Review Excerpts

Sunday, January 9, 2022

From 2021 to 2022

Hey, I'm only a week late with my "year in review" post! 2021 was a busy year writing-wise and 2022 looks like it's going to be the same. Let's recap what happened and what's coming up!


The big event of this year was re-releasing the Disintegration series. New edits, new formatting, new (awesome!) cover art...and then I had to market the damn things. Overall, I'm happy with how everything went, and I'm beyond thrilled that these books I've loved so much for so many years are back out in the world and resonating with new readers.

I also released a short story, Sweet Escape, which is now on Kindle Unlimited after retiring from the role of being my newsletter freebie. Feedback on that one has also been good, and I'm happy with that, too. (How could you *not* be happy when chocolate cake is involved?)

As far as writing and planning ahead goes, I signed a bunch of contracts for some upcoming releases, which I'll elaborate on in my next section, appropriately titled...


The first round of edits plus the mock-up of the cover are done for A Flame Among the Stars, my upcoming lesbian fantasy romance. Longtime artist buddy Boobulon is doing character artwork for the main cast, which I also can't wait to share! No official release date yet, but we'll still label it as "coming soon!"

I also successfully accomplished many parts of another big item on my to-do list - rebooting the Searching the Skies series. To quickly recap, Book #1 was my first published book ever, Book #2 came out about a year and a half later, but while Book #3 was planned, it never happened for various reasons. At the beginning of 2021, I fiiiiinally wrote Book #3, which didn't take long at all, since it had been bouncing around in my head for many years. I also realized it didn't have a satisfactory ending to the series as a whole, so my planned trilogy is now five books long. (Hey, it worked for Kevin Smith.) I signed contracts for Books 1-3, and I'm nearing the end of writing Book #4 now.

I have another short story that's just about ready to go, but I'm trying to space out my publications. This one just needs one more quick edit, formatting, and a finalized cover. For that last point, I'm still working on my basic graphic design skills, but I was able to create a pretty cool text effect for the title. Somewhere in the back of my head, I do want to write more short stories, yet, as we all know, these things take time.

Lastly...I have to figure out what I want to do with The Edge of the Sphere, the last of my books where the rights reverted back to me after the publisher shut down. I'm kind of torn here - I do still like a lot of the story, though I definitely don't consider it my best work. It needs some editing, though not a ton. (I think I even started working on that a while back, but I don't even know off the top of my head.) It needs a new cover, and I'd have to decide if I want to tackle it myself or outsource it. If/when I get around to re-releasing it, I'd probably do a paperback version, so I might want to turn this one over to the pros again. My biggest issue, though, is marketing and promotion. Do I really want to spend a lot of time on a book I like very much, but may not love? Do I just want to sort of passively put it out there and let my other books sell it for me? I don't know. When I have the schedule for everything else more formalized, maybe I'll think about putting it back out there during a quieter period.

Whew! That's quite the list! Somewhere in here, I need to catch up with my reading and my Netflix, both of which have been seriously neglected over the past year. But first, back to writing the final chapter of Chasing the Skies! (Yes, it has a title already, yay me!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Trope-Tastic Tuesdays: Birds of a Feather

Trope: Birds of a Feather

Description: We're all familiar with the Opposites Attract romance trope. Birds of a Feather is pretty much the opposite of Opposites Attract. (Oh ho ho, see what I did there.) Here, both characters in a relationship have similar personality traits and share common goals and interests. Birds of a Feather can also involve a number of sub tropes (though they're not necessary), such as Friends to Lovers.

Examples: Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games, Harry and Ginny from Harry Potter, Tris and Four from Divergent, a whole lot of Jane Austen couples, many of the successful relationships on The Office

Pros: Birds of a Feather is probably a bit more realistic than Opposites Attract. After all, nothing but conflict after conflict would get exhausting after a while. People are often drawn to partners who are similar to them, and that can form the basis of a solid relationship.

Cons: In fiction, there has to be some conflict, or else things would get boring quickly. (Though that conflict doesn't have to come from inside the relationship, of course.) And even if the characters are similar, they have to have some distinguishing characteristics, or else the Love Interest just turns into a dull copy of the Main Character.

It's also worth noting in both the examples I mentioned and the full list on TV Tropes, Birds of a Feather is NOT a guarantee of a happy ending. Do with that what you will.

Would/Did I Use It?: Indeed I have! (I've also used Opposites Attract, but I think I lean toward Birds of a Feather more.) Most recently, I have Ro and Reggie from The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions. Soon after meeting, Ro even points out that she thinks they'll get along because he's a lot like her. That doesn't mean everything is sunshine and roses, though; some of the traits they share are darker or have negative connotations.

