Thursday, September 16, 2021

Why it's Important to Write Words that End up in the Trash Bin

Don't you wish that every word you write in a draft is the perfect one, stacked carefully one after the other into the next great American novel? I know that I do, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), that is just not how drafting works. Drafting is a lovely and messy process in which you, the writer, spend time getting to know these new friends (characters) and their overall need in existing on the page. And it's so important to write words that end up in your computer's trash bin. 

Have you ever had an argument with a friend? I'm not talking about a serious one, but maybe one where you're both feeling a bit snappy after a long day and everyone's feelings got just a little hurt? Think about what that experience did for your friendship. It strengthened it, right? Because you both had to come to the conclusion to keep going with the friendship and apologize. Things got back to normal, but you learned something important about each other. How their voice sounds right before they get really frustrated, or which topics stir up big emotions. Learning about your characters can feel similar in a lot of ways. 

Maybe you won't end up actually arguing with your characters, or maybe you will, but either way, you will learn about them as you spend more time with them. But all the things you learn about them, won't make it into your novel because your reader doesn't need those details. But you do. You have to know which things your character needs desperately enough to leave the comfort of their day-to-day lives. You have to know which topics will stir up their darkest fears and their brightest dreams, and after all my years of writing, the only way I've found to do that is to write the scenes I need to understand my character, but most of those same scenes won't make it anywhere near my final draft and that's okay!

So, dear writer, as you write and work for each word in your draft, know that some of those words are the ones only you need, but they are not wasted. I truly believe that not a single word is wasted in a draft. You and your characters needed that relationship building moment even if your reader does not. So take heart and draft every word you need to tell the story of your dreams. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

I feel like I have been released from prison...

 Since May, May, the lovely month of May when I finished my book for Readict, I've had chronic and persistent writer's block.  Here's the pedal to the metal, nose to the grindstone, etc. that burned me out for awhile. I'd forgotten what it feels like to shut and lock the door to the world because you were working on a deadline.  Royal Secrets is now available, and doing well, on Readict though, by George. This contemporary royalty romance is about a handsome prince falling in love with a commoner only to have his government throw the stops on it because she had a shady past.


So, today I found an old short story I had begun years ago lurking in the musty recesses of my computer.  I had a good start, but no idea where it was going. The title is "angels unawares". I began writing at 7:30 AM.  At noon, I wrote the last line and added it to an anthology of short stories/novellas I've called By Moonlight, and promptly sent it winging its way to Wordwooze, a publisher recommended by a friend.  Will they bite?  There's one ghost story, one witch/famiiar story, three angel stories, and one alien crept in for a short visit.  "angels  unawares" ended at 31 pages and 9400 words.  Here is a bit of the new story:


angels unawares

"Angels in my garden.  Bats in my belfry," Lark mumbled as she examined the green bottle of of rum.  "Got to stop drinking this rot-gut.  I'm starting to see things."

She grimaced through splayed fingers at her tangled brown hair and sad brown eyes.  Her reflection in the sliding door drew her attention from the man huddled in her backyard.  Backyard!  A grandiose four-by-five square.  "Low-income housing, Cajun-style," she mocked her slender face in the glass.  "You've come a long way, baby.  At least it's not far to the bottom."

What she thought she saw sitting in the tall grass couldn't be there.  A naked man, arms hugging his knees, head bent, long mahogany hair obscuring his face.  Strange but possible.  The snowy wings arched above his head was the kicker.  Way beyond bizarre and im-frickin--possible

She fled the delusion lurking in the glass, carving a new path to the center of her living room.  Arms arched above her head, like the childhood ballerina she’d once been, she rotated on her toe.   "Empty bed.  Empty life.  Empty bottle!"  With a laugh and a flick of her wrist, she consigned the dead soldier to sparkles of green on the fake marble floor in the kitchen.  "Good toss.”

She chanced a glance at the glass door.  Indigo dusk was winning its war with a rose-and-gold sunset, but if she narrowed her eyes, she could see her visitor under the sole oak in her garden.  The angel looked like he was crying.  As she watched, he stretched his wings skyward before he folded them about him like a giant snowbird.

“Well crap.  If I’m dreaming, might as well know sooner than later.”  Lark gave the reluctant lock several brutal jerks before the door clattered open.

