Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Werewolves Don't Hamstring, Do They?

I read werewolf romances as far back as early Susan Krinard, but I haven't written one until now. Writing requires being a temporary expert, so of course I started researching wolves. What I found surprised me.

I gotta say, there doesn't seem to be a lot of wolf in werewolf romantic fiction. Oh, wolves mate once and there's an alpha couple and they have packs and they bring down big game. But here are some tidbits that you may not have known.

Packs are small--usually a family unit of the alpha pair and pups. Most packs are less than 8 members (although the size can get up to 30 or so). Larger packs may have another adult pair that breeds.

Kills are rare--the reported hunting success rate varies depending on the site (and the year) but even the highest is about one in four...and that's after the initial testing for weaknesses is done.

Wolves don't hamstring--they prefer to latch onto the nose or rump.

Wolves don't have to hunt in packs to bring down big game--even a single wolf can bring down big game.

That's just some of what I found. You should see what I discovered about sexuality and scenting...makes my hair raise if it's true. I'm still cross-checking. Obviously when writing about wolf shifters, the werewolf legends have to be researched and woven in. And there's the age-old choice of magic shifters vs. physical shifters...but that's another blog.

**Be sure to check out my guest blog December 29 at Whipped Cream! Comment to enter.
**Just a few more days on the 1T Giveaway

Some sites I used for this information:
Wolfsong
eHow
International Wolf Center
USGS

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Writing update

I have recently come to the conclusion that my writing takes time. I'm not one of those authors who can write and polish a book a month, every month. This is a hard thing for me to accept because, well, I'm a bit competitive, and a bit of a perfectionist (I can just hear Mrs. Missive saying "No, really?" :) (Mrs: NaNo writing buddy who kept me in line.)

It's not that I can't write fast. I regularly write 3000 words a day and did a bunch of 10,000 word stories in two days each. I wrote the bones of a 40,000 word story in eight days and once wrote a 90,000 word novel in three weeks.

But my writing takes time to steep. The really good stuff perks through just one thought at a time. I have to make a lot of little edit passes rather than a couple big ones. Although the big ones have their own purpose. Hmm, sounds like a blog topic :)

Anyway I'm trying something out. Instead of writing one story and sticking with it to the bitter end, I'm writing three. I'll take all three to the end of the first draft. Then I'll do all three revisions. Then a trio of polishing passes.

So here's what I'm working on. I have the next novel in the Biting Love universe a few scenes from a complete first draft. I'm not sure if it'll be in the series--right now the heroine is a bit too serious, so we'll see. I started a humorous shifter story in July and am finishing the first draft right now. And I have a dramatic shifter story perking away in my brain for next month.

In about four months I should know if this works or not. I'll either have three wonderful complete novels...or all my hair torn out. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding New Books to Love

Libraries. Bookstores. I love to browse, touch, smell books. I love the thrill of a title or cover that jumps out and grabs me. Browsing is how I used to find all my new authors. But life doesn't always give us the time to travel, to sift. What to do then? Here are some online ideas.

Samhain Publishing has a sidebar to let you browse by theme. Added bonus--see the latest (most recent and upcoming releases) and greatest (top ten best sellers). Here's an example for Comedy.

Joining an online reading group on Shelfari or Goodreads (like the awesome Kindle Smut) will connect you with like-minded readers with tons of great recommendations! 

Amazon has several ways to find new books to love. On each book page is up to a hundred books customers also bought. And check out your favorite author's Author Page (hover over the author's name and click on the "Visit Amazon's author name Page"). On the right side is a list of "Customers Also Bought Items By". Check out other reader's recommendations with Listmania! Search for a favorite author and see what the list author recommends.

And last but definitely not least, FREE! What better way to find a new author than trying their book for free? All Romance Ebooks has Free Reads; Smashwords has a Free filter (this one is Paranormal with Adult Filter OFF); Amazon has their Top 100 Free to the right of the Paid; Stores such as Sony, Kobo, and Diesel have a Free category. Many public libraries also offer ebook lending, such as New York and Wisconsin.

So what about  you? What are your favorite ways to find new books?

And remember this month's giveaway, just for my readers! Comment at last week's post to enter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For My Readers Only--1T Giveaway Preview

Next month I start some exciting new features here at my blog, the biggest of which is the First Tuesday giveaway. Each first Tuesday of the month I'll offer a contest where I'll choose one winner (who hasn't won in the past twelve months) by random number from all comments on that post. The winner will receive their pick of a Biting Love ebook *or* a $5 Amazon or Samhain Publishing gift certificate.

Special preview giveaway this month for my readers only! That's right, I'm only announcing this here, on my website, on my Facebook page, and at Goodreads. And as a further bonus to Biting Love readers, I'm offering not one, but TWO prizes! Two winners, double the fun!

If you're a 18+ and an adult, and if you consent to having your name listed on the rotating 12-month winner list, just comment on this post to enter. Please note, the Biting Love books contain explicit sex and violence. If you win please consider that when making your prize selection. Winners chosen at the end of the month and posted as part of next month's contest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Penultimate

Here we are, in the second-last month of the year, two days away from the last month of 2011. What are you doing? Starting your holiday preparations or already hip-deep in the flood? Still eating Thanksgiving leftovers or selecting your New Year's hot spot?

As I tie up loose ends from the TRS Thanksgiving party and pound out the last 3000 NaNoWriMo words, I'm given to reflecting what a strange time of year this is. It's a time to finish. But it's also the jumping-off point for new beginnings.

