Changing of the Seasons

Not really a complete change though – technically the cooler fall weather and the leaves turning won’t really start for a few more weeks around here. But summer vacation is ending, school is starting in a few days, so to me that signals the change. And I’m hoping it will bring a little more order to our little corner of the world.
It’s been a busy and eventful summer. On the home front, I can now honestly say I can’t wait for my daughter to get her driver’s license. The chauffeuring gets old fast, and somehow she had somewhere to go nearly every night. Much easier when her friends come over here, but that brings its own set of dilemmas. At least now, I can say no to Tuesday night guests and not be made to feel like I’m the evil stepmother in Snow White!
I turned a lot of my focus toward revising my next vampire story, The Night Club. It’s just about finished – I’m still doing some final revisions and adding a couple new scenes and just trying to get everything clean and logical. Which got me thinking ahead to my next vampire book. I actually began sketching it out. Just jotting down some ideas of what I think should happen, no real writing. Yet. You may remember Josh and Sophie from The Taste of Magic – well, they have their own tale to tell. So I started my spreadsheet for their story.
In the midst of that, I also began the sequel to Warrior’s Vengeance. Rowan Langley is the hero in Warrior’s Wrath, and if you read WV, you know him as Marissa’s brother. He learns a few things about himself that turn him very angry and bitter. This doesn’t bode well for the heroine, Aeron, a Welsh woman who steals from him. I’m having lots of fun getting this first draft down, and hopefully will complete it quickly. At the rate I’m going, there’s actually a good chance of that.
I’m also doing some minor work on the sequel to Prince of the Universe. I had lost my fire for that story a couple months ago, but it’s back. Christina and Reygar’s story is a bit more difficult to pinpoint. I’m focusing on world building at this point, and making my usual lists – these are of various cultural customs and societal norms. With each one that becomes clear, the trouble between the Aldarran and “Earth Woman” gets stronger. This book will be set entirely on the planet of Aldarra – and civilization on that planet is very different from Earth’s.
Lots of irons in the fire, which is kind of crazy, considering the insanity and chaos of the rest of my life. But my mind just works that way – I suppose because I’m a Gemini and there are way more than two of me in here! 😀 Each part of me wants to be focused on something, so to appease them all, I spend a little time on each planned book, at least so when I finish the two I’m neck deep in, I’ll have at least two more to get to work on. The madness keeps me focused – I get 2 to 2 ½ hours a night to write, so I’ve been trying to use it wisely. With school starting, I may even gain another hour – no more kids staying up late because they don’t have to get up in the morning! It’s really hard to concentrate on medieval England when Mario’s in the background trying to save the Princess!

Reviews – Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

When a book releases, reviews usually follow. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quick. I found a lovely review for In the Devil’s Arms a good year after it was released. So these things do take time.
I’ve had a couple of recent releases in the last few months, and I’ve sent them off with a fingers-crossed silent prayer that whoever reads them loves them. I’ve been lucky for the most part – most of my reviews that came from review sites and blogs have, overall, been very good.  I know not everyone will love my books, and I usually have a pretty thick skin. I love the feedback, even it it’s not as good as I’d hoped.
Prince of the Universe was my first stab at sci-fi. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the genre, a few movies here and there, and an occasional book by a favorite author are about it. But the idea came to me, and I ran with it. I had a blast writing the story. It was a lot of fun, although I did have to do a bit of double-checking on certain things that had to be accurate. The rest, I kind of went with what I envisioned in my head when the first pieces of the story came together. I loved Merry, and wanted to give her the happy ending she deserved after what she’d endured. Same for Vega, even though he was a pompous, arrogant fool at times, he genuinely cared for Merry.  He needed her as much as she needed him.
Apparently, though, I bored the reviewer. Ugh! Bored? Gah, that’s like the kiss of death for a book. I’ve had people trash my characters, my plotlines, even my writing talent. But no one ever said they were bored before. This was new. I sulked for a bit, and lost all desire to continue working on the outline for PotU’s sequel. Logically, I know the book just wasn’t for that reader. It happens, and everyone’s opinion is important. And the review was not done in a mean-spirited way. It was honest. I appreciate that. It’s been some time now, the sting has softened a bit, but the worry remains that people will read that review and steer clear. It happens, and I can’t dwell on it. I have decided I will go ahead and write the sequel. This book will take place entirely on the planet Aldarra, and I’m liking how the plot and conflict are coming together.
My other recent release, Warrior’s Vengeance, was a title I had lots of worries for. I’ve mentioned before the reactions to this book have been extreme, no middle ground. My hero, Ian, can be cruel, and doesn’t always treat the heroine, Marissa, very well. But I wrote this book knowing I was keeping it in sync with events and the people of the times. Of course, I’ve had a few things brought to my attention that I never thought of as I was writing the book, but that’s okay. I kind of expected to be beaten down by readers and reviewers for some of the content, anyway, so those complaints were almost minor. They also spurred a couple of “D’oh!” moments. Haven’t heard the term “bodice-ripper” in a while, but I’ll admit, I liked hearing it. 🙂 

