Today begins a series of excerpts from my upcoming release, WARRIOR PRINCE: Book One in the Drift Lords Series. I hope you’ll follow along and leave a comment. All commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my ebook backlist titles. Two lucky winners will be announced at the conclusion of this series. September also offers you a chance to win more prizes. Go to my Contest page to see all your opportunities.
Warrior Prince Excerpt: Part 1 Copyright 2012 by Nancy J. Cohen
“Hi, I’m Nira Larsen, here for an interview,” she told the receptionist, whose solemn stare and black attire would have suited the funeral home she’d visited earlier.
“Please be seated until you are summoned.” The woman’s blunt-cut dark hair swung as she pressed a button on her console to announce Nira’s arrival.
Nira glanced at the small waiting area with its threadbare carpet, row of vinyl seats, and musty odor. Why was no one else here? And why did this place appear so seedy, with peeling paint and grime-coated windows? Maybe she didn’t want to work for people who treated their applicants with such disrespect.
Nonetheless, she’d like to land a position at Drift World. On her budget, she couldn’t afford a ticket to the role-playing adult theme park, but getting a job there would solve that problem. Plus she needed the money for other reasons.
She took a seat, an odd buzzing in her ears. It had started when she walked into the place. But even weirder had been the way the theme park’s temporary employment office appeared to materialize out of thin air.
The address specified on the classified ad had taken her next to a popular café on Orlando’s International Drive. Maybe she was just tired after her last two disastrous interviews, but she could have sworn this log cabin hadn’t been in the parking lot when she’d arrived.
What would you think if you were applying for a job at this place?
And every other Wednesday, I post at Kill Zone Authors. My blog topic this week is Technology and You: http://bit.ly/budtaX
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The morning’s annual RWA meeting was followed by a keynote luncheon featuring NY Times bestselling author Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb.
NORA ROBERTS Keynote Luncheon
Nora spoke about how technology changed from when she started writing in the days of typewriters. Writers used to go to the library for research, wrote letters by hand, and made phone calls on land line telephones. RWA started in Houston in the early 1980s, and Nora’s friends from those early days stayed with her throughout life. RWA provides networking and education and is a springboard for publishing.
Even though technology has changed, there are more opportunities in romance today. She talked about how we have to stay in the pool and avoid excuses like it’s too cold or we’re too tired or there are too many people crowding the water. Getting published is “supposed to be hard. Hard is what makes it special.” And regarding the value of RWA, “No one should have to face the hard alone.”
Publisher Lou Aronica’s State of the Industry Address at the PAN Retreat
“Slightly down is the new up” in this economy. Only a few bestselling titles sustain the publishing houses, according to veteran publisher Lou Aronica. Sales at the bottom of the list are low, as in dozens of copies sold. It’s very hard to sell a novel today even though many romance programs are fully sustainable. Sales at Amazon are up while Barnes & Noble sales are flat and Borders is having problems. Bookstores are in trouble like the CD music stores. Barnes & Noble realizes their brick-and-mortar stores are in jeopardy because consumers prefer to buy books online. Amazon buyers purchase books they are looking for in particular. The main problem there is that we cannot duplicate the bookstore browsing experience. There’s no place for impulse buyers. Amazon tries with their “if you like this book, then you’ll like…” but they mostly recommend bestsellers. Few readers are discovering new fiction online.
E-books are changing everything. Few people estimate the speed of change. It was predicted there would be 11 million ebook readers by the end of 2011 but we’ve already reached this level. 3 million iPads were sold by the end of last month. Before Kindle hit the market at the end of 2007, a few e-reader devices were available but not many people were interested. Now it’s a different story. But with soaring e-book sales, consumers don’t want to spend more than $12.99 on an e-book. This loss in sales revenue concerns publishers and bookstores. Barnes & Noble is making an effort by allowing consumers to read ebooks for free in their stores and to preview books they see on the shelves that way. Booksellers may promote the store as a social site for people to hang out, but if nobody buys print books from them, what then? CD stores went out of business because listeners wanted to buy online. Readers like the price and convenience of buying e-books online. It eliminates the need for manufacturing, distribution, and returns. This means a publisher could potentially make more money by selling an increased number of books for less. However, marketing is critical because the browsing experience is lost. Far more effort has to be put into marketing, plus ebook prices have to rise to return a profit.
