Book Series: How Many Books Is Enough?

To B4 or Not To B4, that is my question…

Yesterday Lynda from Books Direct posted her interview of me.  We talked about what my family thinks of my writing, my upcoming short story “Dream, Interrupted” (featuring new heroine Corelei Neverest; she was tons of fun to write), and how darn difficult it was to write the ending to White Heart of Justice.

Why was it so hard?

Well, because White Heart of Justice may be the last Noon Onyx book. As I mention in the interview, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to make sure the ending was emotionally satisfying for those who have followed the series so far – which was challenging considering where I’d left things at the end of Fiery Edge of Steel and the fact that, originally, I’d roughly plotted a total of seven books in the series. (Go ahead, you can say it, what sane writer plots that far ahead of her own career?!)

So, after a mild (dare I admit, significant) panic attack, I got down to business and wrote the ending to WHOJ. That ending changed countless times. I’m not sure what readers will think of it. Early feedback has been wonderful but no one (including me) has really addressed whether this is THE END.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’ll likely self-publish any future books in the series. And self-publishing a book the way I’d want to (with quality editing and a fantastic cover artist/designer) wouldn’t be cheap.

The final decision is mine. Creatively, I have to want to do it. And financially I’ll have to decide whether or not I’m comfortable with the risk and investment of moving forward with a Noon Onyx B4 instead of some other equally awesome but different project.

So I’m curious…

READERS: After you finish White Heart of Justice, let me know whether you’d be interested in reading another Noon novel. I feel the ending is satisfactory enough for us all to walk away happy… and yet… as I said during yesterday’s interview, it’s hard to say goodbye. Halja is a fascinating world and Noon is an interesting, strong character to write about.

WRITERS: Have any of you continued a traditionally published series on your own? How’d that work out for you?

Ok, enough already with the serious talk!!!

Today, I’m over at Magic and Mayhem with a really fun guest blog:

Top 5 Cool Things

You Can Do with a Sword

and

Why Heroes & Heroines Can’t Do Without Them

You gotta come check it out. I actually mention WHOJ only once (to point out its inclusion on the Goodreads “It’s All About The Swords!” list). If you love swords, the post is a MUST READ. 😀

In addition to my Super Serious questions above, I also want to know:

What’s your favorite book cover with a sword on it? Have any examples of cool things you can do with a sword?

Lemme know your answers over at Magic and Mayhem!

Thanks for following, everyone! I’m loving all the tweets!!!

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Goodreads #Giveaway for DARK LIGHT OF DAY #UF #SFF #Fantasy

Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

To kick off the upcoming release of the third Noon Onyx novel, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, my publisher is doing a Goodreads giveaway for the first book in the series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. If you haven’t yet read a Noon Onyx novel, this is the place to start! Check it out here and feel free to help me spread the word about the giveaway (US only; 15 copies; ends 4/23/14).

 

Also, just saw the RT Book Reviews review for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, which is terrific:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artArcher’s Noon Onyx series continues to be an original and compelling tale of what happens after Lucifer’s army triumphs at Armageddon and a new demon-based society is formed. Already an oddity because she has waning magic rather than the usual feminine waxing magic, Noon Onyx is determined to control her own future – but the cost could be higher than she suspects. Kudos to Archer for creating such a compelling heroine and mythos! (4 Stars)

RT Book Reviews, June 2014

Archer w Mouse EarsYou may have noticed how quiet I was last week. We went away for the first part of Spring Break. These pictures give you a hint about where we went. 😀 We had an amazing time. I hope to load up more pictures and do a post about our trip later this week. Fiery Dragon

I’ve also got some other neat things planned for the upcoming week: a guest blogger on Tuesday; a one day promo blitz for my first two novels (including a giveaway) on Wednesday; and some information about a fun Twitter contest I’m doing to help get the word out about the Noon Onyx series on Thursday. So stay tuned…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring. If you celebrate Easter, have a happy one!

Winners and Wrap Up

 

This week I interviewed six new adult SFF authors. (Tuesday: Sarah Harian and Summer Lane; Wednesday: Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall; Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler). We discussed some great topics and showcased some of their novels. To thank participants, I offered one free book (chosen by the winner from among the featured books) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners...
My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners…
My elder daughter picked the winners. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.
(Enlist elder daughter’s help).
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

FREE BOOK WINNER => Ruth
$10 EGC WINNER = > bn100

I’ll be in touch about prizes by Monday!

I hope everyone found the interviews and posts as interesting and informative as I did. Surprisingly, my opinion is not much different than it was last year at this time: New Adult is a category that, like its characters, is full of potential. Whether it ever reaches that potential will be up to NA writers and their readers.

I’ll admit that, sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t be going in the other direction. If we shouldn’t just jettison the sub-genres and kick the category labels to the curb. There’s so much genre blending these days, maybe those of us who write stories set in imaginary worlds should just label all of our work “speculative” and call it a day.

But I only consider that for a moment. Because today’s publishing world is abuzz with words like “discoverability” and “metadata” and labels matter. Why? Because they help readers find books that are similar to other books they’ve liked.

A few other thoughts

Just to be clear, for anyone who’s been following this who may be new to my work, I think DARK LIGHT OF DAY qualifies as a “new adult” novel, although it’s not a contemporary college romance. It’s got a boarding school setting, a significant romance plot, and a youthful tone. DARK LIGHT OF DAY is also an urban fantasy with deep worldbuilding. In fact, that’s how it was marketed, which is fine. It shares as many characteristics with UF as it does with NA.

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL is neither NA nor UF, although lots of people consider it urban fantasy. I think that speaks to UF’s inclusiveness more than anything else, which is nice but less helpful to readers. It’s a river adventure with romance and mystery elements. That’s why I started calling my work “genre-bending fantasy.” Ha. A cop-out for not coming up with a better label? Maybe.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is a similar adventure story to FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, but this time Noon’s adventure is on land… in a colder, lonelier, harsher environment. It’s more of a quest than a mystery. And, even though Noon’s still a student and one of her biggest motivations in the book is that she wants the right to forge her own career path, I don’t think it’s NA. The character has moved past her earlier NA struggles.

So I continue to label my Noon Onyx series as “genre-bending fantasy.” 🙂

And I continue to follow the development of NA literature with interest. 😀

If you enjoyed this Q&A series, please consider supporting my work by pre-ordering WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

And finally…

This week’s series started with one writer’s question, left as a comment on one of my random blog posts. If you have a question about books or writing, lemme know! Who knows? I may do another series of posts in the future to try to answer it. 😀

Thank you to everyone who participated, both authors and commenters. You are all awesome! Best wishes for the weekend, everyone!

The Business of #Writing: Books and Writer’s Groups

This is day #4 of my week-long “mini-series” of posts where I mull over my 2013 writing expenses and share my thoughts. New writers, feel free to ask questions! Seasoned writers, your take on these topics is always appreciated. Readers, these posts give you a peek at what many authors do behind the scenes to support their work. There are questions for everyone at the end.

BOOKS!

Our favorite topic! In 2013, I bought about 25 books (this doesn’t include my books; this expense category represents the amount of money I spent on other people’s books – about 6% of my total expenses).

What kinds of books did I buy? Fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, new adult, young adult, general literature, anthologies, and some non-fiction. I bought hardbacks, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and electronic versions. I paid $0.99 for some to over $25.00 for others (not many). I bought them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my local independent bookstore.

