Blog Updates · Personal · Tempting Eternity · Writing

The Real Problem

I don’t think I have to point out the fact that it’s been quite a while since I posted here, though I also don’t think anyone’s too surprised! I haven’t been around in quite a while, even before my last post, and there’s a good reason for it. So I’m not going to beat around the bush getting to it, and I think the bottom line is that my personal life is in a state of upheaval.

With that said, I think I should start this off by explaining that the troubles I’m having are actually pretty hard to articulate. I feel as if I owe some people an explanation, but on the same token, I’m a fairly private person. I don’t really like going into details over matters in my personal life, and sadly, the upheaval I’ve mentioned is pretty much related to nothing but personal matters.

So the best question I have to ask myself is where to start, and the best answer is to say that I’m not entirely well. At present, I’m in the process of recovery, or at least, that’s the only way I can think of to describe it.

But what am I recovering from? Well, I’ll get to that in a second. First, I need to apologize to everyone about the delay on Tempting Eternity. I postponed it for publishing back in August, and thought I’d be able to finish it by the end of the year. Sadly, that doesn’t seem likely any longer, and I’m just getting to a point where I can accept my failure to produce results sooner.

I’m an extremely stubborn person, after all, and I pushed myself to write as hard as I resisted accepting defeat. A few years back, I’d set a goal for myself to write at least two books within a year, which I think is an acceptable goal all things considered. I love writing, I love creating my worlds, and I adore hearing people say they were swept up in one of my books. I feel I owe it to those people to continue producing stories as well, and not simply because they enjoyed the books, but also because a lot of people need them.

Still, there are some things I owe to myself as well, and I can’t ignore those things anymore than someone can stop eating–and that, I do believe, is where this all begins.

So I’ll keep things simple, and take us back to July when I made the decision to quit smoking. I can’t entirely say that’s exactly where everything began, but it’s had such a large role in what’s going on that I haven’t been able to identify any other source. With that said, I think anyone would tell you that quitting smoking is certainly a step in the right direction! I even mentioned I was on the verge of quitting in my last post which was actually on my birthday, about 6 days after I smoked my last cigarette (and just so you know, I haven’t smoked since).

Until then, I’d been a smoker for 19 years, and was a heavy smoker for a good deal of that time. I could easily smoke two packs a day, if not a little more truth be told, so yeah, one might say I was dedicated to the habit. But anyone who knows me would also tell you that picking up the habit from the start had become one of my greatest regrets. I was 17 years old and barely two months out of high school when I first lit up, and while you may read this and think “Oh, she started smoking and then she quit, this isn’t such a huge deal,” I do believe smoking had a much larger impact on my life than anyone would guess at.

And this is where things get incredibly hard for me to articulate.

I honestly don’t know where to begin outside of throwing out the fact that I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression as well as generalized anxiety disorder. So it’s fairly obvious why this is so difficult for me to talk about. Anyone who suffers from mental illness in any capacity is reluctant to speak of it because of the stigmas placed on mental disorders. Most people don’t understand it because they don’t have to live with it, so when you tell them, “I had to flip the light switch five times before I left the room,” they typically tend think you’re just crazy.

Now, here comes the hard part. I’ve dealt with mental illness since I was 7 years old, and I won’t go into detail over some of the issues I’ve had, but I will say things became much more difficult to deal with after I turned 18. Ever since, it always felt like I was struggling harder than before, and the reasons why eluded me. Maybe getting older was the culprit, or perhaps my mental illness was simply severe, and I had to learn to cope. Whatever the case, it wasn’t until I made the decision to quit smoking that I realized my choice to start could’ve been why.

After all, cigarettes contain more than just nicotine. If you research it, you’ll find that cigarette smoke also delivers over 7,000 chemicals into your body, and there’s evidence that those chemicals can exacerbate mental illness, which is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. So introducing the different chemicals from cigarettes could certainly have an impact on those imbalances.

Sadly, there hasn’t been much research done into the matter judging by what I could find in searches, but I honestly don’t need searches to prove that this is, at least in part, what’s happened to me.

I can tell just by the way I feel, and the things I’ve experienced now versus then.

I’ve been off of cigarettes for just a little over three months now, and the impact it’s had on me has been pretty profound. I can breathe more easily, I don’t cough nearly as much as I used to, my skin feels softer, my hair stays cleaner longer, and I can smell/taste things again. But those are the physical changes, and there’s certainly been a shift to my moods. I’ve had a few episodes of anxiety for the first time since I was 18-19 years old, and though they weren’t severe, they were certainly reminiscent of what I went through back then.

Sadly, this has caused an upheaval that’s put a damper on my ability to focus on larger tasks. Even writing this post out feels like a huge chore I’ll never be able to accomplish, and as for writing a 100k word manuscript like Tempting Eternity?

Yeeeah, good luck? =\

So I’ve found myself in recent months spending most of my time watching youtube videos, shows, entire series, and so on, because they don’t require as much focus as writing. I’d peck out a few sentences in between bouts of playing games like The Sims 3, all while wondering when I’ll be able to get back to doing what I love most. There have been times where I thought I should just give up because maybe the reason I couldn’t get myself to write anything substantial is that I’ve simply lost interest.

But if so, why do I still long to finish my story?

