Category Archives: Paranormal

Publishing work, cats, and newsletters

Being an indie author isn’t all snacking on bon-bons and writing your heart out on your preferred choice of writing tech. You also have to do things like track your income, monitor your Amazon ads (I was doing absolutely splendidly up until yesterday, and then today––bubkes. I don’t know if it was because of the impeachment proceedings or not), write up and send out newsletters, study courses on how to promote your work more effectively, and a bunch of other paperwork things. Many years ago, Terry Pratchett once told me that only half of his day was actually taken up with writing––the other half was paperwork. Now I understand what he meant.

But at least the long-delayed newsletter with the links for Cross Current went out, plus I added info about King of Blades being up for a Swoon Award––

*sigh* I didn’t mention that here, did I? Yeah, KoB made it to the semi-finals in the Fantasy Romance category in the Swoonies, and if you’d like to vote for it you can do that here: bit.ly/3n6cYeh

I need a PA. Or the ability to go somewhere where five cats aren’t bugging me for attention.

Anyhoo, I also added a link to a survey in the newsletter so that people could tell me if they’re interested in my MM titles, my MF titles, or are willing to read it all. I’m trying to be more professional this year and target my newsletters more accurately so that people only get the info on titles that they want to read.

As for TCatB I haven’t hit word count yet for the day, but I’m hoping to get that done after dinner. I must say, it’s always nice when your Muse graces you with an infodump about your hero’s back story as she did this morning at 4:00 AM. So now it appears that I’m writing a book about a cheerfully pan Victorian vampiress who finds out she’s the mate of a big, hunky, virginal dragon shifter with amnesia.

I mean, yeah, there’s OTHER stuff in there, as well––the whole bit about finding a group of missing selkie girls who are being married against their will to wealthy merchants, for one. But Fee just can’t get over her craving for big, grumpy Callum Brown, professor of literature and dragon shifter who can’t remember anything from before the year 900 (when he was hit by lightning during a North Sea storm and a pod of selkies nursed him back to health. He’s been their protector ever since). Callum has waited almost a thousand years to find his mate, and now she’s finally walked into his life––except that Fyodora doesn’t DO lifelong commitments and refuses to be tied down.

I do like to complicate things. Now I just have to figure out how this is all going to work for them.

Writing During Tumultuous Times (or: Why I Didn’t Make Word Count Last Week)

As of today, I should have had 27,000 words done on The Crimson and the Black, well past the 1/4 mark and close to the 1/3 mark of the book. Instead, I currently have *checks Scrivener* 10,209 words.

But I have Reasons.

January 4th: made my word count early in the day, then turned off Scrivener and started cleaning up after my cat JJ who had been leaving little piles of foamy pink mucus all over the living room floor. As he is 19, this was understandably concerning. He refused to eat for the rest of the day, leaving one last pile near the kitchen before curling up in a spot next to the fireplace and behind a table where it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s where he goes when he’s sick, which wasn’t a good sign. I decided to take him to the emergency vet in the morning.

January 5th: Loaded a complaining JJ into the crate and hauled him into the emergency vet. They’d seen him way back in 2006 when he’d had a bladder blockage so they had records on him, and I waited in the parking lot for about two hours while they ran bloods and checked him over.

Their diagnosis: “He has an upset stomach. Everything looks normal except for his BUN, which is slightly elevated due to the vomiting. We’ve given him anti-nausea meds and B-12 to stimulate his appetite––bring him back in if he gets worse.” What really surprised me was the news that his kidneys were fine––his own vet had diagnosed him as a kidney deficient kitty about four years ago. Since he’s outlived the life expectancy for those cats by a year, clearly his kidneys did not agree with this. They also told me that he was a very, very good cat––the vet tech who brought him back out to the car adored him, which is his just due.

After taking him home, I headed back out to the store to get various delicacies with the hopes of tempting him to eat something, anything. Nothing worked––he wouldn’t even lick at anything, but he was drinking water and peeing so at least he was getting some fluids. By this point it was evening, I still had to come up with something for dinner, I was tired and worried about JJ, and I figured I would just write off the day and make up the word count the next day. Ho ho ho.

January 6th: As everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows by now, the U.S. Capitol was attacked and overrun on this day by a bunch of cosplaying MAGA idiots and a smaller group of far more competent seditionists after Pobrecheeto, along with some help from Rep. Mo Brooks and Junior, whipped them into a frenzy down at the Ellipse, then sent them off to the Capitol to stop the vote count. JJ was still not eating, and my attention for the day was torn between the news and my ailing cat. Writing? Surely you jest.

