Sunday, September 30, 2018

Always Wanted to Write a Book? Do Tell!

So, you've always wanted to write a book? Isabel is at her leisure to listen.

Me? Well, that depends.

Don't get me wrong - I'm willing to help aspiring authors. I mentor through several organizations and do my best to be generous with helping people looking to build careers as writers.

The problem comes in when people are only talking and not wanting to do the work. That's why this week's topic is phrased the way it is: What do you want to tell someone who says 'I always wanted to write a book'?

There's this great story Ann Patchett tells in her memoir THE GETAWAY CAR: A PRACTICAL MEMOIR ABOUT WRITING AND LIFE. She's at a party with her husband and another guest discovers that Ann is a writer, and the woman says she believes everyone has at least one great novel in them.

Like most of us, Ann is very used to hearing this kind of thing. It's one of the five things likely to pop out of someone's mouth in a social setting when you say you're a writer, along with "Have I heard of you?" and other similarly predictable and difficult-to-answer sallies. Small talk is small, no matter your profession, and we all have our pet peeves. Most of the time we all can find ways to avoid rolling our eyes at the nonsense and provide reasonably polite replies.

On this particular occasion, Ann was tired and had heard that one too many times, and she asks, "Does everyone have one great floral arrangement in them? One great algebraic proof? One Hail Mary pass? One five-minute mile?"

I tell you, folks. This is always what I want to say.

But, when someone tells me "I always wanted to write a novel," I bite down on the urge to ask if they always wanted to play professional football or write a symphony, too, and instead I nod and ask for more information.

Because this is the key: most people who say this don't mean it. It's small talk at its smallest, party conversation that sounds good. I usually follow up with "And why haven't you?" which most often gets the standard "Oh, I just never found the time." That's actually a decent polite-conversation answer, because we can then segue into other socially acceptable topic like how they DO spend their time. One of the great conversational secrets - and often recommended - is to ask people about themselves. It has the added benefit of letting you off the conversational hook. All the better to swill wine while they talk.

Not that I've done that.

The few people who answer this question with something substantive? Those people I can offer advice to. Sometimes they have started and got bogged down. Sometimes they don't know how to start. If people really want help, it's pretty clear.

Otherwise, I can always ask if everyone has one great vintage and suggest we revisit the bar to find out.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Guest Linda Robertson ONCE UPON THE LONGEST NIGHT Kickstarter

Veronica: Such a pleasure to welcome SFF7 alumna Linda Robertson today!


Linda: HELLO! (waves maniacally) Linda Robertson here! If you’re a fan of the SFF7 blog, you may recall I used to occupy the Wednesday slot… and I am delighted to be visiting my old stomping ground – would that be stomping blog? Blogging ground? – either way, I’m happy to be here.

First, allow me to thank the SFF7 for allowing me to visit, and especially to Veronica for allowing me to take over her day. HUGS & CHOCOLATE!

I am just SOOO excited to tell you about this anthology of Paranormal Fantasy Romance. The gorgeous cover below was even a featured reveal in the USA Today Happily Ever After blog this past Thursday. I’ve provided story summaries at the bottom, so be sure to keep scrolling and check out that line up! WOW! I’m giddy to have a story among such talented authors! The kickstarter is going live soon – Monday Oct. 1st – so please, help keep the buzz about this anthology going. On Monday, follow the link at the very bottom to the Once Upon website where links to the kickstarter should be live, and consider backing Once Upon the Longest Night. There are wonderful backer prizes and incentives, too, but first, here’s that gorgeous cover:


The longest night. A vampire’s delight.

The winter solstice, a time of birth and rebirth, life and death, waning light and rising darkness. A time when those who flee the sun and crave the taste of blood find their greatest solace.

But one never knows what the longest night might hold.

Once Upon the Longest Night, a collection of adult paranormal romances, features nine novelettes of lovers and their battles against one of the greatest legends of our time: the vampire. A 15th-century seaman and the love of his life come face to face with a vengeful manjasang. In ancient Rome, a hunted priestess captured by a loyal centurion offers her aid to the enemy. With the help of a handsome Royal courier, a reluctant Romanian princess braves the curse flowing within her noble blood. Danger awaits when a vampire in the far reaches of North Dakota must endure the lethal cold to protect the woman she loves. And in a future New York, a broken general returns home for the Longest Night Ball where he meets a young male witch who might change his life forever.

This anthology combines vampire mythos and affairs of the heart with the sacred symbolism and magic of the winter season.

Sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to the Longest Night.

Story Summaries:

Memories of Stone by Elizabeth Vaughan: Ercula is weary, tired of fleeing, considered a monster by the Romans. But the Solstice is sacred to her goddess and she will worship at the forgotten shrine, whatever the risk.
The centurion who captures her has other plans.
The Lobster Trick by Dan Stout: Jacqueline doesn't mind her job as an overnight security guard. After all, what’s the worst that could happen at a blood bank? But when an armed group invades the building, Jacqueline is forced into action to save a handsome lab tech… and discovers that his shy smile might hide a shocking secret.

