Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Worldbuilding Indulgences: Quantity Varies by Subgenre

What worldbuilding do I do that isn't necessarily about the story itself but is a personal indulgence? It depends on the subgenre I'm writing.

There is so much worldbuilding necessary in second-world fantasy--the kind of story that doesn't take place in a recognizable period on Earth--that everything I include has to be relevant to the story; otherwise, the worldbuilding dominates the plot and character development...or I end up with a 300k tome. The first round of cuts I do in my second-world fantasies are the TMI details of the world. Does the reader really need to know where the water is sourced? Purified? Only if there's a plot-relevant problem with the water--scarcity, poisoned, monsters--or if an important character is employed in that industry. Infrastructure usually takes the first hit in the cuts, because I absolutely write that info in the draft. The administrative necessities of running a nation/tribe/horde? Again, it gets cut if it's not plot-relevant. A little bit of mundane is necessary, but too much can bog down the pacing and distract from the story rather enhance it. Weeds. I know them too well. Alas, getting lost in them is part of my process of immersing myself in the world I'm creating. Gods bless editing.

In contrast, for my upcoming Urban Fantasy series (releasing Jan 30th!), the worldbuilding there is all about pointing out the uncommon amid the common. That is where I allow myself the luxuries of sneaking details that--if they were missing--wouldn't impact the plot. Silly things like how dust is applied to shelves or why guys are wearing flip-flops in the dead of winter. I indulge my love of creating fantastical explanations for the one-offs in our everyday lives. I try not to be heavyhanded with them, but they do make me snicker.

In the end, worldbuilding indulgences are a lot like pepper on pasta. Flavor enhancements.

Monday, September 18, 2017

World building as its own reward.

I love world building. Be it a small town set in a fictitious version of our own, or be it a new world, as I am want to do, I love it.

Why? Because, to me, it's like playing in a room with unlimited toys. I get to set them up, I get to describe them, paint them and shape them. And, if I feel like it, I get to destroy them.

For me it's all of benefit. I love discovering a new place. There are sculptors who say that they do not create the sculpture so much as the reveal what is already there, waiting to be seen by many eyes.

I can believe that. There are natural flaws in stone or wood that will make themselves known to thew careful hand. A shape that comes forth when that flaw is touched in the marble becomes the curve of a neck or the twist of fabric. From this flaw, beauty.

For me writing is much the same. I know what I intend to say, but the words sometimes decide for themselves and it seems that is most often true when a character is suddenly revealed to me or a faction of the world I thought I was designing is unexpectedly changed. Listen, I get it. ALL of what I write is in my head, but my subconscious sometimes likes to surprise me. Sometimes I let thew words come and I get a mess of words that are useless. Sometimes that flaw is there and I can use it, shape it, smooth it into something new and wondrous. I almost always "Pants" my novels. I don't like outlines and only do them when I must and I can basically promise you that whatever I have written down in the outline will look little like what I come up with at the end.

Write, polish, shape, rewrite, edit, expunge and correct. By the time it's done, I'm not looking at a familiar world any longer, even if I thought I was. SERENITY FALLS and SUMMITVILLE exist in the same fictitious reflection of our world, but they are nothing alike.  One is small and insular, and the other is going through massive growing pains when the stories start. I love that. I especially love that I really didn't know that about either o them until they told me.

The Empire ofr Fellein in the SEVEN FORGES books looks nothing at all like the Five Kingdoms in THE TIDES OF WAR. They a e both similar concepts, mock medieval lands in their nature, but Fellein is pristine and clean and healthy and the Five Kingdoms are already depraved and broken and dirty when the story starts.

Fellein has mountains and valleys and clean rivers that curt across the land and leave plenty of room for towns and cities. The Five Kingdoms are covered by deserts and areas that are dangerous and diseased, where if people walk, they are likely to die from the equivalent of radiation poisoning, though there has never been a nuclear anything in that land. In Fellein the gods are distant and have almost faded away (Not so in the lands of the Seven Forges, where the gods have direct conversations with each and every person). In the five Kingdoms the gods are hungry and demand sacrifices and have, on ten seperate occasions punished the foolish mortals who refused to listen.

Just for grins, here's a story about those very gods and their punishments, done for fun. it's called THE SIXTH KINGDOM and is a bit of world building history for the series TIDES OF WAR. 

I have fun building worlds. It's a fascinating part of what makes a fantasy story (or any story) come alive for me.

But because I'm me, I also enjoy kicking down the sandcastles when I'm done creating them.

What can I say? I'm an angry little god. ;)

And yes, both of these covers deal with one small part of the world I built. See the crystals in the mountains and in the cave? They have a backstory, too, and it's integral the the tale I tell.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Audience of One: Worldbuilding Easter Eggs I Plant to Entertain Myself

Yesterday I did a signing with Sage Walker whose book, THE MAN IN THE TREE, just came out last week. This is a gorgeous science fiction novel that I highly recommend. For the purists, the science is impeccable. An asteroid is equipped with propulsion and manipulated to create a living space inside that will eventually be a self-sustaining biosphere with a population of 200,000. By the time this generation ship reaches its planetary destination in 200 years, those people will be ready to colonize the new world. But when the story begins, the ship, Kybele, is nine days from leaving orbit with a population of 30,000 people. These people are the best of the best, who've worked and struggled to be among those granted a position on the Kybele. None of them will live to see the new planet, but they'll live and eat like billionaires during their time aboard ship - and give their progeny an opportunity like no other.

Except a man has been found murdered. Unless they find the murderer before leaving orbit - a meticulously timed departure - they'll be taking someone twisted with them. Someone who may have sabotaged Kybele herself. And the guy in charge of tracking down the murderer may be in danger of falling in love with the chief suspect.

So yummy!

One of the things I really love about this book is all the worldbuilding work Sage put into it. Not all of it is on the page, but it's all there in the supporting framework. Hearing her discuss the details is amazing. (Yes, she's a friend of mine.)

It's not all on the page because the reader doesn't need to know everything the author knows. In fact, if an author puts EVERYTHING about the world on the page, it bogs the book down beyond readability. However, the author still needs to know it, or the world comes across as tenuous, false, or hollow. Worst case scenario, fundamental contradictions may be missed.

Our topic this week is worldbuilding as its own reward. What worldbuilding we do that isn't necessarily about the story itself.

Really, as I said above, a ton of worldbuilding never makes it into the story. But this topic is asking which bits we do purely to please ourselves.