Did I read them all? I wish! I’ve mentioned before that one of the downsides of becoming a published author was a decrease in personal reading. That hasn’t really changed for me since I first groaned about it, although I have been able to binge read from time to time and I’m trying to get better about carving out more consistent reading time into my schedule.

fantasy, Dark Light of Day, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

LESSONS? This is the first year I’ve tracked this as a business expense. (To be clear, I’m not saying that this is a deductible expense – or that any of these expenses are. That’s for you and your tax adviser to figure out.) Could I cut back? Absolutely. Will I? Ha! I doubt it. I like supporting other authors, booksellers, and books in general by buying books. Sometimes, I feel guilty I don’t buy MORE. It’s wise for authors to read as widely as they can, to keep up with the market, to know what’s being published, and to know the quality of work that your peers are putting out. And all writers started as pure unadulterated readers. Books => bliss!

So instead of finding a way to cut this expense, I’d settle for finding a faster way to get through my TBR pile. 🙂

WRITER’S GROUPS

There are all sorts of writer’s groups out there: big ones, little ones, informal kitchen table-type ones, and ones with bylaws, elections, national conventions, etc. Some writers will say you don’t need a writer’s group – and, of course, you don’t – but I think they’re worth the investment. For the record, the amount I paid for writer’s group membership fees came in at #9 out of #10 on my list of Top Ten Writing Expenses, which represents about 4%. Too high? Maybe. And, truth be told, this is an expense I carefully consider every year.

I belong to two main writer’s groups: Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). They are both nationally organized, well-funded, and have vast caches of institutional knowledge.

RWA was founded in 1980 and has more than 10,000 members and almost 150 chapters. They allow both published and unpublished members to join. They host a national convention every year where their highest award, the Rita, is presented to winners in various categories.

SFWA was founded in 1965. To become an active member, you must be published, but unpublished authors can benefit from their Writer Beware site. They host the Nebula Awards and have about 1,800 members.

Both RWA and SFWA have had “controversial moments.” (I leave you to your internet searches. I don’t want to rehash; I only want to acknowledge that the groups aren’t perfect). Each has caused me, from time to time, to question whether I still want to be a member. And yet, year after year, I re-up. Why?

Because the writers I interact with – many of whom I’ve met through these groups – are, for the most part, wonderful. Writing is a lonely business. I used to work in an office. I had colleagues, an assistant, and clients. I talked to people all the time. I was on the phone, in meetings, chatting in hallways and other people’s offices. I was having lunch. And then I became a writer, which I love. But I’m no longer talking to people all the time. It’s a quieter business, ya know? 😀 So I like having a group I can turn to if I have a question, need advice, or simply want to say hi.

There are other benefits to being in a large writer’s group, such as advocacy (both on a group and individual level) and early access to industry news. But each writer has to decide for themselves if the cost of membership in these groups is a good trade for the benefits they might receive. My hope is that big, institutional writers groups like RWA and SFWA will evolve in positive directions as the publishing climate continues to change and the myriad ways in which writers can connect and receive information continues to grow.

LESSONS? MANY. But no change here.

So those are my thoughts on books and writer’s groups. Now, I’d love to hear from you! Answer any! Answer all!

Books:

Do you try to diversify your book buying habits so that you purchase books from a variety of different sellers or do you prefer to do your shopping in one main place?

Do you like a variety of formats (hard cover, trade paperback, mass market, digital) or do you prefer one over all others?

Do you buy more books than you read? Does that make you happy or sad?

Have any fun or quirky advice on how to plough through a TBR pile and/or add more reading time to an already packed schedule?

Writer’s groups:

Writers, which groups do you belong to? Which groups would you belong to if cost or membership eligibility weren’t an issue? What are some of the benefits you expect from a writer’s group in return for your membership dues?

Readers, had you ever heard of RWA or SFWA before this post? How about the Rita or the Nebula? Does the fact that a book won a major award make it more likely that you’ll buy it?

Thanks, everyone! I’ve really enjoyed reading commenters’ contributions so far.

Tomorrow I discuss… Everything Else! 😀

#Writing: Twenty Fun Spelling Bee Words

My older daughter is prepping for a Spelling Bee. Yesterday, she brought home her word list. For fun, we each picked our ten favorite words from the list.

My List

  1. Sotto voce
  2. Velociraptor
  3. Accoutrement
  4. Aubergine (will always remind me of Steel Magnolias)
  5. Vitriolic
  6. Histrionics
  7. Quadrillion (although “Bazillion” is better)
  8. Petroglyphs
  9. Smithereens
  10. Juxtapose

Her List

  1. Dodecahedron
  2. Bazooka
  3. Anthropomorphic
  4. Bric-a-brac
  5. Panache
  6. Vivacious
  7. Aerodynamic
  8. Vice versa
  9. Ragamuffin
  10. Isochronous

What about you? Favorite words? Words you always misspell? WordPress’ spellcheck didn’t recognize sotto voce and isochronous, which is forgivable. But it also didn’t immediately recognize velociraptor. To misquote Vizzini, “Unbelievable!” 😀

#Writing: Water Cooler Round Up ~ 13 Great Guest Posts

My latest guest blog series has wrapped. It’s been one of my favorites. A baker’s dozen of writers coming here to spotlight their favorite coffee shop, talk about their day jobs, post interesting pictures from day trips inspired by novels, and/or share their thoughts on writing life, the craft of writing or seasonal topics. Below is the list of writers and topics. THANK YOU to each and every one of them for participating. Everyone else, enjoy and stay tuned for more guest bloggers in 2014!

14 Fantastic Posts

  1. Karolyn James: “How Washing Dishes Put Her on the Bestseller Lists” ~ Bonus: Top 5 Turkey Day Foods!
  2. Michael S. Fedison: “Muses Versus Ghosts” ~ Perserverance
  3. KM Fawcett: “Can You Play Nice With Others” ~ Writing collaboration and working with a partner
  4. Casey Wyatt: “So You’ve Got A Doubt Monster” ~ Author Insecurity
  5. JC Hay: “Without Romance, Science Fiction Can Feel as Empty and Soulless as an Interstellar Void” ~ SFR
  6. Sapphire Phelan: A History of Witchcraft
  7. Debra Elise: Online Workshops
  8. Jami Gray: NaNoWriMo ~ “Opening Skirmish in One of the Toughest Battles You’ll Face”
  9. Kimberly Kincaid: “Give Me Some Space” ~ Why where you write is a big deal
  10. Isabella Norse: Bare Bulb Coffee Spotlight ~ “A shop with heart” in Kathleen, Georgia
  11. Lark Howard: “Pilgrimage to Marfa” ~ Road trip to small Texas town
  12. Cecilia Dominic: “A Writer on the Couch” ~ Psychologist by day, writer by night
  13. Celia Breslin: PNR Review ~ Larissa Ione’s ROGUE RIDER
  14. Jill Archer: Writers and Websites ~ 10 Neat “Extras”

Hope all of you are having a great Friday! I am writing/revising all day today and then tomorrow I’m meeting up with close friends I haven’t seen in far too long. We backpacked through Europe together back in 1995 (yikes! almost 20 years ago!). For fun, here are two pictures of us in Rome (at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum):

Rome I Rome II

Cover Reveal: WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE (Noon Onyx #3)

Today I’ve got a fun, beautiful, fantastic post that I’ve been looking forward to sharing with you — the new cover for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, the third book in my Noon Onyx series. As with FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, Jason Chan was the cover artist. Below are my thoughts on the cover, the book blurb, pre-order and Goodreads links, and a chance to win some neat prizes: signed copies of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL (US only) and a $25 eGift Certificate to the book store of your choice (international). Please help me to share the new cover by tweeting, posting, etc.!

