Showing posts with label Cover Reveal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cover Reveal. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

THE SHACKLED SPY: Cover Reveal and Teaser Quote

Dropping in late January, the sixth book in my Immortal Spy series leads Bix and the Berserkers on a scavenger hunt for the pieces of a potent containment device that will remove a millennia-old cosmic moat from outer space, and allow them to finally deploy the new and improved defense system. But, there are things living in the moat that will not go quietly, things that will force Bix to confront the greatest tragedy she's ever suffered and turn her into the Worlds' biggest threat. 


Cover Image for The Shackled Spy
Cover by Gene Mollica Studios
THE SHACKLED SPY
The Immortal Spy: Book 6

From the Book:
Tobek closed the fingers of his prosthesis around the piece of the containment device still held by Bix. His high-tech amalgam of plastic, rubber, and machinery crumbled into dust. He changed hands, cautiously gripping the triangle. The ink of his heavily tattooed arm and torso illuminated through his T-shirt. The green of his pupils lit, and the vibrant blue of his irises followed.

“Let go, Tobek,” Bix quietly urged.

“I’m learning its resonance.” His voice sounded as though it was rising from a deep well. “Cian is correct. You cannot store this in the Mids. It’s more dangerous to all native life than the ether.”

“Well, that’s interesting, because original me scattered the remaining fragments across the Mids.” Bix tugged the panel, but Tobek held fast. 

Drew and Ashtad warily leaned on the table, getting closer to the piece remaining inert in Tobek’s hand even though the Berserker himself was in full-blown woo. Gurp stayed way the hell away from the table, which was odd for the goblin, who prided himself on being a walking forensics lab. He busied himself checking on Cian, which wasn’t odd, come to think of it. People first when it came to Gurp’s great big heart.

“Chief gave us the heads-up that you’re removing the ether so we can push Resen live.” Ashtad got his hand within six inches of the triangle before he snatched it back with a wince. “If Resen was active, we could track the fragments by resonance, but…”

“Anything that’s powerful enough to contain the magic of titans is going to be detrimental to any collective, not just the Mids.” Drew succeeded in touching the triangle but lost half his hand as a result.

↭ 


Be notified when the book is available by joining my New Release Newsletter!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Career Goals for the Established Author - a Work in Progress

Here's a little tease of the cover of THE FIERY CROWN, sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE, and book two in the Forgotten Empires trilogy. The full cover will be revealed on Wednesday, October 16, at Tor.com. There will also be a sneak peek of the first chapter!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the big career goal to which we currently aspire.

It's an excellent question, particularly as phrased, because our career goals as authors do change over time. Recently a fairly new author concerned about their career trajectory implied that I shouldn't have concerns about my own career because I've "made it."

People, I wish I could count the number of times people have told me that I've "made it" in the last twenty-five years.

It's a common misperception that authors with an extensive backlist (which I do have), a loyal audience (thank you all!), and regular releases (which takes dedicated work) are somehow not reaching, even struggling. The vagaries of the publishing industry are kind to no one, and every author has their ups and downs. (As do agents and editors.) Not many of us have retired to Mediterranean villas to be waited upon by cabana boys while we pithily doodle out our next brilliant work.

So, it's an interesting question to pose to any author. What BIG goal do you aspire to RIGHT NOW? The answers may be surprising.

And note that we're specifying a big goal. It's tempting to say "finish this book I'm currently working on" - because that particular goal is all-consuming. In fact, we so often have our heads down, buried in finishing the current work, that we don't always pop our heads up to consider the big picture.

For me? I have a new book and series out on submission and I have a dollar figure advance in mind for it. If I get it, that will be a big, much-needed leap for me. A saltation in evolution, for those of you who know about those things. My other big goal is to hit a bestseller list, either USA Today or, ideally, New York Times. I never have and I'd really like to tag that particular brass ring. I'm hopeful that buzz for THE ORCHID THRONE - which has been really lovely and wonderful so far - will continue to build and that THE FIERY CROWN will have a shot at making those lists. It's looking more possible now that the NYT list added back mass market paperback

There, I've put those wishes out in the universe, which I rarely do publicly. Cross your fingers for me!

