Wednesday, August 31, 2011
But it just goes to show me that I need a clear head before posting stuff on the Internet. My gray-skinned alien is not in fact gay. But if he were, I don't think I'd use "gay-skinned" to describe him. Geesh. It's funny, in an embarrassing, "I'm an idiot" kind of way.
UPDATE: A Familiar Face is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance ebooks. And the hero, in each instance, is gray-skinned. :)
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
BLURB: Trade witch Mallory West is a heartbeat from losing her rent-controlled apartment, susses spells for a living, and can't afford a decent familiar. In an effort to ease her financial hardship, she works part-time waiting tables. Late one night after working an unexpected shift, she receives an invitation from her boss to take a rest upstairs in the exclusive Lounge. Drawn to one of the mysterious black doors, she enters and takes a well-deserved nap. But the world to which she wakes is nothing like the one she left. The large, incredibly sexy gray-skinned warrior could be her boss’s twin, but he’s the War Leader of the Talians--a fierce race fighting desperately to survive a crushing enemy. Mallory’s sudden appearance stuns the wary Talians. And they don’t tolerate surprises or those they think might be enemy spies well at all.
She’d done her best to resist using her magic, but enough was enough. The human octopus didn’t seem to understand the word no. She returned to the bar to place her order.
“Everything okay?” Rattler asked. His fathomless black eyes narrowed on her.
She did her best to appear innocent of any wrongdoing. God forbid he caught her doing magic in his place. She couldn’t afford to alienate Rattler—literally.
Sighing and trying to appear pathetic, she didn’t have to fake her yawn. “Sorry, but it’s been a long day. I wasn’t prepared for tonight.” She glanced down at her stained jeans, cropped t-shirt and beer-covered mocs. Normally when she waitressed, she wore her snakeskin boots, waterproofed and comfort-lined.
“Damn. I hadn’t though beyond replacing Becky. I’m sorry, Mal. Your feet are probably killing you. Why don’t you head upstairs and rest a few minutes?”
She gaped at him, she couldn’t help it, and automatically glanced at the imposing, guarded entrance to the Lounge’s stairwell. She’d only once before served drinks in the modern loft area, accompanied by Palace security. No one knew what was up there except Rattler and a few select guests. From what little she’d seen, the Lounge sat between the low wall visible to the downstairs and three black doors spaced evenly against the inner wall.
A black floor, hot pink walls, neon lights and a disco ball made the place garishly attractive when active, a rare occurrence in itself. The lights and hot pink paint made the three ominous black doors even more arresting.
She’d been dying of curiosity about those mysterious doors since she’d first seen them, but damn if she’d ever had a chance to investigate. Exposed to the familiar within her, her feline senses ached to see, to know. But she’d have to use magic to work around Rattler, and she respected him too much to violate his trust. A harmless spell here or there hurt no one. But she’d never violate his one rule to working at The Python Palace—never, ever go upstairs without Rattler’s express permission.
“Go upstairs? Sure.” She paused, waiting for him to say more. He didn’t, and the look on his face made her uneasy. “What?”
“Nothing.” But he was smiling. “Go on up. Don’t worry about it, Mallory. You need some time to regroup, even the ‘slave master’ that I am can see that.”
She flushed. “You heard that, hmm?”
He raised a brow. “You said it loud enough to be heard three blocks down.”
“Yeah, but that was a week ago and to Becky.” She turned and headed eagerly toward the stairwell and muttered under her breath, “You have ears like a bat.”
“I heard that too,” he shouted and laughed. “See you when I see you.” And with that, he turned to help another customer.
The massive bouncers positioned at the stairway entrance nodded her through. As Mal climbed the steps to the second floor of The Palace by herself for the first time, she wondered why she suddenly had a feeling that facing those three black doors might be a huge mistake.
She paused at the landing and took a deep breath then let it out. Her imagination ran rampant when she grew tired. The Lounge was empty, unless Rattler had a secret passageway through which he smuggled privileged customers. Walking through the entrance, she noted the cleanliness and order in the oversized loft. Magazines tidied, vids scrubbed free of smoke, the black lacquered floor a study in clean. But those three doors captured her eyes like magnets.
Her nose twitched as she stared at them. What the hell lay beyond those doors?
Approaching them, she studied each one. Of average height and width, black with gold knobs, they looked standard. Normal. The same. So why did the familiar within her guide her to the middle door?
Almost as if in a dream, she watched her hand grasp the knob, felt the cool glide of metal under her palm, and listened to the quiet click as the catch released. She entered the room. A dim overhead light illuminated the space.
