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Make Me Cry

*This article was on Fresh Fiction April 2019!

Usually, the books I love make me laugh. But…the books I love most make me cry. Anyone else out there love a good cry?

TheRookie-reviseI still tear up just thinking about the on-page death of Snape and how Harry names a child after him in the Harry Potter series. Or when they have to put the dog down in Marley and Me(especially since my dog was exactly that crazy). Actually, now that I think on it, it’s true of movies as well. I can’t stand cheating stories, but the scene in The English Patient where he carries her body out of the cave still makes me sob. Or (SPOILER ALERT) Hodor holding the door in Game of Thrones.

I can tell you right now that writing a scene with that kind of emotional gut punch is difficult. I have one in my new release, The Rookie that took a lot out of me to do. My editor said, “I don’t want to see tears on page. Make the reader cry all the tears.”

What I did with that advice was reach into moments I usually prefer not to visit. I’ve been to my fair share of funerals over the years. More by my 20s than most people see until much older, thanks to a pretty rough accident. I’ve also witnessed things, sometimes in person, sometimes not, that hurt my heart. I took small snippets of those things and I put them in this scene. For example…

  • Petting my dog and watching the life ebb from his eyes when we had to put him down.
  • Hearing my grandmother say that she didn’t know how she could go on without my grandfather at his funeral.
  • Listening to a recording of a friend saying he would see us again in heaven. He’d said those words at his brother’s funeral. The recording was played at his own funeral a year later.
  • Hearing my parents’ 20- year-old cat crying and searching for her sister who they’d had to put down.
  • Watching a man walk around a plane crash, looking for his brother because he didn’t believe us that his brother was in the burned wreckage.
  • Watching my other grandmother sit quietly beside my grandfather in the hospital, holding his hand following the heart attack that eventually took his life.
  • Staying with a friend who’d just lost her husband so the house wouldn’t be so damn quiet.
  • Watching Bush 41’s dog lying at his casket.

What I realized when I started thinking through these moments, is that what ripped me apart was never the emotions I was dealing with at the time. What breaks my heart is witnessing someone else in that much pain and knowing there’s nothing I can do to stop it or make it better.

Think about your own moments like that. What sticks out? Is it you? Or is it someone else? I’ll bet, beyond the raw emotions, your memories focus on others.

Those are the moments in life—real and true and full of heart—are what I attempt to capture and put on the page in every book I write. Like in The Rookie

One by one, the dragons surround them lay down, wings rustling as they folded them back, glowing gazes fixed on their dying friend. All except Finn, who seemed to stand guard over all of them.

It struck her then, that each man must be talking to him silently, delivering their own messages through that telepathic link. Private messages.

He’s still so alone.

My Top 10

*This article appeared on Women.com April 2019!

I am a reader. I was a reader long before I became a full-time writer. I was that kid who’d happily give up social time with friends or family to disappear into my room and lose myself in the world of a good book. All weekend long.

I read just about everything—classics, historical, romance (of all genres), mysteries, action adventure, sci fi. I’m the same way with movies and music. Though romance is hands down my favorite, and paranormal romance, in particular, is my thing. Asking me to choose my favorite books is like asking me to choose between my kids. But for you, dear reader, I sacrificed and did my best to pick. (Although if you ask me tomorrow, I might have a different list lol).

Her are my top 10 paranormal romance books (because that’s what I write, so of course I love it!). I couldn’t put them in order though, so these are in no particular order. I’m sure as soon as I hit send, I’ll think of 10 more that should have been on this list.

 

Gray Back Bad Bear (Gray Back Bears Book 1) – T.S. Joyce

T.S. comes out with tons of stories and I read them as fast as she writes them. I got hooked with this one primarily because of the heroine. She’s geeky, and short, and speaks her mind. The meet cute with the hero made me fall in love with this book, and they just keep going with the all the other books in the series.

 

Drakon’s Promise – N.J. Walters
drakonspromise_webI write dragon shifters, therefore I love dragon shifters. I discovered N.J.’s writing because we share a publisher, and have devoured her books. She jumps straight into the action and her heroes are bad ass.

 

Hungry Like the Wolf (SWAT Book 1) – Paige Tyler

What I love most about these books is the added action. Since the main character(s) are SWAT, that is incorporated with fantastic detail and the fight scenes are wicked. But there is no heat lost in the romance, either. That combination makes for fantastic reading.

 

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
I know that technically this isn’t paranormal, falling more in the post-apocalyptic category. And the romance between Katniss and Peta is somewhat secondary to the survival story. But it was that romance that kept me reading. I love that Peta is essentially her softer side, which is surprising, since I usually prefer the Alpha heroes. I loved the epilogue giving them a happily ever after, when they’d survived such horrors.

