Friday, April 5, 2019


In the second book of the Enemy series (which now has an actual series name of Chronicles of the Empire) I ended the book on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger. Someone died. I got some anguished email over that one. But my real regret there is that it took so bloody damned long to get around to book three so I could solidify that cliff hanger. 

Beyond that, I have no major regrets over how I've treated characters. And this is probably where I will leave you because my parents moved in today. It is no longer possible to walk through the house without serious risk of bodily injury. So I'm gonna go risk minor bodily injury and go schlep furniture around into some semblance of order. And keep writing this series, wherein, I *might* do something for which I will have to apologize in a future blog post.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I'm truly sorry for killing a character you don't care about

There is an understood trust relationship between writers and their readers. Writers make story promises, and readers trust that those promises will be fulfilled. When writers fail to deliver what was promised, readers feel understandably betrayed.

I think I breached that trust, and I hate it. And I'm sorry.

Character death should always be meaningful and emotional and unavoidable. But I killed a secondary character in Perfect Gravity -- I won't spoil it and say who -- with no warning and without giving that character sufficient screen time in that particular story. It was a noob move and pretty awful.

Here's how it happened. I needed a particular character to die at a particular point in order to move several other character arcs where they needed to go in the next book, and to make the series arc work. However, I originally thought up the overall series as the ongoing adventures of Mari and Heron, with the sphere of secondary characters surrounding them. The character death at the end of Perfect Gravity would have meant something entirely different if Mari and Heron had been my POV characters at that point. But in between writing Wanted and Wired and Perfect Gravity, we decided to structure the series as presenting a new couple and their HEA in each book. So when we got to the character death I'm talking about, the people telling the story at that point weren't the people most invested, and the moment didn't have the emotional resonance that it really needed.

I still think Perfect Gravity is a solid book. It does hit some emotional highs and lows for the protagonists. Its ending does balance the HEA requirement of a romance with the darkness and uncertainty needed for the middle tale of a trilogy. 

But that one character -- and readers -- deserved better. I'm sorry for letting y'all down.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#Horror Release Day: BOOMTOWN by James A. Moore

Oh dear readers, if you thought yesterday's post was a prank, I assure you, James is not April Foolin' around with his latest creepy #western #horror release, BOOMTOWN. Turn on the lights, grab a blanket to hide under, and try not to scream as Jonathan Crowley returns to scare the bejesus out of you.


There is no peace in death. Some people know that better than others, In Carson’s Point, Colorado the dead do not rest, but rise every night and try to kill whatever crosses their path. Those dead are merely the symptom of something far worse, something ancient and evil that does not care for the Europeans taking the lands, or for those who lived there before.

The living do not matter, the dead are tools, the possible spawn of the pale, white thing lurking in the woods are all that is important to that dreadful force. It will kill anything that gets in its path and make the living and the deceased suffer for their transgressions.

Carson’s Point is on a course that leads straight to Hell unless something comes along that can fight back against the unnatural servants of the thing that wants the boomtown destroyed.

The wizard, Albert Miles, is in town for reasons all his own, escaping the latest terrors he’s spread across the land. He might well be able to save the town, but if he does, he’ll exact a terrible price.

The new sheriff has his work cut out for him. There are savages waiting outside the town, dead things crawling from the grave, bad men set on taking what they want and fools aplenty trying to survive the disasters coming their way until they can once again go hunting for the dreams they hope will change their lives.

Jonathan Crowley could very well be the salvation that the town needs, but he has no desire to help anyone living there and has settled himself on one mission and one mission only: revenge against the soldiers that left him for dead.

The Hunter has quit and no longer wants anything to do with justice for humans or stopping the evil things that feast on humanity’s sorrows. Evil grows throughout the town, mortal evil and things far worse. And when the sun sets, that evil takes root and spreads like wildfire.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | BNIndieBound

Monday, April 1, 2019

"Channeling JK Rowling: Any apologies due your readers for the way you treated a character?"

