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Vote for King of Blades in the Swoon Awards semi-finals!

There’s a new contest in Romancelandia! The Swoon Awards are chosen by popular vote and are open to all romance readers. Much to my shock and delight, I found out that King of Blades made it into the semi-final round for the Fantasy Romance category.

Voting for the semi-final round ends tomorrow, so if you’d like to vote for King of Blades in the Fantasy Romance category you can do it here — go to the middle of the page and click the pink Next button to start voting. And thank you for your support!


And it’s selling briskly, so I’m pleased with that. I’m also amused that a writer friend of mine commented on FB, “So how did you get Don Draper to pose for the cover art?” Hey, I would not object to Jon Hamm posing for one of my covers, but I suspect his rates would be expensive as hell.

However, that did remind me of something that I kinda wanted to head off at the pass. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the model on the cover of King of Blades is the same one I used on the cover of Shifter Woods: Howl. Why would I do something like this, you ask?

Well, because I think he’s hot, whoever he is, and he worked as both my world-weary coyote shifter sheriff and my determined king about to become the father of twins. That’s the beauty of indie publishing — you have full control over the covers. And if I want to use this austere, muscled stunner twice, by God I will.

Speaking of publishing, I just got word a little over an hour ago that Blades was accepted into the Premium catalog at Smashwords, so it should be available at B&N by tomorrow morning and at Kobo and iTunes within a day or so. I’m working on the print version and that should be available by the weekend, and I also need to put it up at Eden Books tomorrow.

While all that’s in play, I’m also back at work on the fourth book in the Olympic Cove series, Cross Current (and isn’t that a lovely cover at right?), with a goal of getting that out on *checks calendar* 11/24/20. I’ll be setting that up for pre-order sometime this weekend, so if you’ve been patiently waiting for the next book in the series, mark your calendars and pre-order it. Here’s the (unedited) blurb:

Fresh from a divorce, high school history teacher Matt Taber retreats to a cottage on Olympic Cove to lick his wounds before school starts up in the fall. But the Fates have other plans for him in the form of a merman running from a deadly family history, three selkies who have to satisfy a royal demand, and a new career as the Oracle of the Waters. Can Matt adjust to his new life before the Mad Nereid comes calling?

And there’s more good Olympic Cove news — I’m completing the series next year. Books Five and Six (tentatively titled Riptide Bay and Hurricane Eye) will be completed right after the first book of 2021, Hidden Empire’s The Crimson and the Black. So for everyone who prefers their series to be completed, you’ll be able to buy the Olympic Cove box set sometime in July. But if you hate the idea of the series ending, don’t worry — there will be additional novellas set on the cove, as well as related books (I have this image in my head of a grumpy and very reluctant Hephaestus being dragged to Earth by Hermes to help him get the Olympic Wi-Fi working, and falling in love with a female blacksmith). So many books to write, so little time…

I see Autumn has come to the clavicle of Texas

Today has been drizzly and hovering around 59°F, which is a huge improvement over the inches of snow other parts of the country have gotten this weekend so I am not complaining.

What it means, however, is that I get to break out the sweatpants and meals like zuppa toscana, shepherd’s pie, and other cold weather delights get put back on the menu. Soup is currently simmering on the stove and I’m waiting for Ramón to finish doing whatever it is he’s doing in his office and come collect his bowl. I have a cat (JJ) currently sitting on the Chesterfield staying warm, while another (Jasmine) is sitting on my footstool, I already finished my bowl of soup so I’m quite replete, and I’m going to watch the latest episode of GBBO once I get this uploaded.

Also, as you may already know, King of Blades comes out on Tuesday. That being said, I have made a slight booboo when it came to the file I uploaded to Amazon on Friday for those fourteen lovely people who pre-ordered it.

See, I was hurrying to get it spell-checked and formatted before the uploading deadline on Friday. At the same time, I was aware that I also had to try and get a soft fabric cone on Jasmine, who has an open wound behind one ear that she keeps re-opening by scraping it against things. So I finished the formatting, uploaded what I thought was the correct file to Amazon, then set off to try and cone the cat.

Oh. My. God. You would have thought that all the devils in hell were after her. She’s skitty under normal conditions but with the cone on she had a total and complete meltdown. After she ran in a blind panic all over the downstairs, she shot upstairs and hid under the bed. I went up to try and coax her out, but she was terrified. I finally took the cone off — I’m calling the vet tomorrow to see her (she needs her shots anyway), and I’m looking into a less stressful covering for that area so that she doesn’t actually have a heart attack while it heals.

After I took the cone off, however, a little voice in the back of my mind said, “Um … did you upload the final, corrected file to Amazon, or the uncorrected ARC (Advance Reading Copy) file? Because the ARC’s in the novel folder, but the corrected final version is in your Calibre library folder.” With a sloshing dread growing in my belly, I came downstairs to check.

Yup, I sent the wrong file. *bangs head on desk*

By that point I was past the deadline and locked out of KDP, so I’m going to have to wait until it’s just past midnight on Tuesday and upload the actual, genuine, FINAL file, then put the word out to everyone who pre-ordered it and ask them to delete the version Amazon sent and re-download it. It’s not that big of a deal, but there are a handful of spelling and grammar mistakes in the ARC (which is common as it’s compiled earlier in the editing process) and I don’t want those folks who pre-ordered KoB to think, “Whoa, she’s really slipping on the spelling.”

