Which came first, the changeling or the champion?

I don’t know how other authors do it, but I seem to start everything out of order. Then I have to go back and write the story that should have come before. That tends to leave me with fully-written sequels I have to rewrite because I decided another book should have come first.

reverse

For example, Changelings & Champions. This is now the second book in The Tithe Collector series, but I’d already written Myth & Massacre, which will now be the third. Myth & Massacre is focused on Wade, but Beryl was emotionally unstable in the first book, Santeria & Sorcery (are you keeping these all straight?). I felt the readers deserved to know why, and though the now-fourth book, Fallen & Framed (see the pattern?), has a lot to do with her, her reasoning behind her emotional instability, and her relationship issues, I thought it unfair to ask people to wait so long for those answers.

So I wrote Changelings & Champions. It took a long time, and was a complicated, disorganized process that had me bouncing between two books and an outline to see where certain things could fit and where the subsequent books would have to be changed. I love how it turned out.

I got a chance to show Beryl in a whole new light. If you weren’t sympathetic toward the fairy assassin before, you will be. She’s had a hard time of it, even Zahra feels a bit sorry for her. Oh, and Zahra got to show a different side of herself too. They all did, in fact, and I love that this series gives me the chance to let the characters grow and develop. As they learn to trust each other, as they come to rely on each other and love each other—as they form their own kind of family—more and more will be revealed. Their pasts are brought into the light, their emotions, vulnerabilities and inefficiencies are tested. And they find new strength.

In Changelings & Champions, Beryl is asked to investigate a series of magical spikes at the Red Raven Casino, the home of the Dark Fae Court, ruled by her aunt, Morrigan. She refuses to go without her team, and so the SCT finds themselves in Vegas. Wade doesn’t handle the environment well, Niccolo learns he’s something of a celebrity, and Zahra is bloated on all the magic streaming through the casino.

But Beryl runs face-first into the demons that plague her. No, not Aza Shepherd, he’ll make a return in later books. The former fairy assassin has no choice but to brazen out the hostile welcome she receives, and soon the entire Special Collections Team is aware of all the things Beryl wishes she could hide.

Join the Special Collections Team as they investigate magical crimes, pay penance for their own sins and a find a place where misfits like them belong.

Changelings & Champions

Magic is necessary to all things, but too much of it is sending the emotions of the Dark Fae Court to extremes.

The Fae Nation’s championship boxing match is the highlight of the year, but there’s a chaos-creating surge of energy accompanying every exhibition bout leading up to the main event. With the championship looming, the Special Collections Team is called to Las Vegas to investigate the magical disturbances at the Red Raven casino, the home of the volatile Dark Fae Court.

But the fae are not the only ones affected by the instability. The Dark Court is a hostile environment for the SCT, dragging them closer to emotional breakdowns and lines drawn in the sand. Dangerous royals, randy revelers and relationship dramas have the Special Collections Team close to folding, until a pair of changelings ups the ante.

 

From Taboo to Traditional

You see, Liah came first, and she’s something of a wild child. But, a few chapters into her story, her brother, Levi, started yelling at me. I had to switch focus, and once that happened, everything changed.

cross 2

What started as a naughty idea for a kinky tale took a hard right turn into romance territory. But what can you do when your characters are determined to write themselves?

Levi became the hero of the first book in my new series, The Garguiem, and he decided he was an honorable guy, a man of faith, though his faith may not look like yours or mine. His respect for the Church is skewed by the nature of his job, but his faith is unshakeable.

Marcella’s a bit more traditional…which is fairly common for nuns, right? She’s always been a believer, but she turned to the Church in the darkest of times and found refuge. Levi is trying to convince her to leave the convent, as he’s convinced she’s his other half.

Marcella’s faith is tested in ways she never expected. With demonic influences sweeping through the city, she’s roped into helping Levi with his investigation—and soon realizes she has a very important part to play.

As I said, Levi is the first in the series, and each novel will build upon the last in an overall story arc. While each book will be complete in its own right, not every loose end will be tied in a pretty bow, leading you farther down the path of temptation, conviction and duplicity.

The Garguiem fight evil and corruption with weapons of faith, duty and love – necessary munitions as, one by one, they pull together to expose and confront the greatest threat the Church has ever known.

Levi cover 2000x3000

Goodreads

 

The Bane Moon

When I began my story about a witch with no magic, I pictured an event so rare, though naturally occurring, that it would have to be destiny, and have to speak of destiny. I chose a full moon, and called it a Bane Moon.

bane

In my Magic Matched series, Georgeanne Davenold is a Bane-born witch, born under the very rare Christmas full moon, but in the book, this corresponds with the winter solstice.

No, I didn’t get it wrong. I had decided to give my witches a combination of beliefs and customs that would set them up as the forerunner to the neo-pagan religions, traditions and lifestyles we still have around us today. But I also wanted my witches to have a greater, though subtle, influence through history.

 

Now, we celebrate the solstice, or the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere, typically on the 21st of December. But over the centuries, the calendar has gone through changes, science has advanced and timepieces have become more accurate. Back in the olden days, they were using sun-lit rocks, stars and seasonal cues, and it turned out the ancient pagans were pretty spot-on, all things considered.

The winter solstice, in ancient days, was celebrated on December 25th. (This is fairly simplistic, but trust me, okay?) In the general timeframe of what we now know is the shortest day of the year (northern hemisphere), the ancients celebrated with a wide variety of customs and rituals meant to bring people together during the darkest of days (literally!) and share a communal sense of optimism for brighter days to come. (Ahem, again, literally…) Examples include Yule and the Feast of Saturnalia.

So when the early Christians began making inroads, they saw a way to insert their own rituals and beliefs into the festivities, and voila! We got Christmas.

I think that’s pretty fascinating, but also really important. Think about how many cultures and religions all celebrate holidays around this time, and think about why. For me, it goes back to the need of being with friends and family in the darkest of days, sharing a communal sentiment about optimism, hope and love. This is the season where we gather together, we eat, drink and be merry (hopefully), knowing that the dark days are just about behind us, and soon the sun will shine bright and warm.

Twenty-three years ago, my witches had a full moon on Christmas. For Georgie, the moment of her birth set her destiny. Bane witches have no magic…or do they? Bane moons are very rare, after all, so who can say what magic she has or doesn’t have? She’s the key to unlocking Silviu’s ability, so maybe she’ll find a bit of her own somewhere in the mix.

This year, we have a full moon on Christmas. My wish for you, no matter what holiday you celebrate, is that, like Georgie, you can meet your destiny in the coming days, that you, too, have/find/accept the gifts you’ve been given and look forward to brighter days ahead.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a season filled with joy and love. And hope, because, for me, that’s the whole point.

xmas banner

Marcella, Levi and POV

Well, it’s been a crazy month, so forgive me the delay in writing a new blog post. Magic Matched: Married was released, I attended HallowRead, and I participated in two Facebook release parties where I got to take over the posting. I’m also trying to get ready for my next release, My Voyeur.

And what’s uppermost on my mind? POV. My schedule got away from me a teensy bit—I blame Changelings & Champions, the second book in The Tithe Collector series which will release in early 2016. See, that story proved a little stubborn and set me back…and filled my head with first person POV.

I know you’ve all seen the posts about POV, but just to recap…

First person POV puts the reader in the head of the character they’re reading at the time. I would say ‘main character’ but sometimes there’s more than one, like in The Tithe Collector. This is the ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘I’ style. I walked to my car…You get it right?

Then there is third person POV, which puts the reader outside the character’s head. There are a thousand other blog posts out there that can tell you how many types of third person POV styles there are, so I’ll just keep it simple. He walked to his car. Got it?

Good.

So what’s my problem? My extreme first instinct was to write The Garguiem series in 3rd person. I have a chapter of what has now become the second book in that POV. But then I wrote Sister Marcella for the Holy Communion box set released through Excessica. And Marcella was written in 1st person.

The first book of The Garguiem series is about Levi and Marcella. And I wrote it in first person, except one scene that is in 3rd person, and started making me think about a shift in POV.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was one week ago.”

