Freebie Friday: Alexandra’s Legacy

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Six Sentence Sunday #4

Six sentences from Let Me lie.

“What do you have against vampires?”
“It’s not personal,” Brannon answered without turning away from his computer.
“Then why do you kill them without a trial?”
“They’re a walking disease. If we let them live they’d infect the whole damn planet.” He shrugged as though damning all my kind to eternal suffering was nothing.

Six Sentence Sunday #3

Another six sentences from Let Me Lie.

“What Brannon doesn’t know…” I left the rest unsaid, because we both knew if Brannon ever found out, he’d be really hurt, right before he hurt me. Brannon didn’t take betrayal in any form, and that’s exactly what my existence was to him. A betrayal. I should have never taken that job, should have never let myself that close to him.  Let him get that close to me.

Michael laughed and sauntered towards me. He pushed me against the wall a little too roughly for foreplay, but that was alright. I’d show him rough.

Written Right Wednesdays: Alpha & Omega

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Novellas are so rarely done right. They either have too much going on or not enough. When novella’s go wrong the characters are lifeless, the plot is none existent, and the relationships feel forced. To avoid this, writers must go about writing a short story in the same way they would write a full length novel. There needs to be rising action, climax, and falling action. There should be surprises and originality, not just sex. Sex is good, even in abundant amounts, but not when the sex scenes feel forced and pointless. It must feel relevant to the plot, and natural for the characters to behave in such a manner.

Today, I’m showcasing Patricia Briggs’ novella, Alpha & Omega. Although, this lacks the steamy scenes we all love, it’s a good example of how to pace and plot your novellas. Even though this is a short story it feels complete and realistic (for PRN and UF, anyway).

She drove well, if a little overcautiously — which trait he didn’t mind at all, though it didn’t stop him from bracing one hand against the dash of the rental. She hadn’t said anything when he told her to drive them to her apartment, though he hadn’t missed the dismay she felt.

He could have told her that his father had instructed him to keep her alive if he could — and to do that he had to stick close. He didn’t want to scare her any more than she already was. He could have told her that he had no intention of bedding her — but he tried not to lie. Not even to himself. So he stayed silent.

As she drove down them down the expressway in the rented SUV, his wolf-brother had gone from the killing edge caused by the crowded airplane to a relaxed contentment Charles had never felt before. The two other Omega wolves he’d met in his long lifetime had done something similar to him, but not to this extent.

This must be what it was like to be fully human.

The anger and the hunter’s wariness that the wolf always held was only a faint memory, leaving behind only the determination to take this one to mate — Charles had never felt anything like that either.

She was pretty enough — though he’d like to feed her up and soften the stiff wariness in her shoulders. The wolf wanted to bed her and claim her as his own. Being of a more cautious nature than his wolf, he would wait until he knew her a little better before deciding to court her.

“My apartment isn’t much,” she said in an obvious effort to break the silence. The small rasp in her voice told him that her throat was dry.

She was frightened of him. Being his father’s chosen executioner, he was used to being feared, though he’d never enjoyed it.

He leaned against the door to give her a little more space and looked out at the city lights so she’d feel safe stealing a few glances at him if she wanted to. He’d been quiet, hoping she would get used to him, but he thought now that might have been a mistake.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I am not fussy. Whatever you apartment is like, it is doubtless more civilized than the Indian lodge I grew up in.”

“An Indian lodge?”

“I’m a little older than I look,” he said, smiling a little. “Two hundred years ago, an Indian lodge was pretty fancy housing in Montana.” Like most old wolves he didn’t like talking about the past, but, he found he’d do worse than that to set her at ease.

“I’d forgotten you might be older than you look,” she said apologetically. She’d seen the smile, he thought, because the level of her fear dropped appreciably. “There aren’t any older wolves in the pack here.”

