Best Fantasy and Science Fiction

Prisoner of the Crown

The first book in my Chronicles of Dasnaria series, PRISONER OF THE CROWN, is up for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book at Fresh Fiction! You can go there and vote for your favorites in multiple categories. I’m super delighted that this book was nominated. It’s up against tough competition, so I don’t expect it to win, but getting the nod is so gratifying.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Spinning the Spiderweb of Complicated Plots.” Come on over for my thoughts!

Sex: Always, Extremely, and Profoundly

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “Sex in Your Novels: When Do You Use It, How Graphic Do You Get, How Does It Change Your Character(s)?”

I answered the question in my post title, so I guess I’m done and go finish trimming the tree!

All right, seriously, I suspect I’m fairly well known for writing the sexytimes into my stories. I sometimes teach classes in Sexual Tension and Sex as a Tool for Character Transformation. I think I’ve written maybe one or two fiction works with zero sex. Some of this is because my readers expect the sexytimes from me, sure, but it’s also because sex just always works its way into my stories. Come on over for a breakdown of how I use sex in a story like THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN.

Preorder live for THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN!

I shared this cover for THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN in the newsletter, but now I’m posting it widely. Ash is the first of my heroes to get a cover – fitting, huh? – and it was interesting to work with the artist on how he should look. Giving an actual face to the image in my head isn’t easy, and even worse knowing all you Ash-lovers would have strong opinions! On the last pass I realized that she’d made his eyes kind of gray/blue and the final change I asked for was to make them Ash’s distinctive, uncanny apple-green. She pointed out that no one would see his eyes as they’re so small on the cover, and I was all, OH NO, YOU DON’T KNOW THESE PEOPLE – THEY ARE GOING TO ZOOM IN.
 
Right?
 
C’mon. You know you did.
 
Anyway, for those who’ve been out of the loop, THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN is a novella that takes place in the Twelve Kingdoms/Uncharted Realms timeline kind of concurrent with THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE EDGE OF THE BLADE, but just before THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE. It is a romantic continuation, however, of Ash and Amy’s affair way back in THE TEARS OF THE ROSE – and told from Ash’s point of view. 
 
Are you all going to start asking for more from the heroes? It could maybe happen.
 
Right now you can still get this novella in AMID THE WINTER SNOW, where you’ll also get amazing midwinter novellas from Grace Draven, Thea Harrison and Elizabeth Hunter. But on March 12, that anthology will disappear forever and this will go on sale as a standalone. 

A new power is at work in the Twelve Kingdoms, unbalancing the fragile peace. For the High Queen and her sisters, it might mean a new alliance—or the end of the love of a lifetime…

As a howling blizzard batters the mountain keep of Windroven, Ami, Queen of Avonlidgh, and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Their passion saved them from despair, but Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. He’s been bracing himself for the end since their liaison began. When it finally comes, the shattering of his heart is almost a relief.

With a man haunted by nightmares and silent as stone, Ami knows only that Ash’s wounds are his own to hide or reveal. She can’t command trust. But just as they are moving apart, a vicious attack confines them together, snowbound and isolated with an ancient force awakening within Windroven itself. If they truly mean to break their bond, Ami and Ash must first burn through a midwinter that will test every instinct—and bring temptation all too near…

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!

 

 

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. 

 

Selfies, Praise, and Road Trips

I’m still digging out and organizing photos from the RWA National Conference. But here’s me with my agent, the lovely Sarah Younger. Along with her many savvy business skills, she sports an excellent selfie game. 

While I was away at conference, Heroes & Heartbreakers ran a post of mine on the Language of Praise. This is a topic I’ve been mulling for some time, and discussing with people like the thoughtful and insightful Campbell award finalist Kelly Robson. I’d love for you all to check out the article and give me feedback. I’m working up a couple of follow-up segments with specific ideas, so I’m all ears!

(I found it really hard – read: impossible – to comment on the article myself because Captcha wouldn’t let me through. If the same happens to you, please comment here!)

I’ve finished revisions on THE SHIFT OF THE TIDE, and it’s off to the copy editor. I’m really happy with how the story turned out. I feel a little superstitious saying that, but some stories worm their way into your heart more than others. Marskal and Zynda’s tale did that for me and I’m stepping out of their world again with some regret. 

But it’s a short step over to the novella I’m diving into today. THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN is a follow-on to Ash and Ami’s thread, in the same timeline. I’m telling it from Ash’s point of view (POV), which is a first for this series. Except for a short piece I did from Rayfe’s POV for a conference challenge, I haven’t yet written from any of the hero’s POVs. This novella will be in AMID THE WINTER SNOW with Thea Harrison, Grace Draven, and Elizabeth Hunter, out December 12. 

August is birthday month around here – both mine and several family members, so I’ll be doing a bit of traveling along with the writing. Enjoying beautiful monsoon season in Santa Fe, and around New Mexico and Colorado. Oh, and for those who were sad I wasn’t going to be at Bubonicon, I will be after all!

Anyway, I should be on a bit more of a regular blogging schedule again. What else have I forgotten to tell you?? Ask me questions!