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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!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Trope-Tastic Tuesdays: Author Avatar

(Parts of this were originally posted on June 6, 2013)

Trope: Author Avatar

Description: Not limited solely to books, the Author Avatar is a version of the creator of a work inserted into the work itself. This can work in a number of different ways. Sometimes the Author Avatar is the narrator, giving opinions on what's going on in the story. Other times, he/she just makes a cameo appearance as a minor character. Every now and then, you get a character who is obviously the creator's favorite and can do no wrong, leading to the dreaded Mary Sue (which, yes, can happen in canon works).

Examples: Charlie Brown/Charles Schulz; Dante in the Divine Comedy; Liz Lemon/Tina Fey in 30 Rock; a whole lot of Stephen King, Woody Allen, and Tim Burton characters

Pros: It's important to have a distinctive voice when writing, so why not use your own? Aspiring writers are frequently told "write what you know", so it makes sense to write it from your own point of view, regardless of whether you're blatant about it or try to camouflage it. I only chose a few examples for this post, but there are plenty of others out there. A lot of writing conveys the author's opinions and biases anyway, so you might as well really try sell it via your main character, right?

Cons: Make your Author Avatar unrealistic and flawless, and your audience is going to rebel. They'll probably rebel loudly, especially if they disagree with "the character's" opinions. Somewhere along the way, you're going to have to write a character that isn't a version of yourself. Don't let the Author Avatar become a crutch!

Would/Did I Use It?: Years later, my answer hasn't changed much. While some main characters I write are more similar to real-life me than others, I haven't intentionally put myself into a book, nor do I plan to. For fun, though, if I had to pick the character who comes the closest, I'd go with Veronica, the main character of Seductive Suspect. We all like to think we'd be a hero in an adventurous story, but when the shit starts hitting the fan in the book, Veronica locks herself in the bathroom and cries, which is probably what I'd wind up doing. Combined with her love for coffee, crossword puzzles, and snark, she's the closest thing I have to an Author Avatar.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Trope-Tastic Tuesdays: Act of True Love

Trope: Act of True Love

Description: So our characters are madly, hopelessly in love, but the universe is often cruel and refuses to let them be happy together for more than five minutes. (Fucking universe, man.) One of the pair—or sometimes even both!—is so very much in love, they will make a great personal sacrifice for the other person, whether for their relationship in general or even to save their partner's life. This doesn't necessarily have to be a romance trope, as it can be for a platonic or familiar relationship; it's also possible for this one to be a death trope. Hmm. Ominous.

Examples: Anna blocking Elsa from that asshole Hans's sword in Frozen; both Rapunzel and Flynn try to sacrifice their happiness/lives for each other at the end of Tangled (Disney really is a fan of this one); depending on your choices in Dragon Age: Origins, the ending can play out this way if you've romanced Alistair

Pros: The power of love is always compelling. And this isn't just everyday, garden-variety love...this is true love! Done well in a romance, an Act of True Love can make readers all fluttery and swoon-y.

Cons: For me personally, you've got to *really* develop your characters and plot well to stick the landing here and make it convincing. Like, I don't know if I'd risk using this trope in, say, a short story. Not to say it can't be done, of course, but it takes skill. Also, if you're writing a romance, if you're using a death trope version of this, some readers might hate you forever. Then again, some might love you even more. Blah blah art is subjective blah.

Would/Did I Use It?: Hahaha, so, funny story: Timeline-wise, I wrote most of Fire Beyond the Frost first, shelved it for a while, and wrote Out of Orbit before coming back to it. I think it was while I was editing FBtF that I realized—if you whittle both of those books down to their basic elements, they essentially have the same plot. And both of them end with an Act of True Love. Granted, the stakes are higher for Jasmine in OoO than they are for Catalina in FBtF, but the striking similarities are there regardless. So, like Disney, I guess I'm a fan of this trope!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Disintegration Updates, Part the Next

If you haven't seen the full cover for Disintegration yet (which means you may not be a newsletter subscriber or a Twitter buddy, which means you're missing out!), here it is in all its glory:

Everything's still on track for an official release day of August 30th, though I may make the paperback live earlier. I'm happy to report that everything went smoothly with setting up the paperback on Amazon when I uploaded the file. I'd heard horror stories of tiny little things going wrong and authors ripping their hair out when trying to find the needle in the haystack and figure out why it wasn't being accepted, which is why I was considering outsourcing the formatting. I actually got it right on the first try, which I was pretty damn excited about, though I did make a couple tweaks once I saw it in the previewer. Then I ordered a proof, which was also pretty damn exciting:

To get ready for the release, I've been sending out ARCs/review requests, setting up promo spots, and so on. I intentionally planned the release for the end of the summer since we'll be up at the Cape for much of August, so now I'm a little restless as I'm in the "sit around and wait" phase. I know once I actually get to the beach, I'll be glad I scheduled everything the way I did; I just have to slog through that "I want to do this thing NOW" feeling for the next few days.

The blurb hasn't changed since the original release, but I'll include it below, anyway. The next newsletter is going to have a link to the first two chapters in their entirety, so make sure you're signed up!


Dutiful soldier and devoted family man Callum Renwick fights to defend his country from the two opposing nations sharing its border. Following a brutal attack on his unit, he wakes up in the underground laboratory of a well-known mercenary organization. The leader of the Midnight Scorpions, Dr. Dane Zedek, informs him he was the sole survivor of the attack, and his hometown and loved ones were obliterated by enemy forces. As he processes the news of his loss, he learns he has been badly injured, and Zedek and his assistant have supplanted half his body with artificial skin and cybernetic parts.

