Category Archives: Blog

What’s In A Name?

I had to rename a character this week. Usually, naming characters is one of my favorite things to do. I love thinking of how the name fits their personality, their look, their story. I try to find names with meanings that suit the story and the person.

In this case, I had already written a full book, which was with my editor. I’d finished a novella prequel. And I was half-way through the second book. It wasn’t until the second round of edits on book 1, which my editor and I were discussing the edits over the phone and happened to say the names out loud that we realized… the hero and heroine slated for book 3 had names that rhymed.

Well…dang. Can’t have that. We decided that we needed to rename Hadyn. The problem was I needed Hadyn’s name to work on multiple levels. The character is super tough and super feisty. The name needed to fit with the hero’s since they’ll be a couple. The name also needed work with her 3 sisters (Kasia, Meira, and Angelika), all of whom have softer sounding names than I was going for. And the meaning needed to fit her situation.

So yes. I spent about 5 hours mucking around to find the exact right name. It took messaging my beta readers, and even bugging my editor for feedback. Boy was that hard.

And the name is… Skylar.

Phew. So glad I found something that works. Lol. Thanks to everyone who helped. Look for Skylar’s story soon!

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started Publishing

While I’ve been writing all my life, I got into self-publishing in the last decade and followed it with traditional publishing through a small press a few years later. Kind of like how you wish your older self could tell your high school self some tips (like don’t bother with that guy), there are things I wish someone had told me when I got started in self-publishing. Here are the top 5!

5. Sales Don’t Magically Happen
Many authors expect that as soon as they hit that “publish” button on Amazon or wherever they are posting their fabulous work, that the sales will start rolling in. Nope! While that may happen to a lucky few, it is not the norm. Be prepared to have to work to find new readers in lots of different ways.

Best Advice: Don’t get discouraged, and have fun with whatever you try! You’re a published author, and that’s fantastic!

4. Marketing that Works for One Person Won’t Necessarily Work for You
Over years of meeting other authors–and making some great friends!–I’ve kept my ears open for marketing tips which have proved successful for others. Any time I hear about something new, I try it out. What I’ve found is any given marketing method that works great for one author, doesn’t necessarily work for me or other authors. Reasons abound. Could be different life experience or different skills or interests. As far as I can tell, most is straight up luck.

Best Advice: Still try out those recommended marketing methods. You might get lucky and find something that works for you or that you enjoy doing. Just don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t work. Chalk that one up to experience and move on.

3. The Type of Publishing Doesn’t Guarantee Success
I am a hybrid author–both indie and traditionally published. There are pros and cons to both sides. What I’ve learned in the last few years is that regardless of the way you get published, sales aren’t guaranteed. I’m not saying don’t try various avenues to become a published author, because all avenues have their merits. I’m saying, be prepared to still work for those sales.

Best Advice: Try the types of publishing which appeal most to your style and method, and stick with what works for you!

2. Never Stop Learning & Growing
The best way to become a “successful” author is to produce quality books. I know you think you have quality writing already, and you probably do. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve, even in small ways. I’ve been taking writing workshops and classes for 20 years. (More if you count school classes.) I try to take a workshop a month. What I find is I always have more to learn. I have yet to leave a workshop–even ones I didn’t connect with–without at least one new trick to incorporate into my writing.

Best Advice: If you truly love to write, you’ll always be thirsty to learn more, to grow as a writer. Keep looking for ways to improve and grow! (And don’t look back on previous material wishing you could turn back time and rewrite it with what you’ve learned! Lol.)

1. Don’t Ever Give Up On Your Dreams
No matter how many rejections you get from agents or editors, no matter how many bad or lackluster reviews, no matter how infrequent your sales…you got into writing because you LOVE it. Don’t let others make you give up on your dream.

Best Advice: A statistic came out recently showing the authors who didn’t quit writing after their first or second book eventually found moderate success. That’s the law of averages working for you! As long as you still have stories inside you to tell, tell them. Don’t quit.

Halloween Monsters: Ghosts

Ghosts just possibly might be the oldest and most widely believed in of all the traditional Halloween monsters. Almost every culture has stories of ghosts or sightings of spirits. I encourage you to check out the list of belief in ghosts by culture listed on Wikipedia.

