Blog Archives

Surfacing, Yet Again

As you know, Bob, I had one more book to finish and release in 2020. This was the very much anticipated Cross Current, which is the fourth book in my Olympic Cove menage fantasy romance series (or as I like to think of it, “Gods and mermen and selkies, oh my!”). People have been waiting patiently for this book for about five years, but I couldn’t continue the series until I’d gotten the rights back for the first three book. That happened this year, which meant that Cross Current was a go.

After I finished King of Blades and released it at the end of November, I got to work on Cross Current. Now, I had about 20K of the book done so I figured, meh, maybe two weeks to finish, two weeks to edit, polish, and format, and I could get it out at the end of December. Being an eternal optimist, I decided to put it out for pre-order on December 1st because I would have more than enough time to get everything done, right?

Put a pin in this because we will be returning to this point later.

So, I started working on Cross Current, and promptly ran into two rather large problems. One, I was hurting. For reasons I didn’t understand every joint in my body was screaming at me, and sitting for any length of time (which you kinda have to do if you’re a writer) was problematic. And no, it wasn’t COVID for reasons I will explain later on. But writing when your joints are on fire is not fun.

Secondly, I was having one hell of a time getting the story out. I knew how it started, knew how it finished, but the the middle part was like pulling teeth. I was lucky if I could get 300 words out a day, in between trying to get my brain to get creative and trying to get my joints to stop screaming at me.

On December 7th, I’m starting to get mildly worried because I haven’t made sufficient progress on the book and the upload deadline would be 6:00 PM CST Christmas Day. And then my muse, drunken ho that she is, strolled in with a margarita in one hand and said, “You’re having problems with this because your story is angsty. Nobody wants to read angsty in 2020. Liven it up, make it fun.”

She had a point. I was kinda putting my main character Matt through hell, and I wasn’t really paying much attention to all of the members in his menage, all five of them. Remember this graphic?

So I scrap my original story and decide to go with a fun Ocean’s 8 style caper story, where Matt has to steal some nanotech with the help of a mer and three selkies, and hijinks ensue.

And I’ll be damned, but that worked. Suddenly the floodgates opened and I could see the story in my head, which is what tells me I’m on the right track.

One eensy problem–those 20,000 words I’d already written didn’t fit this new story. I was able to salvage the opening chapter, but 15K had to go in the cut file, which really put me behind the eight ball.

But that’s when my second Festivus miracle occurred. I ran out of a supplement that I take to keep my nasal mucus thinned out (remember, I live with five cats to whom I am mildly allergic), and a day later I realized I felt fucking great. My pain levels were way down, and I was only having the usual issues with ShitKnee. I looked up the side effects for the supplement and saw, “can cause joint and muscle pain” (unsurprising because it breaks up biofilm and scavenges fibrin in the blood system).

By this time it’s December 9, and I have to put pedal to the metal because I now have to completely rewrite my first four chapters and actually finish the rest of the book. I keep plugging away, but it’s December, which means the J Crew have to be taken into the vet for their shots, I have a dental cleaning, and a myriad of other holiday-related things all eat up my time until December 17th rolls around and I only have 25,000 words out of a projected 80,000. if you do the math, you’ll discover that this left me with 55,000 words still to be written, and I also had to get the book edited, proofed, polished, formatted, and uploaded to Amazon in eight days.

Sometimes, you have to realize that you can’t do everything yourself and ask for help. First, I took a deep breath and talked to Ramón, explaining that I couldn’t do the usual Christmas prep that I do every year and get the book done. Would he mind helping out, or if certain things get pushed back a bit?

I am blessed to be married to the world’s best writer’s spouse. He blinked and said, “Petal, 2020 blows chunks anyway. We can live with a meh Christmas. Don’t worry about anything, just focus on the book.”

Okay, that was out of the way. I then talked to my editor, throwing myself on her mercy. She agreed to edit the book in chunks — I would finish a handful of chapters, clean them up, and shove them at her for editing (she is a goddess, by the way).

Finally, I sat down with my brain and had a come-to-Jesus chat. In order to finish this book, I was about to have a very unpleasant week  where I would have to write faster on a daily basis than I ever had just to finish the first draft, and then I would have to turn around immediately and edit/polish/format. If I could do this, at 6:01 PM CST Christmas Day I would get completely loaded in celebration, spend the rest of the night watching Wonder Woman 84 and Bridgerton, and the period from Boxing Day to January 4th would be devoted to rest and relaxation.

