Review Excerpts


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Humble Brag and a Humble "I Kind of Suck"

Because balance is everything.

When last we left off, I was debating about whether or not to temporarily shelve Sonata for Springtime. (And, obviously, blogging about it instead of actually writing anything.) After some internal debate, I decided to keep plugging away at it. I did write maybe a third of a chapter or so, which isn't all that much. I suck.

On the flip side, though, Fire Beyond the Frost is...dare I say it...doing well? It's getting good ratings and even reviews and bookmarks at Amazon and Goodreads, at least. I won't have hard numbers for a while since it came out at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year, and I still don't know how said numbers exactly work with the Kindle Unlimited program, but it looks pretty good from where I'm sitting? I guess? Relatively speaking, of course?

Ironically, FBtF had plenty of time sitting on the shelf before publication. To recap, I took a break somewhere in the middle to write Second Skin, and then after that, I left it alone for quite a few years until I edited it like crazy this past spring. Funny how a book I had serious confidence issues with is now getting attention. If nothing else, that should remind me that putting something to the side for a bit isn't an automatic failure.

I'm now also wondering if I should really dig into this niche and write more lesbian romance. I mean, I don't want to write lesbian characters just for the sake of writing them, but if it seems to be working for me, maybe I should go with it for a while? In my last post, I also mentioned wanting to go back to my sci-fi roots, and how there's another idea that's been simmering in second place for a while. After mulling it over for a bit, I think it could really work if the main characters are two badass women who happen to fall in love by the end, rather than a man and a woman. And I think we're all in agreement that no matter what else is going on, we all need some more badass women in our lives.

Judging by the amount of question marks in this post, I'm clearly going through a bout of indecision and insecurity. For now, though, I think I do need to move on to something else and see if new! flashy! F/F! sci-fi! gives me the boost I need. And even if it doesn't work out at first, I just need to remember it may work out in the end anyway if I need to put it away and go back to it later on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Little Rusty

Which skills am I referring to with this title - my writing skills, my decision making skills, or a little bit of both? Probably both. Both is almost always an accurate answer.

So I finally got back to Sonata for Springtime, which I started over a year ago, and then life got in the way. (Ugh.) I finished up the stupid transitional chapter that had been plaguing me for most of that year (ugh again), and one would think that now I'm on to more exciting things, the words would be flowing freely. Ehhh. I'll get there, I just need to get into some better writing habits.

Following the flurry of the last edits and subsequent release of Fire Beyond the Frost, and then cleaning up some short stories that still need a home, I did think long and hard about whether to shelve this one temporarily. Part of it is a confidence issue - do I really love the plot and characters as much as I once did? Can this work be as good as I want it to be? Do I think readers can/will love it as much as I do?

Then as all writers know, there's always the allure of shiny new ideas lurking around every corner. Starting a new project is always exhilarating...until you realize you actually have to finish something every now and then. I'll admit it, I was thisclose to starting something new, and I even had another idea from my list all picked out and ready to go. FBtF was heavy on the sci-fi setting, and I had the urge to create a similar fictional world. The plot and characters would have been a bit more edgy and fast-paced, and my projected word count was lower. Sure, I didn't have every single plot point outlined perfectly, but that can always be figured out as you go along, right?

Ultimately, what it came down to is I haven't quite figured out the emotional core of that other idea. Not every character has to have some deep, dramatic history, and there's nothing wrong with a light, fun novella, but there's still a certain spark missing in my head for these characters. I haven't figured out what motivates them or all the facets of their personalities, and I don't want to wind up relying on tropes or cliches. Aside from that, I'm thinking I might need to rework some of the initial setup for the plot, so it's going on the backburner for now, and SfS has emerged victorious. Believe me, there's plenty of well-planned characterization and all sorts of emotions going on there. I just need to actually WRITE it all down.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Promo - Carnivora #1, by Lea Bronsen



Today, I'm exciting to be featuring Lea Bronsen's latest release, Carnivora Part 1. As I told her, thrillers are popular in the Landen household (with the two adults, anyway), and we spent the summer reading a bunch and comparing notes. I'll turn things over to Lea for a bit, and then be sure to keep scrolling for her awesome trailer and an excerpt that's sure to grab your attention!

***

Hi, and thank you for having me on your blog!

I’ve always been fascinated by dark psychological thrillers that mess with your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. I toyed with the genre writing my debut novel Wild Hearted, but labeled it a crime drama. Its sequel, Carnivora, evolved over six years to become a full-blown hold-your-breath thriller that deals with grave issues such as kidnapping, child sex trafficking, and self-harm.

Telling five parallel stories with as many voices, it gives you the perspectives of a police informant, a hunted gangster, a mad avenger, an inconsolable girlfriend, and a psychotic kidnapper. I pull no punches weaving these stories, so be prepared for a dark, gritty, and graphic read – a little dirty on the erotic side – that I hope will play with your strings and stick with you for a long time.

Please note that this is part 1 of Carnivora and I am currently working on parts 2 and 3, so if those cliffhangers at the end are killing you, don’t despair. The continuation is right around the corner!