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art
WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE
Noon Onyx #3
Cover Artist: Jason Chan
Cover Designer: Lesley Worrell

My Thoughts

I’ve loved each of my covers for different reasons. DARK LIGHT OF DAY was my first cover so I’m rather sentimental about it. I’ll always love it because it was my first and because cover artist David Palumbo incorporated a lot of design elements that I appreciated: the blackened vine motif on the gate, St. Luck’s in the background, the books that Noon held, the fireball raised high in her hand, and that defiant, though somewhat hesitant, face. It fit the story and the character for that book perfectly.

I loved FIERY EDGE OF STEEL’s cover because it was visually striking. Noon looked tougher and, instead of carrying books and a vague, unshaped fireball, she was now griping a knife — a fiery filleting knife that she’d shaped out of waning magic. The backdrop was the New Babylon docks — appropriate since that story was, for the most part, a river adventure.

But — wow! — I think the cover for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is the best yet. It’s stunning.

When my editor sent me the cover art and I opened it up for the first time, I was thrilled. It’s beautiful, and like my first two covers, it incorporates many of the design elements that we discussed early on. Noon’s clothing is different than it was on the first two covers. Instead of a bustier and cloak, she’s bundled up in a fur-lined hood and gloves for her trip into the dark parts of southern Halja. She’s graduated from a knife to a sword. It’s symbolic of how far she’s come as a character. (Whether or not the sword on the cover is actually the famed “White Heart of Justice” that Noon seeks in the book, I leave to readers to determine). And a fiery war bird circles her, another nod to her growing magic skills and a hint to readers that they will see magic used in new and different ways in book #3.

But the two things I love the most about this cover are its attention-grabbing, bright, bracing colors and Noon’s expression. Though she is looking down, she looks contemplative and strong, almost meditative. Appropriate for a character whose decisions have become more weighty with each book. Here’s the blurb…

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

A Noon Onyx Novel

Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

Please Pre-Order and Add to Your Goodreads Shelf

Who else is participating

in the cover reveal?

Below are the other bloggers that are participating in the cover reveal. THANK YOU to each and every one of them! I am very grateful that they wanted to help share the new cover and spread the word about WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. Please stop by to check out their sites, subscribe and/or follow them, and for more chances to win my cover reveal prizes. A big thank you to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours, who helped to organize the cover reveal.

Prizes!

To celebrate the new cover, I am giving away a signed set of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL (US only) and a $25 eGift Certificate to a book store of winner’s choice (international). To enter to win, click here.

So what do you think? Do you love the new cover as much as I do? Thank you for helping me share it!

“Outta Sight” – Fun Flash Fiction Poem Inspired by Lite Brite and “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

Lite Brite Pegs---- 2/8/10 (39/365)
Lite Brite Pegs—- 2/8/10 (39/365) (Photo credit: Candie_N (Welcome Spring))

Duct Tape, Chipmunks, a Floor Full of Laundry and… My Top 5 Fiction Rules

Kriss interviewed me today over at Cabin Goddess. I reveal some “dirty secrets” and talk about an unusual childhood pet that we had. She also asked me to write a flash fiction piece. I haven’t written flash fiction in years. (The last time was at a terrific U of Penn writers conference, which I think has since been discontinued). In any case, I found the whole exercise extraordinarily fun. I loved the freedom of it. No need to agonize over word choice, there’s no time! The other thing I liked is that what I came up with followed my TOP FIVE FICTION RULES:

1. There’s a slight twist

2. The end reflects the beginning, some significant event in the story and/or is thematic

3. It’s not perfect

4. It’s funny, provocative, entertaining and/or silly

5. It’s positive / the end has a message of hope or is forward-looking

There are more chances to win copies of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL and a $10.00 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of your choice. Click here to check it out.

Have you written any flash fiction lately? Do you enjoy reading it? Do you have a Top 5 fiction rule list? If so, what’s on there?

This weekend is going to be BUSY for me. Tomorrow, my oldest “graduates” from elementary school, Saturday we’re heading down to the Udvar-Hazy Center in DC for its “Become a Pilot” event, and Sunday is Father’s Day. How about you? Have any plans? Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful weekend! 😀

If Fiery Edge of Steel was made into a movie, who would I cast as Noon Onyx?

I’ve never answered the question of who I would cast as the lead characters in the Noon Onyx books if the books were made into movies. Mostly, it was due to the fact that no one actress came immediately to mind. But another reason is that I was reluctant to limit the character’s interpretation in that way. Books and movies are very different storytelling mediums. One of the amazing things about books is that readers can fill in the gaps of the story with their own imaginations. Part of me felt like if I said who I thought would make a great Noon, that’s who people would always visualize. But that’s ridiculous. And SO NOT FUN!

EJ over at From the Shadows asked me “the casting question” and this time, I had to answer it. So if you’re wondering who I would cast as Noon, Ari, and newcomer Rafe Sinclair, then check out today’s interview by clicking here. I talk about other stuff too, like when I started writing, what brought me to the paranormal genre, which supernatural talent I would want for my own, and why people will like Fiery Edge of Steel. And, of course, there’s a giveaway! Come comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Fiery Edge of Steel!

If you’ve read Dark Light of Day, I’d love to hear *your* thoughts on who would make a great Noon and Ari. Or you can tell me what you think of my choices and whether you’ve seen any of the MOVIES I reference. 😀

Hope to see you there! Have a great Wednesday!

One of the neatest things about Release Day: Friends sending you pictures of their recently delivered copies! Thanks, Dianne, for texting me this pic!!
One of the neatest things about Release Day: Friends sending you pictures of their recently delivered copies! Thanks, Dianne, for texting me this pic!!

Supernatural Smackdown, Tour Winners, and Cloud Atlas

Noon Onyx is Competing in Dark Faerie Tales Supernatural Smackdown!

This weekend, Noon is competing in Dark Faerie Tales Supernatural Smackdown. What’s a Supernatural Smackdown, you ask? It’s a really fun online cage match among a bunch of tough-as-nails paranormal characters. It was fun for me as a writer because this is the first post I’ve written from Noon’s perspective. And it’s tons of fun for readers because all of the posts have been great. If you are looking for a quick entertainment fix, stop by! There are prizes (I’m giving away a signed copy of Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel) and other participating authors are offering terrific prizes as well.

While you’re there, you can VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER. Being a pacifist at heart, Noon’s a little disadvantaged in this competition (she could use some online love to survive!). But, honestly, just check it out and vote for whoever — because all of the posts have been witty and well worth reading.

ARC and eGC Winners!

Thank you very much to everyone who participated in the exclusive excerpt tour for Fiery Edge of Steel. I really appreciated all of the comments, tweets, status updates, etc. It helps a lot to have readers spreading the word about new releases online. Bewitching Book Tours sent me the list of winners and prizes have either already been delivered or are on their way. Here are the winners:

eGift Certificate: Roger S.