Publishing to date has been a business-to-business industry. It goes from publisher to bookseller to consumer. Now, however, there is a business-to-consumer model, a demand market instead of an impulse market. New books go unsold because readers know what they want when they go online. Many publishers don’t have the staff, training, or interest in consumer marketing. So authors have to take charge of marketing their own work. As a writer, you need to find a community of readers specific to your book and market directly to them, but this requires time and money. Social media is a necessity. Book reviews used to drive sales and so did independent booksellers, but this is not the case anymore. Bloggers fill this void. Authors should reach out to bloggers who have a passion for reading. Again, this can be very time consuming.
If no one is printing or distributing the book, why do we need a publisher? Lou offers these reasons:
More niche publishers are yet to come with expertise in locating readers. Connecting to individual readers will rise in importance. Lou foresees a Renaissance and says it’s “a great age to be a writer.”
Writing in Multiple Subgenres: the Pros and Cons of Branching Out
Panel with authors ANN AGUIRRE, CYNTHIA EDEN, BETH KERY, ELISABETH NAUGHTON, JULIANA STONE, and BETH WILLIAMSON
I sat next to author LAURA BRADFORD who writes romance and mystery. It was nice to meet her. Panelist ANN AGUIRRE said she keeps her work fresh by writing in multiple genres. She takes a week off between books. She wanted to write a science fiction book women could enjoy and that inspired her popular Jax series. She would not want to settle down writing just one genre. CYNTHIA EDEN said she writes very fast and can do a draft in six weeks. The advantage of writing in multiple genres is you can produce as many books as you want although you may need a pseudonym. You can meet reader expectations in a new genre by writing with the same voice. “Don’t be afraid” to try a new genre. The cons of writing multiple genres are:
Fans may not cross over if they’re dedicated genre readers.
Multiple websites and promo may be necessary for pen names and this can get costly.
Fans want you to stay in the genre they like.
It can dilute your brand. You should be clear with your labeling on your website and other sites.
Your publishers may expect you to write two or more books a year.
One author suggests doing double-sided promo items to separate the genres which can save you money. Connecting websites can be a way to attract crossover readers. But heed this caveat: “The only thing worse than not selling is overselling.” In other words, don’t overbook yourself when setting deadlines. Allow time for vacations, edits, page proofs, blog tours, etc. And just because Author X writes 10 pages a day doesn’t mean you have to produce the same. Everyone is different. Do what suits your lifestyle.
Panel with authors KELLEY ARMSTRONG, JEANIENE FROST, TERRI GAREY, COLLEEN GLEASON, JULIANA STONE, and CHERYL WILSON
The panelists discussed the differences between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Paranormal romance has the happy ever after ending expected in the romance genre along with spin-off sequels, while urban fantasy employs first-person viewpoint and will have the same character recurrent in a series. However, these lines are blurring as some PNRs may have recurring heroines and some UFs may be less gritty. One author defined fantasy as more Tolkien in scope, while PNR involved “things that go bump in the night.” Whatever the subgenre, world building rules must be consistent. We may be seeing more stories based on mythology because this is still a “rich area to mine.”
The panelists spoke about their world building process. One author first defines her forces of conflict, i.e., good versus evil. Then she goes from the macro level down to the micro level starting with government and ending with daily life. What is unique about your world must be essential to your story. What does the culture value the most and what will they do to protect it?
