Category Archives: Cross Current
So, this is what the rest of 2020 looks like for me
The contract job is currently at a halt due to lack of work (hardly surprising) for at least May and possibly longer (seeing as a significant amount of Texans completely lost their shit and started crowding into public spaces on Friday during the state’s “partial” reopening, I’m bracing myself for a large spike in new COVID cases here in two weeks). But Ramón is still working, and I’ve spent the last eight months paying off almost all of our debt, so we should be able to weather it financially. And frankly, I need a break after the non-stop pace of the last four months.
What this also means, however, is that I can — ta da — go back to being a full-time writer for the foreseeable future! I sat down and worked out the following schedule (which may have to be adjusted if the contract job restarts at any point):
- May: Finish Shadow of the Swan and Shifter Woods: Growl (Esposito County Shifters 4).
- June: Let SotS cool, finish King of Blades (Two Thrones 4), edit and publish SW:G.
- July: Let KoB cool, edit and publish SofS, finish Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2).
- August: Let UP cool, edit and publish KoB.
- September: Edit and publish UP.
That would give me three 80+K novels and one novella for 2020, which is not bad. And yes, I know my timeline seems insanely short, but all those books are partially finished (21K on SofS, 4K on KoB, and 5K on UP), so it won’t take as long as it would do to finish a brand new book. Hell, SotS is supposed to be 80K and I can finish the remaining 57K in three weeks if I push.
But wait, I have stretch goals!
- September: Edit Deep Water (Olympic Cove 3) for re-release at the end of December, finish One Sweet Christmas (novella) for holiday sales.
- October: Finish Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), edit and publish OSC.
- November: Let CC cool, finish Windrider and the Deuce (Two Thrones Novella 2), release all four Shifter Woods novellas as a box set.
- December: Go on a fucking cruise and let my brain relax, edit CC and WatD, release DW once I get the rights back, release CC and WatD a week later.
Which would give me four new novels (SotS, KoB, UP, CC), one re-released novel (DW), three novellas (SW:G, OSC, WatD), and a box set (Shifter Woods) for 2020. Kinda challenging, but I also have to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2019 so I may as well go for it.
And in case you were wondering, yes, the flu strain that’s going around this year is indeed a stone bitch. Next year I’ll get the shot, I promise.
But I’m back, and upright, and I’m even banging out words on the keyboard. That being said, I was supposed to have To My Muse finished by the 26th. Ho ho ho. So now I’m looking at 2/15 as a finishing date with a release sometime in March. Sorry about that, but it’s hard to write when you just want to stare at your bedroom ceiling and die quietly. Once Muse is done, I’ll get to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). In fact, here’s the schedule for the year:
- To My Muse (contemporary romcom novel – standalone)
- King of Blades (fantasy romance novel – Two Thrones)
- Cross Current (fantasy romance novel – Olympic Cove)
- Uncertainty Principle (SF romance novel – Pacifica Rising)
- Shifter Woods: Snarl (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Shifter Woods: Scream (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
- Untitled holiday story (fantasy romance novella – Two Thrones)
So that’s four full-length novels and three novellas, which is pretty good output if I do say so myself. And of course there’s one half-finished novel and two that I have covers for and still have to plot out. Sleep? What means this word, sleep?
Did I mention I’m also making more jewelry? We’re talking stuff that needs to be soldered and polished — two amethyst cabs and one green turquoise one that will be made into a bracelet for my BIL. So many sparklies!
And in case anyone is wondering, making stuff is part of my writing process. I’ve learned that if I do nothing but write, I jam up and can’t get anything done. Thus, crafts. Also another income stream, which is always good.
Pour me an absinthe, Gert
As of this afternoon the final line edits for Lady of Thorns were finished and it is officially ready for release next week on Halloween. Not only am I bloody well delighted about that, but I am really, really happy with the way this book turned out. It has a thoroughly solid emotional basis, both characters and plot are fully fleshed out, and it feels like one of the best books I’ve written to date. Also, as my beta Peter said, “Yay for fun books where antagonists are inner demons!”
Yeah, I do a lot of work with inner demons in this one. Amelie and I share a couple of problems about body image and growing up feeling unattractive and insecure about our looks. It was interesting to do a deep dive into the mindset created by that and, in effect, psychoanalyze my own issues by projecting them onto Amelie. Granted, I didn’t have a sexy Alain to walk me through that particular psychological minefield, and I’m still working on said issues and probably will be for the rest of my life. But I think I’m getting a better handle on loving myself and my wacky body the way it is, instead of pining for some impossible ideal.
