Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Thrill of Release Day

It’s finally here! Two-and-a-half years after the release of my first book, Prophecy, today marks the release of the third book in the Prophecy series--Collision. It’s also the last book in the series invasion-arc. But, don’t worry, the Bock family adventures will continue with new stories! These new stories will be less about staving off the threat of war and more about the lives of the characters as they rebuild in a post-invasion galaxy.

What does the future hold for this universe? (Possible spoiler alert warnings issued!) Well, I have several stories in various stages of completion. The current work in progress is actually a Christmas story featuring Alex and Gryf and their precocious youngest daughter, Maggie. It takes place during their year in space while Alex serves as ambassador to Matir, and Gryf oversees the dismantling of the Matirian Defense and Guardian Fleets. I truly hope to have this one ready for the holidays this year. If not, it’ll be out in 2019.

Also in the works, Dante’s story. How could it not be after the revelation in Salvation? Besides, one of my author friends ordered me to write it because she adores Dante. Do you know how difficult it is to say no to someone who helped launch you into your career?

Other stories coming in the Prophecy universe will be Juan’s story—which right now is different from any of my other stories because it encompasses pretty much his entire life. I may end up billing it as Book 4, but, we’ll see. Maggie’s story—no, not the Christmas one. It will be her as an adult, and the love of her life is someone her mother has a hard time accepting. Ora, Gryf’s cousin, is due for her own happily ever after to wrap up her heart after her personal loss Prophecy.

Those are just some of the stories and ideas percolating in my head. Since I'm in the mood to celebrate, you are invited to join me at 11:00 AM PDT, June 30th, on my Facebook Author Page for a Facebook Live event. I don't do these often, but this is a special day.

Now, without further adieu, I give you Collision. Happy reading, everyone!


Collision, Book Three of the Prophecy Series
A heart-rending loss…
Flora Bock will never forgive the Anferthian invaders for murdering her birth-parents. Growing up with the grandson of her sworn enemies is living a nightmare—until the day she sees him through the eyes of a young woman. But giving her heart to him is the ultimate betrayal of her parents’ memory.

A life in peril…
There are precious few places in the galaxy where Fander K’nil is safe. One look into Flora’s beautiful, hate-filled eyes is proof enough that Terr is not one of those places. He must keep her at a distance and stay alive long enough to fulfill his destiny. No matter what his heart desires.

An empire at stake…
Just as Fander and Flora begin to discover the depth of their feelings for each other, they are thrust into a deadly game of politics and assassination with an enemy who stops at nothing to stay in power. With the lives of everyone they love at risk, they must find a way to avert a new invasion before it’s too late—even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

Collision Buy Links:


Social Media Links for Lea Kirk:

Excerpt from Collision:

The groan lodged in Fander’s chest broke free. He stroked his fingers up and down her back, opening his mouth to take her in. Every deity of every world must have blessed him, because how else had he come to be with this woman? This strong, soft, stunning woman moving her hips to rub herself along his hardening length. And she was all woman, now, not the awkward girl she had been the first time he had kissed her. This time it seemed she knew what she wanted and was going after it. And there was no reason to stop her—or himself—this time, except for the two people outside the door. 

He cradled her face between his palms and turned the one deep kiss into several short ones before pulling back. “The captains of our guard details are standing beyond the door. They could check in at any moment.”

“We can go into my room.”

The invitation he had waited his lifetime to hear. “They’ll still look for us there.”

“I’ll risk it.” Flora slid off his lap and cool air rushed over his thighs and overheated groin. She grasped his hands and tugged. “C’mon, Fander. We can lock the door.”

And pray Nor and K’rona did not smash it down in a panic.

Still, there was a tingle of excitement at risking discovery. He allowed her to pull him from the couch, across the sitting room, and into her bedroom.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Trad, Indie, Hybrid...Which Should I Be? with @Meganslayer #authors #hybrid #indie #traditional #authortalk

So what am I?


I never thought I'd be a hybrid author. I was determined to go Traditional or nothing, but then a couple of my pubs closed and it was crushing. I thought these were my places to be...and they're gone. So some of my work I opted to self-publish.

It's been nice to have publishers still, but also nice to have print copies I've got control over in my hands. There's nothing like holding your own book in your hands that you helped create. So, I'm still with publishers because I like the safety of being there, but I like having some control over my work, too.

One of the bad things about being a hybrid published author is the cost. When you're with a publisher, they handle the costs. You write, do the edits and get the art, but they pay for it. With self-publishing, you have to foot the bill for that all. It's a push to promote more to recoup what you put into the cost, but it's not easy if you don't have a lot of startup cash.

Still, I like being a little of both. Kind of reminds me of that old Osmonds song...

