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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday!

Last one of 2012! This excerpt comes from the second Disintegration prequel (which is being beta-read now): 

“Naughty girl,” he growled near her ear. “Are you forgetting who’s in charge tonight?”

Tanith gasped when he drew her earlobe between her teeth. She abandoned his clothing and settled for wrapping her arms around his waist. He escaped her grasp and backed away from her. “Pants off,” he ordered.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Since I'm still getting over this cold (yay antibiotics!) and I've already written about how I like to stay organized and on top of things, I've started researching my self-pubbing options for the Disintegration prequels. As I'm eventually releasing the bundle of all three for free as an e-book, there doesn't seem to be a conflict with using both Smashwords and Amazon's KDP. For me, both those options had their pros and cons, and I found it difficult to choose one. KDP is appealing because I want there to be a link between the prequels and my Amazon page/other books on Amazon. Smashwords distributes to many different retailers. The only potential issue I can see so far is assigning an ISBN number, but I'll deal with that when I get closer to the release dates. 

I created documents now so I can start working on the formatting. Both sites have comprehensive guides for the necessary prep work, which has been very helpful. Really, they're great. They've obviously been made by people who know what they're doing. There is some crossover between the two, but Smashwords is a bit more...particular, let's say. (Note: this is not intended to be a criticism at all; I'm glad they've gone into such detail so everyone can be assured that the final products are the best they can be, authors, readers, and retailers alike.)

I've been using MS Word for years, but as I have never been in a field that required me to make complex documents, I sort of figured I wasn't using it to its full potential. I know how to make tables and columns, and insert images/word art, and so on. Working with my editor on my first book taught me how to use the "track changes" feature, which is pretty nifty. Thanks to the KDP and Smashwords guides, I now know how to make a linked Table of Contents! Fancy! I've also learned a little more about styles and headings. Don't laugh at my previous ineptitude. 

The always-fantastic Boobulon has made a kick-ass cover for me (I paid him for his work, though I think he underpriced himself ;) ), and he even tweaked the image to make two separate versions, as the specs were slightly different for KDP and Smashwords. I LOVE this cover hard, and it's taking every ounce of restraint I have to not immediately put it up here. Patience is a virtue, or so they tell me.

Long story short, while I'm sure it gets easier, I'm not sure if I'd ever self-publish a larger project. There's just so much to worry about, and I'm very grateful that I have the fantastic people at Double Dragon Publishing to take care of all the nitty gritty details for me. As with everything, though, this has been a fun learning experience and I'm glad I'm trying it out!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

(And happy holidays to the non-Christmas-celebrating folks out there!) 

I'm still fighting off this pesky cold, but I've managed to partake in some holiday season festivities. (I've been keeping my distance from people, though, don't you worry.) It actually snowed here last night, so everything looks all pretty and peaceful. I do love this time of year, and I hope my good feelings will lead to productive writing while I have this week off. 

For a holiday treat, here's an excerpt from the first Disintegration prequel, which I'll release in full sometime in January. Have a great day! 

