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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursdays: Significant Green Eyed Redhead

(Don't forget to enter the Disintegration release giveaway if you haven't already!)

Trope: Significant Green Eyed Red Head

Description: What it says. ;) Okay, okay, I know this is a pretty minor trope, but it's timely, so bear with me. As red and green are opposite each other on the color wheel, combinations of them are a quick way of calling attention to an important character. There tend to be more women then men fitting this trope, and the combination of red hair and green eyes is frequently thought to be alluring.

Examples: Jessica Rabbit, Poison Ivy, Mary Jane from Spiderman

Pros: As noted above, the bright, complimentary colors are ways to draw attention to a character. Redheads themselves have a slew of associated tropes, and just the simple act of giving a character red hair can have certain connotations and give the audience an idea of what to expect.

Cons: Natural redheads with naturally green eyes don't pop up all that often in nature, despite what creators of art might have you think. Also, as stated in the "pros" list, there are a number of closely-related tropes, and some of them have been done to death. (How many "feisty" redheads are there in books/movies/TV shows/comics/etc.?)

Would/Did I Use It?: Guilty as charged, though I admit I stumbled into this one blindly. Tanith, one of the antagonists in Disintegration (and star of her own mini-prequel), has green eyes and flaming red hair. I honestly didn't know about this trope before I described her in this way; however, I will confess to loosely basing her physical appearance off of Aveline from Dragon Age 2. (Whether or not you consider Aveline significant is another story...I think there are far more significant characters in the game, but mileage varies!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "Disintegration" Release! (and Giveaway!)

Disintegration is out from Double Dragon Publishing today! (And is coming soon to your favorite retailer!) I'm so excited about this book, I can't even begin to describe it. This is, hands-down, my most favorite thing I've ever written to date, and I've been looking forward to sharing it. 

I have two e-copies up for grabs today. Click the widget for the instructions - I can't wait to read your answers! You have until midnight EST to answer, and I'll announce the winners and send off the books on Saturday to kick off the weekend. Good luck, and happy reading!

Synopsis: 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? a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday!

I usually have these posts scheduled way in advance and ready to go. However, I spent all day yesterday staring at the computer working out the little issues with self-pubbing on Smashwords and Amazon, and by the time I was done, I literally could not look at this thing for another second. So much for my superior organizational skills.

I'm still working on the StS sequel. To make up for my relative lateness this morning, I might as well hint at what one of the main plots is going to be. Enjoy!

His eyes remained shielded from view. “That look is actually part of what’s been haunting me. I’ve watched the two of you together. When you’re clinging to me as he’s moving inside you, sheer bliss illuminating every part of your body...sometimes my mind just can’t help but wonder what....”

Realization set in as he trailed off. “You’re attracted to Ash.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursdays: The Ingenue

Trope: The Ingenue

Description: The Ingenue is sweet, innocent, and naive to a fault. She's frequently a virgin, and any sort of sexual talk or flirting will go right over her pretty little head. Due to her traits, she's a prime target to become a Damsel in Distress. After all, the hero(es) must save her before anything can damage that delicate flower!

Examples: A fair number of the older Disney princesses, Sandy for a large portion of Grease, Rose from The Golden Girls (oldest ingenue on record?)

Pros: As stated above, they unfortunately make good victims, so there's a way to kickstart a plot. There will always be an audience for "knight in shining armor saves the lovely lass from unspeakable horrors" stories. The ingenue can offer a stark contrast to the hero and highlight his strength and cleverness. In romance, a hero with a tortured past can be "healed" by the ingenue, and who doesn't love a good redemption story?

Or, to put it simply: there are a lot of crappy things in this world. Sometimes it can be heartening to see someone retain their optimism and cheerful nature, despite whatever terrible things may be happening around her.

Cons: If the ingenue is portrayed as too naive, that can translate into stupidity. And if whatever's going around her is really crappy, she can either come across as unbelievable, or you just want to throttle her for not seeming to understand the severity of the situation.

While the ingenue is not necessarily asexual, her "purity" can be quite the hurdle in romantic plots. Some writers like working with that sort of thing. Others don't. (And then that leads to the question - is she still considered an ingenue after the hero deflowers her? Or does her newfound intimate knowledge of intimate matters immediately strip her of that title?)