Our last workshop on Thursday finished at 5:30. We headed off for drinks at the bar with our FRW pals: President KRISTIN WALLACE, KATHLEEN PICKERING, ONA BUSTOS, MICHAEL MEESKE, MONA RISK, CAROL STEPHENSON, DEBBIE ANDREWS, and more. Publicist JOAN SCHULHAFER stopped by to say hello. So did CFRW members DARA EDMONSON aka WYNTER DANIELS and CFRW prez LORENA STREETER. Then we all split to find dinner.
More workshop writeups coming over the weekend. Hit the Subscribe button if you want to stay informed about new posts.
Disclaimer: These workshop reports are based on my notes and are subject to my interpretation.
Prize drawing from August commenters at all my blogging sites for a free signed book from my personal backlist collection, your choice of paranormal/futuristic romance or Bad Hair Day mystery.
Assassin Silver Malloy works for Earth’s Security Integrated Network and her first assignment is a dream come true. She must eliminate the man who killed her parents in a horrific massacre when she was a child and then, in an awful twist of faith, also murdered her fiance years later. She will stop at nothing to complete her mission and kill her target.
Disgraced royal, Jace Vernon, is an escapee from Kurash in search for the man who killed his parents, kidnapped his sister, and framed him for the vicious act. With only his faithful valet he has been tracking the marauder from planet to planet, but needs to bring him in alive in order to clear his name and find his young sibling.
Silver has the mark in sight when Jace knocks the shot wide. After escaping Tyrone Bluth’s henchmen, she quickly arrests the handsome outlaw, but soon she finds herself fighting alongside her prisoner to capture their mutual adversary. Silver wants Bluth dead, and Jace needs him alive. Can they both accomplish their goals? How can they avoid the blazing chemistry they are trying so hard to ignore? Will Silver be able to let go of her past to share a future with Jace if they succeed in their undertaking?
Ms. Cohen has not only given her readers a fabulous new world, but also a fantastic new galaxy to explore. This fantasy erotic romance has a strong, sexy hero and an even stronger, sexier heroine. Silver and Jace complement one another so well and bring out the best in each other. The love scenes are not gratuitous and advance the relationship of the couple. The action is ever changing and the underlying political intrigue impressive. The detailed descriptions are breathtaking and encompass everything from clothing to customs, scenery to spaceships and alien races to arsenals. The plot has a solid pace and the novel is loaded with interesting secondary characters. I do not usually read sci-fi or fantasy, but I found myself enjoying this highly imaginative and exciting story. I was able to suspend my disbelief and genuinely accept that all these different planets and species really do exist. Fans of Nathan Fillion and Firefly are sure to enjoy this futuristic romantic fantasy.
I will be blogging at Coffee Time Romance on Friday regarding Secrets and Suspense
STARLIGHT CHILD, book three in my Light-Years Trilogy, is now available in digital format.
When terrorists kidnap the Great Healer’s daughter, Mara Hendricks offers her extrasensory powers to help rescue the child. She joins Cmdr. Deke Sage on a journey to the distant planet Yanura, but their mutual passion threatens to distract them from their goal. Sage is unwilling to open himself completely to this tempting woman, until he realizes that without her powers their mission will fail.
Mara Hendricks is assigned to the team sent to rescue her best friend’s abducted daughter. Her psychic ability aids in tracking the baby’s location. But instead of being impressed by her talent, the handsome mission leader is repelled by her unusual gift. Agonizing over his rejection, Mara realizes they’re meant to be together when she sees the rose light of love shining from his aura. Before their mission is complete, she vows to show her daring warrior the joys of enlightenment.
Commander Deke Sage is dismayed to meet the lovely cultural specialist assigned to his rescue team. Not only does she disagree with his political views, but she possesses a powerful weapon that threatens to undermine his goals. When they’re together, she lifts him to heights of passion he hadn’t known existed. Can he resist the spell she casts over him to complete his mission?
Have you ever written your characters into a hole?I did this recently and had to pause in my writing schedule to figure out a way to salvage the situation. Jennifer and Paz, the only passengers on a private jet in my story, are attacked midair by the villains who set off an electromagnetic pulse grenade. The blast disables the plane’s electronics and the aircraft plummets toward Earth. The pilots have been shot, and Paz is supposed to save the day.