I finally got JJ to lick at a little bit of Gerber chicken baby food (his favorite snack) in the evening, but that was all he would eat. He curled up in his Sick Spot and went to sleep, while I stayed up to watch Congress confirm the electors’ votes in the middle of the night and give Joe Biden the win.

January 7th: Needless to say, I woke up late. Still torn between the news and JJ, I now had to run out to the pet food store to get some adult cat formula and see if I could get JJ to eat some of that. He wasn’t thrilled with it but I got him to lick some off his muzzle when I smeared it there. No other food would pass his lips, however, and I was really starting to get scared. I decided to get up at 8 AM, call his vet, and beg them to let me bring him in.

By now, I was frazzled, scared that I was about to lose my black velvet purrmonster to an upset stomach, of all things, and increasingly infuriated with what was happening in D.C. No, I didn’t write.

January 8th: After an absolutely horrible night of sleep, I got up and called the vet, leaving a message detailing the situation with JJ. I then waited up until they called back at 10 AM and said, “Bring him in––we’ll work him up between appointments.” (It helps that they love him, too.) So back into the crate JJ went and off we drove to the vet’s office. I dropped him off, came home, and crawled back into bed for a four hour nap.

After I woke up, I poked at the WIP for a bit in between checking the news. At 3:30 PM the vet called––they couldn’t find anything wrong with him, either, but they’d given him different anti-nausea meds, as well as an appetite stimulant and some Pepcid to reduce stomach acidity, and offered to send a banana bag (lactated Ringer’s solution that can be injected into a cat via subcutaneous IV) home with him as well. I knew how to give a cat sub-Q fluids so I took them up on it, and fetched JJ home. He walked into the house, went straight to the food bowl and began nomming down. He continued to eat periodically for the rest of the night, in between snoozes on his usual spot on the couch, and I got 1,676 words done on CatB.

January 9 – 10th: I’d really hoped to play catch-up over the weekend, but I also badly needed sleep after the events of the week, plus I still had to do the food shopping, laundry, and other household tasks, and JJ really wanted to spend a lot of time resting on my chest while I petted him. As a result I only got 733 words on Saturday and 773 words on Sunday, but at least I got something down.

January 11th: First day properly back at work, and I managed to tear myself away from the increasingly horrendous news coming out of D.C. long enough to get 3,055 words done, which gave me word count for the day but didn’t do bubkes about my deficit. This wasn’t helped by the fact that all of the other cats had noticed me giving JJ extra cuddles and deserved equal time. I still don’t know if they have a quota worked out among themselves or what, but I had a cat on my lap desk or in my arms for a total of three hours today. I timed it.

January 12th: I should make word count tonight, and I’m hoping to get to bed early and get a decent night’s sleep (not that easy with our utterly crappy mattress) so that I can get up early tomorrow and knock out 6K, which will start whittling down my deficit. The story is starting to pick up steam (I can hear the characters talking in my head when I’m writing dialogue, which is always a good sign), and I’m learning a lot more about Fyodora’s dragon shifter beau Callum Brown (I had no idea he was a professor of literature at the University of Edinburgh, for example), as well as Victorian casinos, the relationship between dragons and selkies, and what happens when a footloose and fancy free vampire finds herself unexpectedly mated to a gruff dragon shifter who prefers to be alone.

So anyway, that’s me. How are you all doing so far?

Okay, that’s done

Yesterday was one hell of a day, my friends — I’m talking fourteen straight hours of work. But the Belaurient edition of Deep Water is now up at Amazon, Smashwords, and Google Play, and I’ve uploaded the print files and ordered a proof so once I get that and approve it the print version will be available. Once Smashwords approves it for Premium catalog inclusion it’ll get sent to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes, at which point it’s gone wide and I don’t have to worry about it anymore (still need to set up ads on Amazon for it, though) and can concentrate on finishing Cross Current in October.

This month’s book, however, is King of Blades. The plan for today was to get up and get cracking immediately on King, but a combination of being really tired (ironically) and the smoke from the West Coast hitting Texas blocking up my nose like it was filled with cement made for a difficult night. I wasn’t able to get to sleep until 6 AM, and only got about six hours of sleep and then had to wash a chair cover because JJ had vomited on it (I literally JUST washed this cover a couple of days ago, and shampooed all of his puke spots on the living room rug yesterday. And yes, he’s fine — he’s done this all his life).

So, everything is clean, Ramón has gone back upstairs after his late lunch, I’ve had a bowl of soup, and I’m going to open King now and get started on it. Current word count stands at 8,169, completion date is set to be October 5th, and I’ll do a daily count here just to keep myself honest and y’all entertained.