Staggering toward Big Bird, she cursed the wet grass that soaked the hem of her skirt, but he took no notice of her approach. Wrapped in his wings, he neither moved nor spoke.

“Hey, you, what are you doing here?  I know you’re not an angel.  I don’t believe in angels, and if I did, it’s highly unlikely that an angel is going to pick my backyard for a skin show.”

She sipped the watered-down rum, staring at the iridescent texture of the majestic arched wings, battling the urge to touch them to see if they were made of real feathers.  “Oh damn, I'm drunk."

A lyrical voice answered, "Quite."

"Quiet!  You've got the nerve telling me to be quiet in my own backyard."  Lark listened and decided she hadn't slurred. “You’re some nut dressed up for Halloween early. Hate to break it to you, but it’s only July.” Then she ran out of words.

He laughed, and Lark watched spellbound as the wings unfurled like an alabaster flower opening to cricket-song, but no crickets sang in the rain whispering down from a clear sky. It had been raining for the last two weeks, but it was two months since Tommy left a note pinned to the refrigerator and an empty bank account.

"Quite drunk," he said as he flexed his wings above his head in a white arbor.

Mist jeweled the luminescent feathers.

And he was gloriously, unabashedly, totally naked. From his broad shoulders to his muscled chest down the thin line of dark hair to his navel...--angels weren’t supposed to have male equipment, but this one did--and how! 


As you can see, in my mythos, my angels are not androgynous.  Otherwise, how could you explain the fall of the Grigori, those angels who took wives from among human women.  Each writer builds her own angel world with its different rules.  Likewise, in mine the angelic host are strictly male. I've read other angel books where there are female angels.  It's always interesting to me to read another author's take on angels.  Another thing, in my stories, when people die, they do not become angels. Angels and humans are totally separate creations. When I was writing Gylded Wings, I spent an interesting evening with a Jewish  scholar of the Hebrew Bible.  Some of that found its way into my angel world. Most of it is pure imagination, as you can  well imagine.



May your angels always be with you...

Linda

Monday, September 13, 2021

Your Day Job Is What?! by Marilyn Barr

 

I’m a spiritual and energetic healer. This conjures all sorts of images in people’s minds. (Cue Witch Doctor songs) I get asked if I took a pilgrimage to the middle of the jungle to live on bugs like Simba in a certain kid’s movie. They ask if I can contact their long-lost great-great-great grandparent or if I can predict their child’s future. I do own a crystal ball, but I don’t use it to tell fortunes. I love herbal remedies, but I don’t prescribe them. I don’t require a sacrifice for healing either – although I have had everything from pet’s blood, to promised unborn children, to animals the clients caught, brought to me. (…and they think I’m weird, scheez).

(Spa-am Native of Muppet Treasure Island Photo from muppet-opedia)

What does an energetic healer do? There are 10 services, but the most common ones are NAET, Reiki, Shamanic healing, mediumship, and past life regressions. My certifications are in Reiki and Shamanic healing (General and Hawaiian). I perform healing rituals, chakra reconstructions, energy grid restorations, past life regressions, cord-cutting rituals, and receive spiritual visions on the client’s behalf. I do not have the gift of two-way communication with those in the spiritual plane beyond my spirit team, so mediumship (bridging contact with deceased people) is outside my abilities. NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) overlaps with Reiki healing but utilizes the energetic gates to a client’s energy grids to eliminate allergic reactions. Between my son and I, we have had over 30 allergies reversed using NAET.

(Photo from myomassage.massagetherapy.com)

Can anyone perform spiritual healing? Yes – with training and attunement. The first level of Reiki healing is self-healing and can be learned by anyone. There are weekend courses for those who are curious, but those who feel a calling usually embark on an apprenticeship. (No, you aren’t living with a witch doctor in the woods. My two-year apprenticeship has mostly taken place over Zoom.) Reiki healing is the channeling of chi energy from a universal source to the client using the hand placement and Japanese symbols over certain areas of the body (you should not be touched in traditional Reiki healing sessions). The healer is a conduit like an antenna that collects energetic signals like Wi-Fi.