Meyta stood up after retrieving her dampened rag from where it had fallen, narrowly avoiding the underside of the table. She swished it over the grubby wood, and looked towards the open door. “Are you going to help me clean up in here or not?” she called to her friend.
“Shh!” Shiri waved her off with one hand. The other clung to the frame as she stuck her head outside, letting the breeze ruffle her long, blonde hair. “I think I hear them.”
“You know they’re arriving tonight. I don’t know what you’re so worked up about.”
Shiri giggled. “Just you wait and see. We’re going to have a good time this week!”
Meyta proceeded to the next table and repeated her cleaning routine. “I don’t understand,” she said. “If the squadron is training at the lake, I don’t know why they just don’t go out over there.”
“Too expensive,” came the response. “Honestly, we’re probably not going to make a lot in tips from them, but as long as we keep the drinks flowing, it’s bound to be a fun night!”
By the time the sun set below the rolling sands, the two waitresses had finished wiping down every bare surface in the small tavern. “They’re only going to be dirty again in a matter of hours,” Shiri grumbled. “I don’t know why we even bothered.”
“Because we’re used to your father yelling at us if this place isn’t spotless?”
“He’s not even here! He went to visit my aunt for a month!” She threw down her towel. “And you’d think he would have hired some extra hands to help us out while he’s gone.”
“I’m sure we’ll manage,” Meyta said.
“Oh, I know we’ll be fine.” An impish sparkle lit up Shiri’s eyes. “Maybe it’s better he’s away while the soldiers are in town....”
Meyta laughed. “You’re terrible!”
“I know.” Shiri unfastened the top button of her crisp, white blouse, smoothed down her hair, and winked. “I keep telling you to loosen up. You could stand to be a bit more ‘terrible’ yourself!”
“We’ll see.”
The first wave of patrons entered the bar. Five men in khaki uniforms strode through the doorway and took a seat at one of the tables. Shiri approached them, and set down a bowl of crackers. “Evening, boys,” she said. “What can I get for you?”
“A couple of pitchers of something ice cold and frothy,” one answered. “We’ve been out in that sun all day.”
“Of course.” She leaned closer to man at the head of the table, the most muscular of the crew. “Anything else?”
“What’s on the menu?” he asked. “I sure could go for a home cooked meal right about now.”
“Do you see a kitchen in this place? I didn’t think you were coming here for the food.”
He grinned at her. “So the sassy attitude is just a bonus?”
Shiri put a hand on the back of his chair. “Weren’t you just complaining about the heat? If we had an oven, it would only get even hotter in here....”
Meyta shook her head, and filled the pitchers. Another party of soldiers entered, greeting their friends as they sat at an adjacent table. Before long, a boisterous crowd filled the room.
“Does everyone have drinks and snacks?” Shiri asked.
“I think so.”
“Great! Let’s go make some friends!”
“Shiri, I don’t....” Meyta didn’t have time to protest. Her friend grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her towards the group near the door. She lingered near the wall as Shiri continued her flirty banter. Lifting one of the half-full glasses to her lips, the sultry blonde allowed the burly man to wrap his arm around his waist while she took a sip.
“Miss! Can we get another round over here?”
Meyta was grateful for the distraction, and hurried back to the tap. When she returned to the bar after serving the drinks, someone had taken a seat on one of the stools. “Need a refill?” she asked him.
“No, thanks. I’m good.”
“All right. Can I get you anything else?”
He leaned towards her and smiled. “They sent me over here to find out your name.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Who, Shiri? Is this one of her little games?”
“No, I was referring to the friends I came in with.”
“Why did they tell you to come over here?”
“Because I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you since I first walked through that door.”
The flush rising to Meyta’s cheeks did little to diminish her skepticism, and she looked down. “Does that line work on the girls in all the other towns you’ve been to?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it before. Never had reason to.” The soldier craned his neck, inserting himself back into her line of view. “I’m Callum.”
“I’m busy.” She grabbed some empty glasses and brought them to the sink in the corner.
Callum followed her. “I don’t want to get in your way. Maybe you can come by my table whenever you have a free moment?”

Friday, December 21, 2012


After almost a year and a half of not having to deal with anything worse then some seasonal allergies, my good luck ran out, and I have a cold. Not an awful cold - I've had worse - but a cold nonetheless. And it is making me CRANKY. 

I've been drinking orange juice like it's going out of style, and I loaded up on all sorts of pills at the pharmacy. I'm hoping to make it to the neighbors' cocktail party tomorrow night, but I'm willing to forgo it if I think I need the extra time to recover for all the holiday festivities on Monday/Tuesday. I still have to do some baking tomorrow (don't worry, I wash my hands religiously anyway). 