Penultimate means second-to-last. It's not the end, but it is the harbinger of it, the voice in the wilderness. Yet what is after the last? Maybe We're done with this. What's next?

What's next for you? Hopefully something fresh and fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flash Title Poll

Please help! Biting the Rainbow needs a new name. I've brainstormed some alternatives--which one do you like best? Vote on your top choices for the next 33 hours. I'll submit the top four to my editor. I can't guarantee which one will be picked but I love learning what you like!

Here's the preliminary info:

Musician and sausage queen Junior Stieg lives in an attic garret, kept there by love and duty to her parents and their store. But she dreams of big cities and bright lights. When a show headed to Broadway comes to her small town, she joins the pit orchestra, with the promise that if the musical does well, it will take her to New York with money left over for the folks.
But a kidnapper is threatening the show’s young star. To save the production Junior must join forces with the star’s dark, secretive bodyguard Glynn, whose big body, sapphire eyes and lyrical Welsh baritone make her forget both duty and dreams.
Fierce as a warrior, enigmatic as a druid, vampire Glynn Rhys-Jenkins has searched his whole life for a home. Junior's get-out-of-town attitude burns him—while everything else about her inflames him. He’s waited eight hundred years for true love, but her future is New York and his is Wales and they’ll only have these two weeks in Meiers Corners.
Until a sensuous, insidious evil threatens the very foundations of the city, and Junior and Glynn must face the truth about themselves and what home and love really mean.
Warning: Contains explicit vampire sex (biting of various body parts, multiple climaxes), ka-click ka-shing violence, cheese/sausage wars, viola jokes and—shudder—pistachio fluff.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Biting the Rainbow Under Contract

I am thrilled to announce that Biting the Rainbow, book four in the Biting Love series, is now under contract with Samhain Publishing!

Biting the Rainbow is the story of woodwind doubler and sausage queen Junior Stieg (introduced in the freebie Oz Bites) and tracker-bodyguard Welsh vampire Glynn Rhys-Jenkins (introduced in the freebie Biting Dracula) as they fight to keep young musical star Mishela out of the evil clutches of Nosferatu. Also features Nixie and Julian, and a whole hoard of viola jokes!

Release date to be announced but it may be as early as second quarter 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Year Changes

Starting in 2012 I'll be offering a First Tuesday monthly contest. Since so many of my awesome loyal readers have the whole Biting Love series, I'll offer each winner either the choice of an ebook from my backlist -or- a $5 gift ecard (Amazon or Samhain). Sweet deal! But there's more.

Just for my readers I'll be doing a preview giveaway in December! I'll only announce it to my blog followers, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers. So be sure to stop back December 6.

In 2012 I'll also be adding a second monthly feature--your choice! Please add your input to the poll and help me pick the best one.

  • Easy recipe--I love eating but am a bit impatient on the cooking side. I've got some easy recipes that I love to use and thought you might like trying them.
  • Happyscope--I admit I enjoy reading horoscopes. I really like the ones that offer hope for the future or positive motivation. This feature would be a dozen monthly atta-girls/atta-boys.
  • Hot picture--guys and couples. Web-friendly so not red-hot :)
  • Writing craft tidbits--I have a huge stack of index cards, each with an important item I've learned about writing. I'd love to share them with you!
  • Suggestions! I can't add them to the poll gadget once it's up but I'm always open to new ideas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Starts Today

Okay, so for me it'll be Na1/2NoWriMo, because my books end up closer to 100,000 words. But it's just as fun! I'll be pumping out words for the next Biting Love novel, tentatively titled Beauty Bites. Join me as a buddy or just stop by to say hi!

Coming next month--a special Biting Love readers-only giveaway. More details next week.

What will the heroine of Beauty Bites be called? The results of the poll: Synnove! But there were almost as many votes for Alexis, so I'll be giving Synnove a sister, who may just show up in a book down the road...

Thanks to everyone who voted! And thanks for your great comments. I'm in awe of how creative you all are!

Final results:
Alexis-9
Cynthia-0
Dakota-1
Isabella-5
Jansie-1
Liv-1
Natalia-6
Synnove-10
Ulrika-1

Awesome suggestions:
Amanda Ryder (Mandy)
Ameren
Ingrid
Kari (Karita)
PersephoneTory (Thorir)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three Limited Time Giveaways (until 8 pm CST today)

Join me for three giveaways at Whipped Cream/Goddess Fish Haunting Halloween Blogfest! Comment before 8 p.m. Central Standard Time to enter. ADULTS ONLY PLEASE.

Trick or Treat Giveaway #3! Goddess Fish Haunting Halloween Blogfest.
Trick or Treat Giveaway #2! WC Haunting Halloween Blogfest.
Trick or Treat Giveaway #1! Join me at the Whipped Cream Haunting Halloween Blog Fest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Launching Your Writing

Todd Stone launched new ideas for me on how to begin a scene in an article at Savvy Authors entitled Tactics and Technique--The Right Words to Launch a Scene--and Yourself. The monologue in an author's head is just as important as the dialogue on the page. Make it count!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's in a name? Please help me out!

Biting the Rainbow is written, awaiting a contract. Black Diamond Jinn is nearing completion of edits for resubmission. So what's next?

I'd love to start on the next Biting Love story but I have a problem. I have a theme and some basic plot ideas and a little mini-story for the middle (Twyla and Nikos never got their happily-ever-after). But I don't have the most important element--the heroine's name.