A ghost is defined as an apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image. The general concept is is based on the idea that a person’s spirit exists separately from his or her body, and may continue to exist after that person dies.

Ghosts have been recordered in written history for ages. They are mentioned in early Mesopotamian references, in Biblical references, in early Egyptian history, and so forth. According to the History Channel, in the first century A.D., Pliny the Younger recorded one of the first notable ghost stories in his letters about the specter of an old man with a long beard, rattling chains, was haunting his house in Athens. Centuries later, in 856 A.D., the first poltergeist–a ghost that causes physical disturbances such as loud noises or objects falling or being thrown around–was reported at a farmhouse in Germany. The poltergeist tormented the family living there by throwing stones and starting fires, among other things.

In classical literature, ghosts appear in Homer’s The Odyssey. They appear in Shakespearean plays like Hamlet. One of our most beloved Christmas stories–Dickens’s A Christmas Carol employees three famous ghosts. Not to mention the Headless Horsemen in Sleepy Hollow. They appear as well in more modern stories. Think about Lord of the Rings, The Shining, and even Harry Potter.

Most traditional Halloween monsters were created as costumes out of fear. Part of the history of Halloween is a belief that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred, and dressing as scary things would keep the dead away (there’s a lot more to this history with various other traditions and evolution over time).

As far as ghosts, as one of those traditional Halloween monsters, are concerned, fear of ghosts remains an integral aspect of the modern ghost story, Gothic horror, and other horror fiction dealing with the supernatural. Think about some of the most recent horror films involving specters of some sort–The Ring, The Others, Blair Witch, and a ton more that deal with general paranormal activity.

Plus, a ghost is one of the easiest costumers ever.  A white sheet, some scissors, and you’re all set. Whether or not you believe in ghosts (which are not scientifically proven, nor have they been disproved), I’d like to wish you a very Happy Halloween!

Oh yeah! And you can read my ghost story in A Ghost of a Chance–my short story in the Moon, Mist, & Magic anthology!

 

Halloween Monsters: Witches

Every year around this time I do a little research on a different traditional Halloween monster. This year, I’m taking a quick look at the evolution of witches.

Most of the traditional Halloween monsters–vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein, mummies, zombies–are considered monsters for the main reason that people believed they would harm them. But each of those monsters, more than witches, also come with a physical indication of what/who they are–fangs, rags, bolts, fur, rotting skin, etc. Witches, on the other hand, do not necessarily have a physical means of identification.
Historically some witches practice spells and call upon spirits to affect change in some way. Some were/are simply natural healers. The origin of witches in historical context is unknown. One of the first references in the Bible in 1st Samuel referring to the Witch of Endor. Of the various Halloween monsters, witches are one of the few (possibly the only one) to be called out in the Bible by name as something to condemn.
In early literature, witches appear in many famous works including Circe in the Odyssey and Morgan Le Fay in the Arthurian legends. Shakespeare included several most notably the Weird Sisters in MacBeth. Notice that most of these witches are monstrous creatures to be feared.
Meanwhile, the fear of witches by society his it’s zenith in the late middle ages and early modern age. Over the years, women believed to be witches have been persecuted over and over. Between the years 1500 and 1660 in Europe it’s believed over 80,000 women suspected of witchcraft were put to death. Witch trials hopped the pond in the 1690s resulting in the infamous Salem Witch Trials. By the 1730s laws were passed to protect people from wrongful accusation, and witch hysteria died down.
Witches continued to be a mainstay in the societal consciousness of monsters however, as Halloween became a more popular holiday, witches made the list of traditional creatures to fear and eventually dress up as.
In earlier 1900s literature, we got such witches as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda in the Wizard of Oz and the White Witch from The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe.
Unlike the other monsters, witches have a modern-day incarnation. One which is not monstrous. According to the History Channel, practitioners of Wicca “avoid evil and the appearance of evil at all costs. They’re motto is to “harm none,” and they strive to live a peaceful, tolerant and balanced life in tune with nature and humanity.”
Witches in stories are a combination of evil creatures to fear–Lamia in Stardust, Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter–and good witches to admire–Harry Potter/Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley/etc from Harry Potter. And don’t even get me started about the variations on witches in media–Hocus Pocus, Maleficent, Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, Bewitched, Charmed, and witches on various shows/movies that are not primarily witch related including True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Buffy.
Like with the other monsters–yes, even zombies–modern Halloween goers have sexified the witch finding power and sex appeal in the figure (as long as their powers are used for good). Personally, I love this more dynamic vision of this traditional Halloween monster.
What about you? Are witches one of your favorite paranormals these days? Do you love to dress up as a witch for Halloween?
Obviously I love them because of all the fun things you can do with magic in literature. I’m limited by only my imagination. If you’re a fan of witches in paranormal romance, check out Bait N’ Witch!
Here are my previous articles on Halloween Monsters:

InD’Scribe Con 2017

I spent most of the last week at InD’Scribe Con, held this year in Burbank, CA (focused primarily on Indie and small press authors), but anyone is welcome. I had an absolute blast! Here are a few of the highlights…

Keynote Speakers

We got to hear from Marie Force, Kathryn Le Veque, Cathrine Bybee, and Brenda Novak. All these women were fantastic. Each shared their journey as an author–the ups, and especially the downs. I found their journeys inspirational. The main message for me was to never quit and every path is different.

Workshops

I was particularly impressed by the workshop. It’s rare for a conference to have a workshop that interests me every single hour they are available, but this one did. And I went to some great ones. My favs were Arial Burnz workshops on newsletters and Marie Force’s workshop on writing series.

If you get a chance to do either of those, go.

Speaker / Panelist

I brought my Organize Your Writing Life workshop to the con and, as always, had a fun time delivering it. I always love getting to talk to people afterward. Especially when people stop me the rest of the con to show me how they’ve already incorporated some of my tips. I was also a panelist in the Genre Feud game. CLICK HERE to watch it from our FB Live Stream. Oh my gosh, one of the most fun panels I’ve ever been on.

Reader Rave Signing

I was one of the authors doing the signing and was very pleasantly surprised with the turnout and the fact that (unlike at some other conventions) readers came by all the tables and not just the big names. I sold about 10 print books, but gave out about 100 books post cards that have the QR code to buy links. Although, I will say the best part was getting to know the authors sitting near me.

RONE Awards & Gala

I was one of the finalists up for a RONE Award (Her Demigod Complex in the Novella category). I’m sad to say I didn’t win, but I had a blast regardless. The awards were fun and so was the dinner and dancing afterward.

Friends

As always, the best part of any conference are the friends you make. Romance authors are my people. My tribe. So conferences are one of the few places I can go where everyone there gets me and is equally interested in books and writing. It just doesn’t get better. 🙂 Plus, I get to meet fantastic new authors to me, which as a reader is awesome. Make sure y’all check out these authors…

Other Fun

I took advantage of the location and got to see my cousin who lives in L.A. I don’t get to see her often, so it was wonderful to have a chance to catch up. She is a costume designer and an extra, so I got to hear some fun stories about Hollywood.

I also took a Warner Bros. Studio Tour which was really cool. Y’all know how much of a movie/TV fan I am. I was especially fascinated by anything related to the classics. They pointed out a couple things from Casa Blanca for instance. I also got sorted into my Hogwarts house–Gryffindor.

Thanks & Can’t Wait for Next Year!

A huge thank you to T.J. McKay (nicest woman in the world) and the entire staff from InD’Tale who work so hard put on this spectacular event every year on top of managing the magazine and everything else. Y’all rock! Writers, if you are interested in a fantastic con with great workshops, great speakers, great friends, and more, this is the one for you. I hope to see you there next year!

 

 

Her Demigod Complex – Excerpt

Her Demigod Complex, the first book in my Legendary Consultants series, is up for a RONE Award for best novella. This week I’ll be at InD’Scribe Con and will find out the RONE winners Saturday night. I’m really looking forward to it! 🙂

Here’s a short excerpt from Demigod, just for fun!