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Origin of Story

Story starts in darkness, in the cracks of the self. In nightmares and in dreams. Story starts in everything I believe I hate. It starts in all the self-loathing that drifts through the gray matter spiraling up and flashing like fireflies signaling for mates. It coalesces into noxious fruit I can pluck and examine. Until I learned better, I used to consume that terrible fruit and feed the monsters living inside. Somewhere along the path, and this probably saved my life, I learned to hold the nastiness in my hand and instead ask, "How is this useful?"

The answer is that it's useful in creating characters and plots and conflicts. You'd think I'd be writing horror based on this, but I'm not all snakes, spiders, and blood dripping down the walls. There's the other side of the coin - the deeply, (maybe naively) optimistic part, wanting to believe the best of everyone and everything at all times. That's where the romance and the HEAs come from. The dead bodies and violence are courtesy of the shadow version of me that loves nothing more than to stab happy me in the back with grotesque nightmares and manipulative old awful thought patterns. You know those memes about "Oh, you're trying to sleep? Here let me replay the past 20 years of everything you've done wrong, ever." That's the shadow's favorite weapon.

Grab that weapon, though, turn it over in your hand and ask how it applies to the book you're writing right now - where does my character feel like this - and the blade dulls. It doesn't hurt as much when your shadow tries to stab you with it again. Since I'm doing my best to pretend this is all totally normal and not that I might out to be trussed up in a fancy white jacket, I want to hope this resonates with readers. I hope that my characters and stories and conflicts feel true. Even if the beings experiencing them are darting around the galaxy.

Speaking of which. Guess who got a cover for Enemy Games, Chronicles of the Empire Book Two? This is the first look. Isn't it pretty?? Can I just shout out how much I adore my cover artist, Debbie Taylor?

The release date for this book is October 16, 2019. If you've read this book, I did some rewrites that altered a few scenes. It doesn't change the trajectory of the plot in any way. But there are changes. If that sort of thing matters to you.




Friday, May 10, 2019

Covers That Don't Know What They Ought to Be - AND Cover Reveal

What a serendipitous topic for this week. Deceptive marketing/book covers. I was just given the new cover for Enemy Within. You'll be the first to get a look. And we can analyze. 

This cover had a very tall order standing behind it. I wanted it to do several things: 

1. Convey Science Fiction
2. Convey Romance
3. Convey that this story isn't entirely a light read - I hope to all the gods it's fun, you know? But there are -- issues. And there's a body count. The heroine has PTSD for a reason. So I really, really wanted the cover to not be all sunshine and roses. Basically, I didn't want my cover to sell the promise of a light SFR when I've been told I'm writing grim SFR. 

How do you think the cover does?

Because this is a rerelease, several of you will remember that this book was originally pubbed with a very different cover (which I cannot link in because it is the property of the publisher.) THAT cover had a very different look and feel. It was sunnier. The background was bright yellow. The heroine was in a very different posture on the cover. Over all, I felt like that print cover did a better job of conveying Urban Fantasy than SFR. But I'll never be able to prove that hindered the sale of the book in any way. I can only speculate. 

Keeping in mind that this rerelease is coming out as an ebook, I have to say I like this new cover. It's clean. It's simple (apparently TWRP has done a serious bit of reader surveying about covers and came up with a 'no more than three elements per cover' rule to accommodate thumbnails). I feel like it communicates more than it shows, if that makes any sense. Now, granted, I have no idea whether that will translate into book sales, but hope springs eternal. Or maybe wishful thinking does. 

I think above all things (and as a great surprise to me) I really love that the woman on the cover comes across as both vulnerable and capable all at the same time. That, to me, feels like a hit out of the park. Now I hope readers will agree.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jeffe's Most Difficult Character - Not Who You Think?

So, if you missed it on Friday, we finally had the cover reveal for THE ORCHID THRONE

This is the first book in a new trilogy I'm doing with St. Martin's Press. Totally new world, totally new series. My editor there, Jennie Conway, called it:

the magical feminist fantasy romance I've always wanted 😍

Which is now my new favorite tag line ever. You can read more (and preorder!) here. It comes out September 24, 2019. 

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Your most difficult character to have written and why. 

This question stumped me. I even asked Assistant Carien what she thought, since she often listens to me whine about these things. She offered a few suggestions, that just didn't "sound" right to me. So, then I went and looked at my publication list.

