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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.