Here's a little bit about my latest release, Roosters: Innocent & Sweet:

Innocent and Sweet by Megan Slayer
Roosters, Book 1
Changeling Press
Short Story
M/F, New Adult

Anissa Dunn wants one man -- Kameron. He’s got looks, brains and a boatload of attitude… and all that muscle. A girl can only take so much, and he's her heart's desire. She’s not afraid to give as good as she gets and she wants him to be her teacher in all things carnal.
There's only one catch -- he's her bodyguard and the rules state she can't date the staff.
But rules are meant to be broken…

Available from Changeling Press:
Universal Link:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rewrites are heck by Barbara Edwards

I’m doing a really tough rewrite before I finish my manuscript. I realized I didn’t like my heroine’s magic skills. And I decided making her a woman with herbal knowledge and healing skill fir my story better.
The problem? I’ve got over thirty thousand words written. And a romance means she is in most of the scenes. 
Otherwise I like her. She is spunky, smart and strong. of course she is pretty, too. 
So I’m going back to the first scene and changing it. then all the rest.
Advice? some of my friends recommend I finish the story as if I’d done the rewrites, but my mind doesn’t work like that . Sigh. I need to get it done.
This work is the next in my Rhodes End Series.

Ancient Awakening 
by Barbara Edwards 
Buy Link:

Police Officer 'Mel' Petersen is the only one who believes a suspicious death is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her. Her neighbor Stephan Zoriak is a prime suspect. While working for a major pharmaceutical company, he is exposed to a dangerous organism that changed him. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help Mel find the truth when the deaths continue. In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find more death and continued distrust that make them wonder if love can defy death.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Come to the Fair: The Amazon of the Middle Ages by L. A. Kelley

People tend to think of the Middle Ages as a time of contention; city states and petty kingdoms constantly at war as rulers jockeyed for power. Despite fluctuating borders, people still need stuff and commerce was alive and well. At the medieval fair, buying and selling took place on a grand scale. The fair at Champagne was famous early on, but Britain, Germany, and other countries were equally well-attended.

Most fairs had origins as religious festivals. Crowds of pilgrims naturally gathered to pay homage to a particular saint and understandably might want a little nosh afterwards. Astute merchants and vendors saw a golden opportunity and jumped right in. The first rule of marketing: get your product out in front of buyers, and it helps if you have God spread the word. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris secured a fragment of the true cross in 1109 and became the center of a yearly June pilgrimage. It didn’t take long for booths to be set up between the areas of Montmartre and St. Denis. The fair became known as Lendit from the French word l’endit or assembly. The bishops had no objection as it brought more of the faithful to the cathedral.

Fairs weren’t only established around cathedrals; other buildings did nicely. Some were even founded by religious orders. One of the largest was established in 1036 by the Abbey of St. Vaast at Arras in Germany.  Clerics discovered not only the advantages of having goods and services for sale close at hand, but also the joy of taxes. Pheasants, meanwhile, discovered the joy of discovering loopholes in revenue laws. They staggered into Arras weighed down by bundles of goods on their backs because merchandise arriving on foot wasn’t taxed. Can’t carry all those pigs to market in a sack? Make sure to use a cart with an unshod horse. Shod horses were taxed at two deniers apiece.

As years passed and the popularity of fairs spread, temporary structures and itinerant merchants were replaced by fixed stalls and benches. The spread of commerce brought more money into circulation and merchants began to construct small shops, often with storerooms behind and living quarters above. It wasn’t uncommon for similar merchants to concentrate in a particular area; one street would be devoted to butchers, another to spice merchants, others to trades such as cloth, leather goods, or metalworking.

So what could you buy at one of these fairs? Everything your little medieval life needed. Fishmongers sold sturgeon, salmon, and salted herring, but if you lived at the coast you might wander down to your favorite stall and see if they had any fresh whale meat today. Food preservation was generally restricted to brining, salting, smoking, or drying so the fruits and vegetables were sold by the growing seasons. Cattle and pigs tended to be butchered in the fall after summer fattening, but chickens and eggs might be available year round. Honey, salt, oil, cheeses and a variety of wine and beer were also common purchases. Need to cook your foods? Visit the smithy who can hammer out some pots and pans. Planning to get married? Some stands carried specialty items such as delicate lace or fine embroidery. There was no such thing as off the rack shoes, everything was to order so pick out your cowhide from the cobbler and have him rustle up a nice pair of boots or use that new embroidered cloth for a fancy pair of slippers.

As the Middle Ages progressed, trade became increasing professional. Early merchants were from the lower class and used commerce to rise above the status of downtrodden peasant. Markets and trade expanded and so did the middle class. They grew not only in size, but also in economic power and began to demand more rights. Royalty wasn’t happy, but they were also dependent on trade and the taxes it brought to support their regimes. Eventually, the power of the monarchies slipped. And you thought civil war was necessary to bring about democracy. Nope, it only required shopping.

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She's no dummy and always uses unshod horses to tote her  books to the fair. Check out her Amazon Author page.