Zedek intends to train Callum to become a lethal assassin for him, designating the woman who coordinated the attack as his first target. While he prepares to exact his revenge, he is assigned to the care of another agent in the Scorpions’ base. Ro is brash and outspoken, yet aspects of her character remain enigmatic. Despite declaring personal relationships useless in the cold, cruel world in which they live, she invites herself into Callum’s bedroom more nights than not. In her coaching, she pushes him physically, emotionally, and sexually to mold him into the killer the organization desires.

During his quest to hunt down his nemesis, more and more of Callum’s biological body parts fail and must be replaced. In addition to dealing with his grief, he struggles to come to terms with his new appearance, functions, and responsibilities. Will he be able to transform himself into what Ro and the Midnight Scorpions need, yet still retain his humanity?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Silver Fox

Before we get to this installment of Trope-tastic Tuesdays, a quick announcement: the newsletter subscriber bonus is going to be changing in a few weeks, so if you haven't already signed up and received your free copy of Sweet Escape, don't miss your chance! You can use the form that's over there on the sidebar, or this sign-up link.


Trope: Silver Fox

Description: A person—often male, often with gray or white hair—who, despite their age, is still regarded as being attractive and charming. Silver Foxes are distinguished and powerful; after all, being older has its perks. If the Silver Fox is a love interest, the other half of the pair will usually be younger, though it's not required. To qualify for this trope, characters have to play by the rules - they have to *look* older, not just *be* older. No thousand-year-old vampires who look like they're in their 20s allowed, etc.

Allegedly, the female version of the Silver Fox is the Silver Vixen, but I'm going to be honest here, I don't think that idea is nearly as popular, which I'll expand on below.

Examples: Oh, hell, just take your pick of older actors who only seem to get better with age. There definitely isn't a shortage of them.

Pros: None of us are getting any younger, right? It's nice to know that even as we age past what's considered the "standard" ideal of beauty, there's still a chance others will find us attractive. In romance especially, this can be used as a shortcut to help establish a power dynamic, for better or worse. If a Silver Fox is in a relationship with another character, chances are he's not going to be the passive, submissive one.

Cons: Time for the standard disclaimer about how all appearance-based tropes for love interests are highly subjective! Okay, that's out of the way. The aforementioned power dynamics in the "pros" list can also be subjective, and it can veer into problematic territory if the Silver Fox is using his age and assumed privilege to influence his partner to do things she may not really want to do.

I said I'd come back to the gender issue; as much as TV Tropes may try to convince me otherwise, I do feel like this one favors the men, and I'm not sold on the "Silver Vixen" thing. I mean, a good number of the women on their list of examples didn't have gray or white hair. I suppose we could debate whether the "silver" part is supposed to be taken literally or if this is all just about a general persona. Regardless, there's a whole lot to unpack here about how society sees men aging vs. women aging.

(If someone knows the difference between "Silver Vixen" and "Cougar", PLEASE enlighten me.)

Would/Did I Use It?: I do have a few entries for this trope! First up is Colin, one of Celeste's potential love interests in Blazing Justice. He's older than her, he's her boss, and yup, he's got the hair. It's no secret that other women in the office find him attractive, too. Lucky her.

I'm going back and forth on whether Edwin from Closing Montage qualifies. He and Abigail take a trip through the highlights of their lives via virtual reality, so obviously he's an older man by the end, but she's aging, too, so there's no contrast there. Additionally, there's one point where he questions whether she's still attracted to him in his older form (SHE IS!), so his lack of confidence may prevent him from being a true Silver Fox.

Bonus mention of Aras in Out of Orbit - he's over 500 years older than love interest Jasmine. Despite the fact that he may not look so old to her, he's considered to be in the older age range for his species. Plus, since he's the ruler of his planet, he's got the elevated status that contributes to this trope. While he doesn't have any hair, his skin is silvery gray, so I will insist that counts and add him to the end of this list. :D

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl

Trope: Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl

Description: Not necessarily a romance trope, when you have a male character and a female character hanging out and doing whatever in your fictional world, one way to play with expectations and subvert stereotypes is to have the man be the calmer, more pragmatic one while the woman is the zany one who's bouncing off the walls. Despite the trope name, this can also be used with same-sex relationships as long as the contrast is there. Mileage varies as to whether this counts as an "opposites attract" trope; a lot of times, the characters share the same goals and priorities, they just approach them in different ways.

Examples: Anna and Kristoff from Frozen, Simon and Kaylee from Firefly, a classic example in Lucy and Ricky from I Love Lucy

Pros: If all our characters had the same personalities, that would get pretty boring. As mentioned above, this trope plays around with stereotypes - often it's the men who get to have all the wacky hijinks while the women get shoved into the "maternal" role to keep everyone grounded. Girls just want to have fun, or so I've been told, so let's let them!

Cons: There's a fine line between "energetic/perky" and "ditzy," and I'm not a fan of the latter. The Energetic Girl can also veer into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, which is a trope that doesn't have a spotless history, alas.

