Tuesday, April 25, 2017

3T Writing Tidbit

Raise tension by making the conflict more and more personal. Substitute "It" with your conflict or dramatic event to see how the stakes rise.
  • It happens to a group of people
  • It happens to a person close to us
  • It happens to one of us.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Heart Mates 2nd Edition up for preorder

I'm so excited to share this with you all, I couldn't wait another week. Not only do I have an amazing new cover from Scott Carpenter, not only did I get an expert blurb from the Blurb Queen, I've rewritten this book for the reissue and included the new first chapter here. Check it out! (Look for April's 3T Writing Tidbit next week.)

To survive, they’ll have to find the missing pieces—starting with their own.

Sophia Blue wishes the cute little doggie she’s found in her aunt’s abandoned magic shop could talk. Maybe he’d tell her if the old woman has wandered off on a walkabout, or if there’s foul magic afoot. Odd how the scruffy little fur ball seems to understand Sophia’s every word.

Just a few years ago, she might have cast a spell to translate the dog’s ear-piercing yaps. But her magic is out of her reach, locked away in penance for mistakenly helping an evil wizard.

Noah Blackwood was the last person to see Sophia’s aunt before she hit him with a spell gone sideways. By night he’s two-hundred pounds of authority, a respected local pack leader. By day? He’s twelve pounds of poof dog. A tasty morsel for the five anti-alpha wolves gunning for him.

The instant the sun goes down and Sophia’s eyes meet Noah’s, fire ignites between them in an incendiary kiss. But when the evil wizard reappears intent on murder, Sophia must break through killing layers of pain to find her magic. And Noah must reclaim all that he is—even defy the law—to claim the woman his heart knows is his mate.

Warning: Contains a sassy ex-witch princess who hasn’t picked up a wand in four years, and a rare alpha wolf who proves attitude knows no boundaries. A little drooling, a lot of panting, and a few nips in all the right places. Flea collar not included. Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple | Kindle UK