After that, I thought I would take this weekend off and relax. Ho ho ho. I spent yesterday updating the Other Works pages and the formatting on all the Two Thrones books so that everything was consistent across the series, then today I got stuck into Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4). That’s scheduled to come out on 11/24, so I have about 20 days to complete 72,000 words. Totally doable, especially if I crank out 3K today and cut down the remaining words to 69K.

In other news I’ve now finished three rounds of PT on ShitKnee. As of last Thursday it was able to bend to 110 degrees. My left knee can bend to 125 degrees, and 125-130 degrees is considered a normal range. As I started out on the first visit with 88 degrees of bending in ShitKnee, 110 is a significant improvement.

Now, straightening the knee is another matter. That hasn’t improved as much, but I now have a floor exercise where I lay on my back, put a prop under my right ankle, and let gravity pull ShitKnee down for ten minutes. I’m supposed to do that 2-4 times a day. The cats, unsurprisingly, have loved this.

I also spoke to the head therapist who said that my wandering kneecap wouldn’t cause stiffness in the joint itself––that’s probably due to scar tissue or adhesions (since I never had PT after the surgery back in 1984). I know damn well I broke an adhesion a couple of years ago when I was still able to jog because I felt it pop on the treadmill. Looks like I’ll be trying to break more of the damn things over the next couple of months.

But I have to say, walking is definitely easier. The pain has eased up, I’m not limping nearly as badly as I had been, and I now have a Theraband roller for rolling out tight fascia and muscles. It feels like this is actually going to work for me.

King of Blades, Day 8

I’m starting out today with a word count of *checks Scrivener* 19,201. Should it be higher by now? Oh yeah. Why isn’t it?

Well, let’s take a look at the weekend, shall we? Quite apart from the hellscape that is the current US political situation, I put up King of Blades for pre-order on Amazon. Then I got some excellent advice about the free stories (“A Gentle Fall of Snow” and “Beneath Their Own Blue Sea”) I’ve been making available to newsletter subscribers, and I put them up on Amazon as well for 99¢ a pop. Why? Well, I’m working on the basis that not everyone will want to sign up for my newsletter, but they may want to read the stories anyway so I should make a legal copy available to these folks. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. And judging from the sales I made over the weekend, this was a good move.

Then I wrote 500 words of a short story I wanted to submit to a market (got the rejection today so I’m going to write it anyway and sell it myself like “Snow” and “Sea”). Then I had to update a bunch of pages on the website to reflect the new books, then put out a newsletter and let people know where they could get the free versions of “Snow” and “Sea,” as well as pre-order King of Blades. In between all this I had to adjust my Amazon ads, do laundry, go food shopping, make dinner, and yeah, work on King of Blades yesterday.

So, not quite where I wanted to be at in the book today, but I got a lot done anyway, so that’s all good. Onward!

NaNoWriMo, Day One

Yes, I’m doing it again this year, and I’m working on King of Blades (Two Thrones Book Four), which should make the Matthiaë fans out there happy. I’m looking to finish it by November 30, with a release date around the third week of December, whee!

The plot: Matthias’s yearly visit to Hellas and the games that are celebrating Danaë’s pregnancy are complicated by family strife, old friends, and a string of accidents that may not be all that accidental. With Danaë distracted by her double pregnancy, Matthias has to sort out this new threat to his ever-growing family.

Day 1 word count: 1667

Daily snippet: The traveling party moved slowly through the shadows of the majestic Arpinnes mountains, toiling upwards towards a narrow gap in the range. In winter the gap would be all but impassable due to blizzards and the sheer amount of snow and ice deposited there, but this early in autumn the route was still clear enough for King Matthias IV of Ypres and his coterie of guards, servants, and courtiers to cross over to the other side. Once they descended and reached the small strip of land that formed the eastern border of Ypres, there would only be a short sea journey remaining before they reached the glittering island kingdom of Hellas, ruled by Matthias’s wife and co-ruler Queen Danaë.

Which couldn’t come soon enough for his riding companion. “Why is it so bloody cold up here?” Prince Ezeudo Debare of Ghobos asked, burrowing deeper inside his fur-lined cloak. “This is horrendous.”

Matthias swallowed a sigh. “I’m not really sure. All I know is that it’s always colder in the mountains that it is down on the plain. Consider yourself lucky we’re crossing now. Last time I did this trip there was snow on the ground.”

“Snow.” A disgusted sound followed the word. “I’ll take the desert, thank you very much. At least the air there doesn’t turn my lungs to ice.”

He considered his companion, one of his oldest and most trusted friends. “Ezeudo, do you ever stop complaining?”

“No. It keeps my mouth warm.” The prince grinned unexpectedly, teeth white against his dark skin. “Besides, if I stopped complaining you’d wonder what I’d done with the real Ezeudo.”

“This is true. Remind me again why your wife tolerates you?”

“Because she is the moon to my sun, the love of my life, and I venerate her as I venerate all the deities. Also, she enjoys my large penis.”

Matthias snorted. “I’ll take your word on that, my friend.”

Another flashing grin from the Ghobian. “You’re going to tell her I said that, aren’t you?”