I'll tell you mine. I slip in little homages to authors I love. Or sometimes to work by friends. I named a castle seamstress for an author friend who helped me with that scene. I borrowed a cameo appearance of a fantastic bird from one of my favorite fantasy books. I chortle to myself as I sneak in jokes that are so inside I doubt anyone would ever get them besides me.

Sometimes I imagine some future scholar ferreting out some of these references. Others I know no one will ever "get." And that's okay. It's mostly me, having fun with the thing I love to do.

But if you all ever suspect you've caught one, be sure to let me know!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Introverted at the Book Signing?

Our topic this week is what can an introverted reader say to an author at a signing event (or other event but I tend to think first of signings)? I think my fellow SFF7 members have given great answers so I'm going to come at it from another angle.

I'm the introverted author! BUT when I'm at a public event I go into my 'retail mindset' by which I do NOT mean I'll come across like a TV infomercial and try to sell you All The Things. I'm there to meet you! Hopefully I'll find out what you like or don't like about my books, what you love to read, what you want more of, who are your other favorite authors (in my genre or others), what's been the best event so far at the conference, is this your first conference, whose autograph did you want most...as the author, I want to make your time at the event happy, warm and comfortable. If you buy a book or two from me, that's lovely and cool, but I want to leave a good impression, so in the future if you see an book by me you'll smile and say, "Oh, yes, I met her".

I worked in retail during college for a major department store and I LOVED meeting the customers and trying to help them find what they needed. I'm a people pleaser by nature. So it's easy to talk to me (I think, hopefully I'm not overestimating my friendliness LOL.)

The first book signing I ever did was a gigantic Romance Writers of America event and as a total newbie with one book out at the time, I mostly sat and watched and learned from the more experienced authors around me. There was one lady I'll never forget - although sadly her name escapes me completely after all these years - who did a beautiful job of making each reader who stopped to see her feel special and appreciated. She posed for pictures, she wrote special dedications, she signed bunches of books. She focused completely in the moment on whoever she was talking with and seemed to genuinely be enjoying herself immensely. That's the role model I decided to adopt.

So let me finish with another true story from that first book signing. My favorite author in the world is Nalini Singh. She was there. I must have walked by her table ten times, but was too shy to approach her. I mean, the mere idea was TERRIFYING. I was afraid of being tongue tied and completely inarticulate. She was even all alone at one point, which if you've been to an event where Nalini signs, that never happens. And still I couldn't make myself go any closer. I regretted that and regretted that.

So the next conference I was at where she also attended, I MADE myself go talk to her and she is the sweetest person, so easy to talk to, so gracious and...yup, those few moments with my favorite author in the entire world were the highlight of the conference. And even though I read all my books on the kindle these days I'd never give up my signed hardback copy with her lovely note.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Introvert's Guide to Authors

This past weekend, I was in the North Cascades at the gorgeous Mazama Country Inn where my friends held their wedding. It was awesome. Everything went off really, really well and the newly weds are very happy. Yay. The only potential damper we had was on Saturday afternoon, when a bird flew into a window.

I was supposed to be getting dressed for the wedding dinner. Instead, I was outside assessing the damage to the victim. The bird was stunned and on its back on the patio. When I tried to right it, the bird grabbed hold of my finger and would not let go. So I held the bird. And held the bird. Finally, I offered the bird a stick to perch on. It was accepted and I went to put on adult clothing. Bird was still there once I was appropriately attired, so I picked up the stick and the bird and we both went to dinner.

Another guest identified our feathered friend as a very young white-breasted nut hatch and suggested I offer the bird a transfer to the rough bark of one of the pine trees. This met with avian approval. Five minutes later, the nut hatch skittered up the tree and took off to the cheers of the wedding party.

And if you want to know how to approach *this* author, you can always bring the animal stories and photos. Especially if its me and especially if you rescue. Don't feel like you have to do or be either, though. Because ultimately, I just want to talk to you. I am an introvert, too, so I get being afraid to speak up! But if you're shy, cruise on by where ever I am. If you linger for even an instant, I will do my best to say hello and offer you whatever goody/swag/candy/etc I have on hand. Know why I have those things in the first place?

Cause I am terrified that no one will come talk to me without bribes.

So fellow introverts, come on down. Meet my eye for just an instant. I'll start the conversation for you. Because after sitting alone writing books, *whispers* I'm desperate for actual people to talk to in real life. E-hem. I'll ask you questions - who do you like to read? What's your favorite genre? All kinds of stuff. And if you have photos of your dog or cat or rabbit or mini horse or raccoon or fish on your phone, show them to me! Just be prepared to be shown kitty photos in return. :D

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Interacting with the Busy Writer

Geez, is September nearly half over?  Is 2017 three-quarters done?  How did this happen?
Anyway, I've got plenty happening for the rest of the month.  This weekend I'm teaching a Worldbuilding Class with Amanda Downum.  Next week I'm going to FenCon.

If you are attending either, please come up and say hello.  Now, I say this all the time, but now I feel like I should give details.
  1. Really, come up and say hello.  I'm there to interact with people.
  2. I actually quite like it when people do.
  3. Especially if they offer to buy me a drink.
While #3 is completely true, it is not required.  You want to ask me a question, pick my brain about something, or even just gush about Maradaine... I'm there for you.

I get why it can be intimidating.  Heck, even now, I don't always go up to people and say hello myself.

But for now, I need to get back to work.  A Parliament of Bodies won't finish itself.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Breaking the Ice with an Author

Across the room, you see the author from whom you buy every book the moment it hits pre-order. Your hands get sweaty. The room gets warmer. At twenty yards, you're blushing. At ten, you're having the pre-conversation in your head. At five three people step in front of you and grab the author's attention first. No, no; it's good, it's good. You replay the script you've been practicing and remind yourself not to mumble You check your breath. Oh, hell, it smells like gym feet. Mints. Mints, you brought mints just in case. Where'd that little tin go. Pocket? Bag? No other pock--

You're face to face with the author. There's no one in between you now. The author smiles at you. All that witty banter you'd practiced ~poof~. There is nothing but a thousand and one memes of the slow blink rolling through your head. You start to smile back...but the bad breath. Better keep your lips together.  You don't want to accidentally breathe on the author and cause them to faint. You're vaguely aware that your smile feels more like a grimace. This is not going the way you'd imagined.

You could bolt. Pretend like this never happened. But this author, this author has written words that have made you cheer, laugh, cry. They've given you book boyfriends and reasons to buy new shelves. You've missed train stops and coffee dates to finish just one more chapter.