(Photo from blog.sivanaspirit.com)

The purpose of the apprenticeship is to learn the boundaries associated with going into someone else’s energetic grids. This is more difficult and more important than the healing techniques themselves because they protect the client and practitioner from injury. Because of my Shamanic abilities, I will receive visions with energy, so I must obtain permission from the client about them before healing sessions. I have written a book about a great spiritual practitioner with a respectful attitude towards boundaries, spirit guides, and apprenticeship in Dance to a Wylder Beat. However, I wanted to also write a book about a talented practitioner without these qualities. What if someone had a Reiki apprenticeship but their abilities branched into Shamanic healing and mediumship, but they ignored the call? What if they had grown up in an environment when these talents were thought to be fiction, so they didn’t believe the messages from the spiritual plane? The Universe would give stronger signs until the person listens.

In my Christmas release, The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes, we meet Reiki practitioner, Cassie Morgan, and her mentor, Leslie. Cassie is left alone over the holiday season to perform healing sessions for the first time. She is happy to manage the pain of the residents of the nursing home where she works instead of going home for the holidays…or maybe it is the excitement over the nameless coma patient upstairs. Cassie’s spiritual gifts go beyond her training but because she comes from a family of traditional medical doctors who don’t believe in spiritual healing practices, she doesn’t study beyond Reiki healing.

Her unfettered abilities cause all sorts of trouble when they meet psychically open energy gates of the telepathic coma patient. Dream walking, pain transference, and meeting the ghosts from Sergei’s past are just some of the complications Cassie experiences due to her leaky boundaries. Normally this would be uncomfortable, but Cassie learns Sergei is a man on the run. Sergei is a spy, but for which side – the authorities or the Russian mob? Now Cassie knows too much, and Sergei is gone…


The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes is the second novella in The Spiritual Spy Duology. The first novella, The Spy Who Was Out Cold, will be free to newsletter subscribers as of October 2021. Join my newsletter here (https://www.marilynbarr.com/contact) to get your copy of The Spy Who Was Out Cold on its release day. The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes releases 11/30/2021 (for $2.99) from The Wild Rose Press.





Friday, September 10, 2021

3 Tools I Use to Write a Novel Quicker


By Keri Kruspe

Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures 


When I began my writing career, I felt like I was trudging through molasses… uphill… in a hurricane to get my first novel ready to publish. Now that I have a couple of years of being published under my belt, I’m beginning to feel more secure in the process. As I’ve explored different/better ways to produce my novels, I’ve heard about various software (other than Word) that other authors rave about. So, late last year, I took the jump and used three different “writing” programs that I can’t live without now.

I find that they not only keep me organized, but they also allow me the freedom of creating my manuscripts at a faster pace.

Whether you are a pantser, plotter, or a plantser (combination of both), I feel you can find something with these three tools that will help you hone your craft. What’s great is that no two people utilize them the same way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to other authors and am astonished how they use them completely differently than I do.

In this article, I’ll outline the basic info the company gives, and then show you examples how my stuff looks. A bit of a disclosure here: I am in no way affiliated with these companies nor do I receive any monetary compensation for mentioning them in this article. What I say here is my own opinion.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!



Plottr is the newest software I’ve begun to use.

Basically, it’s a downloadable outlining software that makes it easier for me to plot my novels. I love the visual versatility that lets me use sub-plots. They even offer templates to use for planning, everything from mystery to romance.


One of the best features I like is the “Series” tab. Here I can keep a running synopsis of the series I’m writing in now:

I admit I’m a visual. I absolutely love that there are places to create characters, places, and notes that I can add a picture to. Another thing is I can access all of that, no matter what book I’m plotting for.

Here’s a small sample of my series characters:






Another nice thing about Plottr is its ability to track different kinds of attributes. Like flaws or personality traits or magical abilities. I can choose to make these attributes simple one-liners or add a paragraph for extra information.

Plottr isn’t limited to the features I listed above. There are extras that I don’t have space to list, but here are a few examples:

  • I can flip my view when plotting. I love doing this. Sometimes looking at it in a different angle (horizonal or vertical) gives a fresh view of the outline.
  • Navigation is easy. You can scroll through the beginning, middle, and and with ease. 

The one thing that sold me about Plottr is a newer update… I can export it either to Word or to the next tool I want to talk about… Scrivener.

When I first used Scrivener, I’m ashamed to admit I gave up too soon. It seemed way too complicated for me. But, over time, I took a couple of courses (even hard copied the lessons to put in a binder I keep on my desk for quick reference). While I feel I’m scratching the surface of what I can do with Scrivener, I’m plugging along and getting better with each book I complete.