Huh. A plain, average bedroom. Same lacquered floor as the lounge, white walls. A king-sized bed with black sheets and a white downy duvet. No other doors or windows, and no furniture. Hell, not even a mirror. The door closed with a soft click, and she couldn’t help turning back to Rattler’s suggestion. The duvet looked soft, inviting.
The bed seemed as close to heaven as she might ever get. Without another thought, she lay down and sighed at the feel of silk under her tired and aching muscles. She closed her eyes, and in seconds sank deep into the comfort of sleep.
Minutes or hours might have passed when a noise interrupted her rest. Shouts and moans, what sounded like fighting and impossibly, sex, increased in volume until she couldn’t stand it. That curiosity again. But at least she felt refreshed. She mentally thanked Rattler for her small nap.
A loud thunk rapped the wall outside the door, and she heard what she imagined to be cursing and threats in a foreign language. Opening the door, she came face to face with a man who could have been Rattler’s twin. He had shoulder length black hair, gray skin, and a snake tattoo curled around his muscular body. A leather kilt wrapped around his waist, over which a thick belt rested. Straps crossed over his chest and attached to the belt. She could make out the hilts of crossed swords behind him, caged in a back harness, she guessed.
All in all, this guy looked like a hunky hero from the historical romances she liked so much. But none of them had ever featured gray-skinned warriors.
She had to clear her throat. Unlike his twin Rattler, nothing about this guy felt comfortable or safe. He easily could have passed for security, as big as an ox and wearing a mantle of menace over those brawny shoulders. Her blood heated and her heart raced, in fear and surprising arousal, and worried her more than she liked. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d even fantasized about sex.
“Um, Rattler said it was okay to be up here.”
His eyes widened and he stared down at her—way down—his gaze first suspicious, then bolder. His study moved from her face, lingering over her lips, to her breasts and the slim expanse of abdomen showcased by her cropped shirt. She had an urge to cross her arms over her chest, doubly so when her nipples peaked under his regard.
“Cuwenicu,” murmured throughout the crowd, and she was momentarily distracted by the foreign word.
Without warning, he latched onto her wrists and pulled her from the room. The minute the door closed behind her, he let her go, and the Lounge fell into complete and utter silence.
“Hey buddy, what the hell is your prob…lem?” She trailed off as she watched his eyes turn into something she’d never before seen. As a witch, Mallory knew all about the otherworldly creatures in existence—the vampires, ghouls, shifters and mages that wandered her neighborhood. But this guy… He didn’t fit into any category she knew.
She glanced nervously around her and couldn’t help gaping at what looked like a Rattler family reunion. Every single male in the place had height, muscles, and gray skin. Several had hair, but none sported any body piercing that she could see. She turned back to the one responsible for pulling her out of her safe haven. Good night, but his eyes! Moonlight and fairy dust, this guy wasn’t human. Wasn’t otherworldly, either. But what he was, she didn’t yet know.
His eyes, at first a vibrant gray-green, changed, the pupils thinning and elongating as the irises took over the whites of his eyes. His teeth lengthened, not just his incisors like the fangs of a vampire, but his entire mouth, and his skin started hardening, resembling iridescent scales more than flesh. He didn’t transform into a snake. And no shifter that she knew of could remain between forms. You were either human or animal, but not both. His teeth didn’t look like they belonged to any vampire she’d ever met. Besides, this guy was gray and now shiny, but not white. The language he’d been speaking hadn’t been anything she recognized.
He hissed at her, and the rumbling all around her returned to normal.
“Look, I’m not sure what all this is about.” She paused, listening to herself, and frowned. She understood the meaning of what she said, but the words themselves were completely foreign. She sounded like him.
“Cuwenicu.” He scoffed. “I didn’t think so. The Phrellian spy regains her tongue, eh? Perfect, we’ll have so much fun together now.” He smiled, his teeth still wickedly sharp.
Phrellian spy? By the look on his face, fun might mean something entirely different in this place.
This really was the Friday from hell.
A Familiar Face
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Interesting, because I've found myself mixing it up a time or two. I'd never thought about the romance leads's sexualities being a problem.
I know people have different tastes, and I can understand selectivity as a reader, but I'm not wearing that hat when I create. The characters speak to me. They're as gay or straight or bi as they're...well, made. Sounds bizarre, but trying to make a gay character straight is a nightmare, and vice versa. There's nothing worse than reading an intimate scene in a story that feels unnatural or forced because the character isn't true to type.