She paused, and Levi thought perhaps Father Tom was of the idea that a passage from Scripture should be read, but Levi didn’t dare speak. If he said a word,
she’d know it was him she was confessing to.

“I committed many mortal sins since my last confession,” she finally whispered. “I am guilty of one act of blasphemy in this very church yesterday. I have
also committed one act of fornication, one act of adultery, and numerous times have fallen to licentiousness with lustful thoughts plaguing me. I am sorry
for these and all the sins of my past life.”

Levi listened to her confession in shock. The agony in Marcella’s tone almost hid her excitement, but she was breathless and he’d been in her company enough
by then to know the break in her voice had little to do with shame and everything to do with curiosity.

Still, one particular sin had caught his attention more thoroughly than anything else. Levi ripped open the door of the confessional and leaned out to tear
at the curtain covering the entry to her side. He jerked it back.

“Adultery?”

Marcella’s mouth dropped open.

So, that particular snippet is causing me some serious mental anguish. I’ve now written half this story in two different POVs, trying to figure out which one to settle on. The question comes down to this: Do my characters need a little separation to fully get what’s going on (3rd person POV) or should my readers be invited into the inner workings of both characters’ minds.

Any suggestions?

Holy CommunionThe Garguiem: Levi will be out by the end of January 2016. Fell free to check out Sister Marcella in Holy Communion on Amazon .

I’m Giving Things Away!

What’s up for grabs? A swag bag full of stuff I think you’ll love!

swag bag
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter my giveaway for a chance to win! (I write for adults, so you need to be 18 to enter.) Giveaway is October 12, 2015 to October 21, 2015

 

betrothed_800BETROTHED

In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

But neither Ileana Lovasz nor Eliasz Levy are looking for love. Humiliated by a string of broken betrothals, Ileana only wants freedom from her manipulative grandfather. Eliasz simply wants an alliance with Ileana’s brother Silviu, a man rising through the witching ranks. That is, until the Lovasz woman arrives at his home and stirs up emotions he’d never thought to feel.

Silviu has bigger things on his mind than his sister’s marriage. Georgeanne Davenold, Silviu’s betrothed and the key to his rise in power, is back in his life after a ten year separation that left her distrustful of his intentions. Their union is a novelty, spanning the divide between Matriarchal and Patriarchal Families. Their union is also alarming, combining the influence and magic of two witches only heard of in myth and legend.

Ileana, Eliasz, Silviu and Georgie must build an alliance that will help them all get what they want but, with too many lies and too many enemies, the game they’re playing turns deadly. When the two women come under attack, neither Silviu nor Eliasz knows which is the target. They only know they will protect the women their hearts have claimed as their own, even though that means defying the traditions of witching society, risking every goal they hold dear and confronting the dangerous members of their own families.

magicmatched

Betrothed is the first of my Magic Matched series, featuring witches, specifically two with a power only heard of in myth.

In witching society, there is a strict hierarchy, Family covens are ruled by Mothers or Fathers who hold the bulk of their bloodline’s power and archaic rules are enforced, disregarding modern sentiments. Magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Silviu and Georgeanne have been betrothed since the moment of Georgie’s birth. When Silviu’s father learned a baby was to be born under the Bane moon, he reached across the Schism dividing the covens into matriarchal and patriarchal houses to the Davenold Mother, with a bold scheme to place their children at the top of the witching hierarchy. With Silviu wielding the enhanced talents of a Reap witch, he is the perfect match to Georgie, an abomination without magic who should have been killed at birth because of her defects. The only way to protect themselves against those who fear them enough to kill them, is to take a position of leadership.

But they can’t reach the top alone. Reuniting after a ten-year separation that left Silviu aching with loneliness and Georgie distrustful of everyone who claims to love her, they begin building strong alliances. Silviu’s siblings, Costel and Ileana, and Georgie’s cousins, Adam and Christiana, are instrumental to their plans. But not all family members are worthy of their trust and the closer they get to their goals, the more dangerous some witches prove to be.

Silviu and Georgeanne must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to unlock their full magical potential. But with all that stands in their way – archaic traditions, murder plots, and a betrayal that threatens all they can be – they will need the group of allies they have built to help them navigate the dangerous world of witches, and the dark magic stalking them every step of the way.

**************

Here’s to hoping I did it right!

As it turns out, there is some sort of disconnect in my mind as to what in the hell I just did, in regards to Rafflecopter. Did I do it the right way? Good Lord, I hope so. I hardly understood what I was doing, and I don’t know if that was due to the wording of all the crap I had to wade through, or if it was because I was recently home from my ‘real job’ Saturday shift and tired, when I set this thing up. It’s my first giveaway like this too, so I have to ask for patience.

Write the Damned Story

Have you noticed how many blogs out there give tips on writing?

Spend just a few minutes online and you’ll be bombarded with what to do, how to write and even when to write. They’ll tell you how to make your story more romantic, more suspenseful, more terrifying. They’ll tell you how to world-build, and even when to stop world-building. They’ll tell how you how to develop your characters to the point you know them better than you know yourself, and then they’ll tell you not to use that information directly.

Sometimes, it’s enough to tear your hair out.

Do you plot, plan or ‘pants’ it? Do you fill out multiple-page questionnaires detailing every little thing about your character, or do you only have a general idea of what color their hair is? Do you draw a map so you can keep track of where in the world your story is happening?

If you really want some sage, down-to earth advice slicing through all the contradictions, then here you go…

THEN, and only then, after you’ve written the thing you’ll swear is your ‘baby,’ the next bestseller, the newest trend to hit the book market in at least a day you can go read those blog posts. ‘Cause they really do have some awesome advice.

Don’t be afraid to take the long way, though. Don’t be afraid to screw it all up and waste your time in epic fashion. Don’t be afraid to write a complete piece of garbage that will never see the light of day again, let alone sell a single copy.

Some of us have to make those incredible mistakes to find our voice. We have to ‘pants’ a few novels before we understand that plotting might be better for us. And that’s MIGHT, people. Not everyone will successfully plot a story EVER. Some are Pantsers for life, and that works for them.

Point is, you gotta figure out what works for you. How does your vision come across on the page? In a blinding stream of consciousness, or a meticulously laid out sequence of events? Do you write chronologically, with Chapter 1 always coming before Chapter 6, did you write the end before you even began the prologue or did you bounce around…Chapter 7, 4, 9 then 1?

After you figure out what works for you…well, don’t hold on too tight. There’s a downside to being ‘artistic’ and that usually involves your creative brain hijacking you and taking you for a hell of a ride. You might write your book in a step-by-step, logical fashion…all the way to Chapter 25, when suddenly Chapter 40 is so bright in your imagination that you just know the muses have gathered around you and you MUST write it down before all is lost…And later you go back to write the chapters you skipped.

Or, maybe you’ve got an outline that is absolutely perfect…until your hero drives over a cliff and suddenly your story takes a sharp turn. Don’t fight it, people. Inspiration like that is actually very, very rare. If your story does something you never expected, go with it…

See, it’s just that most people are hands-on learners. We understand best when we dive in and get our hands dirty. Maybe it’s a waste of time NOW (or maybe not) but whatever you discover will be put to good use in the future. You’ll have a better idea of how to craft a story, when to rein it in and when to let it run. You’ll have a better idea of your own talent, skill and determination.

Never out-write your own ambition.

Don’t understand that? Well, try writing a 500,000 word epic adventure (without a bunch of filler or subplots or excessive world-building) and you’ll understand. Write for as long as your attention span holds, for as long as your belief in your tale holds true. And I don’t mean that you shouldn’t get bored with your story, that happens, and I don’t mean stop when you think it sucks, because you probably won’t get past page two. What I mean is, if your gut says your epic adventure would be better served as a less-than-epic novella, do that. Otherwise, you’ll quit a third of the way through, and that might be a shame.

Above all, enact your vision. Only your story is yours. Yes, of course it will be similar to someone else’s story, we’re all writing variations of just a few themes and there’s nothing original in the world of story-telling… except you. You are the unique element, your voice is what we haven’t heard before. That’s your ace-in-the-hole.

So get in there, get dirty and waste your time. Learn what your voice sounds like, and learn what your methodology is. Write the damned story…

Then go read all the advice so you can write a better story next time.