The answer is simple; I haven’t lost interest, I’ve simply lost my footing. I’m in the process of recovering from nearly 2 decades worth of, well, poison, and it’s going to take some time before I can stand on my own two feet again. When I posted back in August, it was all about stopping the habit of smoking. Now, it’s about letting the pieces fall back into place, and finding myself again through it all.

So though I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, I do know I’ve been pretending for these past few months that this is just a hiccup when it’s actually a little more serious, and I’m tired of it. I’m not going to pretend anymore, and I’m not going to act as if I’ll be getting my ninth book out by next month, because it’s simply not going to happen. Right now, I need to take care of myself, and if that means I only write down a few sentences at a time everyday, then so be it.

The good thing about this, however, is that it’s allowed me to step back and really examine where I am as a writer, which is to say no where special. I’ve gathered a few readers that I’m endlessly grateful for, and I hope you’ll all stick around as I work to get Tempting Eternity on the shelf so to speak (because I can fucking promise you it’s going to happen!). But I do need to cut out the parts of this that aren’t working, and one of those parts happens to be this blog.

I’ve run this blog for several years now, and while it serves a purpose for me in making announcements and so on, it’s not entirely convenient, nor does it have a huge following, and I certainly don’t have the time to go out and try to gather more. I’m more active on tumblr and facebook than I am here anyway, and in fact, my website has a blog, but I haven’t used it because I’ve been to busy making posts on this one. Now, with that said, I have no plans of shutting this blog down, never fear! But I’m also not going to be entirely active here anymore (saying I was from the start!).

As for the rest, I’ll be doing what I usually do, and I’m certainly not giving up on my writing. At present I’m feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and completely out of place. But those feelings will fade over time, and I’ll be ready to continue on when they do.

Cheers! <3

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Tempting Eternity · The Crucible · Writing

Postponing Tempting Eternity

Hi guys! It’s been a while since I made any updates here, but I’d been meaning to stop by to mention a few things. I simply hadn’t found much time, and I’m really sorry! But that’s the biggest reason for my post now, so let me dig into this thing!

I don’t want to start this off by saying something generic like “Oh, 2018’s been a horrible year!” I mean it’s not the year’s fault if things are bad. In fact, the start of the year wasn’t too terrible (if memory serves anyway), so yeah, it’s just another year and so on. But in the past several months, things haven’t precisely been all that great in my personal life. Financial instabilities have taken their toll on top of mental health issues rearing its ugly head. So, to deal with all of the stress these matters have caused, I haven’t been writing quite as much as I would’ve needed in order to get my next book out by the end of the Summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten a good deal of work done on Tempting Eternity, enough so that I’m confident it’ll likely be published by the end of the year barring any other unexpected setbacks. Still, I felt obligated to come by and mention the problems I’ve had so far considering I’d originally planned to publish in Summer of this year, but we’re already heading into September.

With that said, not everything going on around here is bad. I’m currently on the verge of quitting smoking, which is definitely a good thing, but has also impended the writing process (I’ve been accustomed to smoking while writing, so I’m now adjusting to writing without engaging in the habit). Anyway, I could say a few other things about my writing progress, but I think I’ll cut it short here. You guys get the picture, and I’m actually eager to get a little more written down in the story before someone comes and shoves a birthday cake in my mouth (Yep, today’s my birthday! XD)!

With that said, I have something new going on: my own Discord channel! I thought it might be a good idea to open one for anyone who wanted to discuss my books, or just shoot the breeze in general, so feel free to stop by and say hello!

Cheers! :)

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articles · Writing

The Mate’s Trope

I’d been meaning to write an article concerning this topic for a while now. Actually, I’d been meaning to write an article to post on this blog period! But as they say, life comes atcha fast, and here I am sitting in the middle of a whirlwind wondering when I’ll ever have time to actually write something that’s not related to my books between work and everything else grabbing at my attention.

Including games of solitaire. Like … ?

But okay, let’s get going while the going’s good, and today’s subject, boys and girls, is the Mate’s Trope in PNR (I know it’s featured in a few other genres, but I’m going to focus on PNR since that’s largely what I write for). To best understand this trope, one needs a little insight into what romance is overall, so allow me to offer a brief explanation.

Romance novels are stories of how two people meet, fall in love, and make a lasting commitment to each other. Whether contemporary, historical, or fantastical in setting, someone is finding true love! Thankfully, imagination has given us writers a vast number of tools to both create our stories and pair these couples off as an item. The couple meets, and may not like each other at first, but something about this person eventually draws them in, and romantic shenanigans ensue! A look, a touch, a few words spoken, all of it feeds an emotional development that will eventually lead to the discovery that hey! This person is the one I want to be with, for better or worse!

Bottom line: Romances are stories of true love with a happy ending.

With that said, let’s really talk about these tools authors use to get their couples off the ground. Whether the two meet and know from the start that there’s an attraction, or they don’t really discover/acknowledge their true feelings until the last few chapters, there are hundreds of ways to develop the relationship. But where most romances do this via use of human psychology to evoke romantic responses, there’s another means of getting these people together without all of the emotional hoopla getting in the way, and it’s a means the paranormal genre has taken huge advantage of:

The mate’s trope!

This trope is honestly unique among romance. Instead of having a couple meet and remain friendly (or enemy-ly) for several chapters of the story with no hint of romantic affiliation, an instinctive response instantly manifests, and something tells this character they’ve found the person they’re meant to be with without any of that pesky soul searching and emotional baggage gumming up the works.

