Friday, April 15, 2016

Free 3-Book Erotic Paranormal Romance This weekend

My 3-book set, the Demon's Call series is free this weekend on Amazon. Book 1-3 free on Saturday, books 2 and 3 free on Sunday (because book one was out of free days!) Grab your copy and let me know what you think.

Just watch out for the ero overload :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Free Steampunk Romantic Fantasy E-Book

Yay, this is my 200th post to my blog!!!

I don't know why I feel that is momentous... but there you have it.

Earth And Sky is free this weekend on amazon. If you like steampunky romancy action, with wings and beasties, check it out.

Wren has trained for war since she was a child, but a secret bond with the enemy leads her to question everything she has ever known. 

Cast out by her family as a traitor, the fiery, alchemy-wielding shape-shifter finds refuge in the arms of Ville, the raven-winged leader of the enemy Sky clan. The star-crossed lovers discover that the world they know is built on lies meant to fuel the war that has raged between their clans for years. 

Wren and Ville’s relationship transcends the racism and discrimination around them as they seek to discover the real cause of the war—and learn the shocking truth about the forbidden bond between them. Armed with alchemy, attitude, and a six-shooter, Wren sets out on a journey of love, loss, and redemption that will change the world. Read it now! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

What is This Book, Anyway? (The Genre Question)

If you've ever read one of my books, you can probably tell that I have trouble with genres.

I think it may contribute to me not yet landing an agent. I have gotten a fair amount of personalized feedback (I'm not talking your generic form letter) from actual publishing professionals such as best selling authors/teacher, agents and editors that all say the same thing--you write really well. I've had these people praise the mechanics of my writing, my use of prose, the uniqueness of my ideas. So what, for the love of all that is holy is the problem? In the end, maybe it boils down to something more illusive than genre, or make it truly is related to personal interest. What an agent or editor decides to rep or acquire is understandably quite subjective. But I have a hunch it may be something more simple than that. I think it's genre. (Caveat- maybe I'm just a terrible writer and I don't know what I'm talking about ;) 

I think the issue is this-- that agents and editors, though they want the next "new" thing, are to some degree stuck in genre expectations. To some degree I get it. If you say that a paranormal romance, for example, must have x, y, and z plot elements, what you are really saying is that this is what books that have sold well to date are doing, and therefore, this is what readers expect, etc. So when they say "new" they mean "just like this but with a little twist." From a money and marketing standpoint it makes sense. From a "how do I find another book just like this one I loved" standpoint it makes sense. 

But as a writer, gah it's frustrating! I'll back up a minute, and show you what I mean, for those who don't get what I'm saying. Let's say you write paranormal romance, since I used that example earlier. So what makes it paranormal romance? Technically, just the fact that there is romance and some sort of paranormal element, right? But if you were to want to submit to a well-known publisher in that genre, you might find something like this guideline at harlequin-- please note, I've seen worse in terms of leading you by the nose, but here it is:

"Harlequin Nocturne - 80,000 words
  • Fast-paced, action-oriented romances in which characters struggle with life-and-death issues in a paranormal world
  • Word count of 80,000 to 85,000
  • The word count allows for a wider breadth of story, subplots and heightened sensual and sexual tension
  • Themes include vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, Native American and Greek mythology and fairy kingdoms
  • Strong sexual/sensual overlay
  • The hero is a key figure—powerful, mysterious and totally attracted to the heroine.
  • Vivid conflicts, and stories that can be set throughout the real world and fictional worlds of the author's own creation
  • Characters do not live by predictable rules; instead they respond to the needs of the paranormal world that the author has created
  • There is a "mythology" created to explain the characters' existence, and their actions must not run contrary to this setup. The mythology must remain consistent and support the action of the book.
  • While these are contemporary paranormal romances, the author may go back into history, depending on the needs of the story
  • Harlequin Nocturne had two titles on the NYT bestseller list in 2011
  • There are 2 new Harlequin Nocturne books available every month."