It also helps that Ramón thinks I’m gorgeous and says so every day. He’s so sweet.
So, yeah, Lady is done, and Cross Current is back on the Scrivener screen and will be my NaNo novel this year. I’m currently at 13K on it, and hope to get it done before I have to report for jury duty on November 29th. And if not, I’ll just bring my iPad and write while I’m waiting in the jurist holding room. I’m hoping to get the last two Shifter Woods novellas knocked out as well so that I can release all four novellas as a boxed set before 2018.
Assuming the cats allow me to work. Seriously, how can a small creature one fifth my size be that annoying? I ask you.
I have been cleaning ALL THE THINGS
Which is why I haven’t posted since last Friday, sorry about that. The Sister arrived yesterday and I’ve spent the last week digging out this house and making it look like grown-ups live here (because deadlines + five cats = FUR EVERYWHERE). I still have to clean out my office in preparation for the mutual HS friend who will arrive tomorrow for a girl’s weekend, but after that I am DONE, people.
And oh, I am full to overflowing with the need to write. I completely overhauled the first few chapters of Cross Current in my head, worked out a great subplot for Lady of Thorns, rearranged some plot points in Uncertainty Principle, and even roughed out the outline for Shifter Woods: Snarl. Y’all are going to be inundated with new Nicola stories over the next few months, I promise.
Speaking of that, both Degree of Resistance and Shifter Woods: Howl are now off KU and available at all online retailers, so if you prefer .epub files you are good to go.
Happy July! Have a snippet from Lady of Thorns
So I spent the first two days of July working on the first chapter of Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3). The plan is to split my time between finishing Cross Current and LoT and have CC off to Evernight by mid-July and LoT up by early August. And if I can maybe get some work in on Shifter Woods: Snarl during then, all the better.
BTW, this all took place while Ramón was using the dining room across from me as a staging area for his desk base construction. Since he works full-time at home now and really needs a better setup in his office, he’s been buying IKEA desk parts for the last two months with a plan to create a U-shaped modular desk with hutches to hold his multiple computers/laptops/monitors/what have you.
Unfortunately for him, this required him first to disimpact his office, which … yeah. Let’s just say that he could probably build a time machine from the bits he keeps in there and leave it at that. Much vacuuming and cursing came from the office wing over the weekend, I can tell you. But the initial construction is done and looks pretty good (he had to call a temporary halt since he’s actually working today and needed his work stuff to be up and running), which means that all the IKEA boxes that have been stacking up since May will soon be broken down and put into recycling, selah.
But going back to Lady of Thorns — want to see an unedited snippet? Please note that this story will NOT be about Danaë and Matthias (their parallel adventure will be in Book 4), but it does feature Lady Amelie LeClerq, the young, prickly Terra magistra and heiress to the Lady of Lierdhe, and the eminently sneaky Counselor Alain LaPorte from Palace of Scoundrels. The best way I can explain it is, imagine Lady Mary Crowley from Season 1 Downton Abbey and Alan Shore from Boston Legal going head to head. So to speak. Ahem. And hijinks ensue!
And, yes, I jumped ahead and wrote one of the love scenes. Some background — Amelie has never fit the Lierdhan standards of beauty. Whereas the average Lierdhan maiden is short and deliciously round in all the right places with masses of curling russet or blonde hair, Amelie is tall, hippy, and small-chested with straight dark hair and eyes, to her mother’s eternal exasperation. In an attempt to shed her prickly, standoffish Lady of Thorns reputation and gain a sense of comfort with her sexuality and self-image, Amelie decides she needs a positive experience in physical intimacy. Since LaPorte is in Lierdhe working with her on a business agreement with another duchy, has a good rep in the area of bow-chicka-bow-bow, and has shown evidence that he finds her attractive, she asks him to help. Her plan is really rather logical. Too bad plans never survive first contact with the enemy.
“You don’t believe that I want to take you to bed, do you?”
Her eyes stung, and she blinked to hold the water at bay. “I believe that you’re willing to adhere to our agreement, which is kind of you.”
“No, it’s not. I’m afraid you’ll find that I’m not a kind man, not in the slightest.” His voice lowered, developing a vibration that went through her like thunder. “The thing is, my lady, a man may lie about his wealth, his occupation, even his family name. But one thing he cannot lie about is when he’s attracted to a woman.”