“A few,” he disagreed with her as he noted that she said “the pack” not “my pack”. Leo was seventy or eighty, and his wife was a lot older than that — old enough that they should have appreciated the gift of an Omega instead of allowing her to be reduced to this abased child who cringed whenever he looked at her too long. “It can be difficult to tell how old a wolf is. Most of us don’t talk about it. It’s hard enough adjusting without chatting incessantly about the old days.”

She didn’t reply, and he looked for something else they could talk about. Conversation wasn’t his forte, he left that to his father and his brother who both had clever tongues.

“What tribe are you from?” she asked before he found a topic. “I don’t know a lot about the Montana tribes.”

“My mother was Salish,” he said. “Of the Flathead tribe.” She snuck a quick look at his perfectly normal forehead. Ah, he thought, relieved, there was a good story he could tell her. “Do you know how the Flatheads got their name?”

She shook her head. Her face so solemn he was tempted to make something up to tease her. But she didn’t know him well enough for that, so he told her the truth.

“Many of the Indian tribes in the Columbia Basin, mostly other Salish peoples, used to flatten the foreheads of their infants — the Flatheads were among the few tribes that did not.”

“So why are they the ones called Flatheads?” she asked.

“Because the other tribes weren’t trying to alter their foreheads, but to give themselves a peak at the top of their heads. Since the Flatheads did not, the other tribes called us “flat heads”. It wasn’t a compliment.”

The scent of her fear faded further as she followed his story.

“We were the ugly, barbarian cousins, you see.” He laughed. “Ironically, the white trappers misunderstood the name. We were infamous for a long time for a practice we didn’t follow. So the white men, like our cousins, thought we were barbarians.”

“You said your mother was Salish,” she said. “So the Marrok isn’t Native American?”

He shook his head. “Father is a Welshman. He came over and hunted furs in the days of the fur trappers and stayed because he fell in love with the scent of pine and snow.” His father put it just that way. Charles found himself smiling again, a real smile this time and felt her relax further — and his face didn’t hurt at all. He’d have to call his brother, Samuel, and tell him

that he’d finally learned that his face wouldn’t crack if he smiled. All it had taken to teach him was an Omega werewolf.

She turned into an alley and pulled into a small parking lot behind one of the ubiquitous four story brick apartment buildings that filled the older suburbs of this part of town.

“Which city are we in?” he asked.

“Oak Park,” she said. “Home of Frank Lloyd Wright, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Scorci’s.”

“Scorci’s?”

She nodded her head and hopped out of the car. “The best Italian restaurant in Chicago and my current place of employment.”

Ah. That’s why she smelled of garlic.

“So your opinion is unbiased?” He slid out of the car with a feeling of relief. His brother made fun of his dislike of cars since even a bad accident was unlikely to kill him. But Charles wasn’t worried about dying — it was just that cars went too fast. He couldn’t get a feel for land they passed through. And if he felt like dozing a bit as he traveled, they couldn’t follow the trail on their own. He preferred horses.

After he got his suitcase out of the back, Anna locked the car with the key fob. The car honked once, making him jump and he gave the car an irritated look. When he turned back, Anna was staring hard at the ground.

The anger that being in her presence had dissipated surged back full force at the strength of her fear. Someone had really done a number on her.

“Sorry,” she whispered. If she’d been in wolf form she’d have been cowering with her tail tucked beneath her.

“For what?” he asked, unable to banish the rage that sent his voice down an octave. “Because I’m jumpy around cars? Not your fault.”

He was going to have to be careful this time he realized as he tried to pull the wolf back under control. Usually when his father sent him out to deal with trouble, he could do it coldly. But with an Omega wolf around, one that he found himself responding to on several different levels, he was going to have to hold tight to his temper.

“Anna,” he said, fully in control again. “I am my father’s hitman. It is my job as his second. But that doesn’t mean that I take pleasure in it. I am not going to hurt you, my word on it.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, clearly not believing him.

He reminded himself that a man’s word didn’t count for much in this modern day. It helped his control that he scented as much anger on her as fear — she hadn’t been completely broken.