Since he has knowledge of advanced technology, I figured he’d use Jen’s diamond earrings for their inherent crystal properties and power the airplane.
Problem #1: When I researched diamonds, I read they can conduct electricity but they do not produce it (correct me if I’m wrong here). If anything, it might be quartz that has more undiscovered properties.
Problem #2: Even if he finds a power source, isn’t the wiring on the aircraft fried from the EM pulse? (Research topic: non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons)
Problem #3: In the opening chapter, he shows up naked. O-kay, you’ll have to read the story to learn the particulars, but this means he has no futuristic gizmos on his person to help him out.
Solution #1: Allow him to keep his personal comm unit that looks like a wrist watch in chapter one even if his clothes have been ripped off by….sorry, spoiler alert. That info is classified for now. Anyway, he uses the comm unit as a power source and the diamonds as a wireless transmitter to power the engines.
Problem #4: Hero successfully lands aircraft. (Research source: Star Trek: The Starfleet Survival Guide). But where do they land? (Research topic: The Pacific Ring of Fire and the Izu Islands)
Problem #5:The villain has a fortress complex on this island. Is it Mediterranean in style? That’s illogical since we’re in Asian territory.Have the villains brought in native materials from their homeland and built it from scratch? Or maybe they took over an estate from a previous occupant.
I recall a couple of James Bond films with confrontations on islands. (Research James Bond). These are The Man with the Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice. Or maybe the estate should be Japanese since our heroes originated their journey in Tokyo. (Research topic: Asian castle fortress estates). I discover Himeji Castle. (Research: Construction, Maps, Interiors). Very cool place.
Yes! I can land my people, describe the island, get them inside the villain’s lair. Next up: They hitch a ride on a Chinese junk to escape the island. Uh oh, more research required. And although I can now have my hero land the airplane, I’d better look up what the basic controls on a private jet are called. A visit to http://science.howstuffworks.com/ is on order plus a look at the reference books on my office shelves.
As you have gathered by now, I research as I go along. I just do enough to be able to formulate my synopsis but the details wait for the scene itself. Then I have to stop, study the materials I’ve collected, visualize the setting, and write.
Oh, and this is for a paranormal romance, so don’t ever say we fiction writers make everything up. I just might have to challenge you to a duel.
So please tell us, what do YOU do when you’ve written your characters into a hole?
SAPPHIRE PHELAN is an author of erotic and sweet paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance, along with a couple of erotic horror stories. She also writes as Pamela K. Kinney, for horror, fantasy, science fiction, and two nonfiction ghost books, Haunted Richmond,Virginia and Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Bast. She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house and husband sometimes suffers for it!
How did you get started writing paranormal romance?
I started out published as a horror, fantasy and SF author, but been reading paranormal romance and I wanted to do that, too. So I wrote two short stories (both more fantasy romance than paranormal) and submitted both in 2005 to this publisher who was looking for fantasy romance stories for their print anthology. Both were accepted. Unfortunately, a year later the publisher closed its doors and gave everyone back their rights to their stories. During at the same time, I had just submitted an erotic medieval fantasy romance story, “The Curse” to this ezine, which was accepted. It was at that time I started to use the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, for any erotic paranormals I wrote. In 2006, my erotic paranormal SF romance short, Crimson Promise was accepted for Lady Aibell Press, an e-publisher (when LAP closed its doors and I got my rights back, I added more story to it and Crimson Promise was accepted by Phaze Books). From then on, I’ve been writing in this genre.
Has this always been your favorite genre?
Yes, though I love straight horror, fantasy and science fiction without romance, too.
How long did it take you to get published?
I actually got published for three poems of mine back in spring 1972—for Hyacinths and Biscuits Poetry Magazine. Then I was published over years, mainly in poetry and one article. It took until 2005 for my first fiction piece to be published.