In answer to that question: NO. I might owe some of the characters an apology, but that's as far as it goes.

Hey! It's my book's birthday!

BOOMTOWN comes out today. 

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Retconning and the Reader Contract

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "Channeling JK Rowling: Any apologies due your readers for the way you treated a character?"

I'm not sure exactly what the person who suggested this topic had in mind so far as apologies to readers for how she treated characters. Likely this is because I've never been a huge Harry Potter fan.


I know - anathema.

Thing is, I was an adult when HP came out and even my stepkids were old for the books. I did read the first two - mostly to grok the phenom - but as someone who'd read every fantasy and fairy tale book I could lay my hands on, I found the stories pretty derivative. They never quite lit me up. Just a me thing. So I don't really know, outside of things I occasionally hear people mention - something about the red-headed family? - what terrible things Rowling did to her characters.

I *do* however find it very interesting to observe the kinds of retconning Rowling has been engaged in. Retcon stands for "retroactive continuity" - which is to "revise (an aspect of a fictional work) retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events."

For those not in the know, Rowling has made various announcements about characters that very much change interpretations of events in the books. For example, saying that a major character is gay and had a homosexual relationship with another character - when there's no evidence of it in the actual books. Fans aren't bothered by this reveal so much (with some homophobic exceptions, of course), but it's problematic because the author claims "oh, I have these gay characters" without having to deal with really representing them in the story.

Also, for those readers who LOVE the books, these kinds of retcons change the stories in dramatic ways. One of my friends in the publishing industry said to me, "Every time she tweets something new, we're all PLEASE JUST STOP." (Paraphrasing there.)

It's fascinating from an author perspective, too, because one thing that we deal with - especially SFF authors - is worldbuilding. In order to define a fantasy or science fiction world, we establish rules. Sometimes we box ourselves into corners storywise with those rules, which can result in much gnashing of teeth. BUT, we abide by the rules we set up. Anything else is a betrayal of the contract with the reader.

My writer friend Jim Sorensen shared this excellent article from with me. It explores what we do when we create fictional universes - and what obligations we have not to continue to fiddle with them.

I suppose my take is that I'd rather create an entirely new world than tweak a previous one. That way I won't owe any of my readers apologies.

At least not for that.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Resources for Discovering Romances by AOC and LGBTQIA Authors

This week at SFF7 we’re having a week to address what’s been on our minds.

The topic of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Romancelandia has been prominent for me.

I wanted to do a signal boost for some terrific sites where a reader can find all genres of romances written by Authors of Color (AoC), as well as LGBTQIA Authors.

Some of these are sites I’ve been visiting regularly and others were mentioned in the past week on Facebook, Twitter and yes, the RWA PAN email Loop. Melanie Greene has been especially active in sharing good resources there (and elsewhere I'm sure).

My personal primary go-to has been the excellent WOC In Romance site at   You can Follow them on twitter at @WOCInRomance

Other resources mentioned often this week:     Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America  Twitter: @CIMRWA

And I very much rely on Queer SciFi  for recommendations, including Following them on twitter at @QueerSciFi

PLEASE do mention in the comments below any other sites or lists or twitter feeds I may have missed!!! This list is a place to start but I'd love to add more...

Friday, March 29, 2019

I Think I Stepped in the Racism.

Jeffe’s post this week gave you the low down on the latest upheaval to hit Romance Writers of America. It’s been on my mind this week, so here’s more. It isn’t likely to be pretty.

In among this difficult and deeply necessary conversation about how marginalized our AOC and LGBTQA authors are, there are people knee-jerk protesting that they aren’t racist! They CAN’T be racist or biased, even though (or maybe especially when) AOC and LGBTQA authors point out racist and biased language and behavior. So let’s do a little clarification. Starting with the hard stuff.

