What makes a romance? #writing #romance

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Awww…the stars in the eyes, the melty feeling around your heart, the spontaneous smile…blooming like a rose, it’s romance.

But what is romance?

Is it the innocence of young love or the down and dirty hook up at the club?

Can it be both?

Probably. It all depends what you’re in the mood for, or more importantly, what fits your characters.

In my first book, Shadow’s Edge, there are no sex scenes, but there is romance.   My second book, Shadow’s Soul, contains scenes (and nope, won’t share page numbers, you’ll just have to read it).

One of the hardest decisions I made was to keep Shadow’s Edge sex free. It wasn’t an easy decision, every damn rejection I got made some mention of the fact that there WASN’T any sex.

Umm, yeah, it’s Urban Fantasy, sex isn’t a diehard requirement in UF. But that’s what editors/publishers were looking for at the time. Erotica was just pulling back the boudoir door at the time, so the sexual elements in books were becoming very, very hot. And Raine and Gavin were not (great, now I’m channeling Dr. Seuss). At least not then.

It wasn’t until after Shadow’s Soul came out, that my mom responded to some soap box I had tripped upon and said something that has stuck with me and my stories.

“I like your sex scenes, sweetheart, because they mean something.  When your characters make it to the bedroom (hallway, forest, whateves–yes that’s me, not my mom) it’s because that’s where their relationship naturally evolves to. There’s nothing fake or forced about it, instead it’s an emotional moment that changes everything.”

I love my mom. I don’t care that I’m in my 40’s, err adulthood, she’s da bomb.

That one conversation helped me to see how I view romance when it comes to my stories. I’ll share my opinion, then I’m asking for yours–what makes romance?

For me–romance is an emotional tie between characters. It’s what develops as they learn who each individual is, what their strengths, weaknesses, and silly spots are. It isn’t seeing someone through rose-colored glasses, but with crystalline 20/20 vision and knowing that not only do they make you a better person, but somehow, someway you make them a better person.

Shadow’s Soul and Shadow’s Moon both have rather explicit scenes. Whereas Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Curse (coming Fall 2014) don’t. Raine and Gavin were tiptoeing around each other in Shadow’s Edge and there was a lot to tiptoe around. By Shadow’s Soul, Gavin and Raine had found something worth taking a risk for, and where the mind and heart go, the body will follow.  But before you do that most intimate of dances, you better have a solid platform of trust to work from, or it can all go horribly wrong. (Which may make a really great story…hmmmm).

Shadow’s Curse is Natasha Bertoi’s story, and trust and intimacy are not part of her repertoire, so when Darius Abazi hits the scene, we see the beginnings of something truly powerful in the making. But the ultimate culmination of that beginning, isn’t in these 300+ pages.

Now for my PSY-IV Teams, well that’s a different bag altogether. I planned this series to be a Paranormal Romantic Suspense, and each book will focus on one couple. So yes, because one of the arcs is the emerging relationship, you get some hot and steamy scenes. And they fit.

I’ve read books where the main couple hook up first, then do the relationship, and it can work. In all honesty, the later scenes are much stronger because of the relationship choices.  But that’s me.

So for you, my savvy readers/writers, what makes a romance?

Writing to Trends and death knells… #writing #trends

Recently I took part in a very interesting discussion with some fellow writers: the topic of writing to trends.

Ok, don’t flinch, you know what I’m talking about. They’re out there, authors who manage to pump out their stories based upon the hottest genre of the moment. Somehow, they’re like trend ninjas–able to sneak aboard the trendy bullet train speeding through the latest hot vista of genres.

I’ve manage to catch a glimpse of some of them because they are the quietest, sneakiest bastards out there.  I think they own crystal balls specifically tuned into what readers are hungry for. Part of me wonders where one can get one of those suckers.

Is that a green eyed monster breathing over my shoulder?

Nope.

Here’s why:

The worlds and characters in my head have been there a loooonnnnngggg time. I began writing my first Urban Fantasy before Urban Fantasy was even a genre. Of course my crafting skills were crap and needed much honing before Shadow’s Edge manage to snag the attention of a publisher, but I knew what kind of stories I wanted to write. And even now, when I know a metric crap ton of the writing world more than I did when I first started writing, I’m still enraptured with Urban Fantasy and lately, Paranormal Suspense.  Yep, I weave romance into both, but my main story arcs are UF and PNS.