To me, that's vital. I'm part programmer, remember. The  name is the handle by which I call the whole subroutine, or access the whole program. As a writer, the name is the letter-tag that MEANS the heroine. It should resonate with her personality, her looks, her issues.

Please help me out! In this case, I'm trying to find a handle for Twyla's second cousin, a woman who's a quarter black, has the face and body of a Scandinavian model, and is a trained physician but may have to leave the profession because people are distracted by her looks. Oh, and X's name has to be different enough from the heroines I've already introduced: Elena, Nixie, Twyla, Liese, Junior, and Rocky (whose book is after X's).

Some possible names for this character are in a poll to the right. This one you can pick multiple favorites. If you've got other suggestions, comments here are appreciated! Vote through the end of October. Thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guest Sarah Grimm Opens the Bedroom Door

Sizzling romance, music, strong emotions. That's After Midnight, the latest release from award-winning author Sarah Grimm. I'm thrilled to have her visit as part of her blog tour. After you've met her, why not check out her blog tour contest!

Please help me welcome Sarah!

When it comes to love scenes in a romance novel, I am SUCH a voyeur. Shocking, but true. A voyeur. I never thought that term would apply to me, but it does. If a love scene takes place behind closed doors, I feel…cheated. I’ve invested time into this book, fallen in love with the hero right along with the heroine, and for what? To have the bedroom door slammed in my face? Noooo!

So I’m a voyeur, a ‘leave the bedroom door wide open, thank you very much’ kind of reader. I don’t want to use my imagination about what is going on in the bedroom. I want the details! Lots of details. So it would only make sense that this is how I write.
 

If you’ve been following my blog tour, you most likely already know this, since I’ve come right out and warned readers in my interviews. I write sizzling, dangerously sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense—no intimacy hidden behind closed doors in my books. With me you get detailed, explicit love scenes.  Heck, sometimes my heroes and heroines don’t make it to the bedroom at all. Instead they find themselves atop a desk, against a wall, or in front of a trio of mirrors…
 

~*~

“I’m not the type of woman men fall for.”

“I’ve fallen for you.”
 

Heat flooded her system. She forced herself to breathe, to keep her eyes locked with his. “No you haven’t. You …”
 

He pushed off the mantel and stepped in her direction. “I—what?”
 

“Never mind.”
 

“Finish the sentence, Isabeau.”
 

“I don’t think so.”
 

“Then let me.” He closed the distance between them. “You were going to say I haven’t fallen for you, weren’t you? You actually believe him? That you’re nothing more to me than convenient?”
 

Her pulse throbbed thick and hard. Heat radiated off his body. The scent of him filled her head. She wanted, more than anything, to press herself against him and relive the pleasure of his mouth against hers. Instead, she lifted her chin.
 

“Maybe.”
 

He leaned in close. So close his breath brushed across her lips. “You believe him, but not me?”
 

“You are here only temporarily.”
 

“Yes.”
 

“And I am just down the street.”
 

“I suppose.”
 

She ran her tongue over her dry lips. “So the whole thing does seem rather—”
 

“Don’t say it.”
 

“—convenient.”
 

Something dangerous came and went in his eyes. “Now I’m getting angry.”
 

His hands skimmed down her sides, slipped under her shirt and settled on her lace-covered bottom. Her breath went uneven. Searing need swarmed her.
 

“You want something to believe, believe this.” He pulled her into the solid ridge of his erection. She lost her concentration. “There is nothing convenient about the way I feel about you.”
 

“I…no?”
 

“You think you’re not the type to draw a man’s attention, think again. I can’t stand in the same room as you without wanting to taste you. I can’t taste you without wanting to taste all of you.”
 

Oh, God. Her knees turned to jelly. A hot, wet pulse came to life between her legs.
 

“If you can’t see in yourself what it is that I see, feel what you do to me.” Taking hold of her wrist, he placed her hand in the center of his chest.
 

His heart was racing. She tipped her head back and looked into his eyes. Her bones began to liquefy.
 

“The way you’re looking at me,” she whispered.
 

“How am I looking at you?”
 

“Like I’m important.”
 

“You are.”
 

She swallowed hard, wanting to believe him. “Like I’m beautiful.”
 

His lips brushed across her temple and her eyes drifted shut. “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. Then you would know how beautiful you are.”

Her eyes snapped open as he spun her in his arms. His hands settled on her shoulders, drawing her back against his chest. She gasped at their image reflected in the trio of mirrors that hung on her wall. When had this become a seduction?


After Midnight
Thirteen years—that's how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother's life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar...

Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal--one that doesn't include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won't be easy, but he can't get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?

Sarah Grimm is an award winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, two sons and three miniature schnauzers. Between mom's taxi service, parts runs, and answering the phone for the family marine repair business, Sarah can be found curled in her favorite chair, crafting her next novel.

Find Sarah here:



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The future of publishing--back to basics

Lots of blogs and articles talk about where publishing is going in the next few years. Lots of people are feeling shaken by what they see as rapid changes in the publishing world. But I can tell you where publishing's going--where it's always been. Publishing is about getting stories to readers.

Let me say it again. Publishing is about Getting Stories To Readers.

Ebooks taking off doesn't surprise me. Indie publishing taking off doesn't surprise me. Both are well equipped to get new stories into reader hands faster and cheaper. Moreover, independent authors and small presses are often closer to the reader. They work with readers one on one, visiting with them through email, blogs and reader-intensive sites like Goodreads, Smashwords and Amazon.