 One of the things I like about it is it supports my need for a visual. What I mean is, for every scene, I can put in a picture on the side that helps me when I must describe something. From a space station, innards to what my villain looks like.



It may be a whimsical reason to use Scrivener, but it puts me in the mood to escape… er, plan my world-building.

Just so you know, Scrivener is not a word processor. It’s more like a tool that focuses on supporting the task of writing long-term pieces. Another feature I really like is the flexibility of moving my scenes/chapters around. I can do that in Word, but then I’d have to copy the text and paste it where I want to. In Scrivener, I just drag and drop. 




I also like the “corkboard” feature. Here I can see my chapters/scenes and change the order here if I like.

In the article “Ten Reasons to Write your Novel in Scrivener” their reasoning is more compelling than mine. One of the other super features is you can export your masterpiece to several formats: Word/ePub/Paperback proofs.

But, before you export anything, it’s best to make sure your creation is as professional as possible. Which brings me to my last tool… ProWritingAid.



Before I began using Scrivener, I used ProWritingAid. When I found out I could use it with Scrivener, I about swooned. Using it from Scrivener instead of exporting it to Word first cut my editing process in half and gave me a good reason to stay with Scrivener. 



I love how this editing tool not only offers grammar checking, but it also has in-depth reports that can strengthen and polish my manuscript. While I don’t utilize all that they offer, I love the summary that points out areas I could work on.


THE END MATTERS...

 

When I wrote the first book in my series, An Alien Exchange, it took me over a year from start to finish. Since my goal is to release a book every three months, I’m always looking for ways to become better/faster in creating my stories. One way is to get comfortable with these tools and utilize all they have to offer. I’m hoping that will give me the best chance to reach my long-term goals.




How about you? I'd love to hear about the tools you're using to help achieve your overall author goals!




Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Meet Vawn and Ojo in this couple's interview... VAWN by Jessica E. Subject #SciFiRomance #SFR #MMRomance #CharacterInterview


Hello! As I am busy writing the second book in my Kaddim Brothers series, I wanted to give a little insight into the couple in the first book, VAWN, which released last month. So, I’m sharing an interview with the couple, Vawn and Ojokun. This interview occurs between the two stories, so there may be a few spoilers for VAWN. Or maybe, it will pique your interest. 😉 Anyway, here they are…


Tell me the story of how you met.

Vawn: I was visiting my brothers for a ‘family and friends’ weekend the space racers hold a couple times each star cycle. I first met him at the spaceport where my brothers were supposed to pick me up, and learned then that he was on the same team as them. We got to know each other very intimately that weekend.

What were your first impressions of each other?

Ojo: He was gorgeous. Lots of delectable curves. And when he turned around, I was even more pleased.

Vawn [blushes as he swats Ojo]: I knew I wanted to spend the night with him. 

What did you do on your first date?

Vawn: I don’t know if we ever went on an official date until after we were married. But we were at a club that weekend we met, had a couple drinks, and then slept together. A very memorable night.

What were your main methods of communication then?

Ojo [laughs]: We had none. He left me in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping, and I didn’t see or hear from him again for a while. When I finally did see him again, I made sure to get his contact info so I could keep in touch. Since we were on different planets, we messaged each other and had video chats. Some of those were memorable, too.

How did you know things were getting serious?

Vawn: When we started arranging everything else around time to talk and see each other.

Ojo [barks out a laugh]: You thought I was going to break up with you. You were serious, but didn’t realize how serious I was until I asked you to marry me. Though I honestly became serious about him on Rennir—we weren’t together then—when I passed up spending the night with others to help take care of Vawn’s sick daughter. 

What did your families think of your new boyfriend?

Vawn: My brothers were on the same team as Ojo, so they got along okay, but my oldest brother, Ret, did not want me with Ojo at all. Eventually he came around. My parents loved Ojo from the first time they met him, and would want to talk to him when they video-chatted with my brothers.

When did you know that you would end up getting married?

Ojo: Because he’s an omega, and I’m not an alpha, I didn’t know how to make him mine. I couldn't exactly claim him, so I talked to Ret when he no longer had a problem with us being together. He told me about marriage ceremonies that used to happen on Trid before his ancestors settled on Orez. I knew immediately that’s what I wanted.