I like to write about diverse characters. Some are straight, some are gay, some white, some not, and some aren't even from this world. Personally, a setting where every couple is straight is as odd to me as a setting where every couple is gay. It just doesn't ring true because people aren't wired the same unless they're living in forced environment. So when I wrote my Dawn Endeavor series, about men made into creatures that needed sex with others like themselves, a natural bisexuality was built into what would normally be straight military men. Mostly. Because one of those same military men wasn't straight to begin with, he was gay.
I hadn't thought about alienating readers when I wrote it. But I didn't set out to write a story for a particular person. I wrote characters who came alive. I thought about having a protagonist of Hayashi's Hero interact with a peripheral female, but it didn't work. My guy was gay. Not playing at gay; he was gay.
I don't have a problem reading gay or straight romance, so long as the story is good and the characters feel authentic. So I'll follow a series and its characters no matter what. It hadn't occurred to me until I read that post that other readers might not feel the same. Stupid of me, but then, I'm thinking with my writing hat on most of the time.
My biggest gripe about authors is when they switch genres during the same series. Going from romance to urban fantasy or mystery with little to no romance drives me nuts. The gender bending, not so much. Or have I completely missed out on what floats a reader's boat?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Lately though, I'm reading a lot of stories about one woman with many heroes--3 or more men. (As if one wasn't enough, right? *grin*) But I'm intrigued at what I see as a growing trend, because many of these stories aren't set in future or alternate worlds where the norm is many men, one woman. The polyamorous romances I'm seeing are contemporary, set in today's times and set against today's values. In many of these stories, a woman falls in with a group who don't mind sharing, and the multitude makes it permanent.
I don't know how I feel about that. On the one hand, if the writing is good, I can handle the many partners. But on the other, at some point, my disbelief overcomes my enjoyment of the story, especially if all the pleasure is centered around the woman. I mean, come on, all the guys are patiently waiting their turn for their special time? Or they're afraid to touch because that might come across as gay? Seriously? More than one dude, I'm thinking some body parts will have to touch, won't they? Unless they are getting intimate via a computer and 1000 miles between them. And if the group is as highly physical as they often are, won't the woman eventually get a headache? Because even if she makes all there of them super happy, and she's super happy, when they're raring to go again, she's gotta get tired, because she's the only one consistently busy.
I'm not against polyamory at all. I just wonder if I'm the only one questioning why this trend seems to be so hot right now. And if you doubt me, take a look at Siren Bookstrand's recent bestsellers, or Samhain's, or Ellora's Cave's... Should I go on?
To show I DO enjoy them, however, I'll list a few of my favorites:
Colter's Woman by Maya Banks
Just Right by Bronwyn Green
Namesake by Marie Harte [Oh, come on, you know I had to throw this one in here.]
Monday, August 22, 2011
I like to have a lot of things going on at once, and while I'm working on a current project, I'm also constantly dealing with ideas on something new, because my muse is a busy guy. Those I tuck into my pending file on my computer. While that's brewing, I have another big, completed project out there floating through agent land.
It's an interesting process. In the old days I would have been floored every time I heard the word--or should I say form letter :)--NO. Now I take it with a grain of salt. This project I've done works. It's fun, and it's damn good. I know it. I feel it. So if it doesn't gel with a particular agent, that's okay, because that's not the best person to represent my work. Honestly? I'm the best person to represent it, because I believe in it.
The great and awful thing about being a writer is having the belief in yourself--your writing--constantly questioned. Since writing is such a subjective thing, it's hard to know who's right, if anyone really is. What I think is terrific another thinks is so-so, while yet another person wants to change it all into something else. So I'm sticking with the story I wrote. I'm open to criticism, of course, and the story has already gone through a major revision and massive edits. But the characters speak to me, and I'm going to continue speaking for them. Once I settle this first book, there are three more, and a novella or two, to come.
My fingers are crossed that I can share this at some point in the near future. Ack. I hate waiting. Almost as much as I hate Mondays.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Yet the books are very different. Namesake is a sexy take on the future where beings from alternate worlds arrive on Earth and stay. Ravagers, in particular, are shapeshifers who need a lot of sex. The series is darker in tone, sexy, and more serious than my Cougar Falls books.
In Foxy Lady, a Cougar Falls story, there are shapeshifters who are part of everyday society, though their natures are hidden from typical humans. The books are light-hearted, not full of angst, and not too serious. I envisioned a town I'd want to live in, kind of Mayberry with Shifters and clan drama thrown in for fun and funny situations.