Blooded by Linda Robertson: Miriana Jorgeta rejoiced when her distant and cruel mother, the Queen, sent her away from Romania to attend a girl's school in England. For years, she lived a life so perfect she almost forgot about the duties of her heritage. But curses rarely remain hidden, and soon, with the help of her mother's royal courier, Miriana must face the truth about what really lurks in her blood.

His Last Battle by Sara Dobie Bauer: Suffering from PTSD, vampire general Devlin Frost returns home from the war on Lycans and attends the historic Longest Night Ball. Here, royal witch Elijah Crow must choose three immortal suitors to compete for his love and power. When Devlin is shockingly chosen as one of the three, his immediate attraction to the young witch coaxes him into entering the fray, but this battle is for more than Elijah’s love. The broken general might also win back his ruined heart and bruised soul—if he survives the night.

Silver Heart by Charissa Weaks: 15th Century Italy. After a decade at sea and with an inheritance in hand, Cristiano Del Valle returns to his childhood home of Venezia in search of a new beginning. What he finds on the longest night is an ancient enemy who not only threatens the life he’s long desired but the love he thought he’d lost.

Her Blood to Bind by Alice Black: To escape the vampire who made her, a former dominatrix takes a job in Costa Rica as an English tutor to the children of a wealthy widower. What she discovers is that her new employer is just as dangerous as her pursuer...and twice as tempting. 

Walk with Me by Jodi Henry: After a century of killing her own kind, Arianna Guerri retired to a place no other vampire dare go. In the deadly cold of North Dakota, she built a life for herself, and fell, secretly, in love with her best and only friend. When someone burns the small town,
Arianna must face the mistakes of her past—and her feelings—if she hopes to survive the
longest night.

Love on the Longest Night by Sybil Ward: Neenah and Robert are searching for true love in the same place for drastically different reasons. Can they find love together on the longest night when they’re trapped by the century’s worst blizzard and one of them is a 300-year-old vampire?

 One Night In December by Melinda S. Collins: NYC artist, Micah Price, never believed in vampires or immortality. But after a year of researching Daniel Savoy, her family’s enigmatic annual houseguest and the only man she's ever loved, the options surrounding the truth of his past are slim at best. When a bloody Daniel arrives on Micah's doorstep, she refuses to leave any stone of the mystery unturned. But accepting that vampires exist is the least of her worries. Because sometimes it's not the monsters we should fear. It's what hunts them.


Find more information at:



Friday, September 28, 2018

What You Need

Into every life a little rain must fall. If you mean to stay afloat both as a person and as a writer, you need a few things.

  • Know what you need and create it - some of us require the illusion of stability in order to create and that stability can be elusive when life is throwing constant BS at you. Look for places you can force stability - is it enough to declare a time at which you will show up to the page and to make that space of time your anchor?
  • Operate at a remove - get out of your normal place. Extract yourself from the part of your life causing chaos. Find refuge - check out the quiet section of your library. Or find a local coffee or tea shop that will let you camp a table for an hour or two. The key is to find someplace that you can retreat to where you can be the truest, most stripped down version of you - leave all the masks (spouse, child, coworker, responsible adult, etc) behind. It's just you and the page and the story. Set a timer. You'll pick up your masks and your cares once the timer goes off.
  • Turn off the distractors - this isn't just about the Freedom app, though certainly use that if it helps you focus. This is about your phone. And your email. Shut them down. There is no reason on this planet for you to be 100% available to anyone 100% of the time. If you cannot bear to shut down the phone, set the Do Not Disturb for the time you want to work. You can program in exceptions so your child can always ring straight through if need be. This is only for a short time and you don't need the phone chirping, ringing, buzzing or otherwise pulling you out of your story. Immersion is hard won. Don't squander it with a stupid cell phone or an idiotic email trying to tell you who to vote for.
  • Vow to become a warrior. How? Pick up the sword (or in this case, the manuscript.) Every single day. You pick it up. Some days, you'll pick it up, swing it once and put it right back down. But the bulk of the days, you'll work with it longer, trying trickier moves, acknowledging that you're clumsy as hell with it right now. But the more you pick it up and swing with intention, the better you'll get. 
  • Know when to quit. A friend and former crit partner tried desperately to write while she sat in a long series of hospital rooms watching her youngest son die. She finally shut the laptop and quit. For two years. She came back to writing after and is doing very, very well now. But for her, for that time, it was necessary to put that piece of herself away so she could be fully present for her son and for herself. She has no regrets over it. 
  • Get crystal clear on your priorities AND on the priorities of those around you - What do you say are your priorities. What do your actions say are your priorities. No judgements here - it's an observation about where the gap lies and why there's a gap at all, if there is one. What are your loved ones' priorities? Do they conflict with or support yours? You do know it's legit to expect your priorities to be supported only because they are your priorities and matter to you as a human being? You afford support and respect to your loved ones' priorities (within reason) because you love them and want them happy. Require the same courtesy for yourself and allow yourself to demand AND accept it.