 

EXCERPT

“How’d it go?” Castor’s voice had her swinging her gaze sharply right as she walked in the main door of the hotel.

She frowned when she found him lounging in one of the big leather chairs close to a big stone fireplace in the lobby, a happy fire crackling away, giving off a comforting campfire odor. While the early May days were warm, the nights were still crisply chilly, which was why she’d added a long brown sweater over her pink dress and changed out her heels for a pair of tall suede boots. “Were you waiting for me?”

He held up a leather-bound book, The Shining. “Nope.”

She moved closer, took the book from him, and flipped through the pages. “Creep-tastic.”

“It seemed appropriate, giving the surroundings.”

“You know this place is haunted, right?”

“You believe in ghosts?”

She shrugged and handed the book back. “I know a couple.”

“I guess you do then. How’d it go with Calliadne?”

She wrinkled her nose. “About what I expected.” Honestly, their meeting had been weird. Calli had been afraid—more than seeing Leia should have warranted. Calli’d practically jumped out of her skin at every noise or person who walked by. For someone who used to like humans, her behavior seemed odd. But she wouldn’t admit anything was wrong, and she refused to help Leia with her cause, muttering something about it being too late.

“Marrok and Tala will be disappointed.” Castor interrupted her thoughts.

“I have a plan.” Of sorts. She thumbed over her shoulder toward the stairs. “I’m going to our room now. Are you going to stay down here?”

“I’ll come up with you. I want to hear this plan.” He unfolded his long length from the overstuffed chair.

That’s when her worst nightmare appeared across the room, laughing with a group of five or six other men—Kaios. The werewolf was still drop dead handsome, still remarkably young for one so old. She’d bet money he was also still the same total and utter ass.

“Shit,” she hissed through clenched teeth. Panic flipped her heartrate to max. She frantically scanned the room for an escape. Seeing none close enough, she stepped closer to Castor, letting his size hide her.

“What the—” Cas glanced over his shoulder at whatever had captured her attention.

She yanked on his arm. “Don’t look,” she pleaded.

“What’s going on?”

She peeped around her human shield. Crap. Kaios was walking this way. He’d see her any second. She glanced up at Cas, who stared at her like she’d lost her mind. Because she had.

“Kiss me,” she demanded.

His eyebrows shot up. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” Only a few more seconds.

“You want me to—”

“Screw it,” she muttered.

Going up on tiptoe, she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down to her. Taken by surprise, he didn’t resist as she planted her lips over his.

He was unresponsive at first, which didn’t matter because she was more occupied with where her nemesis was in the room. But then Cas took over the kiss. She went from distracted to completely focused…on Castor.

Electricity burst through her body, her nerves alive to his every touch, starting from what his lips were doing, then spreading outward. Those lips—warm against her own—they mastered, they coaxed, they tempted. She gave a small moan as he ran his tongue along hers. She opened for him like a flower to the sun, and heat pooled in her core. His hands smoothed under her sweater, over her back to her hips, where he used a light grip to tug her in closer to his body.

For a demigod he was amazingly gentle. A warm glow of rightness joined the heat of passion. In his arms was where she was meant to be. Nothing had ever felt this right.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The warning bells went off in her head. This was her boss. And a demigod. And a man still in love with his dead wife. Nothing was right about this.

With a gasp she jerked back, stepping out of his arms before he could stop her. Her hand flew to her lips, which throbbed from his touch. Oh great gods, she’d just kissed her boss like the nymph she’d once been.

He pinned her with his blazing blue eyes. “Wow.” His voice was low and raspy and skittered along her nerves in a delicious way.

She pulled her shoulders back. Time to act casual. “Thanks for helping me with that. I’m sorry if it got out of hand. I couldn’t think of any other way to avoid that son of a hell hound.”

Passion shifted to confusion as his brows lowered. “Helping you with what?”

He’d only been playing along… hadn’t he? “I was hiding from someone. I thought you realized.”

She checked over her shoulder, belatedly. There was no sign of her tormentor, thank the gods.

READ THE BOOK!

