Category Archives: Shifter
And that’s it for 2022
Looking back at the year, I didn’t get nearly all of the books I wanted written, mainly due to unexpectedly getting a Total Knee Replacement mid-year, but I did start a new series with Crystal Shard, I added The Crimson and the Black to the Hidden Empire series, I finally finished Shifter Woods: Growl, my Why Choose novella A Theory of Crystal appeared in the charity anthology F*ck the Patriarchy: Getting Smutty for a Cause, and I’m thisclose to finishing the unintended fifth novella in the Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Claw. That’s two full-length books and three novellas in a year where I spent a good six weeks recovering from surgery so I ain’t complaining. I plan on releasing Claw on January 6, 2023, at which point I’ll also put together an omnibus edition of all the Esposito County Shifters novellas.
I’ve also made more from writing this year than I have since 2016, which goes to prove that moving the bulk of my romances into Kindle Unlimited was a good choice. Of course now there are rumors that KU is going bye-bye so I may be returning to wide distribution in the near future, who knows.
BTW, the knee is doing really, really well. It still amazes me to be able to walk without limping.
So, what else is ahead for 2023? Firstly, I need to finish the rest of the Paladins of Crystal series—Crystal Blade will be finished and released by the end of January and after that will be Crystal Reflection, Crystal Citadel, and Crystal Empress. I have also promised that the last two (and long-awaited) books in my Olympic Cove series, High Tide and Hurricane Warning, will be released.
That’s six books. I will try to finish two more—Mage of Fire (Book Five in the Two Thrones series) and To Love a Wild Swan (Book Three in the Hidden Empire series). I have these books roughed out in my head (I’ve been doing a LOT of quilting this month and that is a great opportunity for me to tell myself stories) and I’ll be transferring that info to outlines next week.
But wait—there’s more! After a certain amount of nudging from people I will be starting a Patreon next month. Along with character interviews, Why I Wrote This pieces, and sneak peeks at books in progress, one of the things that patrons can expect will be a monthly short story set in one of my universes that will be exclusive to Patreon for the calendar year. No one will be able to read this story anywhere else, and at the end of the year I’ll publish all of the stories in a collection and dedicate it to my patrons. I’m also coming up with other bennies—there will definitely be levels for getting my new releases in ebook format, print format, and special hardcover format that come in book boxes with swag. Because I’m extra like that.
In closing, I hope you all have a safe, sane New Year’s Eve, and I look forward to entertaining you in 2023.
So Shifter Woods: Growl is out today and I made Shifter Woods: Howl free today to encourage read-through of the series. Growl was originally going to be Book 4, but I am not J.R. Ward and cannot combine MF and MM stories in the same series, apparently, so I wound up making Shifter Woods: Roar an associated novel.
Which leaves me on the horns of a dilemma. Since I moved Roar into the associated category I was musing about writing a fifth novella in the series and titling it Shifter Woods: Claw about Matt Parker, the wolf shifter Alpha for Esposito County and the head of Search and Rescue, who gets called out to investigate an abandoned car near MacComber and finds an female wolf shifter who can’t remember who she is or what she’s doing there. Of course hjinks ensue after that when Matt finds himself drawn to the beautiful female, only to find out that she’s brought trouble with her to Esposito County.
So I have a story. But for some reason this series just hasn’t sold very well, despite getting good reviews and brand-new, completely market-appropriate covers. I don’t know if the market is just saturated or my shifters aren’t feral enough for readers or what. So I’m wondering if I should just wrap it up as a trilogy plus associated novella and put it out as an omnibus. That way, I would actually have one completed series to my name and I wouldn’t have to worry about shoehorning Claw into the 2023 writing schedule.
I think I need to wait and see how well Growl does. If it sells briskly, I’ll write Claw and put off the omnibus until 2023. If it tanks, I’ll omnibus all four novellas and put it out sometime in December.
The joys of December, she said darkly
For other people, normal people who don’t have other people in their heads forcing them to write down their stories, December can be fraught. There are holidays to prepare for, gifts to buy, houses to clean, families to deal with, and all the other joys that come with a massive communally celebrated event.
