Category Archives: Nicole’s fiction

Why I Quit Doing Book Giveaways

UPDATE: Last June, shortly after my books were published on Kindle, I wrote the spot that begins mid page: How Many Stars on Goodreads and Amazon? Since then, I no longer do book giveaways. Why? I did not experience residual sales after promos ended, nor did I receive ANY reviews.  In contrast, when I do 99 cent sales along with inexpensive ads here and there, I sell as many books as when they were free: from a couple of hundred to over one thousand. Residual sales at full price also occur, though not at the same pace as when the books are 99 cents. Equally important: I get reviews!

Why don’t giveaways work? I don’t know. I suspect people don’t value free stuff.  They wonder why no one is willing to pay for it.  After I downloaded several free books, I understood why.  There may be some gems out there — I’m positive there are — but I haven’t found any.  Many of the ones I read had clearly not been edited, formatted, or even properly proofread. Again — before I get a bunch of outraged comments — I’m sure there are some great free books, and I’ve read the Amazon newsletters describing indie success using the giveaway strategy. It just didn’t work for me nor a couple of other traditionally published authors with whom I share war stories.

Here’s What I Wrote Last June:

How Many Stars on Goodreads and Amazon?

I offered free Kindle versions of both my novels in the past month, and about 2,000 customers downloaded them.  My novels only cost $3.99, so I don’t think price is why I had such a spike on free days; I think it’s the free advertising you get on sites that follow free book deals.

The dilemma for the author: why offer something for free when your object is to sell books?  The answer is, to get your name out there, make Amazon aware of you, make readers aware of you and, hopefully, get some good customer reviews.

So far on Amazon, I have received mostly five-star customer reviews. In case you were wondering, there is no way for the author to manipulate or add reviews.  Friends who bought your book can add reviews, but all my reviews, except one, are from strangers. I am honored that people gave me such raves.

On Goodreads, I don’t have many reviews, but they are all over the place.  To be honest, I consider PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, GONE WITH THE WIND, DAVID COPPERFIELD, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, and other classics to be five-star books.  While I am happy to receive good ratings, I’m not stupid enough to think my books are on a par with Jane Austen’s or Edith Wharton’s.  THEY are 5-star writers.

So for those people who downloaded my books for free, the hope is that you will provide a review, and a nice one.  Please know, however, that no offense is taken if the ratings aren’t five stars.  I’m no Hemingway and I don’t expect to be treated as one.  I’m just grateful that people take the time to read my books.




E-BookBuilders is hosting a blog tour for my Kindle romance, No More Lonely Nights, January 27-29. The tour begins today with an author interview. Tuesday will be reviews and author bio. Wednesday will feature a book excerpt.

lonely banner jpeg finalThe link is

Other bloggers participating are and

If you are a blogger interested in participating, please contact Deena at


No More Lonely Nights 99cent Countdown Deal

Romance novel No More Lonely Nights will be on sale for 99 cents, from 1/13/14 through 1/17/14.

To read the first chapter of this book, which starts in the Mad Men -era and spans 20 years, please go to previous post.  Or you can click on cover photo at right, which takes you to the book’s Amazon Kindle page.

Direct link is

First Chapter of No More Lonely Nights

Here’s Chapter One of my second romance, NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS. If you like it, click on the cover photo at right to link to Amazon.  Once there, check out the 5-star customer reviews.

Chapter 1

Alexandria, Egypt I956

DOMINIQUE had never loved Stephen so much as at that moment, when she knew she would never see him again.

As she approached the top of the gangplank, she pivoted on her high heels and searched the throng on shore, as if she would find him there. But the only familiar figure was that of her mother, Solange, who raised her hand in a regal salute. Dominique raised her own gloved hand in return, trying valiantly to make her wave jaunty. It was hard, though. She was only twenty-one and she was leaving behind . . . everything.

Her eyes panned the raucous harbor, trying to commit it to memory. Against a backdrop of once-grand buildings was a scene that would fit nowhere but the Middle East. White-robed porters shouted to each other as they hauled baggage to the ship. Pushcart vendors — each with an umbrella to keep out the blistering sun — hawked food, copper goods, and Oriental rugs to the milling crowd. Luxurious European cars blew their horns at the donkey wagons that jammed the road.

Amidst the dust, noise, and confusion, the immaculate white cruise ship that would take Dominique to her new life in America seemed strangely alien. As it swayed softly with the incoming tide, Dominique put a hand on the teak railing to keep her balance. She should board, she told herself, but still she lingered on the gangplank. Dominique closed her eyes and inhaled deeply as the scent from afalafel cart wafted up to her. Would she ever again smell the familiar blend of cumin, hot oil, and pepper? Her throat tight with nostalgia, she opened her eyes for one last look.