Blurb:
Fight evil with evil.

TOMOR
Crime lord Tomor is serving a life sentence behind bars. Without warning, he’s abducted by mysterious men. A sick manhunt is on, with people around him dying like flies. He will need all his street flair and gangster skills to prevent his loved ones from ending up on the death list.

LUZ
Luz grieves the loss of her lover while striving to take care of their baby. The last thing she needs is to fall for the new neighbor.

DAVID
A year after he betrayed his adoptive father and sent him to jail, David is slowly rebuilding his life. Then everything falls apart again: he learns that Tomor has escaped, and his police connections lead him to a child sex trafficking ring involving cold, powerful men.

The cops are in over their heads with “Project Carnivora” … Perhaps the only one who can help bust the pedophile predators is an equally vicious devil: Tomor, the country’s most hunted criminal.


Excerpt:
“Time to change your bandage again,” the nurse mutters, voice cool, and pulls my orange-colored sleeve up to the elbow.

She unrolls the long strip of bandage from my wrist and tugs at one corner of the gauze plastered on my wound. It sticks as if glued to the freshly grown skin, and instead of removing the gauze carefully, she tears if off hard, discharging pain through my arm, wrist-to-shoulder.

I open my eyes and lift my head off the pillow. “What the fuck are ya doing, trying to reopen the wound or something?”

“Like you care.” She stops pulling and glares, gauze between her fingers. “I can see who you are inside. You’re playing tough, aren’t you, bad guy? But you can’t fool me.”

“Shut up.” I lay down again, huffing, and stare at the white ceiling above me with its rows of long neon lights.

“You’re a good man.”

I glance back. “I said, shut the fuck up.”

Her eyes shine. She rips off the remaining gauze, ignoring my grunt of pain, and throws it in a bin. “Look.”

No fuck.

“Look at it,” she insists, voice low and demanding.

No. I know what I’ve done, and I can imagine what it looks like. A six centimeter-long deep, reddish, scratched-up ridge along my artery. Layers of skin, fat, meat, and whatnot must be visible and sweating a pinkish liquid from the reborn pores. I don’t need to see it.

I guess the girl wants me to be so horrified, I’ll never attempt suicide again. That’s right. She wants to shock me into acceptance.

You gotta be fucking kidding me, little thing.

She shakes her head. “I don’t understand why they gave you the life sentence.”

“You mean they shoulda given me the chair?”

Instead of responding to my sarcasm, she pivots to look up at the clock and widens her eyes as if realizing she forgot an appointment. Face tense, she returns to her work, applies some cool, gel-like liquid on the wound, and bandages it with quick routine moves.

What’s up with her? In my three days in this woman’s company, I’ve noted the things that make her tick. Maybe she’s upset because I’m leaving the infirmary soon. Earlier, she said she didn’t know when I’d be ready to go back to my cell. She probably knows now, but doesn’t want to tell me.

The door opens. She jumps.

A uniformed guard pokes his head in, checks the small room, and exits.

She seems frozen in place, features tense. Staring ahead and taking deep breaths as if trying to regain composure.

I cock my head a little. “What’s going on? They gonna transfer me?”

She visibly swallows and fixes her gaze on some point on the wall.

I snicker. “Are you sad ‘cause I’m leaving?”

Ha, I can be so ugly, when the girl clearly likes me.

As she sits there avoiding me, I take the time to check out her tits, and drink in the amazing sight of their pressing against her green blouse with each breath. She doesn’t have a name tag. Come to think of it, none of the personnel do. Evidently, so the inmates can’t identify their ‘caretakers’, and should they by some miracle leave the premises, track them down.

I nod to her blouse. “What’s your name?”

She twists back to me, brows raised, before shaking her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“C’mon, I’ll never see you again.” I grin, then add with an ironic snicker, teasing her, “They’ll never let me slash my wrists, or hang myself.”

She looks away and busies herself collecting the medical stuff, throwing a quick, almost invisible glance to the door. What the hell is making her so nervous?

Coldness fills my chest. Something’s up.

“Come on, Babe,” I coax with my most gentle, sensual voice, wanting to buy time. “Tell me your name.”

“Why?” she whispers, fidgeting with the roll of bandage.

“’Cause I want a name to your pretty face when I jack off in my cell."



 Available From





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About the Author:

Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.


Meet Lea Bronsen on

Friday, October 4, 2019

Fire Beyond the Frost - Release Day!



Happy Release Day to Fire Beyond the Frost. We're trying something new for a change, and for at least 90 days, the book will be available for free if you're a subscriber of Kindle Unlimited. As such, it's exclusive to Amazon for the time being, but depending on how things go, we may go wide in a few months.

Here, have the blurb again, plus a different excerpt!

Blurb:
Following a failed relationship with her supervisor at work, Dr. Catalina Frost volunteers her services with a charitable organization providing medical aid to those in need. In her first journey away from her home planet of Earth, she travels to the opposite end of the galaxy to the icy world of Ruvuk. Dismal weather conditions and an unfamiliar species of aliens take her far outside her comfort zone, but she’s determined to fulfill her obligations.