Cliché

Destiny…perhaps the most common fantasy cliché in the biz. As is in The Chosen One and the Task They Must Undertake To Save The World. A lot of people hate that crap.

My goal for Beloved Priestess was to take the feel of an epic fantasy and condense it into a quick, sexy fun read that captivated your imagination and got you hot and bothered, too. But yes, there is a Chosen One, and her name is Dahlene.

Obviously, this is not the tale of some poor, orphaned boy who now must struggle against his own fate. He doesn’t spend chapters resisting, only to fall in line with destiny and ride to the rescue. Uh-uh, Dahlene has had a pretty good idea of what’s expected of her since childhood.

And, you know, she’s a woman.

I never say if she’s orphaned or not, but the prince of the Wasted Kingdom, Valeran, found her in the slave market when he was young and threw a royal fit until his father bought her for him. She wasn’t obtained as a harem girl, though, but as an acolyte to the rain goddess because Dahlene has white hair in a land where pale hair is uncommon, to say the least. It was a Sign.

Yeah, yeah, I know…but she’s got be visibly special somehow. Unlike a lot Chosen One/Destiny themed stories, Dahlene can’t bring rain to the Wasted Kingdom on her own. Also, her white hair doesn’t necessarily make her pure and shiningly perfect. In fact, she’s been carrying on a secret and forbidden affair with Valeran for years.

Then Valeran has to get married. Dahlene’s jealous, but dutiful in her determination to let him go…and a little hesitant when Valeran asks her to vet his intended bride. Carani of the Riverlands is a gentle soul who is a little scared of men, but has always been attracted to women.

So yeah, I used some clichés, but I also tried to make them mine, unique in my story (though nothing in this world is truly original). I’ll even list them for you: destiny, The Chosen One, fated mates/soulmates, forbidden love, maybe even PI considering Dahlene and Valeran grew up together, a jealous brother and greed. Whew, I crammed a lot in there, didn’t I?

*Did any of them interest you? Just perhaps?*

Hmm, I could tell you to take my word for it, winking and smiling as I promise you’ll like it, trust me… Or, you could go to Amazon and read the sample and see for yourself. Right now, it’s only 99 cents, priced so it won’t break the bank while you decide if this is a world you’re interested in reading more of. Beloved Priestess is even free on Kindle Unlimited, if that’s an option for you.

If you’ve read it, let me know if you want to read more set in this world. Or feel free to leave a comment here telling me what fantasy and romance clichés you love, or hate, or wish would never see the light of day again… We’ll call it Interactive Readership, shall we?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

bp pic_800Beloved Priestess—Her duty, their pleasure

Travel to a whole new land, where fantasy meets fated love…

The Wasted Kingdom is perched on the edge of a desert that creeps closer every year. Dahlene has been chosen by the rain goddess to save her people, but she can’t do it alone. When her lover, Prince Valeran, must choose a wife, Dahlene helps him find a woman that suits them both and their triangle turns out to be exactly what the drought-stricken kingdom needs…

So long as Valeran’s jealous brother doesn’t destroy everything before the new union can be consummated.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PJZRM8/

Follow Your Gut

I’m gonna get a little metaphysical on everybody today.

So I wrote a story…like forever ago. I wrote it for a specific submission call for lesbian short stories for a publishing company that closed up shop before I could even submit it.

Having never written a lesbian sex scene before this story, I was nervous. But I had a plot and a vision, a whole tale spinning out in my head, though it ended up being a ménage story, F/M/F. I liked it—and as a bonus it can stand alone or be expanded into a great many tales.

On a whim, I submitted it to a publisher I consider a powerhouse in my genre and they accepted.

Here is some advice for aspiring authors—be willing to walk away if you can’t come to a contractual agreement. That’s what I did, and though it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done career-wise, I also know in my gut it was the only thing I could do to preserve my vision and my story. As an author, your business is your intellectual property, your asset. Your imagination and your voice are what define your business and passion. That’s worth a lot more than most might think.

Sometimes I get superstitious about the craziest things. I read my horoscope every day, though I don’t believe it. They’re never right for me, but on the day I got my acceptance letter for my story, my horoscope said I would get a second chance at a missed opportunity.

The horoscope thing is just eerie, right? But I refuse to sign my story away with no protection for it. I can’t throw it to the wolves and wonder if it’ll ever come home. Can’t do it…

Plus, I was completely unenthused about the whole thing. I felt no particular joy in the acceptance. Many times, I thought of withdrawing the submission. It took forever to hear back from the publisher, which wasn’t too surprising considering they’re facing some major legal hardships these days, which I spent far too many hours researching online. I knew right away I wanted a lawyer to go over the contract. There was very little communication about how the company operated and what they expected.

Obviously, there was doubt. It’s not that it felt wrong…just that it didn’t feel right for me. I chose to listen to that initial sense, rather than talk myself into believing it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The day I sent my ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ reply to their rejection of any and all changes to the offered contract, my stomach squeezed up and my hands shook. I wondered if it was the stupidest decision I could ever make. And yet, in the midst of that chaos, I was very calm.

I have a bad habit of ignoring my gut instinct. I always rationalize myself into situations that sound great on paper, and yet I know it’s not going to work out well. This time, I’m pretty sure I did the right thing.

Even if I didn’t, it’s too late now, huh?

I still have that superstition swimming through my head. But maybe it wasn’t the publisher that was the second chance, but the story. Maybe that story would have sat on my flash drive forever, without me ever looking at it again. And maybe it should be brought out into the light. Maybe that’s the second chance.

I’ve decided to put it in Kindle Unlimited rather than sending it to one of my other publishers. I’ve never had anything in KU, but I know a lot of people like it. I also know a lot of people aren’t so happy with the changes that have recently been paid to the program, but I’m willing to take my chances.

Writing is my passion, and I’ll even toot my own horn and claim I have talent and skill. But I also want it to be my career, which is a difficult thing to achieve, and so I must turn my mind to the business end of things. I need to focus on name recognition and giving readers a chance to discover my talent, give them a chance to find out whether or not they like my voice. KU does that for a lot of people because they take the risk out of buying.

 

I’ll be putting Beloved Priestess out this month. It’s F/M/F ménage, a high fantasy taking place in a world not our own.

beloved-priestess-Amazon

Beloved Priestess: Her duty—their pleasure

Dahlene is an acolyte of the rain goddess, tasked with the responsibility of bringing hope to her drought-stricken people. She is faithful in her duty – even if it requires her to give up the man she loves. Prince Valeran chooses Carani as his bride to be, but he has no intention of giving up Dahlene. That suits Carani just fine – she wants them both.

A jealous brother and an old pact with the fire god has left Valeran’s kingdom wasted. It will take all three –groom, bride and priestess– to right past wrongs and bring the rain.

What’s a Girl to Do?

What’s a Girl To Do?

Well, not much, if you were a woman in the late 19th century. Women didn’t have a whole lot of career prospects. The overwhelming majority were fairly dependent on men—their fathers, brothers and husbands.

There were a few who denied the status quo and became legendary figures. There’s always a rebel somewhere, right? Most of us have heard of Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley, or the outlaws Pearl Hart and Belle Star. But women that brassy, or as desperate for money as Pearl Hart, who turned to luring men to her room to knock them out and rob them, were few and far between.

That’s not to say the women of the 1800s didn’t have ‘grit.’ No, the 19th century was chock-full of intrepid women, adventurous, stubborn and determined. You needed those qualities to survive, especially out west, where there was little in the way of luxury and daily life was a struggle most of us in the modern era could never truly understand.

A pioneer woman was a homemaker in a time when just procuring clean water took a great deal of energy. They raised the children, cooked, cleaned and took care of their husbands. It was considered a pretty good deal, too, considering the lack of options for women in a society totally ruled by men.

teaser 2

So what could a woman do?  Well, there’s always prostitution. The most common occupations were seamstresses and laundresses, teachers and boardinghouse matrons. Women could work in factories, they could sing or pick a male pen name and become writers, or they could be nurses. However, women who worked in the medical field were primarily pushed into obstetrics or home care, and with the expansion of medical schools and hospitals, they were overwhelmingly left out of even that profession.