Monday, June 25, 2018

I Need A(n Alpha) Hero! By Nancy Gideon

While I was plotting with one of my writing chapter mates, Diana Stout, after a monthly meeting given by author Gina Conkle, we were hashing over our speaker’s comment about writing a powerful series by leaving the MOST powerful Alpha (or the Alpha’s Alpha!) for the final book (something I’m totally onboard with since my soon-to-be 15-book “By Moonlight” shapeshifter series is concluding with a return to Max Savoie), saving the best for last, so to speak for the strongest and most satisfying ending. While playing plots with her ongoing series, she asked my definition of an Alpha . . . and low and behold, I had my next PNR post (I love it when that happens!)

I confess, when it comes to heroes, for me, Alpha beats out Beta every time. Maybe it’s the primal need to find the strongest as your protector (even when you’re not doing a bad job of taking care of yourself!). Maybe it’s Darwinism and the Survival of the Fittest. Or maybe, as in my case, it’s just because they’re just so darn HOT! I don’t want a hero who braids my hair or does my taxes (well, maybe on occasion). I want a hero provider who is both strong and irresistibly delicious!

To me, an Alpha is an automatic leader both men and women look to immediately because of his silent strength. He's the thinker and then, most importantly, the doer without hesitation. He's that protector, a leader, a fixer - whether he wants to be or not. A reluctant Alpha is the highest on the sexy meter. He doesn't foolishly jump in, but when he speaks, everyone listens. Fools might poke him with a stick to get a reaction . . . then regret it. Things get done when he's ready, at his pace and he doesn't blink an eye at crossing lines - if there's cause. He's not careless or impatient. Think of a lion, sitting above the rest, watching, waiting, conserving time and energy for the right time to strike and then LOOK OUT. Clark Gable, John Wayne, Denzel Washington, Arnold and Sly, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Clive Owen – coolly charming, reserved, silent unless they have something to say. It’s not always the looks . . . it’s the charisma!

Sometimes, he’s the last one you’d expect to resort to violence. The vain and foolish ignore caution (you’ve seen them in every disaster movie!). A hero is a volcano that sits and waits, deceptively covered with puffy clouds. Maybe a few rumbles that no one pays much attention to because, hey, just a big, peaceful mountain . . . that gives little warning until, enough is enough,and then he blows.

In the Marvel Universe, while Star Lord is the Joker, the Black Panther, Thor (with short hair!), and Captain America are the King Alphas (I’m a Hawkeye gal, myself. I’d put Tony Stark in there, but he’s a bit of a narcissist). They’re powerful, but don’t need to brag about it, leaders who are sometimes reluctant outsiders. They don’t relish the weight of being in charge, and never take advantage of it. The old adage - Women want him and men want to be him - is a tribute to the Alpha. Weaker men are jealous and afraid of him, so they'd try to bring him down or humiliate him, but he brushes them off like flies once properly or unforgivably provoked. He has a soft spot for the frail and deserving, good causes and unwinnable battles, and that’s what melts the heroine’s (and the reader’s) heart. Think of those half-naked fireman or cowboy calendars where he’s cradling a baby animal. Instant meltdown. Nothing is sexier than the strong standing for the weak.

And that is the definition of an Alpha! Le sigh!

Who are your favorite Alphas from the screen or pages? Or are you a Beta girl?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nancy Gideon on the Web

