No Breathing Necessary

It’s funny, at the end of every novel I write, I look forward to taking a break.  A chance to catch my breath… and it never happens.  I should know better than to think it ever would, but it’s OK.  As much as I like to breathe, writing is what gives me the oxygen I need.  It’s what keeps me sane.  My characters keep me stable.

While I was finishing up Synapse Continuum, the last book in the Alpha Core trilogy, I was offered the chance to do something different.  To broaden my writerly horizons.  Not one to back down from a challenge, I accepted and I’ve not only found it fascinating but also realized that writing is writing and genre really doesn’t matter.  At least not to me.  It never has.

Sure, it’s much easier to write in a genre that is specific to your strengths, as sci-fi is to mine, but really, each book is only different in the story it tells.   They each follow similar formats and structures.  Beginnings, middles, and ends.  Conflict and climax.  Black moments and happy endings.  No matter what genre you write, they all share the same things – great characters that speak to you.  That’s it.

With that in mind, I took on this project.   It fit into my schedule perfectly.  Synapse Continuum released on Feb 11th and I have to submit this one by the end of August.  And it’s a novella, which is fine.  As I started writing it, I realized I loved my new characters. They were very different from those from my Alpha Core trilogy and gave me the chance to be a little more comical.  A lot sexier since this one is a contemporary romance with a twist.  More James Bond-y.  And it’s for Desiree Holt’s Omega Men world, so hot is a key factor.  Something I haven’t written in a while.

The title of this novella is “Devil in the Details” and hero Asher Boyce has already proven to be up to the task of taking on his mission.  We shall see what I can throw at him to trip him up.

Besides this novella, I’m also twenty-eight chapters into a collaboration novel with writer Casey Hagen.  Our story, “Twice in a Lifetime”, has been a blast to write.  It’s the spicy tale of a country-born realtor who needs to realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and a self-made tycoon who needs to realize that money can’t buy love.  Not even from your own family.  Their relationship is hot, volatile and funny as hell and Casey and I have had a ball writing it.  Hope to have it out by Spring.  Sorry, don’t have a cover reveal yet, but will post it as soon as I do.

Keep checking back for updates on my releases and remember, I’ll be doing a day-long takeover on 2/28 hosted by Skye’s Starlets.  There will be fun and prizes all day long.  Hope to see you there.

Synapse Continuum is Here!

It is done.  Synapse Continuum, the third and final book of the Alpha Core Trilogy is written, edited and now available in eBook and paperback.

This trilogy has been a long time coming.  Maybe years.  This storyline has been bumbling around my noggin since the 90s and it’s finally living and breathing on the page for all of you to see.  And it has been a blast to write.  Calder and Sierra seem to be with me at every turn and my readers push me for more.  And you’ll get more.  Lots more.

Currently, I’m finishing up two other unrelated projects, but I will still post the info here for you in case you are interested.  Come the fall, though, I will be revisiting Calder and Sierra’s team, and you’ll get the second trilogy I promised starting next year.  You’ll get more comfy with Jordan, Cooper, and Stephen… and others that have skirted the fringe until now.

So stay tuned here.  I’ll keep you updated as books are released.

Thanks again to everyone for the love and support!

Take a tip from a pro… and it’s not me

I know a lot of writers tend to do the whole “year in review” thing about this time, or perhaps it’s a list of comical resolutions that only writers would understand.  To each his own.  I think I’ve done both and more in the past, but this year I want to do something different.

The past several months have seen vitriol and hate being spewed everywhere from the street corner to every form of social media known to man.  Regardless of the outcome of the elections, I found the negativity and the growing angst of the country more than overwhelming.  Just like a person can have too much of a good thing, you can definitely have too much of a bad thing.  And I had had enough.

I began muting friends on social media who ONLY spoke about the elections.  And let me tell you, there were a lot of them.  I understand the state of the nation and its importance, but there is more than one topic of importance to concern oneself with for so long.  Let it go already.  Move on.  What is done is done.  Find a new topic to be passionate about.  And so I am.

I have noticed with the prevalence and ease of self-publishing has come a certain lack of… well, everything.  And I can say this because I have been writing for a long, long time and have been in this field long before self-publishing, or even computers.  For Christ sake, I used to submit manuscripts ON PAPER!  I remember being excited to have a stock of manuscript boxes because it meant I would look professional when I made my submissions… on onion paper, no less.

I remember how meticulous we made sure our submissions were, that every page was clear, that our manuscripts were clean and were the masterpieces that we gnawed from several drafts.  And they were edited, sometimes several times, before we put that huge handful of stamps on the lid and sent it off.

Back in the day, you studied to become a writer.  You were a star English student, wrote for your school paper, went to college for journalism or English literature and when you graduated, you got a job at your local paper or, if the gods smiled on you, at a publishing house.  And if you were really lucky, you spent what free time you had writing your first novel and then you followed the steps above to try to make gold from it.  Now… not so much.

With the advent of DIY and WYSIWYG publishing, eight year old’s are setting their work to print before they even know what sentence structure is.  Everyone and their mother are throwing their hats into our once revered ring of passion and it has become a veritable ghetto of what can only be called a huge collection of ill-crafted works.  Where amateurs are speed writing caricatures of their chosen genre because, well, that’s where the money and fame are.  Because their favorite author did it, why can’t they?  So they throw together some words, construct a cover that looks like something yanked from a ransom note collection and announce to the world that they have the next best seller.

Some of them do well.  They manage to get a fan base and they see some sales.  Some of them even fool their audience for a short time, but they don’t fool us.  Because when we were putting blood and sweat into our cover pages and synopsis, they were at the mall crushing on the football hero.  When we were in college deconstructing our thesis in order to impress our professors, they were reading Cosmo at the salon while their stylist wound up their perms.  We were putting in the effort.  We learned the craft.

Image result for brad pitt actors studioNow, there is no craft.  I asked one new writer what she thought of her craft and she said she hadn’t scrapbooked in years.  She had no idea what craft was.  She had no idea what the hero’s journey was.  She had no idea what plot structure or POV was… because she just wrote.  Because it was fun.  Because it was easy.

I write because it’s in me.  It has nothing to do with making money or garnering awards or fame.  It’s about tapping that valve on the back of my brain and letting out the voices so I can sleep for more than three hours a night.  It’s about skimming off that top layer of the creative well so the rest of the layers can breathe.  It’s who I am.

So, what’s this pro tip I have?  It’s simple.  Never stop learning.  Or maybe, start learning.  Read, a lot.  Take writing classes, online courses, courses at your local college.  But learn, about writing.  This is not easy.  It never has been.  Even Hemmingway struggled with sentence structure.  That means you should too.

One of my best-kept secrets, no lie, watch “Inside the Actors Studio”.  Writing is just another form of acting.  As a writer, you must become every character in your story.  Use your experiences, your emotions, and your memories to evoke feeling.   If you don’t feel it, the reader never will.  Write ugly, write dirty and for god’s sake, write truthfully.  Just because it’s fiction, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t imitate real life.  Some of the best advice I’ve gotten was from Actors Studio.  And oddly, one of the best episodes was the one with Brad Pitt.  Listen to his long list of acclaimed movies and projects.  Be brought to tears with just some of the short clips they show, but seriously, listen to what he says about how he puts himself into every role.  How he gets so close to his work that it affects his daily life.  Your work should do that.  If you don’t feel it, your readers won’t.    Listen to what he says about trusting yourself when the brilliance of your craft comes to you, about how you take risks and hone your skill to find truthful moments.  True writing is just like this.  When it’s real and true, it comes to you.

It also helps that his favorite curse word is cock… he always seemed like a fuck guy to me.

Have a wonderfully creative 2017!

2016 – the year of change

As the year draws to a close, I’m happy to look back and finally see a year to be happy and proud of.  Book one of my trilogy was released in December 2015 and by the beginning of the year, I saw it rise in the rankings and was humbled by the reviews I was receiving for it.  This only spurred me to get book two completed sooner than I wanted, which I did.  Breaking Point was released at the end of July to equally wonderful reviews and I couldn’t have been happier to see it meet book one in the rankings.  And before all of that died down, the audio versions of each were released in August and September and I was stunned at the acceptance they received.

Image result for 2016Yes, 2016 was a wonderful year for me.  And what might seem a sudden boon for a “new” writer, what many don’t know is that I’ve been at this work for some twelve odd years professionally.  I have been writing all my life, but my first story was published in 2009 as part of an anthology of historical works.  The anthology itself quickly rose in the ranks and to my shock and surprise, outranked a newly released Harry Potter novel.  At that time, it was unheard of and the first rash of interviews and articles I was called into made it seem like a dream.  Like it didn’t really happen.  And because it was an anthology, I didn’t feel I singularly deserved the bestseller moniker.  So I didn’t use it.

After that, I submitted a medieval historical that had taken me over a year to write and though I received interest from the likes of Kensington and Penguin Books, in the end, it went nowhere and I felt lost.  I had poured my heart into that book and it wasn’t picked up as quickly as I expected after such a thrilling run with the anthology.

That was also a time when self-publishing was in its infancy and though some tried their hand at it, it was considered “cheating”-  A step you took if you weren’t good enough to get picked up by the “Big 5”.  And I had put too much time and effort into my work to be thought of as a cheater.  So I put my stories in a box and left them there.

After several huge life changes; and end of a relationship, a move and a loss of a job, I put my fingers to the keyboard again and tried something new.  I had lost my excitement of writing.  It was becoming a chore.  I sat and thought about genres, what was hot in the market and what I enjoyed reading and watching in movies and historicals always surfaced.  It was something that I was intrinsically drawn to, but medievals were overdone and saturated a market that I had no foothold in.  I needed to try something different, so I turned to Jane Austen.  My love of British history and the mannerisms of the Regency era were something that could revive the excitement I had.  And so I put my fingers to the keyboard once more.

Earl of my Heart was the first book I published in the Regency line and though it did well, it still was lost in a sea of popular books and self-publishing was still considered the red-headed stepchild in my craft.    It wasn’t until book two, Love in the Stars, that I went that direction and started to see some traction.  And though both books sold well, they still didn’t get the recognition I thought they should and I didn’t have the funds to market them in a market as huge as Regency Romance.  Futility was beginning to rear its ugly head again and in the midst of writing book three, I sort of gave up.

It was also at a time when indie writers were starting to gain traction and the changes I was seeing in my romance organization were making it harder and harder for me and others to stay inside the fold.  After a long, agonizing discussion with fellow writers, I decided once and for all that I just wasn’t a romance writer.  It was no longer in me.  I had lost the love for it and writing was no longer the joy it once was.

It was also at that moment when ideas from my past started to surface.  Snippets of stories I had written as exercises had started to chew at the back of my brain.  And with the upheaval of my writer’s group, we had all decided to step away from what was expected and do what we loved.

Switching from historical fiction and romance to science fiction was not an easy step.  I had been writing historical romance at least 7 years at that point, but at the behest of my writing colleagues who read the bits of sci-fi I wrote, I was coaxed into it rather unceremoniously.  And one would think it would be less of a hardship, but it wasn’t.

I had worked in the tech industry for well on twenty-five years at that point.  Everything from hardware and software to databases and satellites.  So one would think that writing sci-fi would be a no-brainer.  Yeah, one would think.  I began writing Edge of Darkness in January of 2015.  It was supposed to be an exercise.  A test to see if I even had it in me, and I should have known after that first month that it was no longer a test, but a journey.  I knew this because the words poured out of my brain, sometimes so quickly that I couldn’t keep up.  I would sit at the keyboard as if I were taking dictation.  The characters were alive, so much so that I would dream of them and wake with entire sections of the story already written in my mind.

It was too easy.  That was my first thought.  I had spilled fifteen chapters of love onto several hundred pages in only a couple of months and it was too easy.  It couldn’t be any good.  After years of struggling to finish one book in a year and a half, this book practically wrote itself and I had it completed in eight months.  The cover design fell into place over a weekend, as did the title.  And the edits came back minimal, with encouraging notes from my editor about its completion. And so, in December of 2015, holding my breath, I released it as an indie author.

At first, the acknowledgment was slow.  Agonizingly so.  As I looked through the bestsellers of the genre, and even the non-bestsellers, I realized one startling thing.  Men.  Most of the authors were men.  ALL of the bestsellers were men.  I should have figured as much.  Working in tech since the early 90s, I was usually the only female on a tech team.  Given jobs as a side note, under the advisement that I needed to keep up with the men.  And it didn’t take long for managers and directors to realize that I was often the best on the team, not because I was fighting to keep my head above water amongst all the men, but because it was a natural talent I had.  Something I enjoyed.  Something I excelled at.

So why this sudden realization about where I stood among sci-fi writers surprised me, I will never know.  I mean, I had spent my life reading the brilliance of William Gibson and Philip K Dick.  Sure, Ursula le Guin was also a favorite, but she was always met with aversion in the early days too.  I should have known.  But instead of fretting about it, thinking I wasn’t good enough as I tread water amongst these writers, I pushed ahead and kept writing and soon book two evolved.  It poured out of me just as quickly as book one had.  The characters spoke loudly to me and I listened with intent.  And just as I was ready to publish in July of the same year, things started to happen.

I had been fighting to get reviews.  It’s something that all authors need to keep their books alive, but the changing tides and skewing policies of several publishers were making it harder and harder to come by them.  But I got a couple, then I got a few more and I realized that they were all encouraging and thrilled with my work.  And when I released book two, it was like a natural movement.  The reviewers of book one were eager for book two and they devoured it when it came out.  And the reviews were equally accepting.

So I decided to go all in and put the series into audio.  I was an avid listener myself and couldn’t fathom my work being one of them, but I went for it and quickly connected to a narrator who not only enjoyed my work but gave it the life it deserved, and one by one, as the audio versions were released, the whirlwind began and suddenly both books shot up the lists.  At first, they showed up on the bestseller lists in hard sci-fi, which stunned me.  It was the same feeling I got when I was finally accepted in the tech field so many years ago because I had the talent to keep up.  Then, as time passed, my books began to hit lists I never thought possible and soon, I was international.  Ranking in the UK and Australia.  And I was beyond stunned.  I was humbled.  Mainly because this was the acknowledgment that I had finally found my niche.  I had finally found my place in the literary world and regardless of my gender, I was accepted and my work was loved.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I write and why I continue to allow my muses to whisper in my ear daily as I take dictation.  Why I continue on this path of thrilling discovery and pray that my creative well never runs dry.

2016 was a year of acknowledgment for me and in that, I would like to thank you, all of you, for reading my work and letting me into your lives.  It’s been a long-deserved joy and I hope I can continue to entertain you as time ticks by.

A new world order….

I began writing my Alpha Core trilogy years ago.   Practical world building began in the 90s and I had snippets of the characters drawn up.  But it was the map of our nation that I drew up first.  It was based on how I saw the state of our nation changing our borders.  How division and hatred would reset our landscape and now, after what is happening with the new election, I see I wasn’t so far off.

I had started by basically making the original state borders kind of temporary.  They remain on the maps to remind citizens how we used to be and those die-hards where they used to live.  After that, the country was divided and zones were formed to buffer the masses.  The east and west coasts were walled-off regions on their own, broken down into zones centered on large cities.  The Midwest was one, open, lawless, high risk area.  Population is minimal, as is the workable land, clean air and water.


I also shaded in blue the areas that were now either under water or swamped by years of climate change.

In the east and west, each zone has their own police force and government.  And each zone has a checkpoint.  You cannot pass between zones without passing through a strict border checkpoint and unless you are government or police, it’s not very easy or tasteful.  Passing “over the wall” and into the open zones of the Midwest is fairly easy though.  You pass through an exit point to get out of the zones and you are marked as such.  Getting back in is a different story.  Beside the checkpoints, you are drilled and debriefed and passed through a battery of health checks.  Getting back in is never guaranteed if you are civilian.

Do I see this as a possible future for the US?  Well, my story takes place in 2065.  It’s less than fifty years, but I can see our divide getting larger… between classes, races and genders.  These three things are a defining factor in my stories and as now, they have become a defining factor of our world.  Protests, riots and differing opinions will only increase as time goes on and people become more self-serving.  It’s become our human nature.  A sort of inflated self-preservation… to be better than everyone else.  Do I see this changing?  No, not at all.  But one can hope.