Yet, even I am sometimes tempted to attempt the writing to trend.  Maybe it’s because you hear all sorts of things out in the writing universe. And the overriding topic of conversations tends to center around sales and dying genres. Lately it’s been the grim pronouncements, “Paranormal/Urban Fantasy is dead.”

pffftttthhh… “I blow my nose at you.” (Yep, I’m quoting Monty Python)

Romance has been dying for decades, yet it’s still the hottest genre out there. Of course, it’s taken a sharp curve because romance has stepped it up and allowed readers a more “up close and personal” view of the sexual escapades of the story, treading into erotic arenas.

But, it ain’t dying folks.

And neither is UF or Paranormal.

Now this may upset a few, and I’m going to apologize ahead of time, because that’s not my intention.

Like many readers, I enjoy a good erotica story. And my Knight has made the comment, “If it’s selling, why not give it a shot?”

Because–see above–I’m a UF/PNS kind of gal. I could go out and write an erotic story (yep, I could) but I won’t. Yes, my scenes are pretty intense, but erotica, that’s not my writing cup o’ tea. My hat’s off to those that do (Kallypso Masters, Jennifer Lyon, Cherise Sinclair) and do it well. It’s not an easy style to do justice to.

But I won’t write erotica. I can’t write to trends (yes, I can hear you now–“it’s not a trend!”)–to what’s selling the best. I have to stay true to what my creative mind wants to indulge in.  If those stories resonant with readers–all the better, if they don’t, they don’t.

See, that’s the beauty of being a writer. Your audience is vast. They don’t read just one genre, they go out and try a bit here, try a bit there, maybe stay a little longer at the table with this story type, and hoard this type over here.

As a reader, I’ve found I’ll cross genre lines if the story and characters become real in my mind. If a writer has done their job well, they’ve hooked me. If not, well, I’ll browse the buffet line for other options.

So writing to trends, or chasing the perfect genre wave, it’s not for me. I’m the snail baby, I’m leaving my glittery trail behind me one book at a time. Because at some point in this journey, I’m going to cross enough paths to have my own following.

And it won’t be the genre that makes them stick, it’s the writing.

Readers/writers–chime in, do you think writing to the hottest trend works and why? Or why did you/didn’t you choose that path?

 

 

@AshleyLadd is bringing her sexy trio of HER MEN to visit…#giveaway #erotic #romance

Today we are being visited by the lovely Ashley Ladd, mistress of steamy romance, where her heroine doesn’t have to settle for just one hunky hero. Not only is sharing a peek of HER MEN, her latest title from Totally Bound, but she’ll give one lucky commenter a pdf or epub copy! (Remember, we can’t reach you, if you don’t leave your email!)

Her Men–a contemporary erotic novella by Ashley Ladd

Forty-four year old Julie Weston has loved Timmy and James since her college days twenty something years ago. She’s fantasized about both all these long years, never able to choose between them.

Hoping Tim and James will attend, she attends their college marching band reunion. When both men show up her dreams are answered. They’re sexier than she imagined and she hopes they won’t be disappointed by her older self.

It turns out both men came just to see her again and neither is happy about the other’s presence. They fight over her, confusing her more than ever. It takes a hot ménage…or two…for her heart to decide which one she’s in love with.hermen_800

Fair warning…things might get a bit hot if you dare to read on…

“I’m so hungry—for you.” Tim twisted her hair in his fingers and pressed his lips to her forehead. “And I’m so hot, if you know what I mean.”
“Me too.” She was glad for her buzz, for the courage it provided. She longed to kiss him, wondered why he hadn’t kissed her yet.
“Let’s ditch dinner and…”
A shadow fell between them and James grabbed her away from Tim. “I’m breaking in. You’ve monopolized her all night.”
“But you don’t dance. You don’t like disco,” she blurted, surprised but thrilled.
“I do now. If it’s the only way I get my turn to see you, I’ll dance all night. I’m tired of waiting for you at the table.” James tugged her into his arms, ignoring Tim’s deathly glare.
“One dance, then I’m coming back.” Tim stalked away and grabbed a drink, which he downed in one gulp.
James’ warmth replaced Tim’s.
“Thank you.” She wiggled beside James hoping she could make him as hot as she’d made Tim.
“For rescuing you from Tim? You didn’t look as though you wanted rescuing.” James held her close but his nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed to mere slits.
“Not for tonight. For all those years ago you told him off for abandoning me. I wish I’d known. I also wish I’d done this.” Before she could lose her nerve, she pressed her lips to his.
He pulled back and gazed into her eyes, suspicion in his. “Are you drunk?”
Hurt and embarrassed she held up one finger. “I only had one drink. And I kissed you because I’ve wanted to do so for many years and I don’t want to let you go again without you knowing that, without knowing what it feels like.”
A low growl rumbled from James. Desire lit his eyes. Purpose firmed his lips. Without another word, he lowered his head and kissed her deeply, thoroughly.
He tasted so good, like steak and Cabernet and she couldn’t get enough. Her legs rubbery, about to give out on her, she clung to him. Her heart seemed to swell to triple its normal size. James’ was robust and passionate and full of pent-up longing.
“You wanted to kiss me too, all those years ago,” she muttered, touching his lips. It wasn’t a question. He tasted too good, was too mesmerizing to move away from.
“Yes.” The answer was long, drawn out and breathy. Full of emotion.
“Why didn’t we?”