Do you have children? If you do, how did you make the decision to have children and how has having children changed your marriage?

Vawn: I was widowed and had a toddler when I first met Ojo. Though he didn’t know at the time. And I was pregnant with our second precious girl when Ojo and I got married. I don’t think children changed our marriage at all, but being a parent is a continuous learning experience as they grow up. So, in some ways, it’s always changing. But, isn’t that the way life is?

Very true! Do you work? How do work responsibilities impact your family life?

Ojo: We both work. Vawn is a well-known fashion designer all over the universe. And I own a space racer training school here on Orez. Because we’re self-employed, we’re able to work our schedules around each other, and make time for each other and our family.

What is the biggest strength of your relationship?

Vawn: Honesty and communication. We learned early on what happens when we keep things from each other. Sometimes we still have communication breakdowns, but we try our hardest to talk everything out.

Ojo: I was going to say love, but your answer sounds better.

I think both answers are great! Here’s more information about Vawn and Ojokun’s story…


VAWN

Kaddim Brothers book one

by Jessica E. Subject

Vawn doesn’t need a mate. He’s already established himself universe-wide as a hot name in fashion, while raising his daughter. But he won’t say no to a fling with a hot space racer when he travels to Eurebly to visit his brothers. One night. That’s all he can give. Because his heart shattered when he lost his previous alpha, and he hasn’t been able to repair it completely. He refuses to love someone like that ever again.

Ojokun survived on Jenegath in order to leave the planet and become the best space racer in the universe. Though he flies with a team, he’s never depended on anyone outside of his jet. He keeps to himself. Has one-night stands, just like every other space racer. But, after a mind-blowing night with the brother of two of his teammates, he can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous omega, or the foreign longing that scares him more than his overly-protective teammates.

Can Ojokun convince Vawn that he wants more than one night? Or is that all they were ever meant to be?

Available in ebook and paperback!





Saturday, September 4, 2021

Finding Inspiration in Unusual Places

 

 By Maureen Bonatch 

I don’t care very much for sports. If invited to a football game I'm honest and admit that I'm only there for the snacks. Most sports, except for hockey. 

Hockey is the only sport that can maintain my interest and I have some understanding of the game. 

My daughters played hockey for a while in their youth. Part of me was glad that they developed other interests before they were old enough to allow checking in the game (checking is a defensive technique which usually includes ramming into players on the other team).

                                                      My girls during their 'hockey career'
    

Over the years my hubby and I have enjoyed many professional hockey games. Some of the professional hockey players were simply amazing in their skill, speed, and grace on the ice. 

As someone who cannot ice skate well—mostly when it comes to stopping, or I should say, not being able to stop without the help of a wall—watching them glide across the ice as if they had wings fills me with awe. 


                                                                  Me & the hubs...

The game was magical to watch. 

 Which got me to thinking… 


What if some of the players had paranormal abilities? Would there be restrictions to make it a fair game? I envisioned that shifters or werewolves protecting the star players and thought that vampires might have the best speed on the ice. 

But what about witches? Couldn’t they use a spell to help ensure they won the game? Would spelling be forbidden to make it a fair game? 

 Hexes, Highballs & Hockey was Born 


                                                        Get Your Copy Today Right Here.

 How can one tiny spell create such a mess? 

 Hi, I’m Marissa Hale and I’ve spelled up some trouble. 

 You see, I live in Boca, Florida. Most of the time all the mishmash of paranormal play nice in the sandbox—except when it’s an ice rink.

Of course I’d be the one to test the boundaries of the “no spelling” rule at the hockey arena when my friend, Grace, begged me to go to a game. My careless spell to conceal the nacho cheese disaster, which happened when a big blob landed on her treasured jersey, caused more trouble than the wrath I avoided from my hockey obsessed friend. 

Due to the ridiculous rule, Grace inadvertently gets blamed and tossed into the arena’s jail for illicit magic…and I might have accidentally spelled one of the players. 

When I try to make things right, my sleuthing skills uncover secrets, and more trouble than I bargained for. I might need more than my chatty cat and charmed cocktails to solve this mystery…

Where Do You Find Inspiration?


Just a small-town girl, Maureen Bonatch leads a double life. She lives in a magical world as a novelist, and as a nurse leader in reality. Maureen’s first novella was a paranormal romance published when blogs were a new-fangled thing. She’s since changed her focus to writing paranormal cozy mysteries as M.L. Bonatch and urban fantasy as Maureen Bonatch. 