My brain reluctantly agreed. And so I sat down, wrote out a detailed outline, broke it down into chapters so that I knew exactly what I had to do in each chapter, and set out to write 10,000 words a day for the next five and a half days.

Yes, you read that correctly. And that wasn’t all; I would also be constantly shuttling completed chapters back and forth to the editor and incorporating her edits after I hit word quota for the day. But it was necessary because there was no way in hell I was missing this deadline and getting banned from Amazon pre-orders for a year.

So I did it. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I fell into bed exhausted ever night, my dreams were pretty much related to the books, I gained five pounds despite my determination to get at least fifteen minutes on the treadmill every day, the only cleaning I did was sweeping and laundry, and the meals were pretty much reduced to, “What can I throw together in ten minutes?”

But I did it. And somehow, I produced a pretty damned good book. Part of my mind kept noticing how things just fell into place, the three act structure chugging along like it was on rails. Each member of my fivesome now had an identity and screen time, and I cheered for them all the way through the book. And I wrote the most physically challenging love scene of my writing career to date. I’m still damn proud of it.

The last edits went in at 5:30 AM this morning, and I spent two hours fixing a formatting problem before uploading the file to Amazon (I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until it was done, and I had this irrational fear that I’d die in my sleep and nobody would ever see the book that had killed me) and crawling into bed at 7:30 AM. After one of the best sleeps of my life, I got up, got dressed, played with the kitties, and just … breathed.

It was nice. Then I decided to give the file one last read-through, polish, and spell/grammar/punctuation check because I am an anal-retentive masochist, formatted THAT, and uploaded it to Amazon at 4:15 PM CST, an hour and forty-five minutes before the cutoff time. It’s now churning through the ‘Zon, and the seven lovely people who pre-ordered it will get it at 12:01 AM on Tuesday, December 29th.

And then I decided to wash the bedding so that we’d have crisp clean sheets for Christmas night and clean the library so that I could put up the tree. Get loaded and watch movies? Ho ho ho. Remember, anal-retentive masochist here. But I’m singing Christmas songs as I’m working, and I’m so very proud of myself for finishing Cross Current and getting it out into the world.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and may 2021 be a huge frigging improvement on this dumpster fire of a year.

It’s the little things in life

Like when the ‘Zon actually reads your email instead of sending you a boilerplate response and unblocks one of your series so that you can edit it.

Lemme ‘splain. KDP changed things about a month ago so that authors could edit their own series pages, instead of having to ask the KDP customer assistance team do it. Problem was, I misunderstood the email instructions when we were informed of this and tried to create a new Olympic Cove series page. KDP promptly blocked the series and sent me an email that said I would have to ask them to make any future changes.

Fair enough, it was my screw-up. But when I sent them an email last week informing them of the block on the OC series page and asking them to please add Cross Current, I got a response saying, “Oh, you can do all that yourself now — good luck!” I replied with the info that, er, no, I couldn’t, the series page was blocked.

The response? Crickets.

But I am resolute. Yesterday, I sent them a new email, politely reiterating that I needed to have the book added, and attached the original “You screwed up so you need to have us make any changes” email. This morning, I got a reply saying that the series was reviewed and successfully passed, and the updates would soon be available on Amazon. Translation: “Oh, we see. Okay, yeah, we’ll unlock your series.”

In other news, Cross Current is now officially listed on Amazon as book 4 in the Olympic Cove series, which is nice because that’s currently the only place I can put it up for pre-order (Smashwords requires too long of a prep period for me to do it on B&N, Kobo, or iTunes).

So that’s all to the good. Unfortunately, there are some new functionality changes on the otherwise superlative KDP Reports Beta page that removed the ability to see at a glance which titles you’d sold on a particular day (they used to have a bar graph with colors for each title — now the graph is one color and you have to drill down through a calendar function to find out which titles you sold on X day). But I also have Book Report running, so I guess I can keep that running in a tab and check there for daily sales.