Chapter One


Noah Blackwood opened the door to the Uncommon Night Owl Bookstore, knowing full well he was walking into trouble.
     He’d only been alpha a few days, but he already had a sense for when members of his pack were in trouble—and when they were causing trouble. Sure enough, as he glided soundlessly across the threshold of the bookshop, his foot struck broken glass. He scanned the store with a narrowed gaze.
     Seventeen-year-old Marlowe stood to his left, beside a front display case. His dirty fingers were wrapped tightly around something, caught in the act of stealing it.
     Marlowe was a bully in training and a young man with too much time on his hands.
     By bloody tooth and claw, Noah would give the pup something better to do.
     As he closed the door and strode toward Marlowe, Noah realized the pack youth was frozen in place, fingers squeezing the thing as if he couldn’t let go.
     And that the thing was a foot-long psychedelic capped tower that looked uncomfortably like an erect penis.
     Noah scowled. He wasn’t sure what was more unnatural, that frozen boy or the flower-power dildo.
     A rattle of beads from the back of the store caught his attention.
     “Mr. Blackwood.” The store’s proprietor—Linda Blue, who styled herself as some sort of seer—swept apart a back curtain of beads and trundled out. “You need to keep better control of your people. You’re better than the old alpha Scauth, of course—”
     “Alpha? You know about shifters?” Noah stared at the small, round woman. The magical communities were secretive and small. A mundane human, even a seer, shouldn’t know about the pack. “How?”
     “That’s beside the point…oh my.” As she neared, her hand fluttered in front of her ample bosom. Magic flared in his sight, nearly blinding him. She’d cast a spell.
     Damn it, she was a witch.
     Noah’s palm pressed automatically to his chest, shielding his wolf medallion. Well, that explained how she knew he was pack. Witches were trouble. Big trouble. The sooner Noah got Marlowe out from under her feet, the better.
     “This won’t happen again, ma’am.” He half-growled it, his inner wolf close to the surface.
     “And how do I know that, Mr. Blackwood?” She looked down her long nose at him, a difficult feat considering Noah was almost a foot taller.
     Angry Marlowe had put him in this situation, Noah wanted nothing more than to take the boy and leave. But witches took careful handling. He controlled himself and said mildly, “Let me talk with the boy. You’ll see.”
     She waved a hand, and Marlowe staggered as if released. Noah’s hackles rose. A witch who could freeze a wolf was no mere dabbler.
     Marlowe dared to snarl at him. The idiot.
     Noah seized the pup by the scruff of the neck—and Marlowe swung at him with the pink rod.
Noah saw red. The rod was a doodad in a magical store full of doodads that did who-knew-what—and the pup was swinging it like a bat? He wasn’t an idiot, he was an imbecile. Snatching the rod from Marlowe’s hand, Noah hoisted the pup until his legs batted air.
     Snarls changed abruptly to thin whines.
     Letting the pup meditate midair on his errors, Noah set the rod gently on the display case. Barking dogs, he didn’t know how close he’d skated to disaster. Noah gave the pup a good scold, letting his roiling anger and alarm bleed into his tone. When he set him down, he rapped his nose for good measure.
     The boy slouched, as if his tail were tucked between his legs.
     Noah turned to the witch. “I’m sorry for the boy’s behavior, Ms. Blue. Naturally, I’ll pay for any damages.”
     “Well…” She rocked on her toes and Noah could see her mind working. He waited for the worst, but her plump cheeks turned rosy. “If it can make us friends…apology accepted.”
     “Thank you.” Friends? With a witch? He’d rather pal around with a rabid badger. “I’m glad to have this settled.”
     He grabbed Marlowe by the shoulders and marched the pup toward the door. The witch hustled past them to open it.
     She misjudged the distance and plowed into them both. Noah twisted to catch her from falling.
She blinked up into his eyes, beaming. “Oh, thank you!”
     Her girlish batting disoriented him just long enough for Marlowe to twist and duck away.
     The pup, laughing, ran to grab the dildo then dashed toward the back of the store. His running fist pumped the tower in the air like a bizarre personal barbell.
     “My vibrating skyscraper mushroom!” the witch cried.
     “Mushroom?” Marlowe, as if trying to aggravate the damned witch, turned and crowed. “It’s a psycho dildo ’shroom!”
     The witch flitted after the pup, spinning her fingers like a thousand itsy bitsy spiders, her jewelry clacking like an antique train. “One for the money, two for the show.”
     Noah launched himself after her. Twist his tail, she was casting a spell. She looked sweet but if she had real power, well, he’d seen the destruction of mages’ battles. “Don’t—”
     “Three to get ready and four—”
     “No!” Dread kicked Noah to leap for the boy.
     “—to go!”
     He cut eyes back. Air warped toward him, wavering like a hot day. Before it hit, Noah tackled the boy, taking him to the floor. The impact took the rod from his hands, flying in an arc through the beaded curtain of the back doorway.
     Noah raised his head.
     The warped air rippled past them, sailing into a free-standing Snow White oval mirror near the doorway.
     The spell rebounded off the mirror. No, the mirror didn’t just bounce it. It augmented it.
     Noah shoved to his hands and knees as a glittering tsunami of magic whooshed out of the mirror, heading off to his left. Damn it, this was why he hated magic. Unpredictable, uncontrollable. The spell shot into a glass curio cabinet full of pictures, hit one, and ricocheted—