And, of course, most of their career options were completely taken away after marriage.

Out west, a woman had a little more freedom—they even had the right to vote in the Rocky Mountain territories—but less to choose from. Most pretty much had two options, be a prostitute or be a wife.

In Outrageous Offer, Hyacinth Woodley traveled west as a mail-order bride, only to be rejected by her would-be groom. Like most women back then, she has a choice, but her options no longer include marriage. She can either work in a saloon or become Offer O’Neal’s unpaid mistress, in addition to taking over the ‘women’s work’ on his run-down ranch, the Double O.

Alone, desperate and in unfamiliar territory, what’s a girl to do?

teaser 1

Excerpt:

Offer stood up and held out his hand. A wicked gleam entered his eye. “Then I believe I deserve a reward for arranging things to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Hyacinth’s lower belly quivered in agreement. Warmth rushed through her from her head to her feet and prodded her into jumping up to take Offer’s hand. The more the man touched her—pleasured her—the more she needed. She couldn’t wait to retire every night, slipping into Offer’s bed with him and waiting for him to slip into her.

He led her the few steps to the bed and turned back the covers. Then he let go of her hand and whipped off his shirt. Hyacinth made an appreciative noise as she took in the sight of his hard chest, the strength that was so apparent in every ripple and flex of his muscles as he unbuttoned and shucked off his pants. When he straightened, his cock jutted out proudly, flushed with need and tempting her to reach for it.

Offer backed up. “Uh-uh, darlin’, not just yet.”

Hyacinth’s hand dropped to clutch her skirts as Offer climbed up onto his rickety bed and laid back, arms folded beneath his head. He did nothing more than watch her as she fidgeted, waiting for him to give her some clue as to what he wanted.

“Well?” His eyebrows lifted.

She cleared her throat and tried to still the excited tremor in her vocal cords. “Well, what?”

“Take your clothes off, Hyacinth. Real slow.”

Biting her lip, she did as she was told. Her lungs worked faster while her shaking fingers struggled to release the tiny row of buttons fastening her bodice. The thrill of Offer’s gaze upon her as she peeled the fabric down to her waist was something she still hadn’t gotten used to, though she enjoyed it, craved it, and wished he would do it more often. Most nights they were both too tired to draw out the kind of teasing that Hyacinth liked so much.

She shimmied her hips and pushed her skirts down farther. They fell to the floor with a quiet swoosh that still managed to echo loudly in the tension-filled room. Tingling awareness raced over her, pulling her nipples tight as she reached for the ties to her chemise.

“That’s right, darlin’, show me your pretty titties.” Offer levered his weight up onto one elbow and stared at her with eyes gone dark with hunger. “I love your tits. They fill my hands and my mouth, topped by those pale pink nipples I could suck for hours.”

With Offer’s words swirling around her, the slide of the fabric over her chest was excruciating. The material caught on Hyacinth’s peaked nipples for a brief moment before falling free, and she caught her breath at the sensation as she shrugged her chemise straps off her arms. Like her skirts, she pushed the thin fabric over her hips, then stepped out of the pile of material at her feet.

Offer lay back again. “I’m a tired man, been working hard all day. I just don’t think I have the energy to fuck you.”

Hyacinth went still. “Excuse me?”

Offer flashed a grin at the ceiling. “Guess that means you have to fuck me tonight. Come over here, Hyacinth.”

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Amazon /  Totally Bound /  Barnes & Noble / Kobo   / All Romance

Check out my interviews on Goodreads and Female First !

The Strength of Female Characters

There have been a lot of internet posts on the strength of females. A surprising amount, actually. So I thought I’d weigh in—just ‘cause I can.

And because I write female characters and they’re all strong.

I don’t particularly care for weak female characters, but that’s my preference. I don’t mean Damsels in Distress, hell that’s usually the bulk of a story, right? But when that damsel can’t even contribute to her own ‘rescue’ I start losing interest.

But what is feminine strength?

There are a lot of female characters who are straight-up kick-ass. They can shoot and fight, solve crimes, arm wrestle werewolves, or whatever. I do love these stories, because reading is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be an activity to engage your imagination, and lots of readers love to put themselves in the shoes of that kick-ass heroine because it’s completely different from our reality.

I’ve got a few of these women roaming around the pages of my books. Nina in Ties of Family, Georgie in Magic Matched, Beryl in The Tithe Collector. These women are strong, tough and more than capable of handling themselves in physical confrontations. They’re brash, bold and intelligent.

But strength often comes in softer forms. The most important characteristic of strength is courage, right? Courage doesn’t necessarily mean swooping in to slay the dragon—it can also mean ducking the dragon’s fire while trying to point the villagers toward safety. It’s about standing your ground as the person you are, and meeting the obstacles you face with determination and hope.

For example, in spite of my personal preferences in regards to FSOG, I knew Ana’s character to be strong from the start. A quiet strength, and that’s part of the reason the trilogy is so wildly popular. This was a form of strength millions of women could relate to, the quiet aspect of daily life and pushing forward with hope.

Strength is the courage to keep going.

That’s it, right there in a nutshell. I have a lot of female characters that fit this description, too. Rebecca from Monster’s Chains, Ileana and Tulah from Magic Matched, and Hyacinth from Outrageous Offer. They are afraid or anxious over their situations, but they get themselves together and push forward, because there is little other option except completely giving up. (And my women rarely surrender!)

I’m going to add a third form of strength that doesn’t quite fit into either of my above categories. It’s not bold and it’s not quiet. Stubbornness, I might call it. The drive to change oneself, or something about oneself, for whatever reason. In real life, this is the hardest thing to do, for either men or women, because that involves facing the darkness within, a true battle with demons that have been hauled around for years.

For example, Meggie in Demon’s Bond has spent the majority of her life denying her psychic ability, but she has to face her fears when a demon attaches itself to her. She has to fight using the only weapon at her disposal, which, quite frankly, scares the hell out of her. Zahra, the djinn in The Tithe Collector, is an addict trying to reform her life. She’s got plenty of motivation—but, then, many addicts do—and she’s determined to succeed no matter the pain or loss. That takes a special kind of ‘guts.’

Strength isn’t just limited to female characters, of course, and for any aspiring writers reading this, give all your characters enough strengths and weaknesses to make them real, to make them 3-D, interesting and relatable. So what’s my point in specifically focusing on females? I write erotica, and all too often I see weak female characters…though I’ve also reads tons of stories following strong women. My genre has definitely drifted away from the helpless maiden who has been ravished by…wait, that’s actually a good story…

Seriously though, this is just me and my opinion of women in fiction. So if you’re looking for a definitive purpose in me writing this, there isn’t one.

Strength has no gender, but it does have form. It comes in boldness and physical combat skills, intelligence and innovation, determination, the ability to stand their ground, face their fears, and, most importantly, hope.

Because what good is strength if there is no hope in using it, whatever form it may take?

 

My Stranger…my thanks

My Stranger - 2000x3000 Intensely erotic read, and a captivating story.  – Johanna Panko

Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Kobo    Apple    Excessica

Is pleasure addictive? My Stranger is about a woman who is sucked into the orbit of a Bad Boy Alpha Male, but her stranger wields a darkness that goes beyond normal behavior. Confidence hints at aggression, intelligence turns to manipulation, care is hidden within control, and persistence slides into obsession.

 

I wrote My Stranger last summer (2014) and didn’t really know what to do with it. Every time I wrote something that tended toward the dark side, my story was rejected. I thought My Stranger would be no different, but I took a chance and sent it to Excessica, and they accepted.

Now I’m overwhelmed at the reviews coming in for my story. I never expected the responses I’m getting. I have a lot of trouble getting people to review my books, though many have emailed me to say how much they like them—which I appreciate, but that doesn’t get those sentiments in the record books, you know?

I was very excited about this book, and nervous. The My Stalker trilogy is a piece of me I rarely show. Well, every book I write is a piece of me, but this dark erotic/erotic horror series digs down into my own dark places. Maybe that’s why the responses have been so overwhelmingly positive—this series is personal to me. Maybe that shows.