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Summer Troll

by Francesca Quarto
"Ah, such a perfect day for the hunt, my dear!"
Old Lord Buckley was brimming with the excitement of a young boy, at the prospect of the fox hunt being prepared.  He was happily immersed in the organized confusion of the busy courtyard. 
The scruffy barn boys led the last two gleaming steeds from their stalls. Grooms were putting finishing touches on the tack of the skittish mounts. Their ears, flicking with the growing tension in the crowd, before the horn was blown.  They pranced, tightly bunched together on the cobblestone, sounding like a massing army. 
The head groom went about checking cinches and bits, readjusting saddles, especially for the few women who would ride with His Lordship's party.  Keeping their seat, while maintaining proper decorum, was important for the women in the ensuing, wild ride. 
The Lady of the Manor, Drusilla, Lady Buckley, stood at her husband's side, watching the frenetic activity swirling around her.  Her husband would look over at her from time to time, winking his pleasure at the coming hunt.  She smiled easily into his rheumy blue eyes, noting to herself how much like a country bumpkin he was at heart. One of his many endearing qualities.
Alfred, Lord Buckley, was as round as a barrel of the fine wines he so enjoyed.  His legs were more like stockinged broom sticks protruding from a melon by way of Harvest Day decoration. A mop of black hair, had long been supplanted by wisps of gray, decorously spread about and plastered with pomade, unfortunately giving his head the look of a newly hatched baby bird.
Drusilla glanced over at her husband, jumping from foot to foot in his anticipation.  The others in the party stood in small knots of watchers.  She knew they loved this type of outing, if not for the hunt, definitely for the gossip!
She married the Lordship a few months earlier, a twenty-year old beauty from the north.  Her father was a prosperous farmer and owner of a fine grain mill.  Drusilla, it was whispered, was a much sought-after beauty of that distant county, when his Lordship spotted her at a local market near his vast estates.
The gossip flew, when he brought her back to the Manor House after a whirlwind courtship and lightning-quick nuptials. 
While her golden hair and fine features were undeniably alluring to many males, the gentlemen of his acquaintance, acted alarmed at Buckley's precipitous marriage. At least, they pretended concern.
"She could only want his fortune," Lord Hadsome now clucked to the others standing at his elbow.  He had been closely observing the fine cut of Drusilla's figure in her riding dress and hat. 
"Oh, indeed, Sir Lawrence.  She's all the look of a hussy in silks," another of the hunting party snickered back. This was a younger man, who had lustful dreams of the lovely young bride and only a plain, drab wife, to act them out upon.
Drusilla noted the side-glances the men were giving her. Standing about in their perfectly tailored hunting costumes, looking down their patrician noses at the stable boys and grooms, or ignoring their existence altogether.
There were two other women beside herself that would follow the hunt. They huddled apart from the men and, pointedly, away from the object of their tittering chatter.
Drusilla remembered her reception upon her introduction to this closed society.  The men leered like a pack of slavering mongrels when she entered the drawing room of the Manor House.  Her new husband never noticed, as his attention was fastened on her lovely face, the love shinning from his pale eyes.
The so-called gentlemen and their ladies, offered their congratulations and best wishes to the Lord and his wife, but Drusilla felt the undercurrent of base desire from the men and suspicion and envy from the women.  She knew her life as the Lady of the Manor would present challenges and she needed help if she was to find happiness here.
Shortly before the invitations to the hunt were sent, Drusilla had her favorite horse, a burnished-coppered mare, with the delicate look of a racer, saddled for an unchaperoned ride. 
She always enjoyed the freedom of the open countryside and often rode out alone, for the sheer pleasure of her own company.
This day, however, her solitary excursion was abruptly interrupted when she approached a long wooden bridge, spanning a wide, fast flowing stream. 
The horse placed a hoof, than another, and unexpectedly, backed off the planks and onto the dirt road. No amount of encouragement from the rider would convince the mare to proceed over the bridge.
Drusilla, a fine horsewoman,understood that something had unsettled the beast.  She was curious, as nothing seemed amiss in the surrounding area.  Then she smelled it.  A sharp odor, riding the soft breezes.  At first she couldn't identify the deeply unpleasant smell, but being raised as she was on a farm, she finally recognized it as the stench of decay.
Something was lying dead nearby, and the horse was spooked by the foul smell.
She slipped gracefully off the saddle and stood, holding the reins while looking around.  The mare was restless to be gone from the area and she decided to walk her back toward the trees nearby and secure her there while she investigated. 
When she approached the bridge again, she heard a distinct sound of laughter coming from below the warping boards.
"Who hides beneath this bridge?  Show yourself to me at once!  I am Lady Buckley, your Lordship's wife!" she said as officiously as possible.
More chortling and then a deep voice.
"You are obviously not the old man's first wife, long gone from this realm.  Which means, you are both new to him and to his holdings.  I, on the other hand, am an old resident here and look upon no mere man as my lord, even one as affable as Sir Alfred."
"Why, so you are acquainted with my husband?  Come forward and identify yourself, since you must be another of his friends...a lord of the Realm, perhaps?"
There was a loud splash of water and before she could run away, a tall, well built being stood before her.
He had wide shoulders and muscled arms and legs and except for his gruesome visage, would be considered a worthy Adonis by any woman.
But his face, hanging like melted wax under a bush of reddish hair, would be the very image of every child's nightmare. 
Tar black eyes, deeply set under a broad, high ridged forehead, boldly studied the beautiful Drusilla.  For her part, it took all of her considerable courage to stand her ground under his frank gaze.  But she saw no threat within that open stare and let his eyes roam over her body without speaking until he seemed satisfied.
"You are indeed a young wife to an aging Lord Alfred, but I can sense you married him out of love of his kind nature and not a baser motive."
"I will confirm this much as true, but I must confess to surprise, at finding a..a.."
"Troll?  I believe that is the word you are searching for my Lady.  I have lived under Lord Alfred's very eye now, for many years.  He and I reached an understanding when he was a young gallant trying to fill his father's slippers.  I live in peace and provide him with certain entertainment from time to time.  The planned hunt for instance."
"You'll be with the hunt?" Drusilla asked, incredulous that one such as the Troll would be allowed to join in with the "beautiful people."
"I can change my look anytime I so desire and I often do, in order to perform small services for Lord Alfred.  A few days hence, I am to arrange a surprise for his vain and unfaithful friends."
She was shocked that even a Troll, saw her husbands crowd of hangers -on, for what they truly were.  A bunch of self-promoting opportunists, who mocked him behind his back. 
"When you ride through the woodlands in pursuit of the prey, the hounds baying and nipping at one another's haunches, the nags quarrelsome, as they whinny and rip at the earth for speed and place in the chase, I shall be preparing a unique experience for these bogus, bosom friends.  Your presence will make it all the more delightful to Lord Alfred!"
Without another word, the Troll glided like a cloud's shadow over the grass and reentered the darkness under the wooden slates of the bridge.  Drusilla was struck by the beauty of this creature as he turned away, and wondering at the same moment how the waters didn't freeze at the reflection of his face upon the surface.
She waited along with the others, most preening as they sat astride their horses, casually ignoring their host, sending the occasional leering glance her way.
You have a surprise waiting for you all, that shall wipe your face clean of that smirk, she thought with an inward smile.
The grooms moved off to the side, the head of the hunt held the brass horn to his mouth and blew with much gusto.  In a flash, the horses flanks were a blur of shine as they pushed off.  To Drusilla's surprise, Lord Alfred hung back, allowing the others to pass, leaving him to straggle behind the herd of flying legs.
"Dru my darling girl!  Shall we take a different route than the others?  The dogs are onto a scent, but I assure you, it's not the fox they seek that awaits them." 
He was chuckling at his private joke, but Drusilla was beginning to feel uneasy.
"My Lord husband, I have met the Troll living under the old bridge in the woodlands; a bridge the hunt must pass over."
"And so they must, my dear!  Follow me and we'll have a much better time than that pack of ninnies!"
Drusilla followed on her copper-colored mare, the gentle beast happy to be away from the aggressive hunters.  They moved on for twenty minutes when Drusilla saw another bridge looming just ahead.
"My Lord husband, shall we pass over this span to find the fox's den?"
"Why no my dear, not over, but under, to a new home and better life for one as lovely as you deserve."
Drusilla was dumbfounded as the portly Lord Alfred snatched her reins from her hands and pulled the mare, unresisting toward a deep gully near the water.  While this was the same stream, it was wider and deeper here and Drusilla became much alarmed as she could not swim if she needed to escape. 
Her husband was acting so strangely. Gone was the sweet and gentle demeanor she found comfortable and safe in her marriage to him.  He was more self-assured and commanding now.
They entered the gloom under the bridge and Drusilla asked "Why here, my Lord?"
A deep voice answered from the shadows, "Because this is where I live my dear. As soon as the hunters arrive, the fun shall begin!"
Drusilla sat rigidly upon the docile horse as it tried to crop the dead grasses scattered among the bones.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pacing, Pacing, Pacing... Fixing