Would/Did I Use It?: I could be forgetting a minor character somewhere along the way, but no, I don't think I've written any ingenues. Generally, I like my female characters to be strong, smart, successful women. That doesn't mean they're not flawed, but those flaws don't come from a lack of awareness or ignorance of darker matters. Plus, I'm not really a fan of writing sex scenes with virgins. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Disintegration Prequel #3

Here is is, the last of the Disintegration prequels. This one focuses on Ro, who's become one of my favorite characters. This one's a bit longer than the other two, but with more plot comes more naughty activities! 

I'm going to try to have the e-book collection out by the end of this week, if PDFs aren't your thing. Until then, enjoy!

Disclaimer: This content is intended for readers over the age of 18 (21 in some areas).
III. Palavia: Ro

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday!

My original plan was to chill out with some games after finishing all the Disintegration stuff. Alas, my computer decided not to cooperate, so with little else to do, I started the (as yet untitled) Searching the Skies prequel. The nice part about a prequel, I've found, is that as the characters are already in an established relationship, I can get right down to *ahem* business. Or in other words, this book starts off with a bang! ;) 

“I really should be resting before my busy day of travel, though....”

“Then I guess you’d better work quickly and efficiently.”

Geneva raised her hand in a mock salute. “Yes, sir!” She slung one leg over him, straddling his lap. “Any other special orders, Commander Ashford?”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursdays: (Defrosting) Ice Queen

Trope: Ice Queen (and its sub-trope, the Defrosting Ice Queen)

Description: The Ice Queen is aloof and, well, frigid. She may not want to get emotionally close to anyone, or it may just be men she disdains. There are a few different ways her icy qualities can manifest themselves, ranging from slinging nasty remarks at anyone who crosses her to simply coming across as emotionless and "cold". In romance, the hero strives to "defrost" her and win her over so they can embark on a relationship. 

(While not required, Ice Queens often have blonde hair and blue eyes.)

Examples: Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, Hot Lips from M*A*S*H, many female characters in James Bond and Alfred Hitchcock movies

Pros: The Ice Queen is no wet blanket, and she usually just doesn't sit back and take any bullshit. She won't swoon over the hero as soon as he walks in the door - he's going to have to WORK for her affection. Comedic value is bumped up a notch if she's the type to make snappy comebacks and sends the hero away with his tail between his legs. Even if we think she's a bit snotty, we frequently can't help but root for her and want her to find true love.

Cons: If not handled with care, this trope can veer sharply into "she needed a MAN to put her in her place" territory, or imply that she was a lesser human being until that man came along to defrost her. (Or tame her, in Shakespeare's case.) Another possibility is that there's some deep, dark, secretive reason for why the Ice Queen is so icy; it can be valid, or overly melodramatic (or both, I suppose). Also, if she comes across as too cold-hearted, it can be difficult for the audience to like and relate to her.

Would/Did I Use It?: Eh. I have mixed feelings about this one, for the reasons listed in the "cons" list. For me, it's definitely one of those tropes where I can enjoy it if it's used well, but it's VERY easy to slip up and create either an unlikable character or a storyline where the more feminist-minded readers are rolling their eyes. I have written a few Ice Queens here and there, but I don't think any of them had a particularly cruel, vicious streak when it came to the feelings of the people around them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Disintegration Prequel #2

Happy Monday! (An oxymoron, I know.) If your weekend was as dreary as mine and if the coffee just isn't cutting it for you today, then I think we can all use a little pick-me-up. The release date of Disintegration is getting closer and closer; let's have another free prequel!

I'll be honest - this one is my favorite of the three. While #1 was a bit of a smooshy romance (and hey! there's nothing wrong with that), this one's a little darker and, well, a smidge more kinky. It also reveals more information and plot points that are directly related to some of the happenings in the book. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This content is intended for readers over the age of 18 (21 in some areas).
II. Charytar: Tanith

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday!

The last edits on Disintegration are DONE and shipped off! Let's take a look at some drama, shall we?