While she’s not busy writing or doing nurse-things, she’s a mom to her twin daughters, bicycling in the beautiful woods of PA with her hubby, doing the bidding of a feisty Shih Tzu, and dancing as much as possible. She believes music can be paired with every mood, laughter is contagious, and that caffeine and wine are essential for survival.

 Follow M.L. Bonatch all through cyberspace! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Happy Book Birthday! by Diane Burton

 


We often talk about how quickly time flies, how I can't believe it's September already. Here's a better one. I can't believe my first book was published 20 years ago. Yep, 20 years--back in the day when you sent a paper manuscript to a publisher, crossed your fingers and hoped for "the call." After ten years writing, submitting, getting rejections, I finally sold a book. That book, Switched, was published 20 years ago last week. 

When I wrote Switched, I was so tired of playing by the rules, writing what I thought publishers wanted. Oh, some of them did--they'd just bought something similar. Sorry. When I was feeling down, a crazy idea zipped through my mind. (Muses tell you weird things, then dare you to write it.) The crazy idea was that aliens kidnapped a woman from Earth by mistake. They really wanted a super model.

If I'd been that woman, I would've been royally p.o.'d. She was. First, she thinks it's all a joke played by her brothers and his nerdy friends. Or that that somehow they left her at a Star Trek-type convention. How would you explain it, if you'd been beamed aboard a starship? 

That book was so much fun to write. I could be silly and smartalecky through my heroine. Now, the strict straight-laced captain made Mr. Spock look like a party guy. What a great contrast. The farther into the story I got the more fun I had. Who knew someone would like it enough to buy it? Who knew that book would lead to two more? Contrary to a program by our own Nancy Gideon, I didn't plan my series, I sort of fell into it. When I finished those three books, I was so sad to leave the characters. But when a series is done, it's done.

In the 20 years since Switched was published, I've had thirteen more novels published. It was a great beginning to a career. Switched was also my first book self-published after the publisher returned my rights. 


Blurb

Kidnapped by aliens? By mistake?

Wise-cracking mechanic Jessie Wyndom gets the surprise of her life when she's accidentally transported aboard an Alliance of Planets starship. Then, she learns an identical twin who was raised on an alien planet has taken her place on Earth. They are victims of a scientific experiment that separated Terran twins before birth. Jessie doesn't believe it. This is all a gag perpetrated by her brother and his nerdy friends.

 Years of discipline enables Captain Marcus Viator to maintain the austere, emotionless persona prized on his planet, Serenia. Until he meets the bold, impertinent Jessie. She must go back to Earth before she disrupts his well-organized life. When he tries to return his unwilling visitor, he discovers the ship has left Earth's orbit--supposedly at his command. When more sabotage crops up, Marcus and Jessie must work together to protect the crew and themselves. As their attraction grows, treachery and violence force them into decisions that could separate them forever.

Switched is available at most online retailers for 99 cents.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ B&N ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Smashwords


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Out August 31st ~ Serving the Wicked by Wendi Zwaduk @wendizwaduk @totally_bound #contemporary #PNR #bdsmromance #romance #hotread

  Out August 31st and just in time for Halloween reading....

Serving the Wicked by Wendi Zwaduk

Book three in the Refuge series


Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal Erotic Romance

M/F, BDSM, Anal Sex, Spanking

From Totally Bound Publishing

 

A scared human plus a vampire with a secret. Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse.

Raine can’t remember time before the darkness. She’s a human in a paranormal world where humans are a commodity, not people, and she’s been abused by the vampires. When she ends up at the slave auction, she fears her nightmare will never end.

Enter Casey. He’s part vampire, part Fae, dangerous and only has eyes for Raine. He saw her at the BDSM club before she entered the vampire slave world and he swore he’d rescue her. He buys her the instant he sees her on the stage. The innocence in her eyes, combined with the sweetness in her soul calls to him. He wants her to serve him in the bedroom and be his partner everywhere.

She’s been hurt, and he’s a born protector. Can they make the attraction last and turn it into something eternal or will the fear win out?

 

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, fighting and death, as well as references to forced sex and feeding from humans.