He decided that further attempts to reassure her were likely to do the opposite. She would have to learn to accept that he was a man of his word. In the meantime he would give her something to think about.

“Besides,” he told her gently, “my wolf is more interested in courting you than in asserting his dominance.”

He walked passed her before he smiled at the way her fear and anger had disappeared, replaced by shock . . . and something that might have been the beginning of interest.

Dangerous Curves

Draumr Publishing deserves a pat on the back for their Dangerous Curves line, featuring beautiful big women as their heroines. These stories do not focus on women losing weight to gain acceptance or to win the heroes attention, but rather on big women being loved for who they are. Dangerous Curves sells sub-genres of romance including, but not limited to: erotica, paranormal, contemporary, chick lit,  lesbian, adventure, science fiction, historical, fantasy, suspense and horror. It’s about time a publisher realized that not all women are built the same, and neither are all heroines. Big is beautiful, too.

What truly impresses me is that Draumr is accepting genres outside of the normal “humorous” take on curvaceous romance. I like that the book can have a Gothic or suspenseful atmosphere. It’s books like these that will help beat stereotyping, and build the average woman’s self-esteem.

Draumr Publishing is actively seeking stories for this imprint. For more information on the Dangerous Curves imprint, and other themed submissions, check out my page, Open Call For Submissions.

Six Sentence Sunday #2

This Six Sentence Sunday’s excerpt is from my current WIP, Let Me Lie.

“The logical part of my brain knew he couldn’t scent the vampire in me, but my nerves didn’t know that. My survival instincts had already decided in favor of flight but the predator had zeroed in, and any movement would be a signal that I was up for the chase. Escape was out the question, but I could distract him. He might be were, but he was still a man.

“It’s Burberry,” I whispered, looking up at him through my eyelashes.

His lazy hold became rigid, and he asked me, with no small amount of suspicion, “Burberry?””

Alpha Male Monday: Adam Hauptman

Adam Hauptman is alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack. He has a strict moral code, and a hot-temper. Anyone who knows him knows where he stands on any issue, and how he will react to a threat. Adam is loyal, brave, and a complete control freak.

Species: Werewolf
Occupation: Owns a security company
Weaknesses: His daughter, Jesse, and a hot temper
Special Qualities:immortal, ex-military, raised in the south, and he’s fourth in line to become Marrok (the lead alpha position).

 

 

I am eternally indebted to Patricia Briggs for brings me the Mercy Thompson Series, and if you haven’t read it yet, shame on you! It’s wonderful. Adams great, but Mercy is better. She’s my favorite heroine of all time. She’s not whinny or overly feministic. She has that balance.

The Blurb

It’s sounds like a bad horror film, and if you’ve ever written you’ve one, then you know that’s not such a bad comparison. Blurbs are hard work. You have to sum up the concept of the plot, introduce the characters, and engage your readers in two paragraphs or less.  It’s enough to make any writer consider a career change. I wish I knew of some secret formula to make writing blurbs easy, but there just isn’t one. The best advice I can give you is to familiarize yourself with as many blurbs as possible. Writing is a “watch and learn” process, so browse your local bookstore and pay close attention to the blurbs. Which ones catch your attention? Why? Which ones didn’t?

A blurb that caught my attention today was Vivian Arend’s Black Gold. It’s short, funny, and intriguing.

Their wolves are howling at the moon. Their human halves are on different planets.

Takhini Wolves, Book 1

Lone wolf Shaun Stevens’s automatic response to the words “happily ever after”? Kill me now. Yet with all his friends settling down he’s begun to think there may actually be something to this love-and-roses crap.

One thing’s for sure: his dream mate will have to out-cuss, out-spit and out-hike him. So he never expected the one to push his forever button would be a blue-blooded Southern debutante with a voice as dark and velvety as her skin.

When Gemmita Jacobs steps off the plane in Whitehorse, Yukon, it’s about more than her caribou research project. It’s her declaration of independence from an overprotected upbringing. Except there’s something in the air she can’t quite define—something that unexpectedly rouses her mating instincts.