The reason this trope operates in such a fashion is that one or both of the characters aren’t actually human. They’re werewolves or vampires or elves with supernatural traits and/or abilities, and they just know they’ve found the one!

Here’s an excerpt from one of my books that might better explain what I’m talking about:

“Dalris, you’re squeezing me!”
Somehow, Robi’s complaint broke through his stupor, and as he loosened his grip enough to allow her to hop down to the floor, he also heard her gasping.
“Whoa! Are you okay?”
“Oh shit,” Jada cussed, sounding strangely surprised, and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong at first.
But then he heard a possessive growl, and soon realized it was his own.
Dalris was in Wrath at the sight of his eternal mate.

Fated Fortunes, The Crucible Series Book 7

This is a very popular trope in the romance community, specifically because it allows for some interesting twists and turns that won’t be found in other books. Yet, like all tools, it has both pros and cons to consider when using it, though before I get into any of that, let me back up a few steps and tell a quick story (don’t worry, I’m a writer, this is what I’m paid to do! :P)

I hadn’t thought too much about the difference between the mate’s trope and your “average” (for lack of a better word) romance much, even when I started writing The Crucible Series (which is PNR and features the mate’s trope). What I’d really considered was how the trope had been used, what I liked/didn’t like about it, and how to proceed with using it in my first book, Blue Moon. I’ll get into this a little more later, but for now, I’ll just say that it wasn’t until Fangirl-Musings did a video review of Strange Brew that I really started considering it.

Strange Brew was the first book I wrote where at least one of the characters (Troy) knew who their mate was without even knowing their name. My first two books, Blue Moon and Light of Dawn, differed in this regard (the couples in those books didn’t just look at their partner and declare yep! You’re the one!). With that said, in the video review, Fangirl-Musings critiques the story by stating that it seemed as if Troy and Aislinn hook up without a real bridge between the meeting, the sex, and the I love you’s. The rest of the book seems to have pleased this badass book reviewer, but like any good writer, I’m going to consider the negative as well as the positive, and try my best to apply what I’ve learned to future works.

So I really started breaking down possibilities of why it seemed as if there wasn’t a strong connection between my couple’s first meeting and the final outcome, and came to a pretty solid conclusion: The mate’s trope eliminates a great deal of the emotional development most romances exhibit.

Instead of having a period where the two main characters are realizing they might actually want to try for something more, or that their feelings are going beyond the friendly variety, we jump right into “let’s-go-for-a-relationship-ville”. There’s still a period of courtship, and still tension, but it’s a different kind. For example, in some paranormal romances, imprinting on a mate has a drawback in that one can’t live without the other, meaning that if these characters don’t hook up, someone’s life is on the line!

Sadly, this type of dire circumstance can (and has been) used to justify some really problematic situations. I won’t name books or authors, but I’ve read plenty of stories where one partner will get uncomfortably close to this literal stranger just because they’ve found a mate, even when that mate is human and not only lacks the same connection, but also has no idea such things exist. To add an element of “creepy”, the set up is usually (though not always) “supernatural male meets human female”, and I don’t think I have to explain why this can take the situation to an uncomfortable level if the writer isn’t careful.

But to clarify, this kind of situation is all too reminiscent of the “Boys will be boys” mentality, a phrase uttered numerous times as a means of justifying the way men disrespect (or just flat out assault) women by insinuating they have no or less control than women, and shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions due to that lack of control. With the mate’s trope, the only difference is “supernatural will be supernatural”, meaning we shouldn’t hold this character’s misbehavior against them because “they’ve found their eternal mate and want them so badly they can’t help themselves!”

I don’t buy it, and I think we can all do much better as writers when/if we decide to employ the mate’s trope in our books.

This is why it’s important to really make this trope our own. I’d mentioned before that I was considering it when writing my first book, and I certainly ended up creating my own “rules”. In fact, I’m not entirely sure if you could say the mate’s trope applies to Blue Moon, and it might be better called “the bonding trope” instead. Cade and Ashley (lupines or “wolf shifters”) don’t just see each other and declare themselves mates. Instead, they start bonding which, eventually, leads to a permanent “matehood”.

This bonding doesn’t work the same way with all “species” in my stories, however, because it’s much more interesting (and arguably realistic) if different beings have different “biological processes”. For example, the draconian, Dalris (as seen in the excerpt above) knew Jada was his the moment he laid eyes on her. Jada, however, is an elf, and they don’t exactly know their mates just by taking a single look. But again, no matter what processes characters undergo in this fashion, the point to this type of parsing is that it’s important for us, as writers, to not only figure out what works best for our stories and develop the trope to suit its needs, but also to employ the trope in a fashion that’s not, well, creepy.

So while I wouldn’t say this trope has more potential pitfalls than your “average” romance trope, they definitely exist. The relationship could come off as unhealthy (just imagine being eternally mated to some asshole who mistreats you!), specifically in cases where the character never decides, for themselves, to embrace their fated connection and recognize their partner as the one they truly want to be with instead of simply saying, “Well, I’ve got no choice, it is what it is, so I might as well settle”.

In those cases, the relationship loses both legitimacy and likeability as the pages turn. You could have the greatest plot the world has ever seen going on in the background, but if our couple isn’t making strides in the foreground and/or has no chemistry, the end product will come off as hokey, forced, and potentially boring.