ARCs: Ashley S., Carol A., Shannon R., Jennifer S., Sherry F., Megan M.

Cloud Atlas

I watched Cloud Atlas last night. Has anyone else seen it? What did you think of it? For the most part, I liked it. I’m usually able to follow complicated plots, but I have to admit that I was baffled and confused at times by the myriad story lines (the movie follows six separate stories set in 1849 South Pacific, 1936 England/Scotland, 1973 San Francisco, 2012 United Kingdom, 2144 Neo Seoul, and 2321 “The Big Island”). Since I’d be hard pressed (in the time I have to write this post) to come up with a decent description for this movie, I’m going to just quote IMDb, which says that Cloud Atlas is “an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”

I definitely have to see this movie again. I’m sure I missed a lot in the first viewing because this film is so sprawling (not necessarily a bad thing). It’s feels all over the place in the beginning — and it is — in time, space, and plot. But one of the things that was interesting (although more confusing, because I was so distracted by the actors’ many different visual transformations) is that the same actors play different characters in each story line. Since this movie was based on a book (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell) I found myself wondering why the filmmakers chose to make the film version of the story that way. I can’t imagine the choice was made for budgetary reasons. But I’m not sure I understand the creative choice. Were the filmmakers trying to underscore the book’s interconnectivity theme? I think there is some controversy surrounding the film and this choice, but I’ll have to wait until I have more time to look into it. Maybe some of you movie buffs can fill me in. The film reminded me of The Fountain and Tree of Life (although I admit, I was so tired during Tree of Life that I don’t even remember half of it). And there’s also a little bit of a Matrix vibe to the Neo Seoul 2144 storyline, which makes sense because the Wachowskis directed both.

Have you seen Cloud Atlas? What are your thoughts? Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!

#Writing: Meredith Bond on Villains

Meredith Bond is my next guest blogger in my Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series. She’s here to talk about antagonists. For any of you who live in the Frederick, Maryland area, she’ll also be at the Frederick Book Festival this weekend. She’s leading a panel discussion on self-publishing, as well as doing a reading from one of her books. Today, she’s giving away a copy of Storm on the Horizon to one commenter and I’m also doing my usual giveaway for these “Spring Into Summer” posts — one book from my personal collection (US only). Welcome, Merry!

“Everybody has that warm, comforting, wonderful part to their personality…

Even the meanest, nastiest, most cruel villain.”

When I teach my beginning novel writing class, Chapter One, I always start with characters. They are, I feel, the most important thing in a novel. It’s characters who we fall in love with, care for and need to read through a book to make sure they’re going to be ok – if the writer has done their job well. But I don’t just focus on heroes and heroines in my class, I talk about villains (antagonists) too because they’re just as important if not more so, than protagonists (heroes).

I love antagonists. I love to think about what makes them tick. What makes them do what they do – which is to stop the hero from getting whatever it is that he needs to get. Anyone can be an antagonist – the sweetest, most wonderful little, old grandmother could be a child’s antagonist if what the child wants is a cookie, and she’s not letting him have one because there’s only half an hour until dinner.

But the most fun and wonderful antagonists are those who are just plain mean. All right, those who are nasty and cruel and heartless are fun too, but they’ve got to be mean, at least to my mind. But they can’t just be mean for being mean’s sake. They’ve got to be mean for a reason. They’ve got to have a really good reason for being that nasty to my hero (whom I love – always).

Not only do villains need a good reason to be mean, but they’ve got to have what one of my students called “fuzzy socks”. I love that term, and I use it all the time now. “Fuzzy socks” is that wonderful feeling you get on the coldest day of winter when you snuggle up with a pair of warm, fuzzy socks on your feet. You feel good. You feel warm and comforted. Everybody has that warm, comforting, wonderful part to their personality. Yes, everybody! Even the meanest, nastiest, most cruel villain. At some point in his life, he was loved or he loved someone – even if it was just his mother for the first few moments after his birth before she left him in a dumpster. It’s those “fuzzy socks” which I like to discover within my antagonists.

Storm on the HorizonIn my novel, Magic in the Storm, the villain is my hero’s mother, Tatiana – yes, his own mother who wanted to kill him just moments after his birth! Why? Because he was male, and she was expecting a girl. His father saves him, but his mother hates him and is horribly cruel to him for the rest of the poor guy’s life. But what made her that way? And what are her “fuzzy socks”? Where is the good in this villain? That’s what I set out to find when I began writing Storm on the Horizon.

It’s the story of Tatiana as a young woman, and how she meets and falls in love with the man who becomes her husband (the one who later saves his son from her wrath). We get to see who she is, what she’s like, and we get a glimpse of how she became the woman she is in Magic in the Storm.

Do you ever wonder what makes a villain who they are, or why they do all the horrible things they do?  Have you ever tried looking for someone’s “fuzzy socks”?  Please comment and one lucky person will win a copy of my novella Storm on the Horizon (it’s the prequel to Magic in the Storm, but you don’t have to have read one in order to enjoy the other).

More About Storm on the Horizon

Tatiana Ashurst has a secret – one that she cannot afford to be known to Georgian English society. But Kit Vallentyn discovers her hidden ability to wield infinitely powerful magic… and saves her from inadvertently revealing it to everyone. Tatiana knows it is impossible for her to marry him. But how can she help herself from becoming fascinated by this handsome man, who seems to extend a spell over her more powerful than any she can conjure?

Kit is out for a wife. His instinct, however, is to go through the mere motions of searching, just to please his ambitious father who wants a big dowry from the marriage. But the one woman who he can’t get out of his mind is the twin sister of the one his father wants him to marry – the one who is plain, penniless, ineligible… and enchanting in more ways than one.

For Kit and Tatiana to weather the storm of their desires, they have to peel away the layers of all of their secrets, to discover the simple truth of their love.

More About Meredith Bond

Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Her paranormal romances include Magic In The Storm, Storm on the Horizon, and “In A Beginning” (in the anthology Tales From The Mist). Her traditional Regencies include The Merry Men Quartet of which An Exotic Heir will be republished in March, 2013. Meredith also teaches writing. If you want a taste of her class, Chapter One is available at your favorite e-retailer.

Merry can be found online here:

Since I write about demons, I’m not so sure that *every* villain has a warm, comforting, and wonderful part to their personality, but I do like nuanced, complex characters. One of the things that appeals to me about my Noon Onyx series is that some of the characters that people might ordinarily assume are “bad” aren’t and vice versa. I imagine that characters, like real people, are usually neither all good, nor all bad, and that one shouldn’t be judged based on their blood or the group they were born into. Instead, characters and people should be judged based on their actions. Also, characters and people make mistakes.

Although some mistakes are forgivable and some are not.

What do YOU think? Do all villains have “fuzzy socks” and it’s just a matter of looking hard enough to find them? Or do you think that some villains are so cruel and twisted that they could not have ever been given “fuzzy socks” in the first place? (You know I’ll be thinking about this post next time I do laundry and match socks! 😀) Commenters will have a chance to win a copy of Storm on the Horizon and one book from my personal collection (includes Dark Light of Day!) Thank you for guest blogging, Merry!