Smaller-footprint groups in general are leaner, more nimble, and can not only adjust faster to changes, but without the large infrastructure to support, can afford to offer stories that are fresher, edgier, chancier. They can fill the niches that publishers who must sell tens of thousands of copies of a book just to break even can't.

Speaking of prices...how did you find your favorite authors? Many of mine came recommended by friends. But however I heard of them, I still first check them out the same way I always have--at the library. Here's another example of the future being in sync with the basics. Kindle books are now available at many libraries, giving readers a wider range of authors to fall in love with.

My go-to person on Indie writing is Edie Ramer of Cattitude and Dead People fame. She writes regularly for Lori Devoti's How To Write Shop and I find her articles both entertaining and highly useful.

Of course the biggest problem cited with lean-published books is lack of good editing. Anything but clean, crisp copy will come between the author and her readers too. Filling the gap are many quality independent editors, as explained in this Freelance Editor Panel.

So, whether it's a blockbuster published at a large traditional house or a small indie ebook, the bottom line has never changed. It's all about getting stories to readers who want to read them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Renee Wildes's Riever's Heart releases today!

The warrior in her was ready for anything. But she never saw him coming...

Book Five in the Guardians of Light series releases today! Renee Wildes's Riever's Heart is the story of elven Verdeen, hopeful warrior ranger until no war mare chooses her. Without advancement, she must take another job, to act as bodyguard to barbarian Prince of Thieves, Daq Aryk. Daq is trying to unite his nation and Verdeen's beauty is a distraction he doesn't need.
Product Warnings: This tale illustrates what happens when adventurous dreamer meets seen-it-all cynic. Contains hot, no-holds-barred sex, voyeurism, and some self-loving. Also betrayal and some graphic (but never gratuitous) battle violence.
30% off during release week at Samhain!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Biting Me Softly up for award! Voting through Sep 30

My novel, Biting Me Softly, is up for a Bookie Award! Best Vampire Novel is filled with great entries so I'd appreciate any help you can give. Voting through September 30.

http://authorsafterdark.blogspot.com/2011/09/bookie-awards-polls-are-live.html

Hugs!
Mary

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Renee Wildes on Elven Heroine from Riever's Heart -- giveaway!


Renee has been an author friend of mine since my first WisRWA convention. She's a multipublished fantasy author who has won both great acclaim (Ecataromance Reviewer's Choice, EPIC finalist and more) and great sales (Amazon and more). Please join me in welcoming her today! And be sure to enter her giveaway for a chance at an Advanced Reading Copy of Riever's Heart!

Welcome, Renee!

Riever’s Heart comes out next Tuesday, 9/27/11 from Samhain Publishing. I have a lot in common with the elven heroine, Verdeen and thought I’d share a bit about the both of us. Maybe you’ll see a bit you can relate to as well.

Verdeen was born to high parental expectations. Her parents were so proud when she became lady’s maid to the queen, Dara, in Duality. They though “queen” but she saw “lady’s maid” and it wasn’t enough for her. Dara asked what she wanted and Verdeen was honest and told her. So Dara helped her enter the military academy—first female to do so in generations. Her parents were…disappointed. I used to be a waitress, and living off tips getting pinched by drunk businessmen was not where I saw for the rest of my life either. So I went back to college—and became the only vet tech in a family of nurses.

We’re both black sheep, following our own dreams instead of that of others’.

Verdeen and I are both tomboys. We’re both bookworms, both inclined to “look it up” when we have a question. I’m terrible about never wanting to stop research to actually WRITE. There’s so much interesting stuff to learn! But she and I both learned that sometimes, there’s no substitute for actually getting out there and LIVING life instead of just reading about it! Research is also EXPERIENCE. (And we both love to read just for fun, too.)


Tami and Sassy
We’re both major horse lovers. I’ve always had Arabians and have two half-Arab mares now. Temptation Fyre N Ice (aka Sassy) is a gray 7-year-old Morab and Moonlight is a white 20-year-old half-Welsh pony who technically belongs to my daughter Tami.
Tami and Moonlight
Verdeen’s always dreamed of having an elven war mare select her to partner in becoming a full elven ranger—those beautiful, glowing white, sentient war mares. Only when she graduates from the military academy, Verdeen DOESN’T get her war mare. None of them choose her. For me, I just had to buy one. Verdeen doesn’t have that luxury and her disappointment is crushing. What to do when the one thing you want most in the world is denied you? How to come up with Plan B? I’ve also had to deal with disappointments and roads not taken.


Sometimes it’s not about what you want. It’s about what you need.

I’ve started gaming on Dragons of Atlantis with my son, but because I never do anything halfway I’m now second in command in our mutual alliance. I’m basically the go-between between the overlord and the rest of the tribe. I’m counselor, resource allocator and diplomat. I also fight when necessary to protect what’s ours and defend my fellow alliance members. Verdeen is assigned by King Loren to accompany the human riever Daq Aryk back to his kingdom of Isadorikja and help him unite his warring clans into a single cohesive nation. She also is a go-between between Loren and Aryk. Part counselor, part spy. But she’s also right there to guard his back and defend him when threatened. Diplomacy when you can, war when that fails, diplomacy again when the war is over.

Always have a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup. Turn disappointment into triumph. See a failure as a new opportunity.

We both struggle to balance “warrior and woman.” Career vs. family. Time constraints. Choosing one thing means NOT choosing another. Time management and prioritizing. Coming to grips with the realization that you can’t do everything. Recognizing that every day you set an example, both good and bad. Learning to accept that your best is all there is, but it’s always enough. If you can look yourself in the eye in the mirror every night then you have nothing to apologize for.