WIP Status Check

I used to share my WIP status a lot more. Lately, it feels like my writing life has sped up exponentially. When I first started, I’d spend six months on one book, and only work on one book at a time–not just the writing, but the editing, publishing, and marketing. These days, I’m on fast forward, juggling multiple projects at a time. And LOVING it!

In addition, as new events–like contracts–happen, my schedule shifts rapidly. At this point, primarily thanks to the combination of my agent and new contracts, my schedule is full up. Lol. Let’s take a look at what’s in the hopper at the moment and through the end of 2017 (at least as of September 26, 2017).

This list includes ALL my active projects, including paranormal romance as Abigail Owen and contemporary romance as Kadie Scott.

The Attraction Equation – Upcoming Release

Book 2 of my contemporary romantic comedy Love Undercover series release November 13th with Entangled! I am gearing up to start promoting in October as we do cover reveals and preorders. Super excited for this one. Max might be one of my favs. 🙂

 

Saving the Sheriff – Copy Edits & Cover Design

The first book in my contemporary cowboy romance Hills of Texas series with Tule is set for release in January. I’ve just sent in info to get the cover started (can’t wait!) and am waiting on copy edits to come my way sometime soon.

Inferno Rising #1 – Submitted to Editor

I’ve completed beta edits on the first book in this new paranormal series for Entangled and have turned the MS into my editor. I am on pins and needles to hear what she thinks. Fingers crossed it lives up to her expectations!

Resisting the Rancher – Writing 1st Draft

The second book in my Hills of Texas series with Tule is due to my editor in January. I’ve been waiting to write Will and Rusty’s story for years (while I found an agent, and then a publisher home for the series). I am about mid-way through the first draft, which I’m scheduled to wrap up by mid-October. That’ll give me three month to do additional drafts and beta readers.

 

The Boss – WIP Next Up

Starting in November (when I’ve finished Resisting the Rancher), I move into writing the first draft on The Boss. This is the first book in my recently announced 2nd dragon shifter series for Entangled. Chomping at the bit to get to it.

Don’t Open Until Christmas – In Query Process

I have a publisher interested not only in this story, but in starting a series with it. I’ve just submitted a rewrite of the MS to the editor my agent is working with, along with a synopsis, and a series outline. I’m not sharing who because I don’t want to jinx it. 🙂 Of course, with my commitments, it’ll be a while before we see this one out. Fingers and toes crossed!

That’s enough to keep me busy for a while. I’ll check in again in January with a look at 2018. 🙂

I Still Love Editing/Revising

Almost 5 years ago, between releasing my first book, Blue Violet, and getting ready to release the next book, Hyacinth, I posted about how I loved the editing process.

Now, years later, I’ve completed 13 novels, 3 novellas, and 3 short stories with more on the way. My writing style has changed over the course of writing those books. However, I can still say that editing/revising is still my favorite part of the process, and for pretty much the same reasons…

The Worst is Over

Writing the first draft is a personal form of long-term torture. It’s gotten easier over the years as I’ve morphed from a pure pantser to a hybrid who plots key parts and pantses the rest. But I walk around with a pit in my stomach until the bulk of the story is on the page. Pure relief.

Making It Better

I see revising and editing as a way to make my story the absolute best I can make it. I use the time to fill in details, make sure I’ve covered plot holes, build the world, make sure my characters are consistent, check the plot and pacing, and set the stage for future books. Yes, I do a ton of that on the first pass. That pass is about laying the foundation and the walls, the second and subsequent passes are about adding those little touches that make it a home.

Feedback & Learning

Working with my beta readers and especially with my editor, I love getting more sets of eyes on the pages after I’ve gone blind to it (or have started to hate it, which happens with every book. Lol.) I love getting that feedback. Even when it requires major rewrites, it’s still about making the book better. I also look at these edits as an opportunity to learn. Believe me, I am constantly learning, changing, and growing as an author.

Final Product

I love knowing that the final book that you see as a reader is the best possible book I could write at that time. Knowing how much it’s improved from that first painful draft to the last version makes me proud and shows me how all that time spent on revising and editing was well worth it.

 

At the moment I am at varying stages on 4 different projects.