Fiery Edge of Steel Sneak Peek Tour is at Rabid Reads Today

The Fiery Edge of Steel exclusive excerpt tour is wrapping up. Today and tomorrow are the last days to enter to win a signed ARC and a $25 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of your choice. Check out today’s excerpt at Rabid Reads. And see below for more Fiery Edge of Steel inspirations. Happy Friday!

Jill Archer, Fiery Edge of Steel, inspirations, bonfire, urban fantasy, speculative ficion
BONFIRES = INSPIRATION FOR… BONFIRES 😀

I’ve always loved bonfires. I still remember spending one Christmas Eve with my dad, step-mom, and brother watching the bonfires burn along the Mississippi River. I also remember my high school used to let students build and burn a big bonfire for homecoming. And, growing up in western Pennsylvania and now living in rural Maryland, there have been no shortage of friends to hang out with who also love to safely burn things. Despite the picture above looking very “Lord of the Light-ish” I took it last summer at a local backyard bonfire. I took it with my cell phone so it’s a little grainy, but the timing couldn’t have been better. I was walking out to my car and I turned around and saw the moon and the guy standing in front of the fire (yes, he’s in front of the fire, not in it :-)). I couldn’t help thinking that scenes like this have likely happened throughout human history with very little change. I edited out the farm house, which really gives the picture a timeless look.

Those of you who have read Dark Light of Day know that bonfires play a minor role in the story. They do in Fiery Edge of Steel too. And I even managed to work in my idea that scenes like this have been repeated with each passing generation for countless years. (Chapter 21 for anyone who’s curious). Unless something drastic changes during edits, there will also be a bonfire in Act I of book #3. Why? To me, they are a symbol of continuity and community, friendship and warmth.

More Inspirations for Fiery Edge of Steel and Teaser Tour Excerpt Part Three

The third Fiery Edge of Steel, Chapter 1 excerpt is at the speculative fiction blog, Preternatura (Suzanne Johnson’s blog). Find out which demon they’re bringing to Timothy’s Square for the Carne Vale and enter to win one of six signed ARCs of Fiery Edge of Steel (US) and a $25 eGift Certificate to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice (international). And see below for some more “behind the scenes” type stuff. Happy Wednesday!

Lady Justice, fantasy with legal fiction elements
LADY JUSTICE (AND HER MANY PREDECESSORS: JUSTITIA, MAAT, THEMIS, AND DIKE) = INSPIRATION FOR THE ABSENT DEMONESS, JUSTICA

I name all my chapters and then take the names out during edits. Some of my chapter names could probably be left in — the ones that are evocative because they play off some thematic element in the chapter. But many of them are just sign posts for me, the drafter. They help me to keep track of what the chapter’s supposed to be about. When I was drafting Fiery Edge of Steel, I had this idea to put little snippets of stuff at the beginning of each chapter. Things that would provide information to the reader, but not necessarily as part of the narrative. I decided against it. For one thing, the books have enough information for the reader to digest. But for those of you that like extras, here’s the one I drafted for the beginning of Chapter 20:

Lead investigators shall have the following duties:

1. To the Demon Council: Lead investigators shall be loyal, faithful, and respectful to the Council, and shall uphold its authority at all times;

2. To the Investigative Team: To the extent possible based on field situations, lead investigators shall keep members of their investigative team reasonably safe;

3. To the Outpost Lord: Lead investigators shall not unnecessarily offend an Outpost Lord who is under investigation. During the investigation, investigators shall cause as little disturbance as possible in outpost operations and shall take care not to diminish the Outpost Lord’s adoration; and

4. To Justica: Lead investigators shall conduct a thorough investigation, shall render an impartial and fair judgment, and then mete out punishment, including execution, as necessary.

Rule 2290.13(g) of the Maegester’s Rules of Engagement (Demon Complaints; Investigation of Outpost Lord; Duties of Lead Investigator)

Fiery Edge of Steel Teaser Tour Part Two at Urban Girl Reader

Fiery Edge of Steel Chapter One, Part Two is up at Urban Girl Reader! Click here for the 2nd excerpt and more chances to win signed ARCs (US) and a $25 eGC (international). Hope everyone’s day has been great! Mine has been wet and rainy.

MAGIC 8 BALL = INSPIRATION FOR ALBA’S BLACK ONIONS

Here’s a deleted snippet from Fiery Edge of Steel, Chapter 2. It’s the menu at Alba’s (a.k.a. “the Black Onion”), a tiny cafe on the corner of River Road and Widow’s Walk where Noon and her study mates go when they want to get off campus.

Alba’s
Bread $3.95
Soup $6.95
Fish $12.95

Black Onions $0.60
Don’t you want to know?

Fiery Edge of Steel Exclusive Excerpt Tour: ARC Giveaways and More!

Fiery Edge of Steel is releasing at the end of this month — May 28th! To help spread the word about its release, I’m doing a six stop exclusive excerpt tour through Bewitching Book Tours. From today through May 11th, one part of Chapter 1 will be posted at each of the stops below. I’m giving away six signed ARCs (US only) and one $25.00 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice (international) during this “teaser” tour. I’m ALSO giving away two more signed ARCs of Fiery Edge of Steel and two signed copies of Dark Light of Day from my site (US only). All you have to do to enter to win one of those is e-mail your US address to [archer at jillarcher dot com] by midnight EDT May 13th. Subject line should be the title of the book you are interested in. (You can say “both” :-D).

Fiery Edge of Steel

Exclusive Excerpt Tour

In writing Fiery Edge of Steel, I was inspired by a number of things, among them an old French imposter case, two children’s songs, and a fairy tale. I wanted to explore the themes of love, betrayal, knowledge, death, and duty. To set up those themes I could think of no better way to open the book than to recreate a Haljan version of the 16th century execution of Arnaud du Tilh, the man who impersonated the French peasant Martin Guerre. That recreation forms the basis for Chapter 1.

May 6th: Part One at Fang-tastic Books

May 7th: Part Two at Urban Girl Reader

May 8th: Part Three at Preternatura

May 9th: Part Four at Urban Fantasy Investigations

May 10th: Part Five at Rabid Reads

May 11th: Part Six at Romancing the Dark Side

Great First Reviews!

I was thrilled and excited to see that the first reviews for Fiery Edge of Steel were positive. In fact, I love what was said about the book and the series. I’m very grateful for any interest and thankful to everyone who takes the time to read and review.

“Archer delves deeper into the enticing and magical world of Dark Light of Day in this original and clever urban fantasy… Excitement and action leap from the pages as Archer’s skill with description pulls readers fully into her magical world.” — Publishers Weekly

“The second Noon Onyx story is an astounding adventure tale. Archer’s unique world, where Lucifer’s army triumphed at Armageddon, is filled with adherence to strict laws that keep an uneasy peace between races. This is proving to be a really fresh and fascinating series!” — RT Book Reviews

Noon Onyx is participating in a

Supernatural Smackdown

Does that sound hilarious and fun or what?!? I couldn’t resist saying I’d participate even though Noon’s character isn’t as kick a$$ as the characters she’ll be competing against. If you’re interested in seeing how a Supernatural Smackdown works, stop by Dark Faerie Tales (I’ll be taking notes along with you because this is the first one I’ve ever done!). And, if you want to vote for the underdog, come check out my post there on May 16th! (Yes, I’ll be sending out reminders. ;-))

More About the Noon Onyx Series

In Dark Light of Day, the first book in the series, Nouiomo “Noon” Onyx, a 21 year old post grad magic user, had to choose between death or training to become a demon peacekeeper. In Fiery Edge of Steel, Noon faces a different question.

