Happy Wednesday, lovelies! Today I’m here with my sister from another mister L.D. Blakeley and her hot new M/M fantasy romance Shadowy Pines, now available from Evernight Publishing and other online sellers. Take it away, L.D.!
A few years ago I went sightseeing in my own backyard and fell in love with a beautiful area just a few hours outside of Toronto called the Kawarthas. It’s the kind of place where I could imagine buying a cottage, or even picture moving to on a more permanent basis one day. You see, it has a vibe. I know – how very woo. But it does. It’s magical, almost otherworldly. And I knew in an instant I was going to create a fictional universe based on this bewitching region in Ontario, Canada.
When an over-educated, underemployed millennial is called home to help with the family business, he jumps at the chance to leave his crap job, crappier love life, and the city behind.
But moving to Shadowy Pines isn’t quite the idyllic life change Finn Parks imagined.
How the hell do you cope when you find out magic – actual magic – is real? Or that you also happen to come from a long line of powerful witches? And that handsome man with all the sizzle? Yeah, he might be trying to kill you.
“You’d be surprised how easily swayed I can be by a handsome face.”
Not for nothing, but Finn was fairly certain that was a come on. It had been a while, but he did remember what one sounded like. This one was … nicer, somehow. It still had the promising lilt of innuendo, but it didn’t sound like it had been rehearsed or lifted from bad porn dialogue.
“My aunt says you’re new in town, too. What’re you here for?”
“Business. Boring family business.”
“How vague,” Finn teased.
“Seriously. My father sent me back here to check out a vineyard. He’s interested in adding it to the wine brewing facility we already run, the Sharpe Wine Butler on the outskirts of town. You know it?”
“Can’t say I do, but it sounds more interesting than why I moved here.”
“Why are you in Shadowy Pines?”
“Jude and Poppy needed my help, I had nothing worth holding on to in the city, so—here I am.” Finn shrugged. “Now that’s boring,” he added with what he hoped was a charming smile.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Finn.” Owen pulled his chair closer and placed his hand on Finn’s knee. “Feel that?”
Of course he did. It felt as though a live wire had been placed against his bare skin.
“Yes.” Finn cursed the breathy, needy tone his voice had taken on. “What…” He wasn’t sure how to phrase his question so it wouldn’t offend. “What is that? I mean, I get the concept of electrical attraction, but this? This isn’t normal.”
When Owen didn’t reply right away, Finn prodded, “Right?”
“No, not really.” Owen’s fingers were slowly caressing Finn’s leg and inching their way up his thigh “Not for most people.” Owen leaned forward and took Finn’s face in both hands and brought their lips so close Finn swore he could taste him. Owen’s eyes visibly blazed in a way that barely seemed human. Finn froze, his breath catching in his throat.
When Owen finally pressed their lips together, Finn felt another jolt of electricity arc through his entire body and he gasped at the sensation. Owen’s fingers at his nape trailed delicious sparks across Finn’s skin as he licked at the seam of Finn’s mouth. Finn opened eagerly and nipped at Owen’s bottom lip. Never had a kiss made him so crazy with want. He needed to touch, wanted to crawl inside of Owen and feel him from the inside, out. But as Finn reached out a hand, Owen pulled away, his breathing every bit as labored as Finn’s.
“We’re different, Finn.” Owen licked at his lips and watched Finn’s eyes follow the tip of his tongue. “You’re different. You know that, right?”
Finn had no response. None that made any sense. Right now all he wanted was to tear at Owen’s clothes and taste every last inch of the man. But for some reason, Owen had put on the brakes and wanted to discuss—what, exactly? Finn was at a loss. And his dick could have cut glass.
“The woman in the grocery store. You mentioned that wasn’t the first time you’d seen her, right?”
“Right.” Finn’s voiced faltered slightly. Not sure where Owen was going with this, he gestured for him to continue.
“I think she saw you for what you are.”
“And what exactly is that?” Finn asked, not sure he wanted an answer.
“You’re a witch, Finn.”
Owen’s face was so serious, so earnest, Finn almost believed him for a split second.