Yes, I totally use my website to remind myself of my own books, what of it?

Looking over that list, a couple of books stood out. Ones that just didn't come out the way I envisioned when I started. Ones that I'd rewrite, if I could. 

And one heroine, in particular, that I just never felt I really got into her head. 

Ava, from SHOOTING STAR.

The book is a contemporary romance, so I haven't talked about it much here at the SFF Seven. But, people, I rewrote this book SO MANY TIMES. And though the heroine, Ava, was clear to me from the start - in fact, she was one of those characters who plagued me to write her story - I never felt I really got a handle on her. I don't know if I could say why. It could be because she was inspired by a real life person (or, rather, a blend of several) and therefore I couldn't find my way into her head in the same way.

It could be because Ava is simply a very complex person, with many layers and secrets, and she's become adept over time at keeping everyone out. Even me.

I could be I'd have to write more of her to really crack that nut. 

Hmm. 





Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Hanged Spy

Yes, yes, yes, our topic this week is "what's our favorite holiday book." Dear Readers, this year, my favorite holiday book is the fourth book in my Immortal Spy series. It drops on December 27! While Bix isn't participating in the holiday spirit in this story, she does have the impeccable timing of helping me hit my personal goal of releasing four books in one year. I may be delivering on that goal by the skin of my teeth, but deliver I shall!

(The Berserkers are all about the winter holidays in Book 3, The Captured Spy, FWIW).


With another amazing cover by Gene Mollica Studios, here is Bix gearing up for her next mission to save the Mid Worlds...

THE HANGED SPY
Immortal Spy: Book 4

Stealing the build specs for a prototype Mid Worlds defense system pits Bix and her team against the pantheons'  elite wet works unit. Bix’s only chance at success rests in the scarred hands of the Hanged Spy…
Pre-Order the eBook Now:
Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Nook   |  Kobo

Paperback available on Dec 27.

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!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Cover Reveal and Lessons Learned from Writing a Series on a Schedule

We clearly have a theme going this week of cover reveals with James and Jeffe, so  I'm happy to continue it with the cover for the second book in my Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy Series. The amazing team at Gene Mollica Studios did the cover.


THE PLAGUED SPY
The Immortal Spy: Book 2

It’s all fun and games until someone breaks out the needles.

It was supposed to be a simple retrieval mission. Go in, grab the bespelled package of evidence against some very corrupt superpowers, and get out. The mission turns sideways when a vengeful spy Bix blackballed during her time in Dark Ops crashes the job and injects Bix’s teammates with an unknown toxin. Succumbing to a horrific mutation, the dying spook whispers the Mayday protocol for a compromised covert operation involving a biological weapon.

With her friends infected and sequestered in quarantine, a mole inside the spy guild exposing its undercover agents, and the brightest minds in the Mid Worlds unable to identify the biologic, Bix picks up the mission to find the creators and the cure. She’ll square off against Fates, dragons, angels, and even the god of plagues to save her friends; yet the greatest threat might well be the darkness growing within Bix and the evil on which it feeds.

Beware the plagued spy, for wrath and ruin are sure to follow…

The book drops on April 24, in print and eBook.

Pre-Order the eBook:
Amazon Kindle  |  iBooks  |  B&N Nook  |  Kobo

Now, as for this week's topic of scheduling the writing and the business, I'm going to take a moment to laugh hysterically then sob a little. I am a girl who must plan All The Things. For those of you who've followed this blog for a while, you know I'm a slow writer. I'm still one of those writers who can't accurately estimate how long it'll take me to write a book. I took a year of publishing nothing to write the first three books in this series so I could drop them at regular intervals while I wrote the remaining four books. The plan is to release quarterly. I'll be able to do that with the first four...but there might be a six-month gap between four and five. Then hopefully back to quarterly for six and seven.

What happened to my beautiful plan?

In a nutshell, I learned more about me as a writer and a publisher trying to hold myself to a schedule. From a personal-development angle, I hadn't done that before. In my high-fantasy series, the books take as long to write as they take. That's what my creative process demands. However, I wanted to grow as a career author, so I committed to writing and publishing a series on a tight schedule.
A third of the way into this business experiment,  I've learned that some books will be easy to write. Some books won't require heavy dev edits. Some books will flip the bird and be the most recalcitrant little bastards. I am blessed in that my editors, artists, and formatters are top-notch and make their dates without issue. When there's lag, it's all me. I need to keep building my skills both on the page and off (pretty sure that'll always be the case).

