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Jun
17

Author Guest Post: Orren Merton

Author Guest Post: Orren Merton Firebird Alex: The Writing Process by Orren Merton One of the most common questions I’m asked—that maybe any published author is asked—is “how long did it take you to write that?” When I say to people “I wrote Firebird Alex in ten months,” people often think I spent ten months typing out the novel. In fact the actual transcribing of the novel was not much of the process. I’ll break it down below so you can see what I mean. Every novel begins with an idea. I was thinking about who Alex was; what makes her special, why she would be an interesting protagonist. When I decided she would be half “demon” that lead to me doing a lot of research into demonology, ancient mythology, and other things, so that I could build an entire alternate universe, and create an entire mythology for my “world” that was unique. That took probably a couple of months. Next I worked on the story. I find that plotting out a novel works best for me. I don’t write a classic outline, what I come up with is really more of a “treatment”—a sort of 15-30 page story guide. At this stage, there is usually more research required: research into locations, into occupations, into procedures, and so on. For example, Firebird Alex involves missing persons cases, and computer crime. Even though my book isn’t a procedural, I wanted to be sure that when Alex described what she was witnessing, it made sense.  This also took a couple of months. Armed with 20 or so pages to guide me, it was time to sit down and write the first draft. I spent four 3-day weekends writing non-stop, 14-hour days. I wrote 22,000 words each weekend. So you could say that I wrote the first draft (88,000 words) in about 8 weeks, as the weekends were over two months. So I let the first draft sit for a while, then revised it to the second draft, which is basically the first “real” version of what I think the novel should be. Then I sent it out for a development edit, which is when an editor looks at it, and helps me really hone the content. I then write the third draft from her comments, and send that to a few trusted “beta readers” for their input. I put their input into the fourth, or “rough draft” of the final, which goes to a professional proofreader,...
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Jun
16

Author Guest Post: Jessica Lauryn

Author Guest Post: Jessica Lauryn Please help me welcome back romance author Jessica Lauryn to That’s What I’m Talking About. Jessica is here today to talk about her newest title, Dangerous Secret. Thanks so much for having me back, Jen!  I am thrilled to announce the release of my forth book, Dangerous Secret, which is actually book # 1, or, the prequel story in my current series, The Pinnacles of Power.  Writing a series has been one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done and writing the series out of order has been one of the most challenging!  I’m very excited to share with your readers the unique experience I’ve had writing The Pinnacles of Power Series and how one story wound up turning into five. When I first began writing, my goal, at least initially, was to complete one full manuscript to submit to an editor for publication.  I began making notes about various elements that I wanted to include in my story and soon after I was ready to begin typing.  I wrote what I then called Loveless Moon, later called Moonlight Path, and eventually called Dangerous Proposal.  I strove to create my own fantasy world where the heroine, Lena, is trying to escaped from her crazed fiancé and runs away to her family’s vacation hideaway, which is actually my own family’s vacation hideaway, North Conway, New Hampshire.  I gave Lena the exact hero I wished I’d meet in such a situation myself, the devilish, funny, dark-haired Alec Westwood.  And by the time I’d reached the end of the story, I realized that I had the potential for a sequel, with Lena’s tough-as-nails roommate Julia Dyson as heroine, and Alec’s brother Colin (who we come to realize has pretty big secrets of his own) as hero. The idea for a sequel first came to me because I realized that Colin and Julia were highly interesting in and of themselves, would be like oil & water if they met, would have major chemistry, and were screaming for a story of their own.  That’s when I realized there were three other potential couples there as well—Lena’s bad-boy fiancé Lucas and Lena’s younger sister Lilah, Julia’s best friend Abigail & Alec’s best friend Ryan, and Lena’s troublemaking coworker Jack & the woman he’s intensely fascinated by, Corinne Johnson. I was still on the path to publication by this point, so after putting Dangerous Proposal aside I started on the book I thought would be the...
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Jun
13