Structure is fun, yay…

Finish one project, move on to the next

So Shadow of the Swan is out there on all online markets, earning money and reviews, and I’m happy with that (as of this moment I’ve sold 143 copies on Amazon). I’ve even uploaded a free short story titled “A Gentle Fall of Show” about Henry and Louisa’s first Christmas at Bookfunnel (all subscribers to my newsletter got the link; if you want to subscribe, click here, enter your email address, and you can download “Snow” in MOBI, EPUB, or PDF format).

So what’s next, Nic? I’m glad you asked.

Since it looks like we’re going to be stuck in COVIDland for the foreseeable future, I am setting up some structure for myself for the rest of the year. And I know I’ve said that before, but this time I’m doing it partially for income and partially because I really need it to stay sane.

So — today, I am wrapping up the re-edit of Deep Water and uploading it to Amazon, B&N, et al. Tomorrow I go back to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) with a goal of finishing it by Monday, October 5. If I do 3,265 words a day, I’ll make that easily. Moreover, I KNOW I can write that many words a day easily (I knew it before, but 2019 kinda shook my faith in myself). Even better, now that I’ve been testing my lavaliere mike, Scrivener’s dictation function, and Otter.ai (oh, Holy God, dictation is a fricking godsend to anyone who needs to write fast and can handle saying stuff out loud), I should be able to crank out that amount within two hours, then spend another couple of hours editing it into shape. The rest of the work hours will be taken up with promo, cover design, et al, and outlining the rest of the books I’ll be writing this year.

On October 6, I pivot from King and let it cool for a week while I fire up Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4). People have been waiting VERY patiently for this book for about five years, so now that I have the rights back for all of the Olympic Cove books I want to reward them for their patience. The goal is to finish Current on November 2. On October 12, in parallel with my work on Cross Current, I will start editing King with a goal of getting it out to my editor and the betas by October 16. After I incorporate their changes and do the final polishing stages, I’ll publish King on Tuesday, October 27.

On November 3 I let the completed Cross Current rest for a week while I go back to work on Uncertainty Principle (and by then I’ll actually have an outline, please God — this book has been frustrating me for the better part of two years) with a goal of finishing it on December 4. Once again, I’ll edit Cross Current in parallel with writing Uncertainty, with a goal of publishing Cross Current on November 24. Uncertainty Principle will be published on December 22, and I am taking the rest of December off to let my brain cool down and get in some well-deserved relaxation by that point.

IF I HAVE TIME AND INTESTINAL FORTITUDE, I will work on The Crimson and the Black in December once Uncertainty Principle is finished. I am not going to promise anything at this point because, quite frankly, I may need to collapse at that point. Much will hinge on how well the dictation goes, how quickly I can edit, and whether or not I still have extra processor cycles available. If I decide to put it off until 2021, it will be the first book of that year.

I’m not going to post my planned schedule for 2021 yet because it’s still kind of soft and I want to get some details firmed up. But my goal is to release at least four full-length books that year (I’m telling you right off the bat, two of them will be the final books in the Olympic Cove series), along with a handful of novellas and free short stories.

And yeah, I know it looks like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but King, Current, and Uncertainty are all partials so it’s not like I’m starting from square one on any of them. If I can get all of them done and out the door, I will have cleared my backlog and can start 2021 with a clean conscience. Let’s see if I can get this done.

*lifts storm shelter door, peers out*

So, the last time I spoke with y’all, it was August 18th and I thought I was on the downhill slope for Shadow of the Swan. The book was supposed to be 80,000 words or so, and I had just crossed the 60K line so I figured (quite logically at the time) that if I spent the next five days doing 4-5,000 words a day I could be done and dusted by 8/23/20. That would give me a few days to get it cleaned up before I sent it off to my editor and betas. Since I didn’t have to have the final version uploaded to Amazon until 9/4/20, I had plenty of time.

Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha*SOB*

Yeah, no. For one thing, I felt like absolute crap on the 19th and 20th, so no wordage was achieved. By the time Friday the 21st rolled around, I knew I had lost valuable time and had to make it up with minimum 5K days. But Friday through Monday would do it, right?

Well, it would have if the book had stayed 80,000 words long. But as I got stuck in, I quickly realized two things:

One, my word count included chapter synopses that I stuck in months ago to tell myself what was supposed to happen in each chapter. As I deleted these and replaced them with actual story, I wound up losing anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words. So even though I physically wrote 5,000 words a day, I only wound up with 3,500 – 4,500 words in the end, which meant that I had to write even more to hit my 5K word quota.