So far, my biggest takeaway is that I can write two books a year, reasonably. Three is pushing it. Four is unrealistic for me. (I know, I know, many of my fellow SFF Seven bloggers are power writers, and that is awesome. Enviable in many ways. Hat tips to them!) Also, during the winter holidays, I should expect no creative progress and schedule no deliverables to or from. Yes, businesses still function and other contributors to my end products absolutely make their dates. It is my life that does not allow for much more than analytical work. That's good to know. I can adjust my schedules and expectations accordingly...once I finish this series.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Backlist Love: HEY! Where'd It Go?

Should anyone attempt to search out my first two books, they'll find the books are no longer available. This is because the rights reverted to me. Yay. The books are undergoing a minor face lift while I write book three. Then books four and five.

I no longer own the awesome covers Berkley gave Enemy Within and Enemy Games. Had to go out and get my own. Which I did. Haven't shown them to anyone else, but what say we plunk the new ones down here for your perusal? The covers aren't final. So if you have suggestions, bring 'em. (besides getting the stock photo watermark out of the Enemy Games cover) The series title it going to change to The Chekydran War, since this series follows the arc of said war.

 

The third book is tentatively titled ENEMY STORM. No cover for that one yet. It is THIS CLOSE to going off for edits. Not that I'm anxious for that.

On the off chance anyone has forgotten what this pair of SFR books was about, here are the descriptions:

ENEMY WITHIN

An escalating intergalactic cold war.
A  starship captain clinging to her shattered past. A pirate with an empire to protect .
An inhuman adversary.
And a threat beyond the scope of the imagination. 

Enemy Within

After a stint in an alien prison followed by a torpedoed military career, Captain Ari Idylle has to wonder why she even bothered to survive. Stripped of command and banished to her father’s scientific expedition to finish a PhD she doesn’t want, Ari never planned to languish quietly behind a desk. She wasn’t built for it, either. But when pirates commandeer her father’s ship, Ari once again becomes a prisoner—this time of pirate leader Cullin Seaghdh, who may not be at all who he pretends to be. As far as Cullin is concerned, the same goes for Ari.

Ari’s past association with aliens puts her dead center in Cullin’s sights. If she hasn’t been brainwashed and returned as a spy, then she must be part of a traitorous alliance endangering billions of lives. He can’t afford the desire she fires within him. His mission comes first: that he stop at nothing, including destroying her, to uncover the truth of her mission.

ENEMY GAMES

Besieged by an inhuman adversary.
Betrayed by their own kind.
A scientist and a spy, sworn enemies allied by danger, bound by passion. 

Enemy Games 

Kidnapped while combating a devastating plague, Jayleia Durante fights to resist Major Damen Sindrivik, an officer from a rival government’s spy corps. With her spymaster father missing, and mercenaries hot on her trail, Jayleia must align with the magnetic, charming, manipulative spy. She must not lose sight of the fact that his single-minded agenda is for the protection of the empire - not her, not her people. 

Damen knows a shadowy network of traitors has allied with the violent, insectoid Chekydran, and that Jayleia’s father holds the key to dismantling that web. She becomes his only lead in a circuitous round of hide and seek. Too bad his instincts tell him Jayleia is lying to him. Nearly as much as she's lying to herself. 

Unless Jayleia can decide what matters most: ending the war or Damen’s love, they’ll become the prey of the traitors they stalk, and one species’ civil war will consume the galaxy.


Don't forget to let me know whether you love or hate the new covers (and why, please, if you hate them - so I can fix them.)



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Burned Spy

Guys, guys, guys, I'm so happy to show off the cover for the first book in my Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series, The Burned Spy. 





______

Summoned back from exile to find who assaulted the Norse pantheon's ambassador, disavowed Dark Ops agent Bix will have to tangle with the spy agency that burned her, the angels who prosecuted her, and ex-lovers who could have taken jealousy way too far.

The eBook is available at online retailers for pre-order. It'll be released January 30, 2018, in print and eBook. If you want to be notified the day it drops, sign up for my newsletter at kakrantz.com.

