I’m over at Word Whores today, talking about my experiences with e-publisher Ellora’s Cave.
So far you can only buy it on the Ellora’s Cave site here, but they have it in .docx, .zip, .epub, .pdf and .prc, if that’s any consolation. Or you can be patient (I know, I know – not our forte) and wait for it to pop up on the third party retailer sites like Amazon, B&N and ARe.
This story is a follow-up to Feeding the Vampire, which many of you know started with a dream. I was in something like a church basement, badly lit with flickering green fluorescent lights, and I know I’m there because the world is in chaos and there’s nowhere else for me to go. I sat in a circle of folding chairs with a bunch of other people I didn’t know, like a self-help group, and a vampire was sitting across from me. Someone says as how he needs to be fed and I volunteer.
I had to figure out the rest from there. Why the world had ended, why there were suddenly vampires. And so forth.
So, when the lovely and persistent Editor Grace bugged me about a sequel, I had to really think about the what next. I had no convenient dream to draw from this time. I did know about another story, about a woman dealing with this same post-apocalyptic world, but I wasn’t ready to write it yet. Instead, I scanned this world in my mind, which is kind of like being a superhero and flying over the broken and drowning earth, looking for life. I thought maybe people would have survived on the Russian Steppes, since it’s a relatively stable earthquake zone. And there I found my Vampire Queen and her band of Night Riders. I also spotted Kasar, an engineer in Moscow whose noble bloodline serves him well in surviving the fall of the city – and his hike to find his sister. Then my CP, Laura Bickle, got all revved up about furry boots and yurt sex and the story rolled along from there.
This series, officially dubbed the Blood Currency series, because blood is now the major commodity for trade between the unevenly matched and struggling populations of vampires and humans, is a different one for me in that the heroines are not much like me at all. Misty, in Feeding the Vampire, wasn’t terribly well-educated, had no real skills and no confidence in herself. Imogen, my Vampire Queen, is ancient, ruthless and rule with an iron will. Both of them were really fun to write – for totally different reasons.
Will they all meet up someday?
Book two in the Blood Currency series. Follow-up to Feeding the Vampire.
Same world, different vampire.
A vampire queen grown powerful with age, Imogen has protected her band of nightriders through the centuries. When refugee vampires from earthquake-shattered Europe seek shelter and sustenance, she’s honor-bound to feed them, by any means necessary. When her lieutenants dump the vengeful human man Kasar at her feet, Imogen succumbs to his masculine vitality and her overwhelming hunger for his blood—and his body.
Kasar has survived the breaking of the world, only to discover the vampire queen has slaughtered his sister and her unborn child. With the last of his bloodline dead, only his desire for vengeance keeps Kasar alive. He imagines he can pretend to succumb to Imogen’s seduction—not that he has much of a choice, chained as he is to the foot of her bed—and bide his time until he has an opportunity to kill her. The passion he finds in her arms is unexpected, and impossible to resist. But this haven of desire and satiation could easily destroy them both.
First thing that Friday morning, I dragged myself together in time to meet several other Carina authors (Jennifer Bray-Weber, Adrienne Giordano, Ruth Casie, Rita Henuber, Julie Rowe) and Carina freelance editor Mallory Braus for breakfast with our Brenda Novak auction winner. We had a lovely time – including mimosas! Poor Joyce had managed to sprain her ankle the day before, tripping over tape at the doors of the keynote luncheon, and was a real trooper. She asked us for the honest dirt on writing for Carina and we all raved with the lurv. So much for dirt!
I made it back over to the convention in time to catch the tail end of Marcella’s workshop on using acting techniques to add tension and emotion into your writing. She even put me on the spot to talk about Feeding the Vampire, which she’d used early on as an example of starting with action. Hey kids – I’m an example! And not a cautionary tale this time!
Robyn Carr spoke at that day’s luncheon and did a marvelous job. She gave us her personal story, which is my favorite kind of talk. It took her thirty years to make the NYT Bestseller list, so she said she wasn’t inspirational to anyone. She so was. You might have seen all the people tweeting her best line: “Success is not measured by fame or fortune or power. Success is measured in moments of satisfaction.”
After lunch, an incredibly handsome man gave me a massage. He’d been set up there all week and, by this point, had three other handsome young men working with him. Brilliant business idea. I told him a lot of heroes would be modeled on him after that. He laughed but, after he finished, he knelt down and put my shoes on, which involved tying the ribbons around my ankles. He gave me a sexy smile and said how into those shoes he could get. Several women watching said they nearly swooned on the spot.
