Review Excerpts

Saturday, February 15, 2020


The tonsils are out, and while I've had my ups and downs this past week, it's not the worst. Not particularly fun, but not the worst. So! Since I'm not completely miserable and I have passed off most of the care of my children to other adults, I've actually gotten quite a bit of writing done. Yay me.

When I last blogged, I predicted Hunting Astrid would go eight chapters (or so). I debated whether or not to split one chapter into two, and ultimately did so, so it does look like I'll wind up with eight, plus a short epilogue. I finished Chapter Six today, but the next two will be long, so don't expect a finished draft any time soon. For total word count, I'm predicting...let's say around 22K. Definitely more than 20K, probably less than 25K. Either way, it'll be a cute, fun little novella that didn't take me a ton of time, assuming I don't get struck by a meteor or something in the next few weeks. Another win.

I'm still patting myself on the back for deciding to work on this project and shelve Sonata for Springtime for the time being. 4th Quarter royalty statements just came out, and while I admit I still don't know all the ins and outs of the Kindle Unlimited program, Fire Beyond the Frost did do well, I'm happy to report. At least better than a lot of my other books upon release. KU tracks pages read instead of books as a whole, and if I did my math right (which I TOTALLY might not have), it translates into a triple-digit number of readers. Or, for all I know, one or two people who liked it so much they read it a bunch of times. As someone who is far from a world-famous author with a huge following, I'll take it.

I'd suspected for a while that the more specific your categories/genres/niches/whatever you want to call it, the more successful a book will be. (Unless you're really savvy with your keywords and marketing, which I am not.) We'll see if I can keep the momentum going with Hunting Astrid, and if lesbian sci-fi romance turns out to be my true, yet somewhat specific, calling, so be it. I'm not saying I'll never write in another genre again, because I know that won't be the case, but for now, we'll see where this path takes me. Either way, I'm finally writing like crazy for the first time in years, and if I'm having fun, I'm hoping readers will, too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

New Project, and a New Year, Part the Next

Happy New Year! Writing-wise, 2020 is off to a great start. Before we get to January, I'll follow up a bit from my last post to provide some general advice to anyone who may want/need it: Remember how I'd considered bringing a notebook with me to Disney World juuuuust in case there might be a few spare minutes to write? Ha. Hahahahaha. HA. Yeah, no. Disney is crazy on its own, and as the Official Organizer of this trip, who had to keep track of everything including two 4-year-olds and two 70-year-olds...I didn't even open the book I brought to read, either. But although we got zero down time and my darling children refused to sleep in any buses or airplanes, we had a fantastic time. Which we can probably do all over again in another two to three years....

For the Disney uninitiated, if you want to get the most popular meal reservations, you need to get up at 6:00 a.m. EST 180 days before the first day of your trip to book them all. Since the Be Our Guest restaurant is the only place to meet the Beast, that's a popular one. Yeah, I didn't care what the rest of my family did, I was the one who got up before 6:00 that day, I was getting a picture with the Beast, dammit.

Now onto writing. The new project, which has been titled (and officially tagged here as) Hunting Astrid, is still going well. Honestly, this is probably some of the fastest writing I've done in years. Maybe not necessarily the best, but it's something. If nothing else, at least it's a great baseline/first draft I can always clean up later, right?

I just finished up Chapter Three, and as of right now, I'm predicting around eight...ish? That's the other thing about this project—I'm definitely pants-ing more than plotting this time out, and THAT'S OKAY. My two main characters still have placeholders instead of last names. SO WHAT? I still haven't worked out 100% of the issues I worried about at the time of my last blog post. I'LL FIGURE IT OUT SOON ENOUGH. I've been working to getting back to these writing habits for a long time, and while I'll always have bouts of overthinking things, at least it feels more effortless. I'm hoping to keep it up.

One more not totally writing-related point before I sign off: After dealing with recurring issues for the past six months, it's been decided that my tonsils are coming out sometime in February. Yes, we're all aware that, in my mid-30s, I'm practically ancient in the tonsillectomy world, but it's got to get done. (I'm about ready to reach in and rip them out myself.) I've been told that the older you are, the worse the recovery is, and the ENT told me to prepare for at least two weeks of that. In a perfect world, I'd be able to use some of that time off to write, but we'll see. I'm just hoping I won't be zonked out on the couch for two straight weeks and can at least catch up with some knitting and Netflix.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

New Project, and a New Year

Fire Beyond the Frost is still doing well, I'm happy to report. It's fun to see what other people have highlighted!

So I did wind up starting a new project after all. And...I like it. It's fast-paced, exciting, and...dare I say it...FUN! Okay, maybe the emotional impact of this one won't be huge, but it'll make up for it in other ways, I promise. I just finished off the introductory chapter, and I think I hit the right balance of setting the scene without a giant info dump, letting the relevant details come off naturally. My original plan was to have this be a quick little novella, maybe in the range of 20K - 30K words, but more and more ideas are coming up, so it might wind up a little longer. Yay.

Not everything is going 100% smoothly. But you know what? That's fine. I'm struggling a little bit with the balance of Main Character 1, between being a badass and showing some vulnerability, but I'm sure the more I write her, the more solid she'll become. (MC2? Total badass. At least 99% so.) My current outline has some gaps and I'm still moving things around, but I'm confident it'll work out. I used to be more of a pantser than a plotter, and maybe this will help me just get the damn words onto the page.

I definitely wanted to finish this opening before the end of the year, and I'm glad I hit that goal. Next week will be the usual holiday season craziness. I'm hosting Christmas Eve for my side of the family. (My mother claims I'm getting off easy because there will *only* be 17 people. Only. <_< ) Then Christmas Day at the in-laws, which is going to be kind of small and low key this year. (As low key as my mother-in-law gets, anyway.) Then the buffer day I insisted on, and then we're taking the girls to Disney World for the first time! One of the reasons I planned this trip was because I was practically on death's door this time last year, so everyone's super excited, and even though I know it'll be insane, I'm looking forward to it. I doubt I'll get any serious writing done during those five days, but I might slip a notebook into my backpack just in case the girls crash early one night and I need something quiet to do in the hotel room.

On that note, this will likely be my last post for the year, so I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and here's to a great 2020!

Brand new tag for the new project being created in 3...2...1....

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!

Fight evil with evil.

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 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.

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.

“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."

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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.

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