Is Fear Holding You Back in Your Writing?

Today is the very last day to catch the AMID THE WINTER SNOW anthology. After today it goes off sale and the stories will only be available as stand-alones.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Our Favorite Motivational/Inspirational Quote. Come on over to find out what mine is – and why!

The Formidable Four

This release week for AMID THE WINTER SNOW has been so fantastic, and it’s all because of you readers. Grace noted that two different reviews referred to us as “four formidable authors,” so now we feel like a superhero team. The Formidable Four!! I totally get to be the Jessica Jones wine-drinking, smart-assing one, right??

Anyway, we’ve been #1 all week in Fantasy Anthologies and Short Stories, except for brief excursions when a book with a BookBub ads bumps us for a time. We’re so delighted and gratified. 

I’m winding up my excerpts and mini-reviews with this one from Elizabeth Hunter’s story, The Storm! 

I’ve loved Elizabeth’s Irin world since I read THE SCRIBE. Her stories are deeply felt and complex battles between fallen angels, and span centuries. In The Storm, her steadfast hero finally tracks his love down in her last hiding place. I love the snowbound house high in the mountains, and how he insists she see him clearly – and face the old pain that’s blinded her. It’s a lovely story of the dark night of the soul and ultimate redemption. 

Buy the Book

 

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Max returned from the caves while she was reading a book by the fire.

“There is food set out in the kitchen,” she said quietly, not looking up.

“Thank you.” He didn’t go to the kitchen. He crossed the living room and sprawled on the couch, forcing his head into her lap. “That library must have been remarkable.”

She put her book down, knowing he took pleasure in distracting her. “It was.”

“Has no one come back in over two hundred years? No one even came looking for the scrolls?”

“Maybe.” She combed her fingers through Max’s thick blond hair. It was wavy—almost curly—and shone gold in the firelight. “I didn’t return to this place for over one hundred years. Someone might have been back before that, but they would have seen everything gone.”

“Not everything.” He grabbed her hand. Kissed her palm. “I can still feel so much joy in that place. The magic in the walls is still vibrant.”

Renata closed her hand, curling her fingers into her palm. “I only feel pain. Loss.”

“There are both. Pain and joy. That is life. There’s something in the tunnels I want you to—”

“Don’t make me go back there.” She sighed. “Max, I know I can’t get rid of you, but can you just…”

“What?”

“Let me be.” She closed her eyes. “Just let me be. Ignore me. You are welcome to stay here and rest. Explore the library as much as you want. Eat my food. But let me be. If you need to, pretend I’m not here.”

He nipped the heel of her hand with his teeth. “Well, that would be idiotic.”

She frowned. “Why?”

“Because I didn’t come here for a quiet mountain getaway, Reni. I didn’t come to explore a library. I came for you.”

Excerpt from Thea Harrison

Another excerpt today! This time from Thea Harrison.

I loved this story for all the reasons I love Thea’s stuff. Great hero, with his gruff exterior and tender heart, his noble striving to do the right thing. And Lily is a wonderful heroine. Smart and determined, also striving to do the right thing. I love how she exercises her powers and surprises him with her abilities. I would have eaten up their story as a novel, frankly, but I loved it at this length, too. 

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“You might as well order an early supper,” Wulfgar said to Gordon. “Have Jada bring two plates for the priestess and me. I want you to prepare quarters for her. After we eat, we’ll get her settled for the night. I want her close by.”

Once again, he was disposing of Lily as if she were a possession. Frowning, she opened her mouth, but Gordon spoke first.

“Shall I prepare my tent?” he asked. “Since it’s beside yours, it would be easy enough for the guards to keep watch over her as well. I can make a pallet for myself in here, if that would suffice. Or, if you would prefer, I’m sure Jermaine will be amenable if I bunk with him. You’ll have to send for me if you want something.”

“Go ahead and bunk with Jermaine,” Wulfgar told him. “Once supper arrives, I won’t need your services until morning. And be sure to add another brazier and plenty of fuel to your tent. Extra bedding as well.”

“Very good, sir.” Bowing his head, Gordon slipped out.

Sucking a tooth sourly, Lily contemplated the contents in her goblet. When Wulfgar turned to her, she could feel his attention, almost as if it were a physical touch.

“Now what does that expression imply?” He sounded amused.