 

Available 8/31 from Totally Bound Publishing

https://books2read.com/u/4EKkqo

https://www.firstforromance.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=71386

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098QSZK36/

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1575607975

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/serving-the-wicked-wendi-zwaduk/1139805908

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=rUg3EAAAQBAJ

https://www.scribd.com/book/505413880/The-Refuge

 

Now for an excerpt:

©WendiZwaduk, 2021, All Rights Reserved

“You’re an odd vampire. Most every other one I’ve known wants me for dinner. Either you don’t because you’re weird or you’re lulling me into liking you so I’ll give in. If you are, you don’t have to make me like you. I’ll give in. I know the rules because you bought me. Remember?”

“Why don’t you shower and maybe get some sleep? I won’t kill or drain you.” He wanted her to trust him, but he didn’t want compliancy. Not yet and not outside of the bedroom. He liked her fire and the spunk he’d seen at the club.

“I don’t have much of a choice,” she said. “May I have this?”

“The wine? Of course.” He poured himself a glass of merlot. “Let’s drink to your freedom and new home.”

She stared at him, and he couldn’t read her expression. Wary? Confused? He wasn’t sure.

Casey sipped his wine. “Feel free to use whatever’s in the bathroom. I have no secrets from you.” Not many.

Her eyes widened again, and her lips parted. “You scare me.” She drank the wine in one gulp, then coughed.

Good merlot should be sipped—not gulped. But he hadn’t gone two days without food. “Why do I scare you?”

She shrugged out of his coat. “Because I can’t tell what you’re thinking or what you want from me.”

“Oh?” His previous girl had said he’d telegraphed every move.

“I don’t know what you want and I can’t figure out if you’re telling me the truth.” She left the stool. “I’d like that shower, though, please?”

He kept getting her right to the edge of opening up when she shut down again. Soon, he’d know her secrets, and she’d know his. He led her to the set of rooms along the back of the house. “In here. I’ve got towels, soap and anything you need in the drawers.”

“Even a flat iron?”

She’d volleyed a challenge. Nice. He liked her spirit. “If you want.” He turned the water on in the open stall. “I’ll leave you to your shower.”

“You can watch. I haven’t showered in ages.” She removed her filthy dress. “I used to have guards so I wouldn’t run away. I don’t know what it’s like to have privacy.”

Lomax used guards? Interesting. Casey spied the lines on her back. Lashings? “Were you whipped?”

She shuddered and didn’t turn around “I was told I deserved it.”

He touched the silvery scars. He remembered when he’d seen her at the club, she’d gotten off on being flogged, but not to the point of bloodletting. What she’d been through was abuse. She flinched when he touched her again.

“I’m sorry.” He pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “I’ll never do anything like this to you ever.”

She tensed, but didn’t pull away. “Uh-huh.”

Soon, she’d give him her trust, and he’d prove not all vampires were evil. He wasn’t a nice man—more a son of a bitch—but not with her. She could be his salvation, and he refused to screw that up. 

 


Friday, August 27, 2021

Three Act Story Structure by L. A. Kelley


Most writers have come across Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, probably the best known story structure. Campbell's journey has 17 stages divided into three parts: separation, initiation and return. Christopher Vogler modified it to make 12 stages that broke down into easily understandable segments such as the Call to Adventure followed by the Refusal to the Call followed by Meeting the Mentor. Despite the simplification, this arrangement can be intimidating with too many details to consider. After all, not everyone wants to write a grand epic. But if a guideline still appeals, consider a more streamlined approach with the Three Act Story Structure.

The Three Act Story Structure is just like it says, the story is divided into the three parts consisting of a Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution.

Part 1: Setup

Exposition

The exposition contains the set-up or enough details for the world to make sense to the reader. Think of it as where the world is ‘explained’. Science fiction and fantasy might have more initial setup. If you’re writing science fiction on a space station, you need to make certain the reader knows the location isn’t Earth. A romantic fiction set in modern times would require less description to set the tone that the heroine works in an office in New York City. Avoid a massive info dump. Details should be sprinkled throughout and not shoveled on the reader in paragraph after paragraph. Rules of behavior should also be introduced. Readers should quickly gain a sense of the characters’ temperaments.

Inciting Incident

This sets the story in motion and introduces Plot Point One. The hero or heroine meets a challenge. For science fiction it could be an alien invasion. For a fiction it might be a job loss that shakes up the protagonist’s life. Either way, this marks the start of the main characters’ physical, mental, or emotion journey.