Suddenly, her body grew rigid as her gaze locked on a man strolling a few yards from the ship — one of the ubiquitous khaki-uniformed soldiers who patrolled the waterfront. At once, Dominique pulled down the net veil of her hat and hurried up the gangplank.

A crew member dressed in crisp whites stepped forward to greet her. With a bow, he offered a steadying hand as Dominique stepped onto the polished deck. Then his eyes landed on the face beneath the veil. There was a barely perceptible pause. Until now, he hadn’t had a good look at her. Having seen her husband, he’d never expected someone so young — certainly not so striking. But it was verboten to stare at attractive passengers — especially when they were married. Recovering quickly, he gave her the deferential smile that he always accorded first class guests.

“Good morning, Mrs. Renard. Welcome aboard the Golden Gate.” He raised his voice to be heard over the celebratory crowd on board. Champagne corks popped and waiters rattled by with glasses and trays. Long, curly streamers sailed through the air and landed unnoticed on richly clad shoulders. Cries of, “I’ll miss you! Don’t forget to write!” Enthusiastic waves to those on shore.

The handsome crewman leaned toward Dominique and said solicitously, “Your husband’s found a place for you at the rail, if you’d like to watch the departure.” He gestured toward the bow of the ship, farther away than the length of a football field. “Would you like someone to show you the way?” He pointed to a column of young men wearing red jackets with brass buttons — like bellhops in fine hotels. They stood at attention, waiting to escort passengers to their staterooms or relieve them of their bon voyage baskets.

Dominique smiled nervously. “Thank you, that won’t be necessary. I’ll find him.” The truth was she felt awkward at the prospect of being alone with the man she had married in a rushed ceremony two hours earlier. As she made her way past the gleaming expanse of polished brass and wood, she wondered about Anton. What would they talk about? She barely knew him.

We’ll manage, Dominique firmly told herself. We’ll be fine. She forced herself to focus on the pleasant excitement around her. The atmosphere was that of a huge, carefree party with hundreds of fascinating strangers. Dominique was already catching bits of conversation in French, English, Arabic, and Italian. She wondered if she and Anton would make new friends on board. She hoped so, for she knew no one in America other than her sister, Danielle.

Finally, Dominique spotted the back of her husband’s sleekly groomed gray head. She eased into the space beside him and murmured a greeting as she pulled a stream of confetti from the shoulder of her silk suit.

He turned to her with a welcoming expression. “You said your good-byes?” Anton Renard spoke to her in French, their native language.

Dominique nodded and returned his smile.

Anton squeezed her elbow in a proprietary way and leaned close. “Ready for your new life in San Francisco, darling?” He brushed a strand of her auburn hair from her face.

Without realizing it, Dominique inched away from him. “Of course!” She tried for enthusiasm. The feeling of strangeness would fade, she reassured herself. It had to. Anton was her future; it was time to let go of her past. Forget Stephen.

The earsplitting shriek of the ship’s klaxon broke into Dominique’s thoughts. She leaned against the rail and longingly focused on her mother as the Golden Gate’s crew pulled up the gangplank.

Solange Avallon waved, a majestic, controlled motion. Even in the heat of the Alexandria sun, she looked cool in her ivory linen suit. She carried in her gloved hands a parasol of matching fabric — nothing frilly for Solange. And it seemed the crowd around her sensed that it was in the presence of someone. No one jostled her. No one stood close to her. She commanded respect. Dominique studied her mother with a mixture of admiration and hurt. Why couldn’t Solange, just once, act as if she would miss her? What a contrast to Dominique’s tearful parting from Nanny. The old woman — more family than servant — had been too overcome with emotion to accompany Dominique to the ship. But if Solange experienced similar feelings, they didn’t show.

Heat stung the inside of Dominique’s eyelids. It was wrenching to leave her mother, even though their relationship had never been harmonious. She bit her lip and stifled her unhappy reflections. Instead, she tried to cheer herself by thinking of her sister. Danielle wrote that she loved America. Eight years before, she had moved to New York with her husband, Ronald Marks, an Americanofficer she’d met on the Avallon family’s annual trip to France. Danielle’s engagement had been as sudden as Dominique’s. But then, Danielle had been in love with her husband.

Well, Dominique would learn to love Anton. She was grateful that he was taking her away from Egypt. She gave him a brief, sidelong glance, then once more turned to gaze at her mother. Why was Solange so determined to stay in Egypt after all that had happened? The country just wasn’t safe for Europeans anymore! But Solange insisted that she wasn’t worried. The deputy minister of Egypt himself was her protector. The ugly incident that was chasing Dominique into exile was an aberration, and Solange would simply be more cautious from now on. Still, she had insisted that Dominique go. And what reason was there to stay, since there was no future with Stephen?