Two, this book was not going to be 80K long. When I hit the 80K mark on Monday, August 24th, I still had the climax of Act II to write and all of Act III. Many, many bad words were said at that point.

So I kept on keeping on. Wrote 5K+ day after day, and watched in helpless terror as my characters got themselves into deeper and more complex trouble, and wondered how the actual fuck I was going to resolve all this. By Friday, August 28th, I still had three chapters to go and less than a week now before I had to upload the final version.

I don’t remember much of Saturday, August 29th. I do know that it was a personal best when it came to output because I wrote 8,672 words that day. (And in case anyone is wondering, yes, I got up to take regular walking breaks on the treadmill, stayed hydrated, and did everything I could to keep moving and avoid deep vein thrombosis. I was frantic, not foolish.) I wrote until 5 AM, when I finally added Louisa’s last words in the last chapter, then I checked my total word count.

106,620 words. I wrote 40,839 words over eight days. The old fashioned way, with my fingers on a keyboard. I was honestly shocked that my brain wasn’t leaking out my ears by that point.

I slept until noon, got up and frantically edited, then sent it out that evening to my editor and betas with abject apologies that they were getting, in effect, version 1.5. I immediately turned around and went back to work on a full edit. Is this recommended? No. Is this something I could handle? Yes.

In the end (and I attribute this to experience gained over twenty-five years of professional writing along with a healthy dollop of naked, abject fear) I had somehow managed to write a fairly clean, coherent draft that only needed tweaks here and there to fill the occasional plot hole. I still don’t know how I managed that. My editor, bless her angelic heart, sent me changes live as she went through the book, which helped immensely. My betas both turned it around in record time and got me their lists of grammar, spelling, and punctuation goofs. A very kind reviewer friend who got an ARC sent me a handful of missed goofs and a couple of plot points that needed a bit more work, so I was able to get those incorporated, as well.

By 9/2/20, I had a reader-ready edition. I spent Thursday formatting it, giving it one last review and polish, then uploaded it and the cover to Amazon for release on 9/8/20. So here it is, the day before release (and Labor Day as well), and my stomach is in knots because this is my first new release since November 2018 and I just want people to like it.

So, that’s where Shadow of the Swan currently stands. I now need to finish re-editing and formatting Deep Water and get that out, then go back to work on King of Blades. Because the best thing you can do when you finish a book is start writing the next one.

Although I may indulge in a rum and coke. I think I earned it.

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.

Progress Post: Shadow of the Swan

So anyway, I’m currently at *checks Scrivener* 8,737 words of a projected 80,000 on Swan, and things are going as smoothly as possible seeing that I also have a day job that cuts into my writing time. But our bills are also steadily dropping (I actually paid off my car in December! Whee!) so I’ll suck it up and shove writing time into whatever available crevices I can find.

That came out weird. Never mind.

I also have what I’m pretty sure is going to be the final cover — still need to make some tweaks here and there, but I absolutely love that Belle Epoque dress and the way the model’s turned head artfully exposes the bite marks of a certain Tudor vampire, ahem. I know it doesn’t scream paranormal romance, but I can already tell this book is going to straddle the boundary between PNR and UF so what the heck, I may as well go with a cover that flirts with both genres.

In other news, the lurgy that I came down with two days after Christmas and two days before Sister and BIL were due to arrive (which made cleaning the house SO much fun, and great accolades have been awarded to Ramón who stepped up to the plate like a champ and did all of the heavy lifting so that I could rest as much as possible) appears to be finally, FINALLY on the way out. After, I must say, producing the most amazing neon yellow mucus I have ever seen. I honestly had no idea my body could make something that color. I’m still coughing intermittently but that seems to be related more to my usual allergy-induced sinus drainage than any actual infection. Nonetheless, I’m going to monitor that bit because a lot of people seem to be getting hit by pneumonia this winter and I really want to avoid it if at all possible.

I’m Still Here (oh, and please buy my books — I have an A/C repair to pay off)

Sorry about the radio silence — between trying to get various books formatted and out (my very first romance novel Storm Season has been re-released with a new cover and re-edited content, AND it’s on sale for 99¢ — go take a look!), the increasingly scary situation going on with our current administration, the #GetLoud crusade against bookstuffers and assorted scammers, me taking a jewelry fabrication course, and assorted other things I’ve been a little busy.

The latest event was our downstairs A/C unit going out over the weekend — as it’s been flirting with triple digits here in the clavicle of Texas, this was not a laughing matter. The repairman came today and we now have cool air again for just a shade under a grand. *sigh* So if you need something entertaining to take your mind off things, I currently have five titles on sale for 99¢:

To My Muse will be coming off sale on 7/1 and Degree of Resistance will be taking its place, so if you haven’t read my hilarious romcom yet go get a copy while it’s still ridiculously cheap.