So in conclusion, the mate’s trope is best used as a catalyst, and not the focus of the relationship. Sure, it’s going to be a large part of a protagonist’s life and possibly even their reason for checking this person out in the beginning, but what is it that keeps them coming back? How are they dealing with what’s changed as a result of finding their mate? What do they intend to do about it? How do they feel about this person they’re supposed to be paired with and what makes them ultimately decide it’s actually a fortunate turn of events?

In other words, how do they fall in love and why is that so amazing? This is why the reader has picked up the book. They already know someone’s going to find their mate, and want to learn why they should love the couple as much as the couple has come to love each other!

Thoughts? Opinions? Is the mate’s trope something you adore, or avoid at all costs? Let me know in the comments! :D

hm_po
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Cast Into Shadow · Romance · The Crucible · Writing

Cast Into Shadow Excerpt

So, after an admittedly long silence on this blog, I finally have something to post! But right before I get to that, let me throw out an apology over how long it’s been since I’ve swung by here to say more than a word or two on anything. Life’s been hectic on the downside lately, and things haven’t exactly panned out the way I would’ve liked for them to go in some places. This includes my progress on writing Cast Into Shadow, which is coming along, but it’s going more slowly than preferred.

But the good news is that I finally have an excerpt to share! At first, I thought it would be fine just to post this excerpt as text here, but then I realized the formatting is off and it’s kind of hard to read. So instead, I decided to post a downloadable PDF file! This will require adobe acrobat, but at least your eyes won’t cross! Haha!

I hope you enjoy, and as always, the following is still considered a work in progress that’s subject to change before the book’s final release! :)

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Trashy Books, Enjoyable Reads

Hi guys! I hope everyone’s summer is going well, and that you’re perhaps lounging by the beach, or somewhere equally appealing, with a good book in hand enjoying an escape into another world. I also hope whatever book you’re reading isn’t trashy because, well, no one wants a trashy book. It could ruin the reading process and break glass when you throw that eyesore of a story out the window.

And nobody wants to fix a broken window, am I right? I mean a trashy book just isn’t worth it.

Still, as I wrote those last few sentences, I wonder just what, precisely, people thought of when I said “trashy”. I mean, what’s the basic definition of trashy anyway? Let me see … ah! Here it is!

trash·y
ˈtraSHē/
adjective

(especially of items of popular culture) of poor quality.
“trashy novels and formulaic movies”

I find it humorous that google’s definition gives an example of “trashy novels” here. Still, this definition of the word trashy is basic, and doesn’t fully answer the question of what people may have thought when I mentioned the word. I mean, we can define a word all we want, but that definition will take on a new perspective when personal opinions get involved.

For example, my idea of a trashy novel is one that just doesn’t quite satisfy. Perhaps it’s not well written, the characterizations are badly managed, the plot is full of holes big enough to encompass the state of Alaska, and/or the plot devices are contrived and nonsensical. These things, to me, make a story of poor quality as the definition noted above implies. You just don’t read these stories without complaining over every little aspect and perhaps wondering what the author was thinking when writing it.

But that’s my idea of a trashy book. This perspective may also be shared with several other people, however, 7 times out of 10, someone seeing the word trashy in relation to literature will automatically think of one genre before any other; Romance.

Despite being a billion-dollar-industry, the word “trashy” has been used in relation to stories written for this genre since, well, long before I was born. Even one of the biggest community websites for romance novels has the word Trashy in its name (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books). This isn’t meant as a disparagement by the chicks who run the website, but as stated, romance novels have been called trashy all across the board so often that us fans have come to employ it in our own vernacular as a playful way of suggesting sure, we’re all reading trash, and we enjoy it!

Still and yet, there are plenty of instances where this is meant as a disparagement, particularly when it comes from people who’ve never read a romance, or only read one romance and think every story is just like it. Even some romance readers call their books of choice trash because they’re ashamed and consider reading romance as being a guilty pleasure.

Recently, I saw a post on tumblr where someone was trying to articulate a request for book recommendations, and initially, they couldn’t quite bring themselves to admit that romance novels were their focus of interest. They started out by saying they’d been reading a lot of “easy thinking stories” lately, then finally admitted what they wanted by stating “trashy romance novels”.

I won’t lie, I legitimately felt sorry for this person as this is a very obvious case of internalized misogyny. This is a reader who’s found enjoyment in the romance genre, but has heard so often that romances are just dumb and trashy that they don’t feel as if they’re allowed to enjoy it without receiving a negative backlash. So they’re ashamed and can’t bring themselves to ask for more without bashing it in order to alleviate that shame and make it seem as if “I’m on board with the haters, I just enjoy a little “light reading that doesn’t break my brain” once in a while.”

Before I dig any deeper into this, allow me to state something up front; there are trashy romance novels out there, just as there are trashy sci-fi stories, and trashy mysteries. Trashy dramas, trashy horrors, trashy thrillers. There’s trash in every genre because not every book is a shining example of a good story for that genre. World building is unbelievable, mysteries are transparent, character responses are overly dramatic, and the thrills are cheap.

But if you’re a fan of the genre, you don’t throw the entire thing out because you read one bad book. Yet somehow, this happens with the romance genre frequently.

Bad romance stories are just like any other bad story; poor world building, weak plot devices, unrealistic characters, etc., and even fans of the genre will find a book they hate and call it trash. I’m no exception to this rule, and hell, I find some books I adore and some I hate within the same series. Here’s the best example I can think of on short notice; One of the most entertaining books I’ve read in recent times is Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole (the IAD Series). However, and on the flip side, one of the biggest disappointments I’ve read in recent times is Lothaire by Kresley Cole from the same series. Would I call that book trash? By some standards, I have to say yes, I really would.