 

Christmas in Atlantis – Alyssa Day
Christmas-Atlantis-FINAL-750-200x300I started working for Alyssa as her assistant, so of course I was curious about the books I was helping promote. Plus her teasers are always so great. I started with Christmas in Atlantis and immediately added Alyssa to my favorite authors list. She’s so funny, that I laugh out loud (and sometimes pee a little), but, like with this “Gift of the Magi” based story, she can also make me cry. Which means I’m reading everything else she writes now!

 

The Spell (Big Bad Wolf #3) – Heather Killough-Walden
Heather Killough-Walden is the first paranormal author I discovered after reading Twilight and realizing that was a genre (how did I miss that until my 30s?). I was hooked from word 1 and love this entire series. Heather’s books always have plots that move fast, sizzling chemistry, and beautiful world building. The Spell also has my favorite of her heroes. The combination of a dark/brooding hero and an ultra-powerful heroine, and I’m a fan for life.

 

Fated (Dark Protectors #1) – Rebecca Zanetti
I love everything Rebecca writes. Her heroes, who are totally alpha but not alpha-holes, are about as hot as you can get and keep me turning the pages. This is the book that got me hooked on Rebecca’s writing for life. Talen is one of my fav heroes of all time – powerful, confident, and ultra-protective of the woman he loves.

 

Here Be Sexist Vampires (Deep In Your Veins #1) – Suzanne Wright
The book that got me hooked on Suzanne’s writing which is always sexy and funny and intriguing. The heroine, Sam, is sassy and confident and kicks the boys’ butts. I love it. And Jared is the perfect man to take her on. I also love Suzanne’s take on vampires with the different types, and different powers they can wield.

 

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

I know, I know. Not a paranormal romance. This one is a gothic. But you do have ghosts (sort of) and mystery, and a connection between the hero and heroine that is almost other worldly. So I’m counting it. Jane Eyre is the classic novel that made me realize that classics were worth reading. Maybe because the romance was so intriguing. I also love that the hero and heroine are far from perfect—plain or even harsh in appearance, hiding secrets, and yet still worthy of love.

 

The Rogue King – Abigail Owen

TheRogueKing_500-newSorry!!! I know I put one of my own in here. That’s terrible isn’t it? Eek. But I really love this book. It combines dragons shifters and phoenixes in a modern Game of Thrones sort of way (lots of intrigue and characters and no one is safe). It’s the first book in my Inferno Rising series and releases July 30th (available for preorder now). The Rookie, The Boss, and other Fire’s Edge series stories are dear to my heart, too, because technically they are a spin off of The Rogue King. While it’s releasing a bit later, I wrote it first. Inferno Rising is the world of dragon kings and clans. Fire’s Edge is set in the same world but from the POV of the enforcers in the colonies. I am having way too much fun weaving both story lines together, while making each book stand alone.

 

Well those are mine (for now lol). Obviously, I’m a fan of dark/brooding heroes and snarky/powerful heroines, especially when they have supernatural powers. Oh, and series too! I consume those. I’d love to hear what would make your top list in this genre. I’m always looking for great books!

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How I Became a Wino

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The first time my husband asked me on a date, he decided to do so in a loud bar where we could both hardly hear. He lead off with, “Do you like wine?”

The answer at the time was a resounding NO. I found wine to be too sour. Not my preferred drink. But I could also tell that he was leading up to a date invite (or at least hoped so). If I said no, he might think I was rejecting the date, which I wasn’t. So, of course I said… “Yes!”

You saw that coming right? I mean, yes, our relationship started out on a lie, but can you blame me? Of course, once we got to the wine tasting party he took me to for the date, he figured out pretty quickly that I did not like wine. Lol. (Or, for that matter, spending time with large groups of total strangers, though I hide that pretty well. It took him longer to cotton on to that facet of my personality.)

A few years later, we married and moved to California. To northern California in particular. The heart of wine country. If we drove west, we hit Napa and Sonoma. If we went a bit south we hit ???. Every party we went to wine was served (it’s basically the California version of beer). Parties and corporate team builders were held at wineries. I couldn’t escape the stuff.

And then I started to like wine. Granted, my journey into wines started with the sweetest of the whites (the dessert wines). I’m still not much of a red wine drinker, even now, unless it’s in sangria. But I do love wine. However, it wasn’t Napa, or the tastings, or the parties, or the teambuilders that got me hooked. It was my favorite winery.

Boeger Winery.

Boeger was the closest winery to us, and also the most beautiful. East of where we lived, it’s located in the rolling western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in a region called Apple Hill. Apple Hill is mostly beautiful apple orchards, but also sports a few other things—a Christmas tree farm, pumpkin patches, a brewery or two…and Boeger Winery.