Only you know your capacity. Only you can know what makes you tick. If you don't know, find out. It's why the gods invented therapists. No one is bulletproof. Every person on the planet will get tripped up over something. There isn't any problem with falling down. The problem is in not getting up again. 

PS: The kittens are fine. I am covered in bloody, razor-thin scratches from kitten claws. By my scars you shall know me. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Downward Spiral Slingshot Maneuver

So, the question put forward this week: how do you keep writing when your life is in a downward spiral?

It's interesting, because for me, that downward spiral was exactly what got me on track with my writing.

So, in 2007 I was in a state.  I hated my job deeply, and it was negatively impacting literally everything else in my life: health, weight, marriage, you name it. 

At that time, I had that thing I had been talking about.  You all know "that thing"-- that book project that you've been talking about forever, and you've written up character descriptions and worldbuilding information and you maybe have even written a little bit of, but... it's not going anywhere.

Back then, I would go days in a row where I couldn't even muster up the energy to open up the file, let alone actually write.

Finally I said to myself, "You're 34 years old, and what are you doing with yourself?  Working this terrible job for terrible people, and hating everything.  You keep saying you want to write books but are you?  No, you aren't, and you need to."

So I did something possibly ill-advised, but what turned out to be for the best: I just plain quit.  My wife was, at first, livid, but after a while we talked it over and restructured our lives with the idea that I was really going to do this, no matter what.

A couple months later, I finished that thing.  Mind you, IT IS TERRIBLE, but it was done. 

A year after that, I wrote the first draft of what would be The Thorn of Dentonhill.  And then kept at it, more and more, to reach where we are now: with an eighth book coming out next week.

Sometimes, you've got to uses that downward spiral to figure out just what matters, and then use it to slingshot yourself back upwards.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When life drowns the writing

Hoh boy. This week on SFF Seven we're talking about how to stay motivated when life "spirals downward" (<-- poetic way of putting it, yes?).

If you have suggestions, please do feel free to pass them along.

Truth is, I'm a bit under water right now -- family health emergencies, pre-teen drama, pet emergencies, home repair problems, kind of you name it and I'm dealing with it. (You don't want to hear the litany of despair. You really don't.) It would be amazing if I could say the writing was keeping me going or even that I have been able to write whole stories despite.

But it's not and I haven't.

I wake up in the morning with stories in my brain. Sometimes I scribble in the notebook beside my bed. Sometimes I thumb-type dialogue on my phone while I'm waiting in a doctor's office or hospital room or vet clinic or school pick-up line. Back when the words were coming and life was being kind, I got used to assigning a multi-hour stack of time for writing, during which I could deep dive into the story, but nowadays I'm having to train myself to take stories piecemeal, scribbles here and emailed snippets there. It's like I'm rewiring the whole structure of how I work.

And honestly? If this goes well, if I manage to train myself to write books on the run like this, that will be a perfect kind of magic.

Because I don't want to make writing the center point of my universe. My family is already there, I love them, and I have made promises to them. Comparatively, I've promised writing very little -- I have no contracts or deadlines and very few expectant readers, and I can choose either to be depressed about that lack or to be grateful I don't have yet another competing commitment.

I choose to be grateful. Because managing the spiral is about understanding your priorities, and right now, writing is not my priority.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Authoring When Life Doth Sucketh

When life gets me down, how do I cope while still doing the work of an author? There are so many aspects of being a writer that don't involve word count or tapping wellsprings of empathy. Tasks that demand my analytical brain are great havens during emotional upheaval because I can shut down the drama-mind and just produce something with a tangible end result. I can ride out the storm pulling sales numbers, compiling ad data, updating P&Ls, revising marketing strategies, etc. If I need to lose myself in an obsession to hide from the real world but my written world is too fraught, then I tackle revamping my website or take an online class. All these things are necessary to the job, but they're also the things that get back-burnered while in the fevered throes of actually writing a book. Completing non-writing-specific tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment and control. When it feels like life is spiraling downward, small successes buoy the spirit and make tomorrow easier to tackle. Sometimes, the small win has the most impact.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Finding a way

Sometimes life gets dark and it's easy to fall into a pit and wallow in that darkness.

Getting out can be tougher. When my wife Bonnie passed away after a rather long run of medical complications I had no desire to write to do anything.
It took me 8 years to look back on the work I was writing when she passed. I have since finished it.
I have a novel I started working on after she passed and it's not finished yet.
But since then I have written a lot of novels.

I forgive myself for not finishing the stories with painful memories attached. I'll get to them eventually.