But that book didn’t make me throw out the series, nor does a bad romance story make me throw out the entire genre and refuse to come back. After all, even a bad romance can serve a purpose in showing a reader what they don’t like, what doesn’t work for them, and help them to evolve their tastes so they know more precisely what it is they’re looking for.

So why is romance so consistently bashed with the trash stick? Well, the biggest reason is, in all honesty, misogyny–and before you throw your hands up and exclaim I knew it!, give me a chance to explain because I have two different points to make here, and one of them may not be what you’re expecting.

So first, let’s look at the way any and all things created by women for women get treated. These things are typically thought of as girly, and what do people usually associate with the word girly? Weakness, ineptitude, immaturity, frivolity, and even vapidness. So naturally, a genre that’s predominantly written by women for women must be filled with books that encompass these same qualities, right? They’re all shallow reads with no greater thought required than “character A hooks up with character B and that’s the story.”

Still and yet, you’ll hear women (as mentioned above) calling romance trashy, and while this can be attributed to internalized misogyny, that’s not always the case when you have books in every genre that are, in fact, trashy–which leads me to my second point.

These women’s opinions are based on a long standing reputation that wasn’t earned by the idea that romance is girly, but because thirty-forty years ago to be precise, quite a few romance novels employed a number of misogynistic plot devices to deliver a story, and they’ve given several women a damned good reason to hate romance.

For example, many heroines were never given a choice over whether or not they had sex with the hero. The reason is that female sexuality is apparently one of the greatest taboos the world has ever seen. A woman isn’t supposed to like, want, or enjoy sex, and if she does, she’s a slut/whore/harlot/tramp/slattern/etc., and women during that time period had been raised to believe such things about their own human needs and desires.

So it was harder for them to identify with female characters who had no shame over their sexuality, and readers could more readily accept a heroine who’s never given the chance to show their desire for sex by eliminating the possibility of giving consent altogether.

In turn, many people call romance trash because they think this is the continued standard of current novels on the market. So though (thankfully) this is much less commonly seen today, not everyone realizes just how much the romance genre has evolved since then. I mean look at women’s lib; the idea that women should be treated as equals was just the first step taken in feminism. But women weren’t elevated to a man’s status over night, and we’re still struggling for human rights in several regards. So the next step was learning how this is achieved, and the history of treatment female characters receive in romance novels is proof of the progress being made.

Decades ago, heroines weren’t given much choice, and today, you’ll find fifty books in a single search featuring heroines who’ll readily jump in the sack with no apologies because she’s not afraid to take what she wants. Or, on the reverse, you’ll find her refusing to have sex, saying no and actually being respected for her decision.

So yes, this “trashy” business is really just a lingering reputation that we’re all trying to get past. Some readers have, others just believe the caliber of romance is continuing on along the same lines. But unless what you want to read is a bad romance novel, I’d suggest not asking for trashy romance in your rec requests, and instead, just asking for good books that might tickle your fancy. :)

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Romance · Strange Brew · The Crucible · Writing

Strange Brew Video Review by Fangirl Musings





Now, if you’ll pardon me a moment …

Okay! Let me start off by giving a massive thanks to Fangirl Musings (you can subscribe to her youtube channel here) for her many kind words and making my head explode! I certainly wasn’t expecting this when she said she’d purchased Strange Brew a few months ago, but I’m definitely glad she enjoyed it enough to feel it warranted one of her spiffy, awesomesauce video reviews! (No, really, you guys have no idea how hard my mind was blown by this!).

I also wanted to take the time to comment on something she suggests because it almost feels as if she was reading my friggin’ mind! Glowing praise aside, she mentions in her critique that the romance between Troy and Aislinn didn’t actually seem entirely well developed and suggests it may be due to the 5 day time jump after their first meet up. I found this extremely intriguing because! During the process of writing Strange Brew, I’d contemplated that time jump more than once. I recall thinking specifically, “Okay, you’re kind of glossing over the period in which this couple sings, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me!”

I’d agonized over this and tried to think of any way I might be able to add some story there that would flesh things out a little more thoroughly without bogging the rest of the book down. That time period is described as Troy and Aislinn bickering a lot because, well, he won’t leave her alone! Werewolf wants his woman and doesn’t understand what she’s going through at that point! In any case, the word count for all of my books is 100k words (typically industry standard) and as I proceeded to write the rest of the book, I reached this word limit, and also couldn’t think of much to add that wouldn’t bog the story flow down anyway. (Whenever writer’s say the story has a life of its own and takes them wherever it goes, they’re not just whistling dixie!).

So ultimately, it stayed the way it is now (though I did find amusement in the fact that Troy decided it would take two-three days tops to convince Aislinn, and then it’s like a week later). Anyway, I wanted to mention this because it’s just really weird that I had that insight and then she mentioned it in this video! GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! <3

In any case, I'm so, so glad the book was enjoyable overall! If for no other reason, you guys should watch this because it's LOLtastic! But if you're into romance, I'd suggest subscribing to her channel because she reviews a LOT of romances that you might wanna read!

And, if this video interests you in Strange Brew, click here for more information!