My entire summer will be spent editing and revising 2 of my dragon shifter books for Entangled. First drafts are done, now it's time to make them good books and not just words on virtual paper. Lol.

One of the things I'm running up against in one of them is pacing. I didn't realize it was an issue until my first read-through after I finished the first draft.  It's hard to tell over the weeks/months I write the first draft how the pacing is going because I'm "reading" the book over such a long period of time. So I was surprised to find it needed help in this area. I feel like lots of things happen to move the plot forward, but the pacing is still bogged down. So I turned to my lists (I'm a major lister) for help. 

Here are some ways I analyze and adjust the pacing of my books...

Quick Read
One way to look for pacing problems is to do one fast read-through of the book. Pay attention to where things feel rushed and where thing slow down and you're tempted to flip ahead.

Understand the Key Events & Timing
What are the six or seven key events in your book and when should those happen in the course of the book to keep the reader going? You can go by instinct and stay simple with this, or you can subscribe to various beat-related techniques. Look into "Save the Cat" or workshops by the likes of Michael Hague or Larry Brooks.

Every Scene is Relevant
Look at every scene in the book and ask yourself if it's relevant to the story and moves the plot forward. Cut or fix anything that doesn't. Be ruthless.

Create Stakes/Time-Limits/Tension
An easy way to up the pace is to add more stakes or give the characters a time limit. This will make you as the writer write to their new pace, and the reader will feel it.

Passive vs. Active Scenes
Make a list of all the scenes in your book (not chapters, but scenes) and identify them as passive (mostly discussion or thinking) vs. active (snappy dialogue, action, new revelation, etc.). Look for large chunks of passive scenes in a row and see how you can squeeze in a more active scene or two to break them up.

Skip the Boring
If you're bored writing a section or reading it, likely your reader will be bored too. Sometimes that scene can be skipped altogether. If you can cover it in a few short sentences, then skip it. 

Scene Cuts & Temporary Cliffhangers
Break up scenes by cutting to a different scene or different POV which can change the dynamic. Even better? Incorporate a small cliffhanger in the scene you are cutting away from. If you do that, though, make sure the scene you cut to is equally compelling.

Scene & Chapter Hooks
End scenes and chapters with a hook, something that, if you were the reader, would make you want to continue reading, even if it's 3am and you have work tomorrow.

Chapter & Scene Length
Look at your chapter and scene length. Compare to similar genres or if it's a slow spot, consider breaking it up or shortening.

White Space
Look at how the page looks. Is there very little white space for long chunks? You might have too much description or introspection. Is there tons of white space? You might have too much dialogue with not enough information in between. 