But otherwise I'm with Jeffe. Writing is my escape. It was what kept me sane when my wife died on me. Want to read more of what I write then here's the link. I wrote a LOT about how my life was changed without here. It's really the longest stretch of non-fiction I ever did.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

Finding Motivation when Life Spirals Downward

The moon rises over the mesa at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keeffe had her summer home. We went on a sunset horseback ride to see her house and the landscape she painted.

It was just extraordinary.

We also did a tour of her winter home and studio in Abiquiu. I've done this one before and love to do it every time I have an out-of-town visitor interested. Seeing where and how this prolific and fantastic artist lived and worked is an enormous education in examining life choices. She surrounded herself with beauty and - though she was a millionaire by that point in her life - Georgia lived a very minimalist and simple life.

All of her choices focused on making herself into a better artist.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is "Finding motivation when life spirals downward."

What I've discovered - for myself and from examples like Georgia O'Keeffe - is that the spiral of my life depends on my art, not the other way around. Writing provides an anchor and a ley line* for my life. The creativity is the wellspring of energy, writing is how I channel it, and that channeling provides the buffer and balance for everything else.

Sure, being able to produce art depends on having a life set up to be peaceful enough to do that, but for me - as Georgia did - that means constructing my life to put my work at the center. If my writing is going well, everything else goes well.

*the concept of a "ley line" is found in fantasy a lot and is like a river of magical energy

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cover Reveal: TIMTUR A Badari Warriors #SciFi Romance Novel


Our topic of blurbs and covers is very timely this week since I’m ready to share my next release in the Badari Warriors series!

Since the events described in TIMTUR actually occur between books 2 and 3 in the numbered series, I decided to issue the novel under the IN THE STARS ROMANCE banner, which is comprised of a great group of fellow scifi romance authors.

The blurb:
Genetically engineered soldiers of the far future, the Badari were created by alien enemies to fight humans. But then the scientists kidnapped an entire human colony to use as subjects in twisted experiments…the Badari and the humans made common cause, rebelled and escaped the labs. Now they live side by side in a sanctuary valley protected by a powerful Artificial Intelligence, and wage unceasing war on the aliens. The luckiest Badari find their mates among the humans.

Far from her home in the human Sectors after the mass kidnapping, teacher Lily Garrison is making a niche for herself in the valley by running a school for the Badari young. Although she yearns for Timtur, the pack’s healer, another Badari male has his eye on her and won’t take no for an answer.

Timtur feels the weight and responsibility of being the pack’s only healer, constantly on call as the soldiers fight ferocious battles against the alien scientists and their troops. With scarcely a moment to himself, he’s drawn to the gentle Lily but worries he won’t be able to juggle his duties, his loyalty to the pack and a relationship with a human woman.

 When Lily’s stalker takes direct action to kidnap her and steal her from the safety of the valley, she’s forced to reach deep inside to find the strength to battle for her life. Timtur realizes too late how foolish he’s been to resist the bond with his fated mate and leads the rescue effort.

Before this situation can be resolved both will have to put their lives on the line and decide what really matters in a dangerous world ruled by the enemy.

Although this is the fifth book released in the Badari Warriors scifi romance series, the story of Timtur and Lily is a standalone and actually comes immediately after book two’s events. Always a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine, not a cliffhanger. Some overarching issues do remain unresolved in each book since this is an ongoing series but romance always wins the day in my novels!

The book is still in final edits, so this selection may be revised a bit by the time the book is released. The (first ever) excerpt: “I want you to go with me to the Alpha’s gathering tonight.” The Badari soldier stood much too close to her, crowding her against the desk.

Being alone with this aggressive young warrior in the office this late in the afternoon, gave her a bad feeling. No one was likely to come to her rescue. Lily tried to sidestep, and he put one arm out to keep her in place, boxed in between his massive body and the wall. “Thank you, but I’m already going with my sisters,” she said, trying to control her breathing. “And I’m expecting to meet a friend there.” She wished she’d followed her instincts and left the minute he stepped into the room but, at first, he’d said he wanted to talk about tutoring for the cubs. “I asked you before, Vattan, not to keep singling me out. I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but I’m not interested.”

“You should be. I’m the Generation 9 Alpha. I’ll be in charge of the packs and the valley someday, once Generation 8 dies off. Or I kill their Alpha in combat. Any human woman should be happy to have my attention.” He nuzzled her neck.

“Stop that!” Shocked, disgusted, she shoved at him but, since he outweighed her by easily two hundred pounds and had muscles like slabs of granite, her defensive gesture made no impression on him. “Please, leave me alone.” Her heart was racing and she felt like her legs could barely hold her up.

“You think I don’t know you have eyes for the healer?” Vattan gave a contemptuous snort, even as he pressed his body more closely to hers. “He’s weak. I could kill him easily in a dominance challenge.” The young alpha eyed her figure appreciatively. “But he’d never risk fighting me, even over you. You need a strong warrior to protect you on this planet.”