We’ve both faced our fears. Verdeen had to climb a mountain, face her fear of falling. I’ve gone rappelling and faced my own fears of heights and falling. We both trusted the person holding the other end of the rope (belaying) not to let us die. Sometimes it’s out of your hands and in the hands of another. Sometimes you just gotta check that rope and step over the edge.

Both of us have dealt with the insecurity of wanting another’s approval, not getting it and slowly coming to the painful realization that we can’t please everyone all the time. You have to be secure within yourself. You can’t let others’ opinions dictate who and what you are.

The best characters are like real people with the triviality burned away. They’re multi-faceted. They have insecurities, weaknesses, moments they’re not proud of and things they want to do over. But they’ve got a good heart, learn from their mistakes and always try to do the right thing. Learn and grow. Be open to change. Be able to adapt. Celebrate life’s triumphs both great and small.

I loved hanging out with Verdeen, seeing how much she’s grown between Duality and Riever’s Heart AND how much she’s grown from the beginning of Riever’s Heart to the end. I hope you all find some part of her and her story to relate to your own life.

All comments are entered in a random drawing to win an ADVANCED copy of Riever’s Heart. Win it before you buy it! So let us hear your thoughts! Drawing will be 10 PM CST Friday night, 9/23/11. Good luck!

Riever's Heart -- Releasing September 27, 2011!


The warrior in her was ready for anything. But she never saw him coming…

Guardians of Light, Book 5

Verdeen is on the brink of becoming an elite warrior ranger until the ultimate humiliation—no war mare chooses her for advanced training. King Loren’s consolation prize isn’t much better. Journey to the Isle of Ice as bodyguard to a human riever. Daq Aryk. Barbarian. Prince of thieves.

Aryk dreams the impossible: unite six fractious clans into a peaceful nation. Failure means they are all doomed to kill each other off—and the nightmares of his son’s death by sword will come true. The new elven ambassador rouses his ire, not because she’s female, but because she’s inexperienced. Her possibly needless death weighs on his already overburdened soul. Her beauty is a distraction he can’t afford.

In a fragrant, moonlit garden, Verdeen dares yield to an irresistible compulsion to kiss the mortal riever. The heat shakes her to the core, and frees a desire that should occur but once in her life. With a mate.

As their quest twists down ever more dangerous paths, though, their bond is the asset that could assure peace…or the liability that could send a dream down in flames. 

Product Warnings
This tale illustrates what happens when adventurous dreamer meets seen-it-all cynic. Contains hot, no-holds-barred sex, voyeurism, and some self-loving. Also betrayal and some graphic (but never gratuitous) battle violence.

Website:  http://www.reneewildes.net/index.html
Blog: http://reneewildes1.wordpress.com
Publisher: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/authors/renee-wildes
Email: http://www.reneewildes.net/contact.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomorrow--Guest Blog and GIVEAWAY


Independent women, strong smart men, and horses. Add in a giveaway of an Advanced Reading Copy giveaway and tomorrow promises to be epic! Fantasy author Renee Wildes will be here to share some insights and celebrate next week's release of Riever’sHeart (Samhain Publishing), the fifth book in her Guardians of the Light series.

A personal writing update:  I have some editorial interest in my short story Black Diamond Jinn, where a dying witch and powerful jinni fight to save the world from Y12 (the Mayan Doom) even as they fight their own attraction. More as that develops.

To round it off, my husband sent me this link to "The Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra" by Garrison Keillor. It reminded me of Meiers Corners.

‘The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra’ in We Are Still Married (New York: Viking Penguin, 1989), 30–4.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

After the Publishing--Getting the Word Out

Every writer's journey is different. It's like we're each in our own canyon. We all want to get out of the canyon and back to civilization, but we're differently equipped. One may have a sure-footed donkey, one climbing equipment, one a radio... Anyway, there's a lot of advice out there but not all of it will apply (like the climber reading Getting Out of Your Canyon, Step 1: Turn on the radio). I advocate picking what resonates for you and trying it. If it works, keep it. If not, try something else.

But there's one universal. After the publishing, if you want your stuff read you have to do something to get it into readers' hands.

Two weeks ago I published Oz Bites. I wrote it as a thank you to patient Biting Love readers, so I didn't announce it to the general public. But I did get the word out to my readers, with channels that can also be used in general marketing. I thought I'd share them today.

Goodreads Groups. I belong to the awesome Kindle Smut group. They not only have a place to announce reads, they have discussions and are very active and well-read.

Yahoo Groups. I belong to Samhain Cafe, SavvyAuthors, EPICSocial and the WisRWA loops among others. The important thing is to create a post title that snaps. You want your post to stand out from all the other New Blog Today posts. The first line usually shows too, so make it count. FREE is always a good word to grab attention. Example: Free Short Story--Oz Bites // Vampires, music, marital relations and a smart-mouthed heroine. Free at Smashwords!

Facebook and Twitter. These are two of the current top social networks. If you're not on them, I'd suggest looking into them. Warning: They can be addictive!

Newsletter. Newsletters are great for the reader who doesn't have time to check out your sites.

Website and blog. I've read just about everywhere that your website and blog are your number one promotional tool. Dunno if I agree but I have both and enjoy them--hopefully readers do too.

Books and blogs. There are way too many to name (and see the above on picking what works for you) but Smashwords Book Marketing Guide,  How To Write Workshop are a two that I used for this release.

How about you? What are your favorite ways to catch an author's new book? A favorite way of getting news out or hearing it?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Anatomy of a Free Short Story

Last week I released Oz Bites, a free short story. Thanks to everyone who voted in my title poll!

After publishing three novels, one novella and two freebie short stories, I have to say this one presented some brand-new challenges.

This is the first time I've been responsible for the cover. I tried a few pictures on my own (like the one on the left) but thankfully eventually ended up with this from Valerie Tibbs (the one on the right).


This is the first time I've been responsible for posting and format. Originally I thought I'd make my own pdf and prc copies and load them onto my website, adding other formats as I learned how to make them. A couple, ahem, hiccups getting the beta copy to Mrs. Missive (it wouldn't even copy in properly) showed me I needed help. I needed a well-tested, inexpensive system to give me robust well-formatted ebooks in a variety of formats. Thanks to some self-pubbed friends including Edie Ramer (Self-Publishing Basics by Edie Ramer) I knew about Smashwords.

After reading the information at Smashwords, I knew I needed to preformat my story properly to have a clean conversion. I used a combination of the article How to Format an Ebook by Lori Devoti and the Smashwords Style Guide.


That's my self-publishing story. Hope you found it informative. Thank you to everyone who downloaded Oz Bites!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oz Bites available!

Free! Short! Nixie! What more is there to a great read?* Download your copy at Smashwords today!


*Okay, there are probably a few more things you want to know.

Here's the revised blurb:

Vampires and sex and flamingos—oh my!

Punk musician Nixie Emerson is now married to her master vampire and life is grand. Until the mayor “voluntells” her to assemble a pit orchestra for Oz, Wonderful Oz, a new Broadway-caliber musical.

Problem—she has no budget. Add in a vampire turf war and a pregnancy that makes finding the right sexual position a challenge and running from rogue vampires impossible, and she’s getting overwhelmed. As a rebel who thrives on creative solos, she’s getting zilch for solo time.

Then someone blabs there’s no pay and her musicians back out. Worse, whoever’s stealing secrets isn’t just stealing Nixie’s.

Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There’s sex, swearing, fighting and smiles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oz Bites--Beautiful New Cover Art

Thanks to Tibbs Design for getting this amazing cover done so quickly!

Oz Bites
A free short story in the Biting Love universe

Vampires and sex and flamingos—oh my!

Punk musician Nixie Emerson and her master vampire husband Julian try to assemble a pit orchestra. Someone blabs there's no pay, making Nixie and Julian's chore impossible... and worse, what other secrets do the bad guys know?

Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There's sex, swearing, fighting, and laughs.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Decision fatigue

Willpower, something every romance alpha male has. But it's not all mind over matter. Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue, an article in the New York Times Magazine online, explores decision-making and energy. There's a reason your vendor calls all the time at 4 pm. There's a reason you spend four hours resisting that chocolate cake only to then give in.

There's a reason it gets harder to decide, the more decisions you make.

I took away two things. Getting tired after being hit by lots of choices is completely normal. And the best aid to self-control is structuring life to conserve willpower.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

For my readers...free short story August 31!

I read a great blog today about readers. Actually, Promoting your e-books on Amazon and Yahoo forums is about promo, but what I took away from it was the need to connect with readers, with their hearts and minds. That resonates strongly for me.

Since the next Biting Love novel is taking a while to reach release (thank you, Demon Murphy), I decided to offer a short story freebie to my patient readers in the meantime. I've had great fun writing it and working through the challenges of selfpub, and am happy to announce I'm planning to make the story available August 31. Here's the preliminary blurb:

Vampires and sex and flamingos--oh my!

Punk musician Nixie Emerson is now married to her master vampire, and duty is no longer a four-letter word--well, it is, but...it's not as much of a horror for her. Until the mayor voluntells her to assemble a pit orchestra for Oz, Wonderful Oz, a new Broadway caliber musical.

Problem--she has no budget to leverage a professional-quality pit. Factor in her growing obligations (including pregnancy, which makes find the right position a challenge but running away from rogue vampires impossible) and she's getting overwhelmed. A rebel who thrives on creative solos, she's getting zilch for solo time.

Then someone blabs there's no pay, making her chore impossible... and she and Julian discover the bad guys know all their secrets.

Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There's sex, swearing, fighting, and laughs.

Bonus! I need help picking my title. Take the poll at the right and let me know which to use!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Opening the Windows to Sweet Air

We've been alternating between rain and super hot temps lately, and the windows have been shut on the house. Today is the first time I've opened them in quite some time and I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, the cooler weather means fall is coming, and with it shorter days and imperfect light. The short days don't bother me as much as the watery sunshine. Something about that half-light makes me sad and reminds me of bad dreams.

On the other hand, today's breeze feels great and smells even better, both soft and fragrant. Nice change from stale windows-shut air. We don't get these lovely days often.

If I were to focus on the meaning of the cooler day, I'd be missing the simple joy of the sweet air. I'm not saying ignore the future, but it's a nice reminder to open the window when I can.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Timeless Prose vs Fresh Writing: The Prize Fight

Welcome to Writing Wrestling Entertainment! In this corner, with classic plots and themes and enough metaphors to make eyes bleed--it's Timeless Prose! *hurrahhhh* And in this corner, with crisp verbs and strong nouns and the latest slang--it's Fresh Writing! *woohooooo*

The referee rings in the first match. "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts." It's a reread of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird...and wait. There's been a disqualification...apparently this Timeless Prose is full of Fresh Writing! It's a shocker, folks.

Okay, next up is the reigning champ, Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb and Promises in Death. "Do little pink fairies sing and dance in your world, Peabody?" / "Sometimes, when it's very quiet and no one else can see." But what's this? An insight into human nature? a touch of the whimsical? Good grief, Fresh Writing is full of Timeless Prose! The ref is sending the contestants back into their corners, clearing the ring. I've never seen anything like it.

The final match is the Rex Stout mystery Omit Flowers: "In my opinion it was one of Nero Wolfe's neatest jobs, and he never got a nickel for it." Oh no, a classic with a snappy first line! I don't know what's going on, folks. It seems that fresh writing is part of truly timeless prose and vice versa.

I'm waiting for a sign from the ref...yes, it's a TKO, a technical knockout to clunky writing. Fresh and timeless writing wins the prize!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NaNo, to me, is like a new flower garden

NaNoWriMo July Camp is my first NaNo. It's a lot of hard work but I'm having a great time. The brand new garden my husband and I put in on Sunday is amazingly parallel.

I do not (repeat not) have a green thumb. I've had to learn a lot of craft in order to not end up with brown shriveled houseplants and flowerless weed-infested outdoor gardens. Every plant that thrives is a miracle, and flowering is just plain inexplicable but cause for rejoicing.

I've learned a few tricks from watching real gardeners. The first thing to do is prepare the soil.  With a brand new garden what this means (to me, remember, not an expert) is breaking up what's there so it's manageable chunks. Then I level it off and pile as much good topsoil on as I can reasonably afford on top. Sunday, that took about four hours.

Then comes the fun part, picking plants. Real gardeners grow theirs from scratch but I can't tell a weed from a rose until it's grown (and has a helpful label :) so I buy them or gratefully take what friends offer.

Then comes the almost-as-much-fun part, placing the plants. I remember my theater director saying, "Clumps, people! No straight lines!" so I arrange the pots in little triangles and diamonds on the smooth dark (prepared) soil. When it looks good hubby & I start digging holes.

Next comes the secret my gardener friend gave me--fill the holes with plant root grower. There are a number on the market but mine turns the water a very pretty blue, added bonus :) Splash some in the pots too. Put the plants in, water some more. Cover with mulch (we used bark nuggets this year) and voila! Looks almost like real gardeners had a hand.

So how's this like NaNo? Normally when I sit down to write, I try to read through what I've done before so I have a nice continuity going, and I try to have the scene plotted before I write it. Like doing a garden a bit at a time, it's painstaking and slow.

NaNo has given me freedom to just write. It's not always the prettiest of prose and certain plot and character points clash like fighting mutant ninja trashcans, but that's okay. Right now I'm spreading topsoil, getting ideas for where the plants will go. There's a joy in pouring out words that I don't have the other way. That joy is like the gardener's secret, the fertilizer going into the holes that will make richer, stronger character and plot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Concrete prose: chiseling down to specifics

I recently asked a very smart man to read one of my manuscripts. The story is about a dying witch and a jinni fighting together to stop an EBG (evil bad guy or evil bad gal) from destroying the world. Near the end they break into the EBG's lair and are smacked in the nose with the "rank odor of destructive magic."

Okay, we all know what "rank" means. Nasty, icky. But it's pretty general. What kind of nasty is it, the sharp bite of acid or the over-sweet of decay? So I refined it to "acetone" but really, how many of us sniff nail polish and think "uck, acetone." Yeah. We want concrete, and not esoteric concrete but something most readers can relate to. So the very smart man said how about the smell of burnt hair? It's concrete and everybody has (or has had :) hair, and we have the added bonus of a nice shudder along the spine (think about it. If you haven't experienced it, seeing your hair go boof! is pretty darn scary. If you have, you know what I'm saying).

But even specifics themselves have to be concrete! Another bit of the story had the witch saying she was a "level four". Which, the very smart man pointed out, didn't mean anything. It's arbitrary specificity, like saying "I got five stars" which is good in book ratings but would make a very small galaxy. So I changed her to a "full" witch, still not completely defined but hey, it was a short-short story and at least "full" has specific meaning.

Another example: I originally started this posting with "In the battle to show not tell, one siege stone you can throw is making your words concrete. Hazy, vague writing can instantly snap to attention by chiseling down to specifics." Nice idea words but this is not a paragraph you can sink your hands into and knead.

So slash paper with red ink or prick nostrils with pig stink--keep it concrete!


Author update: I've got a new paranormal witch/shifter story started as part of NaNoWriMo Camp, and 6000 words on the Nixie & Julian short story freebie.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Friends Have New Releases Today!

And at opposite ends of the spectrum too!

Vivi Andrews continues her top-rated fun paranormal Karmic Consultant series with A Cop and a Feel, the story of a touch-psychic and the cop she must save to have. It's a short story, a great way to dip into Vivi's pool!

Keith Melton's novel-plus length gritty vampire noire Ghost Soldiers reveals hit man Karl Vance has a new target, a rogue, charismatic sorcerer--and it will forever color his relationship with Maria. Ghost Soldiers is the exciting followup to B&N PN/UF forum Featured Author Feb 2010 book Blood Vice.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Winner June Blog Contest!!

Thanks to everyone for commenting on my June Contest post. Pachelbel is definitely a fave, and we do it for a lot of brides. Funny story--the Canon starts with the cello alone and after 2 bars the flute enters. So that's Gregg & then me. F# is a hard note to tune for me, so I concentrate VERY hard to get it right. Well, every once in a while at rehearsal (rehearsals ONLY) Gregg'll start the thing in Eb instead of D. Hey, I don't have perfect pitch and it sounds the same, but when I come in with my F#, focusing like sumbiche, and it sounds like a minibus thrown off a cliff,and well, it's like stepping on a stair that's not there. Husbands is such fun...

And the winner of the contest, chosen by random number, is Jen B! Jen, congratualtions! Please contact me at mary @ maryhughesbooks.com for your prize!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Upcoming Television Premiers

Anybody remember the days when TV premiers happened only in fall? Now we get story goodness all year long. Here are a few of my favorites starting new series soon. What are your favorites?

Leverage--June 26
Top Gear--June 26

Torchwood--July 8
Warehouse 13--July 11
The Glades--July 11

If you haven't entered the June giveaway yet, there's still time!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Giveaway!

June, the season of weddings. Let's celebrate with an ebook giveaway! The rules are simple. Here are some famous wedding pieces. Comment with your favorite! Or let me know about a favorite that's not here. Or just comment to enter!

I'll select a commenter at random to receive their choice of a Biting Love ebook. Through June 30, 2011. Adults only please. Winner to be posted by July 5.

NOTE: These have sound. Not work safe.

video
Jesu Joy
video
Sheep May Safely Graze
video
Air on a G String
video
Pachelbel's Canon
video
Arioso
video
Clarke Trumpet Voluntary
video
Purcell's Trumpet Tune
video
Mozart's Alleluia
video
La Rejouisance
video
Rondeau

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bonus Winners! Biting Me Softly In Stores blog tour

As promised, I've got a bonus winner for the blog tour! I was so tickled with the response I had to award not one, but two more giveaway winners. Frequent comments do pay off! Those who commented at two or more of my posts this tour (who'd not yet won) were put in a random.org hat. (If you missed the winner recap, it's here.)

Winner gets her choice of a paperback copy of Biting Me Softly (if US or Canada) or any of my Biting Love stories in ebook.

And the winner is Jen B! Congrats, Jen! Please email me at mary@maryhughesbooks.com for your prize.

Now there's one more giveaway I have to make. For the most posts this tour--the winner is Cathy M! Cathy, congratulations! Please email me for your prize!

Thanks again to all my lovely blog hosts, and to everyone who read and commented! You're the best!

Monday, June 6, 2011

WisRWA Conference a great success!

I do enjoy conferences. The 2011 WisRWA was great as always, lots to learn and fun people to be with. The speakers were truly incredible, inspirational, entertaining and informative!

Featuring:
Susan Wiggs
Simone Elkeles (Bonus! Perfect Chemistry rap on YouTube)
Brenda Novak

Workshops:
Angela James (blog)
Carrie Lofty (Art of Elevator Pitch--useful, concrete advice for short pitches with punch)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

From NetFlash: Worst hackers ever?

My husband sent me this link to NetFlash yesterday...my favorite line is "Surprisingly, the FBI has access to YouTube."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Biting Me Softly In Stores winner recap

As I prepare for a weekend of writing fun at the WisRWA conference, I'm taking time out to thank everybody who participated in my Biting Me Softly In Stores blog tour. Readers, blog hosts, commenters--you all made it so much fun!

Here's a recap of the winners:

May 27—Heroines with Hearts: The Cover, Your First 1000 Word—Harlie Reader
May 20—Ramblings by Amber: Crafting the First Line—Desi
May 19—The avid reader: Splashing Verbal Paint—Kat
May 11—Vivi Andrews: Meet Electricity—Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes
May 2—Star Shadow Blog: Contrast—throuthehaze
April 28—Amber Polo's Wordshaping: Why I Write Fantasy—Becky
April 27—Victoria Allen: As Simple as ABCBC—Renee
April 18—Shelley Munro's Taste of Kiwi: Finding the Friction—Tamsyn

BONUS GIVEAWAY
**I was totally tickled by the response this tour! For the next couple weeks I'm putting together the last touches on a couple novels, but as soon as that's done I'm going to pick a frequent commenter at random (who didn't win one of the giveaways) as a bonus giveaway winner!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Giveaway and Blog! Crafting the First Line at Ramblings by Amber

Second-last chance to enter! (Or, as Julian would say, your penultimate opportunity :) Visit me at Ramblings by Amber, where I talk about crafting that opening line. Comment there to enter the Biting Me Softly giveaway! Part of the In Stores blog tour, through May 22. See you there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giveaway and Blog! Splashing Verbal Paint at The avid reader

Only a couple stops left! Comment at The avid reader to enter the Biting Me Softly giveaway, part of the Softly In Stores blog tour. And while you're there, check out the delightful things A.L. had to say about Biting Me Softly!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Short visit to Alaska

I took a flying (heh) four-day trip to Anchorage recently. Here are some pics! Don't look too closely at the person holding the books, she was in planes and airports for a solid two of those four days, and it shows :)
Mary with Vivi Andrews's The Sexorcist
Anchorage Barnes & Noble






Road, water and mountains abut

Me and Biting Me Softly





That Ol' Boy-Meets-Girl Electricity

With giveaway! Join me at the incredible Vivi Andrews's blog for a short item on Meet Electricity.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Author signing Saturday!

May 7, 1-2:30 p.m. CST (Fireside Books, West Bend WI)—Signing and fundraiser for the Kettle Moraine Symphony. Special: Gregg & I are playing Irish duets

Monday, May 2, 2011

Contrast

Short blog on contrast at Star Shadow, today through May 4. Part of the Biting Me Softly In Stores tour. Please join me!