I've actually managed to get some writing done, but due to the crankiness, it doesn't take much to put me in a bad mood and kill my drive. I've been trying to knit more as well, but somehow, even though I own double pointed needles in every size from 1 - 17, the ONE size I need (size 6) has gone missing. (Luckily, my mom was able to send hers down with my father when he came by today.)

Bah. I'll try to check in before Christmas and try to be in a better mood. Until then, I'll try to keep plugging away at the writing and these cardigan sleeves. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Gifts of Love Winners

The Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop has come to a close, and we have some winners to announce! Congrats to Kym, who won e-copies of Searching the Skies and The Edge of the Sphere on this blog, and to Aimee, Laura, and Debbie, who won a Kindle Fire, an Amazon gift card, and the swag pack, respectively!

I generally try to keep this blog lighthearted and fun, but throughout the duration of this blog hop, I couldn't help but think of current events; it just doesn't feel right to not somehow acknowledge the tragedy in Newtown, CT. I'm horrified and heartbroken, and scared because I don't know what the solution to these problems are. Plenty of other people have spoken far more eloquently on this topic, so I'll keep my remarks simple, and try tie them into the spirit of this blog hop: I loved reading all the answers to the question about romantic gifts, and it brought me some holiday cheer during this rough time. So many of you have received amazing gifts, not only in the gifts themselves, but by having such warm and caring people in your lives. No matter what or how you're celebrating this winter, if you can treasure those closest to you and be with them, you're automatically a "winner". Happy holidays! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop!

I love the holiday season. I love the music, wrapping and giving gifts, and getting together with family so we can stuff our faces. I don't even mind the snow! (as long as I'm not the one shoveling it)

The whole gifting aspect of the holidays is where things sometimes get hairy. Sometimes our loved ones just don't get it right. (But of course we always act gracious and appreciate the effort!) I've been thinking for a while on what I wanted to offer on this blog hop, as I wanted to 1) be generous and 2) give away stuff people actually wanted while sticking to my rather limited budget. 

So you, my lovely hoppers, get the best of both worlds! One lucky winner will get e-copies of both Searching the Skies and The Edge of the Sphere (both of which I assure you are superior to inedible fruitcake and ill-fitting sweaters). In addition, the winner will also get $10 to spend at All Romance eBooks on books of his/her own choosing. Everyone will be happy!

Not enough presents for you? There are three grand prizes in this blog hop! Leave a comment with your email address, and you could win one of the following:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more! (US only)

I wish you luck, and a wonderful holiday season! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Talk is Cheap

I'm working on the second Disintegration prequel. (Watch for the first one to be released here after the new year!) As I was writing this afternoon, I finally got to the point where the two featured characters meet up. After that, it was smooth sailing until I had to leave my house.

I love writing dialogue. For me, it's one of the easiest things to write. I've been told many times in the past that I write the way I speak, and I speak a LOT. Really. If we met for drinks, I probably wouldn't stop talking for the entire evening. I suppose that's made its way into my writing - I've taken part in so many conversations over the course of my life, I don't find it that difficult to transcribe.

As with everything else, there's a trade off. I still sometimes feel my descriptions are lacking. I'm usually too lazy to use good metaphors. I don't have as much anxiety as I used to about writing action scenes (of the non-sexual variety), but they're still not my favorite. 

Some writers focus on creating complex worlds that make the reader feel they really exist. (An offshoot of that is writers who describe existing places with such vivid detail, the reader gets a perfect mental image even if he/she has never been there before.) Others come up with such intricate plots, I marvel at how their minds can even function that way. (I've often said I'm not smart enough to write murder mysteries.) Lastly, there are some who figuratively give birth to interesting, well-developed characters who are thrown into compelling situations.

A balance between all those areas would be ideal, I suppose. I don't know where I fall. I'm leaning towards the last category, and I think my love of dialogue plays a part in that. I like when each character (both those belonging to me and other authors) has a distinctive voice, and I find it a fun challenge to develop that through interactions with other characters. 