Don't run. Forget about the mints and the grimace and the sweaty palms.


I'm a fan.

My favorite book is...because

My favorite character is...because

My favorite moment is when...because

I'm excited to read the next book.

That, right there, is how you break the ice with an author. That is how you make their day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Three tips for the introverted fan

Heck, that's easy.

1) be yourself. You're probably a lot cooler than you give yourself credit for and genuine responses always go over better than contrived nonsense.

2) Say "hi." You'd be amazed how far that can take a conversation.

True story: Not long ago at Boston ComiCon, I ran across a lady who had read all four my Seven Forges books. She had no idea I was going to be there and when she realized who I was, she freaked a little. Believe me, it's very flattering. It was also cool to just talk with her and calm her down and discuss what she liked about the books.
As I had no copies of THE LAST SACRIFICE with me, I gave her a postcard with thew cover on the front and the link to the Angry Robot website page on the back. She had all of my books on Kindle, but she bought them again so I could sign them.
Put a smile on my face that lasted the whole day.

3) Relax. With VERY few exceptions, (they do exist) writers are delighted to meet you. I always am. Maybe not in the bathroom at the local convention or anything but still, delighted to meet a fan of my work or even someone who is curious about it.

4) Bonus round: Be friendly and be polite. Happily it hasn't happened to me (YET) but there are a few people who've had "fans" come up and be nasty about a book they didn't like or understand. Never gonna be my favorite thing.

But especially remember rule number 2. I can't have a conversation with you if you don't engage and I'm looking forward to meeting you. It's why I attend conventions, etc.

In the meantime, look at my cool new cover!!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Three Tips for the Introverted Fan

Today at the lake I kept my seltzer cold in my Bacchus Bag from St. Martin. Counting my blessings and thinking good thoughts for everyone in the path of the storms.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is The Introverted Fan: Three things a fan could say in person or via social media that would help break the ice.

Because, of course, we've all been there. I know I have. Meeting the author of that book that transported me, trying to convey my excitement and all the love I've built up over time to them in one big gush. It inevitably comes out as something like:


And they, just as inevitably, look like the deer in the headlights of the onrushing Psycho Fan Train.

It's simply a weird conversation to try to have. And I've seen it from the other side now, too. Readers come up to my signing table, blurt out that they love my books, I say thank you, we stare at each other for a moment, and they dash away, muttering something about not bothering me anymore. There's a social media equivalent, though almost always less awkward.

I don't know about breaking the ice, but here's three things I love to hear.

1. Specifics

I love to hear which book is your favorite, which character you love best, and why. Feel free to go into detail. Getting to hear what exactly worked for you is super fun and hugely helpful, too.

2. Gushing Is Great

Never apologize for gushing! It's so wonderful to hear the good stuff that makes people happy. I could listen to it all day. That kind of thing is never a bother.

3. Ask Questions

I love questions! Especially about the books. Please ask those things you wonder while you're reading. If you're afraid you'll forget in the excitement, write them down. That's high praise, that you cared enough to do that.

What else works for all of you - what's the best way to talk to a favorite author?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What Genre Will I Not Write?

Still from 'Hill House'

Horror. Hands down, no question.

I was always an overly imaginative kid and I worried about things that went BUMP in the night. (Still do!)...the creature lurking under the bed waiting to grab a dangling foot was my worst nightmare. I'm in good company - here's Stephen King's take on it:

“The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”

Yup. I also saw a horror movie on TV when I was pretty young, "The Haunting," based on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. At one point two of the female characters are sharing a room, with twin beds. The ghost is rattling the door and spooky things are happening and the heroine stretches out her hand to hold her friend's hand for courage through the ordeal. Afterward (and this is how I recall it and and I never watched the movie again so who knows if I actually got it right...) she thanks her friend for holding hands and comforting her. And the friend says, "I wasn't holding your hand." OK, for YEARS after that I slept with my hands firmly under my pillow.

So vivid bad things stick in my memory way longer than they should. Yes, I used to read Stephen King novels - not all of them, but a lot of them and I especially loved The Shining but somewhere along the way I had to put down one of his books in the middle because the imagery would not go away and I was having terrible nightmares, and I've never gone back.

As an adult I've become aware that there are Things Best Not Disturbed...

And so, in summary, I'll never be writing a horror story.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Never Say Never Except Now

If brevity is the soul of wit, then Imma be a genius tonight. Cause I should be asleep so I can get up at o'stupid thirty to travel to the North Cascades where I have the great privilege of officiating a handfasting. Sure. You say wedding, I say pagan handfasting. Which leads us to the genre I am totally comfortable saying I will never ever write. Inspirational. No way. No how will this witch write that stuff. Faith from a pagan perspective? Sure! Count me in! But there is not the least hope I will pick up someone else's religion to write about in that way. By which I mean using a romance to preach or illustrate Christian principles.

I'm also comfortably certain the Inspirational market doesn't weep over my refusal to do so.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Subgenre I Can't Write

There's an idea I've seen pop up and get some traction in my circles lately.  A very simple thing, really:
The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk.
This simple phrase was like a lightning bolt to me.

Let me step back a bit.  You see, "grimdark" is a subgenre of fantasy that just doesn't work for me. What is "grimdark"?  If the name wasn't cue enough, from the wikipages: "Grimdark is a subgenre or a way to describe the tone, style or setting of speculative fiction that is particularly dystopian, amoral or violent."

And, yeah, for me and my fantasy, this represents everything that doesn't work for me. I don't begrudge anyone who writes or likes it, mind you.  It just doesn't work for me.
So when I saw the post that expanded on the idea "the opposite of grimdark is hopepunk", I was immediately invested in it, because "the opposite of grimdark" is exactly the kind of fantasy I want to do.

Now, this doesn't mean fantasy that's light and fluffy and consequence-free. Bad things happen.  I mean, I like to put my characters through the wringer.  Fundamentally, with each of my various Maradaine series, I'm exploring heroism at different angles, and each of my protagonists are capital-C Champions who aim toward the light.  They may miss, they may have a journey through the darkness that threatens to break them.  But what I want to write, what drives me, is fantasy where no matter how bad it gets, it's worth trying to make it better.  No matter how hard my characters fall down, they're still going to stand up, tie their hair back, set their sails and get their Moana on.
Because hope is always the star that guides them.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


I've heard DragonCon set a new record this year with 82,000 people.

Myself, I kept to the Westin as much as possible. Even so, I had a fantastic time. Saw so many friends, made new friends, and participated on some splendid panels. Despite my rather sequestered visit, I did manage to make my annual list....but first, the weeks topic: what genre would I be least likely to write and why.