The Noon Onyx series is a genre-bending fantasy series. The setting is post-apocalyptic, but it’s not dystopian fiction. In fact, Armageddon is old news. Demons have inherited the earth, but goodness and love still exist. In short, the series is for readers who adore adventure, passion, mystery, and magic.

I’ll be posting info and links to various other events in connection with Fiery Edge of Steel‘s release. And I’ll be posting more guest blogs from the fabulous authors who are participating in the Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series. Behind the scenes, I am working feverishly (sometimes literally — dang spring colds!) on book #3.

I had a lot of fun writing Fiery Edge of Steel and I hope you enjoy reading it! Have a great week, everyone!
Jill Archer's Dark Light of DayJill Archer's Fiery Edge of Steel

Crime Thriller Author John Lansing: How Working in Hollywood Helped His Novel Writing

Crime thriller author John Lansing is touring with Bewitching Book Tours to promote his debut novel The Devil’s Necktie. He discusses how his acting career and time spent writing for both television and film helped him to become a better novelist. He’s also giving away a Kindle 6 inch screen with WiFi at the end of his tour. Details are at the end of the post. Welcome, John!
crime thriller fiction The Devil's Necktie John Lansing

“Men make plans, God laughs.”

There may not be vampires or paranormal activity in, “The Devil’s Necktie,” but I think there’s enough sex, drugs and murder to keep things interesting.

I didn’t grow up dreaming about being a writer. It wasn’t even on my short list. But now in hindsight I do think writing books was a natural evolution from my time spent working in Hollywood.

My acting career helped inform the characters I wrote for, and about, and created, in my television work. The craft of acting helped me understand the emotional roadmap needed to flesh out complex characters, characters that will hopefully be compelling enough to maintain a reader’s interest.

My television work taught me discipline, writing on a schedule, collaboration, and it really hammered home the type of characters I enjoyed and wanted to invest my time with, characters that were interesting enough for me to spend a year of my life with, and again, hopefully keep an audience reading. Only you can tell me if I’ve succeeded at that and I look forward to hearing from you.

The most difficult part of my transition from television to novels was the writing itself. I had a wonderful partner, Bruce Cervi, who I co-wrote all of my television and film projects with, but now I was on my own. Just me, my computer, and my twenty-four pound poodle named Lucky.

The joy of writing my first novel was not having to adhere to a formula created by a television Pilot episode. I had total freedom to explore the psychology and behavior of not only my primary characters, but also my secondary tier. And I didn’t have to worry about satisfying a star’s ego or writing to commercial breaks.

I’ve always been drawn to flawed characters that were interested in reinventing themselves, who wanted a new life. Maybe because I’ve had such a varied career myself. I grew up in middle class suburbia. People worked for the same corporation or company, had the same vocation for their entire lives. Well that doesn’t fly anymore. We can all look forward to experiencing three or four different careers in our lifetime.

I wanted to write about a detective who was on the verge of change, who was recovering from a nasty divorce, retiring from the NYPD, leaving Staten Island, and starting over. The old Yiddish proverb pretty much nails it. “Men make plans, God laughs.” My protagonist, Jack Bertolino, chose to do all of those things; it just didn’t quite work out the way he planned. Twenty-five years of taking down drug dealers, money launderers and killers came back to bite him in the ass, and shook up his newfound sense of bliss in Marina del Rey, California. That was enough of a hook for me to write “The Devil’s Necktie.”

More About The Devil’s Necktie

A sizzling thriller for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. An exciting tour into the real-life world of cops, crime, and murder. Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered – and Jack is the lead suspect. Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Columbian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and murderers and discovers that the top players knew Mia personally. And now Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover…either way, the body count will rise.

Where to buy

More About John

John Lansing
John Lansing

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. The Devil’s Necktie is his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Where to find John online

More About the Contest

Kindle LansingAt the end of his virtual book tour, John is giving away one Kindle 6 inch screen with WiFi. If you’d like to enter to win, click here =>

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, writers, have you had a another career that’s helped your writing in some way? Readers, what do you think of the saying “Men make plans; God laughs”? Too true at times, right? Thank you for guest blogging today, John!

New Adult Fiction: Misconceptions and Moving Forward by NA Alley Blogger Carrie Butler

NA Alley blogger & New Adult author, Carrie Butler, is my next guest. She’s here to celebrate today’s release of her new NA paranormal romance Strength, as well as discuss some of the misconceptions she sees regarding the emerging New Adult genre/category of fiction. She’s also giving away an e-book of Strength to one lucky commenter. Welcome, Carrie!

CB_STRENGTH_Cover

NEW ADULT

What it is. What it isn’t.

Thank you so much for having me over, Jill! To make sure everyone is on the same page, I thought I’d give a quick definition. 🙂

“New Adult fiction (NA) is a category of literature that encompasses the transition between adolescence and adulthood. Protagonists typically fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.

Other terms for NA include: Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, and Mature YA.”

Whew! That was quite a mouthful. So, now that we know what NA is, let’s talk about what it isn’t:

  • NA is not a genre. Genres tend to have content-based criteria, i.e. to be considered romance, a novel must have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending”. Categories, on the other hand, help readers find what they’re looking for by giving general expectations—age of the main character, stage of life depicted, voice, levels of violence and sexuality, etc. Genres fit inside of categories. That’s how we form labels like adult romance, NA thriller, YA fantasy, MG adventure, etc.
  • NA is not “sexier YA”. Contrary to what some publications would lead you to believe, NA isn’t all about sex. In fact, some novels don’t portray it at all—and that’s okay. It works like any other category.
  • NA is not a marketing ploy. I know it’s difficult to take my word on this one—after all, my background is in marketing—but I promise, NA isn’t some greedy attempt to compartmentalize fiction. It’s a way of acknowledging the literary gap between YA and adult—a way to help readers find the stories they’ve been looking for.
  • NA is more than contemporary fiction. Given NA contemporary’s recent successes, it’s currently the most popular genre in the category. But you know what? There’s more to explore! I’m ready to see more speculative New Adult fiction. Paranormal romance, fantasy, dystopian, horror, etc. When do we get to read a supernaturally charged love story set on a college campus?

Okay, okay. That last sentence was a plug. My debut novel, STRENGTH, releases today, and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it!

If anyone has questions about NA, I’d be more than happy to answer them. Thanks again!

More About Strength

When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, she’s stunned. Wallace Blake is everything she’s ever wanted in a man—except he can’t touch her. His uncontrollable strength, a so-called gift from his bloodline, makes every interaction dangerous. And with a secret, supernatural war brewing among his kind, there’s no time to work it out. To keep Wallace in her life, Rena will have to risk a whole lot more than her heart.

Strength is available at:

More About Carrie

Carrie Butler
Carrie Butler

Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

Carrie can be found online here:

STRENGTH_PARTY_SidebarSo, everyone, there’s been A LOT of great discussions concerning New Adult fiction all over the internet. Who still has questions? What are your thoughts on Carrie’s clarifications? Are there any other misconceptions? One commenter will win an e-book of Strength.