Boeger is set on a gorgeous piece of land. It has a modern tasting room. Then, beside a babbling brook, rolling green grass with picnic tables. Those lead down to an origitial, restored farm house where the owner’s daughter lives upstairs (or did at the time). There’s also an original, still operation forge on the property, some ancient apple trees, and, of course, the beautiful rows of vines which can be seen over the rolling mountains.

The place is idyllic. We even took a series of family photos there. In the summers, the owners take advantage of the weather and the beauty of the spot. On Friday nights, they would bring in a live band. We would come with friends who had children about the same age and set up blankets and chairs, eat a picnic dinner, drink wine, and listen to the music as the kids ran around and played. Many of my favorite California memories take place at Boeger Winery. Granted, it’s not all about the wine (which is excellent by the way), but the wine was part of it. Now, any time I open a bottle, regardless of brand or type, I think of that place.

They say write what you know. That can be a little tricky when writing dragon shifters in paranormal romance. Since so much of the world has to be created from scratch in my head, one of my tricks is to try to set things in places I’m already familiar with. This is why my Fire’s Edge series is set in northern California, where I lived for ten years. Even better, especially in my latest release The Rookie, I set portions of the books at…you guessed it…a winery that looks and feels just like Boeger.

If you’re ever out Apple Hill way, near Placerville, California, I highly recommend, you make Boeger one of your stops.

http://www.boegerwinery.com/

 

*This article was originally on Entangled’s blog.

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Writing a Series Backwards

015-6x9-Book-Ereader-Mockup-COVERVAULT-RogueDid you know I’m writing my two dragon shifter series backwards?

I never would have thought so before trying this crazy experiment, but writing backwards has its advantages.

Let me back up and explain…

The Rogue King is the first book in my Inferno Rising series, and that series is a crossover from my Fire’s Edge series. Where Fire’s Edge features the dragon shifter Enforcers in the American colonies, Inferno Rising will be all about the kings and clans of the same world. This will include characters that hop series, plot lines that are mentioned in both, and some situations that will impact both series.

Here’s the tricky part though… I wrote The Rogue King first out of everything.

The idea was originally supposed to be a novella in a different self-pub’d series. Each book in that series features a different kind of paranormal creature—a demigod and nymp, werewolves, psychics, ghost and seer, and this was going to be my dragon shifter and phoenix. Just a quick little thing I’d knock out between books (30-40k words tops). But as soon as Brand and Kasia made it onto paper, and the world started building out from what I’d already established in that series, I knew it needed not only a full length book (it ended up at 100+k words), but its own series.

TheBoss_500So that’s what I started writing and what I pitched to my editor at Entangled.

I was already discussing a dragon series with Heather, and we loved the concepts behind both. So we decided on the crossover series concept, allowing us to place both series in the same world. However, during the proposal process, we decided that the first books to come out would be the Fire’s Edge books. In addition, the Inferno Rising books would be print while Fire’s Edge would be ebook only. Print books take longer in publication, which means they have to be written sooner (about a year before release rather than six months).

That is basically the long explanation of why I’m writing the two series in backward order. I write a print book (Inferno Rising) and then the ebook (Fire’s Edge) that will release before it.

But guess what!?

This process has been hugely helpful from a continuity and series building perspective, particularly for the eBooks. As I write each one, I already know every detail of what happens in the book that will come out after it. While I have a (admittedly complicated and convoluted) both-series-wide-plan, this process has allowed me to incorporate details, lay a few Easter eggs, plant some hints, and set up the next books in the series better than I would just writing in straight order.

On the downside, it means I wait a while to see each book come out after I’ve written it, but it’s worth it for the results in the end. I might do this for all future series. Lol.

By the way, each book is a different couple with their own HEA and stands alone. But, that said, you might want to read in release order to get the full experience. Now that The Rogue King is out, you decide! Should you start with Fire’s Edge and the Enforcers? Or try Inferno Rising and the kings?

 

***This article originally appeared on the Entangled blog July 2019!

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Top 10 Reasons to Love a Shifter

There’s just something about a shifter. Is it the muscles? The attitude? The protectiveness? I mean, let’s be honest, alpha shifters can be demanding, possessive, pushy, bossy, and even alpha-holey (totally made up that word). So, what keeps readers (and their mates) coming back?

Just for fun (my husband is sitting here rolling his eyes as I giggle away) here are my top 10 reasons to love a shifter (in no particular order).

Tall & Muscle-y

It’s tough to picture a pudgy wolf or a puny dragon (although I’m giving myself ideas for characters now). Shifters tend to be super tall and built. Which means they can help you reach things off the top shelf. (Hey, I’m 5’2”. This is important.)

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Fun Way to Travel

Not sure a wolf could carry a human. But a dragon shifter definitely can. As a former competitive skydiver, dragon flight (as long as I can do something with my hair, and something to stay warm) sounds pretty dang awesome.