As for Cross Current, I’m chugging along and should have the second draft off to the editor and betas by next week, which will give me a week to clean up and do any final tweaks before uploading it to Amazon on Christmas Day (probably before then, but that’s my upload deadline). The plot has changed significantly, but it’s also a LOT more fun (more of a caper romance than an angsty romance) now, so that’s all good.

And then I get to relax between Christmas and January 2nd. Ah, that will be swell…

So as we patiently wait for ballots to be counted

I’m trying to keep busy by tackling various cleaning projects and finishing this Christmas romance novella that I started two years ago. I’m already at 17,400 out of a projected 24K so it’ll be done by the end of the week if I get a good tail wind.

And why am I working on this and not Cross Current, you ask? It’s this little thing called the US presidential election that’s yeah, kinda cutting into my concentration. It’s easier to write about a bantering PA and baker than it is to write about a newly-divorced history teacher coming to terms with the fact that he not only has four fated mates but is the new Oracle of the Waters.

Mind you, I haven’t stopped working on Cross Current at all, and once things are settled on the whole “who’s going to be running the country for the next four years” question I’ll go back to it. But this delay means that I probably won’t be able to get it out on 11/24 unless a miracle occurs, and I really do need to get one title out this month. So One Sweet Christmas it is.

So why do I care about getting a title out this month? Because the changes I’ve been making to my approach to indie publishing are starting to show fruit. From January through August of this year I made about $30 a month on Amazon sales, which frankly is pretty crappy. I implemented my changes in September (got serious about Amazon ads, made a plan to release at least one title a month, bumped up all my series starters from 99¢ to $1.99) and made a little over $150, then made $218 in October. My sales goal this month is $300, and I just checked my Amazon royalties — I’ve already cleared $31, the amount I was making per month from January to August, and it’s only November 4th. If I can get One Sweet Christmas out over the weekend, I can take advantage of the holiday romance boom, as well as appeal to anyone who’s burnt out after this week and just needs a pleasant, funny holiday romcom.

Then it’s back to work on Olympic Cove. Soon, my preciouses, soon…

So KING OF BLADES is live

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’m baaaaack

And in case you were wondering, yes, the flu strain that’s going around this year is indeed a stone bitch. Next year I’ll get the shot, I promise.

But I’m back, and upright, and I’m even banging out words on the keyboard. That being said, I was supposed to have To My Muse finished by the 26th. Ho ho ho. So now I’m looking at 2/15 as a finishing date with a release sometime in March. Sorry about that, but it’s hard to write when you just want to stare at your bedroom ceiling and die quietly. Once Muse is done, I’ll get to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). In fact, here’s the schedule for the year:

  • To My Muse (contemporary romcom novel – standalone)
  • King of Blades (fantasy romance novel – Two Thrones)
  • Cross Current (fantasy romance novel – Olympic Cove)
  • Uncertainty Principle (SF romance novel – Pacifica Rising)
  • Shifter Woods: Snarl (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
  • Shifter Woods: Scream (paranormal romance novella – Esposito County Shifters)
  • Untitled holiday story (fantasy romance novella – Two Thrones)

So that’s four full-length novels and three novellas, which is pretty good output if I do say so myself. And of course there’s one half-finished novel and two that I have covers for and still have to plot out. Sleep? What means this word, sleep?

Did I mention I’m also making more jewelry? We’re talking stuff that needs to be soldered and polished — two amethyst cabs and one green turquoise one that will be made into a bracelet for my BIL. So many sparklies!

And in case anyone is wondering, making stuff is part of my writing process. I’ve learned that if I do nothing but write, I jam up and can’t get anything done. Thus, crafts. Also another income stream, which is always good.

Mid Week Tease: Cross Current #MidWeekTease #MWTease

Mid Week Tease buttonIt’s Wednesday? Awesome! Because I have a little teaser for you from Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4). Matt Taber, my divorced history teacher who just wanted to spend a couple of weeks on the beach before school starts, has just learned that he’s living next door to Poseidon and his mates Amphitrite and Griffin, mermen and selkies are real because one of each just showed up on the beach with the Oracle of the Waters, and things are never going to be the same for him again. Muwahahaha…

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Matt’s tentative knock at the green cottage’s door was met by an unsmiling Griffin. “Hi. Welcome to Greek God Central.”