Short answer: I won't do myself the disservice of thinking or saying that there's anything I'd be unlikely to write. I've already written in many genres and there are elements of other genres within that work. I refuse to put that limitation on myself.

ShortER answer: I DO WHAT I WANT!

And now....

*Random quotes as heard in passing 
that may have been spoken in complete innocence, 
but taken out of context and 
having passed through my dirty mind, 
they are all the more funny.*


    Often, I have a glut of fucks, but right now I'm all out.

     The absence of confusion is not the confusion of absence.

     It's not delivering. Get on the table.

10.) If you give a pun and receive a guffaw in return, 
well, that's a little too self-important.

9.) I just like talking about it, not doing it.

8.) I admit it, I was playing with my sack.

7.) I went in, took a sniff, and decided 
to stand in the back and watch the lights.

6.) I don't need to smack rods with people to know mine is better.

5.) Aw, she has a long shiny one in her hands. 

4.) Hey...that is not normal.

3.) Just lick him and stay there.

2.) I only come to DragonCon to get things stuck in me 
so I can get a free t-shirt.

1.) Of all the mostly naked people I've seen today, you're the best.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Genre Safest From Me

What genre (or sub-sub-sub) genre is safest from me? Which one am I least likely to write? Uhm...hmm.  My ego would like to think it can rise to any challenge, yea though that challenge might end in the Universe caving in on itself.

I'm least likely to write some sort of earnest sweet Amish romance. I don't know that I could resist going all Sir Terry Pratchett on it.

Ya know what? Probably should bump that up to "least likely to write a sweet romance."  Aliens, shifters, dragons...they really do like to show up in the most unexpected places. Keeps things interesting.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Most Unlikely to Write

I found this great ceramic Dia de los Muertos doll a couple of weeks ago. It's difficult to tell from the pic, but she's made entirely of ravens. I would have bought her in a heartbeat if she weren't so expensive. For those of you who've read THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE, there's an aspect to this doll that reminds me of Moranu with her many faces. Even the cover of that book is reminiscent of the same images for me. Do you all see that?
There's a key difference, however, between the two - and that links into this week's theme, which is the genre we are mostly unlikely to write.

As much as I'm fascinated by the dark and grotesque, I think you'll never find me writing horror. I'm not a fan of the unrelentingly grim. Likewise, I think you'll never find me writing Inspirational - as I also can't see going to all sweetness and light.

Personally and artistically, I live in the middle, at the intersection of both. Or, were I a citizen of my created world in The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms, I'd be at the intersection of all three goddesses. Yes, I'd love Moranu of the shadows, the night and many faces, but I'd also be an adherent of Danu, of the bright blade and unflinching justice and wisdom. I'd also look to Glorianna, goddess of soft light and in-between spaces, of love and beauty.

That's why I doubt I can write horror -- not enough of love and light. Nor am I likely to write anything that's all in the sweet direction, because I also love the shadows.

Still ... I might have to go back and buy that doll.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Series Challenge

As a reader, I love series, with the more volumes and adventures the better. I grew up reading all the standard series for kids and Young Adults available at the time, starting with The Bobbsey Twins and moving on to Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames RN, Tom Swift Jr., Rick Brant, Tom Corbett Space Cadet, The Dare Boys, The Dana Sisters and even older series from my grandmother’s days as a girl (The Outdoor Girls anyone?). My family loved books and reading and my parents were always happy to buy me more to read. 

My favorite treat was a trip to a giant used bookstore in nearby Syracuse NY, where I could spend hours searching out new-to-me volumes in the various series I read, as well as comic books (DC superheroes mostly,  anything scifi, or World War II like Sgt. Rock; also Tomahawk, Tarzan and the like. Wasn’t into Archie, Disney, or Marvel.)

In those days before Amazon and eBay, it was nearly impossible for me to get all the books in a series or all issues of a comic book but I did my best. Fortunately I like to reread!

In junior high school and high school I happily wrote series. My first one bears too much resemblance to Tom Corbett, I’m sure, although I added all kinds of plot elements his creators never dreamed of, including a LOT of romance. My high school years’ series might remind a reader of ‘Star Trek’, but again with all kinds of additions like a secret base under Antarctica. I had no trouble writing new installments and ongoing adventures, romances and drama. I didn’t outline then either.

(When will this deathless prose be coming to an Amazon link on your tablet? Ummm, never! It was terrific learning for me but wow, totally unreadable now!)

My personal Mt Everest - Writing a Series!
Photo purchased from DepositPhoto
So why, with all this early steeping-in-series as both reader and writer, did I think I was only going to write standalone books as a published author? I had this absolute conviction I would never write a series, or at least not one that wasn’t connected, by which I mean revolving around the same Egyptian Pharoah’s court, or set in my Sectors, but with different characters. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of a ‘real’ series, but just some mental block of my own. Since I don’t outline but am a plot-as-I-go author, I quailed at the idea of knowing today what might happen to which characters in book 5! My Muse also shuts down if I overthink a book plot too much, apparently feeling that the book is ‘done’ and there’s no need to write any more.

But I LOVE series like Nalini Singh’s (pick one, any one!) and Jeffe Kennedy’s Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms,  Lora Leigh’s Breeds, Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalkers and Sea Haven series, Ilona Andrews, Anne McCaffrey….well ok, apparently I was also intimidated at the mere idea of trying to write a series!

But I’ve been sneaking up on the goal over time. I wrote several direct sequels (Star Survivor is the sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream for example) and my Muse began to relish the challenge of writing an actual series. In fact, when I finish my current Work in Progress, another in the loosely connected alien empath stories, the next planned thing on my plate is ……drum roll please…..a SERIES!!! Starting with Book 1 and moving through 5 books, with a series arc and everything. WOOT! I figured out a way to outline it at a high level so my finicky, cantankerous Muse doesn’t shut down. So we’ll see. I think I’ll probably still be writing standalone stories and interspersing them with any series that I do develop, plus I have sequels percolating for some of the earlier standalone books like Escape From Zulaire,  Lady of the Star Wind and others. I hear from readers quite often that they'd really like the sequel to this book or that book, which is always highly gratifying and also a bit terrifying because I want to do justice to the characters they enjoyed.

 I also LOVE my interstellar cruise liner, the Nebula Dream, so there will always be new stories set on board, with old friends and new ones.

