Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Excerpt from The Case of the Reincarnated Lover

Sales are going well so far on my latest book, The Case of the Reincarnated Lover, and I'm happy. I still have review copies to give away, so check out this post for details if you'd like one. To whet your appetite, I thought I'd publish an excerpt. This is from later in the book, so it's not something you'd see in the sample from Amazon. This scene is about 1/3 of the way through the book, and one of the rogue vampire's minions has been sent to attack the boys and one of their friends.

***

We went outside and started for Paul's car. The sun was completely gone, no hint of sunset left in the darkened sky.

Paul had just pulled out his keys to remotely unlock the door when I heard a low growl from the shadows to our right. I turned.

Amber eyes gleamed in the darkness, and I stepped back just in time to avoid a sudden charge. However, I wasn't the target. Fangs flashed, and Nicola dropped with a cry, blood spurting from a long gash on her arm.

Before I could react, Paul snarled next to me and leaped to stand over Nicola. His eyes had shifted, and both his claws and fangs were extended. "Dafydd! Get out of here!"

Heck with that. I wasn't going anywhere, but I did need a moment to gather myself. I ducked behind Paul's car and pulled out a speed potion. If I needed to run, I preferred to do it really fast.

I peered out from behind the car to take in the situation. Paul was still hovering protectively over Nicola, who wasn't moving. I could see the blood spreading from her injury.

The other vampire stared at Paul. He was shorter than Paul, maybe just an inch or two taller than me, and slight of build. Paul was fast, but I suspected this vampire was faster. My friend  might have the advantage in strength, however.

The strange vampire was blond and would have been attractive, if not for the glowing eyes and fangs. Plus the arrogant expression and tilt to his head.

I don't generally go for the bad-boy type.

His tongue darted out to lick away a smear of blood, and he smiled, though there was nothing of humor in the expression. "Two humans to protect, Paulus? I can take you easily."

Why wasn't he attacking? He was right. He had Paul at a disadvantage. Paul was fast, but if the other vampire lured him off, like by attacking me, he could probably kill Nicola before Paul could react.

At that moment, the vampire darted in, aiming for Paul's throat. Paul snarled and struck with his claws, never moving from his position over Nicola.

"You're fast, but I can take you on strength," Paul said, his voice steady.

The other vampire sneered. "What good is your strength if I kill both your humans before you can even react?"

I had no idea of his real name, but I decided "Cocky" would fit.

Okay, the best thing for me to do was to even the playing field. I was no match for a vampire, but if I could free up Paul to move as he wanted, I figured he could handle one vampire. I shot a quick glance at the door to Lounge 201. Better do it before reinforcements showed up. I wasn't sure which side the other vampires would take if any came out.

I pulled out another potion. Strength this time. I don't usually like to mix potions. They are hard on the body, but I didn't think I was strong enough to lift Nicola without magical aid. I downed both and felt a surge of energy course through me. I felt like I could run forever, lift buildings and maybe have energy left over to make love all night.

I shook my head. Definitely did not need to be distracted by those thoughts, but it was an unfortunate effect of the potion mix.

My time was short. The potions wouldn't last more than a minute or two. I looked back at Paul and the other vampire. Lucky me. They were involved in some sort of alpha male stare down, and no one was looking my way. Paul had shifted to stand in front of Nicola instead of on top of her. Good, that gave me room to maneuver.

I ran as fast as I could, which under the effect of the potion was faster than an Olympic sprinter. I was halfway to Nicola before either vampire noticed me. Paul attacked, attempting to use his superior strength to knock the other vampire off balance. Cocky dodged, making the movement look effortless, and he reversed direction to charge me.

Good thing I wasn't where he was expecting. I guess he'd never dealt with magically enhanced speed before.

I darted past him and grabbed Nicola. Damn! She was heavy, even with my potion strength, but I lifted her to my shoulder. As soon as I had her, Paul shot past me to engage Cocky, who was looking around almost comically, trying to figure out where I'd gone.

Paul hit him hard, shoulder blocking him and knocking him off balance.