Pre-Order the eBook Today: Amazon Kindle   | B&N Nook  |  iBooks   |  Kobo
______







Now, as for this week's blog topic: 3 Fondly Remembered Books from My Childhood

1. Uncle Wiggly's Story Book
A series of short stories that were cute and none too frightening. Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy is still a favorite that my family retells around the dinner table during the holidays.

2. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Do you know how rare it is to find a book where the younger sibling gets to save the elder? Okay, when I was a kid, it was rare. Chang was my hero. Yes, as an adult, I understand the controversies and why the content is considered offensive.

3. Gnomes by Rein Poortvliet
The illustrations got me first. I would flip through this book for hours before I learned to read; once I figured out phonetics, I would memorize the passages and recite them to myself while watering the weeds my neighbor had ripped out of his garden. What? I was trying to help the gnomes!



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cover Reveal and Excerpt LADY OF THE NILE

I was excited to do a cover reveal this week for my next paranormal romance, set in ancient Egypt. I hadn’t written one in quite a while and it was fun to dive back into my version of 1550 BCE! I also have a new scifi romance coming in November – more on that next week.

Here’s the story:

Tuya, a high ranking lady-in-waiting at Pharaoh’s court, lives a life of luxury, pageantry and boredom. Khian, a brave and honorable officer from the provinces temporarily re-assigned to Thebes, catches her eye at a gold of valor ceremony. As the pair are thrown together by circumstances, she finds herself unaccountably attracted to this man so unlike the haughty nobles she’s used to. But a life with Khian would mean leaving the court and giving up all that she’s worked so hard to attain. As she goes about her duties, Tuya struggles with her heart’s desires.

When Tuya is lured into a dangerous part of Thebes by her disgraced half-brother and kidnapped by unknown enemies of Egypt, Khian becomes her only hope. Pharaoh assigns him to bring the lady home.

Aided by the gods, Khian races into the desert on the trail of the elusive kidnappers, hoping to find Tuya before it’s too late. Neither of them has any idea of the dark forces arrayed against them, nor the obstacles to be faced. An ancient evil from the long gone past wants to claim Tuya for its own purposes and won’t relinquish her easily.

Can Khian find her in time? Will he and his uncanny allies be able to prevent her death? And if the couple escapes and reaches safety, what of their fledgling romance?

The excerpt:

Facing down the attacking Hyksos hordes at the Meribe Pass had been easier in many ways than preparing to meet a grateful Pharaoh to receive the reward for not accepting defeat. Captain Khian walked the line of his small troop murmuring encouragement, straightening a sword here and making a joke there, anything to lighten the men’s tension as they waited outside the ceremonial chamber for their moments under Pharaoh’s eye. It wasn’t often that common soldiers had the chance to stand in front of the Living God who ruled Egypt. The idea was terrifying.

At last the scribe touched his elbow. “You can march in now, captain.”

He nodded, gave his soldiers one final, critical inspection. “We’ll do the Jackal Nome proud, men.”

Khian set the pace, walking behind the young scribe, keeping his proud military bearing, not looking to the right or the left but focusing on the glittering dais where Pharaoh’s golden throne sat and the Great One himself waited to honor them. He might be only a landholder, commissioned to fight in the war against the invaders, rather than one of the career officers, and his men might be farmers in their daily lives, but by the gods, they’d held that damned pass and saved the day for Egypt. Pride for what his troops had accomplished in battle filled his heart and pushed aside trepidation over being in a completely foreign environment now. He just wanted to get through the ceremony without disgracing himself or his men in front of the ruler.

The scribe had them line up off to the side, awaiting their moment with Pharaoh, who was still speaking with a group of ambassadors. “Your name will be called and then move forward in front of the throne. Salute and stand at attention.”

“We’ll do as you instruct.” Khian clenched his hand on the hilt of his sword. He gazed across the chamber while he waited, taking in the crowd of courtiers attending the audience. For the most part the nobles, officers and functionaries were a blur of painted faces, fine clothes and elaborate jewelry but one woman caught his attention. She sat near the queen, so was obviously high ranking, but her expression was sweet rather than haughty and she stared at him as if trying to give him encouragement. Could she tell he was nervous about committing an inadvertent error of royal protocol? The lady smiled, plying her ostrich feather fan flirtatiously. He made a slight bow to her, before he abruptly remembered where he was.