Moments after their eyes lock, the deed is done—and done thoroughly. When the pheromone dust settles, though, all the reasons they don’t belong together become painfully clear.

It’s enough to make a wolf learn a whole new set of cuss words…


Product Warnings

Two strong wolves getting exactly what they deserve. Includes wilderness nookie, shifters being naughty in public places, the Midnight Sun as a canopy for seduction and grizzly shifters on the loose. Oh, and don’t forget the sarcasm.

Attention Romance Writers

Breaking into the romance market seems impossible at times. There are so many wonderful, published authors that it feels like there is no room for newbies, especially those of us who are unagented. Well, I have good news for you!

There a few online/small press publishers looking for manuscripts from writers like me and you. Anything from full length novels to fun-sized novellas, are accepted regardless of your credentials. No, this probably isn’t your shot at becoming the next New York Times Best Selling Author, but it is the foundation. Any previous publications look good in your query letter, and having something like this on your résumé just might make the difference to that agent you’ve been dying to snag.

So check out my Open Call for Submissions page, and see if there is anything there that interests you. I’ll update this page monthly for those of you who are interested. Also, I’m compiling a list of romance publishers and their criteria. I plan to have that page published July 10, 2011.

Drink Deep Excerpt

Chloe Neill Has posted the first two chapters of Drink Deep, and Ethan has made another ghost appearance. All I’ll say is, Neill better bring him back permanently, and soon, or I’m giving up the series for good. I like Jonah, but he’s nothing when compared to Ethan. Clink here to read excerpt.

Panthers

If you love paranormal romance, then you’ve probably been bitten by the shifter bug. Who isn’t drawn to a man or woman in touch with their primal side? We’ve all been exposed to werewolves, but my first real experience with a werecat of any kind was with Sookie Stackhouse in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series. Crystal Norris is refered to as a werepanther and ignorant as I was, I blindly accepted this without question.

Recently, I decided to write a shifter romance and thought the elusive black panther would be a great choice for my hero. I have many faults, but the one thing I pride myself on is my willingness to do research before I commit to any idea–the information I gather isn’t always right, mind you, but I do put forth the effort.  I was surprised to learn that a panther is not a specific species of feline, but rather a broad term usually used to describe one of the four “big cats” of the Panthera genus: leopard, jaguar, tiger, and lion. All four are well known for their ability to roar, which makes them distinctive among felines.

Black and White Panthers are melanistic, leucistic, or albinistic felines. Their unique coloring is a resolute of genetic mutation. Many scientists believe that such mutations are a resolute of climate and/or other geographical factors.

Written Right Wednesday: Dead to the World

True blood premiered Sunday, June 26, and I missed it. We don’t have HBO here because no one in this house is a big fan of television. It’s hard to sign a twelve month agreement for channels I’ll only watch once per week for three months. However, True blood is worth it, so today I threw my frugal common sense out the window. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to watch the first episode of True Blood and I’m ecstatic!

In honor of the True Blood season four premiere, I thought we’d discuss Charlaine Harris’ Dead To the World. In my opinion, it was the best book in the entire series (so far ;)). One of the things I admire about Harris’ writing is her ability to use the first-person point-of-view without using “I” in every sentence. It’s a skill very few writers have and as we can all see, it pays off. Just imagine what Mrs. Harris’ bank account looks like.

Moreover, I love the originality of Harris’ characters. They all have serious character flaws that are realistic and funny, at the same time. You have to admire an author that is willing to make her heroine hot-tempered and prudish, while having a hero who wears red bikini underwear and admittedly gets on the heroine’s nerves.

Below is an excerpt of an excerpt of Dead to the World:

Under the overhead light in the kitchen, Eric looked pretty pitiful. His bare
feet were bleeding, which I hadn’t noticed before. “Oh, Eric,” I said sadly, and
got a pan out from the cabinet, and started the hot water to running in the
sink. He’d heal real quick, like vampires do, but I couldn’t help but wash him
clean. The blue jeans were filthy around the hem. “Pull ’em off,” I said,
knowing they’d just get wet if I soaked his feet while he was dressed.