Sentence Structure
Look at your sentence structure. Are most of your sentences short and choppy? Or longwinded with a lot of commas? Do they all start with the subject? Or do you mix it up? Aim for a good mix of sentence types.

Hint: Do a search for "He" and look for places where there are a ton (more than 3) grouped closely together. Consider revising a few to mix it up more. Do the same with "She."

Info Dumps & Overwriting
Look for long passages of information or descriptions that go on and on. If you can't say it in a few sentences or 1 paragraph without breaking it up with dialogue, action, or something else, you might be spending too much time on descriptions or information or introspection.

Author friends, what techniques do you use to help you with pacing problems? Finding new ways to approach my writing is one of my favorite things about this career. I will totally conquer this issue before the book goes to my editor!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Trends in Book Publishing by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

The most obvious questions in the mind of authors and publishers are always: who’s reading and what are they reading? Some might be surprised to find that nearly 73% of adults read a book or at least part of a book last year. What may be even more surprising is that the majority of readers are in the 18-29-year-old category (80% of them have read a book), and the 30-49-year-old category (71% have read a book), which means that millennials are the largest group of readers.  

Who’s publishing books?
It’s a great year for small press and indie publishers, as they again steal more of the market from the big traditional publishers (43% vs 34%). Gone are the days of mid-list authors. Not only are small presses able to fill niche markets, when traditional publishers are focused on strictly mass-market appeal, but small publishers are able to provide the opportunity for the next up and coming star authors at a time when the big publishers are only signing authors who already have their own fan base, like celebrities, politicians, and authors who are already best sellers.

What are they reading?
Though nonfiction books are dominating the market again this year, the largest fiction markets are still the young adult, with a fast-rising increase in fantasy and science fiction. Take a trip down memory lane and recall hot trending movies such as Divergent and Hunger Games, Twilight, City of Bones, and Beautiful Creatures. Angels, Demons, vampires and dystopian themes are still hot paranormal markets for young adult readers, but millennials, known for their tech-savvy ways, are also sparking new interest in science fiction and fantasy genres. Genre fiction is also seeing a resurgence in thriller and Whodunnit genres, as One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco illustrate. And wasn’t it Shakespeare who claimed all stories were just retellings? That must be why they’re trending now. Books like Cinder by Marissa Meyer and A Court of Thornes by Sarah J Maas are leading the way.

How are they reading it?
With so many readers owning notepads (50% of Americans), and phone screens getting larger so that reading on them is much more pleasant, eBooks are still selling, but digital sales seem to have stopped growing and paperback sales are again on the rise, with 20% more independent bookstores opening their doors, a welcome sight after so many large chain stores folded. Readers are stating that they like the feel, the smell and the look of actual books in hand. However, the biggest trend in book sales is not paperbacks, but audio. Audio sales have risen over 500% in the last year and show no signs of slowing down. Readers are becoming listeners, and state that with their busy lives audiobooks are more convenient. They also like the additional story-telling element of narrators who give the various characters unique voices. They listen when they drive, walk, exercise or even while they do chores or other work.

How are books reaching readers?
More and more authors are discovering that books direct to readers is not only a way to increase sales but a necessity.  Emailings are on the rise, more book clubs are popping up (the biggest being Amazon’s, but kobo and smashwords are also rising, as are groups on Goodreads—owned by Amazon) and social media interactions. Facebook and other venues are charging more for ads, Amazon is offering less to associates (once you’re number one, you don’t need to search for new readers), and though authors are able to demand more for eBooks without affecting volume, they need to continually reach new readers. Some authors are banding together to run contests and offer giveaways to get exposure to new readers, and small pubs offer the benefit of growing sales from one book’s PR to another. Smart authors realize that in this visual/audio age, everyone is exposed to videos. Book trailers, video author readings, and interviews are trending and are continuing to grow in popularity.

Visual Appeal
Good editing is now demanded by readers who are used to over a million eBooks that glut a market where shelf-life is now eternal. The visual appeal to set books apart extends beyond videos to the design of the covers themselves. If one great image is good, more is better, if one is to believe the trend of today’s collage covers. Also trending are 70s and 80s retro, and what is known as millennial pink, muted pinkish mauve with black or gray lettering. Bold, artsy lettering on minimalist backgrounds, original drawings, and fancy touches, such as metallic or cutout covers are also eye-catching.

Nothing replaces good writing, but new writers should understand that finishing the book is . . . only the beginning.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cowboys and Indians

Though none of the cowboy stories in our anthology The Cowboys of Clark’s Folly has any Native Americans, Texas was home to hundreds of tribes of American Indians. I’ll only name and discuss a few, living around the location in Texas where our fictional town, Clark’s Folly, would be.