Would/Did I Use It?: In reviewing my books, this came up more than I would have expected. In Closing Montage, Abigail is the one who has to convince Edwin to loosen up and have some fun, beginning with the very premise of their virtual date. I'd also apply this to Fire Beyond the Frost despite it being a lesbian romance - here, nurse Sari is the cute, bubbly one, while doctor Catalina just wants to do her job well and barely cracks a smile for at least the first few chapters.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: (Green-Skinned) Space Babe

(Parts of this were originally posted on February 21, 2013)

Trope: (Green-Skinned) Space Babe

Description: The attractive alien with mostly human features so having sex with him or her isn't too squicky. While the fictional aliens of yore were mostly green, blue has been more common in recent years, though they can come in every color of the rainbow. Female space babes are more prevalent than the males, and they will frequently be large-chested and/or scantily clad.

Examples: The Asari from the Mass Effect series (plus, to a lesser extent, the Drell, or even the Quarians, based on that one picture of Tali), the Na'vi from Avatar, the trio of male aliens in Earth Girls Are Easy

Pros: Sometimes we've banged all there is to bang on this planet and need to expand our horizons. On a more serious note, an alien romance can add another layer of intrigue and complexity to any sci-fi story. As far as the intimate part of the relationship goes, you can keep it identical to what humans do, or...well, the sky's the limit here, I suppose. (Pun partially intended.) For maximum bonus points, throw in at least a conversation about how reproduction works.

Cons: Everyone's got their preferences when it comes to romance, and for many people, interspecies sex is a no-no. Care also has to be taken here when it comes to portraying one of the species (human or alien) as superior to the other as that can mirror real-life issues here on Earth, and you don't want to inadvertently stumble into something problematic.

Would/Did I Use It?: Once again, years after the original post, I have an entry for this trope! Originally, I was on the "not a fan" train, but I've come around. (Blame Mass Effect.) In Out of Orbit, Jasmine crash lands on a planet inhabited by a humanoid species and falls in love with their leader, Aras. I didn't go too crazy with the aliens here, as they look and behave very similar to humans. I didn't even pick one of the typical colors of green or blue; they have pearl gray/silvery skin. In the interests of full disclosure, if we're talking about video game inspiration, I think I'd been playing some Dragon Age: Inquisition before writing this one, and some of the features of my fictional species resemble those of the qunari in DAI (and DA2).

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Disintegration Updates

In addition to writing my blog posts on tropes, I have been plugging away at other things, namely the Disintegration series re-release. For the most part, everything's been going smoothly, and I think I'm on track to release at the end of the summer as planned. As always, some things come with a learning curve, so I figured I might as well organize all my progress updates in one place and talk about my experiences, as I try to document in this "writing about writing" blog. Let's organize this into categories!

Covers: First and foremost, I cannot possibly say enough good things about Emily of Emily's_World_Of_Design. She has been absolutely fantastic to work with and I 100% recommend her to anyone who's looking for a cover designer. As of right this second, the covers for Disintegration and Disintegration: The Prequels are complete, and The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is in progress. I'm planning on doing an official reveal for Disintegration in about another month, but in the meantime, here's a tiny sneak peek to hold us over. (I say "us" because this cover is amazing and I'm so impatient, but I want to wait for a few more things to be finalized before the reveal.)

Keep an eye out for that little scorpion to be showing up on all sorts of things in the weeks to come, and don't forget—newsletter subscribers will see the full cover first!

Editing: Everything's fine here. Since the kids are finally back in school full-time, I started getting back to my usual work schedule a couple of weeks ago, so that's slowed me down a bit on the editing front, but it'll get done. Again, Disintegration and Disintegration: The Prequels are completely done, and The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is in progress. The "that" and "just" count for TFotMS did, as predicted, nearly make me sob, but I went through and slashed a lot of them. ("Still" wasn't awful. "Really" snuck in more than I'd remembered.) Like I said in a previous post, there wasn't a ton of work to do here (as compared to the Skies series, for example), but I still need to devote time to actually doing it.

Formatting: Aaaaaand here it is, why the statement "everything's been going smoothly" has the "for the most part" qualifier in front of it. By this point, I'm pretty confident in my abilities to format an e-book. I went back and forth for the longest time over whether to outsource the paperback formatting or do it myself. I finally decided to give it a go on my own, and then if it turned out I was in over my head, I'd pay someone else to deal with it.

I used a combination of Amazon's official guide plus a couple of other articles/blog posts that explained some steps a little more in-depth. While I know there are various programs out there for book formatting, I stuck with MS Word because that's what I already own and that's what I'm familiar with. As I followed (or thought I followed) the step-by-step instructions, it turned into one of those things where everything was going fine...until it wasn't. For the curious, where I got tripped up was the page numbers and the headers/footers. There's a difference between "acceptable" and "professional" and I was aiming for the latter, so I turned to Google for help. It took a little time, but I eventually wrapped my head around how to accomplish exactly what I wanted, and I think/hope it worked out. I'm crossing my fingers that I got all the margins and stuff right the first time out and it won't be rejected, and I'm definitely planning on ordering a proof to double check everything. If, after all that, something's still not right with the paperback, I'll turn it over to someone who actually knows what they're doing.

The e-book and paperback for Disintegration are mostly formatted; I have a placeholder in for the TFotMS cover and blurb, and I figure I should probably write a dedication for this one. Disintegration: The Prequels is only getting an e-book, but I haven't formatted it yet. I'm hoping once I get to formatting the paperback for The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions, I'll feel pretty comfortable. Maybe.