I am intensely private, and I don’t trust people easily…but when I do trust, I accept that I am a little gullible where they are concerned. I’m no different than any other woman in the desire to be someone’s priority, the center of their world. But I have been stalked and I have been in relationships that border on terrifying, and I got out of them because being someone’s sole focus is suffocating.

My Stranger came from the questions raised from my own personal experiences. What if I made different decisions? What if I stayed, what if I sacrificed. So far, I haven’t met a man who made me want to play the odds the way my characters do in the My Stalker trilogy.

Three books, three different women, three different circumstances. Three different facets of myself and the what-ifs that have gone through my head. In the end, I labeled the series erotic horror, because the decisions made are horrific, and well outside the bounds of what most would call normal.

Yet, every day, women make the same choices. So maybe My Stranger (and the rest of the series) isn’t just personal to me—maybe it’s reflecting something in you, too. I appreciate that.

 

Thank you to all the bloggers who participated in the My Stranger tour. Thank you to all the reviewers, no matter whether you liked the book or not, I appreciate the time you took to read it. Thank you to Shannon Hunt and Once Upon an Alpha for the opportunity to tour and get My Stranger out there.

To the readers, or potential readers, you can see the reviews (including Johanna’s, above) on Goodreads

But my favorite snippets are:

The erotica in this book is a ten out of ten and will leave you breathless.  – Samaris Creech

Wow…this book left me absolutely speechless! – Carrie
All I Can Say Is Wow…  – Jenna Fox
This book blew my mind. – Kathy Wideman

This book is all kinds of erotic – like need new panties hot. – Jessica

Santeria & Sorcery

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DHP

Amazon

All Romance

Smashwords

 

 

Santeria & Sorcery is the first book in The Tithe Collector series. The whole series is a little dark, hidden inside lighter material. In each book, the Special Collections Team will investigate a magical crime…yes, the crimes they investigate are the ‘light’ stuff.

Oh, but the series has deeper undertones. There is a larger plot afoot, one that will change every member of the team, but especially the tithe collector, Zahra.

Zahra is a genie who committed the capital crime of consorting with humans. The most sacred law of the Djinn Nation forbids any relationship between the two, because humans and djinn can so easily become addicted to one another.

Zahra is addicted to human magic, the most potent force on earth—but she had help getting there. Her boyfriend knowing, and repeatedly, brought humans to their bed, and Zahra pays the price for their pleasure.

There are three other members of the Special Collections Team:

Niccolo is a vampire who has been handfasted to a hyena shape-shifter, Chimbwe, after having an affair with him—when Niccolo was supposed to be in his goddess’ bed exclusively. He struggles with issues of fidelity, because if he cheats in his new relationship, more time is tacked onto the handfasting, and Chimbwe will never be free. Unfortunately, vampires aren’t known for monogamy.

Beryl is—was—a fae assassin, one of the most feared assassins of all time. Now she’s been demoted and banished from the fairy courts because she had an affair with the new Summer King, which displeased the new Queen. Beryl has deeper secrets though, which will be unveiled in upcoming books. Her most immediate problem, however, is a sexy Fallen Angel that turns her world upside down.

Wade is the only human, an injured vet recently returned from the Middle East. He should have died in the war, but El, the king of gods, saved his life. Wade has a hard time finding his footing among the paranormal creatures he’s suddenly surrounded by, and he clings to his faith to the point that he is blinded to El’s manipulations. He’s also suffering from an odd manifestation of PTSD, and an unwanted attraction to Zahra.

In Santeria & Sorcery, the team is assembled, and they’re not happy about it. They’re paying penance for their sins, but the danger is more than they ever expected. The team isn’t just investigating any old crime, but those committed by humans—and theirs is a job typically reserved for elite law enforcement.

The Special Collections Team is anything but elite, but they’ll have to hit the ground running and learn on the fly. In Miami, a sorcerer is taking refuge in the Santeria community, and turning the religion’s traditions on its head as he amasses enough magical power to take on the king of gods, himself.

Manipulative boyfriends, deadly Fallen Angels, the kings of gods, a sorcerer, and—on top of all that—the team members’ individual emotional distress create a pretty hostile working environment. But there is too much on the line for failure to be an option. The Special Collections Team must learn to work together and to trust each other, but that’s an uphill battle for all of them.

Excerpt:

Wade

I tried to keep my words level. “I’m real damn sick of y’all trying to make me question my faith.”

“I’m not!” Chimbwe looked surprised, even sad in a way. He turned in his chair, leaning back as he studied the window over the sink. “El has Blessed you, and you must follow his rules. But his rules are not what you’ve always believed them to be.”

“Well, since no one wants to explain it to me in a way that even remotely makes sense, I’ll just have to follow my own conscience, won’t I?”

“We are at war.” Now Chimbwe looked fierce, as he turned back to me. He drilled a finger into the tabletop, rocking the whole thing until the dregs of my coffee splashed up to the rim of my mug. The man had some strength. “It is a very silent war. A war humans don’t know about, and couldn’t understand if they did.”

“The girls explained that to me already.” I slid forward in my seat, mimicking the bouda’s posture and not giving a fuck if he saw it as a challenge. “Lucifer’s Fallen provides the balance so the Five Nations don’t duke it out with each other.”

“But they still do,” he told me. “They are always trying to gain the advantage. Maybe not the angels, they have a strong alliance with El, but the djinn, especially, are slobbering for revolution.”

I shrugged and sat back, unconcerned. “El will win.”

“He must.” Chimbwe nodded. “He’s the only one who is able to keep everyone else in their place. No one else is as strong. I don’t wish to break your faith, I only hope you widen it to include what is truth, rather than focus on what you wish to be truth.”

To hide my surprise and gain a little time to think of something to say, I drained the rest of my coffee. There wasn’t much more than stray grounds left. “I deserve a little time to come to terms with all this. Your world is new to me.”

“This world is new to me, too,” he argued. “I have been forced to hide everything I am for my whole life. I could not be a bouda in a village of humans, I could not love a man in a country where it means death.”

That quick, the need to wriggle my shoulders and run from the room took hold of me. “Mmm, sorry to hear that.”

The corner of his mouth tipped up. “Niccolo used to be an investigator. Gaea sent him to my village after it seemed some people were killed by a bouda. All the signs were there, but it wasn’t true. Niccolo saved me and I saved him. Gaea was not pleased with the way we did that, so she handfasted us.”

“Congratulations. That means you’re married, right?”

“Not exactly. It was meant to be a punishment. I am sure Gaea would not like to hear you wish us well.”

I got up and poured more coffee without a word.

Chimbwe laughed, a deep sound coming straight from his belly. “I know you don’t care, Wade, but I need you to understand. We are together because my goddess says it must be so, but he is a man I would have chosen for myself anyway.”

My fingers tightened around my mug. The man was as intent on discussing his relationship as I was on avoiding the subject altogether. I glared at him, noting the stubborn glint in his eye as I surrendered. “Why do you need me to understand?”

“I think this team has been assembled as more than punishment. I know Niccolo is well placed in vampire society, for all he believes he is not. From what he’s said, I think Zahra also has some importance she is not telling. Beryl has served her goddess for a thousand years, and people say simply speaking the assassin’s name is enough to make Lucifer’s Fallen cower in fear.”

“So what?”

The bouda shook his head. “And you are Blessed. I think the team is being used for a bigger purpose than what we’ve been led to believe.”

“Sure, Chimbwe, that’s possible.” But that’s all I was prepared to say on the matter, at that moment with his words of war mocking my memories. I was half-believing, and half-resistant to the idea. On one hand, it was excellent strategy to take the wind from the enemies’ sails, on the other, it was hard to imagine God being so manipulative.

“I don’t know what is going on yet,” Chimbwe whispered. “But the team needs to learn to trust each other. I am afraid of what may happen in the future, and I do not want Niccolo caught in something that may lead to his death.”

I waved my mug because it seemed a better option than putting it down to cross my arms over my chest. “So you and I need to be all buddy-buddy to get the job done. Is that it?”