He threw his head back and laughed uproariously. He laughed so hard, he could feel tears well up in his eyes. Well that’s an effective way to kill an erection.
But Owen’s expression hadn’t changed an iota. He simply sat and stared at Finn.
“Are you—oh, god, you’re serious aren’t you?”
Dammit! He knew there was a reason he’d established his dating embargo. He certainly could attract the crazies.
Where to Buy
On sale at Evernight Publishing → $3.99 $2.99 until Dec. 12
About the Author
L.D. Blakeley is a pragmatist with a romantic soul & a dirty mind. She loves horror movies, hot sex, and happily ever afters. She’s easily distracted by shiny things, and is a slightly neurotic, highly ambitious dreamer who enjoys dabbling in photography & pretending she can carry a tune.
In another life, L.D. was a newspaper reporter, an entertainment & music writer, travel writer, website content editor, and a marketing shill. Now she prefers to spend her time writing hot, steamy fiction (with a healthy dose of romance) about intriguing, sexy men. Although she dreams of living some place isolated with an endless supply of wine and an infinite number of titles on her eReader, she currently lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and their rock star cat.
Find L.D. online:
Oh, look — it’s Wednesday, which means you need something extra to help you over Hump Day. Never fear, for today I’m here with a delightful new spicy contemporary romance box set full of NYT and USA Today bestselling authors, including the delightful Erzabet Bishop.
Featuring New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors, Sin & Seduction is a spicy, diverse collection of paranormal & contemporary, hetero & same sex romance reads designed to ignite fires of passion, love, and romance.
Bursting with sexy-as-sin heroes & devilish heroines, our titillating & romantic tales will seduce you and leave you craving more. Get ready for a passionate and exhilarating ride!
Warning: The Sin & Seduction authors suggest all readers ensure snacks and cool drinks are obtained before starting this collection. Once you start, you won’t want to stop until the last page. Please read responsibly.
From Erzabet Bishop’s “Torment”:
Wanting him had to be a sin…
He saved me from the darkness, but by then I could never go back to the light. His eyes haunted me. When I’m given the choice to offer up my body for one month in exchange for my brother’s life, I don’t even hesitate. It’s dangerous, this dance we’re in, and I can’t look away. But will it be enough?
Olivia was mine.
She stood there trembling in the dark, wounded, and that’s when I knew I had to have her. I would protect her, from our families and even from myself. But when fate handed her back to me on a silver platter, I couldn’t let her go. Her place was in my bed. All I had to do was survive long enough to keep her.
Where to Buy
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Ekaterine Xia’s hot new fantasy romance Goddess in Waiting, now available from Amazon and other purveyors of romance ebooks. Take it away, Ekaterine!
If she fails to persuade them that Earth is on track to Ascension, the planet will be reset back to prehistoric days.
And that’s the good ending.
The Devourer of Worlds looms in wait to claim Earth as his rightful salvage. Not content with the planet as a main course, he’s also set his eyes on having godlings as appetizers.
Since drama comes in threes, not only does Amarantha have the Council and the D to contend with, but she must also negotiate the status of her marriage with Death himself.
Can a goddess nearly Faded into mortal flesh save the world, herself, and her marriage along with it?
“There is a challenger. If we do not meet his challenge, then he lays claim to all of Earth as salvage. All of Earth, all of its inhabitants — devoured,” Ra said.
“By what claim?”
It was Alex who answered. “Failure to ascend before achievement of interstellar travel.”
I threw up my hands in disgust. “Of all the excuses. We are so far from interstellar travel it isn’t even funny.”
I gaped at Ra, who only shrugged, her answering grimace wry.
“Remember those alien ships that crashed a few decades ago? Well, they think they’re on the verge to cracking the riddle.”
They. The dancing monkeys that called themselves world leaders.
Exhaling a slow breath out, I pinched the point between my brows. “How close is on the verge?”
“It could be anything from decades to mere days. Breakthroughs are hard to predict.”