Dark, sexy, atmospheric paranormal romances that feature larger-than-life characters struggling with life-and-death issues.
Harlequin Nocturne Key Elements
For explanations and tips about conflict, dialogue and emotion please click on How to Write the Perfect Romance
Featured in Harlequin Nocturne
Powerful, mysterious Alpha male heroes facing life-and-death situations as they battle for the heroine's love. Harlequin Nocturne romances are highly sensual and driven by the romance and not the paranormal element. The hero should be a force to contend with, and the heroines are vulnerable but equally complex, strong and smart.
Harlequin Nocturne is…
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn or True Blood or Dark Shadows for their solid levels of story, complex characters and varying levels of paranormal world-building with strong romantic themes, high levels of sensuality and lives and hearts on the line."

Do you get my issue? They are looking for cookie-cutter stories that fit into a neat little box. What if my hero isn't an "alpha" type? What if he's actually endearingly sensitive? What if the conflict in my plot isn't "life or death" per say? What if it's an intellectual type of conflict, or an emotional one? Maybe my heroine is the "key figure" and not the hero. 

And this last little bit basically tells you exactly what they want you to write, followed by examples of work they would like you to emulate: "Powerful, mysterious Alpha male heroes facing life-and-death situations as they battle for the heroine's love. Harlequin Nocturne romances are highly sensual and driven by the romance and not the paranormal element. The hero should be a force to contend with, and the heroines are vulnerable but equally complex, strong and smart." I've seen romance guidelines (of the non-paranormal kind) that are even more leading than that! They tell you exactly what kind of heroine, hero, plot line, and resolution they want, right down to the tropes they want included. 

And don't get me started on tropes. If every novel I read had the exact same equation played out over and over again, right down to the minutia, I would stop reading forever. 

Now, like I said, I get this from a marketing standpoint. But I don't find it in the least bit appealing, either as an author OR a reader. Why? Because I have a very hard time finding the type of book that I would like to read. I roll my eyes every time I read "alpha hero." And, sue me, though I like a great deal of romance and "heat" in my novels, I also think it should be about more than just that. 

So I follow the age-old advice of writing the book I want to read. And my target audience has received that well. But my books will never "fit" into a neatly laid out expectation of what a genre should be. I've even gotten reviews stating all the things they like about the book, followed by "not like similar books in this genre." Which to an agent or editor would probably mean death, but makes me do a happy dance. I don't want to write the book someone else already wrote. What would be the point?

It never fails- every time I try to submit my work to an agent, I spend sometime staring at the submission guidelines. My paranormal romance novel where the shape shifter isn't an overbearing ass... can I call that paranormal? My steampunk flavored book with magic, vampires, shifters, and dirigibles that is mostly about love, has some sex scenes, and is also about bigger issues like equality, and acceptance... what do I call that? (I usually go with "steampunk fantasy romance" but even that feels not quite a complete picture, and really that is me not picking a genre). 

My conclusion in all this--and I really hope I'm not the only one to come to this conclusion--is that I would rather write the type of story I want to write (or read) than the one someone told me to write. That is the whole point of writing in the first place, and without that approach there is zero creativity involved. So, if you are like me and what you write doesn't fit in a neat little package--THANK YOU. I love your work. Please don't stop. You are why I love books!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Always With the Magic

I love magic in my stories. It's second only to romance. For me, magic is as much a matter of the heart as love, I suppose. And this is why:

*We HAVE to believe in magic.
Okay, so it's not mandatory in the sense that you're going to go to jail if you are a muggle. But I don't see how anyone can survive in this world if they are completely lacking that sense of something more lurking just around the corner. It's what gets us through hard times, helps up pull ourselves up by our bootstraps--and sometimes it's what somehow makes everything work out okay, even when it seemed the world was falling apart.

*Sometimes magic fails.
Wait, didn't I just say we have to have magic to get through tough times? Yes. But that doesn't mean it won't fail us at a crucial moment. That's when we find out the truth--that the real magic was inside us all along, not out there in the world somewhere.

*That sounds good, but what has magic done for me lately?
Personally, the magic in the world, and ultimately inside me, has gotten me to where I am today. It hasn't always been pretty. In fact at times it's been downright hell. But somehow when we are challenged in life, we always come out stronger. And the harder, the more excruciatingly painful the challenge, the stronger we become. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

E-Book Piracy

Life on the the high seas.

Or, not.