     Straight into his face.
     It punched him like a fist. He spun on his knees and fell onto his back, magic shivering into his skin like a thousand tiny barbs. The spell spiraled down into him, condensing in the middle of his chest…and then nothing.
     While Noah lay there panting, Marlowe leaped to his feet and disappeared through the beads.
     Barking dogs. The pup had probably scooped up that damned mushroom on the way.
     Noah wrestled to his elbows. His nose hurt like he’d taken a real fist. The witch packed quite a wallop for looking like a sweet Mrs. Santa.
     Weaving fingers fluttered suddenly in his face.
     Acid splashed through him. “Lady, don’t—”
     “Reveal.” She stared down at him in plate-eyed horror, her face draining of all color.
     “What in blazes is going on?” His words were more growl than voice. Normally, he had excellent control of his wolf. But this, on top of being forced into the alpha fight and the challenges to his new leadership, would make even the calmest wolf howl. He shoved himself to his feet. “What did you hit me with?”
     The witch’s fingers covered her mouth. “You felt that? Oh my. Oh dear. This is not good. This is very not good.”
     “If you don’t tell me what—”
     “Nothing. Everything.” The plump woman flitted to the mirror. She traced its dark wood frame with fluttering fingers, her eyes surprisingly intent.
     “Lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about. But that was some serious magic.”
     She whirled, skirts flying. “How do you know that?”
     “Same way I know you’re a witch.” He tapped his nose.
     “That’s impossible. No one can sense a witch.”
     He shrugged. “I can. I’m pack alpha.” The truth, in so far as it went.
     She whirled back to the mirror, studying it so intensely Noah was surprised it didn’t blush. She was muttering to herself. “Impossible. Magic is paradox. Witches sense the paradox but shifters are the paradox. A shifter sensing magic would be like…like a color sensing itself.”
     Typical witch. No real answer. “Just tell me what you hit me with, Ms. Blue.”
     The witch’s cheeks pinked. “Call me Linda.”
     He tapped his dwindling reserves of patience. “Nice to meet you, Linda. I’m Noah—stop that!”
     She wagged fingers at him, muttering.
     Noah stepped sharply back, too late. The spell hit him with a brief glitter. “Damn it, I hate sparkles.”
     “You saw that?” Her eyes widened like hobbit doors. She spun, trotted to the curio cabinet, opened it, picked one of the pictures, and carried it back to him. “It hit Sophia’s photo before it struck you. Do you know her?”
     Sophia. The name rang like the purest bell in his mind.
     Then she pushed the picture into his nose, and the woman’s face hit him harder than the spell.
Smooth, elegant, so beautiful he wanted to howl. Sophia. Glossy bronze curls, elegant nose, and eyes that punched him in the gut. Big, intelligent eyes, yet something in her gaze hinted that if a man got her someplace private, they’d do some amazing things—
     Noah backed away. He’d never heated up that fast. Damn it, what had the witch done to him? He tried to speak, but nothing came out. He swallowed and tried again. Still nothing.
     Desperate to hang onto his control, he closed his eyes and used his three-two-one descent to his quiet place, one of the few things he’d kept from his childhood. After dipping a toe in the cool, calm waters of rationality, he opened his eyes again on the witch. “No. Never met her.”
     She tapped the frame against her lip. “Interesting.”
     “Linda, enough. What hit me?
     “The tiniest of hexes.” She bustled to put the picture back then trundled to an armoire to lift a folded white sheet from the shelves. “A simple bur.”
     He shook his head. “That didn’t hit like a bur.”
     “Yes, well, it took a few detours first.” She closed the cupboard, trotted to the mirror and threw the sheet over it. The cloth slithered into place like silk. She twitched a few places to cover the mirror completely just as a bell tinkled from the front of the store. The sound of the door opening was followed by a beam of dawn sunlight lancing across the floor. “There, that’s taken care of. I—oh dear.”
     She spun and stared at the front door.
     “What’s the matter…yip?” Suddenly dizzy, he pressed a hand to his head. Or tried to. A paw wavered in front of his face.
     “We’re closed.” Linda’s tone was strained.
     Noah shook his head to clear it. He felt so strange. He finally managed to focus on the front door where an older woman stood, hands over her mouth, staring at him.
     The woman stuttered, “The door was open and I… D-did that man just turn into an animal—?”
     Noah froze. Had he shifted without meaning to? That hadn’t happened since he was in diapers. He reached for his human…and nothing happened. What was going on?
     “No, no. That’s an illusion.” Linda bustled to the woman and turned her away. “All mirrors and such. Come back tomorrow.” She hustled the woman out, closed the door, and collapsed back against the jamb, hand against her forehead.
     “Mr. Blackwood. Noah.” Heaving a breath, she straightened and trotted toward the back of the store. “You stay here. I have to go check out a few things.”
     “Yip?” He couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.
     “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Then, in a flurry of hairpins and a rattle of beaded curtain, she was gone.
     “Yip yip…? Yip!” He ground his teeth. Witches. Couldn’t trust the lot of them. Always secretive, and not in the necessary, protecting-the-pack way. He started after her, using the long-legged lope that was his wolf’s stride…and upended, landing on his back, little furry legs batting above him.
     That was when he found out he was a fifteen-inch dog.