His hand slipped around hers and drew it down. She knew instinctively what he was doing but still gasped in shock when he pressed her hand against the heavy, warm length in his leggings. The muscles between her legs contracted in a unexpected, greedy clench at the physical proof of his desire.
He folded her fingers around him, keeping her palm pressed against his hardness. “I wanted you from the first moment you walked into the king’s study, travel-stained and exhausted as you were. If we hadn’t had other matters to attend to, I would have pressed my suit then and there.”
Other matters. Namely, the rescue of her younger sister Sibeal from an unwanted wedding ceremony. Amelie could still remember the acrid stench of the privy that had been the only avenue of escape from the mage-proof chamber where her mother had jailed her. With only enough time to crop her hair short and change its color, she had spent a sleepless night riding across country to reach Mons and plead for Matthias’s help.
“I was a fright,” she muttered. “How could you have wanted me?”
“You were stunning. A warrior goddess come to earth to claim fealty from the king.” His hand began to move hers, guiding it up and down the heated ridge. “Although I prefer your own hair color. The blonde didn’t suit you.”
“I meant it as a disguise.” Her thoughts were fragmenting, split apart by the promise of his flesh against her palm. The growing ache between her thighs throbbed, making her wonder what it would be like to feel him inside her, filling her. Would it be as delicious as the gossiping girls promised, or would it be yet another disappointment?
*smacks self on forehead* Wait, I had a release this week, didn’t I?
It probably would be useful if I told you that Shifter Woods: Roar is now widely available at online retailers, huh? I blame exhaustion from repairing and reinstalling the pool pump motor; we spent most of Monday afternoon and evening trying to get it reattached to the pump, to no avail. After getting eaten alive by bugs and retreating inside in disgrace, Ramón did more research on Google and found some tips. The next morning he went out there by himself, and in his own words, “I just slathered everything in lube, and now that I could see what I was doing it popped right in!” Words to live by, folks.
Anyway, the pool pump is now functioning (ironically, the garage door opener failed that night, but more research indicated what was wrong and Himself fixed that as well), the second novella in the Esposito County Shifters series is out and selling nicely, and I’ve gotten a pleasing amount of reviews on it as well, so a huge Cameron thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy and left a review. And if you haven’t, just click on that link up there and it’ll take you to the book page where you can select your choice of ebook retailer. I’m all about making things easy for you.
And because I don’t think I told people about this, Shifter Woods is going to be a four-part novella series. The first two novellas will be followed by Shifter Woods: Snarl, which deals with cougar shifter Andrea Lochter, whose father Jim (the Alpha of their pack and a former Marine) owns a ski lodge on the mountain. When Caleb picks up John Rockwell, one of Jim’s itinerant service buddies, for vagrancy and drops him off at the lodge at Jim’s request, Andrea makes it a point to stay as far away from the homeless wolf shifter as possible. But the pull of a heart’s mate is hard to resist, especially when Andrea and John have to team up for a search and rescue mission involving a little girl.
The fourth novella, Shifter Woods: Scream, is about Deputy Jane Carey, the golden eagle shifter introduced in Howl. When drug dealers somehow “lose” their pet tiger while stopping for food and gas in Esposito County, Jane takes to the air to spot the big cat. But when she learns that the escaped animal is actually tiger shifter and FBI agent Eric Cho, things get particularly sticky, especially when a local zookeeper with a secret of his own gets involved.
Once all the novellas are done, I’ll be combining them at the end of the year into a box set and print version, and at some point early next year I’ll be doing a full-length novel set in Esposito County (first I have to finish the novellas, Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3), Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2), Do No Harm, and The Chevalier’s Dilemma). Yeah, the rest of 2017 is gonna be kind of busy.
Meanwhile, back at Olympic Cove…
I can tell that I haven’t worked on this series for awhile — getting back into the rhythm and the voices of the established characters has taken a bit of work, and I’ve also switched up the new characters for this book (my MC was originally ex-military, but that was making him a bit too hard-assed for the purposes of the book so I switched it out — he now practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which should be more than enough for the heroics he’ll be doing later on in the book). I think I’m solidly back in place now, and chapter 1 of Cross Current will be done by the end of the day. With a good tail wind and some effort I may have all of Act I done by the end of this week, which would be nice.
Now if the Sudafed and Tylenol I just took to relieve this damn sinus pressure would kick in, life would be a dream.