Probably the next strongest example I have of this trope is Jasmine and Aras from Out of Orbit. Both are strong leaders dedicated to the people they serve...and while this is one similarity that draws them to each other, it also poses a risk of interfering with their future happiness together.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Character Names, Part Wherever We Left Off

Edits are underway for A Flame Among the Stars, and I've also seen a mockup of the cover, which is AMAZING. As soon as I'm allowed to share it, I will, because it's seriously gorgeous. I don't want to spoil anything, but: DRAGON. Also, as soon as I have a firm release date, I'll be sure to share that, too. (Reminder: I've been using my newsletter more than my blog lately, so make sure you're signed up for the latest news!)

More on the topic of exciting news! I believe I mentioned I'm rebooting the Geneva Greyson/Searching the Skies series, and now I can announce I've signed contracts for the first three books. (The first two were previously published, #3 is new.) I'm currently plugging away on Book 4, which is about two thirds of the way done.

That brings me to the topic of the day: character names! I've written posts about the various aspects of naming characters in the past, such as when to name characters and my thought processes for doing so. Book 4 has a lot of secondary characters in it, and those characters needed names. A lot of said characters are female, and finding enough distinctive names that still fit their personalities was a little bit of a challenge.

I'm not opposed to alliteration, or having more than one name in a book start with the same letter. As I wrote in one of those previous posts, for me, I sometimes think it's more important to vary the ending sounds of names. For women, this can get tricky because a lot—a LOT—of names end in A. Y might be the next most popular letter/sound, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

All right, so we've got our main character Geneva, the star of the show. Her mother, Dahlia, also has an -a name, but the other sounds plus the syllable count make them different enough for me. (In my accent/voice, anyway. If you want to stress every single sound and call her Dah-lee-ah instead of sort of smearing together the last vowels, I certainly won't stop you.) Out of all the other female characters, I only have one more who has an -a name—Freya—and she doesn't show up too often, anyway. And luckily, Geneva, Dahlia, and Freya are never all in the same scene together.

Book 3 introduces us to a new significant character, Adele. Here, I really wanted a big contrast to Geneva. Longtime readers will remember one of the [male] main characters of the series is named Ash. I did devote some thought to having two A- names, but ultimately decided Ash and Adele were different enough to not be distracting. Again, in my accent, the initial vowel sounds in Adele and Ash don't even sound the same. (Fun fact! Adele was very close to being named Katharine, but I thought Adele fit her better.)

Back to Book 4, there are three other female characters who needed names. Renae was one of those characters who kind of named herself. Hey, sometimes you just can't fight what was meant to be. From the very beginning of starting to plot this book, she was Renae in my mind. I guess if I was really concerned about the way repeated letters look, I could have gone with the more traditional spelling of Renée, but 1) I admit I didn't want to deal with the accent marks, and 2) I think the Renae spelling is cooler anyway, and this Renae is a badass.

Okay, two more to go. For one of them, I really wanted to set her apart from Geneva and the others for various reasons (she's not quite a villain or antagonist, but let's just say her morality scale differs from that of our heroine). I chose Lorelei, as I like the name well enough, I thought it fit the character, AND it had the added bonus of having a unique ending. Perfect! For the last of the minor characters (Lorelei's friend, who shows up on screen once and is mentioned one subsequent time), I originally went with Tamara, but thought it was too similar to some of the other names, so I did a find 'n' replace and changed it to Taryn. Yay for yet another ending letter/sound!

Phew, that's a lot of names. There are a couple new male characters of varying significance in Book 4 as well, and I did spend some time making sure they were different enough both from each other and existing characters. I don't know, though—for some reason, I've always found female names to be a lot more fun. And regardless, I'm more than happy to feature a lot of interesting women in this book!

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions - Release Day!


It's here! The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is now officially available on both Kindle Unlimited and in paperback. And! AND! To celebrate Release Day, Disintegration, Book 1 of the series, will be available for FREE on November 1st and 2nd, so if you need to catch up, now is the perfect time! Don't forget - if you haven't grabbed your free copy of Disintegration: The Prequels to round out the series, you can pick your favorite format here.


A year has passed since Ro Bernard escaped from the Midnight Scorpions, a clandestine group of mercenaries that exists in the outside world as little more than myths and rumors. Though haunted by the reprehensible acts she committed and witnessed as a member of the organization, her primary focus is keeping a roof over her head and food on her plate. A chance encounter leads her to Karin Cassels, whose son died in the Scorpions’ underground laboratory. While sharing details about her son’s research, Ro reveals the most disturbing information she has on the group. Their leader, scientist Dane Zedek, has been integrating cybernetic parts with human soldiers in the hopes of building a lethal army to help him achieve greater political power.