She took a sip, more to procrastinate for a few moments than from any real desire to drink. She knew what Margot would do—Margot would fume at the preemptory treatment and probably start another argument, but that didn’t seem productive.

The warm wine was an explosion of flavor, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and orange. After she swallowed, she said cautiously, “I’m not used to being talked about as if I’m not in the room, or disposed of like a… a trunk full of books. But I’m also not experienced at being a liaison for anybody, so…”

“Point taken. Next time I’ll include you in the discussion.” He took a seat, letting his long legs sprawl, and drank wine. “What do you see your role as?”

She shrugged. “I’m not a servant, but I’m not an official ambassador either. I— We— Basically Margot told me to try to behave myself and explain anything you needed to have explained.”

“And assess my camp. Assess me.” His gaze was penetrating. She felt as she had back on the dock, that he was taking in every detail about her and probably seeing more than she wanted him to see. That thought brought a wash of warmth to her face.

“Yes,” she admitted.

“So… assess me.” He gestured at the empty seat across from him. “What do you see?”

Moving to take the seat, she studied him. The black linen shirt revealed the strong, clean lines of his throat and the swell of muscle at the top of his pectoral. Even in such a relaxed pose he conquered the space, the tip of his boots almost reaching hers. His dark hair fell on his forehead, giving his hard features a somewhat boyish look.

No, that wasn’t the right word. There was nothing boyish about the dangerous man lounging so casually across from her.

Roguish. That was the word. The disheveled hair seemed to bely the discipline he had shown so far. He was amused by her.

She said, “You carry a great deal of rage, and you’re driven to accomplish what you have set out to do. It couldn’t wait until the spring—you needed to take action immediately. You won’t turn back or turn aside. But you’re disciplined about it, and despite your anger you’re thinking about the welfare of your men. From what little I’ve seen, you have a code that you are determined to live by, at least when you can. I haven’t seen enough of you to know what might happen to that code when you’re under duress.”

As she spoke, the roguish gleam in his gaze faded, and she fell silent, suddenly uncertain. Maybe she had read him wrong. Maybe he hadn’t really wanted to hear what she thought. But if he hadn’t, then why had he asked her?

She wanted to flail. She was no good in any social situation.

“Don’t stop now.” He tossed back the last of the wine in his goblet. “You just got started.”

So that meant he truly did want to hear the rest of it. Right?

Biting her lip, she continued. “You’re not above seizing every opportunity that comes your way, and you never stop thinking about how to turn things to your advantage. You’re a strategist. I’m no good at strategy, so I would be wary of playing chess with you because you’re always thinking four steps ahead. Your words carried a ring of truth when you said you did not kill the lord of Braugne. You haven’t said specifically who you believe did, but it is clear you see the king of Guerlan as your antagonist, so naturally there are inferences to be drawn. And yet this campaign of yours is about so much more than just avenging your lord’s death. You have the soul of a conqueror.” She hesitated, and then made herself say the rest of it. “I don’t think you will rest until you have taken all of Ys under your rule.”

As she finished, he watched her with the same hard, grim expression he had worn on the barge. Unpredictable. Uncompromising. The wolf in his psyche watched her as well, tension in its figure as if it were about to pounce.

He said in a soft, even voice, “That was unexpected.”

_________________________

Copyright © Teddy Harrison LLC

All rights reserved

The Number One Bestseller Fantasy!

 

AMID THE WINTER SNOW released today and this is a lovely sight to see! Thanks everyone for pre-ordering and purchasing – and getting us this lovely #1 Best Seller in Fantasy ribbon!

I’m going to be featuring excerpts from the other three stories in the collection this week. Today is one from Grace Draven’s story, In the Darkest Midnight. I loved Grace’s story for the slow-build, the organic development of a truly strong love. Jahna and Velus seem destined for each other from the start, but their love grows based on mutual respect and friendship. Early on in writing this, Grace messaged me and explained that her heroine, Jahna, was a scribe and Grace was concerned that she’d be too much like Dafne, my heroine in THE PAGES OF THE MIND. She hadn’t planned it that way, but as she wrote, some of those similar aspects came through. Jahna isn’t the same character as Dafne, but I think they’d be good friends, just as Grace and I are! And I love in Jahna what I loved in Dafne, her enthusiasm for books and tales. Velus is the perfect foil for her, the master swordsman with keen fighting ability. The dancing scenes in the winter garden are lovely and the best kind of romance.