This week I've discovered two sites at which entire copies of my e-books were being provided for free without my permission. While I'm all for free stuff, this is understandably irksome. I am realistic enough to not spend the next week of my life on some sort of crusade--I'd rather spend the time writing, even if it makes me no money *cough, jackasses, cough*.  But I did want to put this out there so that any of my other independent author friends who don't have people working at big companies whose job it is to take care of these things can be aware. Both sites have removed my work upon request, one via a form, the other via me sending them a cease and desist e-mail--neither with an apology or explanation as to where they obtained my work nor on what planet they think this is okay.

End rant.

If you are an author and want to make sure you are not also sailing the high seas --argh matey-- you might want to look at the sites. Or just google your author name and/or work and see what pops up (that's how I stumbled across this).  Happy sailing.

1) - there is not contact form, but an e-mail address a the bottom of the page
2) - click your book, go down to the bottom right and click on DCRM and there is a form to fill out asking for immediate removal, which is ACTUALLLY immediate.

Now, enough of this seriousness. I can't stand it. I'm going back to the fun part of writing!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Love for Shape Shifters

Alongside wings/flying, shape shifting is another one of my favorite supernatural abilities. The Shifters in Earth and Sky are particularly awesome because they can also do alchemy. To me, being able to change physical forms as when shifting is a parallel to alchemy- the ability to change the forms of the elements/physical objects. So why is this interesting to me? Again, I don't set out with these symbolic ideas in mind...but when I analyze it, this is what it all means to me.

Why do I love Shifters?

*We all want to feel comfortable in our skin- The very obvious reader/writer connection to shape shifters is that they have this dual nature, the normal, accepted outer appearance they wear around other human beings--and the beast hidden inside them just waiting to rear it's head. Sometimes this is a bad thing- think uncontrollable raging werewolf. But sometimes it's a good thing, a hidden inner strength that will save you.

*We all sometimes feel uncomfortable in our own skin- Though we WANT to feel comfortable in our own skin, we often don't. Shifters don't always like their animal. Sometimes its a love/hate kind of relationship.

*Permission to be yourself (or, "it wasn't me, it was the wolf")--There is usually some moment in a Shifter story where the Shifter has to accept themselves, beast and all . Of course there's also the plausible deniability thing...

*Also I just like animals ;)

What is your favorite shape-shifting character? Spoiler- mine is currently a character from the sequel to Earth and Sky who can shift into large felines. Seriously, what is NOT to love about that?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Obsession With Wings

I have been hard at work on the sequel to Earth and Sky, and while doing that I've spent WAY too much time on Pinterest.  I like to create inspiration boards where I post pictures that remind me of the story I'm working on--some in obvious ways and some more subtle.

One of the themes in the boards for Earth and Sky and it's sequel is wings. One of the races in my books are Fallen, a vampiric, magic-using race who boast massive wings.

I love the thought of having wings. From as early as I remember, I've had re-occurring dreams about being able to fly.  In my dreams, if I flap my arms hard enough and run to get up some momentum, I can fly! I am always amazed and exhilarated by this discovery, and am always trying to show someone else- a disbeliever who thinks I'm crazy. Now, I'm a very vivid dreamer, so I confess, I look forward to these dreams where I get to soar around in the air under my own power.

Why am I so obsessed with wings and flying?

I think it's a natural and common thing for humans to dream of flying. After all, it's something we land-based creatures can't do. And there is some great symbolism there. I never set out to write morals or symbolism or deep ideas into my novels, but sometimes they get in there all on their own. Here is what my winged characters represent to me.

--Human potential: We are amazing in our ability to dream, and our ability to follow those dreams to crazy heights. More often than not, my winged characters end up being the ones who dream up impossible things, or encourage those around them to follow their dreams or live up to their full potential.
--Sometimes our wings fail us: Even though we have this amazing potential inside us, sometimes we fail. Sometimes we fall, our wings fail us, they get wet or the magic fades. It's what we do then that shows our true nature. My winged characters are bereft without the use of their wings, but they end up dealing with it anyway and carrying on with their adventures--because in the end it was never the wings that let them fly in the first place, it was something inside them.
--None of us are whole alone: In Earth and Sky, my characters find out that amazing as each race of creatures is, none of them are as powerful alone as they could be together. Who is there for you when your wings give out and you've lost the will to fly? Who would you carry, even when your wings are tired and you feel like you can't stay airborne one more second?

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another."
  Luciano De Crescenzo

Check out my pinterest boards for some cool pics of all things winged, as well as lots of other really beautiful pics that remind me of my novels.