For writers, we get all that plus deadlines. For instance, as of tonight I have officially pulled the trigger on the pre-orders for The Crimson and the Black (Hidden Empire Book 2), with a release date of January 25, 2022, and Crystal Shard (Paladins of Crystal Book 1) with a release date of March 15, 2022). Are the books finished? Ho ho ho—you must be jesting.
But it is a truth universally acknowledged that Nicola works best with deadlines, otherwise she’ll faff about and waste time reading social media or watching Netflix. And it’s not like this is totally impossible or I’m starting from zero. Crimson is about 1/3rd finished—if I light a fire under my butt I should be able to get the rest of it knocked out by New Year’s Eve, and the editor stands ready to take acceptance of it on January 7th after I do a fast edit. I will also be working on Shard (which is about 2/15ths finished by comparison) in parallel, but that doesn’t have to be ready until mid-February so I can focus on Crimson as necessary.
As I’ll be rapid releasing the Paladins of Crystal books starting in March with Crystal Shard, I’ll be starting Crystal Blade as soon as Crimson is done. The plan is to work on two books at the same time with the focus on the next one to be released in order to meet the release schedule:
- March 2022: Crystal Shard
- April 2022: Crystal Blade
- May 2022: Crystal Reflection
- June 2022: Crystal Citadel
- July 2022: Crystal Empress
Barring death or something bad happening to my hands, I should just about be able to pull it off. And then I’m taking August off because phoo. My writing schedule for the rest of the year will depend on what’s selling best which at the moment are the Two Thrones, Hidden Empire, and Pacifica Rising series. If that’s still the case in August, I may do Mage of Fire, To Love a Wild Swan, and Uncertainty Principle to round out 2022. And yes, I can hear the shrieks of outrage from Olympic Cove fans who are waiting patiently for the last two books in the series. All I can say right now is that I have to work on what’s profitable—if sales of Cross Current pick up, I’ll do those books instead.
But—if Paladins of Crystal does as well as I think it can, I have two related series that I can start working on in September and start off with a January 2023 rapid release schedule. My goal right now is to make $50K in income by the time 20Booksto50k 2022 starts in Vegas, and this is how I’m going to do it.
*touches fingertips together* That being said, I need help from you. I’ve found some places that advertise reverse harem romances and I’m contacting them, but if you know of any reviewers, bloggers, sites, et al that specialize in RH, please please PLEASE point me towards them. I’m going to stack promos around the release of Crystal Shard, but I want the RH fandom to be aware well before then that the book is coming out and the other four in the series will follow quickly.
So, yeah, December is gonna be a busy month for me. But I feel good about this—I have solid outlines, I know my characters well, and I’m going to do my damnedest to write some amazing romances. Let’s get ‘er done.
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.
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.
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.
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¢:
- Storm Season (Olympic Cove 1)
- To My Muse
- Red Robin and the Huntsman (A Two Thrones Novella)
- Empress of Storms (Two Thrones 1)
- Shifter Woods: Howl (Esposito County Shifters 1)
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.
Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Howl #MidWeekTease #MWTease
Hello, chumrades, and welcome to Mid Week Tease! This week I’m featuring a snippet from my new paranormal romance Shifter Woods: Howl. As for this scene, well, let’s just say that my Alpha sheriff is dishing out a little sensual retribution for three days of worry. Because Caleb’s like that.
Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
Caleb dropped to his knees, pressing kisses into the dark floss at the juncture of Laurie’s thighs before breathing in her scent there. “I’ve been dreaming about tasting you again,” he said, urging her legs apart. She gasped in delight as he laved more kisses across the sensitive flesh there before applying his tongue to her clit in sensual flicks. Electric sparks raced through her body, pushing pleasure ahead of them, and she moaned when he dipped his tongue inside to taste her wetness, pushing one thigh up and over his shoulder for better access.
He raised his head and smacked his lips. “Like dark honey with a touch of salt. I think you just became my favorite dessert.”
He returned to eating her out with heated abandon, his tongue wickedly talented on her clit and his fingers just as skilled as they slid inside her. She had to clutch his shoulders in order to stay upright, her one leg was trembling so much. She wasn’t sure if it was the muscle strain, the position, or simply Caleb between her legs, but the orgasm that rocked through her and made her scream like a banshee almost blew the top of her head off.