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple | Kindle UK

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2T Repeat Performance

In December, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. I thought you might be interested in seeing those posts now.

photo credit: f1uffster (Jeanie) via photopin cc
My Favorite Things—#9 Tech/science--originally published May 28, 2014

Technology is a love-hate relationship for me. While I adore making things happen just with my mind (with the help of a few electronics), the transience — especially how easy it is to lose work — drives me nuts. I know I started this blog last week and had all sorts of great, Amazing, IRREPLACEABLE ideas, but naturally now I can’t find the file.

On the LOVE side, the Internet has opened a world of possibilities.

Star Cluster NGC 2074
in the Large Magellanic Cloud
 
Source: Hubblesite.org
Pictures (like those found at NASA, especially the Hubble pics), puzzles (this cover of Biting Nixie at Jigsaw Planet took me about 5 minutes to solve just now. Hey, I had to test it, right?), and most of all, research. The actual transcription of Joan of Arc’s 1431 trial is online. How cool is that?

Of course there are a lot of pitfalls. Cyberthieves, websites and emails designed to trap unwary Internet travelers. The aforementioned disappearing work.

But all in all, I have to say for me, the wonders of technology outweigh the pitfalls. If nothing else, the sheer fun of trying new things has to count for something.

Which brings me to my newest tech trial—Rafflecopter! (I held my first Rafflecopter...which then refused to load, lol.)\

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

1T Status Update

I officially have too many projects, lol.
  • Heart Mates (2nd edition) is up for preorder! Completely updated for this reissue. Amazon | Nook | Smashwords | Kobo | Apple | Amazon UK
  • Catch up on Elias and the gang. Edits for Night's Caress (The Ancients) coming next month.
  • The first draft of Bad-Boy Billionaire's Lady is done. This billionaire brother novella is for the next box set, Billionaire Ever After.
  • Starting this month on the first draft of When Gabriel Met Emma for a lovely March of Dimes anthology.
  • Did you see our gorgeous April Fools For Love box set? 7 stories, 99 pennies.
  • Springtastic Giveaway going on now. (See below.)
  • If you like activist romances, check out the exciting Simon & Schuster set Passionate Hearts. Includes my Edie and the CEO.
  • I have word on the Biting Love series! Look for an announcement soon :)
  • Halfway through Series 1 of a serial fantasy novel. Eight or nine short books in each series.
  • After the above are launched, I have book 3 of Pull of the Moon, Soul Mates, books 2 and 3 of The Ancients, and books 2 and 3 of my billionaire brothers to schedule. 
  • Oh yeah, and while I'm winding down in one symphony, I'm winding up another closer one.  So, two sets of orchestra concerts this spring o_O


How much do we love you?
Enter to win $1500 in Amazon Gift Cards!
One simple entry will subscribe you to 75 Romance Author Newsletters. PLUS...use the bonus entries to increase your chances.
http://lovekissedbookbargains.com/springtastic-giveaway/

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

4T Olio -- Do you remember 8-track? and why promo drives me nuts

Do you remember 8-track tape? Answer below (no cheating, lol).

Technology has changed substantially over the last 50 years. When we began the twentieth century, we had recording tech for both audio and video, but only barely. There were wax cylinders and vinyl records and photographic plates. The equipment to make these records were expensive. The average person couldn't afford to make their own recordings.

Then came film you could buy at the drugstore--and send out to be developed. Now families could record their most precious moments. But you still had to buy records, either by the album or the single.

Then, in the mid-sixties, suddenly we had magnetic tape and Polaroid self-developing film, and the world changed. For the first time, an audio recording device was within the price range of the middle-class family. You could record anything you wanted, including music off the radio. What a wonder!

Better yet, tape was portable. No needle-scratching just because of a few bumps! Soon tape-playing devices were available in cars. Remember cassettes?

But it didn't stop there. Computers were up and coming, and magnetic and disk technology combined to create data storage on magnetic disks. But we needed to transfer data physically. Soon we had 5 1/4 floppy disks--they really were flexible, which is why they were called floppies. On the heels of floppies came smaller, more indestructible 3 1/2 floppies--no longer floppy but the name stuck.

And then came *gasp* fiber optics and CDs, followed by DVDs. And *gasp-gasp* flash technology that gave us thumb drives--and gave rise to .mp3 players. Data and music were suddenly available in our palm.

Tablets and phones with stunning audio-visual capabilities came history's equivalent of a millisecond later.

So what does all this have to do with promotion?

Simple. As fast as technology has rushed by in the past few decades (does anyone have a floppy drive anymore? I think not), social media and the art of book promotion has changed JUST AS FAST. The things I learned as a new published author DO NOT WORK any more. This is a huge problem for me because, frankly, I like to do a job right the first time and then consider it DONE.