  1. I just wrapped up copy edits and am waiting for the final galley for The Attraction Equation, the 2nd book in my Love Undercover romantic comedy series.
  2. I am in the painful first draft process on Resisting the Rancher, the 2nd book in my upcoming Hills of Texas cowboy contemporary romance series.
  3. I am doing a revise and resubmit of my cowboy contemporary romance Don’t Open Until Christmas.
  4. And I am about to start apply beta reader edits to the 1st of my new Inferno Rising dragon shifters paranormal romance abefore sending it on to my editor.

And I’m LOVING every second (except that darn first draft lol).

I know a lot of authors out there can’t stand the editing process. I wish I enjoyed the first draft more. It’s not that I hate it, I just agonize through it, anxious to get to the really fun part of editing and making it better! 30 years of writing and 7 years of publishing my books later, I have to wonder if I’ll still love it 30 years from now. 🙂

 

 

Dragon Shifters are Coming – Another Entangled Series!!!

I am still in shock that this happened…

Entangled loved my concept for Inferno Rising, the dragon shifters series I signed a 4-book contract for in June, so much that we’re adding a 2nd 4-book series.

I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to announce a second dragon shifters series with Entangled Publishing on their Amara line! This new series will be mostly separate (different setting/different group of characters/different big bad) from the Inferno Rising series, but the 2 series will tie together with a few shared characters, shared story lines, and all built in the same world.

Squeeeee!!!! No I’m serious. SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!!

I’ve been working on this series on proposal with my fabulous editor for months, and can’t even begin to put into words how excited I am about it. I can’t give too many details yet.  Here’s what I can share…

The contract is for a 4-book digital-only paranormal romance series. I’m not sharing the series title yet, because it’ll give too much away. Lol. The series features dragon shifters. These books will release alternating with Inferno Rising, and, actually, book 1 (The Boss) will release sooner than book 1 for Inferno Rising, so it’ll be introducing the world.

I don’t have release dates yet, and it will be a little bit before the books hit the shelves. I mentioned I pitched the series on proposal, and now have to write them. The good news is, book 1 for Inferno Rising is done and about to go into edits. I’ll start on The Boss for this series shortly (yes, I’m writing them in backward order from how they’ll release, lol).

I’m beyond excited about the entire 2-series concept and how we’ll be tying them together and releasing them. 2018 can’t get here soon enough for me. And, BTW, if you get my newsletter, you’ll be seeing some EXCLUSIVE content for several months before release day. So I suggest you sign up if you haven’t already.

As soon as I have more info, you can bet I’ll share!

A huge thank you to my editor, Heather Howland, for your faith in me, and also to Entangled for this overwhelming opportunity!

Hurricane Harvey & How YOU Can Help

I’m a Texas girl. Raised and still live in the Austin area. I may not have been personally affected by Hurricane Harvey, but many friends and loved ones have been. My heart goes out to everyone affected, and I’m choosing this small platform as just one way I can try to make a difference.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long estimated Monday that 30,000 people may need shelter, and some 450,000 may qualify for federal flood victim assistance. Those numbers are growing as other areas in East Texas and Louisiana are added to the list. Even as the rain stops, there’s still a ton of clean up that has to happen.

If you are wondering how you can reach out and help the tens of thousands affected, below I’ve come up with a list of tons of different legit ways to pitch in.

I have pulled these organizations from lists compiled by CNN, NPR, and other trusted sources. I am not associated with any. Please choose the right one for you, and thank you in advance for any help you can give.

In Person Aid

If you’re in Texas and can physically help, here are some different ways…
  • Donate bloodSouth Texas Blood & Tissue Center
  • Donate food: See Food Banks below or contact
  • Donate items: See organizations below that will accept physical items from clothes, to diapers, to toys, to blankets, to items to help with reconstruction, etc.
  • Local organizations: Get involved with your church or other local organizations to see what aid they are organizing and how you can help
  • Volunteer: Most of the organizations listed below will take volunteers.

 

Donate to Help

If you are not in Texas, but still want to give, here are different organizations to choose from:

General Aid

Food

Shelter

Kids

Animals

Clean Up & Recovery