With not a hint of a leer or any other indication that he was enjoying this
development, Eric shimmied out of the jeans. I tossed them onto the back porch
to wash in the morning, trying not to gape at my guest, who was now clad in
underwear that was definitely over-the-top, a bright red bikini style whose
stretchy quality was definitely being tested. Okay, another big surprise. I’d
seen Eric’s underwear only once before—which was once more than I ought to
have—and he’d been a silk boxers guy. Did men change styles like that?

Without preening, and without comment, the vampire rewrapped his white body
in the afghan. Hmmm. I was now convinced he wasn’t himself, as no other evidence
could have convinced me. Eric was way over six feet of pure magnificence (if a
marble white magnificence), and he well knew it.

I pointed to one of the straight-back chairs at the kitchen table.
Obediently, he pulled it out and sat. I crouched to put the pan on the floor,
and I gently guided his big feet into the water. Eric groaned as the warmth
touched his skin. I guess that even a vampire could feel the contrast. I got a
clean rag from under the sink and some liquid soap, and I washed his feet. I
took my time, because I was trying to think what to do next.

“You were out in the night,” he observed, in a tentative sort of way.

“I was coming home from work, as you can see from my clothes.” I was wearing
our winter uniform, a long-sleeved white boat-neck T-shirt with “Merlotte’s Bar”
embroidered over the left breast and worn tucked into black slacks.

“Women shouldn’t be out alone this late at night,” he said disapprovingly.

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, women are more liable to be overwhelmed by an attack than men, so they
should be more protected—”

“No, I didn’t mean literally. I meant, I agree. You’re preaching to the
choir. I didn’t want to be working this late at night.”

“Then why were you out?”

“I need the money,” I said, wiping my hand and pulling the roll of bills out
of my pocket and dropping it on the table while I was thinking about it. “I got
this house to maintain, my car is old, and I have taxes and insurance to pay.
Like everyone else,” I added, in case he thought I was complaining unduly. I
hated to poor-mouth, but he’d asked.

“Is there no man in your family?”

Every now and then, their ages do show. “I have a brother. I can’t remember
if you’ve ever met Jason.” A cut on his left foot looked especially bad. I put
some more hot water into the basin to warm the remainder. Then I tried to get
all the dirt out. He winced as I gently rubbed the washcloth over the margins of
the wound. The smaller cuts and bruises seemed to be fading even as I watched.
The hot water heater came on behind me, the familiar sound somehow reassuring.

“Your brother permits you to do this working?”

I tried to imagine Jason’s face when I told him that I expected him to
support me for the rest of my life because I was a woman and shouldn’t work
outside the home. “Oh, for goodness sake, Eric.” I looked up at him, scowling.
“Jason’s got his own problems.” Like being chronically selfish and a true
tomcat.

Kisri

Cover art can make or break the sales of a book. Don’t judge a book by its cover may be good advice, but it isn’t always followed. I’m not ashamed to say I won’t pick up a book with a poorly designed cover unless someone recommends it to me. We live in a competitive society. It is no longer enough to have a well written story with a fantastic blurb. Your book has to have sex appeal. To draw in the younger generation, it has to appease all the senses, especially sight.

While you’re busy drafting your masterpiece, keep an eye out for covers that impress you and the ones that don’t. It might not help you now, but when you do get published and your editor sends the artwork for your book, you’ll be able to look it over with a critical eye. Remember that the publishing process is all about give and take, and if you see a correction that needs to be made don’t be afraid to respectfully request it. This is a business, and like you, publishers want to sell as many books they can. Requesting a cover edit is much like your editor requesting a copy edit, it’s in everyone’s best interest, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

My Can’t Resist Cover for this week is Moira Rogers’ novella, Kisri.