I have a plan for a sequel to this book too, and there are ideas for more books set in 12th/13th century England and Scotland, bringing in some of the paranormal elements I like so much to play with. I truly enjoy that time period, the location, so I want to explore more of the people. I will definitely be producing some more “bodice-rippers” in a similar vein and can only hope they do as well.
Anyway, it seems I needn’t have worried too much about this book – this story resonated with the reviewer. It touched others as well – one reader admitted she had a hard time with the story. I get that – it’s not a light, fluffy story by any stretch of the imagination. But she was honest, and straightforward in her review, and rated the book very highly. I got her point, and it was a pleasure to discuss that with her a little. You can’t ask for more. 
Now, the general rule is, don’t respond to reviews. But I always think it’s nice, when a reader says my story touched her deeply in some way, that I should at least thank her. And it often leads to new experiences I might not otherwise have had. I like to think my instincts are good, and while I don’t often respond to a review, there are those that warrant it, and I’m always glad I did afterward.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a few places I avoid getting in too deep reading reviews. When a reviewer reports my work is poorly written and needs editing, then lists Fifty Shades as one of her Top 10 All Time Favorites, well, I can’t take that reviewer too seriously. Sorry for anyone who’s a fan of those books – I am not. I tried, I really tried, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

In any case, seeing the reactions to Warrior’s Vengeance was a huge bright spot in a gloomy last couple of weeks, which sadly, look to be getting gloomier. I have some thoughts on that, but I don’t know if I’m inclined to share them here yet. I’ve been holding off and taking a wait-and-see approach, but I think that time has come to an end. In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep up with getting two books done – one revised, and one new. And trying not to think too far ahead.

Happy Mother’s Day – and a New Release

To all of my wonderful family members and friends who are moms and are celebrating today, I wish you a lovely day filled with fun and relaxation. Let the men do it all today!

In other news, in case you haven’t yet heard, Prince of the Universe was released this past Friday, May 11. I’m super excited about this book because it’s my first sci-fi and super nervous because it’s my first sci-fi! If that makes any sense. In any case, I really had a lot of fun with this tale, I love the characters, and I really got to stretch what I thought I knew about the skies around us and billions of miles away. On the other hand, while working on this book, I realized how lacking my knowledge is about the skies around us and billions of miles away!

I’m not a sci-fi buff, I freely admit it. So there’s probably a lot in here that breaks rules of  physics and all that. But I suppose, when you think about it, we don’t really know everything about everything, as advanced and knowledgeable as we are as a race. Any number of variations of living beings beyond our comprehension of the known universe is possible. So I hold tight to that for reassurance.  I just let my mind follow its path – if I like an idea, I can usually come up with some way to make it somewhat plausible.

Anyway, back to the book – here’s the lovely cover:

Here’s the blurb:

Merry Alexander found sanctuary in western Pennsylvania from a dangerous former lover, who turned out to be an alien from another planet. Prince Vega of Aldarra has spent several years journeying across the universe, fleeing the enemy who killed his father and invaded and conquered his planet. In the final stages of his plans to return and take back his home, Vega lands on Earth.