After more workshops, that evening was the Carina Press Author Cocktail Party. Always a delight. I made two new friends there, Cathy Perkins, who I’d vaguely known from Twitter before that, but never really talked to, and Monique Domovitch, a brand new author, who is also with fabulous Editor Deb. We hit it off so well that we retired to the pool bar for a glass of wine before the Harlequin party. Alas, Monique had signed too recently to go, but we had lunch the next day, where I think we talked for two hours. My favorite part of conference: new friends!
The Harlequin party was, again, awesome. Held off site with a tight invitation list, the party showers us with treats. Wait staff were lined up at the doors with trays of a special pink Harlequin martini. I may have had three that night… Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, because I danced and danced and danced.
The lead photo up top is from that party, showing one of my local chapter mates, Robin Perini, explaining something to agent Laurie McLean. And here’s Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, a junior agent with Laurie’s agency, giving us the Vogue pose.
Here’s the ever-vivacious Victoria Dahl, being unnaturally demure.
And Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James, with photo bomb provided by the wiley Andrew Schaffer.
Mallory Braus, looking deceptively sweet.
And the dancing, of course.
Hope to see you all next year!
Well, Feeding the Vampire is now officially book 1 in a new series! My Ellora’s Cave editor, the lovely and delightful Grace Bradley, accepted Blood Siren, which now has the working title Hunting the Siren, as book 2 in the Blood Currency series!
Yes, it’s been a busy week. Funny how nothing seems to happen for months on end and then, boom! all in the same week.
So this means I have two official series now, Blood Currency and A Covenant of Thorns. It’s three if you count the Sapphire and Platinum books, which I refer to as the jewel series – but no one has given me an official series title for those, so I think they remain a looser grouping. None of these are contracted series, meaning I don’t have money wrapped up in delivering the next book by a particular deadline. From what I’ve seen of my cohorts with contractual deadlines, this is a pretty nice place to be.
Still, it hit me last night that I’m really moving forward with three series now. And, if I sell The Body Gift and The Middle Princess, that could bring it up to five.
It reminds me of the advice always given to new gardeners and landscapers, not to plant too closely together. Of course, the urge to do this is irresistible, especially when you have a vast expanse of nothing nothing nothing.You *want* to fill it up with stuff, as much as possible, as fast as possible.
We did this at our first house. We had this very long strip of back yard out to the alley, bordered on one side by a chain-link fence and a parking lot. SO ugly. And we had less than zero money to put in a privacy fence. So we planted seedling trees and shrubs, all along the fence. One day, at the city landfill, David scored a bunch of hail-damaged bushes and trees Walmart was dumping. He came back with a truck empty of gardening detritus and full of a small forest. We planted them ALL. Some died, but about two-thirds lived and thrived.
All this time we knew we shouldn’t plant them too close together. All the friends, all the landscaping books, warned us not to.
But we just didn’t care. We had this great ugly desert of nothing and we wanted to fill it up, whatever it took. We always figured we could deal with overgrowth later. Or let the next homeowner deal with it.
Are you waiting for the moment of Great Regret?
Never happened. It’s funny, telling this story and realizing that we never regretted that for a moment. In fact, when we decided to sell, the real estate agent walked into the backyard and actually took a breath in wonder. Our tiny house had this forested, shady grove in back, with winding paths and sweet feeling of privacy.
I suppose I’ve answered my own question now. I may indeed have overplanted. But I’m not sorry now. I’d be sorrier to have nothing nothing nothing.
I’ll take the abundance with gratitude.
So, I befriended another Carina Press author. (Or now I see – perhaps she lured me in??) I’m a softy, you know. I offered her a guest spot on Ze Olde Blog, coincidentally when I’ll be out of town for the #dayjob. I’m a softy, but I’m not stupid.
But, it turns out, you know that website I’ve been looking at all these years – Mean Kitty? Well, sweet little Jody Wallace turns out to be Mean Kitty’s human servant! And the guest blog? Pah! Jody just let Mean Kitty have at one of my stories and now it’s totally been kittified.
Read on, if you dare.
Feeding the Van Cat
Through good luck despite her canine leanings, Misty has survived the earthquakes that have torn the world apart, but has no skills to speak of. Or so she thinks. She does have opposable thumbs, and someone must feed the Turkish Van cat who has offered to let her pet his silky, water-resistant fur, and possibly save civilization as we know it, in exchange for sustenance.