Author Guest Post: KT Grant

Author Guest Post: KT Grant Today I am excited to bring to you of my favorite people… romance author KT Grant. Ms. Grant is here celebrating the release of her latest title, The Key, with a post on her self-publishing journeys. Please help me welcome KT to That’s What I’m Talking About… Why I Decided to Self-Publish In the beginning of 2012 I decided I wanted to self-publish. I already had two years of publishing experience based on my work with epublishers. I also thought I didn’t have a chance getting a traditional publishing deal. I was burned by two agents who had promised great things, and in the end they failed to deliver. I didn’t want to spend my time and energy seeking out another agent and play the waiting game. The time I spent sending out query letters would take away from my writing. I was also writing for a niche market, mainly lesbian romance, and shorter works that I could only sell to epublishers. I also had some self-doubt about my writing. I really thought I wasn’t good enough to write for the “Big 6” New York publishers. My plan was to learn all I could about self-publishing by reading up on those authors who had successful self-publishing careers. I joined self-publishing and indie loops and read websites and blogs on the pros and cons about self-publishing. I then tried an experiment to see if I could handle self-publishing. In the fall of 2012 I self-published three short stories, around 6,000 words each and priced them at .99 cents. I did everything one would expect a self-published author to do- create a cover, edit, format and upload to as many sites as I could that sells digital books. Also prior to self-publishing these shorts, I started writing a book that summer. This would be the first full length title in a series, and I would self-publish it. That book would end up being The Gate, the first book in the Dark Path series featuring a heavy BDSM erotic element. I self-published The Gate in October 2013, practically a year to the day I self-published those three short stories. Self-publishing was scary, nerve wracking, but exciting. Because I took a chance, I embraced self-publishing as new way to get my work out to the public. When I first heard of self-publishing, I thought it was too hard to do. Self-publishing reminded me of when I first sat down to write with the purpose to get published....
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Jun
12

Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Ann Mayburn

Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Ann Mayburn Greetings readers. Today I am very excited to have one of my favorite people, Ann Mayburn, here to tell us a little about the unlikely heroes from her Submissive’s Wish Series. In this contemporary BDSM romance series, her heroes are members of the Russian bratva (Russian Mafia), and they have very dark sides. I’ve read both books in the series, and I’m intrigued by these men – what drives them, how they function in their dangerous world, etc. I have begged Ann to tell me all she knows asked Ann to share with my readers more about the nature of the bratva and why she picked such unlikely men as romance heroes. Please help me welcome Ann Mayburn… For anyone who has read my work I love writing about flawed characters, people who don’t quite fit into societies’ mold of how we are supposed to think, act, and look. People that on the outside seem odd and sometimes scary, but once you get to know their history, the environment that they live in, you begin to understand why they are the way they are and it makes sense. See, I believe all human beings are profoundly screwed up in our own way. We are, by nature, savage creatures bent on our own survival. Don’t believe me? Well, the history of mankind would beg to differ. Inside of all of us there resides a killer, a natural instinct to survive even if it means at the expense of another. People in civilized countries may try to deny it, may argue that humans rise above their base natures, but that is really bullshit. All of us have a killer that lives deep in our genetic heritage, some just hide it better than others. In the States we have, for the most part, been born into a life of safety and security. Yes, there is poverty, and crime, and corruption but we can go stand at a bus stop knowing that the chances of a suicide bomber killing us on the way to work are very slim, or go out with our girlfriends and not worry about being kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Or we can go to the police with a problem and not have to worry about being thrown in jail until we pay a bribe, or are beaten, or are flat out ignored. If any of those things happen we can go to the press with the story where it will...
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May
30

Author Guest Post: Meljean Brook & the Lost History of the Iron Seas

Author Guest Post: Meljean Brook & the Lost History of the Iron Seas I am super excited to have one of my all-time favorite authors here on the blog today! Meljean Brook is here to share some of the amazing alternate history that she has created for her magnificent Iron Seas series. I find it so fascinating; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! And, be sure to stick around because Meljean is giving away winner’s choice one of the Iron Seas series titles. Take it away, Meljean! One of the difficult things about writing an alternate history is that nobody within that world knows it’s an alternate history – so explaining exactly how and why the differences happened within the text can be an incredible challenge. When I conceived the series, the first and most critical break in the timeline occurred in 1241. (This is from my Iron Seas guide): In our history, in 1241, Ögedei Khan, son of Genghis Khan and second khagan of the Mongol Empire, died just as his armies were poised to invade Vienna and continue their conquest of the European continent. Upon receiving news of the Great Khan’s death, Ögedei’s general, Batu Khan, withdrew from Europe, but did not immediately attend the council to formally elect the new Great Khan. Although Guyuk was eventually named khagan in 1246, he died shortly thereafter. Subsequent arguments over succession divided the Mongols and fractured the empire. Though each khanate was still powerful, they did not reattempt their European invasion. In the Iron Seas history, Ögedei Khan still dies, but Batu Khan, leader of the Golden Horde, and son of Jochi—Genghis Khan’s eldest son—is named the successor over the wishes of Ögedei’s descendents and their supporters. In the civil war that follows, Batu, a brilliant strategist, crushes his opponents, but the effort prevents him from immediately returning to Europe. He relinquishes his westernmost holdings and consolidates his power in the east. His son, Sartaq, continues to strengthen the reunited empire, establishing strong civil and military presences in the outlying khanates. He is both generous and ruthless, ensuring their loyalty. I drop bits and pieces of that history into the narrative as I go along, but honestly – unless someone is aware of the original history, they probably wouldn’t recognize the difference. Such as when Ariq refers to the above change in THE KRAKEN KING, Part VII: She [Chinghis Khan’s wife, Börte] had given birth to their first son not long after her return. Seven centuries later, the argument over lineage...
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May
21