Both are shapeshifter stories, but both are very different reads. Same author, different stories. And just wait until my next book releases in November... Another shapeshifter story, more serious, sexy, and dark. Not Ravagers or Ac-taw Shifers (Cougar Falls) but Circs--miltary experiments. Just more shapeshifters to love.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Kind of like the Mel Gibson factor. He goes off the deep end publicly, and it hurts his marketability and movie sales. But I'm not talking about a racist or sexist author. I'm talking about an author who discredits those she works with, and in effect, her own work.
I know when it comes to actors disparaging their movies, it makes me like them less. Hell, if you can't stand behind the movie you made, why should I go see it? And if the producers and directors were that bad, why would anyone want to see it?
I've always been taught you reprimand in private and praise in public. I've had some terrific publishers I can't say enough about. And a few I wanted to run far, far away from. I would write long, scathing posts about them on my computer, then delete them later (without publishing to the public), knowing I'd just be burying myself by spreading negative words. (Though I will admit getting my feeling out by writing them down helped.)
As an avid reader, when I hear about an author complaining about her sales, her publisher, or a negative review (and that's another topic worthy of discussion), it just makes me want to avoid her and her books altogether. But that's me. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Curious.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
It's sad to say I'm tired at night, so I'm not getting as much done. Of course, if I had deadlines, I'd push through it. But right now I'm a bit between projects, so I'm being lazy.
But today I wrote while my children played Wii (yeah, great mothering skills, but hey, they're happy, and it's only an hour or so), and I'm feeling really good. I don't know about other writers, but when a day goes by that I don't write, I feel weird. Not right. Off kilter. Having written however, I'm on top of the world.
And now I can take my youngins to swimming lessons and not feel lazy for not having done anything work-wise. Hurray for writing during the sun hours again. And here's hoping I can put that dreaded nocturnal work to bed. Literally.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I'm still waiting for the myriad boxes I mailed myself to arrive (yeah, the move is coming in bits and pieces until the whole of it is here), to include my computer and precious keyboard. So I continue to use my laptop for everything. But at least I have my trusty dictionary, thesaurus, and CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style) for company. But I'm still waiting on my coffee cup to arrive. Hey, some things I just can't do without.
But after much traveling back and forth between coasts and a hectic summer, I'm winding down to normalcy. Now I just have to find a car and I'm set. :)
More tomorrow, when I'm "back" again.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This story is part of my psychic series, PowerUp!
In Whispered Words, Chloe King, a clairaudient with attitude, meets the men behind the voices she hears--twin hunks with secrets of their own. She's being stalked. They're targeted for death by a man with an axe to grind. Together, the three of them will have to defeat their enemies by trusting one another. Dealing with the twins shouldn't be hard. Except she can't take her eyes, and soon her hands and lips, from them. With Josh and Xavier, it's all or nothing. And if they're not careful, the enemy will take their choices from them.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
If you ever wondered about cover art, I'll clue you in. Of course, each publisher is different, but by and large, this is what I've experienced with most of my publishers, who are small presses dealing with both electronic and print books.
I fill out a form giving details of my book and what I'd like to see on the cover. Is it part of a series? Do I have to have a wolf or moon on the cover? What's the tone? Sexy? Lighthearted? Then I give short blurb or summary so the artist has some idea of the book for which they are creating the art.
So that's my input. Then I wait. And wait. And bite my nails and wait. I kind of hate this part, because if I hate the cover, I don't have that much leeway to fix things. (And I've had a few covers that gave me serious fits!) If the guy is ugly or the woman all wrong, I have very little latitude to ask for changes. Unless she's a blond when I clearly stated she was brunette, I'm stuck.
I'm always crossing my fingers. But I have to say the artist nailed it with Whispered Words. It's terrific, and I can't wait to share it. You can bet that as soon as I can, I will. :)
Monday, August 1, 2011
Loose Id edits the crap out of their books. While it may be frustrating at times, I wouldn't have it any other way. There's nothing more annoying as a reader than to read a poorly edited work. And nothing more embarrassing as a writer to see there instead of their and compliment instead of complement. Misspellings and grammatical issues aside, I go crazy when I read about a character sitting on a bed who in the next sentence is suddenly standing ten feet away in the dining room having glass of wine. Huh? How'd he get there? So consistency is another sharp editing tool we authors need more of.
Yep, a good cleaning for the story, and maybe more wonderful pictures of Grayson, if I can find them. :) Happy Monday.