I slumped back into my seat, cuddled the amphora to my chest, and took a good long slurp. There really wasn’t enough booze there to make the situation even vaguely tenable, but no sense in heading into a quandary sober when I could do it somewhat sloshed. The wine was good. Very good. No wonder Alex drank the stuff like water.
A tipsy gurgle escaped. For all I knew, it had been water. That was one of Alex’s tricks, after all.
We drank silently and steadily for a while. To their credit, Alex and Ra didn’t push. Probably because they knew I was one word away from saying fuck it. They knew what happened the last time, what I’d lost.
We did end up breaking out the Ninety-nine and special potion Five after the sixth bathroom run. Having a super charged metabolism wasn’t all it was fired up to be when it meant that you spent more time running to the toilet than you did drunk.
I gave in when the sun started heading west. They weren’t going away and neither was the situation.
“All right. So tell me again: why me? I’m just a little, minor goddess out of mostly obscured Chinese legend with a specialty for memories. Eighteen Hells, most people don’t even know I’m a goddess or that I exist.”
I lifted my cup and pointed at Alexandros, continuing to grouse, “I can see why Mr. Sunnyface over there doesn’t want the job, but why not any of the numerous more well-known gods out there?”
At this point, Alex’s drinking problems aside, none of us wanted to give his worshipers the satisfaction of knowing that they were right about his existence. Including him. Not to mention that he already had more than enough on his plate to deal with all the problems his followers dreamed up on a daily basis. If we put more on his shoulders, he could very well decide that he was better off perpetually floating in a vat of wine rather than not. As it was, he was already close to being pickled. Even Dionysus couldn’t keep up, which was saying something.
Ra flicked me a look. “Most of ’em have gone the incarnation route. Or they’ve gone on walkaround.” Which you would know if you were paying any attention at all, her expression said.
I shrugged. That was something I had no guilt over. Why, when gods Fell, incarnated, Faded, and Slept on a whim? Who you had with you at any given time was who you had.
“But not all. I mean, if you’re scraping the barrel, you could consider Bast, Tiamat, or who’s that one with the gorgeous accent and the feathers?”
Alexandros raised his hand and started ticking down fingers. “Bast is currently Fallen as a cat who is pet to the principessa of some rich country. She’s hardly going to give up her foie gras and cream for this posting, even if we did manage to get through to her in her current form. Your hot stud with the gorgeous accent and feathers recently went on tour of another world to find more worshippers. And do we really need to bring up Tiamat? If we let Tiamat be the representative of Earth, we might as well let the challenger have it. It’ll be less embarrassing.”
I tsked at him. “Tiamat would be heartbroken to hear you say that about her.” True though. She was just a bit too closely allied with chaos for diplomacy. Not that we didn’t like Chaos and Entropy, but really, it would be like bringing your favorite rabid squirrel to a party and expecting things to not go sideways.
He arched a brow. “Tiamat can…”
Ra sighed. “Children…
“The buddhas have gone. Alex can’t and won’t do it. Fates and Stars, you don’t want Alex doing it because you don’t want to give his followers the chance to be smug. Anandi and I can’t do it because we have descendants and they don’t count us as impartial parties. Almost everyone else has incarnated or Fell. Tell me, Amarantha, who would you leave the future in the hands of right now?”
“Impartial? That’s a requirement now? And who on this blue earth is impartial?”
Alex gave me an oddly sweet smile, untainted by cynicism or bitterness. “It’s your choice, Amarantha. But I know you. You’ve already made it, haven’t you?”
I took a swig of special potion Five. It hit me like a ton of bricks, a warm sensation floating up from my abdomen, my memories blurring slightly, my emotions clouding just enough for me to say the fateful words.
“Fine. I’ll do it. What does it entail; where’s my entourage; how do I kill the big bad; and what’s the treasure?”
Where to Buy
About the Author
Traverser of realms, dreamer, dabbler in all things fantastical – Katje builds worlds where HEAs are possible for everyone.