Also interesting, Grace’s story ends on a very similar scene as my story in this anthology does. Something we did NOT discuss at all.

A kind of magic, right there. 

***********

Jahna envied her that particular talent and wished she might be able to employ the same as she tried for a second time to reach the main doors.  She wanted to race outside, kick up snow drifts and laugh with joy under the winter moon.  Her euphoria over Dame Stalt’s offer wasn’t dimmed by yet another interruption, this one even more welcomed than the dame’s had been.

“You remind me of a lantern whose flame burns bright, my lady.  Your eyes are dancing, though you are not.”  Sir Velus raised a questioning eyebrow, his own eyes green as the coveted sea glass brought over the mountains by the intrepid trade caravans and sold as jewelry to rich noblewomen. 

Jahna grinned, still riding on a swell of elation.  “I don’t dance because I’m never asked, Sir Velus.”  She hurried to qualify her statement in case he thought her remark a clumsy attempt at garnering an invitation from him.  “And I value my feet.  Too many drunk lords fancying themselves butterflies on the dance floor when they’re really oxen.”  His low laughter joined hers, and she thought his as delightful as his speech.  “Why aren’t you dancing?”

He’d been scrutinized, measured and admired the moment he walked through the doors.  A person would have to be without eyes or blindfolded not to see it.  That he hadn’t been swallowed up by the spinning, swaying crowd, a partner on his arm, puzzled Jahna.

Wry humor played across his mouth.  “Because I’m not important enough or high enough in status to warrant the time.  You’re young, but I suspect you know how this works.  This is a dance only on the surface.  Underneath is a battlefield and those who strategize best are the envy of even the most successful generals.”

She blinked.  He had just neatly summed up why she disliked this particular festival dance.  Its air of calculation, of desperate purpose, stripped the joy from it.  People used the event as an excuse to maneuver for position in court and negotiate marriages and trade alignments.  Her father waded into the thick of it, never dancing but flitting from one cluster of nobles to the next as he bargained and gleaned information that would expand his influence.

“You’re right,” she said.  “I don’t participate, but from here, it feels like I’m watching a battle instead of a dance sometimes.  I like the courtyard dances much more, especially the Maiden Flower Dance.  Have you seen it?”

Her companion nodded.  “I have.  The villages closest to Ilinfan come together to celebrate Delyalda.  The Maiden Flower Dance and the Firehound story are always the favorites.”

“I love the Firehound story!”  Jahna blushed, mortified by her enthusiastic outburst. She sounded more like an overly excited seven-year-old than the dignified young woman her father so desperately wanted her to be.

Sir Velus grinned, the expression one of appreciation instead of mockery.  “Mine too.  One of the older swordmasters possesses a touch of sorcery and can create the Hound from flame, though to be honest there’s been years where it looks more like a rabbit or piglet.”  He winked at her.  “Keep that between us.”

A bubble of laughter escaped her, and she captured it by covering her mouth with her hand.  She had met this man only hours earlier, knew almost nothing about him other than his profession and his purpose in being here, but oh, she liked him very much.  There was about him a steady confidence, as if he was very sure of his place in the world, with no need to prove his worth to anyone.  He’d shown her great kindness, even before he knew she was his employer’s daughter.

Why It’s Great to Be a Writer Today

Jackson has on his winter coat, which makes him exceptionally leonine and add a certain air of dignity. He’s no longer little-boy cat, but has become full-on man cat.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is if you were to be a storyteller in a different time, when would you choose and why? Come on over to find out my answer!

Also,

Only two more days to get AMID THE WINTER SNOW at the preorder price of $4.99. At the break of December 12, 2017, the price goes up!

Listening for the Quiet Voice of Creativity

AMID THE WINTER SNOW, an anthology of fantasy romance holiday novellas is now available for pre-order! It releases December 12, 2017 and contains four all-new, meaty novellas in each of our fantasy worlds. Early reviews have called it “gorgeous,” which I just love.

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night…

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

iBooks

Kobo

We’ve been getting an amazing response, so thanks to everyone who’s already pre-ordered!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is writing in a vacuum—which is better for you, writing in a closed space or writing where people can interact with you? Come on over for my answer. 