You’re a member of Central Virginia Paranormal Investigations. Can you share some of your more unusual experiences?
Since I write nonfiction ghost books as Pamela K. Kinney and been to haunted places for that and later, with CVPI, did investigations, I’ve gotten evps (electronic voice phenomenon) on my digital recorder, snap photos of orbs and anomalies, and had personal experiences.
You wrote a non-fiction book titled Haunted Virginia. What does it include?
Ghost stories (more the myths and legends, though have some real paranormal experiences too—like the owner of Natural Bridge Hotel killed his wife and kids and they haunt the grounds of the hotel. The real story is that it is a manager who committed suicide and he is the spirit that haunts the hotel), monsters, urban legends that are fake and some that been proven true, myths of famous Virginians (like George Washington and Edgar Allan Poe), African-American and Native American Virginia tales, and true stories that people think are myths, but are proven to be real (like the house made of Civil War tombstones in Petersburg, Virginia).
Tell us about your writing process.
I write during the week most of the time and during the daytime when my husband is at work. This way, when he comes home from work, I can spend time with him. But I have written at night and on weekends when I have a deadline looming. Like now, I have a third nonfiction ghost book manuscript that is due by the end of May. And I wrote all month the sequel to Beast Magic, Dark Leopard Magic, so I could turn it in by February.
What is your current book about?
A divorced man who is tired of the women he meets who want to get married or want the bad boy types, listens to a friend who lends him this book, The Dummy’s Guide to Demon Summoning, so he can summon a succubus. He does get one, but finds that it will be more than a one night stand.
What is a succubus?
A succubus is a demon that seduces human males, mostly through nightmares while asleep. This would explain ejaculations. Same goes for incubus–seduces human women and even getting them pregnant. Of course, all is found is human male sperm, explained by they stole it from human males.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the third nonfiction ghost book, Haunted Historic Triangle and Charles City now, then I will be working on sequel to Being Familiar With a Witch, A Familiar Tangle in Hell.
Ain’t Nothin’ Like Succubus Lovin’ blurb:
Finding a date was never more hellish. When Jordan Hudson borrowed his friend’s A Dummy’s Guide to Demon Summoning and called up a succubus, he found that dating and making love to a minion of Hell proves to be more than a one night stand.
A recent article (http://tinyurl.com/yghvnku) implies Angels are the next great thing in publishing. After vampires and werewolves come zombies, but zombies play better as evil beings. Hence the next bad boy hero: an angel who’s done something so bad he gets kicked out of heaven. What could be more appealing as a romantic hero than a man with a sullied reputation who seeks redemption? He’s dangerous, driven, and supernatural. Only the power of our heroine’s love can save him. Consider this theme as another variation on the Beauty and the Beast archetype. The alpha hero rules again, only this time he’s bigger than life, bad, and yet yearning for a second chance. Get ready: A new flood of fallen angel stories are about to descend into our literary arms.
The Fallen Angel can also be a villain, like in the Cotten Stone thrillers by Joe Moore and Lynn Sholes. (http://www.cottenstone.com) More fallen angels will be showing up in theaters and books as the trend takes off.
Who decides these trends? Is it based on reader demand? Popular movies? Do editors decide what’s coming next? Or do authors take up the slack and start submitting a slew of stories with this theme? They will now, once the pronouncement about the Next Best Thing in Publishing makes the rounds. If you were tired of vampires before, prepare for an onslaught of angels. But wait….they don’t all have to feature dark heroes. We can have comedic ones who are sent to Earth with a mission. Well-meaning guardian angels. Angels who have screwed up but are good at heart, who’ve been returned to life to make up for their mistakes. Better reserve that pair of wings for Halloween already.
What’s next? I’m waiting for a surge of mythological super beings. You know, the ancient gods from Greek, Roman, and Norse legends. My paranormal romance series is based on Norse mythology. Any publishers out there listening?