Ridiculous as it might seem, he felt as if he had a friend here.

Boredom had been weighing on Tuya all afternoon. She’d sat through many audiences at the court of Pharaoh Nat-re-Akhte and this one was no different—newly arrived dignitaries to greet, a few issues needing  Pharaoh’s judgment, gold of valor to be awarded to a deserving soldier or two. In her five years as chief lady-in-waiting to the Royal Wife, Tuya had seen all variations.

Pharaoh would present the gold of valor next, and Tuya found herself glancing at the assembled soldiers. The officer captured her attention instantly. Something about his face drew her gaze. He had the look of a man going into combat and she guessed his unfamiliarity with royal protocol and the customs at court might lie at the heart of his tension. Or he was worried for his men that they’d manage the moments under Pharaoh’s scrutiny with honor. Direct attention from the living god was a frightening thing to most people.  She wished she could take the officer aside for a moment and reassure him that Pharaoh was a kind man, a soldier himself in fact, and would most likely be tolerant of any minor breaches in protocol from overawed rural troops.


The captain was looking at the crowd now, as he waited, and when his attention turned to her, she smiled and tried to project encouraging thoughts for him. It doesn’t matter how the court perceives you, only Pharaoh’s opinion counts with the gods.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Was the Fun Lost?

I have never and hopefully will never, lose the "fun" part of my writing. I write the kind of stories I want to read, be it set in a science fiction future with romance or in a fantastical ancient Egypt with romance. I love telling my stories!

BUT - and this is a very large caveat - the writing and the joy of it is totally separate in my mind from the 'job', which is the work of then making that story available to be read by others, of doing the promo necessary to let readers know the book even exists, of putting in the time to do blog posts and participate on social media in support of the book. I do love social media for the sheer enjoyment of the conversations and the networking and 'meeting people', but sometimes there is a definite pressure in relation to "I need to write twelve blog posts on the new book and keep each one fresh and fun to read, and then tweet them and...."

I had what I refer to as "my competitive job" for a very long time and I did really well at it, and enjoyed it. I call it competitive because there were positions, opportunities, projects and management assignments that a lot of people wanted. An employee had to stay on their toes to do the work and have the responsibilities they aspired to. That job involved commuting to an office and there were bosses and performance reviews and deadlines and endless revisions to documents, and all the trappings of  standard work. Valuable experience but I certainly don't miss it. (Miss the people, yes. Miss the work, no.)

In the job part of of being an independently published author, I have to do edits and rewrites, based on input from my professional freelance editors. Are they my bosses? No, but my own internal boss refuses to let me put out books that haven't been edited and burnished. Do I have deadlines imposed on me by other people? Rarely. Only if I'm in an anthology or going to a conference. Otherwise the deadlines are set by me but that doesn't make them less real. I just did some deadline setting today in fact as far as my release schedule for the rest of the year. I can change that of course, but since I need to be selling books in order to pay my rent and my bills (and the costs of new books - covers, editors, the formatter, promo etc) and since there are so many books coming out all the time now, I need to be doing frequent new releases of high quality books. Definitely performance pressure.

Do I want to be rebellious and take a 'day off' and binge watch all ten seasons of some wonderful TV show? YES! Occasionally I'll even do that, but I'm always conscious in the back of my mind that I really need to get that book written for the June release and get it to the editor in plenty of time for her schedule and....

So the challenge for me isn't so much about losing the fun, but in keeping the job aspects of being a full time writer running my own small publishing business (publishing only myself to be clear) from crushing the creative juices.

Luckily for me, when I sit down to write the actual story, I lose myself in the flow of the creative process and I'm having fun. But I have to keep it all very much separated in my mind from the worries and pressure of the business of publishing and selling books.

To paraphrase one of my favorite TV shows, 'Killjoys', the story is all!

And by the way, I did a cover reveal for my next book, The Captive Shifter, available on the major ebook sites on April 3rd! Thanks to Fiona Jayde for another gorgeous cover!