Blog Tour: Sentinels of New Orleans Series by Suzanne Johnson

Blog Tour: Sentinels of New Orleans Series by Suzanne Johnson Today I’m excited to have urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson on the blog. She’s here to tell us a little about one of her more infamous characters from  her marvelous Sentinels of New Orleans Series. Keep reading to learn more about the real Jean Lafitte and enter to win some AWESOME prizes below. Please help me welcome Suzanne to That’s What I’m Talking About. Ahoy, Matey (A Jean Lafitte Pop Quiz) Most of the time, urban fantasy authors work with fantastical characters they construct of whole cloth. We can make them as evil or as heroic as we want, throwing in a few random flaws for realism. But when I created the preternatural species of the Historical Undead for my Sentinels of New Orleans series, I had a chance to work with real figures and reimagine them in the modern world. Historic New Orleanians like Louis Armstrong or voodoo queen Marie Laveau get to pop in occasionally, since famous people are given immortality by the magic of human memory. Sometimes, they’re even bad guys; an early 20th-century, never-identified serial killer known as the Axeman of New Orleans adds some major chops (get it? Chops? Axe?) in Elysian Fields. Which brings us to the early 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte. I knew very little about Jean (for after three novels and a number of short stories and a novelette, I truly feel we’re on a first-name basis) when I began writing the series—only that I needed a colorful guy to appear in a couple of scenes. Which led to research. A lot of research. And, in the process, yeah, I kinda fell in love with a dead pirate. It can happen to the best of us. Jean has his own bookshelf in my office now, filled with biographies and “diaries” of varying degrees of believability. And, to my delight, he’s proven popular with readers. How much of “my” Jean Lafitte is true? Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of the real Jean Lafitte and see how he stacks up against the sexy scoundrel who walks the streets of Old Orleans in the Sentinels series. True or False?  1. The real Jean Lafitte was born in the Bordeaux region of France. 2.  Jean spelled his last name Laffite (not Lafitte). 3.  Two of Jean’s brothers—both older—worked in his, um, “procurement” business. 4.  Jean Lafitte was extraordinarily tall for his time, at six-foot-two. 5. Thanks to his education and manners, the real...
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Apr
7

Author Guest Post: Liz Everly

Author Guest Post: Liz Everly Today we welcome erotic romance author Liz Everly to That’s What I’m Talking About… LIKE HONEY is the third book in SAFFRON NIGHTS, my erotic romantic suspense series. After setting my first book (SAFFRON NIGHTS) all over the world, and my second (CRAVINGS) in Ecuador and St. Lucia, I decided on a Scotland honey farm for my the next book. Unfortunately I didn’t travel to Scotland to write the story. My research for LIKE HONEY consisted of reading books,websites, and interviewing a beekeeper in Scotland. One of my favorite books out of all that I read was “Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World” written by a non-fiction writer, Holley Bishop, who became obsessed enough to get her own bees. For my romance, I didn’t need to go into in-depth descriptions about how hives are built and hive-society works, and so on. But reading as much as I can about it helped to inform the story. For example, in doing this research, I’ve become enamored with skeps, those round straw-built hives and gave one of my character’s a little antique collection of them. These little details are one of many that helped to give characters depth. And I needed a more than a basic understanding about honey—after all the story is set around large honey business in Scotland. My main female lead, Jennifer, inherits a country farm in Scotland. At first I thought I might set it in France. But France, with its perfect climate and upscale culinary appetite, was a bit too easy for my beekeeping adventure. Scotland is fraught with weather adventures that challenge beekeepers. The more challenge the better. So Scotland it is. And while France has a sex-appeal, Scotland is much more alluring and more sexy to me. Something about those highlands and the rugged wild nature of parts of Scotland that just makes my insides sit up and take notice. So to speak. My lead male character, Gray, is American by birth, but has deep Scottish roots. He’s an undercover operative, hired to keep an eye on Jennifer’s farm. But as far as she knows, he’s just a master beekeeper—and a sexy one at that. I dug around a bit about Scottish country living and have even picked the kind of house Jennifer lives in. (If you follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got a research board full of gorgeous photos of Scotland.) I also have a friend who...
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Mar
3