The women hatch a plan to take down the Midnight Scorpions with two ultimate goals: kill Zedek, and rescue Callum, Ro’s lover who was the first of the scientist’s experimental hybrids. For additional assistance, Dr. Cassels directs Ro to Reggie Quinn, a drifter who is no stranger to odd jobs and risky situations. Reggie negotiates a deal with Ro and agrees to join the cause in exchange for a percentage of whatever they loot from the Scorpions’ base.

They embark on an adventure throughout three warring countries to assemble their team and gather the necessary materials for their schemes. Along the way, Ro tries to fight her growing attraction to Reggie, especially as reminders of her unhappy past keep resurfacing. Love and redemption wait for her at the end of her mission to defeat the Midnight Scorpions…assuming she makes it out alive.


Reggie collected their new belongings, and she opened her knapsack for him to deposit the ammo inside as they walked out the door. Once they left the shop, she took her handgun from him and slipped it into the back of the waistband of her pants. “Well, that was fun,” she said.

“I don’t know, Rosie. I think you could have batted your eyelashes a bit more.”

She’d given up on trying to fend off the nickname. “Don’t get too excited there, buddy. I don’t mix business and pleasure. It never ends well.”

They turned a corner, traveling back to Ted’s neighborhood on foot. “Sounds like you’re speaking from experience,” he said. “What, were there all sorts of illicit love affairs and secret trysts going on in the deepest recesses of the Scorpions’ lair?”

“Something along those lines.”

A wicked gleam lit up his eyes. “Ah, so you’ve been holding out on me. Way to leave out the best bits of the stories.”

“If you haven’t noticed yet, most of the stories don’t have a happy ending.”


Ro bit her bottom lip as they walked along the paved path. She had yet to reveal her second main objective for when they made their way into the underground facility and disposed of Zedek. The gun at her back reminded her how much Reggie had been willing to risk for her. She owed him full honesty.

“Fine, you got me,” she said. “I may have neglected to mention one of my priorities for this mission, aside from killing Zedek, looting the place, and turning it into a pile of rubble.”

He stopped walking. “Dare I ask when you were going to bother filling me in?”

“I don’t know. Eventually?” She halted her pace and turned around to face him, sighing. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I should have been completely forthcoming from the get-go.”

“Apology accepted.” He continued down the road again, tugging on her wrist so she would do the same. “But start talking.”

Ro pondered how many details to disclose and the best way to convey them. “I have a friend down there and I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. I didn’t have time to find out for sure before I escaped and, obviously, I couldn’t take him with me.”

“So we add springing your friend to our list. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

She didn’t say anything.

“Oh,” Reggie said after a few beats of silence. “Let me guess. I stumbled across one of those love affairs I was joking about.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be that way. He was a project, an assignment, a responsibility.” The words tasted bitter as they rolled off her tongue. “And he deserved better than what he got.”

“From the Midnight Scorpions or from you yourself?”


The street shifted from asphalt to dirt beneath their feet. “If you loved him, I don’t think he got such a raw deal from you,” Reggie said quietly.

Her teeth gritted together. “Zedek and the lab rats were responsible for fucking up his brain and his body. His emotions, his soul, those were all on me.”

“It couldn’t have been so bad.”

“It was.” Nauseating guilt churned in her stomach, but she’d come too far to leave her confessions unfinished. “As soon as we started caring about each other, I should have walked away and put an end to it. Not only would it have been the professional thing to do, I knew nothing warm and bright and good could ever come from Zedek’s dark pit in the ground. I was right.”

He glanced up toward the sky. “When things look bleak, people want to cling to whatever glimmers of hope they can find.”

“Are you referring to him or me?”

“Both,” he said, repeating her prior answer.

They trudged along the dusty paths. The settlement of gray and brown hovels appeared in the distance, swathed in the illusion of murky shadows despite the mid-day sun. Before they reached Ted’s house, Reggie grabbed her shoulder and spun her around to face him. “Look, Rosie, I’m not going to tell you not to beat yourself up over whatever happened with this guy,” he said. “You and I both have our skeletons and scars, and sleep comes easier some nights more than others. I’m not going to delve into your innermost feelings or offer useless platitudes, and you’d probably tell me to go fuck myself if I tried.”

Ro shrugged, though the motion didn’t dislodge his grip. “Very likely.”

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a horrible person, and I doubt anything you could tell me would change my mind.” His fingers remained on her arm, though his grasp loosened. “I don’t go following just anybody into hideouts filled with hordes of deadly mercenaries, you know.”

She stared up into his gold-flecked eyes. “You’ve heard enough evidence of how everything I touch turns to shit. Let’s follow through with the plans Ted helped us solidify and get the job done. Assuming we come out alive on the other end, we can then worry about whether your assessment was right or wrong.”


They arrived at Ted’s door. “One more thing,” Reggie said as she reached for the knob.


“Your friend, boyfriend, lover, whatever.” Sympathy softened the strong lines of his cheekbones and jaw. “We’ll find him and get him out, no matter what.”