Cheers! :D

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Cast Into Shadow · Romance · The Crucible · Writing

The Crucible Series Book 8: Cast Into Shadow Cover Reveal & Synopsis

The Crucible Paranormal Romance Series Book Eight: Cast Into Shadow

As an intelligence agent for The Bastion, Jennifer Kivsey usually works behind a desk, assisting other operatives from afar by supplying information whenever it’s needed. But the one time she volunteers to travel during an investigation, her journey takes her much farther from home than anticipated.
After discovering a random portal, Kivsey is unexpectedly pulled through worlds and stranded in the dark, underground caverns of Ithelyon. In immediate danger, she’ll need help if she wants to survive long enough to return home, and a random encounter with a Dok’aal Warlord could provide just that.
The problem? She’s part elven, and Dok’aal are notoriously leery of elves.
Mikail is a Warlord serving the hidden, subterranean city of Satorala, and his highest priority is the safety of his people. So allowing a stranded human to wander about and potentially discover the location of his home is out of the question, meaning he has no choice but to help her find her way.
But despite their inherent differences, Mikail quickly discovers that Kivsey isn’t the helpless human he’d expected. She’s clever, witty, compassionate, and soon has him wondering if she could be the woman he’s been dreaming of. Likewise, Kivsey finds the Warlord as sexy as he is suspicious, but how could a union ever be possible with two worlds standing between them?

Estimated Release: Winter 2017

Author’s Notes

So, for those of you who’ve read Fallen Hearts and had any interest in knowing what happened to Kivsey, here you go!–though the blurb only gives a vague idea about what’s happened to her and how/why she disappeared. Still, this story has been kicking around for quite some time now, and I’m excited to share it!

As for Mikail, the Dok’aal Warlord mentioned in the blurb, his race was featured in The Final Calling, but what was mentioned was really pretty vague. So to give a more thorough explanation, Dok’aal are Dark Elves, a.k.a. Half Elven and Half Demon (Perosian). In The Crucible Series, Dark Elves can be physically described as having argent skin tones ranging from light silvery to jet, typically white hair, and glowing eyes of all colors. They might also have pointed ears, fanged canines, and slitted pupils.

The Dok’aal are also briefly mentioned on my post about The Pantheon (read Satora’s blurb), and personally, Dark Elves are one of my favorite mythological races. So I’m really excited about this story, and the chance to finally introduce the Dok’aal into The Crucible Series in a more official capacity.

I’m not sure about the release date yet. I’ve listed Winter 2017 as the estimated release, but I’m hoping it’ll be closer to late fall. Either way, I hope you guys enjoy it when you get it, and I’ll share some excerpts as soon as I have something decent! :D

Cheers!

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The Crucible · Writing

The Crucible Series Bestiary

For a number of months now, I’ve been planning out a bestiary, and let me say, it is not easy! Those of you who’ve read my series know there are a good number of creatures featured across the books, so there’s a lot to get down! Some of these are based on classic mythology, some on urban legend, and others were just made up from scratch. So I thought some people might appreciate having them listed together in one place, the only problem is that it’s been hard for me to find time lately to actually finish it!

So, since progress on that front has been so slow, I thought I might hop over here to post some of the creatures I do have listings for! If you’re curious, some of my favorites include Brutes, Ghouls, and Will-o-Wisps! :)

• • •

Brute: A type of Sentinel based on necromancy. Instead of conjuring an animated suit of armor, a necromancer reanimates a corpse to serve their whims. Like Sentinels, Brutes do not require food or sleep, and will regenerate lost limbs with uncanny speed. They can also be programmed with a few basic commands due to their very limited intelligence. Yet these creatures are too powerful to be made and controlled in multiple numbers, and can be destroyed without killing the necromancer controlling them.

Physical abilities are dependant on the type of creature used to make the Brute, but all possess the ability to move in an out of Limbo, the Plane of the Dead. Oftentimes, the only warning a Brute is nearby is the putrid stench of decay just before they strike.

• • •

Cockatrice: A reptilian creature with the head of a rooster. Cockatrices vary in size, the biggest usually comparable to an ostrich, though some have been known to grow larger. Able to move at frightening speeds, particularly when sprinting, these animals can stun prey with their gazes, preventing escape for long enough to strike. Cockatrice eggs are sometimes used in magic spells meant to stun enemies.

• • •

Drake: A member of dragonkind, drakes are powerful animals and are typically more even tempered than their wyvern cousins. This, along with their physical builds, make them much more suitable for mounting and riding. Most drakes grow to fifteen feet in size, and may or may not possess wings. Due to the draconian practice of raising these beasts to perform in the ranks of the Skyriders, they haven’t been hunted for their scales nearly as often as wyverns.

These animals are found in five colors, each with a different ability (i.e., breathing fire (red), lightning (blue), poisonous acid (green), frost (white), or firing a psionic burst (black)).

• • •

Ghoul: Humans who remain daywalkers eventually transform into monsters known as ghouls. These mindless creatures operate on sheer instinct, which is a drive to consume flesh and blood. Physically, ghouls are grotesque, with large, empty black eyes and a lipless grin of razor sharp teeth. Though most appear to be slow moving with frail bodies in a hunched-over posture, they can jump and sprint at terrifying speeds. Ghouls tend to form nests underground due to their extreme light sensitivity, and will eat whatever living creature they get their claws on. Additionally, a single bite or scratch can transform a human.