“Can’t you acknowledge for one moment that maybe, just maybe, I mean something more to you than an assigned responsibility?”

There was no reply.

Callum grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around. He slid his hands up to the sides of her face and kissed her. Her lips parted, and his tongue slipped inside. He reveled in the sweetness of her mouth, letting the sensual thrill rush through him for what he hoped wouldn’t be the last time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursdays - Badass Damsel

I had an idea for a new feature on the blog - once a week, I plan on taking a well-known trope and examining it. Now, there's a fine line between "trope" and "cliche", and some writers argue that they try not to use either. (And some other writers will argue with them that no new work of fiction, regardless of the medium, is trope-free.) 

I'm of the opinion that 1) yes, tropes are in everything, and 2) sometimes they are helpful. Pre-existing character types do exist in the minds of the audience, and it's up to the writer how to handle them. We don't want cardboard cut-outs for our main characters, but I'd say it would be hard to find a character that doesn't even start off resembling some sort of "template". However, there's definitely fun to be had with going against the tropes and thwarting expectations, which couldn't be done if the tropes didn't exist in the first place. When it comes to minor characters, neither writer nor reader needs to know their entire life stories or all their motivations. I don't think there's a problem with relying on established "types" to move the story along at a better pace. 

Away we go!

Trope: Badass Damsel

Description: She may be a "damsel in distress", but don't mistake her for a shy, simpering delicate flower waiting around for the hero to rescue her. While she may be stuck in an unfortunate situation, she's not going to sit around and mope about it (not for long, anyway). She'll either refuse to go down without a fight, provide useful assistance to her rescuer(s), or hell, she might even just save herself. 

Examples: Princess Leia from Star Wars, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, River from Firefly

Pros: Who doesn't like a badass? While traditional "damsels in distress" have certainly served their purpose over the years, I prefer stronger female characters. Why should the women sit back and either bite their nails or be relegated to cheerleaders while the men have all the fun?

Cons: Even badasses need to have some flaws, or the story could be unbelievable or uninteresting. It could also be argued that if the woman is such a badass, why did she wind up in these "needs rescuing" circumstances in the first place?

Would/Did I Use It?: I do rather like this trope. (As I said, who doesn't like a badass?) If a story I'm writing or reading does involve a rescue scenario, I don't want whoever needs rescuing (regardless of gender) to be bland and useless. Liora from The Edge of the Sphere definitely qualifies - I wanted her to be at least 50% responsible for her freeing herself from captivity, even if it takes her a little while to get to the point where she believes she's capable of doing so. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Winners, and More Free Stuff!

2013 is off to a super start! I loved reading about all the new things you're going to try this year. (Some of you are far more adventurous than I am!) This blog hop was a blast - big thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to Carrie Ann for coordinating everything. 

Time to announce some winners! Celina and Shadow get a sneak peek at Disintegration today, plus an e-copy sent to them when it's released next month! If you're disappointed at not seeing your name here, that's okay, because the first of the Disintegration prequels is available for your downloading pleasure! (emphasis on the "pleasure"...ahem.)

Clicking the link will open up the Google Drive window, and the download button (shaped like an arrow) is in the upper left-hand corner, so you can take your free story with you wherever you go. And if you're not a fan of PDFs, the bundle of all three stories will be available in any e-format your heart desires next month!

Three countries, three women, three stories: Set between five and ten years before the events in Disintegration, this collection focuses on the past experiences of the novel’s female characters before circumstances bring them together. Each is of a different age and background. They have a variety of goals and dreams, ranging from living a quiet, stable life to achieving respect in the bureaucratic power structure. Despite the contrast in their beliefs, they share similarities in their strength and passion. Will they find all they desire, even as war threatens to tear their homes apart?

Disclaimer: This content is intended for readers over the age of 18 (21 in some areas).
I. Tektan: Meyta

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday!

(Today's the last day for the New Year's Blog Hop! Don't forget to leave a comment with your email on this post to be eligible for the prizes!)

I'm finally wrapping up the three Disintegration prequels (which will be released extremely soon). Here's a six-sentence snippet from the last one:

He’s coming back from the city today, and I don’t want to greet him looking like...well, looking like his mechanic just gave me a good, hard fuck.”