Chimbwe grimaced. “Even if my suspicions are not correct, this team must meet the expectations of the Council in order to be released from their punishments. I want Niccolo to be free, so you four will need to work as one.”

I weighed his words carefully. I was used to being a part of a team that shared the same training, values and goals. This team, though, was all over the map. They only spoke to each other when they had to, came from different Nations, definitely had different training because I couldn’t imagine Zahra or Niccolo handling a weapon like Beryl, and they all reported in to different leaders.

Hell of a team. Four of us were moving in four different directions, and it seemed Chimbwe wanted to be our wise guide, leading us all into a cohesive whole. A wise guide might be just what we all needed.

That realization had me sitting back down at the table. “I would like this team to work together,” I told him. “Considering the monsters we might run up against, our lives might depend on it.”

The Tithe Collector Series

The Tithe Collector series might be the trickiest one I will ever write. It’s definitely the trickiest I’ve written so far. In a big way, though it’s fairly subtle for a while, this series is a Cinderella tale…many Cinderella tales, all woven together.

Santeria & Sorcery comes out in just two weeks, and I am nervous. More so than with any other book I’ve written, in fact. The Tithe Collector has a lot of characters, and they each have plots and backstories, romances and futures. Every chapter is written in first person, from four different points of view…I know a lot of readers don’t like that, but the story simply wouldn’t work otherwise.

Four main characters have to learn to work as a team, but they’re all starting from different places. They all have deficiencies that may be ordinary in the normal course of their lives, but once together and in the situations they find themselves in, become magnified. And sometimes, their weaknesses end up being their greatest strengths.

Zahra is a magic-addicted djinn charged with the capital crime of consorting with humans. Niccolo is a vampire who betrayed his goddess. Beryl is a fairy assassin demoted for her transgressions against a queen. Wade is the only human on the team—the only one not being punished, but he’s been assigned to Special Collections for some purpose the others can’t figure out.

They’ve been brought together to investigate magical crimes as penance for their own. But the information they receive, and what they think they know, isn’t always true or straightforward. They are lied to, manipulated and misinformed, because there is a bigger purpose unfolding.

Why am I nervous? There are many threads in this tapestry, and I have to make certain they all come together in a sensible way. With every chapter in first person POV, what the reader gets is the perception from that character—good, bad or ugly, not to mention truth or lie. Events are portrayed in a way fitting that character’s viewpoint, and through the series each character evolves. They learn as they go—about many things, but especially about the rules of their world, the fabrications, and themselves. As they learn, so too, does the reader.

I invite you to enter a world hidden within our own. One where djinn, angels, faeries and deities blend into society. One where vampires and shifters shared a common ancestry with humans, who would be the most powerful creatures in existence, if they weren’t blocked from using magic. I invite you into a world where committing magical crimes means paying in death or taxes, and love may leave a tithe collector insane.

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Outrageous Offer

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Do you love cowboys?

I’m taking it back in time for my next release, Outrageous Offer, featuring an unlikely hero – a down-on-his luck cowboy with a penchant for taking in strays…

Hyacinth Woodley is a desperate woman. Officially deemed a spinster with no marriage prospects in sight, alone after the death of her parents and out of money, she answers an ad for a mail order bride, only to be rejected by her groom upon her arrival in Creek Bend. She has a choice to make — work in the saloon or accept an outrageous offer of being one man’s unpaid mistress.

Offer O’Neal is the new, less-than-proud owner of the Double O Ranch. After sinking every cent he had into the property, he’s left pinning his dreams of success on stud fees from his horse, the only thing of real value he’s got. He can’t afford a wife, but a willing woman in his bed is an appealing prospect, and Hyacinth’s got nowhere else to go.

Just as Offer starts thinking of Hyacinth as the one bright spot in his otherwise stressful and unlucky life, the bridegroom who rejected her returns demanding repayment for his investment. Ernest Horsham feels he’s spent a lot of money getting the woman to Creek Bend under false pretenses, and the judge is on his side. But it’s only when Hyacinth is arrested as a thief and a fraud that Offer realizes how much he values her company.

This is the first novella in The Double O Saga, which follows the O’Neal family through the generations. From the American frontier just after the Civil War to the modern day, each family member has one thing in common — a dream of making the Double O ranch a success.

The problem is, the O’Neals are constantly down on their luck. Work on the ranch is never done, and money is always in short supply. Stress, they have in spades. This family brings a whole new outlook to ‘living on love’ because love is the only thing they seem to do right.

Get ready to follow the O’Neals through the generations and witness their determination at both overcoming their bad luck, and in finding love.

Outrageous Offer will be released through Totally Bound this May!

Witchy Inspiration

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I lived in Africa for several years, and ‘witchery’ is fairly common—as a belief, if not a practice. Being that I love the paranormal genre, I took notice, and when I set out to write Betrothed the idea of witches drew me in, especially because I had firsthand knowledge of how another culture viewed witchcraft.

But witches alone are not enough for a paranormal romance. I needed a romance, and that got me thinking…

My friend met her husband when she was fifteen, and the very first time she spoke to him, she knew she would marry him. No one thought her certainty would prove to be prophetic, but they’ve been together since then, defying the odds, and that made me wonder, too…

What if you knew who you would marry before you were even grown-up enough to understand what marriage was? How would knowing exactly who you were going to marry affect your life, especially if the two of you were very different—raised with different goals, ethics and expectations? And what happens when you grow from childhood innocence to adult challenges?

Betrothed, the first book of the Magic Matched series, grew from those questions. Silviu Lovasz and Georgeanne Davenold are the rarest of witches, which puts their lives in danger, and prompted their families to form an alliance that defies divisive coven politics.

Silviu is from a patriarchal coven, raised by his ruthless father and manipulative grandfather. He’s expected to use everything at his disposal to rise to the top of the witching hierarchy—including Georgeanne.

Georgeanne Davenold is a matriarchal witch. Unlike the Lovaszes, her family is influential and Georgie has been trained to excel at both politics, and family leadership. She expects to take over as the matriarch one day, and broaden her family’s influence even further through Silviu’s rule over the combined covens.

We all have goals and a desire to be successful in life, and for Silviu and Georgie, it would seem that their path was clear, predestined. But human beings are rarely simple, and these two witches are no exception.

Silviu and Georgie must face life beyond childhood. They have moved from the simple times where their innocence forged a bond that resulted in a ten-year separation, to adulthood, where politics breeds distrust and the division between the covens tests everyone’s loyalties. They must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to wield the magic that is rightfully theirs, and they must learn to trust each other in the face of lies and betrayal in order to achieve the power they’re so determined to win.

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Dark Erotica

What is Dark Erotica?

Well, I’ve heard lots of different opinions from lots of different people, so, long story short: darkness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Some people have it in mind that dark erotica is BDSM, or at least bondage and definitely domination. Sadomasochism for sure. Humiliation, kidnapping, rape. Some people think that’s all dark erotica can include, but I think the genre is broader than that. I don’t think BDSM even needs to be included to be considered dark, though it is common. I think dark erotica revolves more around the themes and emotions the author lays out and inspires, whether they involve ‘taboo’ topics or not.

I’ve seen it argued that dark erotica is not erotic horror and that they have nothing to do with each other. And I’ve seen it argued that they are one and the same. I think horror is more than monsters under the bed or evil spirits—I think it includes the parts we hide deep inside ourselves as well as fears we own up to. I think of dark erotica and erotic horror more as sisters—maybe fraternal twins, each carrying elements of the other, having sprung from the same source at the same time, but then diverging as their unique personalities rose to the fore.

 

What is Dark Erotica to me?

Maybe it makes you uncomfortable, or it makes you really question what you would do in the same situation, or maybe it makes you shy away from that question, and therefore the answers you might find. It makes you hot, even if it’s twisted and not at all like what you’d want in reality. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and past your limits of what might be acceptable… but that’s part and parcel of fantasy, isn’t it?

I write lots of dark stories. I categorize them as dark erotica and erotic horror simultaneously, and yet they don’t always include a paranormal/evil creature and I rarely write anything remotely close to the BDSM niche, and almost never write edgeplay. (Although, my upcoming release, My Stranger, involves both bondage and domination, as well as minor knife play. So far, I’ve been told it’s tame and I’ve been told it’s very dark.)