When Sari, a human settler on Ruvuk, first heard about a doctor being assigned to lend assistance to her health clinic in a remote village, she never expected the gorgeous woman who walked through her door. She introduces her to the planet’s ways of life and is impressed by her skills and experience. Though she drops hints about her growing attraction to Catalina, she’s shocked when those feelings are reciprocated.

The pair embarks on a romantic fling, but the definitive end date of Catalina’s assignment approaches quickly. She wants to plan for the future, but Sari has been hurt by false promises before and asks that they simply enjoy the time they have left. Will they each return to their separate lives or can they find a way to reunite somewhere in the galaxy?



Excerpt:
Sari pulled Catalina’s hands away from her face. “Sometimes we need a little change of scenery. Earth wasn’t working for you at the moment, so you came here. There’s nothing wrong  with that.”

“But my reasons for leaving—”

“They don’t matter. You’re here now, and we’re glad to have you. You’re going to do good things here, and when it’s time for you to leave, you’re going to march right back into your hospital and tell those people all sorts of amazing stories, and they won’t have a single bad thing to say about you. And while you’re doing it, you’re going to look that old doctor right in the eye, and he’s going to know he wasn’t good enough for you.”

Catalina blushed. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” Sari placed her hands on her hips and flashed a coy smile. “I’m always right. You just ask anyone around here.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Catalina rubbed her eyes again. This time, the yawn escaped. “I’m sorry I kept you here so late. I didn’t mean for everything to spill out. You’re the first person I’ve told about any of this and—”

Sari cut her off with a wave of her hand. “Don’t worry about it. I could tell you needed to get something off your chest. Sometimes we get so caught up in taking care of our bodies, we forget about our minds and hearts. I’m sure you’ll sleep better now it’s out.”

“I hope so.” She glanced back at her new companion. “What about you? You mentioned a father and brother, but do you have a husband and kids hiding around here somewhere?”

Sari laughed. The merry tones were becoming more endearing with each passing moment. “Not quite. I love Dad and Sean and everything, but beyond familial love, men have never held much appeal for me.” With a mischievous wink, she stood up from the table and moved toward the door. “Have a good night, Dr. Frost.”

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cover Reveal - Fire Beyond the Frost

Here's another winner from the fabulous artists at Decadent Publishing!
 

This one went through a number of versions, but I love the final result. All the little details are amazing! For now, we're still on track to release next week, so here's the blurb and excerpt again to tide you over until then!

Blurb:
Following a failed relationship with her supervisor at work, Dr. Catalina Frost volunteers her services with a charitable organization providing medical aid to those in need. In her first journey away from her home planet of Earth, she travels to the opposite end of the galaxy to the icy world of Ruvuk. Dismal weather conditions and an unfamiliar species of aliens take her far outside her comfort zone, but she’s determined to fulfill her obligations.

When Sari, a human settler on Ruvuk, first heard about a doctor being assigned to lend assistance to her health clinic in a remote village, she never expected the gorgeous woman who walked through her door. She introduces her to the planet’s ways of life and is impressed by her skills and experience. Though she drops hints about her growing attraction to Catalina, she’s shocked when those feelings are reciprocated.

The pair embarks on a romantic fling, but the definitive end date of Catalina’s assignment approaches quickly. She wants to plan for the future, but Sari has been hurt by false promises before and asks that they simply enjoy the time they have left. Will they each return to their separate lives or can they find a way to reunite somewhere in the galaxy?


Excerpt
The music stopped. Hundreds of heads tilted back, excited faces turned skyward in a synchronous movement threaded with palpable anticipation. Four incandescent orbs loomed overhead, shining in radiant shades of orange and gold. The spaces between them measured a similar distance, yet Catalina couldn’t understand why the lopsided figure was cause for such a tribute.

A near-imperceptible shift in the spheres’ positions removed all traces of her skepticism. Murmurs fluttered through radiating circles around her as the moons locked into place, creating a flawless square with the plateau at its center. In that instant, she was struck by the magnitude of the perfect alignment and its effect on her. While her journey to Ruvuk had been arranged due to her professional expertise, it turned out to serve many other purposes. The magnificent sight erased her doubts regarding her reasons for leaving Earth. Her decision had proved to be the right one.

Someone’s hand rested on the small of her back. Catalina looked away from the moons, her head swiveling to the side. All sets of eyes were focused on the sky, save one. Sari stood at her shoulder, her face bathed in the lunar glow. Beneath the edge of her knit hat, her round eyes gleamed with their usual liveliness. There was a slight change, however, something darker in their depths.

Her sly remarks and pointed comments had always been couched in a tone of flirtatious teasing. Tonight, there was no denying the hunger revealed in her sensual expression. Berry-red lips parted, silently asking the remaining question. The harmonious combination of the symbolic moment and her alluring charm made the plea impossible to refuse.

Catalina turned her body to allow Sari’s arm to circle around her waist as she leaned forward. She hesitated, letting the proximate warmth of the other woman’s mouth dispel the cold air between them. Another hand settled on her hip. Its blazing intentions were clear, even through the thick padding of heavy outerwear.