The Apaches dominated almost all of West Texas and ranged over a wide area from Arkansas to Arizona. Two groups of Apaches, the Lipans and the Mescalaros, were of primary importance in Texas. Apaches were among the first Indians to learn to ride horses and lived a nomadic existence following the buffalo.
The Biloxis gave their name to the area around Biloxi, Mississippi, where they first encountered European explorers. They began to migrate westward in the 1760s to avoid white interference. By 1828, a group had settled along the Neches River in present-day Angelina County. The Biloxies became allies of the Cherokees and were caught up in the violence in 1839 that drove the Cherokees out of Texas. 
The Cherokees were one of the principal Indian nations of the southeastern United States. Wars, epidemics, and food shortages caused many Cherokees to migrate west to Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas in hopes of preserving their traditional way of life. Those who remained behind in the Southeast were eventually removed forcibly to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the incident known as the “Trail of Tears.”
Cherokees settled in Texas near the Red River. Pressed further south by American settlement, in 1820 about sixty families under Chief Bowl (Duwali) settled in Rusk County near the Caddos. As Americans settled that area, distrust grew between them and the Cherokees. Hoping to gain a legal title to their land, the Cherokees invested a great deal of energy in cultivating a relationship with Mexico. Hoping to protect this relationship, they remained neutral between Texas and Mexico during the Texas Revolution.
The Comanches dominated a vast area of North, Central, and West Texas. There were at least thirteen active bands of Comanches, with five playing prominent roles in Texas history. These unparalleled horsemen led a nomadic lifestyle following the buffalo. They controlled trade in produce, buffalo products, horses, and captives throughout their domain. In the 1700s, the Comanches made their presence known in Texas by warring with the Apaches and the Spanish. Fearing that they would lose Texas to the Comanches, the Spanish negotiated a peace treaty with them in 1785. When the Spanish were unable to keep their promises in trade goods and gifts, Comanche raiding against the Spanish resumed, with many of the stolen horses being traded to newly arrived Americans.
There is also mention of the Cheyenne and who could forget the Kickapoo Indians?

The Cowboys of Clarks Folly is an anthology of four stories of love and romance in the Lone Star State.  Interestingly enough, three of the authors are from Georiga—MM Mayfield, MJ Flournoy and Carol Shaughnessy.  I’m a transplanted Texan, originally from South Carolina.  The settings are interesting seen from different views of the landscape of Texas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Writing in Different Genres by Diane Burton

This blog is devoted to those who enjoy reading and writing paranormal romance. Paranormal is one of those genres that can include so much. Futuristic romance (now called science fiction romance) is a part of paranormal. So are vampires, ghosts, shifters, angels, demons, reapers, dragons, and many more. The paranormal world encompasses so much.

I’ve made no bones about how much I love science fiction romance. It’s a far-reaching glimpse into the future. It gives me hope for humankind. We will get to other planets, we will reach stars (and their planets) that are only specks in our sky. Maybe not in my lifetime, possibly in my grandchildren’s.

Science fiction romance give me so much flexibility as an author. I can devise my own worlds. My characters don’t have to be human or come from Earth. Faster-than-lightspeed (FTL) is possible. Wormholes allow us to skip over the universe.

As much as I love reading and writing science fiction romance, my reading tastes are eclectic. I love the here and now, too. Mysteries, romantic suspense, military adventures, along with the usual paranormal romances. My mind is a catchall for varied ideas. If I enjoy reading other genres, why not write them?

When I first started writing, I wrote romances. With each attempt, I discovered that I included a mystery, action, an adventure, something more than a romance. The more I wrote, the more I stretched my creativity. And that was exciting. Stories with a contemporary setting meant not having to make up a whole new world. I could take certain things for granted—like not having to let the reader know what cell phones and cars are. Even more fun is setting stories where I live (or have lived).

I love reading books set in places I’ve visited or where I’ve lived. Instead of imagining scenes, I can recall the last time I saw that beach, mountain, shop. Since my husband’s job took us around the Midwest and we love to travel, I can easily visualize stories in set in Chicago, Detroit, Phoenix, Colorado, Missouri, Florida . . . I think you get the picture. 😊

My mystery series (the Alex O’Hara Novels) take place in a fictional resort town similar to where I live along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It’s been fun including the things I love most about living near a beach, and also including those less than desirable reasons (like extra traffic and long waits at restaurants.

Years ago, I wrote a romantic suspense, One Red Shoe, starts in Iowa, goes to New York City, and returns to Iowa via Michigan. That was quite a road trip. LOL My upcoming release takes place in and around Grand Rapids (Michigan’s second largest city). Numbers Never Lie is a romantic suspense with action and adventure, what I include in every story I write. And, of course, a romance.

I love exploring different genres, setting stories in the present as well as the future, in places I’ve been or wish I could travel to. My stories will all include action, adventure, and some romance. I will always return to space and science fiction romance.

Do you read different genres? Do you write in different genres?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Guest Author Veronica Scott Talks Scifi Romance

By Veronica Scott

Thanks for having me as your guest today! I’m very nostalgic returning for a visit at Paranormal Romantics since I spent a couple of fun years blogging here earlier in my career.