So that's where everything stands. I was originally planning for a September 1st release date for Disintegration (and make the prequel set the newsletter freebie starting then; I'll also make it accessible for free to current subscribers). However! I was recently reminded that the Alanis Morissette concert tickets I got last year were rescheduled for that day, and it looks like the show is going ahead, so even though I think everything will be all set up for the book release, it still feels like a LOT for one day, y'know? Since everything's going well, I'm now aiming for August 30th. I haven't decided when I'll make the preorder available, as I've heard conflicting advice about that, but there's going to be a lot of fun stuff going on leading up to the release, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Trope: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Description: Though beauty ideals tend to go in cycles when it comes to what's popular at any given moment, Raven Hair, Ivory Skin is one of those tropes that's often used as a shortcut for "this character is physically attractive". Due to said cycles, these characters can take on all forms, from gothic heroines to 1950s pin-up girls to vampires from all different time periods. However, to qualify for this trope, they have to be good-looking. There can be some overlap with the Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette trope, but that one has more to do with how a character is perceived beyond physical beauty. Both have a tendency to skew female, but attractive raven-haired men with ivory skin are out there in all sorts of media.

Examples: Snow White in every form she's ever taken, Scarlett O'Hara, Miranda from Mass Effect, Yennefer from The Witcher

Pros: The visual contrast makes this appealing, even when you're writing and you want the reader to get a certain image in their minds. As stated above, it can also be a quick way to get to "this character is pretty!" without spending a huge amount of time on descriptions and perceptions right away. When it comes to the overlap with other tropes and genres, you can either lean in to the established tropes, or have some fun playing around with them and subverting expectations.

Cons: There's a fine line between "relying on tropes" and "laziness." (Let's not talk about how many times I've walked that line.) Also, as with all physical appearance tropes, beauty is highly subjective.

Would/Did I Use It?: Indeed I have! Tabitha from Hunting Astrid qualifies, as her appearance captures Astrid's attention right away. Alizeira from Flight of the Dragon Queen also fits this trope, and she might also count as an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, at least at the beginning of the book before we learn more about her. I gave some serious consideration to whether Jasmine from Out of Orbit and Sari from Fire Beyond the Frost qualify, and ultimately decided that they don't—aside from debating whether or not their brown hair is dark enough, while their love interests are attracted to them, it's never mentioned if they're considered objectively beautiful to most of the people around them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Insecure Love Interest

Trope: Insecure Love Interest

Description: Even if one character in a couple thinks their love interest is great, the love interest may not feel that way themselves. This could be one of the obstacles in the way of the pair getting together, or even continue after they've officially embarked on a romantic relationship with each other. And if the relationship doesn't happen right away or there's major problems to be dealt with, the Insecure Love Interest totally understands. Why would anyone want to be with them anyway, right?

Examples: Every damn romance option in Dragon Age II (though I love them all so hard) and at least half of them in Dragon Age: Inquisition; Chuck toward Sarah in Chuck; Katniss toward Peeta in The Hunger Games; a rare yet excellent music example in Tal Bachman's She's So High (shut up, I love my 90s station)

Pros: Man, if this one doesn't hit close to home for a lot of readers/watchers/players/listeners/whateverers. Who hasn't felt this way in their relationships, aspiring or established? (If you're raising your hand right now, I'm not sure if I believe you.) If you want to make a character realistic and relatable, this is definitely a valid option.

Cons: Keep pushing someone away and eventually they'll stay there. Also, realistic though it may be, if the insecurity doesn't get resolved or drags out for too long, it's going to become annoying instead of endearing.

Would/Did I Use It?: This is pretty much the basis for the plot of Hunting Astrid, where Astrid can't believe Tabitha would want to be with her, to the point where she's still sitting around questioning her own insecurity while Tabitha is literally fighting through a virtual world in order to win her love. Thankfully, Tabitha manages to talk some sense into her. To a lesser extent, Jasmine from Out of Orbit feels this way toward Aras for a little while, trying to convince herself the ruler of the planet where she crash landed is only being kind to her due to her unfortunate circumstances and would never have any romantic interest in her...or would he?

I do want to point out that I try to be cognizant of that list of cons when writing an Insecure Love Interest and try not to dwell on the insecurity. Even if a couple gets together before the end of a book, conflict can come from plenty of other places, of course.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Hot Chick in a Badass Suit

(Parts of this were originally posted on February 7, 2013)

Trope: Hot Chick in a Badass Suit

Description: No link to the trope this time, because apparently in the years since I wrote the original post, TV Tropes has decided a list of women suits isn't trope-tastic enough. I still think it's a valid way to convey some information about a character, so good thing I have my description handy:

The Hot Chick in a Badass Suit means business - don't mess with her, or you will probably regret it. She's successful and she's confident in both her profession and the way she carries herself. While short skirts are a possibility, she can look just as good in a long-sleeved pantsuit that covers her chest, because her tailor is just that talented.

Examples: Agent Scully from The X-Files, most of the female lawyers on Law & Order, with special shoutouts going to Abbie Carmichael and Alex Cabot, because damn, those were some enviable suits. (Update: Let's add Connie Rubirosa to the list of notable ADAs with badass suits on Law & Order)

Pros: Want to instantly make the audience think "strong female character"? Put her in a Badass Suit. If she's wearing a Badass Suit, we can assume she must be intelligent and have at least some level of personal skills, as she's advanced in her career enough that the suit is deemed necessary to appear professional. Also, if she cares about her appearance and the way she's perceived in said career, we know she's passionate about something.