Be it reuniting star-crossed lovers in magical ancient China, dragon shifters searching for a new homeworld in space jellyfish, short fluffy brown girls, sweet shy nerd boys, lovers who’ve missed the happy boat six lifetimes in a row, imaginary friends, and the odd goddess or two. Plus Death. Never forget Thanatos.
Katje also writes shorter, spicier stories as E. Xia.
For those of you who read yesterday’s Mid Week Tease and wanted to know how the rest of that scene turned out, I live to serve. Enjoy!
“That’s not nearly as helpful as you think it is,” Amelie muttered, getting the last bit of sticky juice out of her hair. She slid under the water in the tub to rinse, shaking her head from side to side to sluice out the suds, then resurfaced. “You should have seen their faces.”
Her maid made a noncommittal noise. “But the apples ripened.”
“Yes, the apples ripened, which means the Harvest Festival is officially underway. Hopefully that will keep Maman satisfied.” Amelie stood up, accepting a bath sheet and wrapping it around herself. “And I can get back to my real work.”
Jeanette helped her out of the tub and shooed her over to the vanity table. “Excuse me for being blunt, milady, but these will be your duties someday. You can’t stay in your office forever.”
Amelie wished she was still young enough to stamp a foot, absurdly petulant as that would be. Instead she dropped onto the padded chair, allowing the maid to work on her hair with a drying cloth. “Perhaps Maman should have made Sibeal her heir after all. She could have blown up the entire square and everyone would have congratulated her.”
“Mayhap, but Lady Sibeal isn’t a Terra magistra,” Jeanette said mildly, pulling out a comb and running it through Amelie’s damp locks. “You are. And frankly you have the better mind for governing a province.”
“So you say. Maman says I’m too cold and analytical.”
The maid sighed. “Her ladyship has a different view from yours on what makes a good countess. It doesn’t meant that hers is the only correct way.”
“Oh, isn’t it?”
Both of them started, turning guiltily towards the tall woman standing at the bedroom door. With her titian hair coiled into an elegant updo, hazel eyes that changed color depending on what she wore, and a form-fitting maroon gown that highlighted both a heavy strand of emeralds and creamy décolletage over the square cut neckline, Henriette le Clerq looked like the harvest personified. “Do go on, Jeanette,” she suggested.
Blushing, Jeanette dropped into a deep curtsey. “I’m sorry, my lady. I didn’t mean—”
“Of course you did.” Henriette swept closer, holding a piece of rolled-up paper in her slender hands. “And you’re quite right. My daughter’s views are different from my own. When she becomes the Lady, she may rule Lierdhe as she sees fit. In the meantime, however, I am still the Lady of Lierdhe and must do as I deem best for my province and my people, even if that runs counter to my daughter’s views.”
Jeanette bowed her head. “Of course, my lady. I apologize.”
“Mm. You may go.”
The maid bobbed another curtsey and left. “I wish you wouldn’t scold Jeanette, Maman,” Amelie said wearily. “She did nothing to deserve it.”
“Oh, my dear, that wasn’t a scolding,” Henriette said, waving the roll of paper. “That was merely a reminder.” She pursed her lips. “I heard about the little contretemps at the ceremony today. Apple juice everywhere, the mayor said.”
Leave it to her mother to bring that up. Controlling her temper, Amelie picked up the comb Jeanette had dropped and went back to work on her hair. “I was distracted by one of the children. It won’t happen again.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” Henriette said idly. “Practice makes perfect and all that, and it’s not as if I can step down until I know the family line will continue.” Before Amelie could come up with an appropriate reply she continued, “Speaking of that, however, I just received the most wonderful news from your sister.”
“What does Sibeal have to say?”
A beaming smile crossed her mother’s face. “She’s with child. She writes that she should give birth in the spring, and we’re to come to Wolf’s Lair to see the baby.”