So I guess my Muse accepts challenges after all!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Binge Reading, a Bookworm's Approach to Series

Do you remember as a kid finding a book in the library? It looked great, so you checked it out. Then you started reading. It's a hit out of the park. You LOVE this book. You're right in there with the characters, laughing, crying, fighting -- and then the book ends on a cliffhanger. Then and only then do you realize you have a book that's the first in a series.

Heart fluttering, you rush back to the library. There! On the shelf! More titles by the same author. You search frantically. You come up with books three and four and seven.

Right then. Right there. Your innocent little bookworm heart breaks just a little. And you learn. NEVER start a book without 1. first knowing whether it's part of a series and 2. that you can acquire the rest of the series.

Maybe your life was settled and you grew up in some rarified place where books were as important to your family as they are to you. If you did, you could generally be sure that if you developed an addiction to a series that was still being written (as opposed to one already completed) you'd be able to get a hold of the latest in the series when it finally came out. Those of us without such assurance, at the mercy of library systems without our loyalties to long-running series, learned never to start a series until it was finished and all the books in the series were available.

This is the long way of saying I strongly favor writing stand alone books, which is amusing, because everything I have is part of a series or leaves the door open to being a series. Funny how the world turns, isn't it?

As it happens, at the time that Enemy Within sold, series were THE thing. I'd written the book as a stand alone. Straight up, I admit that I did. And then my editor asked if I could make it a series. I was still so afraid someone would take back that publishing contract, I said that of course I could. So I did. Same thing happened with Nightmare Ink, though I wised up before I wrote that one and I planned it out as a series because I could see the handwriting on the wall. Sure enough. That same editor asked for a series treatment. At least this time around, I was ready for it. And now that I'm writing my series, I love them. I don't want to abandon them any more than I wanted to read the first book in a series I'd never find book number two for when I was a kid.

This isn't to say I don't love reading series. I do. And now that I'm an adult with my own book budget AND Amazon Prime, I can do my very favorite thing in the world: Find a series I love and buy the whole damned thing in one go. Because you binge watch GoT if you want. I'll binge read Jeffe's Twelve Kingdoms, thanks.

I desperately wanted a bookwormish sort of photo to give you. I don't have one. But I do have a little green garden frog who was hanging out in the zinnias yesterday. I have yet to ask what his reading preferences are.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Series over standalone

It should come to no surprise to anyone that I'm far more of a fan of writing a series over a standalone.  I am, however, also a big fan of the kind of series where each book tells a complete and cohesive story, while at the same time turning the wheels of a larger arc.  This is the kind of storytelling that appeals to me.

AMurderofMagesMaresca - An Import of Intrique Lady Hentermans Wardobe

Back at ArmadilloCon, I was on a panel about plotting and planing a series, and in part of that, we talked about defining the different things we call "series".  Because there are three different things:
  • SAGA: Where the series is One Grand Tale, which takes multiple volumes to tell.
  • SEQUENCE: Where each book is its own individual story, but there is a definitive order and progression, and should be read in that order to make sense.
  • FRANCHISE: Where each book is a complete and discrete story, and each one can be read with no prior knowledge or expectation.
Clearly, I'm writing a Sequence, and I like to refer to all the Maradaine books combined as the Maradaine Sequence.

Now, people have been asking me, "What's the best reading order for all the Maradaine books?"  There isn't a perfect answer to that, though even still, right now, release order is fine.  Though once we get past A Parliament of Bodies, that's going to get more complicated.

You could also read each series in a run, just as pictured above.

However, I think a lot of value can be gained by reading the books in in-world chronological order.
  • The Thorn of Dentonhill
  • A Murder of Mages
  • The Holver Alley Crew
  • The Alchemy of Chaos
  • An Import of Intrigue
  • Lady Henterman's Wardrobe
  • The Imposters of Aventil
  • A Parliament of Bodies
And that list will get adapted as more books get released/announced.  Now, you don't necessarily have to do that.  Especially since that listing would advise you to wait until after you get LHW in March before you get Imposters next month.  And, no, of course you shouldn't do that.  You should get Imposters as soon as you possibly can, because you're super excited about the Thorn/Constabulary crossover event.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017


image from WIKIPEDIA

I have always loved reading series books. From Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol to the Dragonlance novels by Weis & Hickman, I enjoyed revisiting the characters who felt like friends.

That said, both VICIOUS CIRCLE (#1 in the Persephone Alcmedi Series) and JOVIENNE (#1 in the Immanence Series) were written to be stand alone novels. It was after the fact, when the publishers asked for more, that I expanded on the world and the characters' arcs.

image from WIKIPEDIA
Why? Because, especially considering the market and advice being given when the PA Series was picked up, the commonly held notion was that one should never 'expect' they're going to get to write more. Looking back, that's silly. Readers have always, like me, wanted to revisit their friends and go on new adventures with them, and see what happened next. But publishers then, as I understood it, weren't as eager to promise second chances to new authors.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to write series. I do. God yes, I do. And to that end, there have always been ideas floating in my mind and typed into documents and filed away, ready to sprout when (not if) the word is given to expand.

DRAGON CON IS COMING!!!!!!!! THIS WEEKEND. *happy dance*

You know what that means, right?


Look for it next week.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Release Day: Shift of the Tide by @JeffeKennedy

Today, we're celebrating the release of our own Jeffe Kennedy's Shift of the Tide! The third book in her Uncharted Realms Fantasy Romance Series.


A Quicksilver Heart

Released from the grip of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. As the borders open, new enemies emerge to vie for their hard-won power—and old deceptions crumble under the strain…

The most talented shapeshifter of her generation, Zynda has one love in her life: freedom. The open air above her, the water before her, the sun on her skin or wings or fur—their sensual glories more than make up for her loneliness. She serves the High Queen’s company well, but she can’t trust her allies with her secrets, or the secrets of her people. Best that she should keep her distance, alone.

Except wherever she escapes, Marskal, the Queen’s quiet lieutenant, seems to find her. Solid, stubborn, and disciplined, he’s no more fluid than rock. Yet he knows what she likes, what thrills and unnerves her, when she’s hiding something. His lithe warrior’s body promises pleasure she has gone too long without. But no matter how careful, how tender, how incendiary he is, only Zynda can know the sacrifice she must make for her people’s future—and the time is drawing near…

BUY IT NOW:    Amazon   |   B&N   |   iTunes   |   Kobo  |   CreateSpace

Monday, August 28, 2017

Series Versus Standalone

Well,  that's easy!