Merry’s solitude and fragile sense of safety are shattered when another alien, Prince Vega, walks into her country store.  At first terrified, Merry soon finds herself attracted to the arrogant and sexy alien demanding her assistance. She realizes her enemy and Vega’s are the same, and can’t refuse the prince’s request for help. Yet, when Vega goes so far as to claim her as his mate, she is determined to resist. Soon, she finds herself torn between wanting Vega out of her safe and quiet life and the desire to go to Aldarra and submit to him as his queen. But first, the battle of their lives looms ahead.

I really enjoyed getting to know both of these characters- Merry makes me laugh, and Vega is one of my typical arrogant alpha-males, but being out of his element puts him at a disadvantage. Not that it stops him from taking charge, but Merry certainly doesn’t make it easy on him.

I have plans for at least one more tale in this world – the characters whose story I am planning to tell were introduced in Prince of the Universe. I have the basic bare bones of what I would like to happen – of course, my characters tend to do what they want, so we’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, enjoy Merry and Vega’s story. You can get it directly from Renaissance Sizzler Editions, and also at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Title Trouble

Another month gone by, so I guess it’s time for another post. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about – there’s a lot going on, as usual. But then it hit me. One of the most important aspects of a book is the title. It’s what the reader sees first. It should be intriguing, and make the reader want to look closer at the book, and it should also hint at what the book is about. At the very least, I think it should give a clue to the general theme or setting of the story.
And I am in a big title dilemma right now, which ironically enough, helped me with this post.
I am about 2/3 of the way through the next book in the Marchand series and I still have not been able to come up with a title for this one. I’ve set it in the equestrian field, and of course, like the other books in the series, the sexual relationship between the characters involves lots of BDSM fun.  I want something that gets at both of those factors, but many of the ideas that sprung up were just too… weird, icky, or plain old silly. Seriously, anything with the word “Riding” just came out so wrong! So I’m putting the task aside again until I have no choice to deal with it. I know, I’m a chicken, right? I should face this bump in the road head on and tackle it into submission. But I’d rather write the book at this point, and I’m hoping something will pop into my head before I get to end.
My sci-fi erotic romance, Prince of the Universe, will be out in a few weeks. That was a title I had no trouble coming up with. The theme song from the Highlander movies and TV show, as performed by Queen, always seemed to pop into my head from the moment I first started writing the book. After all, Vega is a prince, and he has traveled across the universe. It fit, perfectly, in my opinion. And as a nod to my love of all things Highlander, I couldn’t resist.
Warrior’s Vengeance was another title that came to me fairly easily. The funny thing is, when I first created these characters, way back in the late 90’s, I wasn’t writing anything remotely erotic. Sensual and hot, but without the intense, sexually charged (and kinky) love scenes. There were love scenes, and they were hot, but I don’t think anyone would consider them erotic by today’s standards. The book was originally called Passion’s Vengeance, which kind of sucked, but I was way worse with titles back then. I’ve learned a bit since. Worst of all, hero and heroine didn’t even come face to face until somewhere around chapter five! When I decided to dip my toe back into the medieval pool, I tossed everything I’d ever written about Marissa and Ian and started from scratch. The original title was always in the back of my mind, but once the story changed – drastically – the title just reworked itself. And I liked it.
The Taste of Magic was thought up by the book’s original publisher. I won’t even share the working title, it really, really sucked. (Not sure if I meant that pun or not! lol). But it does what it should do – tells you a little of what the book is about. It is one of my personal faves – maybe because someone else came up with it! 😀
The vampire book I’m revising, The Night Club, was a fairly easy title to come up with. A large part of the book is set in a nightclub, and of course, even though my vamps can function in daylight, nighttime is the real playground for the bloodsuckers. I’m also really excited about this book, another one I started way back when. I’ve made drastic changes to it, and hope to be getting that one on the submission rounds. The characters, while they have a sensual and steamy relationship, are pretty much vanilla, so this book is authored by my other alter-ego, Gina Rosavin.
How does everyone else come up with their titles? Is it easy, hard, somewhere in between? What titles have you found interesting – the ones that stick in your head, even if it’s been years since you read the book. What books have you read, simply because of the title? I’m curious. And open to any suggestions 🙂
* Yes, I changed the post title. Guess the issue isn’t just limited to book titles!