Hi. I’m Marcella and I’m a racist. I don’t want to be a racist, but I was reared in a society STEEPED in racism. Predicated on it. It’s woven through every aspect of US culture to the point that  the US Government just sued Facebook for housing discrimination because FB’s adverts allowed someone to specifically include or exclude certain demographic groups. Basically, you could target your ads to be seen only by people of a specific ethnic background. And no one stood up in that massive tech company to suggest that was maybe a really bad (possibly prosecutable) idea.

I get that when someone says ‘racist’, we all immediately think of the people who mean it. They’re the people who willfully hold specific, hateful views about anyone who doesn’t look like they do. Surely, if we don’t mean to be racist, we aren’t, right? Right? We’re absolved? If only it worked that way. Our culture made it impossible for us to be anything other than racist. Before you lose heart and click away, I actually do have some positives here. Starting with: There’s basis for this stuff in evolutionary biology, which means there’s also something we can do about it.

Humans are wired for tribalism. Us versus them. It was a resources game. It was an issue of who was going to get that last apple off the tree before the blizzard hit. Who ate, survived. Who survived, passed on genes. Grouping up with a tribe of ‘us’ made fighting the tribe of ‘them’ easier and assured greater access to resources. As the human animal evolved, the definition of tribe evolved and broadened a little. We never lost that Us vs Them wiring. It’s still there nestled in the oldest parts of our brains. It’s at the root of racist, biased behaviors. (You can look this stuff up, but be warned. Most of the research is around issues of genocide. It is not light reading which is why I am not linking it in.) BUT. Somewhere in there, we gained a prefrontal cortex and the ability to analyze ourselves, our surroundings and our behaviors. It’s also the part that allows us to identify opportunities for growth and change. It allows us to detach from ego, take a step back and examine our own emotions and actions. That’s incredibly powerful when it’s applied. The trick is to apply it. To think.

When someone says ‘hey, what you said is racist’ your primitive brain is hearing a threat to your survival. That’s primitive brain registering that you had been an ‘us’ and with this call out, you’ve just been made ‘them’. It’s firing off all these DANGERDANGER signals. It takes the modern brain a second longer to process the information, put the brakes on the emotions, and parse through the examination. ‘Really? Was what I said racist? Oh crap, maybe . . .’

So before I go on when I should be finishing and delivering an edit, here’s the summary. The primitive part of your brain is wired to be a racist asshole. Our culture played on that and indoctrinated all of us in racist structures. The newer part of your brain, y'know, the part you're supposed to think with and evaluate your own behavior with, that’s wired to gate the primitive brain. Let it. Quit saying 'I'm not a racist!' The minute you say that you’re operating from that primitive brain. Nice way of saying you're only semi-conscious. Of course you’re a racist. So am I. Welcome to the stinky, awful club. None of us can help ourselves get or do better until we admit and examine our own behavior. This includes listening to people when they speak of the hurt they’re suffering. It’s a simple thing to buy, read, and review books by AOC and LGBTQA authors. Guys, the last book by a woman of color that I read on purpose was in college. That’s crap. I want to do better than that. I want the playing field leveled for authors who have marginalized for too long. And I can start with me.

There are so many experiences in the world. So many voices. We’re authors. We specialize in voice and in creating experiences for our readers. There’s no good reason to shy away from broadening our own experiences as readers. You have the power to decide who and what you want to be – someone mired in the past or someone agitating for fairness by boosting our romance-writing siblings of every color and identity. Choice. Adaptation. Those are the gifts of thinking.  

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is out in the world

All right, folks, A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is out in the world, and I'm thrilled.  So far the reaction I've been seeing has been amazing, which is good, because I drop a few heartbreaking bombs in this book.  

And we had a great Book Release event.  Check it out!
If you've been following me on Instagram (and you should!), you saw I did a bunch of posts tagged #MaradaineMeals, with food from the books.  And since MULTIPLE people asked, yes, I'll be putting together proper recipes soon.
So go get your hands on A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES:
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

In the meantime, SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE should be next on your radar (October 29th, 2019, preorder now), and I'm about to send THE FENMERE JOB to my editor.  Time to get to work.