Some stories are stand alones. They don't need or merit another book. It's exactly that simple. If I run across a tale that i want to tell where nothing more need be added, I sell it as a stand alone.

BUT, if I think there are more stories to be told about a certain character or place, I'm perfectly glad to revisit.

In fact that's happening right now. I'm working on a sequel to a book I wrote YEARS ago called SERENITY FALLS. When i first wrote the mammoth it took me a full year. trust me, for me that's a very long time. Why? because it was complex, because it had 183 named characters and because I was telling the entire history of the town, spanning several hundred years.

It was all it needed to be.

And then I had an idea for a sequel.

I'll have the first draft finished soon.

SERENITY FALLS, by the way, was so large that when it came out as a mass market edition it required that I rewrite a portion so that it could be made into a series. That's right. My book came out as a trilogy.

The thing is, as I have said many times, I don't like to limit myself. I've got 75,000 words of s weird western written, I put it on hold when my wife passed away. I'm looking at it now and thinking it's time to finish it up. I mean, come on, we're talking the majority of the novel written.

And while waiting on that novel? I've written four sequels, all of them novellas or short stories. Haven't finished the main story, mind you, but there are ideas and more ideas.

The novel is called BOOM TOWN

The shot stories are called in order, "Black Train Blues," 'The Devoted," "White Blank Page, (Songs in the key of white)," and, with Charles R. Rutledge, "What Rough Beast," A lovely chapbook.

Currently I am finishing up a series of three novels for THE TIDES OF WAR. Before that I was working on the SEVEN FORGES series, which is four books deep and will have three additional books soon if I have any say in the matter.

That last couple? I actually planned them as series.

For me the story should be exactly the length it needs to be and if there are spin offs, I'm okay with that.

Oh, and one more example: Jnathan Crowlery is recurring character of mine. Here's a list of stories and novels he;s shown up in:
UNDER THE OVERTREE, SERENITY FALLS (WRIT IN BLOOD, THE PACK and DARK CARNIVAL), "War Stories," "That Old Black Magic," "Home For The Holidays," "Little Boy Blue," "Vendetta," CHERRY HILL, BOOM TOWN, ""Black Train Blues," 'The Devoted," "White Blank Page, (Songs in the key of white)," "What Rough Beast," "Black Tides,"and  BACK TO SERENITY. There are probably a few more.

What can I say? I am kind of fond of the character.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Writing a Series vs. a Standalone

This week's topic is apropos for me, as THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE releases on Tuesday!

It's the third book in The Uncharted Realms series. Or the sixth in The Twelve Kingdoms, depending on how you slice these things. For some people these lines are more definitive than they are for me. Our topic is: Working in a series as opposed to working on a standalone book. What are the differences and how much do you plan ahead?

I confess that I've never written a standalone fantasy. The stories all feel too big to me to contain in one book. With a contemporary or erotic romance, I can write a standalone. With a standalone book of that sort, the story is mainly about the couple and how they come together, to change, grow, and find happiness. With fantasy, the arcs are bigger, more politically sweeping.

That said, you all know I don't plan ahead. Much.

Some of it is easy - the big bad must be defeated. Because I'm not George R.R. Martin. *cough* But finding my way to that resolution can be convoluted and full of twists and turns I can't predict ahead of time. I thought I'd maybe resolve the big battle with Deyrr in THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE, but instead the plot thickened and the stakes escalated.

At this point, I think it will take two more books to wrap it all up. THE ARROWS OF THE HEART comes next and will take us most of the way. Then I think I'll need one more.

Interestingly enough, speaking of planning, I'm doing a spinoff trilogy called The Lost Princess Chronicles. Those books will be PRINCESS OF DASNARIA, EXILE OF DASNARIA, and WARRIOR OF DASNARIA. If all goes according to my (hopefully not too optimistic) plan, the event of WARRIOR OF DASNARIA will coincide and interlace with those of the book after ARROWS OF THE HEART.

I actually have a plan! Now to hope it all works out...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Favorite Reality TV Shows and Why

I have a love of reality TV shows, but only the ones where a certain amount of technical skill is involved to even get to be a contestant, not the ones where clusters of unpleasant people diss each other, spend money and screech/pullhair/flip furniture etc., and what have you, and also not the ones where a person picks the ‘love of their life’, then goes on “Dancing With the Stars” for a few weeks, after which they break up with said romantic partner. I’ve sampled some of those – a few episodes here and there – and nope, not my thing.

(I do love DWTS itself though.)

I’m a people person, so yes, it’s the element of the human interrelationships that draws me in, but there has to be that other element of skill and meeting challenges under pressure. (Of course like any rule, I do have exceptions, which I’ll get to.) Each season is like a mini series to me, or like reading a good novel.

My all-time favorite is SyFy’s ‘Face Off,’ where makeup artists work frantically on all kinds of challenges (“here’s a weird sound, now go invent the alien that might have made it” or “mix Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz and keep it Tim Burtonesque”…) I LOVE that program. I own all 16 seasons and I binge watch it fairly often. As with murder mysteries where I forget who dunnit as soon as I’ve read the book and set it aside, I often don’t remember which person won what specific challenge, and I enjoy the entire process involved in going from the explanation of the challenge to the final reveals. (I also have a teensy crush on Tait from Season One – tell no one!) I’m in awe of the things these artists can create from L-200 foam, paint and a well placed LED light. (Roy is THE wizard at this.) I have utterly no talent in this area. I’d love to be a guest judge though!

Hey, I write science fiction – I could totally judge. I watch special effects movies with a different eye now, let me tell you. There’s a commercial running currently for a TV service where the characters are paranormal tropes (werewolf, mummy, etc) and the edges on the facial prosthetics are AWFUL! (See, I know these things now…)

SyFy just launched a new spinoff, entitled ‘Game Face,’ where the challenges are much quicker and favorites from all the previous seasons are competing (even Tait according to the previews, sigh). So far I like it!

I’m also fascinated by McKenzie Westmore’s reveal stage wardrobe over the years…

One thing I also love about this show is how collegial the artists are, I think the tone was set nicely in season one and has carried through. No matter how pressed for time everyone is, if someone’s 200 lb. mold ‘locks’ with five minutes to the deadline, everyone drops what they’re doing to help.

I enjoy ‘Top Chef’ and ‘Project  Runway’ in all its many forms as well, although the drama levels on those programs can spike without warning. Not a fan of certain contestants on this season of Runway, let me tell you, although I love love love the diversity of the models. With ‘Top Chef’ I probably wouldn’t actually enjoy most of the refined and rarefied foods they cook - I lack the palate - , but I enjoy the tools, technique and knowledge on display. And the Restaurant Wars episode is always a nail-biter.