Trying to hold him at arm’s length, Lily debated whether to lie and say she would attend the party with Vattan. It might end this encounter, and then she could appeal to the settlement’s leader Aydarr, the alpha in charge of the pack, as soon as she was able to get away from her stalker. But the Badari could smell lies, or so it was said, and she was afraid to make Vattan angry.

Vattan reached out and snagged one of the long red strands of her hair with his talons, pulling her carefully controlled hair style into messy disarray. “So pretty. Like fire in the sunshine.”

Footsteps sounded outside, and she hoped for a rescue, although the encounter was bound to be embarrassing for her. She was terrified if no one interrupted him, Vattan was going to overpower her and assault her right here in the office.

A young cub burst into the room, clutching an armful of handhelds. “I’m sorry I’m late, Miss Lily.”

TIMTUR: The Teacher’s Alien Healer will be released across all major ebook seller sites on October 16th. At this time there is no pre-order - sorry!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Internet Was Made for Cats


Yeah, you're not getting blurbs from me. Sorry. Some might argue that I'm not all that coherent at the best of times, but at the moment, I can't pretend to make any kind of sense at all. I'm running on sleep caught in 2 hour shifts because I'm unexpectedly a new mom.
 
Saturday morning, one of the colony caretakers called in a panic because someone had driven up in the middle of the night and dumped this litter of kittens at the colony. None of the other colony caretakers had the bandwidth to take on fostering the babies, so they landed in my lap.  

Yes. They're adorable and fluffy and cute. But they were in very serious condition when they got to me. They'd been without food and warmth for long enough, they'd started to shut down. It took concerted effort to bring three of the four back from the brink of death. The fourth kitten couldn't recover.


 We looked for another foster solution for these babies. I have two elderly females who I'd promised would get to have peaceful, kittenless retirements. One of those females is chronically ill. So I was doubly motivated to find another placement for the kittens. It was the Humane Society of Tampa Bay who sat me down and explained that in a complete reversal of what I'm accustomed to, it is the peak of kitten season in Florida. No one was going to take these kittens from me because all the inns are full to bursting. The only option I had was to take them to the Pinellas County shelter which cannot turn an animal away - the only problem is that they euthanize bottle babies seconds after they come through the door because that shelter simply doesn't have the man power to care for tiny kittens. That was a nope.  

And this is my plea. Consider fostering an animal for your local Humane Society or local shelter. It needn't be kittens. Any animal you foster still belongs to the shelter and the shelter handles all veterinary care. You provide food, love, walks and possibly a little training. What you don't see is that by taking that animal out of a shelter cage, the animal is automatically more adoptable (and not just by you if you foster fail.) You, as the foster care-giver, will provide SO much more information to potential adopters. The adopters know the animal knows how to behave in a home environment. You'll be able to answer temperament questions and relay funny or endearing stories about the foster critter that will draw adopters in. You'll also be clearing space for another animal in desperate need. By fostering one, you save two. At least. You don't need much. 

Here's my set up for the babies. A plastic bin with old towels, a pet heating pad (only covers one half of the bin, only turns on with an animal is on it, and only heats to 102.) More towels a stuffed animal as a cuddle buddy, and a cover to keep the AC from blowing on them. In a week, I'll need another solution, cause they're already starting to attempt jail breaks. But for now, these babies are easily portable. The first two days, they went with me wherever I went so I could feed them any 
time they squeaked. They're stable now and can be left for three of four hours at a time. 

Makes for some tough nights getting up to feed every three hours. But it's worth it. 


We're joking now that we're growing our own Halloween Decorations. And yes. I did name them Crow, Raven, and Corvid. You need only hear them to comprehend why. 

My elderly girls are deeply unimpressed and, in fact, we just had the vet in for Hatshepsut because she stopped eating. But no guilt trips, right? We have meds and I think we might be on our way to getting on track, my poor girl. I'd spare her this stress if I could, but no one else will take these kittens. And no way will they be turned over to a pound just to be killed for being little.

I guess the thing that stays with me is something the vet said after the first kitten died. 

He nodded while I cried and said, "You're doing what's right. Not what's easy." 

I hope that's true for these three little squeak-monsters (who are currently teething and VERY angry about that development.) It also strikes me as a really thought provoking way to approach writing. Do what's right. Not what's easy. I like it.

Anyone want a kitten? How about three??