Feeding Ivan is a priority, and Misty finally serves a purpose. Prior to Ivan, she’d actually imagined herself…a DOG person. But when she awakens in Ivan’s spot in the bed, beside a rodent gift from the townsfolk on her pillow, she discovers he has hungers other than canned Fancy Feast. Hungers he expects her to satisfy, since catching mice is beneath him. Today. Unless he’s in the mood. Which he isn’t, so could she please arrange for that?
Under Ivan’s red-eyed, sharp-clawed persuasion, Misty discovers she has the power to set “Have-a-Heart” traps in hallways, in the pantry, or even under the fridge, and not squeal like a big, silly dog when she discovers a mouse in the trap, awaiting Ivan’s pleasure.
Feeding the Van Cat: Corrected & Cattified Excerpt:
I was compelled to feed him. I had no choice, really. He was so beautiful.
Earl cleared his throat. “Thank you.” Our town administrator looked around for agreement, but they weren’t meeting his eyes either. Like kids ducking the teacher’s gaze. “Whatever, Misty. We’re all SO happy you get to be.” He trailed off in a sulk.
A cat servant? Surely no one wanted to be reminded of what they’d be missing. Martyr to the cat? No, not much better.
Earl shuffled the papers in his lap. Waiting for me to gloat, I supposed. Well, he had just said that feeding Ivan ought to be the first order of business. We couldn’t very well make plans for our community while the cat in charge of keeping elegance and sophistication alive went hungry, especially since we needed him alert and fat. Me? No one understood why I’d been chosen. I hadn’t brought much to the table so far, what with my love for dogs, and my survival was accidental. Right place at the right time. Turns out stolid New England was just the right place to be for the particular form this apocalypse took. Granite bedrock and all that.
My boring hometown was a safe haven and everyone wanted in on our resources and cat population. The people turning up every day were let in or turned away depending on whether they liked dogs or cats. I counted my lucky stars I’d been grandfathered in simply because my neighbors didn’t have the heart to kick me out. Excellent keyboarding skills and a dog-friendly personality didn’t count for much in a cat’s opinion. Especially without, um, working keyboards.
I couldn’t afford to brag about being chosen to serve our savior.
Their hearts would harden-they already had. Tonight was pivotal. We’d acquired a Turkish Van cat of our own to preserve civilization here.
Everyone felt better about our future-if we could keep him happy. At least I knew how to open cans. You could say I was a natural.
And yet, the certainty that had propelled me to my feet seemed to be bleeding away, frightened off by Ivan’s fixed intensity and everyone else’s jealousy. They waited, grumbling, for me to just get on with it. Uncomfortable silence.
Hi, I’m Misty and I’m a Dog Person. Or I was. I swear, I’m not anymore! I haven’t pet a single dog in twenty-seven days. Kind of a record for me really. Apparently I can learn.
The Van cat just stared at me.
I set my yellow pad on the chair and made myself walk across the circle to where he sat in the tacky folding metal chair. My sandals slapped lightly on the tiles, making tinny echoes. Ivan’s roving gaze sent tremors of anticipation in my fingers. His fur looked so silky….
A few whispered conversations resumed. They probably didn’t like the creepy silence any more than I did. I appreciated their polite attempt not to beg Ivan to pick them instead. I’d never seen a Turkish Van cat swim, as they were reported to love doing-probably none of them had either.
I stopped in front of Ivan. He rolled over, long, white legs sprawled out in careless indolence. He tilted his head at my hesitation and held out his paw as if to show me his gorgeous claws.
“Perhaps we should step out of the room?” I tried.
“Meow meow.” His grave eyes watched me with avid intent.
If I ran, he would definitely find the strength to hunt me down. After all, he’d walked into this room. Heck, he’d arrived at the bridge leading to our sleepy town only last night, offering his sophistication in return for our worship and sustenance. He had to have gotten there somehow.
He batted my wrist with his paw pads, pricking me with claws of steel.
Exerting steady pressure, he dug in and pulled me closer, parting his lips. White fangs gleamed with fluorescent highlights. My heart thumped in panic, hot fear filling me.
“Will it hurt?” My voice sounded thready, weak.
Hunger flared in his eyes at the question. “Mew.”