I settled Nicola into a rough approximation of a fireman carry and ran.

***
If you want to learn what happens next, you'll have to get a copy of the book. Hope you enjoyed!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Case of the Reincarnated Lover: Just Released!

I'm delighted and excited to have released the third book in my urban fantasy series, The Warlock Case Files. This new book, The Case of the Reincarnated Lover, takes Paul and Dafydd into some new directions. For those of you who have been waiting for it, we finally find out Paul's origin and how he became a vampire. A subtle plot point from the first book is resolved and more.

Here's the blurb:
My name is Dafydd Smith, and I'm a warlock. If you've been following along with our story, you know that I, along with my hot vampire partner, Paul, spend our nights (and sometimes my days) dealing with trouble in the supernatural world of Washington, D.C.
We've dealt with ghosts and werewolves, but now it's another vampire who's causing trouble. He's killing others of his kind and upsetting the delicate balance of power in the local vampire community. To make it worse, the rogue seems to have some connection to Paul's past. As if that weren't enough, an old lover of Paul's returns, but not in a way anyone could have anticipated.
And to top things off, I think I'm falling in love! Never a dull moment in my life. You want to find out more. You know you do.
To celebrate the release and to drum up reviews for the book, I'm giving away 10 review copies. You can request your choice of .mobi (for Kindles) or .epub (for just about everything else). Just comment below with your name, email address and format preferred, and I'll send you a copy. Of course a review is not required, but it's greatly appreciated.

Because this is the third book in a series, if you're new to the world of Paul and Dafydd, I'd be happy to send you a review copy of the second book, The Case of the Werewolf Puppy, instead. It stands alone better than Reincarnated Lover, and it needs some review love too! Just let me know in your comment, which one you'd prefer.

Happy reading, and I hope you enjoy the book(s)!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Warlock Case Files Books Are Available on Scribd!

warlock case files
Oh happy day. I've been a Scribd subscriber for about six months now, and I love the service. Think Netflix for ebooks, and you've got the basic idea. Pay $8.99 a month and read as much as you'd like. It's only available on tablets for now (bummer since I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite), but the app is on iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire. Here's the link for all versions of the app.

If you read TeleRead, you already know how much I love Scribd. I like them better than Oyster, a similar service, because of price (Oyster is $9.95 a month) and app availability (Oyster is iOS only). Because I do lots of my reading on 7" Android tablets instead of my full-size iPad, I appreciate the multiple platforms. If you want to read more about them, just click on the TeleRead link above. It takes you to all the articles we've written recently about the service.

But enough about them. This post is more about me. When I first learned about Scribd, I wanted to have my books in the service. What's not to like? Readers can try them risk-free. If they don't like them (hopefully not, but possible), they just move on to the next book. Authors get paid as long as readers read most of the book, so it's a win-win for everyone.

Smashwords, my ebook distributor, signed a deal with Oyster last year, and that made me hope Scribd was coming. I'd been looking at two different distributor options, and I finally selected Smashwords because of the Oyster deal. Soon after I'd uploaded my books, they announced the deal with Scribd, and I celebrated. My Warlock Case Files books went live in the service yesterday. It's so cool to see my own books in a subscription service.

So, how do you find my books? Well, Scribd's search algorithm leaves something to be desired. Searching for my books by title doesn't bring them up. However, you can always go to my author page and add them to your library.

There's a 30-day free trial for new subscribers, so you don't have much to lose by giving them a try. I read 6-8 books in Scribd a month, so it's been worth the money for me. Let me know if you sign up and read my books!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Looking for books like the Dresden Files? Here's my recommendations

books like the dresden files
Harry Dresden was my introduction to the urban fantasy genre, and his books are still my favorites. However, Jim Butcher is only one guy, and unfortunately, he can only write so fast. We've still got to wait until May for the next book. So, if you are also a fan, you may sometimes go hunting for books like the Dresden Files. I've done that search, and here are my recommendations.

The Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne is pretty darned close. Atticus is a sarcastic bastard, kind of like Harry, and the books have a similar feel. Hearne has a neat magic system that holds together well, and you'll either love or hate Oberon the talking Wolfhound. The latest book, Hunted, did have a bit too much Oberon and not enough plot for me, so I didn't finish it, but other people tell me it's a great set-up for what's coming in the next book, so I may have to go back and finish it. Up until that book, though, I was hooked.

Next up has to be the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka. Verus is a diviner, and while Jacka does stretch my suspension of disbelief sometimes, the way he uses precognition is original and fantastic. Verus feels lots like Dresden without being an outright copycat. I picked up Fated, the first book in the series because of the Jim Butcher blurb on the cover. I'm a couple of books behind in this series, but I'll be catching up soon.

Lots of people add Simon Green's Nightside series to the list. Although I liked the premise (P.I. investigating hidden supernatural world in London), I couldn't warm up to Green's writing. Doesn't mean you won't like it, though.

I'll close with Alloy of Law. It's not modern-day urban fantasy, but it's steampunk meets the Wild West meets fantasy magic, and it's one of my favorite books ever. It has an urban fantasy feel to it, even though it's not set in modern day Earth. The second book is supposed to be out in a year or so, and I can hardly wait.

Well, I said I'd close with Alloy of Law. Okay, not quite. Jim Butcher was an inspiration for my series, the Warlock Case Files, and I'd be completely remiss if I didn't recommend my own stuff too.

What's your favorite urban fantasy series? I'm always looking for new great books to read. Please leave some recommendations in the comments.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Never Say Never As a Writer

I've let this blog slide for several years, and it's time to revive it. I have one new story out, and another on the way. That will give me four fiction works in electrons, and it makes sense to me to step up my marketing a bit.

The latest story is a romantic short published by Intrigue Publishing, and there's an interesting story behind it.

When I started writing fiction for publication several years ago, I had no intention to write romance, especially not erotic romance. Not that I had never written it. I have a lengthy body of fanfiction, including both male/male and male/female romance and erotica. I just never envisioned myself writing them commercially.

However, I met the people at Intrigue and worked with them on the Board of the Creatures, Crime and Creativity Conference, and they were accepting submissions for an anthology of "first times."

About that time, I was reading and writing in the BBC Sherlock fandom, and I was intrigued with many fan authors who worked with the interpretation that Sherlock is not a sexual being and falls somewhere on the Aspberger/autism spectrum. I was planning to write a Sherlock story exploring those ideas when I saw the Intrigue call for submissions. It was easy enough to change my idea to work with original characters. (And no, the characters in my story have no similarities with Sherlock or John Watson.)

So I wrote and submitted Chocolate, Cheese and Choices. They liked the story, but there were no other submissions for the anthology, so they asked if I would let them have it as a Kindle single. I was amenable, and earlier this month, the story was published. Check it out and let me know if you like it.

The lesson I learned here is to never lock into a particular genre. Staying open to possibilities is the way to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finished First Draft of Reincarnated Lover

Yep, another first draft done. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, the book's working title used to be The Case of the Old Acquaintances. I changed the title for three reasons.

1. It was boring
2. It didn't say much about the book, though technically, it is true. Several old acquaintances of Paul do show up in the book.
3. I can't spell "acquaintances." It took me four tries to get it right above. No good for a book title I'll be typing a lot.

Anyway, it's renamed (much cooler title), and it's finished. Now I'm going to let it sit for a few weeks before I start editing. I know it needs work. I don't quite have the Paul/Dafydd dynamic right. I struggled with their relationship through most of the book before it finally clicked, near the end. I need to go back and smooth all that out. It's an important book for both of them, and I want to do it right.

I already know three scenes I need to add, and the final fight scene still needs some work. At almost 8K words, it's the longest fight I've ever written, and I'm sure it needs lots of editing, though I'm fairly happy with it. The darned villain refused to die, but that's okay. He was supposed to be tough.