• • •

Sentinel: Magically animated suits of armor (usually lacking a head, though some possess a helmet) conjured by mages to fight and/or protect them. These beings can summoned in multiple numbers, and do not require food or sleep. If taken apart, they will reassemble themselves and continue fighting in mere moments. The only way to destroy a sentinel is to kill the mage controlling it.

• • •

Skin Thieves (alt. Tratters): Tall, bony, skinless monsters that dwell in The Pit. These creatures wear the skin of their victims until it rots, and though they lack higher intelligence, they’ve been known to keep their victims captive if they survive the process of being skinned and regenerate quickly enough.

• • •

Trolls: An sentient race of monsters which were formerly elves. As legend goes, the Goddess of Light, Udana, forbade her children from leaving Divinity, warning them that a physical existence would only bring suffering. However, some left Divinity anyway, and as such, were forever cursed to wander the world as monsters. Because of this, trolls are sometimes referred to as The First Elves, though most true elves resent this moniker.

Physically, trolls come in all shapes and sizes, with oily, pebbled skin and black sclera instead of white (irises, skin tones, and hair are found in a wide range of colors). Their strength and speed are impressive, and though intelligent, their thirst for violence curbs their craftiness. They are also sensitive to light.

• • •

Will-o-Wisp: These creatures appear as small dots of floating light that tempt travelers into following them. Elves in particular are unable to resist their lure without a great deal of self control. If a Will-o-Wisp is successful at drawing someone in, they can, on the rare occasion, lead to great fortune. But much more commonly, the traveler will inevitably walk off a cliff or drown in a body of water trying to reach the glowing dot of light.

• • •

Wyvern: A member of dragonkind, wyverns grow larger than drakes, and are more temperamental. They also possess wings that double as arms. In Ithelyon, these beasts are endangered as they’re hunted for their scales, which possess protective properties to differing types of magic, with the red being the rarest of all. Like drakes, these animals are found in five colors, each with a different ability (i.e., breathing fire (red), lightning (blue), poisonous acid (green), frost (white), or firing a psionic burst (black)).

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Romance · Writing

The First Kiss

Heya guys! Hope your Spring is going well and that you’re planning to make some big waves during Summer! Personally, I can’t say Summer’s my favorite time of year (I’m much more of an Autumn/Winter girl), but I’ve got my own stuff laid out! Including this brand new, shiny post wee!

So, as some of you know, I’ve been writing in the romance genre for … actually, I’m not quite sure how long it’s been. I remember coming up with stories in high school, and I refuse to say how long ago that was now (it’ll depress me too much). But let’s just say it’s been “several years”, and in that time, I’ve been met with many successes and failures along the lines of plotting and planning, yet I’ve come to realize there’s one consistency that seems to ring true throughout the genre aside from the HEA.

What might that be, you ask?

It’s the first time your intended couple draws in close for a peck on the lips. The first kiss is a pivotal moment in any romance, and it stands out more than the first look, the first love scene, and even the first confession of love. All of these moments are essential to any romance of course (unless you’re writing a clean romance, but even then, there might be a moment that alludes to the couple getting it on, so … ), but the first kiss outweighs them.

It may be short, it may be aggressive, or it may be intended as a joke with no strings attached. But that moment is the one that opens doorways to an infinite number of possibilities for these characters. It’s a physical expression of love, a discovery, and the spark of a flame all rolled into one, even if the couple doesn’t precisely realize it at the time. The first kiss is a moment that can make your characters think, “What if?”, regardless of how rocky or adversarial their relationship has been up to then.

Perhaps they’ve been enemies all their lives, and some forced proximity accidentally brings them within smooching distance. Regardless of the immediate, outward reaction (she slaps him with a quickly demanded, “How dare you?”, or he informs her that her interpretation of his intentions was sorely mistaken) on the inside, these two are screaming, much like pterodactyls. What have I done? What could this mean? What does s/he think of me now? Why did I enjoy it? Could this go even further?

Outside, they cover it up, laugh it off, pretend it was just a meaningless trick, a method of distraction, or even just a playful attempt at getting attention. But inside?

So the first kiss is extremely important regardless of when it comes and the other activities the couple may have already engaged in. It encompasses pieces of all the other firsts, and gets the ball rolling toward a solid union and the book’s HEA.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments! Also, keep your eyes peeled because I have a new reveal incoming pretty soon! Cheers! :)

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Romance · The Crucible · Writing

The Greater Gods of The Pantheon

While waiting for Fated Fortunes to be released, I wanted to post something “extra” for everyone to enjoy if they were so inclined, and in the spirit of that, I finally completed a small project I’d been working on for quite some time now! But the word “completed” might be subjective-there is still a ton of information that needs to be added!

Yet the tidbits I’m providing here are enough to sink your teeth into without feeling as if you’ve been “cheated”, so here it is! Not just a list of the deities in The Crucible Series, but actual information on them!

Sadly, I haven’t added info on all of the Greater Gods yet, but I promise I have my reasons! Those I have added info on are all listed on this page, however, or you can click over to my website here to see it all “in action”.