Holiday Goodness Coming Your Way!

At last, the preorder links are live for AMID THE WINTER SNOW! You can get it at:

Amazon
Smashwords
Google Play
Kobo
iBooks
Barnes & Noble

This is an amazing collection of Fantasy Romance stories, with lots of magic and cozying up while snowstorms rage outside. I’ve read the other three stories and they’re all so delicious. And meaty! They’re all substantial novellas. I hope you all love them just as much. 

Here’s a little excerpt from mine, The Snows of Windroven.

********

“I never intended to cause you pain, Ami,” I told the top of her head as she worked to clean the cuts. Brutally insufficient words to describe the depth of what I’d never intended. Beginning with laying a finger on her royal, unblemished skin. Even with her tending me out of simple sympathy, in broad view of the travelers on the main highway, the least brush of her fingers on my skin brought up the insatiable lust for her, hard and hot.

She looked up at me and creaked out a smile through still damp eyes. “I know that. And you’ve made me so happy.” She took a deep breath. “I always understood, though, that this was temporary.”

“We both understood that, from the first night by the lake.”

Her smile went tremulous. “When I seduced you, despite your better judgement.”

I laughed, though it never comes out right. It always sounds more like a groan scraping out of my scarred throat. “Everything with you has been against my better judgement, Ami. And I’ve never been able to help myself. You burn so bright.”

“Like staring into the sun,” she said, an oddly sorrowful crease at the corners of her eyes. Her innate magic made her beautiful even in tears and other extremes of emotion—and my passionate queen ranged through many extremes—so rarely did she look as she did now, smudged with unhappiness, dented by my careless handling of her. “Do you remember when you said that to me? You said you were afraid you’d come away burned and blinded.”

“I remember,” I allowed. I did so much better with silence. I should never have broken my vow. If I hadn’t, we wouldn’t have come to this pass.

“You said that if you stared into the sun too long, you’d be immolated, and the only freedom for you would be to stay far, far away.”

Never mistake that a mind sharp as a sword lies behind that pretty face. She likely remembered every word I’d ever said to her, both the wise and the incautious.

**********

Out December 12!

 

 

A Delicious Appetizer for the Holidays

Winter is setting in, the scents of baking and wood fires fill the air, and those of us in the U.S. are preparing for Thanksgiving. In my corner of the world, I’m preparing to hit the road and drive to Tucson to visit family for the holiday – and doing the final assembly on AMID THE WINTER SNOW!

This anthology of midwinter holiday fantasy romance stories is finally complete. We’re doing the formatting and checking the balance of the gravy. Within the next few days, it will be up for preorder with a release date of December 12, 2017. The preorder price will be $4.99, and will go up to $5.99 on release day. Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter and I will be posting links as they’re available.

These are stories of finding love, redemption, peace – and a little magic – in the midst of anger, war, and the onslaught of deepest winter. Apropos for this difficult year. 

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chilliest night…

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven

The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison

In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The Midwinter masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter

When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy

As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of Midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

I’ve loved working on this collection with these amazing writers – and I think you all will gobble up (tee hee hee) these stories. If you’re on the review list, you should be receiving your ARC very soon!

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If you like to listen to podcasts, I was interviewed by Lindsay Emory of Women with Books. You can listen at any of these places:

APPLE PODCASTS —> http://apple.co/2x62epc

GOOGLE PLAY —> http://bit.ly/2wtJbli

ONLINE —> womenwithbooks.com

To help Lindsay out with her efforts, you can also:

Click this link toRate and Review ‘Women with Books Podcast’ on iTunes. (Reviews help other readers find the podcast.)

Subscribe to the podcast HERE

Click to Like Women With Books Facebook Page

Finding Balance and Accommodating Change

Today is the last day to grab the SFWA Fantasy Story Bundle! It goes away at midnight US Eastern time tonight, November 2, 2017, never to be assembled in this grouping at this great price again. The response to this has been fantastic – earning money for the authors and for SFWA grants, so thank you all for supporting this effort! I did a post about my contribution, and how being in SFWA assisted with my worldbuilding, so you can check that out here

I had coffee with my stepsister Hope the other day. I was in Tucson to give a workshop, so we met up at one of our favorite Starbucks before I headed to the airport Monday morning. (We share no genes in common, but are identical in our Starbucks love.) She mentioned that she rarely reads my blog anymore because she’s not so interested in writing stuff.

