that he was.
Byron and Winona were still arguing about them leaving when Tommy returned later that night with reinforcements. Byron had called his brother Jason to come in for support, but that was not enough.
Amber listened as Tommy’s crew stormed the house behind the bar. Fists were flying while bodies hurtled through the air smashing furniture throughout the room. Winona screamed loudly as Tommy grabbed her. His men had knocked Jason unconscious and held Byron’s beaten and bloodied body to the floor.
Amber stood behind the closed and locked door of her room. She could hear everything. The words that Tommy snarled burned into her brain.
“By Council’s orders, I am here to return you, Winona Gray Hamilton, runaway pack member, back to the den. Council leader Isaac Whiting has ordered that your daughter be brought before the Council. You are a disgrace to your bloodline and your mutt will be dealt with by the Council.”
Amber heard her mother’s screams for her to run. She couldn’t let that man take her mother back to that place. Instead of running, she reached for the door to unlock and jerk it open when she was grabbed from behind. The arms were like a vice and the hand that slid around her mouth secured her scream. His grip didn’t falter when she struggled violently to escape, biting at the hand that was held firmly across her mouth. She hadn’t heard the man that had slipped into her room; she was so intent on listening to what was happening in the living room.
“Stop!” At the commanding sound of the voice Amber ceased struggling, but stood stiffly in his arms. The words didn’t make sense to her. “Don’t scream or they will come. You have to get out of here.”
At her nod in agreement to not scream, the large hand was removed slowly from her mouth. She whispered, “What do you want?” She was terrified but stood still.
“I want my granddaughter to be safe,” the big man whispered in a broken voice.
Amber gasped, realizing that this was her mother’s father. He slipped something into her pocket and turned her towards him. She stared into the chocolate brown, sad eyes of her grandfather.
Tears were streaming down her face. Amber shook her head and tried to speak, to say something, but nothing came out. This was her family and her grandfather was sending her away? Amber couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact that the pack wanted her mother to come back home, but they didn’t want her.The Council was going to deal with her. She shook her head in denial that this could be happening. She could still hear her mother screaming in the next room. Her grandfather rushed her towards the other door that led to the back hallway and to the back porch.
She pushed against him, to turn back to her mother.
“Don’t fight, little one; you will die if you go back there. You must get out now. Go and don’t look back,” he told her, hurrying her out through the darkness to the waiting car. He pushed her gently into the back seat, quickly and quietly pushed the door shut, tapping the top of the car. The driver didn’t say a word to her, but took off and left the small restaurant bar behind. She was leaving her mother and the only family she had ever known.

One Bite To Passion Blurb:
On a business trip to Japan, Paige has just found happiness with Casey, an exciting, young man with a passionate interest in Paige.  After a night of wild sex, she feels like a new woman. Drawn to Casey, Paige can’t refuse him even though he says he wants to possess her and she learns he is a vampire. Then Paige’s unfaithful husband, Dalton, shows up. He has supposedly broken off his affair, but Paige suspects he is still seeing his mistress. Soon, Paige begins to notice disturbing things happening around her and discovers she has become the center of a battle between covens who consider her The Chosen One. But when she faces the greatest peril of her life, and Casey shows up to help, Page realizes she is willing fight the covens side-by-side with him, if it means the chance of a future with this vampire she has come to love.
ONE BITE TO PASSION
Excerpt:
Leaning against the door, she took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. Why was she having such a reaction to a man she had barely met, not even twenty four hours ago. “Yet you slept with him.”She grumbled to herself and released a sigh. Slipping quickly into her undergarments, she slipped on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and headed back out to the living room.
Casey sat on the loveseat by the window, but Rosa was gone. He responded to her questioning look. “She went back to her room, said she had to get something for you.”
Paige remembered a package was supposed to be delivered. But that quickly left her mind when Casey patted the seat next to him. She shook her head no, deciding it wasn’t a good idea to snuggle with him. She leaned against the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area.
“I won’t bite.” He smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Too hard.”
Paige laughed nervously. “Uh, Casey, about last night.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at him.
“I told you Paige, I wanted you and I still do.” He lounged back on the seat, one arm thrown casually across the back.
“I, uh. I’m married. I shouldn’t have done that.” She inspected her manicured nail.
“I also remember telling you that your husband was a lucky man. So, yeah, I’m aware you are married and I don’t care.” He spoke softly. He patted the seat once again.
She heard the honesty in his words, and once again shook her head, but this time she stared at him. She had to end this. She was in Japan to work, not have an ongoing affair with a younger man. She opened her mouth to speak, before she could, the look on his face stopped her.
“Paige.” Casey stood and walked over to where she was. His hand rose up to her face, his fingers slid gently across her cheek, his eyes looked haunted. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I know you are married and I know I should feel bad about that, but I don’t. He should respect you and he doesn’t.”
How in the world would he know that! Paige stared at him, wondering if she had gotten herself into something she wouldn’t easily get out of.
“I want to be with you.” He continued staring at her, but he made no move to touch her any further than the caress on her cheek.
“But that’s impossible Casey. I can’t do this. I love my husband.”
“You love your husband because it’s the right thing to do. But how long has it been since he has told you he loved you and really meant it? How long has it been since he loved you the way I did last night? If ever?”
Closing her eyes she didn’t know what she was going to do. Dalton had never made her feel the way Casey had. But that had been about sex. She and Dalton had twenty years together and couldn’t throw that all away for one night of great sex.
“I…” She didn’t know what to say, His lips descended and grazed hers and she melted against him. Her brain screamed at her to stop, but her body said the exact opposite. The kiss deepened and he pulled her to him. Their tongues battled for a moment before she pulled away and buried her head in his chest.
“I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but Paige, I think I’m already in love with you.” He pulled her close, his voice barely above a whisper.