Everyone has the right to their opinion, and what I think is dark may not be what you think is dark. I respect that.

My dark stories tend to revolve around the ideas of obsession, loss, death, insanity and even my lighter stories have themes of dominance. (Humans love to dominate others, it’s in our nature.) In my novel, Demon’s Bond, the heroes are seduced by the demon, willingly giving in, not taken against their will. Temptation by dark things, evil things, animalistic entities feeding off your soul… yeah, I think that’s pretty dark. There is no bondage or force, though.

Kind of in the same vein, My Stranger (and the rest of the My Stalker trilogy I have planned) also deal with themes of knowing the terrible consequences, and choosing to embrace them, against all wisdom and rationality. If I tell you a story about a woman who falls desperately in love with a serial killer, would it be dark? Yes. I think so. Because it makes us uncomfortable, and we want to know why a woman would be so crazy as to risk herself with a man like that. What is it about him that compels her, and what’s wrong with her that she submits to such a feeling? And how is that similar to the emotions we each hold close, where we hide them even from ourselves?

BDSM doesn’t always equal dark, and dark doesn’t always equal BDSM. A story isn’t dark because the characters engage in activity you don’t prefer to explore yourself—if that was the case, even the fluffiest of shifter stories would be classified as dark because the majority of us don’t want to run out and screw some wolves.

Dark is a theme, and again, it’s a personal theme. Each reader reads a book in a different way, and each reader interprets the events in that book in a different way. What makes me prickly (for good or for ill) isn’t always what makes you prickly, and where my comfort zone is, may be miles away from yours.

 

Shameless self promotion:

My Stranger - 2000x3000

My Stranger will be released in June and it explores darker themes. Yes, there is bondage, though the dominance aspect is a little more subtle because there is no battle of wills. My heroine lets her stranger do what he wants, and she enjoys it, even knowing the consequences. It’s dark, it’s erotic, it’s a little horrific, and it’s even a little romantic. And yes, it’s also a little twisted.

 

A dark erotic tale of lust and lies, and a truth more dangerous than the ecstasy she discovers in her stranger’s bed.

 

My girlfriend wanted me to have one last fling with a man before we took our relationship to the next level. When my stranger stole me away and gave me pleasure beyond anything I’d ever known, I thought it was all her idea. But my stranger wasn’t what I thought he was.

AJ isn’t ashamed to admit she’s a lover of many things—men, women and various combinations thereof. She’s a free spirit with a rough past that left her with a need to be taken care of, in spite of her trust issues. For the first time in her life, AJ is ready to commit to one person, but her girlfriend isn’t certain that AJ can be faithful and suggests one last fling to make sure she’s ready for a future together.

When AJ feels a man’s strong arms wrap around her in the dark, and hears her girlfriend’s pet name for her fall from his lips, she willingly submits to her stranger—and only finds out how dangerous he is after it’s too late to stop her addiction to the pleasure he gives her.

 

Warning: This story is dark erotica and contains situations that may be uncomfortable for certain readers, including Stockholm Syndrome, minor knife play, bondage, anal sex and fisting.

 

 

Enter the Witching World: Betrothed

In witching society, magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

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Silviu and Georgeanne have been betrothed since Georgie’s birth. Their Families are determined to see the two witches combine their magic into a  force that will rule over all the covens. They are two witches of myth and legend, Magic Matches. Ten years ago, the pair broke all the rules, resulting in a separation that left Silviu hungry for reunion and Georgie distrustful of her betrothed.

 

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Neither Ileana Lovasz nor Eliasz Levy are looking for love. Humiliated by a string of broken betrothals, Ileana only wants freedom from her manipulative grandfather. Ambitious Eliasz simply wants an alliance with Ileana’s brother Silviu, a man rising through the witching ranks. That is, until the Lovasz woman arrives at his home and stirs up emotions he’d never thought to feel. Ileana embarks on a bold plan of seduction to tie Eliasz to her side, and her brother’s politics, but she never imagined the man would seduce her, in turn.

deadly threat

Ileana, Eliasz, Silviu and Georgie must build an alliance that will help them all get what they want but, with too many lies and too many enemies, the game they’re playing turns deadly. When the two women come under attack, neither Silviu nor Eliasz knows which is the target. They only know they will protect the women their hearts have claimed as their own, even though that means defying the traditions of witching society, risking every goal they hold dear and confronting the dangerous members of their own families.

betrothed_800BETROTHED is Book 1 of the Magic Matched series-Silviu and Georgie’s first step toward lasting love and ultimate power in the dangerous world of witches.

Totally Bound               Amazon                 Barnes & Noble

Apple                           All Romance

 

The Amazon Dungeon

L2Amazon

This is the cover that landed Lured From the Path in the Amazon Dungeon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. That girl’s naked! Well, almost, but you know…crack kills, right?

I knew when I chose that cover that lots of places weren’t going to like it, and I accepted it. This is not a post about censorship, or banning/burning books. Adults can read what they want and children should be protected, and hopefully we will all find ways to promote our hidden books so that our audience can find them.

Hmm, back up a minute. Protecting our children…yeah, I’m all for that. But, for sh*ts and giggles, I typed ‘dildos’ into the general search on Amazon. Having never bought a dildo from Amazon (‘cause, I mean, really?), I was amazed to find them, right there where our kids can both see the wide variety available, as well as buy them – whoops! Damn that One Click…

In all fairness to Amazon, anal lube was the first thing that popped up when I searched for dildos, unless you count the suggestion that kicked in after ‘dil’ which was ‘dilddos vibration cheap in all departments’. But that begs the question, how many of you had to explain what anal lube was to your precious angel who has a minor problem with proper spelling?

No, this isn’t about censorship. This is about a hypocritical rule and a seemingly easy way to fix the whole problem. Listen up, Amazon, I’ve got a suggestion to throw into the box.

Amazon ADULT

Log into your Amazon account and they already have your info. And don’t talk to me about privacy, what’s a question about your birthdate when the company already has all your credit information? Amazon can add a little button somewhere that simply says ‘Adult.’ Click it and, lo and behold, there are all your erotic books, sex toys, R-rated-or-more movies, maybe even the really risqué lingerie, etc.

NO MORE BANNING OR BANISHING

For added measure, Amazon could set the whole thing up so that another password is required before the customer is redirected. Adults with no children can use the same password while adults with children would have the option of adding another layer of protection by choosing an alternate password.

Whoa, power to the people. And, Amazon wouldn’t have to keep doing backflips to keep the smut off the front page while letting 9 inch jelly dongs slide through. Quite frankly, I’d rather explain to my child that the lady on the cover of the book is naked because that’s a book for grown-ups, than explain exactly what a giant dildo is good for. Or anal lube.

So how ‘bout it? Amazon is raking in more money in an hour than I will ever see in my life (most likely) so I can’t imagine that they can’t afford to include an Adult section in their site. Authors would be happy, parents would be happy, Amazon would be happy because happy people would spend more money…

It’s a win-win.

 

But, in the meantime, if you want to buy Lured From the Path on Amazon, you must follow the link directly. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GYIMUAU

Feel free to share that link far and wide. No, really, please share the link.

Or, do what most people have been doing in the year since Lured From the Path has been published, and buy from Smashwords or Barnes & Noble

Just to provide lots of alternatives, Lured From the Path is also on Kobo and  Apple

 

Lured From the Path is based on the legends of the Vila, supernatural women who abduct men in the forests…

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

 

He followed her through the trees, listening to the tune of her laughter and song. The deeper they went, the more she sang. David’s thoughts slowed, focused entirely on the sounds of her simple enjoyment, but energy flooded his body, loosening his muscles.

They stopped in another circle of trees. She spun toward him, stepping close. He could feel the heat of her lithe body as she stared up at him. Lazy spirals of desire worked up his spine as he became entranced, lost in her moss green eyes.

“Dance with me.”

Distantly surprised by her request, he barely managed a nod. His arms came around her, his palms soaking up the silken feel of her skin like a sponge as she lifted to her toes and leaned her body against his. So delicate, so warm, she felt perfect against him.