Those are my top three, but I also have been known to spend time with “Say Yes to the Dress,”  “Say Yes to the Dress - Atlanta, “I Found the Gown,” and “My Fair Wedding”. I used to adore the “What Not to Wear” program, although the sartorial advice in the earliest episodes became pretty hilariously dated as time went on. But their makeover process was fascinating. A little harsh on some of the participants, who didn’t nominate themselves but were often shoved into it by friends, co-workers and family.

I like the ‘Below Deck’ series set on private yachts for rent in exotic locales. Since I write an interstellar cruise liner in my Sectors series of scifi romances, I enjoy watching the scenarios on this program. Except many of the seasons I get pretty fed up with everyone by midway through and bail on them LOL. It always fascinates me that the show follows a select number of the crew but the boat in question actually has a lot of other people working on it that we never see.

I watch 'The Amazing Race' in horrified awe at what these people can make themselves do for a chance at $1 million. I have a fear of heights and a gut-wrenching terror of sooo many other things that get thrown at these contestants every season. I've been known to stop watching mid-season though if all the couples I liked get eliminated. See, I'm there for the people! 

Yeah, NOT the Author LOL
OK, but my real guilty pleasure? ‘Making the Team.’ In my heart of hearts I still harbor a tiny thought that hey, *I* could be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. (WARNING: Do NOT shatter my dream by reminding me I can’t do a sustained series of high kicks, don’t know left from right, my hair isn’t big and blonde and I’m uh slightly over their target demographic for uniformity of appearance. In more ways than one. I could TOTALLY do it.) Having lived a significant portion of my life in the South, I get the DCC and the entire cheerleading thing. Even if nowadays it’s actually professional dancing and there seem to be a lot of corporate events where they have to schmooze with fans.

On second thought, maybe I should stick with my goal of becoming a guest judge on ‘Face Off’!

All photos purchased from DepositPhoto

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cooking Up Reality TV

 Acknowledging that TV isn't really my thing, nor are reality shows - unless you're going to remodel a house or cook something interesting. My objection comes from the use of the word 'reality'. In no way do I believe reality shows reflect any kind of reality at all. They're carefully choreographed and scripted to give the appearance of some kind of Jerry Springer-esque slant on reality. Not to mention that most of them feel mean-hearted to me and my life's to short for that nonsense. Got no time for mean. Snark? Hell yes. Mean? Nopitynope.

But. IF I were to be on a reality show, it would have to be one of those foodie shows. I'd get my ass tossed out the door in short order because anyone yelling at me while I'm in the kitchen with access to really big knives takes their life in their own hands. But yeah. It would be food. I like to cook. More to the point, I like to experiment while I'm cooking. I like making up recipes. I like looking for the most complicated dishes and recipes I can find just so I can try them out. It was in the process of experimenting that a family tradition called Christmas Brunch was born. 

Each year, I search for new, never before attempted recipes for a multi-course meal. No one is allowed to know the menu. I'm looking for fancy here and each time, I'm actively trying to close the gap between good food and really excellent food. That goes better some years more than others. My downfall on any cooking reality show, though, would be the fact that I'm not fast enough. Christmas Brunch is generally a 72 hour cycle of prep and cooking for the actual event. There isn't a reality show out there in the world that could withstand filming me while I read the recipe for the bajillionieth time. You know. Just to be sure. 

Did you know that one of the cooking magazines in the US does a yearly rating of all of the cooking chocolates on the market? They do it yearly, just prior to the holidays, because the crop changes that often and the brand that was on top last year may not be the best tasting brand this year. That chocolate report matters when you're making chocolate raspberry molten lava cake. Cooking is chemistry and I've learned the difference between actually building layers of flavor in a soup and just tossing all the ingredients in a pot, turning it on and letting it simmer for hours. I sound all snooty about this stuff, don't I? I suppose I am. My grandmother (for whom I am named) taught me to cook. Then my mother. These ladies are some really tough acts to follow. To tread in their footsteps, I have to seriously up my game. 

Just don't put me on one of those shows where some judge or famous chef comes into my kitchen to enumerate my cooking sins. One of us will die a messy death.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

If I had a Reality TV Show...

I don't watch much TV. Shows of the 'reality' variety don't have any appeal to me if they are about the relationships of people because I'm just not that voyeuristic. BUT...I do occassionally love to watch a house renovation.

Long ago I was employed as the Art Director for a realty company. Later, I was an assistant to the sales staff at a home builder, then I was in training to become their sales staff. After that, I became a Realtor. There's an appreciation for homes within that calls to me. Deciding on colors, decor, furniture, art, the whole look and feel of a room and how it blends into another room to create a cozy home...ahhh, yes...I do enjoy pondering these questions and answering them. Proof provided below...

Ugly wallpaper.
Drab woodwork.
*pardon the tools*

Pale walls to match sink.
Refinished and antiqued the wood, 
added new knobs and accents.
New mirror and switchplates to match.
And yes...I did make my own stencils so 
I could do a raised stencil. Love the effect.
*have new oil rubbed bronze faucet
but that's on the honey-do list*

The closet door refinished and new knob and accents.
That fabric became the shower curtain for a pop of bold color.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Reality TV: Just The Encouraging Ones for Me

If I were to go on reality TV...entertainment would've devolved to a newer, more frightening level. Champions of Sloth wouldn't get a lot of viewers...unless there were actual fuzzy sloths involved.

I wish I had the talent and the skill to go on Face Off, Forged in Fire, or Ellen's Design Challenge. What the contestants are able to produce? The craftsmanship? The imagination? I'm in awe.

Any show that focuses on how awful humans can be, count me out. No snarky, back-stabby crap. No Masters of Emotional Manipulation. No Smile for the Sociopath. No Lord of the Flies in Paradise. No How to Ruin Your Marriage in Thirteen Episodes. No, no. No. Nope. Nu-uh. Just say no to the Art of Being Vapid and How to Out Shrew Shakespeare too.

Skill-based series, though? I'm a fan. I'm a huge fan of the shows that let us see competitors being supportive of each other, rather than tearing each other down. The Voice and So You Think You Can Dance come to mind. I enjoy the warm fuzzies of artists encouraging each other. I respect the constructive feedback of experts who want the next gen to succeed.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have The Great British Bake Off to binge-watch.

No soggy bottoms!

Monday, August 21, 2017

If I had to be on a "reality" TV show which one and why?