Here's the blurb:
Concealing her own considerable magical powers, Caitlyn enters the service of the northern Witch Queen masquerading as a simple healer. Under order from her goddess, she’s searching for a magical gem stolen long ago from her own people, believed to be hidden in the massive castle. The task is daunting but Caitlyn is sure she can locate the gem and escape, bringing the prize back to the temple where it belongs. Until she meets the captive shifter and her loyalties become dangerously divided.
In payment for her past services to his people, Kyler the leopard shifter has entered into a life of servitude far from his forest home, allowing the Witch Queen to tap his magic to power her ever darker spells. Factions at Court are threatening to turn the Queen to the Shadow. Her increasing demands for magic will cut short his nearly immortal lifespan. Kyler’s resigned to his fate until the day he crosses paths with the new arrival, whose secrets and magic entice and attract both man and leopard. Has he met his mate at last?
The Queen will never willingly release him from captivity. Caitlyn’s goddess refuses to grant her any delay in accomplishing her own task. Can they locate the magical gem, fight the Shadow and win free of the Witch Queen to earn the right to be together?







Wednesday, February 22, 2017

COVER REVEAL

In case you've missed it...

Here is the cover reveal for Jovienne, 
which will be available May 9, 2017 
from Ragnarok Publications. LINK




Hot Topics

Recently, my ears had the displeasure of hearing some folks actually say out loud that they "wish the actors would just shut their mouths and get back to their job entertaining the rest of us." 

-insert "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" meme here-

Why should any citizen’s opinion be worth more or less than any other, especially when you can trade the job title ‘actor’ for any other occupation?

How can anyone be okay with silencing the political views of one group based on their job?

I mean, it’s just a step away from that to say ‘authors’ should shut up and just entertain us. Authors are people who are trained to plot ahead, to logic out the possible next steps and follow that rabbit trail to its best and worst conclusions. And, to me, only bullies and tyrants want to shut people up. Diplomats welcome the conversation because they accept the way is and will always be flawed, but are eager to make it as good as possible.

FWIW, My facebook page is mine. I put on it what I want. My facebook fan page however is strictly business, no personal stuff.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cover Reveal and Teaser!

Guess what???

We have a cover for The Tides of Bára!!

It's so incredibly beautiful, I literally gasped out loud when I saw it. The incredibly talented Louisa Gallie knocked this one out of the park.

Want to see it?

Yeah, you know you do....

.

..

...

....

.....

TA DAH!!!!

!!!!!

And, since I was supposed to write Autumn Equinox flash fiction today, and you all know how I feel about flash fiction....

Here's a snippet from the recently (like, last week) completed draft. Chuffta, Oria's small dragon Familiar, has turned out to be a bit of a firebug...


*****

Closer by, Chuffta worked intently to drag what looked like a tree limb to a blazing bonfire. He had his wings spread and managed it by half-flying, half-hopping on one leg, and wrestling the thing with mouth, tail and the free foot.
“What are you doing?” she asked aloud, for Lonen’s benefit, though the words scraped her raw throat.
“I’m feeding the fire,” he chirped happily. “Keeping you warm!”
Lonen groaned. “Hey, man. Enough with the fire. You’ll roast us.”
“No?” Chuffta paused, releasing the limb with foot and mouth, but keeping his tail wrapped around it. He sounded terribly disappointed. He cocked his head at the fire. “Maybe just one more?”
“No more, please, Chuffta.” She rubbed at her gritty, sensitive eyes, though it only made them water more. She certainly wasn’t weeping. She blinked them open to find Lonen grinning and grimacing at once. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” she said, ducking her face so he wouldn’t see.
“I like fire! It’s hot.”
“His first time with fire?” Lonen suggested. “Other than your purple magic kind.”
“Could be.” She must have sounded dubious, because he shrugged.
“Some people are like that, obsessed with fire. Why not a derkesthai?”
“I’ve never played with fire before,” Chuffta confirmed. “It’s not like breath-flame, that runs out. As long as I keep putting wood, in there, it goes and goes.”

“You can build another one when we sleep tonight, how’s that?” she suggested. Chuffta grumbled, but agreed. He stayed by his fire, though, tail lovingly wrapped around the limb he’d wanted to add. 

*****

This will be out October 29, and the books in the series can be found here on Amazon, or here on my website. The preorder links will be up soon!