The repetition of Atropos’s phrase from his dream sent a chill down Matt’s spine. “Hi. Pythia said that I should talk to Amphitrite?”

Griffin moved to the side, letting him in. “Right. She and Poseidon are busy with Donald at the moment. It might be awhile.” He gave Matt a sympathetic smirk. “How are you holding up?”

That was a damned good question. “I kinda feel like I got sucked into an episode of Stranger Things,” Matt admitted. “Apart from that, I seem to be okay.”

“Good on you, mate.” The Englishman took him into the kitchen, where he pulled two brown bottles out of the fridge and handed one over. “This’ll help.”

Matt noted the microbrewery label. “I thought Brits didn’t chill their beers.”

Griffin scoffed. “We do when we’re in Florida. I take it Nick gave you the scoop on what’s been happening here?”

“Crazy goddess trying to destroy Earth, a bunch of gods and other mythological creatures fighting her, yeah, I know.” He twisted off the bottle cap and took a welcome swig. “I’m not involved.”

“I’m not arguing. I’m new to the whole thing myself.” Although the knowledgeable look in the Englishman’s eyes gave lie to his words. “How are your guests doing?”

When Matt had left his cottage, the doctor had been asking the mer about how far they’d swum. “Nick’s treating them, I think. The blond guy’s really a merman?”

“Yep, just like Aidan and Liam. You can probably talk them into going for a swim and showing you their tails.”

“Yeah, no, that’s okay.” He leaned against the counter, rubbing his thumb over the cool, sweating surface of the bottle. “I’m thinking maybe I should go back to Jupiter. If I can’t get my deposit back, I can crash with a buddy until school starts.”

The Englishman folded his arms, leaning against the opposite counter. “If that’s what you think you should do, then do it. Nobody’s going to keep you here against your will.”

Amphitrite picked that moment to appear, looking concerned. “Oh, good, Matt. You’re here. Donald wants to speak with you.”

Matt straightened up. “Donald?”

“The Oracle of the Waters. Tall man, white hair and beard, came out of the water with our other guests?”

A faint wash of dread tingled down his spine. He tried to get his tongue to work properly. “I—why does he want to talk to me?”

“I don’t know,” the goddess said, exasperated. “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with him.”

She gestured towards the hallway she’d just exited. Feeling like he was walking towards a firing squad, Matt reluctantly headed deeper into the cottage. Soft voices were coming through an open doorway and he peeked into what was clearly a guest bedroom

Inside, the old man from the beach had been dried off and tucked into bed, wet clothes piled on a chair next to the bed. Poseidon stood over him, handsome face lined as he listened to the man’s words. He glanced up at Matt’s arrival. “Oh, good, you’re here. Donald needs to talk to you.”

“Yeah, I know.” Matt edged into the room, studying the occupant of the bed. The man looked to be about seventy, with Santa Claus-white hair brushed back from a high forehead and a slightly overgrown beard hiding a craggy face. His eyes, however, were his most notable feature. Pale as sea glass, they seemed to burn in that pale face.

“Ah. Matthew,” the man said, a faint lilt coloring his voice. “You’re quite the difficult man to track down.”

Dunn—no, Poseidon—turned and considered him. “You’re going to want to listen to him, Matt.”

The affable host from last night was gone. Replacing him was a being who radiated power and authority like nothing Matt had ever experienced before. Every rational cell in his body screamed at him to turn around, leave, jump in his car and head north until he was out of reach of the divinity standing in front of him.

Instead, he stepped forward. “Amphitrite said you wanted to talk to me?”

The sea god left, and the old man chuckled wearily. “Poor Poseidon. I don’t think he ever expected me to impose on his hospitality. But if Mohammad won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammad.”

More of the Fates’ words from his dream came back. “Are you talking about my trip to France?”

“Yes. You were supposed to visit Marseilles, you see. While you were there, you would have found your way to my cavern and I would have begun your instruction.”

Another of those cold washes of dread trickled down Matt’s spine. “Whoa, wait. Instruction? For what?”

“To replace me as the Oracle of the Waters.” Another ferocious smile. “I’m not actually immortal, you see. Just very long lived. But even my life is winding to a close, and someone must take over my position and my responsibilities. And out of all the mortals on this planet, I’ve chosen you to do that.”