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Edge of Danger

Like wild animals, there’s the possibility that a shifter could snap at any moment. I married a good guy (and I’m dang lucky to have caught him), but something about those bad boys…

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Means Well–Sometimes Just Needs a Firm Hand

The best shifters (like humans, I’m not saying they’re all good)—the ones we root for—always have their heart in the right place. Our heroines might need to work on those egos as well as deal with some possessiveness and outright bossiness. But my heroines, at least, have no problem with that.

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Brings Home the Bacon (Literally)

I imagine shifters of all kinds have to be pretty good hunters—the predatory ones at least. And if it’s a bird shifter, or maybe a squirrel, then you’ve got yourself nuts and berries for the winner. So, you’ll never run out of food.

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Fate is Totally Handy

Don’t you sometimes wish fate gave you a helping hand in relationships? I love the books that have some kind of destined mating system set up. Not that it takes the decision out of your hands (ever), because everyone likes choices. But it sure is nice to have that whole “rest of our lives” thing confirmed by the supernatural. 😊

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Puts His Life on the Line

While the ready to rumble is out their fighting skills, even better is the fact that a shifter, for the right person (be it a lover, a brother, a mate, a child, etc.), would not hesitate to put himself (or herself, because our heroines rock) in harm’s way to protect that person. As this world gets scarier, don’t we need more heroes like that? Even in fiction.

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Great at Parties

Could you imagine shifting as a party trick? My dragon shifters might have trouble as they’re kinda large (40 feet tall). But a wolf shifter. Get a camera ready because the reactions would be priceless!

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He’s Got the Moves

Have you ever seen a predator move? Especially when they’ve locked their sights on their target. Now picture that in our shifters, and they’re looking at the heroine that way. (Or vice versa, because our shifter ladies are just as prowly and delicious.) Best that translates to the dance floor…and other places. 😉

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No One Puts Baby in a Corner

Once a shifter has a woman in his heart, nothing comes before her. She is the most important thing in his world and vice versa. Kids get added in, but that’s a different thing. I think everyone would love to be the center of the universe for someone.

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What about you? What is it that you love about a shifter? Maybe you’d love to meet the heroes in my dragon shifter series–Fallon, Finn, Aidan, Brand, and soon Drake and Ladon!

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New Release | The Rogue King

THE ROGUE KING

INFERNO RISING #1
The burn of desire begins and ends in dragon fire.

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Kasia Amon is a master at hiding. Who—and what—she is makes her a mark for the entire supernatural world. Especially dragon shifters. To them, she’s treasure to be taken and claimed. A golden ticket to their highest throne. But she can’t stop bursting into flames, and there’s a sexy dragon shifter in town hunting for her… Continue reading “New Release | The Rogue King”

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PRISM Award Winner! | The Boss

I am thrilled to announce that The Boss (Fire’s Edge #1) won the Dark Paranormal category for the 2019 PRISM Award!

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Thrilled and shocked and honestly humbled. I read the finalist books and wow what a fantastic group of books to be included with. Readers, check out the list below and read them all. You will thank me!

A book is never written in a vacuum and I have people to thank! Continue reading “PRISM Award Winner! | The Boss”

The Rogue King | Chapter 1 Excerpt

The Rogue King (Inferno Rising #1) | Chapter 1

PROLOGUE

The scent of raw meat, tinged with a putrid rotting, curled around Serefina, filling her nostrils and awakening a memory she would have sooner forgotten.

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At least he’d waited to confront her until after closing, when she was the last person left in the place. Her hands shook even as they slowed in the mundane task of clearing one of the handful of linoleum-topped tables in the small, rural Kansas diner where she worked. Where she pretended to be just another human and not who and what she truly was. Continue reading “The Rogue King | Chapter 1 Excerpt”

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FREE Anthology | Sexy Supernatural Summer

FREE ANTHOLOGY
A Paranormal Romance Multi-Author Anthology

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Spend your sultry summer nights getting lost in supernatural worlds of shifters, demigods, werewolves, nymphs, vampires, muses, witches, demons, and more…

Sexy Supernatural Summer is a boxed set of short stories from six of the hottest paranormal romance authors out there.

Warning: Sexy Supernatural Summer contains alpha heroes, sassy heroines, sizzling connections, wicked intentions, heart-racing suspense, and a little something naughty (but not too naughty). And it’s our gift to you…

JULY 2019 Continue reading “FREE Anthology | Sexy Supernatural Summer”

2019 PRISM Award Finalist | The Boss

I am thrilled to announce that The Boss (Fire’s Edge #1) is a finalist in the Dark Paranormal category for the 2019 PRISM Award!

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The PRISM is contest is held annually by the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal (FF&P) chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) – one of the awesome online chapters to which I belong. The contest is for any authors (not just chapter members) who wish to enter published novels or novellas in various categories. Multiple judges then read and score every submission. Continue reading “2019 PRISM Award Finalist | The Boss”