Or maybe I just need an outlet for all the voices of my head. One or the other. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday!

It's that time again! In addition to working on the Disintegration mini-prequels, I'm also working on a couple shorts to submit to some anthologies. I haven't written a whole lot of BDSM before, but I figured I'd give it a try! Here are six sentences from a short story tentatively titled "Deception":

He moved in front of her. She stuck her arms out and returned his sultry smile. Marek grabbed one of her hands. He raised it to his mouth and kissed the pale flesh below her palm, right over her racing pulse. She caressed the stubble dotting his cheek, and jumped when he snapped the next restraint around her wrist. The last cuff made a loud click as it clamped onto her delicate skin. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

I believe I've mentioned in passing that I knit and crochet. (Some would call me hardcore. I have made some awesome stuff, it's true.) A shiny new blogging group spun off from one of my favorite forums at Ravelry, and I'm enjoying adding to my list of blogs to follow. 

This month's prompt is either really simple or really complex (I haven't decided which): why blog? 

I blog here for a number of reasons. Firstly, I'm trying to make something of a presence for myself as I stumble through the world of writing and publishing. Google "Thea Landen", and this site is the first hit. As I've got links to my social media and retailers over there in the right-hand column, I can assume that's a good thing. 

There are some authors out there who use their blogs solely to advertise their work. That's all well and good, but I've also enjoyed musing and rambling about the writing process. I vaguely remember something from one of my college classes about metacognition and "thinking about thinking". I think writing about writing (or in this case, blogging about blogging?) can also be beneficial in a number of ways. A lot of writers claim that any writing is good writing, and I'm inclined to agree. It also gives me another opportunity to cut down on my bad writing habits. (Note how I haven't used too many adverbs so far!) 

Finally, it gives me my own space to be a smartass. Anyone who's met me in real life will tell you I'm sarcastic, snarky, and self-deprecating. (Along with other adjectives that don't being with S!) While I do have fun when I write, I'd say that most of my books and stories have a more serious tone than my "natural voice". Sure, I've got some characters with razor-sharp tongues and wits, but it's still not all snark all the time. I can be more relaxed here, even when I'm trying to beat back the adverbs with a stick. 

Questions for the comments: Why do you blog AND why do you follow other blogs? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

An Inbox of Happiness and Joy

The email I've been waiting for finally arrived today - Disintegration is a go! I'll print out and mail back my contract tomorrow, and then eagerly anticipate my (not really) favorite part: EDITING. 

Here's the shortest of the blurbs in its current form:

Dutiful soldier Callum Renwick wakes up in the underground laboratory of a mercenary organization. He learns he was the sole survivor of an attack that destroyed his unit, his hometown, and his family. In addition to the loss of his loved ones, he discovers that due to his injuries, half his body has been supplanted by artificial skin and cybernetic parts. Once he has recovered, he is assigned to the care of Ro Bernard, who leads the effort to turn him into a powerful assassin. She is outspoken, yet secretive, and uses unconventional means to mold him into a depraved killer. Mind games and rough sex are in her repertoire of training tactics, and Callum is both infuriated and fascinated by her. As he comes to terms with his grief and his new role, many of his biological body parts fail and must be replaced. Will he adapt to survive in Ro’s world and exact vengeance on the woman who ordered the attack that changed his life?

Now I really need to get back to work on those mini-prequels! 

Six Sentence Sunday

Time for Six Sentence Sunday again! I've been working on a number of shorter projects. Here's a brief excerpt from the first Disintegration mini-prequel: 

Without breaking their contact, he turned around and backed towards the bed. They sat down, and he dragged his lips towards her neck, skimming along her delicate skin. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I first met you,” he said near her ear. His words were sweet, yet there was a hint of a savage growl in his voice. “I couldn’t get my mind off you all week.”

Residual doubts lingered in her mind, their sharp barbs piercing through the arousal he incited.