Cons: As was even covered in at least one episode of Law & Order, to some people, HCiaBS can equal "uptight bitch". I personally hate that it's an issue, but this is a list of cons, so I should point it out. One person's "strong female character" is a misogynist's "uppity woman who needs to be put in her place", after all. (*grumble*) I guess this might be a case of making sure you know your audience in order to determine how the HCiaBS is going to land.

Would/Did I Use It?: Years later, I do have some of my own examples to contribute to this trope! (Take that, TV Tropes!) The obvious one is Celeste, the main character of Blazing Justice, which drew a whole lot of inspiration from my love of Law & Order, so we can all see how I wound up there. I won't tell you in which ending(s) she keeps the Badass Suit on and in which one(s) she trades it in for something else. ;) I'd also make the case for Astrid from Hunting Astrid - while she's not in a full suit while at work, she's wearing a dressy blouse, pencil skirt, and heels when she makes a presentation to applicants to the company she works for, future love interest Tabitha included. Later on, Tabitha even comments on enjoying seeing her out of her straight-laced business attire while on a date, so I'm going to say this one's close enough to count.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: (Defrosting) Ice Queen

(Parts of this were originally posted on January 17, 2013)

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: Elsa from Frozen, Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, Hot Lips from M*A*S*H, Miranda from the Mass Effect series

Pros: The Ice Queen is no wet blanket, and she 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 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). Then again, maybe not. Maybe she's just not a people person. However, 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?: I figured I might as well kick off the reboot of this feature with the (defrosting) Ice Queen, because I have such a prime example in my list of publications now. If the title of Fire Beyond the Frost doesn't clue you in, the main character, Catalina, definitely fits this trope. She's even got the pale blonde hair, though her eyes are green. I admit some of her attributes are coincidental, but yeah. Ice Queen for sure. Her "frostiness" doesn't come from any sort of evil or malice, though; she's just a serious person with some insecurities she tries to conceal.

In thinking it over, the titular character of Hunting Astrid probably also qualifies. Astrid (strawberry blonde hair, eye color not specified) has been hurt in the past and has her guard up, and the whole plot of the book is based on the hoops she makes Tabitha jump through in order to win her heart. To a lesser extent, Jasmine (brown hair, but blue eyes, for those of you keeping track at home) from Out of Orbit and Veronica (brown hair, eye color not specified) from Seductive Suspect also come across as rather aloof at first, and their love interests need to chip away at their icy barriers.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sweet Escape - Available Now! (plus some other updates)

My last post was about multitasking, and one would think I already had enough on my plate, but nope! One would be wrong. I decided to add more STUFF to my list. First and foremost, Sweet Escape, my latest short story, is available now. You *could* buy it from Amazon for $0.99, OR! if you subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter, you can get a copy for free! Let's have a blurb, shall we?

A deadly disease has swept through Leila’s hometown, followed by the soldiers who unleashed it. When she attempts to escape from them, she’s rescued by Wes, a stranger fleeing a similar situation who shows no hesitation when killing her pursuers to save her life. Wes is a man of few words, though the little he shares and the skills he demonstrates make Leila believe joining him is her best chance at survival.

They travel together, evading their enemies and searching for fellow survivors. Their journey leads them to a deserted town, where Wes chooses an abandoned bakery to rest for the night. To Leila’s surprise, he reveals himself to be an accomplished baker, and prepares a chocolate cake for them to share out of the meager supplies he finds. The unexpected treat brings up wistful memories of the past, but as Wes begins to let his guard down around her, she realizes the future may not be as dismal as she expected…especially after he makes his attraction to her known.

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For the newsletter, I'll only pop up in your inbox when I have, well, news. To update part of the last post, I have seen the first draft of the new cover for Disintegration, and it's gonna be AWESOME! That cover reveal (along with other updates and events) will be happening sometime this summer, and newsletter subscribers will get all the good stuff first.

Next addition to my to-do list: To go along with my theme of rebooting older projects, after thinking it over, I've decided to reboot Trope-tastic Thursdays. The last post I did for it was eight years ago (WHAT.), and I've written a lot since then. I'll revisit some of the old posts, see if I used any of those tropes in my newer books and if there are any relevant newer pop culture references, and then discuss some different tropes. To differentiate from the older series and achieve better alliteration, the feature will now be Trope-tastic Tuesdays. I'm not going to commit to doing it every week, since life certainly hasn't gotten any less crazy in the past eight years (EIGHT YEARS. WHAT.), but keep an eye out for those posts to pop up again.

There's still a lot going on here, but it's always better than the alternative. Phew!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


I'm pleased to say I've reached the home stretch of Surrendering the Skies. I have one more chapter to go, plus an epilogue. And honestly, I'm not crazy about where my word count is right now, so I might wind up going back and adding in a few more things, but we'll see where I wind up. Still, exciting!

As I started inching closer to the end, I also started thinking about what else I want to accomplish this year writing-wise. Regular readers will remember I have more older books that came back to me following a publisher shutting its doors, and I have to figure out what to do with them. It finally hit me that if I want to re-release any of them on my own, these things take time, and I should probably start making some sort of plan. (I know, it's obvious. Big derp on my part.) As I've been saying this past year or so, now that my kids are a little bit older, some of the brain fog is clearing, and I've been feeling more like my writerly self. So, let's attempt some multitasking!

I revisited my beloved Disintegration series to check out where it is now and how much work it would need. You know what? My love is not misplaced; those books are still fucking awesome, if I do say so myself. Really, some of my best writing is in there. They will need some editing, and I will probably sob to myself as I slash all the "thats" and "justs" and a whole bunch of adverbs, but otherwise, I don't think it'll be too painful.