“You did always have a way with words.” Devan removed his hand from the inside of her blouse. “I understand, even if it means you’ve been getting me all riled up for nothing.”

“I didn’t say that.” In an instant, she whirled around and reversed their positions, shoving him against the tree. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's in a Name?

(Reminder: if you want to be eligible for the grand prizes in the New Year's Blog Hop, you need to leave a comment with your email address on this post!)

I've always been a bit of a name nerd. When I was a child, I did things like keep notebooks of my favorite names and attempt to bestow a name upon every single guppy in my father's large fish tank. These days, I get super-excited when the SSA list of the 1000 most popular baby names from the previous year comes out. Names are fun.

Names can also drive writers crazy. There's no denying that certain names have stereotypes and connotations. Like it or not, when most people hear/see the names Candi or Misti or other -i names, a rocket scientist is probably not the first image to come to mind. (Especially if the "i" is dotted with a little heart.) When I hear names like Simon and Oliver, my first impression is not one of a black leather jacket-wearing tattooed motorcycle enthusiast. And so on. 

(Obviously, this is all suggestive, and mileage varies.)

For certain genres, I think it's important to be aware of trends. If I read a historical romance novel where the heroine is named Madison, I'm probably going to roll my eyes. The Aidan/Aiden/Ayden/Braden/Jaden/Hayden/-aden craze is going strong for little boys (and even some girls *twitch*), but my Eyebrow of Questioning might go up if I see one of those names on a 30-something-year-old man in a contemporary story. 

All that's to say that character names can be rather important. A character's name can immediately give the reader an idea of what said character's personality is like; writers can either work with those tropes or defy them. (My hat goes off to those who will ironically write about a superhero named Bob Smith, or a hot young thang named Mildred who goes tearing up the nightclubs.) Sometimes the perfect name comes to me right away. Other times I struggle with finding a name that accurately captures a character I have in mind. Every now and then I say "screw it" and just go with the first thing that pops into my head. (This is why a very minor character near the end of Disintegration has the same name as my good friend's Phantasy Star Online character. What can I say, I'm shameless.)

In Disintegration, there are three significant women in the main character's life, and I wanted their names to highlight the differences. His wife Meyta (and daughter Lilia) are supposed to represent compassion, femininity, and innocence, hence the definitively feminine -a names. In contrast, Ro (who was originally named Rose when I was first thinking about this book, but I didn't know if I wanted to go with the whole "desert rose" thing) is more of an outspoken tomboy who has a wild and carefree streak, so she gets a (nick)name that is not as substantial and definitely less frilly. For Tanith, one of the main antagonists, I wanted a strong name that, again, wasn't as overtly feminine as the others. Some of the contenders for that character were Charis, Tamsyn, and Iris. 

Some writers would probably argue that overthinking names is a waste of time, and I'm not going to say they're wrong. If you write a well-developed, interesting character, I guess it shouldn't really matter if he's Bob Smith or Bartholomew Aloysius Chillingsworth III. However, I bet those two names gave you much different impressions, right?

(I still hate naming fictional places, by the way.) 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Blog Hop!

Wow, another blog hop so soon after the last one? The holiday spirit must be strong in the romance/erotica blogosphere! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday, whether you were bouncing around from party to party, or just relaxing with a good book. (Either way, I hope there were plenty of scrumptious goodies to eat and drink!)

For my little stop along the New Year's hop, I want to focus on new things. I'd like to think I learn something new with every project I start, and I'm looking forward to branching out even further. This year, I want to try my hand in a few sub-genres that are new to me, and I also want to have some of my established characters get similarly creative and adventurous. Stay tuned to find out how that all works out. ;) 

To go along with this "new" theme, two lucky winners will get a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Disintegration! (coming out at the end of February) To keep the excitement going further into the year, I'll send the winners an e-copy of the book itself on its premiere date!

But that's not all! Entering/leaving a comment here (don't forget your email address!) will automatically enter you into the main giveaway, where you could win one of the grand prizes! They are:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $300 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)

Good luck, and have an amazing 2013!

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