Dominique looked guiltily at her husband, as though he could read her thoughts. But he was absorbed in conversation with the man on the other side of him. So, for just a moment — for the very last time, she vowed — Dominique closed her eyes and allowed herself to succumb to her memories. Memories of Egypt. Memories of Stephen.

Win $10 Amazon Gift Card

I just started an author FACEBOOK page, and will give a $10 AMAZON gift card to the 50th new person to “like” my page.

The link is

In addition, you can click on the adjacent photos on this page to purchase my books.

Blog Tour of REGRET NOT A MOMENT, Nov 18-22

bannerSign up for a blog tour of Kindle romance REGRET NOT A MOMENT.  The tour takes place November 18-22 (that’s next Monday for the start date).  To participate, go to

Readers are unanimous in giving REGRET a 5-star rating.  In addition, best selling authors Janet Dailey and Jennifer Blake raved about the book.  To buy the book for $3.99, click here

In conjunction with the tour, we’ll be giving away five copies of my second novel NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS.

lonely nights hi resHere’s a brief description of REGRET NOT A MOMENT: The year is 1930.  Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family.  Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander.  Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation.  But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage. Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris.  Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon’s tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and’60s.

Best-selling author Jennifer Blake called this book, “as warm and spirited as its heroine, as gracious as its Southern background, a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire.  I enjoyed it immensely.”

Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches (made into a classic movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) called Regret not a Moment, “A bewitching book!  You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond…”





The Last True Gentleman? Why My Husband Loves Project Runway’s Tim Gunn

It all started with Heidi Klum, the former Victoria’s Secret Model who hosts Lifetime’s Project Runway.  I wanted to watch the show, so I convinced my husband to watch it with me because I told him he’d enjoy all the gorgeous models.  As a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, I wanted to see the designers at work.  My husband didn’t care much about the process, but he said he would watch the show with me…hmm, not sure why.

The drama between the designers, as well as their wild and creative runway fashions, kind of caught my husband’s interest — and thoroughly absorbed me.  But who really fascinated us most was Tim Gunn, the designers’ mentor and top dog at Parsons School of Design.  Tim Gunn, from the first, struck us as an incredibly nice, thoughtful, and intelligent man.  At each new season of Project Runway, Mr. Gunn further impressed us with his diplomacy in handling temperamental, often catty, designers.

Another unique trait of Mr. Gunn’s is that he always wears a jacket, tie and slacks.  I believe I’ve only seen one episode in which he appeared in casual attire:  a race in Central Park.  Otherwise, whether he’s visiting a designer at a California beach, a Mississippi tract home, or an Ohio farm, he sports formal business attire.  With so many grown men dressing like four year-olds, this is refreshing!  What’s more, he carries it off without appearing snobbish or uptight because his warmth just shines through.

I think my husband recognizes Mr. Gunn’s extraordinary goodness and compassion because he shares those traits [see previous post MY HUSBAND SAVES LIVES].

“What a gentleman!” we marvel when Mr. Gunn smooths over a hissy-fit between two designers without appearing to take sides. His graciousness, his deep concern for people, his kindness, and his sense of honor are all on display in each show.  Could it possibly be an act, we asked each other?  Well, we had our answer today when we read an interview with him in the New York Times.  It’s not an act.  He’s every bit as wonderful in person, according to what I read in an interview.

Tim Gunn is 60 years old now.  I am sorry to hear that because I haven’t seen many gentlemen like him, either in person or in the news, and I wish there were even one 30 year-old to give me hope.  Is there a successor anywhere in the world to this sort of kindness, grooming, taste, diplomacy, intelligence and grace?  Is there anyone else out there without a common, vulgar, or mean bone in his body, but who tolerates the faults of others with such kindness?

Tim Gunn, in your interview, you say you would like to have a platonic companion with whom to grow old.  You don’t care if the person is male or female, and you don’t want the sex, but you want the friendship.

I have an idea:  my husband and I intend to retire in Hawaii, where most houses have separate in-law pavilions (ohana) or guest houses.  We invite you to come and live with us, or at least be our next-door neighbor.  You can split the time between Hawaii and your New York place.  What about it, Tim?  We can’t think of anyone we’d rather be friends with.  I envision lovely gatherings on the lanai, photographic expeditions, Srabble games, reading, and beach picnics (you in your suit and tie?)

Well, in case you don’t take us up on our offer, let me say that I am so glad that we have had the chance to “meet” you, that the world has had a chance to meet you.  I hope others will follow your example.

Here’s the link to the Tim Gunn interview

To purchase my fiction on Amazon Kindle: