Review Excerpts


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Multitasking

I'm pleased to say I've reached the home stretch of Surrendering the Skies. I have one more chapter to go, plus an epilogue. And honestly, I'm not crazy about where my word count is right now, so I might wind up going back and adding in a few more things, but we'll see where I wind up. Still, exciting!

As I started inching closer to the end, I also started thinking about what else I want to accomplish this year writing-wise. Regular readers will remember I have more older books that came back to me following a publisher shutting its doors, and I have to figure out what to do with them. It finally hit me that if I want to re-release any of them on my own, these things take time, and I should probably start making some sort of plan. (I know, it's obvious. Big derp on my part.) As I've been saying this past year or so, now that my kids are a little bit older, some of the brain fog is clearing, and I've been feeling more like my writerly self. So, let's attempt some multitasking!

I revisited my beloved Disintegration series to check out where it is now and how much work it would need. You know what? My love is not misplaced; those books are still fucking awesome, if I do say so myself. Really, some of my best writing is in there. They will need some editing, and I will probably sob to myself as I slash all the "thats" and "justs" and a whole bunch of adverbs, but otherwise, I don't think it'll be too painful.

Next, I realized if I want to do right by these books I love so much, I should invest in some kick-ass cover art. I've got tax return money coming. I've got stimulus money. LET'S STIMULATE THE ECONOMY AND SUPPORT ARTISTS! I put a call out on Twitter, reached out to some artists, and found someone I think will be a great match. Since I wasn't crazy about the original covers back in the day, I'm super excited about this part.

After/during cover art will come editing, which, again, I don't think will be too strenuous. And then after that...formatting. I've done e-books before, so I'm not too concerned there. It falls under the category of "time-consuming, but not terribly difficult." But I haven't done a paperback on my own yet, so I need to start doing research on that. I know there are ways to outsource this work, but since I'm spending money on the covers, I'll most likely handle the formatting myself.

So far, my plan is to finish up Surrendering the Skies, shop that series around, and then get to work on editing. As of right this second, I'm planning a release date for the first Disintegration book for September 1st of this year. It might be a wild ride, but I think it's doable. I'm also going to release the set of prequel short stories at the same time, but—BUT!—newsletter subscribers will get those for free, so make sure you're all signed up for that.

I'm voluntarily putting a lot on my plate, but as of right now, it's making me happy and motivated and all of that good stuff. Fingers crossed these plans work out (says the pantser)!

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Series of Questions

I've been saying to myself "oh, I really should write a blog post" for about the past week or so. Honestly, I don't have a whole lot to report. Progress on Surrendering the Skies, Book 3 of the series I'm rebooting, is coming along nicely. I would estimate I'm somewhere between a third and halfway through, and I've got a pretty good outline for the whole thing. (As well I should, as this has been floating around in my head for years.)

As I've been writing, I've been thinking of how this book will fit into the series as a whole, and various issues relating to doing a series in general. First, I should preface this by saying I admit I have not read a series in a long time. Free time for hobbies is limited these days, and I try to spread it around evenly. Due to that, I've definitely had a preference for standalone books the past few years. I know, I know, good readers make good writers, blah blah blah. But there are only so many hours in the day, you know.

One big issue I've been thinking about whether or not it's important for each book of a series to be able to stand on its own. As always, there's no one right answer. I read a lot of the Anita Blake series in high school and college, and I started with Book 9, Obsidian Butterfly, because I got it as a birthday gift from a friend who worked at Barnes & Noble when it came out and he liked the cover. (Hey, there are worse reasons!) Interestingly enough, Obsidian Butterfly is kind of the "side quest" of the series, in which Anita takes a vacation from all the drama in her life. So, that kind of answers the standalone question and actually made it a decent book to start with. I continued on with #10, Narcissus in Chains, liked that too, and then went allllll the way back to the beginning.

(Then I quit after #12, Incubus Dreams, and learned a few years later that I was not alone in stopping at that exact point, but THAT is another topic for another day.)

Then the other full series I've read in recent years is The Hunger Games trilogy. (I have not gotten to the new fourth book yet, but that's a prequel anyway.) I started at the beginning, and I can't think of a single person who has started anywhere other than with Book 1. I'm sure they exist, but I can't imagine reading that series out of order. Also, I did read the first Outlander book a few years ago but didn't continue with the rest of them, and that seems like another one where people tend to start at the beginning.

So, my Skies series. I've said before that back when I wrote the first one, I never had any plans for it being a series, which I guess fits in with me being more of a pantser than a plotter anyway. When I wrote Book 2, Defying the Skies, I did make an effort to make it accessible to readers who hadn't read the first one. Now, with Book 3...eh, not so much. I mean, since it's not really a complex world, I guess readers could start here and figure out the context quickly, but it's not a priority for me this time around. And unless someone whose opinion I value tells me otherwise, I'm sure I will be at the point of barely caring at all about this issue by the time I get to #4 out of the planned five.

Which reminds me, I will eventually need a better outline for #5 than I have now, but I don't need to worry about that yet, right? (Pantsers unite!)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

To the Skies!

I've mentioned a couple of times over the past months that the first publisher I worked with has shut down, all the rights to my books have reverted back to me, and I had to figure out what to do with them. I took my planned writing break following the completion of A Flame Among the Stars, but then it was time to decide what to start next. As always, I had a number of ideas to choose from, but one possibility called to me the loudest: I wanted to finish off the Skies series.

To recap: Searching the Skies was my very first published book, featuring Commander Geneva Greyson and her attempts to balance her career goals with her family life, along with having to choose between two men who show a romantic interest in her. (Spoiler alert! She chooses both, and the three of them live happily ever after.) As this was my first major writing project that wasn't fanfic, I didn't really think too far ahead beyond "can I get something published?" I don't even remember what made me want to write a sequel, but I did, and it came out a year and a half after the first one. I did have plans to write a third book and had a pretty solid outline for it, but for a whole long list of reasons, it never happened.

So, here we are. Before starting the shiny new book, I wanted to go through and edit the first two. I'd skimmed through them back when the rights first reverted back to me, and I knew I had some work to do. As I wrote in a previous post, Searching the Skies was...ARGH. Ergh. Bleh. I guess if nothing else, it's nice to be able to say I've so obviously improved as a writer? Some of it was downright painful to reread, to the point where I almost want to track down everyone who read it and apologize to them. Honestly, there were points where I considered scrapping the whole thing, but if this were easy, everyone would do it, right?

I believed a good story lay hidden in there somewhere and slogged through to the end. Next up: Defying the Skies. While not flawless, I'm pleased to report this one held up considerably better. Sure, there were some errors that had been missed the first time around, and a few instances of lazy writing and awkward phrasing, but there were a few points that made me say "oh, damn, there's some really good shit in here". Us writers are often known for doubting ourselves, so those moments where the opposite happens are quite nice, I must say.

Okay, so the first two books are edited. Time to start the third! I started a new file two nights ago and I'm easing back into writing these characters I first created almost ten (!!!) years ago. But wait, there's more! As I said, I'd outlined the third book (and even titled it!), and it had a clear beginning, middle, and end...but then I realized that the ending I'd planned wasn't the most satisfactory, especially considering the series as a whole and comparing it to the previous two. I mean, it's an ending, in that it concludes the story the book tells, but I don't think I can leave off there. To make a long story short, I've decided this trilogy is now going to be five books long, and everything will be finished off with a pretty little bow on top by the end.

It sounds like a lot, and I definitely have my work cut out for me. I also have to decide on the best route for publication, and while I have some ideas/strategies, I need to get a bit more actual writing done first. For now, though, this is what I want to focus on, and I'm looking to more fun, sexy space adventures. Because I firmly believe the world can always use more of those.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Promo - Scarlet: Book Two of the Robyn Hood Series

Action! Adventure! Awesome women! Fellow author Niamh Murphy has a new book out today, the second in her gender flipped Robyn Hood series. Keep reading for the blurb and a fun excerpt!


Blurb:

GREED. CORRUPTION. GOLD.


Robyn Hood and her loyal friend Littlejohn want nothing more than to stay one step ahead of the Sheriff of Nottingham's men.

But when they offer their help to a Holy Sister in need, they soon discover not all is as it seems.

Now they have both the Sheriff of Nottingham on their tail and the self-serving Bishop of Hereford too.

Will they aid a fellow thief? Or save their own necks, keep the gold for themselves, and leave the fugitive, sword-wielding rogue for the gallows?
 

Find out in this brand new Robyn Hood Adventure! 


Excerpt:

As Robyn went to follow the two women into the chamber block, Marian paused at the door. She glanced behind her into the gloom where Sister Mary had disappeared then finally looked up at Robyn. “Do you trust this woman?” Her voice was a low whisper, and Robyn had to lean forward to hear her words.
 

She nodded, then winced at her easy lie. “Well,” she admitted, “she did steal from Littlejohn and me.”
 

Marian raised her eyebrows and sighed; she opened her mouth to speak but merely shook her head.
 

“I do trust her though,” Robyn added quickly, thinking of the young woman’s vulnerability, how many times Robyn could easily have ended up being Nottingham gaol herself, and how it was Robyn’s fault that the poor young nun had been captured by the sheriff's men and so badly wounded by a trial.
 

“Why, Robyn?” Robyn recognised that tone, it was the same tone that Marian had always used when Robyn had suggested they swim in a freezing cold lake, or travel to the next county on a whim, or ride their horses over ever-higher obstacles.
 

“I…” Robyn started to explain but her confidence and charm abandoned her. “I see something in her, something… like me.”
 

“I see.” Marian nodded, there was a bitterness to her smile that Robyn didn’t recognise. “I had wondered why I hadn’t seen you these last few weeks.” Robyn suddenly realised what the cause of her bitterness was and immediately tried to repair the damage. “No! It’s nothing like that, I mean-I’ve only just met her...I - I haven’t seen you because I didn’t want to put you in danger. I’m still not clear of the sheriff's men, Marian, I couldn’t risk leading them right to you.” 

“You risked it tonight.”
 

“But...That’s different; she needed help. I had nowhere else to go.”
 

“And... I understand.” Marian looked away and tried to shut the door but Robyn held it open.
 

“No, Marian, please, I wanted to protect you.”
 

“I know.” But she still wasn’t looking at her and Robyn felt that with every word she said Marian was pulling even further away.
 

“I have been desperate to see you,” Robyn whispered.
 

“Have you?”
 

She lowered her voice, all too aware of Sister Mary waiting for them in the room beyond. “I’ve thought about you every day we’ve been apart.” Marian sighed but she still didn’t look up. “Have you?”
 

Robyn reached out to take her hand, why was Marian slipping away from her? What could she do to bring her back? “I’ve thought about our kiss.” Marian looked up then, and her eyes glistened. “Then why-” she cut herself off as her voice cracked. “Then why have you not come to see me?” Robyn opened her mouth but was unable to conjure a reply. She’d thought Marian would be delighted to see her again. Not driven to angry tears. “If I had put you in danger-”
 

“In danger?” Marian spat, “You think rescuing your mother from the clutches of the sheriff’s men did not put me in danger?”
 

“Well, of course, but-”
 

“You think coming here tonight did not put me in danger?”
 

“B-but I-”
 

“So, you cannot put me in danger unless you need to put me in danger? You cannot risk coming here until you need to come here? You cannot risk doing anything until you need to do it?” Marian’s cheeks were turning pink and her blue eyes seemed cold as stone. “What about what I need? All that time you say you have been thinking of me, but have you ever thought about what I need?” “Well… I-”
 

“Have you ever thought I might be worried until I am sick with it? Thinking each day would be the day I would hear of your death? That every time I enter Nottingham it will be your body I see swinging from the gallows? Did you ever think of that?”
 

Slowly, Robyn shook her head, feeling the guilt writhe in her stomach. “I didn't.”
 

“Did you ever think I might want to hear from you? I might want to know how you are? I might want to see you—” She choked on a sob, silencing her tirade and biting down as she looked away.
 

“I’m sorry,” Robyn said, aghast and unable to think of anything else, “I had no idea.”
 

“Of course you had no idea!” Marian hissed, “You never thought to ask!” Robyn opened and closed her mouth several times. “I just wanted to keep you safe,” she said, but her voice sounded weak.
 

But Marian shook her head. “It's not up to you to keep me safe. It’s not up to you to decide when I should and shouldn't place myself in danger,” Robyn opened her mouth to argue but Marian interjected before she could speak. “It’s up to me.” Marian stared at her and took both Robyn’s hands in her own. “I thought I was your oldest, dearest and closest friend-”
 

“You are!”
 

“But you trust strangers more than you trust me. This Sister Mary of yours and that giant Reynold Littlejohn-”
 

“Littlejohn is a good man.”
 

“I’m sure he is Robyn, but it still hurts that you trust him more than you trust me.”
 

“But Marian I….”
 

 “What?”
 

“I couldn’t bear it if anything ever happened to you because of me.” Marian shook her head and looked up at her. “And I can’t bear being cut out of your life like this.”
 

“I love you, Marian.”
 

Marian took a deep breath and nodded. “I know,” she whispered, “But… what does that mean to you?” Marian waited a moment for Robyn’s reply and when it didn’t come, she shook her head, and stepped back, shutting the door in Robyn’s path.
 

Robyn lay her hand and then her head on the wood as she heard the bolts close. “It means everything,” she whispered.
 

About the Author:

 

Niamh Murphy is an author of adventure books with lesbian main characters. Her mission is to write exciting and engaging stories with women taking centre stage. She tells stories of gripping high seas adventure and epic fantasy, with a dash of romance and loves to explore historical settings, science fiction landscapes, and fantasy worlds. She lives in the ancient town of Colchester in England with her partner.

Find Niamh on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her Website.

Preorder Link

Chapter Preview Link

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dominance

Yup, you can keep your minds in the gutter, because this post is about exactly what you think it's about: which characters dominate your sex scenes? As I was chugging along on A Flame Among the Stars, I started thinking about how in most romances, one half of the couple is usually more forward or dominant than the other. Sometimes it's evenly balanced, sometimes it pings back and forth...and sometimes what happens outside the bedroom is different from what happens inside.

 

For a fun experiment, not only will I be exploring this in terms of gender, but also the point-of-view, as I have a hypothesis.


A Flame Among the Stars: This is a lesbian romance, so both halves of the couple are female. Meg, the POV character, is definitely the more dominant one for most of the book, though Celendra gains confidence and starts taking charge at points. What got me thinking about this whole subject is that it had been a while since I wrote from the POV of the more dominant character, but more on that later.


Hunting Astrid: Another lesbian romance. The book is from Astrid's POV, but Tabitha takes the lead for most of their intimate encounters. Again, though, Astrid has her own moments of being in control by the end.


Blazing Justice: This one's interesting because we have one POV character (Celeste) with three different endings. Without giving two much away, in two out of the three endings, the men are clearly more dominant, but it's more evenly matched in the third.


Fire Beyond the Frost: More lesbians. Catalina (POV) has no problem being in command of an operating room or jumping into action in case of medical emergency, but she's always been far more reserved in her personal relationships. This actually doesn't change much throughout the book, but Sari's there to guide her along nonetheless.


Closing Montage: Hmm. After some consideration, I'll say that Abigail (POV) and Edwin are pretty evenly matched, but I might give a slight edge to Edwin. It's close, though.


Seductive Suspect: Adam calls the shots as soon as he gets Veronica (POV) into his bedroom, hands down. This was one of those instances where I had that scene all planned out in my head for a while, but since I write in order, it took me a while to get there. Even so, I didn't lose any of my enthusiasm for it, and Adam's running this sexy show.


Out of Orbit: This was fun because both Jasmine (POV) and Aras are absolute powerhouses in their roles/careers before they meet, so what happens when they finally get together? The answer - Aras is the one in charge, but Jasmine doesn't mind in the slightest.


Flight of the Dragon Queen: Here's another one where it might be too close to call between Caleb (POV) and Alizeira. If I absolutely had to choose one or the other, I guess I'd say Alizeira is the more dominant of the two, but really, it's by the tiniest of margins.


Elysium: This one might buck the trend in multiple ways - not only does the POV alternate between April and Drew, but they each get their own sex scene where they're the POV character and each one is the more dominant one when we're inside their head. Again, it's a small difference, but that's my analysis.


Second Skin: The POV alternates between Anna and Brendan here, too; however, once they're behind closed doors, it's from Anna's POV, but Brendan is more dominant.


So, what have we learned? For the hetero romances, I thought the men would be more dominant, but while it skews a little in that direction, it's not always the case. What appears to be the bigger predictor? The POV character.

 

I'm too lazy to go through and tally it up, but it does seem like the POV character is less likely to be taking charge in the sex scenes. In a way, it kind of makes sense - it might be easier to envision yourself in a character's place when something is being done to them, rather than having them being the one doing the...doing. I won't get too far into fantasies and preferences and whatnot here, but if you're reading romance for an escape, letting someone else come in and handle everything can sound appealing. With the POV character, we see, hear, and feel everything they're experiencing; it's not that we, the readers, always want to take on a passive role in our own lives, but I can see how it's logical for the POV character we're reading about to be on the receiving end of all those fun sensations. You could argue the opposite, of course, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. In the future, I'll be paying attention to this when reading romances and trying to determine who's more likely to play what role with regard to POV.


(I'm not going to start unpacking menage romances...yet?)

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Year, New...well, all sorts of things

Happy New Year! Okay, so the general state of "the world is on fire" hasn't quite been put out. (I'll make my statement of if you in ANY way support the terrorism and insurrection that went on at the Capitol last week, you can see yourself out now, and I won't miss you. BYE.) Not much else to do besides keep slogging along, I guess. Fingers crossed that better times are, in fact, ahead.


I did reach my goal of finishing the main writing of my latest book before the end of the year, though the editing process went into January. Since it was a lot longer than anything else I've written recently, obviously editing took longer, too. And since I had plenty of time to think about and overthink things, that's exactly what I did.


First of all, I decided I didn't love the title of Elemental Forces. It wasn't terrible, but I thought I could do better. After thinking about the characters and some recurring themes and imagery, I played with a few combinations. To my surprise and delight, a Google search of my top choice didn't show anything notable with that title. So now, the book is A Flame Among the Stars. Very fantasy-esque, right? I'll go make that new tag now. Maybe I'll go through and re-tag the older posts, since there aren't too many of them.


Next, I debated long and hard about the idea of submitting to a different publisher. I'm very happy with everything the team at Decadent Publishing and I have done together, but as they're a general romance publisher, I considered submitting someplace more specific for my next lesbian romance. I did some research on publishers who focus on lesbian fiction, narrowed it down to a few possibilities, and selected what I thought would be the best fit. Since everyone has different requirements for submissions packages, it took me longer to put everything together for this one. I waffle back and forth with how confident I feel, but at least I can say I took the chance. And if it doesn't pan out, I have some backup plans.


Onward to the rest of 2021! I don't have, like, an actual calendar or anything (though maybe I should), but I am planning out the rest of my writing year. I do always like to take a break after finishing off a project, so I've been reading some books that have been sitting on my Kindle for a while, and I'm going to start The Witcher 3 on the Switch tomorrow, which I'm going to assume will take me at least a month to get through since I can only play at night after the kids are in bed. After that, though, I think I've decided on what I want to do next, but plans can always change. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Racing Toward the Finish (or, Link Party!, Part the Next)

Hello, my lovelies! I hope this winter holiday season is treating you well, or whatever 2020's version of well is. As we race toward the end of this year, I've been racing toward the end of my work-in-progress, Elemental Forces. Even without having gotten to the very end yet, it's the longest thing I've written by a wide margin since the kids were born 5.5 years ago, so that's exciting. I don't want to jinx anything or invite more misfortune into this year, especially after what happened the last time I did that, but I will say that I think I will hit my goal of finishing up the main writing of this book by the end of the year. (Will I get it fully edited and ready to be shipped off by then? Ehhh, let's not push it.)


Since I've been working like crazy on the book, I don't have an interesting blog post ready to go. But it's been a while since I last posted, and I do have an assortment of fun links and promises of more in the future. I'll drop these here for now to hold you over, and if I don't manage to check in before then, enjoy the rest of your holiday season and Happy New Year!


Blazing Justice at The TBR Pile - As the name might indicate, the reviewers over at The TBR Pile have been busy busy busy this season, but they finally got to Blazing Justice and loved it! Their 5-star review of it means it'll be entered into their Book of the Month contest at the end of December, which I will absolutely keep you posted on. (Now would be a good time to follow me on Twitter if you haven't already done so, as I've been hanging out there a lot this pandemic.)


In January, The TBR Pile will also have a feature on Hunting Astrid, complete with a real blog post I wrote. As always, stay tuned for further details!


Speaking of Hunting Astrid....


Best Lesfic Reviews - I get nervous about submitting to review sites, because of course I want people to read and review my books, but they're not obligated to love my every word, and I know I'm not supposed to interact with reviews anyway, and so on. Best Lesfic Reviews is critical yet fair, so I was especially nervous here, and then pleased with the outcome. Again, I know I'm not supposed to interact with the reviews/reviewer, but I did wind up having a nice conversation with her via email, and it was fun to get her ideas for future installments. (Oh, did I mention my editor suggested this could have series potential? YIKES.)


Broome's Books LGBTQ+ Book Reviews - Another great summary and review by another great person I'm glad to have met. And now my own to-read pile is getting longer and longer thanks to the rest of her site! Years ago, I dabbled with posting book reviews as part of my site here, and it is really hard to keep with everything, so I'm so appreciative of readers who take on this often thankless task.