OH! One last thing — I’ve joined Instagram. Yeah, it was bound to happen eventually. Anyhoo, you can follow me and get an inside look at the life of a hybrid romance writer. A warning — cats will be featured prominently. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
An update, because I know you love those
This has been one fraught week, angels. Last week, Ramón learned that his mom had broken her thigh bone (ironically, it happened in the doctor’s office which she was visiting to determine why her leg hurt). She was taken to the hospital and received multiple scans, after which it was determined that she needed surgery to install a plate on the thigh bone to hold everything in place.
And then a consultant took a closer look at the scans to figure out what was causing the pain in the first place. He discovered a tumor. More were found, and suddenly we went into full “Get Ramón back home to see his mom NOW” mode, which was complicated by work duties and a very welcome house guest who just happened to show up at a difficult time. But the house guest is now on her way, the work duties have been fulfilled, Ramón is packed and I’ll be schlepping him to the airport in a couple of hours, and he’ll be landing in the UK tomorrow. Any good thoughts/prayers/white light/whatever you have directed to a very nice lady in Chesterfield would be quite appreciated at the moment.
In other news, I posted polls on Facebook and Twitter to ask people what series they would like me to work on next. To my surprise and gratification it turned out that Olympic Cove was the clear winner, so I’ve put the Pacifica Rising and Two Thrones books on hold and am back at work on Cross Current (Book 4). I hope to have that off to Evernight by the end of May, so for everyone who’s been waiting for the continuing adventures of the gods, mermen, disciples, and other residents of Olympic Cove and their battle against the Mad Goddess Thetis, you’ve got something good on the way!
A blast from the past
Today’s writing project was Cross Current and despite not one, not two, but THREE cats insisting on jumping into my lap to help I finally finished knocking out 3K on it, bringing my total word count up to 6,409 words. I’m also very pleased to announce that I get to use one of my very first characters in this novel — yes, for fans of my novelette A Boon by Moonlight I’m bringing back Lord Jerrek of House Carwin as a consultant for the Olympic Cove crew on how to handle the runaway selkie prince who just landed on their shores. As it turns out Jerrek owes Poseidon a favor or two, and he’s being deliciously snarky as usual as he negotiates the trade of information with my two lead characters.
Oh, and Ceit? Your namesake just made her first appearance (in discussion, at least). The beautiful, brilliant Lady Ceitlin of House Selbach is waiting for her wayward groom to get his ass back to the pod and go through their marriage ceremony. But will that be the end of it? Oh, hell no — things just get more interesting from here on in.
Also, apropos of nothing I’ve somehow managed to wash all of the master bedroom bedding today. Considering that we sleep with a ridiculous amount of bedclothes (all my fault — Ramón calls me the Greater American Nesting Female) that’s about seven loads of laundry, plus I carried all the clean clothes upstairs and put them away. I think I can take the rest of the night off, yes?
Nicola’s Progress Reports
Since I was poked by my buddy Peter on this:
Palace of Scoundrels (Empress sequel) – 1,645 words since I spent a fair amount of time outlining the thing. Nonetheless I’m hoping to have this done by RT — I would like to have it out and available, but that may not be possible. We’ll see.
Behind the Iron Cross – 76,039 words and I’m storming into Act Three as we speak. This one is gonna take mega editing, though.
Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4) – 3,538 words, and I came up with a refinement for my main character that is extremely organic and effective AND makes the story more diverse.
“Do No Harm” (Dark Captive antho entry for Evernight) – 1,520 words. This is the one I really have to focus on since the deadline is March 15th. It’s also the most difficult of the bunch because, well, here’s the antho description:
Dark Captive will be a collection of dark erotic romance stories featuring alpha men with fierce sexual appetites. They’ll stop at nothing to get what they want. And they have their sights on one man. Possessive and bold, these heroes give their conquests exactly what they crave—to be taken … to be owned. Any resistance offered will be tested, but in the end love rules.
So, dubcon with a romance and HEA/HFN. Kinda hard to do that effectively in less than 25K words, but I think I found a way to make it work.
I’m also trying to catch up on some desperately needed housework in my spare time, but I think I’m breaking down and paying for a professional spring cleaning of the place after I get back from RT. My blue collar South Side soul is screaming blue murder at this, but my professional writer brain is saying, “You can spend time cleaning or you can spend time writing. Which is more productive and satisfying to you? Plus if you hire a service you’re pumping money into the economy, and you can give them mega tips to shut up that screeching soul of yours.” Works for me.