I’ve really enjoyed hosting this New Adult Guest Blog Series (which is not over yet! At least two more of the NA Alley bloggers are going to blog here before I wrap it up). I hope everyone else has enjoyed hearing from the authors who are publishing in this up and coming category of fiction.

Congratulations and best wishes for Strength, Carrie! Thanks for guest blogging today!

Just One Bite: Writing Novellas by Foodie Romance Author Kimberly Kincaid

Kimberly Kincaid is here to kick off her blog tour for her contemporary foodie romance e-novella, Love on the Line (yay! I get to kick off another blog tour! I have to admit, I love being the first blogger to host some of these awesome authors. 😀) Kimberly discusses how she went from writing single titles to writing novellas and she shares a few tips for anyone who is thinking about writing a novella. I also asked her to share something unique about the story that no one knows yet and she said… “The chicken and dumplings dish that my heroine, Violet, makes for Noah (the hero) is based on a real dish that I make for my family all the time. The recipe is included with the novella, and it’s not only a perfect belly-warmer, but it’s (really!) easy to make. The cheesecake, sadly, is a complete fabrication.” Which, of course, makes me curious about that cheesecake! Welcome, Kimberly!

Love on the Line

Novellas aren’t “less.”

If anything they are more.

My first e-novella, Love On The Line, is exciting to me in quite a lot of ways, not the least of which is that it happened quite by accident. Like many aspiring authors, I had manuscripts. Plural. So when my agent sold them in a three-book deal last summer (once I got over the screaming and the ugly-dancing and more screaming), I found myself with a very rare, very puzzling problem on my hands.

All three books were done. And I had nothing to write.

Now, writing is definitely a career for me. I’m not a nothing-to-write person. So what could I do? How could I fill my time and build my career? My agent and editor put their heads together, and what they came up with startled me. “You could write a few novellas,” they said.

But…but but but I write single-title! I wanted to say. I have no idea how to write a novella! But the option made sense, so (after I got over the shock) I grabbed it with both hands. The next thing I grabbed were stacks of anthologies and e-novellas online. And what I discovered surprised me.

Despite being much shorter than full-length novels, novellas weren’t “less”. If anything, they were more.

It took six months of research and writing (I’m currently writing novella number three), but what I discovered was that despite their small stature, novellas still have all the elements of a full-length novel. There are plot points and characterizations to be made. There are external conflicts and personal journeys to be had. There’s sexual tension to build, and there’s love to be found. And it’s all in this tiny, powerful package. Getting all those things into thirty thousand words means every single syllable matters, and measuring them out with precision is both challenging and crucial. It taught (very wordy) me to examine my characterizations, my plotlines, my arcs. You don’t have to sacrifice any of these things to fit them into a novella. In fact, you can’t. Novellas are still great stories. They’re just told with different method and intention.

That said, here are a few things I learned along the way (the hard way):

Getting to know you. It’s helpful (but not necessary) for your hero and heroine to know each other already in a novella. In Love On The Line, Violet and Noah were well-acquainted from page one, and in fact, had shared their first kiss well before that. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have hurdles (big ones!) But it made my job as the author easier because I could sprinkle their set-up into the action, rather than having to establish it freshly. Likewise, many authors use the novella for secondary characters who are already established within a series because they already have the setup in place. You still need setup. You can just write it in a more compact way.

I’m so conflicted! Since you’ve got a lot to do in a little space, conflict can lean a little more on either internal (emotions) or external (circumstance). Usually, in a full-length novel, there are both keeping your h/h apart. But the beauty of a novella is that you can usually choose either/or and really dig into it. For Violet and Noah, there was a lot of internal struggle keeping them apart. I got the chance to really make those emotions sing. In my Christmas anthology story coming out this fall, it’s all external conflict (a competition only one of them can win) keeping my hero and heroine apart. Whichever you choose, it’s important to make it sing in the space you’ve got.

Pace yourself. The same things that happen in a novel also happen in a novella; they just happen in different time. Pacing is crucial (remember that every-word-matters thing? Yes. That!) Starting on a hook is key. Keeping the hook at the end of every chapter, more key. Giving each scene, each sentence, purpose—the biggest key of all. Novellas must move. After all, you’ve only got a little space for a lot of action and a whole lot of love to go down!

So tell me, writers! What’s your experience with the novella? And readers, what do you think? Tell me some of your favorites!

More About Love on the Line

Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.

For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.

Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?

Excerpt

As soon as Noah got behind her, the smell of coconuts and warm sand filled his senses, delivering a crystal clear image to his brain. His heart slammed in his ribcage, and without thinking, he cupped Violet’s elbow and swung her around, so tight to his body that he felt her gasp as much as heard it.

“You were in my hospital room yesterday. Before I woke up.”

“I…I—”

But he barreled on, the memory as bright and vivid as if it had just happened a minute ago. “Your hair was braided, on your shoulders, and you were wearing a…a bracelet that sounded like wind chimes. You said the doctor was coming. It was you.”

The fan of her gold-tipped lashes fluttered wide, and the warm puff of her breath heated his cheek as she nodded. “I didn’t mean to intrude. I was looking for Jason, but I didn’t think you’d wake up.”

Noah shook his head to quell her apology. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, his resolve locking into place, and Violet went utterly still against him.

“It doesn’t?”

“No. You’re the first thing I’ve been able to remember since I got shot in the first place. In fact, you’re the only thing I can remember since I got shot.”

Where to find Kimberly and her books

Kimberly Kincaid
Kimberly Kincaid

Love on the Line can be purchased from Amazon by clicking here.

She also has an anthology, The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, coming out from Kensington in the fall, which can be pre-ordered here.

Find her online at:

So, readers, are you a fan of chicken and dumplings? How about cheesecake? (Come on, who isn’t?!) Have you read any good romance novellas lately? Do you think the idea of a foodie romance novella is as fun as I do?

Writers, what about you? Is there a novella in your future? I’m seriously considering one after I turn in Noon Onyx book #3. I’ve been toying with the idea of possibly doing a novella featuring Nightshade, Noon’s twin brother. I think he’d be a fun hero to write about. We’ll see…

Congrats on your release and best wishes for Love on the Line, Kimberly! Thank you for guest blogging today!

Are the #NewAdult Years More Formative Than Adolescence? Karen Duvall #Giveaway: signed copy Knight’s Curse

Karen Duvall is the next guest blogger in my New Adult guest blog series. She’s giving away an autographed copy of Knight’s Curse to one lucky commenter today. She’s here to discuss our current favorite topic, New Adult fiction, and also her Knight’s Curse series, which features a young, modern-day female knight who’s lived a sheltered life and who is faced with some of those immense and formative decisions that make us who we are as adults.

Darkest Knight is the second book in the Knight's Curse series
Darkest Knight is the 2nd book in the Knight’s Curse series

Betwixt and Between by Karen Duvall

I love that the New Adult category of fiction has actually become a genre. Those early years of adulthood are special, and I remember mine well. As far as formative years go, I think those were more formative for many of us than our adolescence. At least they were for me.

My new adulthood years created solid memories I think about often. Not all are good, but even the bad ones held a powerful lesson that helped mold me into who I am today. I think that’s why this genre appeals to me so much. My experiences and how I felt going through them are still clear in my mind. And I often talk about them on my blog. I still have more college sky diving memories to share.