****

Ten minutes later, Matt slammed back into the cottage and stalked into the kitchen. Grabbing the bottle of Scotch from the counter, he found a glass in one of the cabinets and poured himself a triple. He barely felt the liquor as he swallowed it in two huge gulps.

Nick materialized, pausing in the doorway. “I take it that didn’t go well?”

Matt glared at the doctor. “That’s a fucking understatement, my friend.”

“Okay. Well, it’s never a good idea to day drink alone, so…” Nick pried the bottle out of his hand, then grabbed another glass and poured himself a reasonable single. “You’ve been given your marching orders?”

“Marching orders? Marching orders?” His voice rose to a bellow on the last phrase. “Do you know what that old hippie in the cottage over there just told me? Apparently I’m the new Oracle of the Waters.” He started to pace the length of the kitchen, clutching the Scotch glass like a life preserver. “I’m supposed to give up everything in my life and go live in a fucking cave on the coast of fucking France so that fucking sea creatures can come and get me to consult with the fucking Fates on their problems.”

“Huh. Yeah, that must have come as a surprise.” Nick took a sip of his Scotch. “Is it the cave part that bugs you?”

The sheer laid-backness of the doctor made Matt want to throw the glass at a wall. “What’s bugging me is that I came out here for two weeks to get over my damn divorce before I have to go back into the trenches. And suddenly not only do I get dragged into some sort of weird-ass battle against a crazy goddess, but I’m supposed to become the supernatural world’s version of Dear Prudence. In a cave.”

“So it is the cave part.”

“Gimme that.” Matt snatched the Scotch bottle back and poured himself another double. “How the hell do I get out of it?”

“I don’t think you can. It’s one of those fated things.”

Nick’s matter-of-fact tone made him flinch. “Jesus Christ. I dreamed about them last night,” he said. “The Fates, I mean. We were having beer and hot wings at a sports bar. They told me—” He stopped. “They told me I was about to get a new job. And a new romance. Who the fuck is going to want to date a guy living in a cave?”

nicolacameron

Available on Amazon.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

Mid Week Tease: Cross Current #MidWeekTease #MWTease

Mid Week Tease buttonIt’s Wednesday? Awesome! Because I have a little teaser for you from the WIP currently up on Scrivener, Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4). Here, my main character Matt has not only learned that Greek Gods, mermen, and selkies are real, but he has his own role to play in the battle against the Mad Goddess Thetis. He just wanted a few weeks of sun and fun before school started, poor sweetie.

Thanks go out to the lovely Angelica Dawson for doing this every week, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Matt’s tentative knock at the green cottage’s door was met by an unsmiling Griffin. “Hi. Welcome to Greek God Central.”

The repetition of Atropos’s phrase from his dream sent a chill down Matt’s spine. “Hi. Um, Pythia said that I should talk to Amphitrite?”

Griffin moved to the side, letting him in. “Right. She and Poseidon are busy with Donald at the moment. It might be awhile.” He gave Matt a sympathetic look. “How are you holding up?”

“I kinda feel like I got sucked into an episode of Stranger Things. Apart from that, I seem to be okay.”

“Yeah, sounds about right.” The Englishman took him into the kitchen, where he pulled two brown bottles out of the fridge and handed one over. “This’ll help.”

Matt read the microbrewery label. “I thought Brits didn’t chill their beers.”

“We do when we’re in Florida. I take it Nick gave you the scoop on what’s been happening here?”

“Crazy goddess trying to destroy Earth, a bunch of gods and other mythological creatures fighting her, yeah, I know.” He twisted off the bottle cap and took a welcome swig. “I’m not involved.”

“I’m not arguing. I’m new to the whole thing myself.” Although the knowing look in the Englishman’s eyes gave lie to his words. “How are your guests doing?”

“Nick’s treating them. The blond guy’s really a merman?”

“Yep, just like Aidan and Liam. You can probably talk them into going for a swim and showing you their tails.”

“Yeah, no, that’s okay.” He leaned against the counter, rubbing his thumb over the cool, sweating surface of the bottle. “I’m thinking maybe I should go back to Jupiter. If I can’t get my deposit back, I can crash with a buddy until school starts.”

Griffin folded his arms, leaning against the opposite counter. “If that’s truly what you think you should do, then do it. Nobody wants to keep you here against your will.”