Shall I bring you a cold cup of water? No? You sure? Then if you’re ready, come meet the mind behind the heat–Ashley Ladd…

If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? 

John Lennon—What was it like in the early days to be a Beatle, when you were just becoming famous? What attracted you to Yoko?

Elizabeth Bennett—What was your life like after the honeymoon was over with Mr. Darcy? Or did the honeymoon ever end?

Mulan—Did you marry Shang Li? Did you go back to war?

Spock—Did you ever marry or have children?

Captain Kirk—How many women did you date? Do you like older women?

–((giggle)) I don’t think he’d turn you down…

Luke Skywalker—Did you find and train more Jedi Knights after you saved your father? Or did the Jedi die out after you?

–from what I’ve heard, Luke did more than train more Knights, but that’s another universe, far, far, away…

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

I wanted to be an astronaut and travel the galaxy with Spock and Captain Kirk. I wanted to discover new worlds and new civilizations – to go where no man has gone before.

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

A frustrated, disabled vet who was turned down by the FBI to be an agent because of her hearing loss. Instead she lives vicariously through her stories with kick ass heroes and heroines, some who are military, some who aren’t, and all who make her happy in one way or another.

She adores her kids and grandkids, human and furry. She wants to be a crazy cat lady and would be more of one if only her family would permit it. They say four cats are two two many.

She loves the Beatles, moldy oldies, American Idol finalists, Star Trek, and watching movies on the big screen.

Ashley wanted to share Bobby with us, just to point out that crazy cat lady status is not something to be feared…Ashley Ladd with Bobby for Hat Interview

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior). Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

I’m like you, shy and introverted.

I admire Stephen King, Sherryl Woods, Tina Wainscott, Holly Jacobs.

–I know this short, little guy who travels with a Raven who’d love to be with you when you hook up with Mr. King..

I would get a frog in my throat and would have trouble spitting out mywords if I could even think of anything intelligent to say. My knees would shake and my stomach would be tied up in knots.

Actually, I know Holly from online when she still went by Holly Fuhrman and I’ve met her in person. She’s extremely nice.

And now that we’ve finished our tough questions, time for Ashley to dodge a few bullets…

  • Blades, guns, fists or feet?    Guns (I used to shoot trap with my dad – but I also like feet as I was a brown belt in Taekwondo too)
  • Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?      Mulan!
  • Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?    Geeky disdain (I’m a HUGE Big Bang Theory fan)
  • Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?    My husband’s mini fridge is sitting on the side of my computer desk!
  • Favorite supernatural creature?    Pegasus

 

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer.She’s been told she has a wicked sense of humor and often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.Ashley Ladd bio

How you can contact Ashley:
chinara@aol.com
http://www.ashleyladd.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/ashleyladdauthor
http://www.twitter.com/ashleyladd
https://www.goodreads.com/AshleyLadd
http://www.shelfari.com/search/books?Keywords=Ashley%20Ladd
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ashley%20ladd&sprefix=ashle%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aashley%20ladd

BUY LINK:
https://www.totallybound.com/her-men

It’s Getting a Little Tense In Here… #writing tips #conflict #tension

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What’s a story without tension? Hell, life’s all about tension, right? Do you do this? Or this? Should you take this path? Or that one? What if that path takes you straight into the mouth of danger? What if it doesn’t?