Slowly, she began to hum, swaying her hips to her melody. Her body became fluid against his. She dipped and twisted, rubbing her breasts over his shirt, her flat belly sliding over the cotton. Her hands smoothed over his shoulders, his chest, drifting over his ribs as she moved around him.

His groin grew heavy. David’s world narrowed down to her and her song, moving his body to her rhythm as they danced. She pressed against his back, lifting to her toes as her soft lips drifted over his tingling nape. Her fingers trailed through his hair, tugging the short strands, fingertips stroking heat into the curve of his ears.

She spun until she faced him. Together, they swayed. She lifted her hands, plucking at the fabric of his shirt until it lifted to his ribs. Obeying her silent command, he pulled the shirt off, letting it fall from his fingers to the forest floor.

She leaned forward to trace a swirling design across his chest with her tongue. Fire trailed after her, branding his flesh, sinking into his bones. Lightning swept through him, sparking in the heavy sac between his legs.

Willa pressed closer and parted her thighs to straddle one of his. She rocked against him, shifted side to side and twirled her hips until his pants were wet with her need and his cock ached for freedom. His arms wrapped around her and he drew his fingers over her spine, enjoying her soft skin.

Hours passed as time stood still. David’s heart thumped with heated pulses in perfect measure to her tune. His veins ran with molasses, slowing him and his thoughts, weighing him down. Utterly entranced, he watched Willa dance for him as she slowly commanded his devotion.

 

Lured From the Path by Lola White

Available on Amazon  Smashwords  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  and  Apple

I’m an Excessica Author

Congratulations to me, I’m an Excessican!

I wrote a very, very dark erotic story called My Stranger. It’s the first of at least three stories about stalkers I’m writing, and specifically deals with Stockholm Syndrome, and the types of personalities most susceptible to Stockholm Syndrome.

 

Super-fast Author’s Note:

Stalking is a serious crime. Some estimate that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 14 men will be stalked at some point in their lives, typically before the age of 25. Most people know their stalkers in some way, though it might be just a passing acquaintance who just keeps popping up and trying to build a deeper relationship than you want.

I, myself, have been stalked, and though I have written an entirely fictional, dark erotica novella romanticizing such a situation, IN REALITY, it’s terrifying and if you believe yourself to be a victim of stalking, do not hesitate to inform the authorities and take precautions to ensure your safety.

 

Now, back to my book.

It’s dark and it’s sexy. It involves kinky stuff rarely written about and yes, my main female character builds a pseudo-trust with my male character/antagonist. It’s erotic horror with a dash of suspense thrown in, and I sent it off to Excessica Publishing on the off chance that they would like it.

And they did. Look for My Stranger in June 2015!

 

My Stranger

A dark erotic tale of lust and lies, and a truth more dangerous than the ecstasy she discovers in her stranger’s bed.

 My girlfriend wanted me to have one last fling with a man before we took our relationship to the next level. When my stranger stole me away and gave me pleasure beyond anything I’d ever known, I thought it was all her idea. But my stranger wasn’t what I thought he was.

AJ isn’t ashamed to admit she’s a lover of many things—men, women and various combinations thereof. She’s a free spirit with a rough past that left her with a need to be taken care of, in spite of her trust issues. For the first time in her life, AJ is ready to commit to one person, but her girlfriend isn’t certain that AJ can be faithful and suggests one last fling to make sure she’s ready for a future together.

When AJ feels a man’s strong arms wrap around her in the dark, and hears her girlfriend’s pet name for her fall from his lips, she willingly submits to her stranger—and only finds out how dangerous he is after it’s too late to stop her addiction to the pleasure he teaches her.

Warning: This story is dark erotica and contains situations that may be uncomfortable for certain readers, including Stockholm Syndrome, minor knife play, bondage, anal sex and fisting.

I can’t post the real cover because I don’t own it yet, but here’s a pretty significant hint as to what it will look like

stalkhint

Editing comes with tears

betrothed_800Geez, where should I begin?

My paranormal erotic romance, Betrothed, was picked up by Totally Bound. Cue the happy dance, pound the drums, and pop an aspirin for the stupid grin contorting my face long enough to cause pain. My editor, Jennifer Douglas is amazing and insightful and ridiculously patient.

But I had to change the title of the series. When it comes to titles, my creativity takes a nose dive. But my previous title was too close to an already-published series by Totally Bound so I changed it to Magic Matched.

Whew, okay, we’ll put a check in that box.

First round of edits. Done, not terrible, causing no distress. (Because Jennifer is awesome.) But there were a few more areas of confusion which required more editing. My own misunderstanding of what Jennifer was asking necessitated a third round. All three rounds took less than a week and left me feeling excited, absolutely certain that Totally Bound was helping me release the very best book Betrothed could possibly be.

For the record, I still feel absolutely certain that Totally Bound is going to release the very best book Betrothed could be.

But there were tears.

Final edits came around and I was assured that it would be easy, that it primarily focused on grammar. Unfortunately, grammar includes word tense and certain inconsistencies between how we speak, and how we read what’s spoken. Suggestions were made and I found myself refusing to comply. Stubborn, frustrated, confused as to why certain things had to change, I turned to the internet to find out how much an editor expects an author to change. The search engine results varied, but generally, there is no answer to my question.

One thing was for sure, I didn’t want to be considered A Problem. I didn’t want to be stubborn, I didn’t want to create a stagnant book that fell short of my goals toward perfection, and I didn’t want to be one of those people who were sure they were right and the professionals had it wrong.

So, after reading many blogs written by editors and authors, I found one in particular that helped. I really wish I’d written her web address down, but I didn’t, because I didn’t expect to write this post (surprise!) If I find it again, I will let you know, because this author was a huge help to my sanity. (If you know it, please comment and share the knowledge.)

Basically, she said wherever an editor points something out, fix it unless there is a damn good reason for not fixing it. She said editors don’t necessarily know what they want, they only know that what you’ve given them doesn’t work. And reading that, the light bulb went on in my mulish head.

I had made a list of everything I didn’t want to change. There were roughly 80 places (for a 93,000 word novel of complicated plot) where the final line editors made a comment relating to capitalization or words changes, commas, etc. I initially refused to change 14. That kind of ratio may not sound like a big deal, but I knew it was. Keeping that many things that needed to change is ridiculously pig-headed. My goal was to change at least 95% of what they asked, because I knew they wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t a problem.

Keeping in mind that what WAS there didn’t work, and the editors did a decent job of telling me why in their comments, I changed things to something I thought WOULD work. Most of the time, it was nothing like the suggestion made by the editor, but it still fit with their understanding of what was needed.

For me to refuse to change what needed changing smacked of laziness. I am the writer, I am the storyteller, I am the lassoer of words. I am the one lost in my own head, knowing already what I meant, and they are the ones hearing it fresh, and wondering what the hell I meant. They needed a change, and it’s my job to make sure that change reflects well on all of us. It’s my job to tell the story, and if I can tell a 93,000 word story about witches and politics, certainly I can find a few more to adjust clunky sentences, or scrap some to tighten a particular scene.

I just did it MY way, in a way that reflects my voice and my story and my intent. And that author whose blog I read gave me de facto permission to do so.

You’ll find lots of places where people give advice on saying no to your editor. If you’re traditionally published or published through a well-respected company who consistently puts out good work, trust your editor. If you’re self-publishing, research and investigate until you find an editor you trust. You should be working with an editor you trust, and once you get one, sincerely consider their advice.

I trust my editor. Like I said before, they are the professionals. How dare I think I know better?

So, here’s my advice: pick your battles and be creative. Find new ways to clarify and make sure the original is really important to you if you to keep it. Be prepared to defend why resistance is necessary. In the end, I kept two things, both were word changes in dialogue that, to me, showed something important about the character speaking. 2 out of 80. Much better.

My editor didn’t write back with a scathing email about my stubbornness, or how I didn’t do what they asked, in the way the asked it. I take that to mean that I make them predominantly happy in what I changed and how I changed it. I took out the things that didn’t work and replaced them with things that did. That was my job, my final contribution to my story. Final edits are done, and release is just a few months away.