For someone who had resisted the match so severely, Amelie thought, her mother certainly seemed happy with it now. It was ironic, considering the chill that had dropped over their own relationship ever since the King of Ypres had ridden to Lierdhe at Amelie’s request to stop the forced wedding of her younger sister Sibeal to Clement Reynard. The wedding had been Henriette’s way of dealing with rising debts from her drought-stricken province; she’d made an arrangement with Gregor Reynard, the Earl of Leuven, for a loan of two million gold soleils to cover seed costs in exchange for one of her daughters marrying the Earl’s heir Clement. When Amelie had broken off the engagement due to Clement’s boorish behavior, the countess had thrust Sibeal into her place, locking Amelie in a mage-warded cell to keep her “out of trouble.”
But King Matthias had put a stop to all that. Now Sibeal was happily married to Duke Tomas Villiers, the man who had ridden at the king’s side to her rescue, and Lierdhe was safe thanks to the earl forgiving half his loan (at sword point, admittedly) and a generous wedding gift of one million soleils from Villiers, the crown, and Prince Marcus of Illium.
Amelie ignored the sharp pang at the thought of Marcus. He’s gone, and that’s all there is to it. “How wonderful. I’ll write to Sibeal tonight.”
“I’ll have the seamstress start on a layette immediately,” Henriette said, pacing now as she tapped the rolled letter against her chin. “White and green, I think, with our sigil worked in silver thread. And some new gowns for Sibeal, of course. And we must have a purse for the child.”
Amelie thought of the ledgers in her office. “Don’t make it too extravagant. This year’s harvest was much better than the last two, but it was hardly a bumper crop.”
Henriette stopped in mid-stride, the doting grandmother-to-be replaced by the shrewd countess. “How bad?”
“Not bad, but the farmers say it won’t be up to the amount we’re used to, either. They estimate we’ve had an eight percent decrease in yield.”
“Drat.” The duchess resumed her pacing, but this time her smile was gone. “I thought the spring rains had taken care of the drought.”
“They eased it, yes, but it will take more than one wet spring to fully heal the land.” Amelie toyed with her comb. “You might want to reconsider my proposal that we send a request to the Aeris chapter house. If we can have a team of their mages generate a steady amount of rain through the winter—”
Henriette shook her head, two delicate curls bouncing with the movement. “The Aeris don’t believe in interfering with natural weather patterns. And even if I could talk them into it, it doesn’t sound as if we have enough money to pay their infernal fees.” Her hazel eyes narrowed in thought. “Besides, we don’t need Aeris help with this. We can install an irrigation system fed directly from the Lier. And our farm workers can create the irrigation channels, with help from us as required.”
Creating a ditch via magic was certainly one of the easier tasks a Terra mage such as her mother or herself could perform. “That would certainly be practical,” Amelie allowed. “But how would we go about planning such a thing, much less installing it?”
“I’ve already contacted the Earl of Bertrix. He’s willing to lend us some engineers for the project.”
Amelie felt her mouth drop open and closed it quickly. “You must be joking. You loathe Stefan Vandenberghe. I’ve heard you call him a dirt-grubbing troglodyte to his face.”
Henriette flicked long fingers. “That was only because he called me a high-handed harridan. But I’ll admit the blasted man is clever when it comes to earthworks. He’s already agreed to help us plan and install an irrigation system for a share in our harvests over the next five years.”
Amelie ran the figures in her head. Much depended on what the earl considered a share, but if Lierdhe’s fields had access to guaranteed water then their house could afford to give up a certain percent of each harvest. And the earl, ruler of a dry and rocky province on the border of Ypres near Munoz, was known for his brilliant aqueducts and other strategies to transfer water across his lands. If anyone could design a functioning irrigation system for the rolling fields of Lierdhe, it was the Earl of Bertrix. “Does that include this harvest as well?”
“No, not until the system has been installed and is working properly. I’ve invited the earl and his entourage to come to the Harvest Ball so that we can discuss terms. You’ll have a full report on this year’s harvest by then, of course.”
The Harvest Ball. Amelie wanted to groan in dismay. In previous years her mother had used the ball to trot potential suitors in front of her like some fairy tale come to stiff, uncomfortable life. She’d been allowed to skip it last year due to her doomed betrothal to Clement, but clearly her mother had the matrimonial bit in her teeth again.