Thursday, September 20, 2018

THE WAY OF THE SHIELD Is Coming

We're now less than two weeks away from the release of THE WAY OF THE SHIELD, the first book of The Maradaine Elite.  I'm excited to be introducing these characters and this new facet of the Maradaine saga to readers.
Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King's Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.
When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.
Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.
Of course, launching a new series means there will be more books, and as this book is coming out, I'm finalizing the draft of the next one, THE SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE.  What's that going to be about?  Here's my first pass at a blurb, though it will probably need some refinement:
It’s a grand holiday week in the city of Maradaine, celebrating over two centuries of freedom and the foundation of the reunified modern nation, and with that comes parades, revelry… and protests and demonstrations. As Druthal is electing their new Parliament, a dissident group called The Open Hand seeks to disrupt elections and spread their message of dissolving Druthal into independent kingdoms. Leading the Open Hand is a mysterious and charismatic man, Bishop Ret Issendel.
Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall find themselves on the margins of the Tarian Order, lauded as heroes in public but scorned and ignored in private, and their future in the Order is hazy. Drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them, Dayne and Jerinne must both fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.
I've really been loving playing with these characters in this series. Less than two weeks, so pre-order THE WAY OF THE SHIELD now!
Goodreads Page for THE WAY OF THE SHIELDAvailable at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound and more!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Blurbs, back cover copy, and pitches

So, um, I don't have anything coming out anytime soon.

Which doesn't mean I'm not writing, just that I'm not selling anything. Worse yet, I can't really share any of the pitches or proposals that are in the works because there is an outside chance that a decision-maker somewhere will like one of them and whee I will have a project (maybe even a contract) again.

So instead of sharing all this top-secret silliness, I'll pass along advice I've received about preparing hooks, pitches, blurbs, and back cover copy. Cuz guess what? All those marketing-copy bits are very similar.

1. Focus on the conflict. Distill it as succinctly as possible. Sherry Thomas "pitched" Twilight to my writing group once as something along the lines of "She loves him even though he could kill her. He loves her back, except he also thinks she's tasty." The thing that sells that story isn't the wish fulfillment or the sparkles. It's the "how are they ever gonna figure that one out?" question. Whether the author answers the initial question in a compelling way is fodder for another conversation. At pitch/blurb/back-cover-copy stage, you just need to raise the question.

2. However, don't use rhetorical questions. "Will they overcome their many and various compelling hurdles and find true love (or save the galaxy, or what-have-you)?" Well, yeah. Most likely they will. Asking me a question I already know the answer to isn't gonna make me buy a book.

3. If you're writing spec fic, put the deep world building front and center. This is tricky because you don't want to dump a bunch of author notes and back story in a pitch/blurb/back-cover-copy. But also, you don't want a reader to figure they're looking at just another epic fantasy or vampire romance or cozy mystery with cats and robots. Highlight the worldbuilding piece that makes your world unique.

4. Keep it brief.

5. If you're writing a romance, give the goal and conflict for each central-romance character, as well as the major conflict that's keeping them apart. (See tip 1.)

6. Match the tone/voice of the book. So, if you're writing a sarky, irreverent book, the marketing copy should match. If you're writing a thriller, sell it with that same choppy, chilling, rat-tat language. If you're writing an epic fantasy, the world is changed. You feel it in the water. You feel it in the earth. And so on.

Guess, before I head out, I should put a giant asterisk on this list of tips: I have never successfully done this kind of writing. My queries all received form responses. I would never have sold if my agent weren't a genius for this sort of thing. However! I have collected the above wisdom from a number of more accomplished writers, and I trust them.

Crossing fingers some of this sage advice will work for me. And for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cover Copy: The Hanged Spy

Yay for Blurb Week! I love seeing the books Coming Soon to a shelf near me. Continuing the promo trend, here's the latest in the adventures of Bix, the Immortal Spy. THE HANGED SPY is slated to release during the winter holiday season.

THE HANGED SPY
The Immortal Spy: Book 4

The Hanged Spy upright encourages a new perspective.

For Bix and her team, stealing the build specs for a prototype Mid Worlds defense system is a high-risk mission they can’t refuse. The pantheons have dispatched their elite wet works unit to smite every researcher and facility associated with the project. Unfortunately, the gods have a head start, and Bix’s only clue to salvaging the data is a personalized Tarot card of the Hanged Man.

Illustrated by arcane magic, the card depicts an old Sage who’d trained her in the spy game. A Sage who’d repeatedly tried to kill her. A Sage who’d died in the throes of an op. Purportedly.

As deceptions multiply, the superpowers sworn to protect the Mids hamstring each other in the name of politics while a merciless foreign army invades yet another World. The pressure mounts for Bix to deliver the specs with all haste, but higher powers and hidden truths sideline her team and send her spiraling out of control. When one bad decision shatters the life she most treasures, no god, angel, dragon, or Fate is safe from Bix’s wrath.

The Hanged Spy reversed demands a sacrifice.


It's not quite ready for pre-order, but if you sign up for my newsletter at kakrantz.com, you'll be notified when it's available to purchase.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A blurb, you say....

Jeffe said, "This week at the SFF Seven we're sharing a blurb from our current work in progress or a blurb from an upcoming release. Serendipitously enough, for me they're one and the same at the moment."


Well, here are a few from my series TIDES OF WAR. The last book in the series THE GATES OF THE DEAD is coming out in January.