She finally had to push him away or fall over. Licking his lips, he guided her down to the rug and shucked out of his own clothes in record time. She took the opportunity to kiss him while his hands were occupied, enjoying the primal combination of their tastes in his mouth.
He urged her onto her back and moved between her open thighs, his erection a thick, warm weight over her clit. He teased her with a slow pump of his hips, wetting himself with the slickness flowing from her, and her inner muscles clenched with need.
“Stop teasing me, damn it,” she panted.
He paused, grinning at her. “Honey, you’re lucky I’m not spanking your luscious little ass for letting me worry for three straight days. If I want to take some time teasing you, I will.”
And he did, sliding over the sensitive nub until she wanted to scream. “Okay, you want me to beg, fine,” she gasped. “Please fuck me.”
The order made her squirm. “Please, Caleb, I need you inside me.” Happy tears pooled in the corner of her eyes and she struggled to take in a breath, her need for him was so large. “Please, make me yours.”
With a growl he hitched back, then slid into her in one thick, lung-emptying thrust. “Mine,” he ground out. “You’re all mine. No one else’s, you hear me?”
She let out a high wailing cry at his invasion, wrapping her legs high around his hips so that he had room to move. And he did, each stroke filling her body and soul with him. She felt the tears overflow and trickle down her temples. He lapped at them, licking up the salt water before kissing it onto her lips. “Love you, mate of mine.”
“I love you, too.” As another round of that marvelous heat began to grow between her hips, she dug her nails into his back. “God. Please, Caleb, harder!”
He sped up his rhythm, pushing into her with a heavy, almost punishing stroke, the delicious ferocity pounding her into the thick rug. The stimulation was just this side of too much but he wouldn’t stop, couldn’t stop until she was shattered and scattered, ashes of pure sensation. “Caleb!”
His head lunged, mouth opening on the crook of her shoulder. She felt his canines sink into her flesh as she came, blinding bright this time. The biting pain mingled with the incandescent pleasure and she shrieked as it tore through her, changing her forever.
Where to Buy
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
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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.
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
Mid Week Tease: Cross Current #MidWeekTease #MWTease
Hello, chumrades, and welcome to Mid Week Tease! This week I’m featuring anohter snippet from Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4), where our hero Matt winds up being abruptly introduced to the paranormal world. No pressure.
Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
Matt choked on his wine.
Griffin leaned over and whacked him on the back as he spluttered. “You all right, mate?”
“Yeah,” Matt managed, grabbing a napkin and wiping his chin. “Sorry. Uh….”
He pointed at the beach, where a guy who could have worked as a body double for Chris Evans was climbing out of the surf. Shaggy blond hair surrounded a face that should have been on a romance novel cover, while the water slid off muscled arms and a perfect V-shaped torso, drops trickling down to—
Matt swallowed as the man’s naked and well-hung groin cleared the water. Jesus God, how does that thing not act like an anchor?
If that wasn’t enough, a sleek brown head also emerged from the water, letting out a ringing bark. One of the biggest seals Matt had ever seen thumped out of the water with the aid of powerful flippers. Man and beast headed straight for Dunn’s cottage, where Naked Guy dropped to his knees at the stairs, bowing his head. “My lord,” he said, voice rough and exhausted, “I come to ask a boon.”
My lord? And then Matt noticed Dunn’s expression. The amusement from the meal had turned into grim authority, while Ammie’s delicate features firmed into a more feminine version of her husband’s glower. Griffin leaned back in his seat, rubbing his mouth.
Matt turned back to the newcomers just in time to see the seal start writhing on the sand. It let out a series of pained noises, deforming as if something inside the creature was trying to get out.
And then the sleek sable fur on the breast split, a human hand pushing through it. The animal abruptly turned into a seal-shaped balloon that slid off the shoulders of a dark-haired man who crawled out of its skin.
Also naked, a hysterical little voice in the back of Matt’s head said. Although not quite as well hung…
The seal man got to his feet with an effort, looking drained. “Lord Poseidon,” he said to Dunn with a weary bow, “my name is Malcolm Muir, and I formally ask for sanctu—”
Before he could finish the sentence his eyes rolled up. With a gentle smile he collapsed face forward into the sand.
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