Amphitrite picked that moment to appear, looking concerned. “Oh, good, Matt. You’re here. Donald wants to speak with you.”

He straightened up. “Donald?”

“The Oracle of the Waters. Tall man, white hair and beard, came out of the water with our other guests?”

He tried to get his tongue to work properly. “I—why does he want to talk to me?”

“I don’t know,” the goddess said, just a bit exasperated. “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with him.”

She gestured towards the hallway she’d just exited. Feeling like he was walking towards a firing squad, Matt slowly headed deeper into the cottage. Soft voices were coming through an open doorway and he peeked into what was clearly a guest bedroom

Inside, the old man from the beach had been dried off and tucked into bed, wet clothes piled on a chair next to the bed. Poseidon stood over him, handsome face lined as he listened to the man’s words. He glanced up at Matt’s arrival. “Oh, good, they found you. Donald needs to talk to you.”

“Um.” Matt edged into the room, studying the man in the bed. He looked to be about seventy, with Santa Claus-white hair brushed back from a high forehead and a slightly overgrown beard hiding a craggy face. His eyes, however, were his most notable feature. Pale as sea glass, they seemed to burn in that pale face.

“Ah. Matthew,” the man said, a faint lilt coloring his voice. “You’re quite the difficult man to track down.”

Dunn—no, Poseidon—turned and considered Matt. “You’re going to want to listen to him, I’m afraid.” The affable host from last night was gone. Replacing him was a being who radiated power and authority like nothing Matt had ever experienced before. Every rational cell in his body screamed at him to turn around, leave, jump in his car and head north until he was out of reach of the divinity standing in front of him.

“Hi.” He raised a hand and realized he was still holding the beer bottle. With a sigh, Poseidon plucked it out of his hand. “Um, yeah. Ammie said you wanted to talk to me?”

The sea god left, beer bottle in hand, and the man in the bed chuckled wearily. “Poor Poseidon. I don’t think he ever expected me to impose on his hospitality. But if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.”

More of the Fates’ words from his dream came back. “Are you talking about my trip to France?” That didn’t make any sense.

But the man nodded. “Yes. You were supposed to visit Marseilles, yes? While you were there, you would have found your way to my cavern and I would have begun your instruction.”

“Whoa, wait. Instruction?”

The old man gave him a wide, white smile. “Yes. Every good teacher knows that learning never truly ends. I’m Donald, by the way.”

“Matt.”

“I know. Matthew Taber, teacher of history to indifferent teenagers, warrior, scholar. You’re my personal choice, you know.”

This was getting far too weird. “Okay, wait,” Matt said, grabbing the wet clothes off the chair and putting them on a nearby dresser. After wiping the seat dry, he sat down in it. “Personal choice for what?”

“To replace me as the Oracle of the Waters.” Another ferocious smile. “I’m not actually immortal, you see. Just very long lived. But even my life is winding to a close, and someone must take over my position and my responsibilities. And out of all the mortals on this planet, I’ve chosen you to do that.”

****

Nick closed the guest room door in time to see a red-faced Matt storm back into the cottage. He went straight into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of Scotch from the counter, opening a cabinet and grabbing a glass before pouring himself a triple. Nick winced as the other man tossed back the drink in two huge gulps. “I take it that didn’t go well.”

Matt panted and blinked, sniffing hard. “That’s a fucking understatement, my friend.”

“Okay.” Nick reached down a glass for himself and pulled the Scotch out of Matt’s hand, pouring himself a reasonable finger. “You’ve been given your marching orders?”

“Marching orders? Marching orders?” Matt’s voice rose to a bellow on the last phrase. “Do you know what that old hippie in the cottage over there just told me? Apparently I’m the new Oracle of the Waters. I’m supposed to give up everything in my life and go live in a fucking cave on the coast of fucking France so that fucking sea creatures can come and get me to consult with the fucking Fates on their problems.”

“Huh. Yeah, that’s got to come as a surprise.” Nick took a tiny sip of his liquor. “Kinda know all about that sort of thing myself.”

Matt had started to pace the length of the kitchen floor. “Really? Because I don’t see you going off to live like a fucking monk in a goddamn cave.”