Yeah, I can hear the guffaws out there. LOL. Even I know how ridiculous that is. Because, you know--life happens. No plan survives meeting reality. That sort of thing.

So, this is all a round-about way of posting a couple promo helps that may be obsolete as soon as I suggest them.


****
8-track was the alternate cassette format of magnetic tape we used to play music back in the stone age. Sort of like VHS/Betamax.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

3T Writing Tidbit

Taking a brief time out from the serious business of writing for a link to the lighter side...

Q: How many writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but the light bulb has to endure a series of conflicts and challenges before it finally changes.
More totally awesome fun at Amanda Patterson writerly light bulb jokes.

You're welcome :)

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2T Repeat Performance

In December, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. I thought you might be interested in seeing those posts now.

The Shifter Mystique by Vivi Andrews--originally published May 22, 2014

Award-winning (Golden Heart, RT Top Picks) author Vivi Andrews writes my favorite combination of sassy, steamy and smart. Please welcome Vivi in her first appearance at Magical Musings!
Recently a non-romance-reading friend of mine asked me what my upcoming book was about.  When I explained that Jaguar’s Kiss is a forbidden-love romance between the princess of a pride of lion shapeshifters and a sexy loner who shifts into a jaguar, the look he gave me could best be described as utter confusion.  He hadn’t been expecting big cats.  After some discussion, it became apparent my poor misguided friend couldn’t understand the appeal of shapeshifter romance, and I found myself in the position of trying to explain exactly why I find these stories so irresistible.
Was it the alpha male heroes?  They are so deliciously sexy—all power and authority and lovely bulgy muscles.  Dominant and determined and sexy and… *fans self*   Yeah.  What’s not to love?
Or is it the sensuality that naturally imbues a story about creatures that are so physical and possessing such heightened senses?  Shifters are dominated by instinct, in touch with their primal, animalistic sexual selves in a way that can be hot as hell.  Many shifter romances are written in a style that highlights that intense sensory body-awareness in a way that’s lush and vivid.  Hard to resist…
Or perhaps it’s the certainty involved in the popular fated mates trope in shifter romances?  The idea that there is a soul mate and when you find them you will sort of lock into place and there will be no doubt (and no questioning whether this is really the guy for you as you wade through the quagmire that human dating can be).  There’s a comfort in the feeling that the happily-ever-afters will make it all the way to the ever-after and when there’s a metaphysical mate-bond, it’s easy to believe they’re going to go the distance.
What do you think?  Why are shifters so dang sexy?  Alphas, animalism, mates?  All of the above?  Some other factor I haven’t considered?  The tight knit communities of packs and prides that exist in many of the books?  The sociopolitical elements of the shapeshifter worlds?  Or is just that we all dreamed of being able to transform into jaguars or wolves and run through the forest as kids (I know I did) and we never quite grew up?
Are you a shifter lover?  What makes them impossible for you to resist?
Jaguar's Kiss
Jaguar's Kiss
To get what he wants, he’ll have to rattle her cage...
Lila Fallon, the Lone Pine Pride Alpha’s only daughter, has been betrothed since childhood to marry her father’s chosen successor. The match is designed to maintain peace by shoring up any cracks in pride solidarity.
She’s always known she would do her duty—she just never expected to meet a man who would tempt her to throw it all away.
As a black panther, Santiago Flores couldn’t be a less suitable mate for the Alpha’s purebred lioness daughter. But that doesn’t change the fact that for every one of the five years he’s been with the Lone Pine Pride, he’s been head-over-heels in love with her. And when the Alpha announces that Lila’s indefinite engagement is about to end in a very definite marriage, Santiago is through holding his peace.
From their very first kiss, Santiago rattles Lila’s neatly ordered world. But can a lioness who’s always lived to please everyone else risk everything to please herself?
Warning: This book contains tempting lone-wolf jaguars, lionesses who long for fairy tale endings, arranged marriages, tangled emotions and a pride full of trouble.
Available for pre-order: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Samhain Publishing
30% off at Samhain through June 16!
Vivi Andrews
Vivi Andrews
Vivi Andrews is an award-winning paranormal romance novelist with a travel addiction. Born and raised in Alaska, she still lives in the frozen north when she isn’t bouncing around the globe. Whether at home or on the road, she’s always at work on her next happily-ever-after. For more about her books or the exploits of a nomadic author, please visit her website at www.ViviAndrews.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.