Conflict is the heart of the story, and tension is what conflict creates. As a writer, your job is to take believable characters, throw them into impossible situations and watch what happens.

This can’t be done, if you, as the almighty author, try to set things up. Which you’re bound to do, if your characters aren’t real.

Here’s what I mean:

John P and Suzy Q use to be friends, then Suzy found out John slept with her sister. Friendship went the way of the do-do. Suddenly Suzy’s sister, Floozy, turns up dead in a ditch after sneaking out to go to a party.  Fingers are pointed and John P is on the other end. Suspicions abound, but Suzy knows Floozy wasn’t all that picky when it came to hook-ups and John has never seemed the type.

That’s your plot. Go you, it’s great, filled with all sorts of branching paths of tension.

John and Suzy’s relationship

Suzy and Floozy’s relationship

Floozy’s murder

Now, if your characters are fleshed out enough to walk off the pages, you’re going to find a whole ‘nother mess under that level.  If they aren’t, you’re going to start throwing in your own contrived tension makers.

If you can’t get below this level, go back and delve a bit more into John, Suzy and Floozy. You know, all that info you didn’t share with your readers at the get-go. It’s that information you reveal in bits and pieces through the pages that bring it all together. Because, from here you should be able to drill down to this:

Suzy’s always been in love with John, and just when she was going to bare more than her heart, she finds him in bed with sister. Heartbroken, Suzy cuts John out of her life and give her sister the cold shoulder. If she’s insecure enough, she’ll never tell John why she’s so hurt, but she will continually cut her sister down as it’s her passive/aggressive way in dealing with the anger of Floozy taking yet another man from her.

John made the mistake of mixing cold meds with allergy meds, and he heads over to Suzy’s place because they were going to do some studying. He’s been trying not make any aggressive moves on the lovely Suzy because he doesn’t want to scare her off. But when he arrives, dizzy and sick, it’s Floozy who answers the door. But things get hazing and suddenly Floozy is Suzy. She coaxes him into lying down and the next thing he know, a feverish daydream of Suzy is taking on a decidedly erotic twist.

Floozy’s always resented her goody-two shoe sister, Suzy. No matter what, everything Suzy touches comes up roses. While Floozy is stuck with the loser. Like the last boyfriend, who just won’t take no for an answer. When John knocks on the door, acting a little buzzed, Floozy perks up. She’s always like John, and even though that tiny voice in her head is warning her off, she’s going to show Suzy how not everything is perfect in this life.

If you let your characters off their chain here, you got yourself an incredibly tension filled story spilling across the pages.

Now you can dive into:
Can Suzy look beyond her guilt and prejudices to see the truth before she loses her chance at something precious?

Can John get over his anger and resentment at Floozy and Suzy to discover who the real killer is before it’s too late?
And the psychological games are off. This depth of character motivation is key to creating tension, and tension is conflict and conflict is story.

Other than withholding information, what other writing tools create great tension?

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Writers…

Change has come to stalk the Wicked household, or more specifically, for Wicked herself. It’s a good thing she has three books out this year, because getting two more out next year is going to test her time management skills.  And here’s why…after many, many, many (add thirteen more) years of being blessed with a telecommuting position, Wicked has decided to take a newly opened path of gainful employment. Not that she strayed far from her original path, just laddered up to the parent employer and new challenges. Including the one where she has to dress like an adult and leave the house to pursue said challenges.

What this means, is now for an hour, one-way, Wicked and her brand-spanking new filly, must brave the crowded roadways, dodging carts and overdrawn carriages (no, that’s not a mis-spelling), stop at the new giver of pay’s offices, toil away for a set number of hours, re-brave the clogged travel arteries, and then kick off the torturous devices known as “heels”.  While on one hand, this is wonderful, on the other it meant re-organizing a writer’s schedule.

Most writers hold day jobs while they craft their art. It’s not easy and something always has to be sacrificed (sleep, time, chocolate, homemade dinners, handcrafted gifts).  In this case, it meant the every other week meeting of like minds of the Evil 7’s critique group. A decision not easily made, mind you. After seven years with the Evil 7, I must take a reluctant step back.

There is no magical potion to imbue when trying to balance work, family, and writing, it comes down to your personal goals/needs. While I am behind on my writing counts for the last month due to all the upheaval, my overall plan has not changed.

One book from each series each year. That won’t change because I am a writer and this is something I’m willing to sacrifice for, to keep to.