When I wrote my urban fantasy novel, Knight’s Curse, I created a character in her early twenties who’d been forced to lead a sheltered life. Chalice had grown up as an indentured thief for a powerful sorcerer, and though well educated during her internment, she was socially inept. Through the course of the novel she learns what it’s like to have friends and family, to care about the needs of others and about herself, and to fall in love. She learns that life, when you have one, really is worth living.

I almost made Knight’s Curse a YA novel, but high school wouldn’t have been a good fit for Chalice. The story starts with her abduction, then I skip over the part about her coming of age and go to her arrival there. Now it’s time to be an adult, as scary as that is, and to take charge of her life after having lived under the thumb of her master for so long. She’s desperate for freedom, and her quest to free herself of a curse that would change her into a monster becomes a journey of self-discovery. Chalice tore my heart out for over three hundred and fifty pages, but it was well worth the agony; for her, and for me.

Karen's giving away a signed copy of the first book in her series today
Karen’s giving away a signed copy of the first book in her series today

Excerpt from Knight’s Curse

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I’d see them coming long before they hurt me. I would hear them, too. Maybe even smell them. My abilities came in handy at times.

But today they were more like a curse.

Through a cracked and filthy window, I watched two jeeps filled with soldiers carrying machine guns park on a hill above the monastery. They wore military camouflage that hardly camouflaged them at all. From the way they slouched off into the olive trees, I knew they believed themselves unseen, except that I had seen them quite well. I noted each stitch on their clothing, every whisker on their unshaven faces, even the color of their bootlaces.

I blinked behind thick sunglasses that shielded my sensitive eyes from the harsh midsummer sun. It was nearing dusk so my eyes didn’t hurt as much. I had just turned thirteen and was now able to see better in the dark than in daylight. I preferred the night anyway. It was quieter after the sun went down.

My family of Maronite monks kept me away from the Lebanese villagers who stared and gossiped about the way I looked. The local kids who should have been my friends threw rocks at me, and even when they whispered behind my back, I could still hear them. I could hear a bee leave its hive from a mile away.

I should have told Brother Thomas about the soldiers, but I had trouble pulling myself away from the window. I felt like a hooked fish, the bait my own insatiable curiosity. Just a few more minutes. What harm could there be in that?

Two civilian-looking men stayed behind with the jeeps. My keen eyes zeroed in on the taller one, blond and blue-eyed, who stood beside a ruined pillar of an ancient structure that had once been part of a heathen temple. I saw the man’s anger as he swatted at biting flies that buzzed too close to his face, his mouth moving with words I couldn’t hear while wearing my earplugs. So I took them out.

“Damn vile country,” he spat, his English carrying the cadence of a Brit like the monk who had taught me this language. Addressing the pudgy man beside him, he added, “The bitch will pay, I promise you that.”

I winced at the words, but not because of their meaning, which made no sense to me. It was his loud voice that bit through my skull and vibrated painfully between my ears. I struggled to separate his voice from other noises nearby, like the buzzing flies, the rustling olive trees, the bleating goats in the courtyard. Head aching, I concentrated, focusing only on the words that took shape inside my mind.

“Faisal, radio the men. Make sure they’re in position.”

The man he had called Faisal wore a striped hijab and, when he nodded, the turban of fabric wobbled on his head like one of Cook’s moghlie puddings.

Something wasn’t right. A warning bell chimed inside my head, but I ignored it. I was too mesmerized by the Englishman walking down the rocky path toward our chapel.

He held himself with confidence, not crouched in wariness like the men dressed as soldiers. This one didn’t try to hide. Brother Thomas must be expecting him.

I replaced my earplugs and inhaled deeply through pinched nostrils, hoping to catch a muted whiff of the foreigner, but he was too far away. If I removed the swimmer’s noseclips I always wore, I’d be assaulted by the myriad smells outside. I’d wait for him to come closer so I could identify the scents on his clothes and body. That would tell me what I needed to know.

He stepped through groping fingers of long shadows and skirted the scaffolds that leaned against decaying chapel walls. He scowled up at a tent of heavy canvas that replaced large portions of the missing roof. A small goat trotted in front of him, and he kicked at it, brushing at his crisply ironed slacks as if they’d become soiled.

I scrambled down off the crate I’d used to reach the window, and crept barefoot along the uneven floor of a hallway leading to the chapel. A thick wooden door stood slightly ajar, and I knelt beside it, peering through a two-inch gap to watch.

More About Knight’s Curse

A skilled knife fighter since the age of nine, Chalice knows what it’s like to live life on the edge–precariously balanced between the dark and the light. But the time has come to choose. The evil sorcerer who kidnapped her over a decade ago requires her superhuman senses to steal a precious magical artifact…or she must suffer the consequences.Desperate to break the curse that enslaves her, Chalice agrees. But it is only with the help of Aydin–her noble warrior-protector–that she will risk venturing beyond the veil to discover the origins of her power. Only for him will she dare to fully embrace her awesome talents. For a deadly duel is at hand, and Chalice alone will have to decide between freedom…and the love of her life.

Where to buy:

More About Karen

Karen Duvall
Karen Duvall

Karen Duvall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She’s an award winning author published with Harlequin Luna and is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy series.

Karen just published a novella that appears in Luna’s ‘TIL THE WORLD ENDS anthology that was released just last month. Her story features an NA heroine with an ability that can help heal a dying world. The other two novellas in the collection are by Julie Kagawa and Ann Aguirre.

Where to find Karen online:

So, what about you? Do you think the New Adult years (ages 18-25) are more formative than adolescence? What sort of life altering decisions did you face during your late teens and early twenties? Anything you’d want to go back and do over? Or are you happy with how things turned out? Does the idea of reading about characters that face these sort of decisions appeal to you? How about when the story takes place in a fantasy world? (Sounds great to me! 😉) Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KNIGHT’S CURSE. Thanks for guest blogging today, Karen!

Looking for Guest Bloggers for 2013 New Year #NewAdult Book Blast

Reading by the window in winter
Do you write New Adult books? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

A little over a week ago I ended my “Fall Into Winter Darkness” Book Blast. As with my “Spring Into Summer Romance” Book Blast, I had a lot of fun hosting fellow writers and getting to know more about them and their work. I want to give a final shout out to all of the authors who participated in my fall guest blog series. They are listed below in the order in which they posted or were interviewed.

For the next book blast I’d love to host authors who write “New Adult” books. Many of you have probably heard the term New Adult by now, but for those of you that haven’t, New Adult is an up and coming genre that’s getting increasing attention. Definitions vary (which is part of the reason it’s such an exciting topic), but basically NA fiction features protagonists who are slightly older than the typical YA character (18-24) and who grapple with the momentous life decisions that often occur early in one’s adult life (career choices, partner choices, finding one’s adult identity, path in life, etc.) I wrote a blog post about it, which posted here at Brinda Berry’s site, during my blog tour for Dark Light of Day. I enjoyed talking with other writers who write in this emerging genre and I thought it would be fun to host a New Adult themed book blast, which would start shortly after the New Year. So… if you write New Adult fiction and are interested in participating in my 2013 New Year / New Adult Book Blast, please contact me!

Thanks to the 2012 Fall Into Winter Darkness Book Blast Participants!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! 😀