THE PANTHEON

The collective of Gods and Goddesses is widely known, and in most cultures, one deity is worshiped while others serve only as a mild point of influence. At most, these cultures heed their patron deity’s relationship with the rest of the Pantheon, the best example being the elven kingdom of Onoria, which worships Udana, the Goddess of Light. Her relationship to Peros is perhaps the most well documented, and though elves do not worship Peros, they still recognize him as a sovereign of Divinity. Information on The Pantheon has been obtained from several texts called the Divinity Scrolls. These scrolls were found in the possession of different cultures residing in different worlds. But though no two scrolls are precisely the same with some texts containing more information on a particular deity than another, cross referencing their content has revealed that the information is strangely in accordance, providing evidence of their relation and validity. Because of this, these texts are believed to have been handed down by The Pantheon itself.

The patron deity of mages, Velias is possibly one of the most unusual deities of The Pantheon. The Divinity Scrolls detailing his existence do not date back as far as those of others gods, suggesting he was largely unknown until the city of Mystikkar was established.

Some have even speculated that the reason earlier information on Velias doesn’t seem to exist is that he was once a mortal man chosen to ascend to godhood. Supporting this theory is the Aeonic Well, a divine construct said to have been gifted to Mystikkar by the God of Magic himself. This well is an important cornerstone to mages in conducting their magical studies and affairs, even though the precise way in which it works isn’t fully understood.

Another theory is that the God of Magic travels between the physical and Divinity more frequently than other deities, and may even interact with mages on a personal basis, whether they know it or not. Whatever the truth may be, most mages would say his origins aren’t important. What matters is the guidance he has provided, enabling magic to be utilized with potent results, and his teachings are well documented, connecting him with miracles, faith, and hope, even beyond the borders of Mystikkar.

Due to this, and perhaps because of Velias’ friendship with Peros, there has been a long-standing alliance between Mystikkar and Perosia which was only broken recently after a tyrant took the throne.

Peros is perhaps the most enigmatic deity of The Pantheon. Indeed, deceit and obscurity are his trade, traits which have birthed the misconception that Peros is malevolent in nature. However, it was his efforts that put an end to the Battle for Divinity, and his army that saved The Pantheon itself from potential destruction, to say nothing for the world.

But not all of the gods celebrated this accomplishment. Instead, some questioned Peros’ power, or more specifically, that of his army’s. If they could stop a force that threatened to overthrow The Pantheon, what was stopping them from doing so themselves?

As a result of this uncertainty, Peros was cast out of Divinity with his children, who now make their home in a realm of darkness known as Perosia. Because of this fall from grace, Perosians are collectively referred to as a race of demons, and are one of the few races other immortal beings find truly intimidating.

As for the God of Darkness himself, no one knows his true fate for certain, though the toppled Tower of Peros has long been part of a prophecy concerning his return. Ages ago, the tower, which was said to have been crafted by Peros himself, inexplicably fell. Some believe he destroyed it in anger over being cast out, and that the tower will only rise again if and when the God of Darkness returns to Divinity.

The Elven Mother and keeper of truth. Where Peros is the most enigmatic deity, Udana is direct and suffers no lie. Discipline and revelation are major tenants of her teachings, and in fact, some believe her to be too strict. However, she rewards the faithful, and keeps the devout close.

When the first elves came to the world, it was against their creator’s wishes. Udana had warned her children that existence in the physical would mean suffering and discontent. Yet, and perhaps ironically, their curiosity driving them to know the truth set them on a path from which they could not return-their Goddess forbade any children who departed Divinity from coming home. As a result, these children grew corrupt, malicious, and eventually came to be known as Trolls.

It was this transformation that finally convinced Udana to allow more of her children to enter the physical if only to eliminate the dangers Trolls presented to the world at large. However, she did not endow them with an eternal existence in the physical, and instead, promised a reunion in Divinity through death, and only those seeking family would be allowed to remain and continue their fight.

As a result, the warriors known as Paladins were born. These elves are the protectors of good and servants of justice, their oath to Udana granting them divine abilities no other warrior can claim to possess. Yet, these abilities do not come without cost; Paladins are not allowed to bond with a mate, otherwise forfeit their power.

Though Satora abstained from creating her own divine children, she eventually became the patron goddess of the Dok’aal. Known informally as dark elves, this race was birthed of unions between Elves and Perosians, creating a strange mixture of darkness and light that formed a life of its own. But, while Peros was only mildly intrigued by this new race, Udana believed them to be abominations and cast them into the physical.

As a result, Satora promised to watch over the Dok’aal herself, claiming the attitudes of Udana and Peros were borne of an ignorance that would not be tolerated. Though this reprimand affected both deities in question, only Peros took steps to rectify his indifference by offering the Dok’aal sanctuary in the realm of darkness known as Perosia.

Sadly, sometime following the Battle for Divinity, Satora went silent. No one is certain of the reasons, but some believe the fall of Peros may be the culprit-at least in part. Age old whispers suggested the God of Darkness bore an unrequited love for Satora, prompting him to steal her away from Divinity after his condemnation to the physical. Yet other tales claim his love was returned in secret, and Satora left Divinity to find and restore Peros to his proper place.

Whatever the truth may be, the Dok’aal believe her absence, combined with Peros’ fall from Divinity, is the reason for the loss of their home in Perosia. Driven out by a power-hungry tyrant and scattered across realms, their hardships have shaken their faith, particularly in knowing Satora is now silent with no promise of ever returning.

Most of this information is “back story”, at least, at this point in the series, and whether or not it will ever play a larger role in my books is, of course, “up in the air”. But I can promise that some of this will play a minor part in Fated Fortunes, I’m just not at liberty to say to what extent! :)

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