Monday, October 4, 2021

Even More Disintegration News/Updates

Firstly, while I have your attention, go vote for Disintegration over at Cover Wars! I know I'm biased, but really, there aren't enough words for how much I LOVE this cover.

Okay, now that that's out of the way...actually, there isn't a ton to report from my writing world that hasn't already been covered. Just the other day on Twitter I was lamenting how time-consuming marketing is. I've said it for years: writing the damn book is not the hard part, getting people to read it is the hard part. I feel like I've just been going nonstop lately, to the point where I haven't written a whole lot of new words in other projects.

But! While I'm not a world-famous bestseller (yet?), at least I can say I'm getting some results. People are, in fact, reading what I'm writing, reviews are trickling in, and my sneaky ploy to include the pre-order link to The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions at the end of Disintegration is also paying off. And speaking of TFotMS, in case you haven't seen that spectacular cover yet, take a look!

So, I'm still plugging away at...well, everything. Marketing my existing books, writing the new ones, keeping up with the day job, and being present for my family. Outside of writing, we've been having a crazy couple of weeks in the Landen household, but I'm hoping things will level off soon.

I did notice that this blog went untouched for almost a month. Honestly, there was a time where I was thinking of switching my entire website over to a different format, one without a blog, but for now, I'm staying put. I do like to have a place for my "writing about writing" ramblings, whenever they're longer than a tweet or a Facebook post, and while the layout isn't perfect, I think it's easy enough to find the information about my published works. These days, though, I've been focusing on Twitter and my newsletter, so if you're not already following me in those places, click those links!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Trope-Tastic Tuesdays: The Lost Lenore

(Parts of this were originally published on March 28, 2013)

Trope: The Lost Lenore

Description: The Lost Lenore is a dead love interest of one of the main characters. Not only is she dead, her absence has a profound effect on the character for the rest of the work, to the point where it influences the plot. Lost Lenores can either be dead at the beginning of the story or die early on, but either way, it's the reaction to her death that determines if she qualifies for this trope. Just being dead isn't enough; it's whether or not she has the same level of significance, if not more, as she would if she were alive. While they're often female, every now and then a male Lost Lenore pops up.

Examples: Lenore from The Raven (duh), April from Rent, Ellie from Up, Glenn from Fire Emblem: Three Houses (as an aside, holy shit, is there a lot of fanfic about a character who never even appears on screen)

Pros: Love is powerful and can even transcend death. A Lost Lenore can also be the inspiration for all sorts of plots for the lover she left behind, from some soul-searching and self-discovery to kick-ass vengeance. In romance, the audience is touched if the hero is able to work through his grief and learn to love again.

Cons: It can be hard to land in the sweet spot of "has grieved appropriately and is ready to move on." As always, this is subjective, and what might be "too soon" to one reader is another reader's "what took so long?" Tone is important to keep in mind here, too, as anything overly cheery will feel incongruous right after Lost Lenore's death. Also, considering they're dead (or die quickly), Lost Lenores can be difficult to develop and make into three-dimensional characters.

Would/Did I Use It?: Meyta from Disintegration definitely qualifies. That's not a spoiler, it's in the blurb of the book. She's dead by the second chapter, but don't think for a moment that she'll be easily forgotten. (And that's all I'll say about her, as I don't want to reveal true spoilers!) I also have a less-common male example in Kevin, April's dead husband in Elysium. Not only is she still grieving him at the start of the book, which kicks off the plot, but a simulation of him actually shows up at one point via virtual reality. What would Poe have to say about THAT, hmm?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Disintegration - Release Week


The official release day for Disintegration was on August 30th, and it was a great week! Pre-orders went out, some ARC reviews went up beforehand, pages have been read on Kindle Unlimited, and I even sold a couple of paperbacks. Phew! I'm also in the midst of some promo events, so let's have a link dump.


As a reminder, newsletter subscribers get a free PDF of Disintegration: The Prequels (check out that new AMAZING cover art!), as well as being the first to hear about news and sales and whatnot. If you haven't already signed up, there's a form in the corner, or you can use this link.

In addition to having some reviews on Amazon, there are more ratings and reviews on the Goodreads page. I guess now is a good time to not-so-gracefully include a reminder to support indie authors by reviewing their books, as we're all on an endless mission to defeat the Dreaded Algorithm (for Amazon, Twitter, etc.).

Also this week, I was interviewed by Aubry Andrews, which was a ton of fun! If you're not already following Aubry on Twitter, DO IT NOW. In addition to posting submitted confessions every Friday, she's a big supporter of her fellow erotica authors, and is just plain fun. You won't regret it.

I'm still working on some other promotions, along with trying to find some time to work on my new project, and I'll have some relevant tropes for you in the coming weeks. Busy, busy, busy!