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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Is Dafydd Gay?

It's the other common question I get.

The short answer is "because he is." When I conceived the character, he was gay. It wasn't a conscious decision. He just is.

Now for the longer answer.

I've been a fanfic reader/writer for well over a decade, and I enjoy slash (male/male stories). Always have. It's not just because the idea of two guys getting it on is hot (though it definitely is). I like the different push/pull dynamic of love between two men. Men can be all about the sex, but they can explore feelings as well. The trick as a female writer is to let them explore emotion while still being men. It's a fine line, and I love writing it. I love reading it when it's done well.

I'm not so in love with explicit sex scenes. Again, when they are done well, they are great. But most male/male sex (and most male/female sex as well) is all caught up in how body parts fit together. Boring! As are the endless attempts to come up with yet another word for penis (which is one of the least romantic words in the English language).

So I wanted Dafydd to be gay because I could play around with some of this. Slash fanfic writers LOVE stories where one guy is gay and the other isn't. It gives lots of room for "is he interested in me?" "why the hell is he interested in me" and "what do I do about the fact that he's interested in me?" None of that requires sex, by the way, at least not written out in blow-by-blow fashion.

Dafydd is gay. Definitely. Not even slightly attracted to women, though he does recognize beauty when it crosses his path. I've got a scene in one of the books where Dafydd notices an attractive woman and then jokes with the reader that he can appreciate it even if he doesn't want to go to bed with it.

Paul is the question here. In Haunted Vampire, we learn that he was in love with a woman 30 years ago. And in good vampire fashion, killed her. Watch out, Dafydd! But there are hints that may not be the end of it. And always remember, gentle readers, that the fun part about writing in the first person is that your narrator can be unreliable. Dafydd may be seriously in denial. Or not.

In Book 3, which I'm currently working on, we learn Paul's historical identity. I will say that the historical figure who "became" Paul was married and had kids. I've also tried to be sensitive to the descendants of that historical figure. I haven't messed with the real Paul's sexuality. I didn't have to. He's had more than 100 years to change, in any direction I'd like.

When I started writing the series, I knew I wanted to have fun with sexual tension, and I've done that. Not as much as I thought I would. Fanfic can be endless examinations of emotion. Commercial fiction usually needs a bit more substance, so I've focused on the action and character development (non-sexual). But I've tossed in some tension. I finally decided whether or not they are getting together (and no, I'm not telling now).

When I started writing, Dafydd was a bit more defined in my head by his sexuality and what I wanted to do with that. I wanted to write a story where a gay character was noteworthy for something other than being gay. I think I've done that. Actually, I know I've done it. By the time I finished writing the second book, I just loved both of them. Gay, straight or in-between didn't matter. These guys are great. I love them, and their sex lives, or lack thereof, are secondary to everything else about them. Maybe even tertiary.

So there's the long answer. Maybe more than you asked for, but I've never quite written it out like that, and I'm glad I did.