I always like to include an element of the ‘inexplicable’ in my science fiction, something that my hard headed military heroes or the other human characters can’t explain but accept when they encounter it. I’ve had reviewers refer to it as my element of mysticism. I just know that part of me craves a universe where all things cannot be known.

 For the Badari Warriors series, which deals with genetically engineered soldiers created by an alien race to fight my Sectors civilization, there are various mysteries. The Badari feel they have ancestral memory, passed down from the race originally used by the evil Khagrish scientists to be the template for, and DNA donors to, this twisted science project.

One of the beliefs the Badari hold especially tightly is that their people worship the Great Mother, a benevolent, nature-based goddess. She often manifests her presence in dreams. The excerpt below the blurb is one such dream episode.

The blurb:  Taura Dancer has been pushed to her limits by alien torturers known as the Khagrish and is ready to die when suddenly the lab where she’s held as a prisoner is taken down by an armed force of soldiers.
The man who rescues her from a burning cell block is Jadrian of the Badari, a genetically engineered alien warrior with as many reasons to hate the Khagrish as Taura has. This set of shared past experiences and the circumstances of her rescue create an unusual bond between them.

Safe in the hidden base where Jadrian and his pack take her, Taura struggles to regain her lost memories and overcome constant flashbacks during which she lashes out at all who come near. Only Jadrian can recall her from the abyss of her visions and hallucinations.

As the war against the Khagrish continues, it becomes increasingly critical to find out who she really is and how she can help in the fight. Until she can control her terrors and trust her own impulses, Taura’s too afraid to pursue the promise of happiness a life with Jadrian as her mate might offer.

When he’s captured by the dreaded enemy, will she step forward to help save him, or will she remain a prisoner of her past?

This is the third book in a new scifi romance series and each novel has a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine, not a cliffhanger. Some overarching issues do remain unresolved in each book since this is an ongoing series but romance always wins the day in my novels!

The excerpt:
Being in her own bed in the familiar cave was a balm to her nerves after the tumultuous events of the day and Taura soon fell asleep, tumbling into a dream. She stood in the middle of an endless grassy plain, surrounded by wildflowers. Birds of all colors flew overhead, singing and chirping with abandon. Feeling something was missing, she put her hand to her neck and realized Jadrian’s amulet was gone. Spinning in a slow circle, she tried to figure out which direction she’d come from, so she could retrace her steps in an effort to find the precious necklace.  In the distance a grove of beautiful, tall trees grew in a perfect circle. She wandered in the direction of the trees, deciding that was as good a choice as any and wanting to see the glade enclosed by the sturdy sentinels. In the blink of an eye, Taura found herself walking past the first tree, strolling in the welcome shade and heading for the sunlit opening ahead. Now a sense of urgency overtook her and she walked faster through the ring of trees. As she entered the clear area at the heart of the grove she caught a glimpse of a woman leaving. Taura only saw her long white hair and the edge of an elaborately embroidered lavender gown.

“Hello? Wait!” She hastened toward the spot where the other had exited but as she approached the trees, she became confused and skidded to a halt. There was no path through the grove she could see. Immense trunks blocked her progress and no matter how she maneuvered or where she stepped, Taura was unable to leave the sunlit central area to follow whoever had been waiting here.

Baffled and frustrated, she retraced her path to the center of the grassy area and perched on a smooth boulder, which was shaped as if to be used as a bench. Why am I here?

There was no answer but as she glanced at the grass surrounding her seat, a flash of bright blue drew her attention. Rising, she plucked the amulet she’d been seeking from the greenery and placed the black leather thong around her neck with a sigh of relief. The stone was cool to her touch, reassuring in its unchanging appearance.

When she raised her eyes to the trees again, she inhaled sharply. Jadrian stood there, smiling at her. She stretched her hands out to him and took a step—
And sat up in the bed, surrounded the soft glow of the nightlight and the sparkling mineral accents in the rough stone walls. A bit disoriented, Taura stretched and glanced around the chamber. At least it was a peaceful dream.

A few minutes later, she strolled out of the bedroom area, more rested than she’d been in months. Jadrian was making tea over the fire, and he glanced up at her approach. “A smooth night then, finally? No dreams?”

Taking the steaming mug from him, she settled on her chair and leaned against the cushion. “No bad dreams anyway. The last one I had was lovely.” Since he showed more than polite interest, she described her dream to him in detail right through to the end, when he’d appeared in her vision. Taura chuckled a bit self-consciously.  Dreams never made much sense when the scenes were recited to another person. “And then I woke up.” 

Surprised by his silence, she glanced across the fire at him. Jadrian’s eyes were wide and glowing with golden fire. He’d risen to his feet. Afraid she’d upset him without realizing it, she set her cup on the nearby rock serving as a table and reached out to him. “What? It was a good dream, I swear.”

Buy Links:  Amazon    iBooks   B&N    Kobo      Google

Author Bio and Links:
USA Today Best Selling Author
“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog
 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Book one of the series, AYDARR, is currently on sale for $.99!
Amazon      B&N  Kobo     iBooks