Part 2: Confrontation

Rising Action

The second part (and the meat of the story) contains the Rising Action. The story's true stakes become clear; our heroine has her first encounters with enemies and allies. The challenges and pitfalls become defined.

Midpoint

An event that upends the protagonist’s mission. It introduces other challenges and generally involves a large setback, either physically, emotional, or intellectually (or all three.)

Plot Point Two

After the conflict in the midpoint, the protagonist needs to regroup, reexamine, or reattack. The protagonist is definitely tested and failure is most certainly an option. Doubts arise concerning success. Is it possible with the resources at hand?

It’s important to note that Part 2 may occur more than once as the protagonist overcomes challenges and meets new ones.

 Part 3: Resolution

Pre Climax

The lowest of the low points. In a last ditch effort, the protagonist overcomes obstacles and takes decisive action. Failure is still an option

Climax

The final confrontation between protagonist and antagonist and the ultimate resolution.

Denouement

Tie up those loose ends and detail the consequences of the climax. How has the status quo changed? And any happily ever after should be obvious to the reader.


L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. Her life is a three act story structure stuck on denouement.



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Last chance to sink your teeth into a S*A*L*E! RISE BY MOONLIGHT ONLY $.99! by Nancy Gideon


“You’ve only got Two Days!”

I always loved that ominous commercial warning of time rapidly ticking down, urging you into hyper-speed if you wanted to take advantage of the savings. Here’s your warning if you haven’t picked up a copy of RISE BY MOONLIGHT, the final book in my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal series!



Here’s a taste to whet your . . . hunger for more . . .

He felt her before gates opened onto the long drive leading to their gracefully crumbling plantation house. Her essence teased up his nose, stirring his awareness like a smooth stone dropping into a still, deep pond. Ripples of warmth and desire spread outward in eager little shivers. She was home, and everything calmed in his complicated world.

Max waited, still as the heavy antique furnishings, a tall indistinguishable shape teased out by flames from the low parlor fire as the front door opened. With a brisk staccato on marble tiles, her silhouette hurried by, then the tap of heels paused, backtracking until Charlotte Caissie framed the doorway the way she did his life, with her strength, proud stature and shrewd intuition. A smile flashed with her welcoming, “Hi.”

His reply rumbled, a rough caress. “Welcome home, sha. How was your day?” Simple domestic comments steeped in an intimacy that relaxed the taut line of her shoulders.

“Same ole, same ole.” She entered the room with her long, confident stride, crossing to him as an end rather than a means to the rest of that day. Her fingertips brushed over the bristle of evening stumble on his cheek on their way to cup the back of his dark head, drawing him down for a slow, reassuring exchange as vital to both their lives as oxygen.

Separately, the unlikely couple walked a parallel line of complications both tried not to cross. He was a criminal turned business powerhouse ruling a clan of shapeshifters threatened with extermination, she a fiercely determined detective sworn to protect a very different kind of citizen from a deadly truth about to overtake them. Though their paths were different, they led to the same end . . . to this house, this moment, and ultimately, to the survival of those they loved.

Max feared for her, not because she was weaker, but because she was his. Just, as she would ferociously claim he was hers. Two parts of the same whole now that they were a bonded pair. But those two parts would soon become a trio. They’d never had any kind of normal family life growing up. But their child, he vowed every time he glanced at that ever-increasing midsection, would be different, fiercely loved, protected, spared the isolation and fear that had shaped both parents. Max would do anything to see that dream to fruition.

Anything.

 RISE BY MOONLIGHT was my favorite . . . and the most heartbreaking book of my “By Moonlight” shapeshifter books because it’s the last of 15. Debuting in 2010 with MASKED BY MOONLIGHT, these continuing characters have been part of my writing life for the last 15 years and as the song goes, it’s so hard to say good-bye.



The good news is that that I’ve just gotten the rights back to Books 4-8 in the series (S&S wouldn’t return the first three - Masked, Chased and Captured - because of a poorly worded contract loophole that slipped past my then agent. Sigh.) I’m going to work on reissuing those five titles as soon as my thoughts return to business after three weeks in Ireland (Yes, my next post will be c/o the Emerald Isle!!).

Until then, Slainte!
♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web