This Week’s Update

A lot’s happened in the last few weeks, much of it writing-related, some of it not. The timing couldn’t be better either, as my day job has a shutdown this coming week, and the best part of that is my kids will be in school most days! So I get to work on various writing-related tasks, as well as catch up on a couple things around here I just haven’t been able to squeeze in, despite the fast-reaching-desperate need to get them done. But I made progress on some cleanups for Warrior’s Vengeance, and I got a lot of new stuff written for the current Marchand book I’m working on.
But the biggest news of the week is that Prince of the Universe, my first stab at a sci-fi, has been contracted by Renaissance Ebooks Sizzler Editions! I am super excited about this, because as much as I love this story, and these characters, I really don’t know a lot about sci-fi. Seriously. I never even saw the first three episodes of Star Wars (which, BTW, I can’t help thinking of as the second three, since the others I saw in the 70’s and 80’s were the FIRST THREE I saw. Still come first in my head). That’s how bad it is.
Here’s the thing – one of my favorite TV shows EVER is “The Universe” on the History Channel, followed closely (really, really closely) by “Through the Wormhole” on the Science Channel. The idea of other worlds out there fascinates me, and I do find it hard to believe that we are truly alone in this vast universe. So I watch those shows as much as I can (marathons are like a drug overdose! lol), and my writer’s imagination goes to work after that.
I was able to incorporate some of what I’ve learned into this book, the rest – I kind of just winged it. Prince Vega, of the Planet Aldarra, is a human-like person who lands in Fair Ridge, PA, home of Meredith (Merry) Alexander, who just so happens to have had a really bad previous encounter with another Aldarran. There are a lot of reasons Merry fears Vega, but her compassionate heart can’t completely abandon him. Even though she wants and decides to let him fend for himself, she can’t cut him off, and once she makes her first move to help him, she’s doomed. But Vega isn’t like the other, and proves it, sometimes in a very arrogant and I’m-better-than-you-cause-I’m-royalty kind of way.
These two were fun to write – Merry, while she possesses a very legitimate fear of Vega, still has backbone and won’t completely back down. She’s funny, not afraid to speak her mind, and that compassionate heart of hers makes her a sucker for someone in need of help. Vega was a bit more complicated. He’s a prince, in line to a throne, he’s a warrior, and he has the capability of transforming into a hybrid man/feline creature with incredible amounts of strength and power.  Yet, he just wants to share his life with someone, just like anyone else. His goal to be king requires he have heirs. The Earth woman confounds him, but he can’t resist her. His perception of too many softer feelings for her is that it could weaken him, make him vulnerable. But he also discovers the motivation such feelings give him. Not that he ever loses that arrogant edge – he wouldn’t be one of my heroes if he did!
Anyway, as I get more details, I will share them – such as a release date, a cover, and all the fun stuff. This week – getting down to editing. Part of me is dreading it a bit, the process is sure to induce quite a few groans and head-shakes, with thoughts of “What was I thinking?” but it’ll be fun to work with these two again.

What Genre is This Anyway?

As I’ve probably mentioned before, my current WIP is a sci-fi themed story. However, in the last couple of weeks, I’m thinking maybe it’s not necessarily sci-fi, but fantasy.  Here’s the thing, I’m not a big fan of sci-fi in general – my knowledge of the genre is sorely lacking. I had several male cousins who were, so I always sort of knew a bit about it, just from listening to them, – Michael in particular, was a huge Trekkie, still is, and can go on and on until your eyes glaze over. I know, it’s happened to me many times! LOL But I did love the Star Wars movies, which I always thought of as episodes 1 through 3, but are now really episodes 4 through 6. But that was about the extent of it. I’ve really not read the genre, romance or other fiction, and certainly didn’t watch any of the TV shows or movies that so many of my friends did. As for the shows, I understand there are some really good ones, but I’m afraid I may find another obsession that I simply don’t have the time to indulge. So I’m not daring to get involved there. My time is limited enough now as it is.
Anyway, as I was saying before I started rambling, I’m not necessarily sure that Prince of the Universe is true sci-fi. The hero comes from another planet, and inter-galaxy travel is common to him, though not to my Earthling heroine. But here’s what’s got me wondering – just because it does involve other planets and space travel, does that make it sci-fi? Eventually, Vega will take Merry back to his home planet of Aldarra, but the civilization, while certainly technologically advanced in many ways, also involves magic, and the manipulation of energy and minerals to increase one’s power. Plus, Aldarra has a very different climate from ours, and the culture and customs could, in some ways, be described as medieval.
I’ve heard it said that if your scientific facts are wrong, it’s generally not acceptable to those who know and love the sci-fi genre. Is that true? I’m not much with technical or engineering knowledge (as my recent disasters with computers will attest to), so anything as far as warp speed and wormholes and the like will most definitely be “wrong.” How far can I push the envelope without someone crying foul? I’ve got spaceships, and high tech weapons, and races similar to and different from humans, but also magic and other paranormal elements. As I’m world-building, I’m wondering if I’m doing too much. I’m likely to piss off readers of both genres by doing things I’m not supposed to.
So, sci-fi fans, what am I not supposed to do, and what do I have to do to fit the genre? Or can I get away with twisting it all up?