The only boon about that was that Henriette had been forbidden from having any say in Amelie’s future consort, by both royal and magical decree. Lette Melliers, the Terra Grand Magistra of Ypres, was an old friend of her mother’s but hadn’t been happy about Henriette’s actions in the spring. Both King Matthias and Lette had laid down the law; Amelie’s husband would be her choice, and her choice only.
Which meant she would be expected to make an appearance at the ball and view whatever potential suitors could be scrounged up, as well as sit in on the negotiations with Vandenberghe and provide facts and figures as needed. Her head started to hurt at the thought. “I take it we’re lodging Vandenberghe’s people at Ardenhaal?”
Henriette sighed. “Unfortunately. I’ve also asked the king to send that lawyer of his to assist us with the negotiations.”
That came as a surprise. Counselor Alain LaPorte was the lawyer who had advised King Matthias on the unlawfulness of Sibeal’s betrothal agreement. Amelie wondered if her mother was going for some kind of record in personal shocks. “I thought you called him a duplicitous snake.”
“He is. But if I’m to deal with Vandenberghe, I’d prefer to have a duplicitous snake working on my side.” Henriette pointed the rolled-up letter at her. “As you take on more of my duties, you’ll learn that ruling a province isn’t all pretty dresses and balls. You’ll often be called upon to do things that go against your personal preferences.”
Such as marry a rich boor. “Forgive me for not being able to stomach Clement Reynard, Mother,” Amelie said through her teeth. “But if you had gone to the king as I’d begged you—”
Henriette held up a hand. “We don’t need to rehash this, Amelie. The de Clerqs still rule in Lierdhe and Sibeal is happily married with a baby on the way. Things have turned out for the best, which is all I can ask for.”
Which was completely false. Her mother could, and would, ask for the sun and moon on a silver chain if the mood struck her. “If you want me to have the latest figures for the negotiations, I’d best get back to work tomorrow. Was there anything else you wanted to tell me?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Henriette said, attention straying back to the letter in her hand. “I’ll let you get ready for bed. Good night, my dear.”
So much for that. She tried for a polite smile, but her mouth wouldn’t cooperate. “Good night, Maman.”
The countess swept out of the room. After a moment, Jeanette came back in, one hand behind her back. “Is the coast clear?”
Amelie slumped on her chair. “As clear as it’ll ever be. I’m sorry about her scolding.”
The maid shook her head. “It was my own fault, milady. My mother always said my tongue will get me into trouble one of these days. Now, shall I help you get ready for bed?”
After the disasters of the day, all she wanted was to be left alone. “No. I think I can do that much for myself. But thank you.”
With a surprising hesitancy, Jeanette approached the vanity, bringing out what she had hidden behind her back. “Then I’ll give you this, milady.”
She put down a small plate that held an iced almond cake. Amelie stared at the pastry, her throat tightening. Someone had remembered, after all.
“I—thank you,” she stammered. “That was very kind of you, Jeanette.”
“I know it’s not much, but everyone should have a cake on their birthday.” The maid gave her a sympathetic smile. “Many happy returns, milady, and good night.”
With a quick curtsey she was gone. Blinking back tears, Amelie reached out and broke off a bit of the cake, wondering if its sweetness could offset the sour thing that had become her life.
Happy twentieth birthday to me.
Which has much less Darren McGavin than A Christmas Story, but bear with me. In the spirit of the year (and because all of us need a bit of a lift right now) I’m putting both Two Thrones books on sale for 99¢ until New Year’s Eve. So if you’re new to the joint kingdoms of Hellas and Ypres, this is the perfect chance to check them out.
Lord, I’m tired. But I had a hella fun release party last night that was well-attended and responsible for a nice spike in sales, judging from the numbers I’m getting from Amazon and ARe.
But first, thanks must go where they are due. Huge thank yous go out to everyone who attended, to the people who made production of this book possible (killer betas Ceit, Peter, and Lisa, editrix extraordinaire Michelle, and inspirations Daniel and Rooney), to the awesome Jay Aheer who made a stunningly gorgeous cover, and to mu husband Ramón who tolerated an increasingly dirty house and held my hand while I tiptoed into the waters of epic fantasy romance. You people are all in the will.