The ending completely changed. I actually wrote the last scene a couple of months ago, and I'd been planning the end since I started this book. Once I got there, though, I realized what I'd been planning didn't take into account the growing Dafydd had done through the book. While Reincarnated Lover is an important book for Paul (we finally find out who he is), Dafydd really comes into his own, especially as a warlock. I started to get a handle on how to use him in battle, and I think you'll like what I came up with. He's still not a "battle mage," but he handles himself well.

As I was writing the ending, I realized I'd set it up in the previous book. Kind of funny how that works. There's a scene in Werewolf Puppy that I hadn't planned on, but Paul kind of drove it. I introduced the vampire subculture a book early, and that scene is still my favorite in the series, so far. I also inadvertently set up the ending of this one. You'll have to tell me how I did.

It's an odd feeling ending this book. I'm excited to be finished, but it's also left me a bit empty. This book was the one I've been wanting to write for more than a decade (more on that in a future blog post), and I'm kind of sad it's over. Glad, but also sad.

I do know what the next book will be about, so no worries about leaving these characters any time soon. But for now I have two short stories to write for a couple of anthologies. One will be a Paul and Dafydd story. The other will be something completely different, which might turn into a longer work. Stay tuned. Of course I'll talk about it here first.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paying For Reviews

The interwebs have been abuzz with this for more than a week, following the New York Times article about self-published authors paying for reviews.

Well, since I'm doing some social media marketing (in my day job) for a website whose mission is to "bring together readers and books," and one of their services is paid reviews, I decided I'd throw in my two cents worth.

No, just to be clear, I don't think paying for Amazon reviews is worth it, and I think it's borderline fraud since readers go to Amazon for reviews by people who bought and read the book. Not paid shills who read a summary or a couple of pages and then wrote a fake 5-star review. Yes, that's bad.

But not all paid review are like that.

Reviews are a valuable tool for authors. Self-published authors have limited options to get quality reviews. I'm not talking Amazon reviews. Those are valuable, and I'm not discounting them, but some reader want to see "professional" reviews. (Please don't start an argument about the meaning of "professional" here. You know what I mean. Reviews by people who make it their business to write reviews.)

When you publish your book on Amazon or on B&N (and presumably also on Kobo, though I haven't done that yet), there's this intimidating box marked "Reviews." I know the value of having profiles filled out completely, so I wanted to fill in that box too when I published Haunted Vampire. But guess what? No one from the New York Times, Washington Post, or any other publication had offered to review it.

I could have asked one of my friends to write something, but that's known in the business as a "sock puppet," and readers see through that immediately. So no good.

Along came a friend who was starting a website called ReaderRap (launching in October). I could get the pre-launch special of a listing on the site and (whoo hoo!) a review by someone who didn't know me or the book. She didn't promise that it would be positive, but I was okay with that. Hopefully, it would be honest, and if it were critical, I could learn from it. I said, "Sign me up."

I can't reveal the pre-launch price right now, but trust me when I say it was very reasonable.

Yeah, it was nerve-wracking. I didn't know what the guy would say, and when Beth sent it to me, she prefaced it by saying, "Well, it's not completely positive, but I think it'll be okay."

She was right. It was good where it needed to be good, and the critical elements just showed the guy wasn't a real fan of vampire/warlock books. Whew! I figure that people who like books in the genre will be confident that it will be something they'll like, and people who aren't fans of the genre aren't my target audience anyway.

I was able to snip the parts I liked for the aforementioned "Review" section:

"replete with tongue-in-cheek first-person comments by the narrator, sometimes deftly interrupting the serious account with Am-I-really-talking-to-a-vampire? quips."

and left off the parts I didn't like as much:

"Paul can’t go into anyone’s house without being specifically invited, for some unexplained reason."

Dude! Really? Have you never read a vampire book? That's like, staple material. (I think I just channeled Dafydd there. Hope you don't mind.)

Anyway, it was a good review and definitely worth what I paid for it. As soon as Werewolf Puppy comes out, I plan to do it again. I'm eager to see what having a sample and the review on the ReaderRap site will do for sales. Exposure in more places is all good.

So don't think that paying for reviews is always bad. Sometimes it can be exactly what you need to get some additional exposure.