While I’m uncertain how well my plans will be carried out, I’m determined to make it work. So it’s:

Monday through Fridays, get up, get the Prankster Duo out and Knight out and running, then gallop away.

Fulfill my contractual obligations for my pot of gold at the end of working person’s rainbow.

Come home, touch base, check in, ride herd over the three males and one fur rug.

When everyone’s settled in fighting off ogres, snipers and various other individuals of coded fame, I shall plant my butt in chair and pound out words of fancy while they battle in the background.

Saturdays shall become days of Writer Biz–marketing, blogs, and various sundry items that come with being a writer.

Sundays are mine–for family or writing or both, they are all mine.

So if I seem a bit quiet, don’t worry, I’m still here, just a tad busy settling into my well laid plans, and you can keep up with me at www.jamigray.com where my personal blog is updated each Wednesday. Unfortunately my posts at www.7EvilDwarves.com may have to lapse.

I’ll keep you posted on just how well it works out though. Maybe I’ll be able to give up the 8-5 to peddle my own magic formula.

Need new read? It’s HERE! HUNTED BY THE PAST has arrived! #newread #PNR

The first in an exciting new Paranormal Romantic Suspense series-HUNTED BY THE PAST is now available from Muse It Up Publishing

When facing danger, some situations require a unique skill set. Come meet the men and women of the Psy-IV Teams…

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HUNTED BY THE PAST: PSY-IV Teams book 1

Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past… 

A reluctant psychic who can relive the past, a man well versed in keeping secrets, and a psychopathic killer enter a deadly game where the past determines the future.

Changing the past is an impossibility ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling in the aftermath of a botched mission, which cost her two teammates, her military career, and a fledging relationship, she’s brought home by a panicked phone call. The psychic killer behind her nightmares has escaped military custody to hunt down the remaining teammates, one by one. Next on his murderous list–Cyn. Her only chance at survival is to master the psychic ability she’s spent years denying.

The killer’s game brings her face to face with the one person guaranteed to throw her off kilter—the unsettling and distracting man she left behind, Kayden Shaw. Once she believed he’d stand by her side, until he chose his job and his secrets over her. A choice that’s left the scars of the past etched deep on her mind and heart.

To survive this twisted game, Cyn must risk trusting her heart and accepting who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves.

Available at:  MUSEITUP Publishing  in all digital formats!

READ AN EXCERPT

Since I didn’t want to touch him, much, I poked a finger against his chest, ignoring the unexpected zap of awareness. “I don’t know how you found me or why, but right now I have other, more important things to do. So, why don’t–”

The ringing of the phone interrupted my tirade.

I shot a look at the phone sitting on the counter to our left, and then narrowed my gaze at Kayden.

He quirked an eyebrow.

The phone rang again.

“You going to answer it?” he drawled.

Stepping back, I plucked the receiver off the cradle. “Hello?”

“Cyn?” What do you know, it was Thomas Anderson Gunderson, A.K.A. Tag.

I stared at the man standing across from me. “Yeah.”

“Where have you been? And why the hell won’t you answer my calls?” Despite his questions, there was a thread of relief in my friend’s voice. Ex-friend, I reminded myself.

“Why would I?” I gave my answer absently, watching Kayden make his way over to the other side of the counter and take a seat on a barstool.

In my ear, Tag cursed. “Dammit, Cyn. I don’t have time to explain shit now— ”

“Why are you calling me?” I cut him off, ice coating every word.

“Why are you in Sedona?” he shot back, his voice hard.

“I’m more concerned with how you got this number and why everyone seems determined to turn my cabin in to Grand Central Station.”

Momentary silence filled the line. “Shaw’s there?”

“Got it in one.”

“Thank God,” Tag muttered. “Be as bitchy as you want, Cyn, but tell me you’re okay. You ran away—”

“I didn’t run from shit, Tag, I was kicked to the fucking curb as soon as you and everyone else got what you wanted.”

“That’s not what happened.”

“Really? Because from where I stood, it sure as hell looked like it.” Silence answered. Turning away from Kayden’s too avid gaze, I tried to regain control so I could kick both of these men back out of my life. “I’m fine, but I’m little busy dealing with my own situation.”

“What kind of situation?” It actually sounded as if he gave a damn.

Closing my eyes, I tried to shove aside the urge to bang my head against a wall at the single minded intensity of the male gender. “My sister is AWOL. Now, can we just focus on why you’re bothering me and Kayden has decided to pursue a career in B&E?”