Nick had to give him that. “Is it the cave part that bugs you?”

The pacing man stopped, glaring at him. “What’s bugging me is that I came out here for two weeks of sun and relaxation to get over my damn divorce before I have to go back into the trenches. And suddenly not only do I get dragged into some sort of weird-ass battle against a crazy goddess, but I’m supposed to become the supernatural world’s version of Dear Prudence. In a cave.”

“So it is the cave part.”

“Gimme that.” Matt snatched the Scotch bottle back and poured himself another healthy knock. “You say you know about this sort of thing. How the hell do I get out of it?”

“I don’t think you can. It’s one of those fated things.”

The teacher twitched at that. “God. I dreamed about them last night, you know? The Fates. We were having beer and hot wings at a sports bar. They told me—” He stopped. “They told me I was about to get a new job. And a new romance. Who the fuck is going to want to date a guy living in a cave?”

“I think you’re a little fixated on the cave thing.”

They both turned. The blond merman leaned into the entrance to the kitchen, hands on either side of the entryway and still naked as when he first came out of the water. Nick gave him an admiring once-over. The wide shoulders, thick chest, and well-muscled arms common to merfolk tapered down to a narrow waist and a nice Adonis belt of V-shaped muscle. And under that was a great cock, not too large and not too small, nestled on top of a set of heavy balls and surrounded by a short cloud of dark gold hair.

From the corner of his eye he spotted Matt going very still, then looking away quickly. Interesting. “Uh, hi,” the man muttered.

“Sorry. You were shouting. Kind of hard to ignore it.” The merman padded over to them, holding out a huge hand. “I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. I’m Finn.”

Nick shook his hand. “Well, that’s appropriate.”

Finn chuckled once. “I know, right?” He offered his hand to Matt. “Thank you for taking us in. You’ve got my eternal gratitude for that.”

“No problem.” Matt’s voice was slightly strangled as he shook the mer’s hand. “Do you want me to get you some pants? I think I have a pair of sweats that’ll fit you.”

Finn glanced down at himself. “Sure, why not?”

“Okay.” Stumbling just a little, Matt headed out of the kitchen, Scotch glass still in hand. Cheerful, Finn watched him go. “He’s cute.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Thanks to his agapetos Nick already knew that most mers were bisexual. “How’s your friend?”

Finn sobered. “Still sleeping. He’s not used to swimming that far. I told him to stay behind, but…” He grimaced. “Damn Fae. Stubborn as all hell.”

“How did you wind up with the Oracle, anyway?”

Now the big mer looked uncomfortable. “We’d gone to him to get some advice. When we got there, he told us the price for it would be us escorting him here. I wanted Duncan to stay at the cave, but he insisted on coming along.”

From his accent, Nick placed him as somewhere along the upper East coast. Swimming back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean was something a mer could do, albeit with effort. But to have a seal, even a magical one, in tow turned it into something impressive. “How are you feeling?”

Finn spread his hands. “I’m fine. Hungry. Worried about Duncan. Is the Oracle all right?”

“I haven’t had a chance to go check on him yet. I was going to go do that now. Will you be okay if I leave you here?”

“Oh, sure.” Finn glanced in the direction Matt had taken. “He’s not going to shoot me or have me stuffed and mounted, right?”

“I think his mind is on other things at the moment.”

“Then I’m good. And thank you again for taking care of Duncan.”

The sudden tenderness in his voice said a lot about his relationship with the selkie. Nick was used to unusual hookups happening on the cove, but a mer and a Fae getting together was something he wanted to hear about later on. “If anything goes wrong, I’m in the yellow cottage own the beach. Come get me, okay?”

“I will.”

Nick headed out, wondering how well Matt was going to adjust to his new reality.

nicolacameron


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

Pour me an absinthe, Gert

As of this afternoon the final line edits for Lady of Thorns were finished and it is officially ready for release next week on Halloween. Not only am I bloody well delighted about that, but I am really, really happy with the way this book turned out. It has a thoroughly solid emotional basis, both characters and plot are fully fleshed out, and it feels like one of the best books I’ve written to date. Also, as my beta Peter said, “Yay for fun books where antagonists are inner demons!”