April Showers bring May… showers?

It’s May. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm now, yet, we’ve still got more than our fair share of clouds and rain before it finally clears the way for some of those flowers the nursery rhyme talks about.
But I’m very excited about May this year – because with it comes something new and exciting. Started by my friend and fellow author, Shoshanna Evers, I’m participating in the May 50K. Basically, it’s the same thing as NANO, but for May. I’m really excited about participating – I tend to do really well when I just sit and write, at least as far as getting a first draft completed. For NANO, I completed a draft at about 53K total, but would have done more if I hadn’t gotten such a late start and missed the entire first week of the month. This time, I don’t have any huge plans to interfere, and if the first couple of days are any indication, I am off to a decent start.
There are two WIP’s that I am focusing on, actually. My medieval, which is complete – as far as a first draft, anyway. I am currently revising that one, and have been adding scenes here and there. But my main project will be the first of my sci-fi themed books, as I may have mentioned before. I did very well on Sunday , adding over another 2K to that ms, another 1K early in the week and I have the entire plot outlined – very basic, no details yet. Literally just a list of events that need to occur. If all goes well, and I have my computer back this week, as they have assured me I will, I’ll really be able to get cracking and make some serious headway into that manuscript. I’m having fun discovering the kinds of powers Vega has, and I’ve even surprised myself with how he interacts with elements native to our planet. Plus, his race does have the ability to use mind-bending control over others. Odd thing is, I’ve learned it can also be done unintentionally, if the feelings and desires are strong enough. Merry is finding that out, and boy, is she pissed. A confrontation is a-brewing! Lol  For now, I’m calling it Prince of the Universe – a nod to my love of all things Highlander (movies, TV series, etc.)
I really am having a blast with this story, yet, at the same time, I am also having a blast reworking Marissa and Ian’s story, so he doesn’t come off as such a cold-hearted brute. He never really was, but it’s time to make his conflicting emotions more clear. The poor man’s gonna be run through the wringer before I get done with him. Nothing like bringing an arrogant alpha male to his knees, though, he’ll never totally lose his arrogance and need to control. Does any man, really, fictional or otherwise? Besides, to me, that edge is what I love most about my heroes. They may be laid low by their soul mate, willing to do whatever it takes to keep and protect her, but they’ll never give up the part of them that makes them, IMO, so hot. The confidence of a man who knows what he wants, how to get it, knows how damn good he is at it, and won’t take no for an answer, just leaves me weak in the knees.
So stay tuned as the month progresses – you’ll get some glimpses into my upcoming work, as well as get to see some serious moments of insanity. First example, I’ve begun sketching out the next book in Prince’s world – nuts, I know! This will be about Vega’s brother Reygar, who is possibly even more arrogant and controlling than his brother. He won’t admit why, but what sends him off on his own private mission is an appealing Earth woman. I know it’s because he can’t resist her, despite her initial terror on meeting him and general shyness. Plus, she’s a real klutz, and has managed to drop a heavy box on his foot, smack her head into his, and knock him down the stairs. Even after all the battles he’s fought, poor Reygar has more bruises now.