“How long has Kelsey been missing?”

The urgent note underlying Tag’s question reignited my earlier sense of unease, as if there was something bigger at play here. Worry about Kelsey trumped hurt feelings, so I answered. “Not sure, a couple hours maybe. Her car is here.”

The string of oaths spewing over the line from Tag proved no one could swear like a Marine. “Son of mangy bitch,” he muttered, then he took a deep breath. “The cabin’s an hour and half outside of Phoenix?” He didn’t wait for my answer. “I’ll meet you up there. Stay with Kayden.”

“Tag,” his name came out as a warning of my waning patience. My fingers tightened around the phone, and it took an amazing amount of will-power to not share my own colorful vocabulary. “You need to tell me what’s going on. Right. Now.” The last two words emerged around gritted teeth.

“It’s about Flash. His killer is out.” His unexpected answer stabbed deep, drawing blood under my skin. Brutal memories boiled up and I almost missed his, “Stay with Kayden, Cyn.”

The drone of a dial tone filled my ear. My world spun. I concentrated on setting the phone back in the cradle. My legs were doing a great impression of spaghetti noodles, so I let them fold under me and sat on the cool tile. Six months, I’d run as hard, as fast and as far as I could, but in a matter of minutes I was right back where I started, trapped in a never-ending nightmare.

You have to wonder which fickle fate decided to dump everything on me at once. If I ever got my hands on her, I’d beat her to a pulp. Damn, damn, and triple damn!

The past surged, breaking through to rise in a swamping wave of ghostly screams and the stench of burnt flesh. I dug my fingers deep into my thigh muscles in a desperate attempt to stave it off. No such luck. Greedy memories sucked me down.

My kitchen disappeared, replaced by a fetid alley behind a dive in Where-the-fuckistan. Sprawled on the ground, my head spinning with dizzying sickness and my leg screaming with agony, all I could do was watch and listen. Watch the spreading pool of blood and brains seep from Ortega, his sightless eyes staring past me. Listen to the snap and crackle of a raging fire hissed through the night while the smell of burning flesh wrapped around me. Behind me, someone screamed, his wail high-pitched and full of hopeless agony.

I knew that broken voice.

Even as excruciating pain beat inside my skull, I turned my head, recognizing the figure in the midst of the hellish scene. Searing loss, rage, and fear rose to a scream. My mouth opened and the stench coiled down my throat, blocking the air in my chest. No, no, no!

The shocking feel of hands against my face snapped my paralysis, bringing a touch of the present into the past. Desperate to escape, ignoring the pain radiating down my leg and through my head. I struck out, my hand connecting with flesh. “Don’t touch me!”

Harsh breathing filled the air around me. It took a few seconds to realize it was coming from me. A few more before the low soothing voice penetrated the layers of the past. “Come on back, Cyn. You’re safe.”

 

Now available at: MUSEITUP Publishing

 

Jami Gray Small

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Her latest release, SHADOW’S MOON  was a Golden Claddaugh Finalist, and the first in her newest series, HUNTED BY THE PAST, hits shelves in July 2014. She is surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and a male lab, who masquerades as a floor rug as she plays with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon 

 

It’s coming…HUNTED BY THE PAST is just about to arrive! #MuseItUp #newreads #PNR

huntedbythepast

Phoenix in July. People called it Mother Nature’s rendition of hell on earth.

They were wrong. Hell existed on the other side of the world, in a much more treacherous desert. If it let you go, you ran, long and hard and as fast as you could.

You couldn’t hide, but you could try. I’d been running for six long months, jumping from one remote place to another, chasing wildlife with a camera for a paycheck. A safer endeavor than chasing two footed monsters.

Unfortunately, there was one thing I couldn’t outrun, family. Or the closest thing to it in my case, Kelsey. Sister by circumstances, not blood, and the only human on this planet I’d come back to civilization for, she should’ve been on her own plane with a group of fellow lawyers for some boring-ass conference. Her words, not mine. Instead, she’d managed to get a message to me, even out into the wilds of America’s last frontier. Someone had been asking questions about me, and watching her.

And so it begins, HUNTED BY THE PAST, the first in my Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, The PSY-IV Teams. In six days you can be the proud new owner of a copy. If you want to pre-order it while it’s at $2.99, please do! Here, I’m going to include a link–click on the cover above or the image below, both will get you there.