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Every Inch of the Way

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Every Inch of the Way Hi! We’re Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley, and we’re here to let you know that our kinky series The Professor’s Rule is coming to an end. The last two novelettes–Every Inch of the Way and To the Very Last Inch–are out now from Riptide Publishing, and to celebrate, we’re touring the web with a contest and a free bonus short. You’ll have to follow the whole tour to read the short in its entirety, but since every comment you make along the tour gets you an entry in our contest, there’s plenty of reasons to tag along. If you haven’t yet heard of The Professor’s Rule, here’s a quick crash course (see what we did there?) School is back in session. When undergrad student James Sheridan set out to seduce his way into a better grade, he had no idea what he was signing on for. Professor Evander Carson wasn’t about to trade a good grade for sexual favors, but he was definitely willing to tutor his wayward pupil in far more than history. By the end of their tumultuous relationship, James not only excelled academically, his sexual horizons had expanded to include pleasures—and agonies—the likes of which he’d never dreamed. But enough was more than enough, and James fled from his Professor, unsure of where his limits lay or if he had the wherewithal to set boundaries. Two years later, a chance misdial puts James back in contact with his former instructor and brings all his old cravings back in force, leaving him yearning to kneel once again at his Professor’s feet. But James has a new life now, with new sexual and romantic prospects—most notably the charming menswear salesman Satish Malhotra. Still, the pull to return to Professor Carson is a powerful thing. Can James give in to it without giving up his newfound confidence and budding romance? The complete collection is on sale now for 40% off, and if you’d like to try before you buy, Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) is free wherever ebooks are sold! Today on the tour: part one of our free dirty bonus short, Every Inch an Exhibitionist. For links to the other parts of the story, make sure to check Riptide’s tour page. And be sure to stick around after the story for contest info! Present Day — James and Satish It’s still early days. Satish keeps trying to remind himself of this, but it’s hard to...
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Feb
20

Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Lauren M. Roy

Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Lauren M. Roy Today’s post comes from Lauren M. Roy, author of Night Owls. I discovered roleplaying games in college. My boyfriend’s group welcomed me in, let me borrow a pile of sourcebooks,  and invited me to roll up a character. I fell immediately in love with it – you got to play in in fantasy worlds, exploring your choices and their consequences, sometimes changing the world as you know it. It wasn’t long before the GM itch struck, making me want to run a game of my own. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was learning a lot about writing and story structure while putting my friends’ characters through hell once or twice a week. Know your characters. Spend some time before the first session getting to know your cast: what motivates them, what they hope to accomplish. With RPGs, you often figure out a bit about your characters’ backstories while you create them. Sometimes those quirks that seem unrelated to the plot come into play in interesting ways later on. It’s also important to know their limits and their lines – what’s their weak spot? What lines won’t they cross? What could get them to cross those lines? Don’t railroad. If you need to get your characters from point A to point B, “because the GM said so” doesn’t cut it as a reason. Say you have someone deathly afraid of spiders. They’re not going to go into the lair of the Giant Evil Spider Queen willingly, but simply saying “no” to all their attempts at doing oh god anything else can make the players feel like they’re being forced into a situation. It works much the same when you’re the one controlling all the characters. Only, instead of your players feeling cheated, it’s your readers. Remember those limits and lines? If you need to get a character to take an action they’d normally balk at, you can play with those. You’re probably not going to convince that character to start a spider farm, but you can get them to a point where they feel like going into the Evil Spider Queen’s lair makes sense for them in that moment. It might be the best of a bad set of options, but the choice is theirs. Learn how to think around corners. When you give your players the choice of three doors to open, someone’s going to suggest blowing a hole in the wall. As a GM, you...
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Jan
27

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks

Book Tour & Giveaway: The Beginning of Us by Sarah Brooks Hello!  This is Sarah Brooks, author of The Beginning of Us.  Thank you for joining me on my blog tour this week! Giveaway: Comment on this blog post and get entered into a DRAWING for a $25 Amazon gift card (prize will be awarded at the end of this week)! Every comment you make on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card!  Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on February 2nd, and the winner will be announced on February 3rd.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. The Beginning of Us is utterly true . . . and it’s fiction.  I spend quite a bit of my writing time in the space between genres, so I’m comfortable with the fact that my supposedly “fictional” novella contains more truth than some of my essays.  I don’t mean that my protagonist’s experiences are actually mine, thinly veiled.  In fact, my college life was the opposite:  my college professors were all twenty or more years older than I was, and I had no awareness that I was lesbian until five years after I had married my sweet, good college boyfriend. But this novella is true.  If a woman as passionate and unique and intelligent as Eliza had exploded into my college world, I would have discovered who I was at 22 instead of 28 (and I would have saved that sweet, good man I married some trouble).  In real life, my graduate school professor, eight years my senior, was my Eliza . . . but we were both married to men and she had small children, and so it was much more complicated and heart-wrenching to act on our love for each other.  It took a tremendous toll on us both, but especially on her.  Just five years after we moved in together, she became ill and died suddenly. I’ve spent the past two and a half years writing primarily about my grief, about loss and death.  However, one night last year, I caught myself wondering how our story would have turned out if we had met earlier in our lives.  What if we had met in college?  The thought made me laugh at first.  My partner, East coast city girl that she was, would never have taken a teaching job at a college in Iowa.  Even if she had, she wouldn’t have chosen to spend time with a student like me – the too-serious...
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