And come to think of it, thanks must also be paid to the ineffable Jenny Trout, who brought this whole foofaraw to my attention and made me think, “Huh. You know, I could self-pub an 80K book in six weeks with pro editing/cover. Okay, let’s try.”
And hell, let’s thank the woman who kicked it all off. If it wasn’t for Payne Hawthorne, her cock-juggling thunder cunts, and her challenge, I wouldn’t have a book that’s currently climbing the fantasy romance chart at Amazon. So thank you, Payne.
Of course, now that it’s out there I have to do all the promotion. The book is currently priced at 99¢ and will stay there until 11/21 so you have plenty of time to go get it at sale price. After 11/21 it goes back up to the regular price of $4.99, so get it while the getting is good.
And remember, if you do buy a copy please leave a review at your place of purchase. Review honestly help and get a book more exposure, which gets it more sales, which means Nicola can feed her cats the GOOD kibble.
Okay. Time to get back to my NaNoWriMo project. Bwahahahahahahahaha!
(Apropos of nothing, I counted up how many rounds of editing I did on this last night. After the first draft there were two rounds of editing which resulted in a draft sent out to the betas, a third round where I added in all the beta comments, a fourth round where I added in the editorial changes, a fifth round where I got rid of weasel words, a sixth round where I nuked as many adverbs as I could, and a seventh round with Scrivener’s spellchecking/grammar tool where I cleared out all the spelling/grammar/punctuation goofs I could find. I suddenly feel content with myself.)
So far I’ve gotten feedback on Empress of Storms from two of my beta readers. These are people I trust to tell me when I’m fucking up, and apart from some spelling/punctuation errors they’ve been enjoying the story. One BR, who is gay, said that he was even kinda frustrated because his husband wasn’t home and my smut made him want to jump hubby and, I repeat, “bang him like a screen door in a hurricane.”
When a MF story has that effect on a gay man, you know you’re doing something right.
While I’m waiting for copyedits from the team I’m going through and doing a third edit/polish and setting up the ebook formatting. It will be available in all formats through Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords, and will be available as a print book through CreateSpace by next week (I need to format the interior and get the page count to Jay so that she can calculate the spine size and do the front and back cover for me).
And of course we’re doing a release party on FB this Sunday, so make sure you come over and join in the festivities. The lovely and talented L.D. Blakeley will be joining me to cohost and we’ll be doing giveaways, posting pics, and generally having a grand old time.
Apropos of nothing, I got into a discussion about inspiration so I thought I’d share the pics that I’ve been staring at for the last six weeks while I wrote feverishly. The hilarious thing? I had no idea they’d been in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo together (why, yes, I’m kinda slow when it comes to popular culture).
I go by visuals and sometimes voices when I look for character inspiration, then I work out their backstory and how they behave as the story progresses. Actors work well for this because I know how they sound and can use them as mental paper dolls as I write. I already had Daniel in mind when I started writing Matthias (warrior king, tormented by his wife’s death, not thrilled about this new marriage, thousand yard stare, you do the math), so when I stumbled across a picture of Ms. Mara I thought, “Ooh, yeah, she’s got grit and determination, and she can pull off regal at the same time. She’ll work as Danaë.” It wasn’t until someone asked me if I was a Girl fan that I discovered what I’d done. I probably need to see the movie at some point.
Oh, I’ve also been asked why I’m using Nicola M. Cameron on Empress of Storms. I lifted the idea from the late, brilliant Iain Banks who wrote mainstream fiction as Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. It was a way of differentiating between the two genres without having to use a pseudonym, and I decided to use the same trick here, especially as I noticed the rather sharp falloff of sales with my MMF novel Deep Water. Nicola Cameron is pretty much associated with MM/MMM fiction by this point, so if you pick up a Nicola Cameron book that’s what you’ll get, whereas Nicola M. Cameron writes MF fiction with occasional forays into MMF. That should keep everyone happy.