Yeah, I do a lot of work with inner demons in this one. Amelie and I share a couple of problems about body image and growing up feeling unattractive and insecure about our looks. It was interesting to do a deep dive into the mindset created by that and, in effect, psychoanalyze my own issues by projecting them onto Amelie. Granted, I didn’t have a sexy Alain to walk me through that particular psychological minefield, and I’m still working on said issues and probably will be for the rest of my life. But I think I’m getting a better handle on loving myself and my wacky body the way it is, instead of pining for some impossible ideal.

It also helps that Ramón thinks I’m gorgeous and says so every day. He’s so sweet.

So, yeah, Lady is done, and Cross Current is back on the Scrivener screen and will be my NaNo novel this year. I’m currently at 13K on it, and hope to get it done before I have to report for jury duty on November 29th. And if not, I’ll just bring my iPad and write while I’m waiting in the jurist holding room. I’m hoping to get the last two Shifter Woods novellas knocked out as well so that I can release all four novellas as a boxed set before 2018.

Assuming the cats allow me to work. Seriously, how can a small creature one fifth my size be that annoying? I ask you.

Harvey, Irma, and Jose (don’t forget Katia)

People in our current government can deny climate change as much as they like. Climate change damn well believes in us.

The rains from Harvey are still draining out of Houston and the surrounding areas. Quite apart from the problems of determining what, if anything, in your waterlogged home can be saved, it seems that the flooding has also released an absolutely enormous amount of industrial pollutants from the various petrochemical facilities. The eastern section of the Texan Gulf coast is going to be toxic as hell for quite some time as a result. Sorry, Louisiana.

As of this moment, Irma has pretty much leveled 90% of the structures on the island of Barbuda and rendered 60% of its inhabitants homeless. The pictures from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are horrific. And while there’s still time for Irma to make an abrupt right turn, the various projected tracks are starting to agree that south Florida is about to be bitchslapped hard. I know someone who lives on Palm Beach Island, and I’m hoping like hell that he and his family obeyed the mandatory evac order. The bulk of my Floridian friends tend to live either on the Gulf side or around Orlando, but I’m still worried about them because Irma looks to ratfuck Florida’s infrastructure on a major scale.

Jose is still out in the south Atlantic but is now a Cat 3 hurricane and seems to be following in Irma’s wake. Hopefully the high pressure system over the upper east coast will come down in time to push that back out to sea. And Katia has now organized in the Gulf into a Cat 1 hurricane–it probably doesn’t have enough run-up space to get much bigger so Mexico’s about to get some rain but hopefully nothing more than that. What with pretty much all of the West Coast on fire right now, however, we’re literally between hell and high water.

So why is a romance writer talking about weather disasters? Well, apart from the fact that my Olympic Cove series is pretty much based on climate change (and yeah, I have a really hellacious sinus headache at the moment and it’s making me cranky), it’s pretty freaking obvious by now that the increase in both the strength of hurricanes and the number of deadly hurricanes is tied to warmer ocean waters, which is caused by—say it with me—global warming. And while writers are often told not to be political on their social media platforms because God forbid you should drive away potential readers, at this point I think it’s far more important to drag the topic of climate change into the spotlight again and again. Hopefully with enough repetition from enough sources, enough people may start to accept that 1) climate change is real, and 2) it affects all of us on this big blue marble. We still have time to get our shit together and salvage something for the next generation, who don’t deserve this mess. But Lord, we have got to start now.

Meanwhile, back at Olympic Cove…

I can tell that I haven’t worked on this series for awhile — getting back into the rhythm and the voices of the established characters has taken a bit of work, and I’ve also switched up the new characters for this book (my MC was originally ex-military, but that was making him a bit too hard-assed for the purposes of the book so I switched it out — he now practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which should be more than enough for the heroics he’ll be doing later on in the book). I think I’m solidly back in place now, and chapter 1 of Cross Current will be done by the end of the day. With a good tail wind and some effort I may have all of Act I done by the end of this week, which would be nice.

Now if the Sudafed and Tylenol I just took to relieve this damn sinus pressure would kick in, life would be a dream.

OH! One last thing — I’ve joined Instagram. Yeah, it was bound to happen eventually. Anyhoo, you can follow me and get an inside look at the life of a hybrid romance writer. A warning — cats will be featured prominently. But you already knew that, didn’t you?