MuseItUp

If the that first tidbit wasn’t enough, what about what others are saying…

“I was hooked from the first word read. I had a very hard time putting the book down and when I did, I couldn’t wait to come back to it.” –RomCon Reader  9.35 rating

“Hunted By The Past is fast-paced, quick witted, and Ms. Gray can surely spin a fascinating paranormal story.” –Catherine Constantine, Goodreads rating 5 stars

“…this author has grown characters rich in personal history who are willing to risk everything for love of each other and their duty.”–Mona Karel, Goodreads rating 5 stars

 

The Ego and the Edits… #editing

Much like my fellow dwarves, I’m in the midst of one final round of personal edits of SHADOW’S CURSE, the fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles. Ok, stop panicking, it’s already in my editors’ hands, promise. This is the personal read through I do before my fantastically talented editors hand back my baby liberally drenched in red.

It’s a quickie, not a detailed edit (those were done BEFORE I gingerly handed the book off). I do this to myself and my books for a couple of reasons:

1.  I need some time away from the story from when I finish it to right before final edits make their way back to me. This is me needing space.

It’s vital to have this space because it gives my ego time to come out of hiding. Generally when I finish a book, besides the big huge sigh of relief that can be heard miles away, I go through this strange well of insecurity. It’s ugly, peeps. There’s whining, a few harsh sobs, a little derisive anger. even some real childish pouting and ignoring going on. After five books, I think I finally figured out why this happens–my creative child has sunk deep into the stygian depths of doubt, and creativity is battered and bleeding. My ego is flatlining at this point. They need recuperative time. So, I add a buffer of space. This time it’s been two months (a month longer than normal–see previous post on why).

2.  I realize all my worries about the story not working can now be validated or negated.

Luckily, most of the time its negated. All those horrible nightmares I had of the story lines being trite, or characters being flat, are calmed, because look, I got so caught up in reading, I forgot to edit those last 2, maybe 5, pages. That’s a good sign, right?

3.  I want to write a kick ass blurb.

This can’t be accomplished when I’m spending 24/7 with the story. I need to be able to see it as a reader. I get way too close to the story and there’s a lot in my head that doesn’t get to the paper. I have to make sure that the back blurb fits the story. That the tag line nails it. And, trust me, trying to put a 300+ page book into less than 15 words–yeah, that’s like 3rd level of hell type torture.

And lastly, because without this sitting down to tackle the next story could be traumatizing–

4.  My creative child and ego get on the same page.

Being able to take a deep breath before diving back in means my creative kiddo has a chance to become excited, once again, about spending time with our worlds and characters. My ego decides, “Ahhh, that last one wasn’t soooo bad. Hey, I have an idea, how about this time, we step up the challenge level and (insert challenge here).”

I will admit, I have always been one of those readers–you know the type, the one who is practically dancing in place, chanting “can’t you write any faster? Pluuuuzzzzzeeee? I really need your next book.”

After seeing the process from the other end for last few years, may I offer all my favorite authors a sincere apology. I’m so sorry, I promise I’ll wait patiently for your next book and stop stalking pestering you.

 

The Knight of the Garden Gnomes… #familylife #countyourblessings

For those new to the Swamp, indulge me and allow me to give you a little backstory. (Yes, I’m aware it’s a big no-no to start any story with backstory).

Years ago when our family (Knight, Prankster Duo, Hellhound and me) moved to the Swamp we brought along the Knight’s Garden Gnomes. This brilliant pair had made a life long career of tending and creating the most stunning gardens–one of which was the Knight’s–and the time had come for them to turn the responsibilities over to the rest of the Gnomish population. Their presence in our humble shack was a blessing–the Prankster Duo blossomed with their smiles and laughter, the Hellhound found a new best bud with Mr. Gnome, and our home was complete.

Then, a few years in Mr. Gnome had a run in with the insidious invader cancercraptis, a sneaky band of miscreants who leave much chaos and tears in their wake. Yet, due to the foresight of having the Gnomes move in with the Knight and I, we were able to beat the invaders back and into submission, until it decided to leave the field. Unfortunately, like many battles, there were no guarantees they wouldn’t try again. But we remained vigilant.