Here's the cover. Oh, heck, here are all three covers for the series because they are AMAZING and I love Alejandro Colucci's work 












And here are a few blurbs:

“Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he’s writing in. Well worth your time.”
– Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid and Toby Daye series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

“With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff.”
– Bookwraiths
“I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series.”
– Beauty in Ruins
The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Smorgasbord Fantasia
“I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy.”
– Cover 2 Cover
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“James A Moore throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Fantasy Smorgasbord
The Last Sacrifice is dark and violent with no punches pulled. The worldbuilding is epic in scope but focuses on a select few individuals to flesh out the story.” 4.5/5 stars
– San Franciso Book Review

Language Notes

Since time began, the Grakhul, immortal servants of the gods who choose who lives and who dies when it comes time to make sacrifices to their deities, have been seeking to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they take the family of Brogan McTyre to offer as sacrifice, everything changes. Brogan heads off on a quest to save his family from the Grakhul. The decision this time is costlier than they expected, leading to Brogan and his kin being hunted as criminals and the gods seeking to punish those who've defied them.This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.

About the Author

“Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he’s writing in. Well worth your time.”
– Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid and Toby Daye series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

“With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff.”
– Bookwraiths
“This was a very good read.”
– Purple Owl Reviews
“Epic fantasy at its best.”
– Amanda J Spedding
“Grimdark as fuck!  So in a word “’GREAT’”.
– The Blogin’ Hobgoblin
“I liked The Last Sacrifice a great deal.  I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s work and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  He just keeps getting better.  Check this one out and see.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“What’s Moore to say? People fighting Gods? Bring it! This is a great addition to James A. Moore’s line up.”
– The Book Plank
“I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series.”
– Beauty in Ruins
The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Smorgasbord Fantasia
“I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy.”
– Cover 2 Cover
“I’d recommend this and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one. More evil Grakhul/He-Kisshi action please Mr Moore!”
– Ribaldry’s Books
“I was just turning pages as fast as my eyes could devour the words.”
– On A Dark Stormy Review
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“Fast-paced fantasy that you simply can’t put down. Great action adventure.”
– Morpheus Tales
The Last Sacrifice is an enthralling fast-paced book with ass-kicking characters who could only grow stronger as the series progresses.”
– Zirev
“James A Moore throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Fantasy Smorgasbord
The Last Sacrifice will tickle the fancy of any fans of grimdark fantasy, with its large cast of characters and earth-shattering consequences.”
– The Warbler Books

“Fantasy lovers will enjoy this book, and while an emphasis on gritty storytelling and horror elements elevates this from more standard magical creatures or hocus-pocus, it is still an absolute page-turner.”
– LeftLion
The Last Sacrifice is dark and violent with no punches pulled. The worldbuilding is epic in scope but focuses on a select few individuals to flesh out the story.” 4.5/5 stars
– San Franciso Book Review


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Coming Soon! THE ARROWS OF THE HEART


This week at the SFF Seven we're sharing a blurb from our current work in progress or a blurb from an upcoming release. Serendipitously enough, for me they're one and the same at the moment.

I just received developmental edits from my editor, Peter Senftleben, on THE ARROWS OF THE HEART. They're pretty light - yay! - so I should have those revisions turned around and out to my copy editor by Wednesday. All of this means I should be on track for my planned October 3, 2018 release date!

I'm not doing preorders for this one, so your best bet to be notified when it's live is to sign up for my newsletter.

And, because we're nearly ready to go live, I've been going back and forth with the gal who does my blurbs/back cover copy. Which means I also have that, fresh off the press. We're going to tweak it a titch more, but here's the penultimate version!

As the Twelve Kingdoms and their allies are drawn toward war, a princess cast aside must discover a purpose she never dreamed of… 
Karyn af Hardie behaved like a proper Dasnarian wife. She acquiesced, she accepted, she submitted. Until her husband gave her a choice: their loveless, unconsummated royal marriage—or her freedom. Karyn chose freedom. But with nowhere to run except into the arms of Dasnaria’s enemies, she wonders if she’s made a mistake. She wants love, security, a family. She can’t imagine finding any of it among the mercurial Tala. 
Worst of all is Zyr. The uninhibited shapeshifter is everywhere she looks. He’s magnetic, relentless, teasing and tempting as if she’s free to take her pleasure where she wishes. As if there isn’t a war rising before them, against a vile and demanding force far stronger than they. Thrown together in a dangerous gambit to tip the balance, Karyn and Zyr have every opportunity to fail—and one chance to steal something truly precious…

Coming soon!! Eeeeee!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

My Partial Reading List from the Past Month

To be clear, I expected to love this book
and I did!!!

The topic this week is to discuss a book we read believing we would hate it and ended up loving it instead.

Um, no.

I have no such book to offer you. I don’t read books I don’t expect to like, I Do Not Finish (DNF) books I’m not enjoying and any book I expected to hate that I’ve been forced to read (which would be mostly an issue from high school)…I hated just as much or more by the time I was done reading it.

So, not much more to be said there.

