Wednesday, March 5, 2014

AT ANY PRICE, by Brenna Aubrey

I first heard about Brenna when she took a brave stand and decided to turn down a three-book print deal in favor of self-publishing. You can read more about her decision here. 

I was also intrigued by her book, AT ANY PRICE, because of its awesome premise: 

Achievement Unlocked: Geek Virgin

When Mia Strong, proud geek-girl and popular gaming blogger, auctions off her virginity online, she knows she'll make waves. But what she will not be making is a love connection. Her rules are set in stone: One night. No further contact.

It's a desperate step, but it's the only way she can go to medical school and pay her mother's mounting hospital bills.

Difficulty Level: Millionaire CEO

Adam Drake, the enigmatic auction winner, is a software prodigy who made his first million at seventeen. Now, in his mid-twenties, he's sexy, driven and--as CEO of his own gaming company--he's used to making the rules. Before Mia knows what's happening, he's found the loophole in the rules of her auction. Every stipulation she's made to protect her heart gets tossed by the wayside.

She can't tell if he's playing her...or if he's playing for keeps.

Brenna was also kind enough to answer some interview questions:

In a recent blog post, you said that you drafted a book in 12 days (!). Before that, how long had you been writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

I've been writing pretty much constantly since about 1995 when I started on an epic fantasy story which then became a series of books. For the first 15 years it was mostly a hobby--something I did for my own enjoyment--for myself and my family and friends to read. I never considered professionally publishing because I'd always had the impression that it was next to impossible to break into the business and so I never even tried. In 2010, I joined the Romance Writers of America and that changed everything because I learned that it wasn't impossible and my craft and business knowledge increased by leaps and bounds.  In 2012, I signed with an agent and began shopping my Historical Romance manuscript which was not acquired. During the time I was on submission with that book, I sat down, did all the pre-planning for and then the fastdrafting for AT ANY PRICE. The fastdraft was finished in 12 days and then it took another 2 months of polishing, fixing and using notes from critique partner and beta readers to get it into ship shape.

I greatly admire your speed, and love the premise of AT ANY PRICE. Where did the idea come from, and what do you want readers to take away when they're done reading it?

The premise, which is about a college student who decides to auction off her virginity online for financial reasons, actually was something I discussed with my critique partner, Kate McKinley.  At the time, we were both writing historical (Regency) romance and she came up with the idea to have a historical heroine auction her virginity.  One day I was thinking about her premise as I was puttering around the house and it smacked me between the eyes–that would make an wonderful hook for a contemporary story. I actually suggested it to her, first, that she write it as a contemporary but she told me I should do it with her blessing. I couldn’t put down the idea…The more I thought about it, the more things gelled.  I started to think about who this woman was and ask questions about her: Why would she do this?  So I came up with the idea of the Virgin's Manifesto.

Mia is brilliant and only in college by grace of her scholarship. She's worked single-mindedly during her premed program to earn a perfect grade point average.  She’s a scientist.  She’s logical.  So for me it was important that she make the auction extremely logical.  Everything, in her mind, is perfectly reasoned out.  And so she takes the examples, throughout history, of where a woman’s virginity has been used as a bargaining chip by men and she makes this about those ideals: that she is choosing to profit from her own purity.  In a way, she’s fooling herself because of her various hang-ups and issues but how she deals with that self-discovery is at least as important as the other things the book is about.

Yet another reason why good critique partners are so invaluable! What have you learned  about self-publishing so far?

I've learned that self-publishing is HARD work and it's not for everyone. I've also learned that it's exciting to be in the driver's seat and make choices and have the freedom to experiment, whether it's with price points or branding or whatever. It's also a little scary and there is always more to learn. The best thing I've learned is that the Indie community of authors is a fabulous, awesome bunch of people who love to share and support each other.

Excellent insight! What is a "non-compete clause," and why should writers know about it?

A non-complete clause is a contract tool used by publishing companies that prevents an author from publishing with another house or even self-publishing while under contract with the house in question in the same genre or under the same name. This is based on the belief that readers will buy some books from an author but not others, for whatever reason, and that authors will "compete" against each other for reader revenue.  Some authors have more restrictive clauses than others. And some authors are forced to take on a pen name in order to get around an NC clause.

Definitely something to be aware of! What are some of your current projects?

I'm currently at work finishing the first trilogy for GAMING THE SYSTEM.  There will be two more books in Adam and Mia's story. I have another novel planned this year that centers around a secondary character in the GAMING THE SYSTEM series. I also have a couple smaller surprises up my sleeve for readers. :)  But yeah, it's going to be a full year of writing! I'm excited.

To get your hands on AT ANY PRICE, click on the link below:

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