Next, I realized if I want to do right by these books I love so much, I should invest in some kick-ass cover art. I've got tax return money coming. I've got stimulus money. LET'S STIMULATE THE ECONOMY AND SUPPORT ARTISTS! I put a call out on Twitter, reached out to some artists, and found someone I think will be a great match. Since I wasn't crazy about the original covers back in the day, I'm super excited about this part.

After/during cover art will come editing, which, again, I don't think will be too strenuous. And then after that...formatting. I've done e-books before, so I'm not too concerned there. It falls under the category of "time-consuming, but not terribly difficult." But I haven't done a paperback on my own yet, so I need to start doing research on that. I know there are ways to outsource this work, but since I'm spending money on the covers, I'll most likely handle the formatting myself.

So far, my plan is to finish up Surrendering the Skies, shop that series around, and then get to work on editing. As of right this second, I'm planning a release date for the first Disintegration book for September 1st of this year. It might be a wild ride, but I think it's doable. I'm also going to release the set of prequel short stories at the same time, but—BUT!—newsletter subscribers will get those for free, so make sure you're all signed up for that.

I'm voluntarily putting a lot on my plate, but as of right now, it's making me happy and motivated and all of that good stuff. Fingers crossed these plans work out (says the pantser)!

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Series of Questions

I've been saying to myself "oh, I really should write a blog post" for about the past week or so. Honestly, I don't have a whole lot to report. Progress on Surrendering the Skies, Book 3 of the series I'm rebooting, is coming along nicely. I would estimate I'm somewhere between a third and halfway through, and I've got a pretty good outline for the whole thing. (As well I should, as this has been floating around in my head for years.)

As I've been writing, I've been thinking of how this book will fit into the series as a whole, and various issues relating to doing a series in general. First, I should preface this by saying I admit I have not read a series in a long time. Free time for hobbies is limited these days, and I try to spread it around evenly. Due to that, I've definitely had a preference for standalone books the past few years. I know, I know, good readers make good writers, blah blah blah. But there are only so many hours in the day, you know.

One big issue I've been thinking about whether or not it's important for each book of a series to be able to stand on its own. As always, there's no one right answer. I read a lot of the Anita Blake series in high school and college, and I started with Book 9, Obsidian Butterfly, because I got it as a birthday gift from a friend who worked at Barnes & Noble when it came out and he liked the cover. (Hey, there are worse reasons!) Interestingly enough, Obsidian Butterfly is kind of the "side quest" of the series, in which Anita takes a vacation from all the drama in her life. So, that kind of answers the standalone question and actually made it a decent book to start with. I continued on with #10, Narcissus in Chains, liked that too, and then went allllll the way back to the beginning.

(Then I quit after #12, Incubus Dreams, and learned a few years later that I was not alone in stopping at that exact point, but THAT is another topic for another day.)

Then the other full series I've read in recent years is The Hunger Games trilogy. (I have not gotten to the new fourth book yet, but that's a prequel anyway.) I started at the beginning, and I can't think of a single person who has started anywhere other than with Book 1. I'm sure they exist, but I can't imagine reading that series out of order. Also, I did read the first Outlander book a few years ago but didn't continue with the rest of them, and that seems like another one where people tend to start at the beginning.

So, my Skies series. I've said before that back when I wrote the first one, I never had any plans for it being a series, which I guess fits in with me being more of a pantser than a plotter anyway. When I wrote Book 2, Defying the Skies, I did make an effort to make it accessible to readers who hadn't read the first one. Now, with Book, not so much. I mean, since it's not really a complex world, I guess readers could start here and figure out the context quickly, but it's not a priority for me this time around. And unless someone whose opinion I value tells me otherwise, I'm sure I will be at the point of barely caring at all about this issue by the time I get to #4 out of the planned five.

Which reminds me, I will eventually need a better outline for #5 than I have now, but I don't need to worry about that yet, right? (Pantsers unite!)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

To the Skies!

I've mentioned a couple of times over the past months that the first publisher I worked with has shut down, all the rights to my books have reverted back to me, and I had to figure out what to do with them. I took my planned writing break following the completion of A Flame Among the Stars, but then it was time to decide what to start next. As always, I had a number of ideas to choose from, but one possibility called to me the loudest: I wanted to finish off the Skies series.

To recap: Searching the Skies was my very first published book, featuring Commander Geneva Greyson and her attempts to balance her career goals with her family life, along with having to choose between two men who show a romantic interest in her. (Spoiler alert! She chooses both, and the three of them live happily ever after.) As this was my first major writing project that wasn't fanfic, I didn't really think too far ahead beyond "can I get something published?" I don't even remember what made me want to write a sequel, but I did, and it came out a year and a half after the first one. I did have plans to write a third book and had a pretty solid outline for it, but for a whole long list of reasons, it never happened.

So, here we are. Before starting the shiny new book, I wanted to go through and edit the first two. I'd skimmed through them back when the rights first reverted back to me, and I knew I had some work to do. As I wrote in a previous post, Searching the Skies was...ARGH. Ergh. Bleh. I guess if nothing else, it's nice to be able to say I've so obviously improved as a writer? Some of it was downright painful to reread, to the point where I almost want to track down everyone who read it and apologize to them. Honestly, there were points where I considered scrapping the whole thing, but if this were easy, everyone would do it, right?