Life is too short and too full of good things to experience, to waste any time on books I expect to hate.

Which leaves me four hundred or so words short of any kind of a decent blog post. I thought maybe it would be mildly interesting to post a list of some of the books I have read fairly recently (in the last few weeks or so) and enjoyed to varying degrees. My scale ranges from “WOW, I loved that book and I need to read everything else by that author NOW”, to “well, ok, that was a pleasant diversion but I don’t need any more time in that world, thank you”. Here in this post I’m not going to quantify them for you in that fashion because I’m not a reviewer. The books are listed in a pretty random order, as they come to mind, or as I look at my kindle.

Rebel Hard (in ARC) by Nalini Singh, which led to me re-reading Rock Addiction and Rock Hard
Buku by Jennifer Anderson
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews, which led to me re-reading the previous 13 books in the series and thoroughly relishing the experience. (To be fair, some of those are novellas.) I also found that now that I know how the series ends, I picked up some nuances in earlier books that I’d missed before so that was fun.
Alien Commander’s Mate (Warriors of the Lathar Book 6) by Mina Carter
Hardwired by Andrea Bills
The Cyborg Bounty Hunter: Love in the Stars by Miranda Martin
Antibody (Love and War Book 3) by R. A. Steffan
Operation Thunderbolt by Saul David, nonfiction account of the rescue operation at Entebbe
Re-read Dark Piper by Andre Norton
Stripped (Happy Endings) by Zoey Castle
Surviving the Apocalypse by Tinnean
Lights Out by James Hunt
In Darkness Transformed (The Paladin Strike Team Book 1) and Atone In Darkness (The Paladin Strike Team Book 2) by Alexis Morgan, which led to me re-reading books 1 and 2 of her Paladins of Darkness series
Re-read The Snow Tiger and High Citadel by Desmond Bagley
Re-read Frederica by Georgette Heyer
Tailspin by Sandra Brown
The Girl on the Balcony, non fiction, autobiography of actress Olivia Hussey
Claimed by an Alien Warrior by Tiffany Roberts
All the Project Rebellion books by Mina Carter

I read very VERY fast, probably because when I’m reading I concentrate completely on the book and let nothing distract me, aside from Jake the Cat’s piteous meows for his dinner (meaning loud and annoying yowls while he stands on the kindle in my lap and stares at me with his beautiful predator’s eyes).

I also re-read several of my own books, both because I needed to refresh my memory of some things about my current Badari Warrior series and because to tell you the truth, I write the kind of books I love to read.

And there were a number of DNF’s in that time frame as well, principally but not all scifi romances.

There you have it! Happy reading to you…

Have you pre-ordered your copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 3 yet, by the way?
My brand new 41K word novel in the volume is Star Cruise: Mystery Dancer, with an 'Anastasia' vibe...

Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

Amazon     iBooks     B&N    Kobo     Google



Friday, September 14, 2018

For Love of Books We Didn't Want to Read

We're supposed to talk about books we didn't want to read and then ended up loving and I've got nothing. I'd like to tell you it's because I know my own reading tastes enough that when I don't want to read something, it's because I bloody well know I'm not going to like it and to this point, I've been right. 

Everything I've read that I did not want to read I really didn't like. A few, I detested. The rest were entirely mediocre. I turned into a DNF (Did Not Finish) reader early in my career as a reader - the first book in Stephan Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series cured me of pushing through a story I hated. From that point forward, I figured out that I'd know whether I' be able to stomach a book within the first several pages. Thus began my habit of lurking in the aisles of bookstores reading and flipping through the first couple of pages. 

So it turned out that everything I was forced to read for high school English classes I knew I wouldn't like and only a few who surprised me into appreciating them. (Albert Camus, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad - Shakespeare, even.)

Am I sorry I read any of the books school made me read? A few of them, yes. I was a teenager. I did not need to be reading depressing books. I had a lock on all kinds of angst of my own. I didn't need all these major downer books adding to it. Most of the books, though, I am glad I read. Even if I didn't actively enjoy them. I mean, honestly. Who *reads* Shakespeare? That's not how you learn to appreciate the genius of those texts. It's only in performance of them that you appreciate exactly what Shakespeare did with meter and rhyme to imply stage direction and action.  

If you asked which of the writers I most learned to appreciate as I grew older, I'd say James Joyce - just for the beauty of his words and images. That The Dead was turned into a movie with Angelica Houston in it that mesmerized me helped a lot. NOTHING HAPPENS in that movie. Nothing. And yet. The words were so gorgeous. So I guess that's the story of the book I hadn't wanted to read that ended up pleasantly surprising me - a story I didn't think I actually had. 

You see, I think my brain is melting. I think we might be unexpectedly and sort of accidently be buying a house. O_o Stay tuned. Cause I have no clue how this roller coaster is going to get us back to the safety of solid ground. 

What I want to know is which book (if any) cured you of reading all way to The End in a book you don't like.