Hilarity in The Erotic Secrets of a French Maid

I have checked out The Erotic Secrets of a French Maid, by Lisa Cach, approximately a gazillion times. Well, let's say twelve. I kept putting off reading it -- I would renew it twice, turn it in late, get back in line for it, get it again, and put it right back on my to-read shelf. I had liked a couple previous books by Lisa Cach, but I think I was slightly unnerved by the sultry cover of this one, and my library's categorization of this in "erotic fiction" vs. "romance novels." I was sort of excited by the idea of reading it, and sort of turned off.

This last time that I was turning it in, I finally read the back synopsis, something I often avoid in case it gives away too much of the plot (or mischaracterizes the plot, another pet peeve -- sometimes I wonder if the cover designers, editors, illustrators, and writers have read the book. Have you seen women on the front with flowing blond hair, only to read that she has short dark curls? But I digress...).

To summarize the summary, Emma is a wannabe architect and current housecleaner who meets and falls in lust with Russ, a decade-older software engineer who overworks himself in his grief over his brother's recent death. She half-jokingly suggests that she would be open to becoming a kept woman, and he later takes her up on the offer.


The way he takes her up on it is HI-larious. I'm only a third of the way through the book, so I can't comment on it as a whole, but I just want to share part of the scene where he hires her to do more than housecleaning. I forgot how funny Lisa Cach is -- I remembered sexy, but I forgot the humor aspect of her books. This scene had me snorting and trying not to wake up my sleeping boys.

What Russ is trying to take her up on is her offer to shop and cook dinner for him along with the cleaning, but he fumbles the invitation in an effort not to make her feel like he's accepting out of charity. He knows she's looking for a place to live, so he starts off with offering his empty Belltown apartment to rent and then ambiguously states that he'll take her up on her offer.
"You're not offended, are you?" he asked warily.

She blinked. "No, I don't think so. I mean, I offered, right? [...] If I said yes, how often would you want..." She trailed off, finishing the question with her eyebrows.

"I don't think I need it every night. Maybe, oh, Monday, Wednesday, Friday? With something big on Friday to last me through the weekend?"

[...] "Er, what type of 'big' did you mean, for Fridays?"

He shrugged "Big. You know, lots of it. I'll leave the details up to you."

You gotta love that.


Give readers a taste

I was writing an article for a friend's magazine about parenting books I've found helpful, and I realized that I'd come to almost all of the books on my list through online resources. It reminded me of Jo Beverley's plug of Google Book Search, and my note that current books are also wonderful to have in full or in excerpted form online.

I think sometimes authors try so hard to "protect" their work — their ideas and their copyright — that they forget that the point is to get their writing out there. For some, it might be selling more books; for others, the message might be paramount. Either way, it's best to reach the widest audience possible.

I wouldn't have read 95% (I'm guessing here) of the books on my list if I hadn't been able to come to them in some way online first. Whether it was reading detailed reviews or blog entries, looking at excerpts online, downloading articles from the same author, discussing the ideas on forums, or whatever avenue, I needed frequent exposure to the book and author in question before I was intrigued enough to seek out and read the book for myself.

If you're an author or self-publisher, what does this mean for us?

Here are some suggestions for the online world of marketing:
  • √ send out review copies whenever they're requested
  • √ start a blog to talk about and get readers interested in your work and ideas
  • √ host contests and polls to generate excitement, such as a vote on cover art or a character's name
  • √ hold drawings to award copies of your books to lucky readers
  • √ offer live chats with readers
  • √ start a fan email list and send out occasional newsletters
  • √ post short stories, articles, or sample chapters on your website
  • √ allow and encourage others to link to your work
  • √ visit other appropriate blogs and leave helpful comments with a link back to your site
  • √ check out Google AdWords for targeted pay-per-click ads
  • √ join and post on online message boards and create a tasteful signature that links back to your site

If anyone has other good online-marketing ideas, let me know and I'll add them to the list.
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