I believed a good story lay hidden in there somewhere and slogged through to the end. Next up: Defying the Skies. While not flawless, I'm pleased to report this one held up considerably better. Sure, there were some errors that had been missed the first time around, and a few instances of lazy writing and awkward phrasing, but there were a few points that made me say "oh, damn, there's some really good shit in here". Us writers are often known for doubting ourselves, so those moments where the opposite happens are quite nice, I must say.

Okay, so the first two books are edited. Time to start the third! I started a new file two nights ago and I'm easing back into writing these characters I first created almost ten (!!!) years ago. But wait, there's more! As I said, I'd outlined the third book (and even titled it!), and it had a clear beginning, middle, and end...but then I realized that the ending I'd planned wasn't the most satisfactory, especially considering the series as a whole and comparing it to the previous two. I mean, it's an ending, in that it concludes the story the book tells, but I don't think I can leave off there. To make a long story short, I've decided this trilogy is now going to be five books long, and everything will be finished off with a pretty little bow on top by the end.

It sounds like a lot, and I definitely have my work cut out for me. I also have to decide on the best route for publication, and while I have some ideas/strategies, I need to get a bit more actual writing done first. For now, though, this is what I want to focus on, and I'm looking to more fun, sexy space adventures. Because I firmly believe the world can always use more of those.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Promo - Scarlet: Book Two of the Robyn Hood Series

Action! Adventure! Awesome women! Fellow author Niamh Murphy has a new book out today, the second in her gender flipped Robyn Hood series. Keep reading for the blurb and a fun excerpt!



Robyn Hood and her loyal friend Littlejohn want nothing more than to stay one step ahead of the Sheriff of Nottingham's men.

But when they offer their help to a Holy Sister in need, they soon discover not all is as it seems.

Now they have both the Sheriff of Nottingham on their tail and the self-serving Bishop of Hereford too.

Will they aid a fellow thief? Or save their own necks, keep the gold for themselves, and leave the fugitive, sword-wielding rogue for the gallows?

Find out in this brand new Robyn Hood Adventure! 


As Robyn went to follow the two women into the chamber block, Marian paused at the door. She glanced behind her into the gloom where Sister Mary had disappeared then finally looked up at Robyn. “Do you trust this woman?” Her voice was a low whisper, and Robyn had to lean forward to hear her words.

She nodded, then winced at her easy lie. “Well,” she admitted, “she did steal from Littlejohn and me.”

Marian raised her eyebrows and sighed; she opened her mouth to speak but merely shook her head.

“I do trust her though,” Robyn added quickly, thinking of the young woman’s vulnerability, how many times Robyn could easily have ended up being Nottingham gaol herself, and how it was Robyn’s fault that the poor young nun had been captured by the sheriff's men and so badly wounded by a trial.

“Why, Robyn?” Robyn recognised that tone, it was the same tone that Marian had always used when Robyn had suggested they swim in a freezing cold lake, or travel to the next county on a whim, or ride their horses over ever-higher obstacles.

“I…” Robyn started to explain but her confidence and charm abandoned her. “I see something in her, something… like me.”

“I see.” Marian nodded, there was a bitterness to her smile that Robyn didn’t recognise. “I had wondered why I hadn’t seen you these last few weeks.” Robyn suddenly realised what the cause of her bitterness was and immediately tried to repair the damage. “No! It’s nothing like that, I mean-I’ve only just met her...I - I haven’t seen you because I didn’t want to put you in danger. I’m still not clear of the sheriff's men, Marian, I couldn’t risk leading them right to you.” 

“You risked it tonight.”

“But...That’s different; she needed help. I had nowhere else to go.”

“And... I understand.” Marian looked away and tried to shut the door but Robyn held it open.

“No, Marian, please, I wanted to protect you.”

“I know.” But she still wasn’t looking at her and Robyn felt that with every word she said Marian was pulling even further away.

“I have been desperate to see you,” Robyn whispered.

“Have you?”

She lowered her voice, all too aware of Sister Mary waiting for them in the room beyond. “I’ve thought about you every day we’ve been apart.” Marian sighed but she still didn’t look up. “Have you?”

Robyn reached out to take her hand, why was Marian slipping away from her? What could she do to bring her back? “I’ve thought about our kiss.” Marian looked up then, and her eyes glistened. “Then why-” she cut herself off as her voice cracked. “Then why have you not come to see me?” Robyn opened her mouth but was unable to conjure a reply. She’d thought Marian would be delighted to see her again. Not driven to angry tears. “If I had put you in danger-”

“In danger?” Marian spat, “You think rescuing your mother from the clutches of the sheriff’s men did not put me in danger?”

“Well, of course, but-”

“You think coming here tonight did not put me in danger?”

“B-but I-”

“So, you cannot put me in danger unless you need to put me in danger? You cannot risk coming here until you need to come here? You cannot risk doing anything until you need to do it?” Marian’s cheeks were turning pink and her blue eyes seemed cold as stone. “What about what I need? All that time you say you have been thinking of me, but have you ever thought about what I need?” “Well… I-”

“Have you ever thought I might be worried until I am sick with it? Thinking each day would be the day I would hear of your death? That every time I enter Nottingham it will be your body I see swinging from the gallows? Did you ever think of that?”

Slowly, Robyn shook her head, feeling the guilt writhe in her stomach. “I didn't.”

“Did you ever think I might want to hear from you? I might want to know how you are? I might want to see you—” She choked on a sob, silencing her tirade and biting down as she looked away.