For the record, this was not meant to be guilt-inducing. She said it in passing by way of talking about a post she DID see and enjoyed, the one on why I think people should enter RWA’s RITA contest. She thought it said a lot to non-writers, too, about how it’s easier sometimes to fall into the habit of not trying for things, for fear of failure or disappointment. The result then, naturally, is that you don’t win, either. She drew some parallels with her own life, which I found interesting.

And it made me realize how far I’ve drifted from how I used to blog, which was more about these kinds of thoughts and daily minutiae. So, I’m going to try to get back into that. A lot of it, of course, will still be about writing, since that’s a huge part of my life, but that’s not ALL I do. Not most days anyway…

I’ve been doing some schedule reassessing and rearranging in general, anyway. On October 23, I passed my two-year anniversary of leaving the day job to write full time. It’s funny that I still feel like I’m adjusting to that new reality after two full years. In fiction we condense time so much that I think I forget sometimes how long real human beings take to really change. When I was in Tucson, I chatted with Frankie Robertson, a member of that local RWA chapter, the Saguaro Romance Writers. She’d been reading THE TEARS OF THE ROSE and commented on the heroine Ami’s character transformation. 

I should mention at this point that Ami is probably my most disliked heroine – by readers, not by me. In contrast, of the entire Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms series, this is the only one to receive a Top Pick GOLD from RT Book Reviews, their highest possible rating. 

Frankie mentioned reading one of the one-star reviews on this book – and how the reader just hated Ami for her vanity, selfishness, and shallowness – and how she felt that person read a different book than she did. Because yes, Ami starts out that way, and then she *changes*, which is really the whole point of the story, and what Frankie loved about it. Then Frankie also pointed out that Ami changes really fast, over the course of a few months, and we both laughed about compressed fiction time.

That’s all a bit of an aside, but goes to how in real life, changes take a long time to accommodate. So, here I am, two years later, and still discovering how it works for me to write full time, what kind of daily word count I can sustain, and how to best both use and enjoy my time.

Because that has been one effect of my change in schedule – I have more time off, sleep more and according to a natural calendar and I do recreational things. But I’m still figuring out how to balance my traditionally published work with the self-publishing projects, which produce different sets of deadlines. 

I’m not quite sure why blogging began to feel like too much to keep up with, but I’d like to change that.

For you reader types out there, I know that I’ve been bumping deadlines around a lot. Much of this has come from the new traditional publishing projects edging out the self-pub projects. I have legal contracts with them, and outside expectations, which tend to trump take precedence over (will we ever be able to use that word again???) my internal deadlines.

At any rate, THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN is completely done! That will be in the holiday anthology AMID THE WINTER SNOW with Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, and Elizabeth Hunter. We’re looking on track to have that release December 12, 2017, with preorders live in a couple of weeks. 

I’m also working on the third Missed Connections book, which is Amy’s story. A different Amy – I didn’t realize I did that! My other Ami is Amelia and this one is Amanda, so… hey, it happens! This one will be called SINCE LAST CHRISTMAS and it *will* be out before Christmas.

I do hope to get book four of Sorcerous Moons out in early next year, but I have a book due to my traditional publisher that I have to write before that. This is for my new high fantasy trilogy, THE LOST PRINCESS chronicles. I’ve turned in the first book, PRINCESS OF DASNARIA – which has been declared “fantastic,” so I think you all will like it – and I need to write the second book, EXILE OF DASNARIA. But I really do promise to get back to Lonen and Oria! Thank you all for bearing with me on that.

Speaking of change, some of you may have seen on Facebook that my mother-in-law, David’s mother, passed away on Halloween. It was not unexpected, as she’d been in a nursing home and had been declining. Still, David’s father and older brother also died in the past several years, so there’s been a lot of loss in the family. I’m hoping this makes three and we’ll be done for a while. So, we’ll be heading up to northern Wyoming for the funeral, and to spend time with family.

This is my favorite photo of Leona. I’m big on showing people how they were in their prime, not as they were when death came to claim them. The daughter of French and Irish immigrants, Leona grew up on a ranch in Montana next to the Crow Reservation. She was ever a tough and determined woman, and she leaves behind a large family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.