A couple more skirmishes broke out. Once they even brought back-up, hoping to interrupt the steady, solid beat of Mr. Gnome’s heart. Again, with speed and some really good herbalists, we kept the gardens of our Gnomes safe. Years passed, and we grew complacent–no sightings of the creepers meant they were scared to come back.

We were wrong.

Recently cancercraptis have found a couple, very small openings to Mr. Gnome. The herbalists recommend a new concoction, one that would be much easier than its harsher sibling, Chem T. The Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Gnome, the Wandering Sister, and I held a council to discuss our options. Majority decision was to try the new elixir.

It sucked.

The ties to its sibling, Chem T., were too close. It wreaked havoc. We told the herbalist, “No more. It’s not worth it.”

The invader is slow moving, enough so you can’t tell when its there, so Mr. Gnome decided he’d rather tend his garden how he wanted, for however long the sun shone and the rain fell. He’d leave it up to Mama Nature to decide how far the weed-like invaders could reach.

Hard as it is to stand by and not torch everything to the ground, just “to be sure”, we continue to honor Mr. Gnome’s wishes.

This week, the herbalist once again adjusted one of his many herbs. This time to help ensure Mr. Gnome’s heart continued its steady pace. Once again the side effects of the new herb were frighteningly horrible. So after a frantic weekend to determine which herb was the culprit, I’m happy to report Mr. Gnome is puttering in his garden. Not quite his normal self, but close enough for horseshoes. Close enough, for us to smile instead of frown.

So the reason for this little tale–I know we hear it all the time. We see it all over social media. But through these ongoing skirmishes, I have come to appreciate all the beautiful blooms each garden presents. The smile of Mr. Gnome when the oldest of the Prankster Duo continues to dip his head for kisses, just like when he was toddling around no higher than my knees (and yes, that’s pretty damn short), even though he now towers over me and the Gnomes. The laughter of my youngest as he practices his foreign tongues with Mrs. Gnome, creating words never meant to be uttered. Or the quiet ember that glows bright when my Knight, leaves behind the daily encounters and with utter patience, talks about everything and nothing, so Mr. and Mrs. Gnome know they are loved and wanted.

When the dragons of duty torch our days or the scoundrels of stress leave us frustrated and furious, remember to take a moment and appreciate the delicate blooms around you.

The 7 Evil Dwarves are back with a new Swamp! #7EDs

On the tail end of our journey through the writing workshops over the last month, I wanted to see if you all have checked out the reswampped home of the 7 Evil Dwarves (www.7evildwarves.com)? We’ve added some new stops.

Since I spent most of June doing writer marketing stuff, release stuff, and setting things into place for the second PSY-IV Team book, I also threw in remodeling my site, which in turn bled over into reswammping the 7ED site. We’ve let the mud creep up over the last few months. Some of the dwarves have huddled inside their shacks refusing to venture out into the common areas, so we as a group decided it was time to get ourselves back in shape. (Okay, yes, maybe I pushed…a little…with a bulldozer…but the results are worth it, right?)

To ensure we stay on track, we set up a new blog schedule. Every day a dwarf will post. Doesn’t matter how long or short, they will post so our visitors know we aren’t a ghost swamp.

We added a page listing all our author interviews (in alpha order, because my CDO kicked in). These interviews are us asking writers we admire questions, so check out the list and feel free to spend some time in the Swamp Guest Archives tab.

You’ll notice we number a bit more than 7, but we have a couple of dwarves who hold honorary positions, so we’re not kicking them out. We each have a page, so take the time to give the hairy eyeball to each one.

There’s a tab–Writings of the Dwarves–this is a must see. Here you will find all our literary accomplishments, along with links to access them. Our goal, to add a few more names and titles by this time next year.

You’ll notice there’s a tab titled, SWAMP TALES. This requires constant checking because we have gathered around the campfire and began a story–just for you readers. Each of us takes a piece in round robin format. Of course, at the time of writing this post, it’s a bit snarly, but I’m sure we’ll find our way out…soon…or else!

Then there’s another page for all those writers out there who are looking for some helpful sites and communities. Doesn’t matter your genre, feel free to click and play.

Take your time, mosey around my place (www.jamigray.com) and check out the first chapter of each book, sign up for my newsletter. (So far, I’ve only sent out one and I’ll probably send one more out later this year, which means, that’s what? Two a year. Shouldn’t crowd your in-box too much.) Then check out the nooks and crannies at the Swamp.

Let us know what’s working, what isn’t, and what you might expect but didn’t find.