“I’m sorry,” Robyn said, aghast and unable to think of anything else, “I had no idea.”

“Of course you had no idea!” Marian hissed, “You never thought to ask!” Robyn opened and closed her mouth several times. “I just wanted to keep you safe,” she said, but her voice sounded weak.

But Marian shook her head. “It's not up to you to keep me safe. It’s not up to you to decide when I should and shouldn't place myself in danger,” Robyn opened her mouth to argue but Marian interjected before she could speak. “It’s up to me.” Marian stared at her and took both Robyn’s hands in her own. “I thought I was your oldest, dearest and closest friend-”

“You are!”

“But you trust strangers more than you trust me. This Sister Mary of yours and that giant Reynold Littlejohn-”

“Littlejohn is a good man.”

“I’m sure he is Robyn, but it still hurts that you trust him more than you trust me.”

“But Marian I….”


“I couldn’t bear it if anything ever happened to you because of me.” Marian shook her head and looked up at her. “And I can’t bear being cut out of your life like this.”

“I love you, Marian.”

Marian took a deep breath and nodded. “I know,” she whispered, “But… what does that mean to you?” Marian waited a moment for Robyn’s reply and when it didn’t come, she shook her head, and stepped back, shutting the door in Robyn’s path.

Robyn lay her hand and then her head on the wood as she heard the bolts close. “It means everything,” she whispered.

About the Author:


Niamh Murphy is an author of adventure books with lesbian main characters. Her mission is to write exciting and engaging stories with women taking centre stage. She tells stories of gripping high seas adventure and epic fantasy, with a dash of romance and loves to explore historical settings, science fiction landscapes, and fantasy worlds. She lives in the ancient town of Colchester in England with her partner.

Find Niamh on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her Website.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021


Yup, you can keep your minds in the gutter, because this post is about exactly what you think it's about: which characters dominate your sex scenes? As I was chugging along on A Flame Among the Stars, I started thinking about how in most romances, one half of the couple is usually more forward or dominant than the other. Sometimes it's evenly balanced, sometimes it pings back and forth...and sometimes what happens outside the bedroom is different from what happens inside.


For a fun experiment, not only will I be exploring this in terms of gender, but also the point-of-view, as I have a hypothesis.

A Flame Among the Stars: This is a lesbian romance, so both halves of the couple are female. Meg, the POV character, is definitely the more dominant one for most of the book, though Celendra gains confidence and starts taking charge at points. What got me thinking about this whole subject is that it had been a while since I wrote from the POV of the more dominant character, but more on that later.

Hunting Astrid: Another lesbian romance. The book is from Astrid's POV, but Tabitha takes the lead for most of their intimate encounters. Again, though, Astrid has her own moments of being in control by the end.

Blazing Justice: This one's interesting because we have one POV character (Celeste) with three different endings. Without giving two much away, in two out of the three endings, the men are clearly more dominant, but it's more evenly matched in the third.

Fire Beyond the Frost: More lesbians. Catalina (POV) has no problem being in command of an operating room or jumping into action in case of medical emergency, but she's always been far more reserved in her personal relationships. This actually doesn't change much throughout the book, but Sari's there to guide her along nonetheless.

Closing Montage: Hmm. After some consideration, I'll say that Abigail (POV) and Edwin are pretty evenly matched, but I might give a slight edge to Edwin. It's close, though.

Seductive Suspect: Adam calls the shots as soon as he gets Veronica (POV) into his bedroom, hands down. This was one of those instances where I had that scene all planned out in my head for a while, but since I write in order, it took me a while to get there. Even so, I didn't lose any of my enthusiasm for it, and Adam's running this sexy show.

Out of Orbit: This was fun because both Jasmine (POV) and Aras are absolute powerhouses in their roles/careers before they meet, so what happens when they finally get together? The answer - Aras is the one in charge, but Jasmine doesn't mind in the slightest.

Flight of the Dragon Queen: Here's another one where it might be too close to call between Caleb (POV) and Alizeira. If I absolutely had to choose one or the other, I guess I'd say Alizeira is the more dominant of the two, but really, it's by the tiniest of margins.

Elysium: This one might buck the trend in multiple ways - not only does the POV alternate between April and Drew, but they each get their own sex scene where they're the POV character and each one is the more dominant one when we're inside their head. Again, it's a small difference, but that's my analysis.

Second Skin: The POV alternates between Anna and Brendan here, too; however, once they're behind closed doors, it's from Anna's POV, but Brendan is more dominant.

So, what have we learned? For the hetero romances, I thought the men would be more dominant, but while it skews a little in that direction, it's not always the case. What appears to be the bigger predictor? The POV character.


I'm too lazy to go through and tally it up, but it does seem like the POV character is less likely to be taking charge in the sex scenes. In a way, it kind of makes sense - it might be easier to envision yourself in a character's place when something is being done to them, rather than having them being the one doing the...doing. I won't get too far into fantasies and preferences and whatnot here, but if you're reading romance for an escape, letting someone else come in and handle everything can sound appealing. With the POV character, we see, hear, and feel everything they're experiencing; it's not that we, the readers, always want to take on a passive role in our own lives, but I can see how it's logical for the POV character we're reading about to be on the receiving end of all those fun sensations. You could argue the opposite, of course, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. In the future, I'll be paying attention to this when reading romances and trying to determine who's more likely to play what role with regard to POV.

(I'm not going to start unpacking menage romances...yet?)