Ivan wrapped his paws around my vulnerable, bare arm. The sharp movement splintered any second thoughts. He kicked with his back legs and gnawed. My cheap cotton dress was no protection. The chafe of his claws sent tremors up my body. Terror flashed through me. What if he decided to sneak attack my legs next? From behind…the sofa???
Then all thought and emotion burst in flame, immolating me through the fierce violence of his teeth sinking into my hand. I’m so sorry! I wanted to scream. I should have opened the can already! The agony of the deep puncture, fear feeding pain, fired through my blood. I struggled like a wild thing, without thought. Animal instinct screamed at me to flee, to escape by any means possible.
The Van cat held me trapped. There was no escape for me, the mouse flailing under the cat’s paw. [[Meankitty’s note: that last phrase is ORIGINAL! The author totally wanted to go with this version in the first place but was forced to convert it to a romance novel between two-legger types by somebody who likes dogs, no doubt.]]
My will, never my strong point, snapped. The fight ebbed away with the tide of my blood. The steady drop of pressure left me enervated, without resistance. Darkness filled my brain, prickled with sparking stars. I wilted, becoming a bit of detritus washed upon the floor next to Ivan’s chair. If he chewed off my thumb, my prized opposable thumb, I would be of no use to…anybody.
Pain filled my veins, pumped through my heart. It replaced my blood, spiraling through my body from the insistent penetration of Ivan’s teeth in my hand. Meow meow meow! Helpless against the crashing waves, I relinquished my last hold on my embarrassing love for dogs and sank into the hot, tarry sea of oblivion.
Jody Wallace, head staff member of the world-famous Meankitty, published the paranormal romance Pack and Coven with Carina Press in February 2012. Since it is about werewolf shifters and witches instead of cats, Meankitty cattified the book here:
You can see all cattifications done so far collected here:
I’m over at Vampire Romance Books today, answering questions, giving away a copy of Feeding the Vampire and talking more about yesterday’s blog post on whether there’s such a thing as YDIW.
Hope your Valentine’s Day brings a bit of love and magic into your life.
I made a mistake when I took this photo. Apparently I moved the camera at precisely the right moment to create a shadow image. I had no idea I’d done it at the time. Only when I looked through the backlog of images on my camera this morning did I see it. I kind of like it.
It’s a good reminder.
The hoopla over “bad” reviews and various author reactions seems to be growing worse, not better. I put this down to several factors. Mainly, there are a lot of people who eat up this drama and love it when a new fight breaks out. These are the people who run around yelling “Fight! Fight!” while rounding up everyone they can find to scream from the sidelines. This is the reality TV of the interwebs. And, to follow up that analogy, the book reviewers and authors have discovered that this kind of fame is still fame. It’s all, as I’ve mentioned before, the chocolate-covered heroin of attention. A hit is a hit, after all. It might be the poisonous grade, but it’s better than jonesing.
At any rate, I don’t read all of my reviews. I read some, here and there. Especially if the reviewer calls my attention to it. But I’m fragile enough that I often skip the low-star reviews. I know, I know. Toughen up, sweetheart.
Eh, I’m not much for pain, outside certain contexts.
Then, the other day, I saw a book blogger on Twitter mentioning my name along with several other authors, saying she was doing a giveaway of some of her new favorite authors. I tweeted her back with a thank you and she replied that she was happy to, that she’d loved Sapphire. Surprised I’d missed a “loved” mention on a book blog – and, ok, maybe ready for a little hit of heroin – I looked at the review. Now I remembered seeing it. I hadn’t read it before, because she only gave it three stars.
Turns out, she uses a scale of zero to four stars. And she rated it low because she thought it was too short. (It’s amazing how many reviewers will do this. Feeding the Vampire gets low stars all the time for being too short. It’s one of the great drawbacks of digital presentation, I think. Had Feeding the Vampire been in a short story collection, for instance, no one would have felt betrayed by its brevity. But, because readers don’t necessarily pay attention to length when they buy and download, they settle in to read a novella or novel, only to have it end when they expect the story to be ramping up. I don’t blame them a bit – I’d likely feel the same way.)
Still, the point is, you never really know what you’re going to get and who will turn out to be a supporter. She didn’t have to include me in this special giveaway with these well-established authors. I didn’t expect such enthusiasm from that quarter.
Sometimes you look again, and see something you didn’t before.
I’m over at Word Whores today, for my usual Sunday gig, talking about when your parents read your sex scenes. As, um, the title implies.