But not all is doom and gloom around the Cameron manse. The #GetLoud campaign, spearheaded by the brilliant Suzan Tisdale, Heather C. Leigh, Bianca Sommerfield, and David Gaughran, has finally generated enough complaints and bad press that the Big River are now taking down bookstuffers. Not all of them are gone, mind you — I still counted at least three in the top 20 of Romantic Comedy a few minutes ago — but the ranks are definitely looking different now. And if Amazon sticks to their guns and doesn’t let these people create new accounts (which according to their TOS is what’s supposed to happen), we may actually have a respite where KU has real, legitimate novels in it again.

At least, until the stuffers figure out a new scam. Which they will, because they’re unethical hacks who simply want to make money. In the meantime, however, I’m going to experiment and put Red Robin and the Huntsman back into KU for three months because it’s not really selling wide, and if it attracts readers in KU that might persuade them to check out the rest of the Two Thrones series (the next book, King of Blades, should be out in November, BTW).

Also, I’m finishing up Shifter Woods: Snarl (see cover at left) and that will be out on 7/10, so mark your calendars! The final novella in the current series, Shifter Woods: Scream (which is Deputy Jane’s story — the eagle shifter finds herself mated to a hot tiger shifter AND a half-elf zoologist in a crossover with Siobhan Muir’s Cloudburst, Colorado series), will be out sometime in September, and then I have to think about a plot for a full-length Esposito County Shifters novel. One possibility is Caleb and Laurie finally getting married — that is, if she can take time out from her new big story and he can deal with a group of religious preppers who are trying to set up a compound in the county. All of the characters from the novellas will be in that one, and I can build from there.

Yeah, this is definitely Monday

I have been in better moods. The fact that my ears and sinuses are aching do not help (please, dear sweet baby Cthulhu, I do not need another sinus infection).

On the plus side, however, I finished a rather nifty mixed media pendant for a giveaway I’m going to run on Friday. Anyone who follows my Instagram account will be able to get in on the fun — I’ll be giving away copies of Shifter Woods: Howl as well as the pendant.

Where everything starts. A printout of the coyote gets glued onto sterling silver with rubber cement, then cut out very carefully with a jeweler’s saw

Once the shape is roughed out, I use various needle files to refine the shape further, then polish with jeweler’s rouge to smooth off any sharp edges or burrs.

The final coyote shape in sterling silver, placed against a 1″ round of red brass to see how the final piece will look.

Then I get to play with fire. The underside of the coyote piece and the topside of the moon were coated with flux, which was then fired (this prevents soot from building up between the layers and preventing a clean bond with the solder). I cut off and heated three balls of easy silver solder, put them onto the back side of the coyote, turned it over and put it onto the moon, and heated everything until the solder melted and bonded the two pieces. The pendant is now in the pickle pot having firescale and residual gunk removed.

The final product, clean and shiny! The smudges on the coyote’s body are my fingerprints.

Owned By the Alpha from Evernight Publishing @evernightpub #PNR

Coming to Evernight Publishing April 24th:

OWNED BY THE ALPHA ANTHOLOGIES

The Alpha lives for the hunt…

Driven by instinct, an Alpha shifter recognizes his fated mate from one scent, one touch. He’ll pursue his woman, regardless of the cost, and anyone else would be smart to get out of his way. He won’t stop until he takes possession of his prize.

Although the hunter doesn’t need convincing, his mate certainly does. The Alpha will have to prove himself as a lover and convince his woman that he plays for keeps.


OWNED BY THE ALPHA

Scent of Destiny by Rose Wulf

Taken Mate by Sam Crescent

Finders Keepers by Stacey Espino

The Hunt by Doris O’Connor

Alpha at Altitude by Lily Harlem

Fated to the Razorback Demon by Maia Dylan

Running Home by Michelle Graham

Alpha’s Sunshine by Elyzabeth M. VaLey

Checkmate by Wren Michaels

Frozen Heart by Beth D. Carter

Wolf Hunter by Elena Kincaid

Returning to the Coyote by Roberta Winchester


OWNED BY THE ALPHA: MANLOVE EDITION

A Tiger’s Luck by Maia Dylan

Last Alpha Standing by James Cox

Mooncrest by Jules Dixon

His Guardian Panther by Elena Kincaid

The Scarf by L.J. Longo

A Matter of Trust by Pelaam

Conflict of Interest by L.D. Blakeley