Well, that's actually easier than you might think. I'd be on NAKED AND AFRAID. Mostly to see how well I would do. There are no prizes, but I could easily call the time spent on the wilds research for any book I would likely write.

Also, I write horror and the idea of me naked should terrify anyone.

I seldom watch shows like that, if I'm being honest. Though when I do I'm amused. It's a matter of time spent and experiences gained for me.

This weekend I ran off to NecronomiCon in Providence, Rhode Island. it's an interesting fusion of fan convention and scholarly study of the weird fiction traditions, both old and new. I had a blast. I would recommend it to anyone who can arrange to hit the show.

I moderated a panel on Horror and Souther Gothic Fiction with panelists Ellen Datlow, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jeffrey Shaver and Michael Wehunt and had a blast, There is nothing quite as lovely as a panel with energetic and knowledgeable panelists.
Additionally I was on a panel regarding weird westerns. It's always a little unsettling when you realize that you have more knowledge than you expected about a subject. i did some work back in the day for Werewolf Wild West, the RPG from White Wolf Games, and since I did all that research--I did a LOT of research, I guess some of it stuck. Since then I've written 3/4s of a novel called BOOMTOWN that was placed on a back burner when my wife passed away. I was quite literally writing that novel when she passed.  I haven't finished the novel, but I've written several sequels to it. "Black Train Blues," "White Blank Page Songs in the Key of White)," "The Devoted," and, with Charles R. Rutledge, "What Rough Beast."  four sequels to a novel I haven't even finished yet. I suppose I should finish that novel and have pencilled it in for the end of the year. 

That's the Biltmore, where most of the programming took place. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Big Reality Show Called Life

Yesterday my car rolled over to 100,000 miles! I was happy I remembered to keep an eye on the odometer and pull over to snap the pics. She's 21 now and feeling frisky!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "If you had to be on a reality TV show, which one would you pick and why?"

Those of you who know me will immediately recognize that this is NOT my topic. I don't watch many TV shows - we don't have cable, so anything I see is what we stream - and reality shows are not my thing. My main associations with reality TV shows are ancient ones from MTV days where they stuck a bunch of bratty people into a house to fight with each other. Though I do love the character of Brock Hudson in She's All That - where he's recent reality show celeb, who can't stop mugging for the expected cameras. The rest of my ideas come from more current occasional You Tube videos of various surprising competitors on singing shows and several decades worth of cultural memes.

But I'll tell you what reality show almost all of us are a part of, whether we want to be or not: social media.

I know, I know - I've said things on this topic before, but it continually amazes me how some people seem to forget how many "viewers" they have. Social media is a big TV camera - or, rather, thousands upon thousands of smaller ones - aimed at us, recording our lives. We can control what we display for those cameras, but not who sees it afterwards.

And, as with the basic premise for all reality shows, the more drama, the more viewers tune in to watch.

Recently I've seen some authors complaining in "private groups" about reviews and contest scores. Inevitably a few others chime in, with sympathy or adding their own disgruntlement to the fire, and the conversation escalates. On one of those, I notice there are over 1,100 people subscribe to that "private" group. All other authors. In another, the group is smaller, but again it's a fairly rarified selection of other authors, colleagues in the same field of business.

Not only a lot of viewers, but targeted and invested ones.

Part of this complaining verged into criticizing major review outlets - who failed to review the authors' books or reviewed them unfavorably - with aspersions cast as to which are taking bribes to review other books with higher ratings.

And all I can think of is Brock Hudson, making an ass of himself, and thinking that he's accomplishing something. All the while everyone watching is shaking their heads, rubbernecking the drama.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reader Appreciation!

I love my readers! Being able to tell my stories and put them out there, and have people want to read them is WONDERFUL!

But I'm kind of a 'write the book, put the book out there, write the next book' person. My newsletter is a basic "there's a new book out" kind of thing. I don't do freebies or giveaways in the NL, nor do I write special short stories for the newsletter audience. Short and sweet and to the point, just the facts as they used to say on the old "Dragnet" TV show. I'm just not a very newsletter-oriented person.

I do giveaways from time to time on Facebook, not very often, or on a blog hop, if I'm participating to support a group. I've given away signed books, coffee mugs, T shirts with various logos from my series, eBooks, free audiobook download codes, humorous plastic robots and faux Egyptian jewelry. When I go to signings I make sure to have pens with my Sectors logo and bookmarks. (Plus chocolate because everything goes better with chocolate in my opinion.) I have fun with it if there's a specific occasion going on.

I DO have two free things going on right now, both in connection with Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, which releases on October 10th. I wrote a rock star romance set in outer space for my entry - I've always had a craving to write a rock star romance because I personally LOVE to read them, but since everything I touch turns to scifi, I didn't think I ever would. But then I did!

So we have a free coloring book that you can download here and we have a free sampler of the first chapter of all twelve new stories available on Instafreebie here.

Here's the blurb: 
The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors, brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard Award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr, to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share action-packed SFR stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rewarding Readers

When we talk about rewards, I am never clear who is rewarding whom. Frankly, I'm usually pretty stunned to find I have a reader who isn't related to me by blood or marriage. When I do find that out, I have the disconcerting tendency to say "C'mon in!" And subject said reader to cat photos on Facebook. Is that a reward?

Anything I've ever tried to do - tee shirts, giveaways, silly toys at signings - have felt as much like a reward for me as for anyone who wanted to buy a book, get a book signed, or just come talk to me about books in general. I have too much fun handing those things out. And, of course, there's only so much of that one person (and one pocket book) can do. So then I do my darnedest to make my readers feel special - which they are - I started looking for ways to make them a part of the writing process. Several readers generously answered my plea for beta readers. My newsletter subscribers (you can subscribe here) voted on the new cover for the re-release of Enemy Within. And yes. The cover that won is the cover I'm going with. Never ask readers' opinions and then blow them off. They know what they want. Someone remind me of that if I ever forget it, will you? Sorry. Can't post the cover here - it's still being worked on and I don't yet own the image yet.

I've been fortunate enough to trade birthday and holiday cards with readers who've become my friends. If I travel through a reader's state/town/region, I do my darnedest to meet for coffee at the very least. But again. Buying a reader a cup of coffee and a pastry is reward for me! Who else gets to do that other than a writer? Actors have stalkers. Romance writers have amazing readers we can laugh and chat and geek out with.

And that means that to this point, I have yet to find a reward for my readers that isn't a reward for me, too. Ideas? I'd love to hear them!