SE’s 10 DNF Red Flags

Featuring SE, being a Judgy McJudgypants. I’ve been alive for thirty-three years now, and a bookworm for roughly twenty-three of those years. TWENTY-THREE YEARS, friends. By now I know what I like. And, inversely, what I do not like.

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*guy in the middle sits silently judging* Also, what I DO NOT like is Brienne not giving Tormund the time of day, DAMMIT Game of Thrones writers.

Any book gets at least a fair try, no matter what, but I admit to being a mood reader who will yeet straight to DNF if I’m not feeling it. And there are a few things which pretty much guarantee I will not be feeling what the author is dishing out

∼Let’s note this list mostly has to do with romance genre, since that’s what I read.

  • Plot dragging characters along

I am a character driven reader. It’s all about those lovely fictional people. Obvs, yes, I do need there to be at least some plot happening. But I will forgive a lot as long as I care about those kooky kids running around on the pages. Also the characters must be *doing* things within their plot, not sitting back and having everything *done to* them. Character introduction, growth, and agency is everything this bookworm needs.

  • COMMUNICATE people OMFG put us all out of our misery

This one’s pretty romance specific but there is NOTHING I hate more than two characters who simply refuse to clear up a huge misunderstanding/lie/obstacle/problem by talking. Just open your mouth! And let! The words! Come out!! It reads as pure, stubborn, pride keeping our two protagonists apart and it screeches nails right up my chalkboard. Is feeling a tad uncomfortable, or refusing to humble yourself, really a good enough reason to sink you and your beloved in a sea of unrequited love and agony for the rest of your lives? NO. No, it is not. Get over yourselves already.

  • The Old Skool Female™

Again a romance trope. It goes something like this: everyone knows the female of the species is irrational, emotional, and prone to changing her mind. So during every argument the heroine will rage, cry, rage-cry, scream, sputter, be unreasonably accusatory, probably smack the hero’s shoulder/chest, and then melt into the hero’s arms when he uses his [manly scent? strong arms? erect penis? I don’t fucking know] to calm her. Fortunately this is only sporadically present in old school romance (1970-2000ish), and although it does show up in modern books it is still pretty rare. Because, yes, hello, actual women write romance and we know this is a misconception. I blame internalized misogyny for this, DNF the book, and move on.

  • Crazy Ex be Crazy because; plot complications

If the ex has some depth, motivation, and more of a morally grey standpoint I will absolutely buy into this device getting in the way of our happily ever after. But do not bring back one of the protagonist’s ex lovers, out of nowhere, for no other reason than the being the catty, take-me-back, no-one-else-plays-with-my-toys plot device. A) it’s super obvious and therefore obnoxious and B) just don’t do it.

  • Angst. Angst. Angst.

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This is how I feel reading super drama filled books. I like pure, unadulterated, escapist fluff, thank you so much, next. Dark romance is a HARD sell for this reason, although I have found a few (Annika Martin! Skye Warren!) I do enjoy.

  • Giant, gaping, nonsensical plot holes

My bar for this one is set exceptionally low, but I do have one. Look, I read alien romance. I will accept the Mysterious Plague™ which wiped out all their females and makes earth girls appear super deliciously breed-able. I will read and enjoy fur, feathers, scales, whatever the hell Susan Trombley is dishing out now, and tentacles. I will accept time traveling, wormholes, magic, identical twins, evil twins, hidden Dukes, secret heirs, rags to riches, and amnesia. An author has to work pretty damn hard to throw me out of my usual suspension of disbelief, but it has happened.

  • Love triangles

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Nope. Nope, nope, nope. I will remind you that poly romance, reverse harem, and ménage are all readily available, and then go read one of those instead.

  • A character is doing all the relationshiping alone

When one character is in love and doesn’t bother trying to hide it, while the other one takes all of their feelings, locks them in a box, buries the box deep in a peat bog, pretends there are no ripples, and then denies the existence of such concepts as love. Similarly, one character might be willing to bend until they break, while the other one refuses any form of compromise. 0_0 I start thinking of that character as a self-centered meanie, and then I have lost all interest in their happily ever after.

  • Offensive or damaging content

Trigger warnings are a thing. In my opinion, they are a necessary thing. Mentally prepared I can read and handle pretty much anything, but when one of my triggers leaps out at me unexpectedly the results are not fun.

  • Writing style

Sometimes the writer’s brush strokes and I do not mesh and I fail to ‘see’ the picture they’re painting. It’s not the author’s fault and objectively the book is still a great read. Just not a great read for me.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Changes the Writing Industry

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It’s a safe haven for you on your author journey and available at this website where you can also find resources, articles, and various other help.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor,Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox! Don’t forget to go say hello as you’re hopping today.

July 1 question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade (this is a stellar example of what, as an author, I would term understatement), so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

The best way to answer this seems to be with a list. A bullet point listicle. Yes. Just roll with me here as I present:

SE’s Non-Exhaustive List of Fail-safe New Rules for the Writing Industry*

*research based on zero experience whatsoever, but I do have a blog and probably stayed at a Holiday Inn at some point in my life, so definitely very trustworthy

  • All stickers on covers to be made illegal, effective immediately. I’m very serious about this. Sticker residue marring a beautiful cover is all bad things in this world and should be banned forever.
  • E-readers for everyone. Cause we are living in a material  sorry, digital world, and I am a digital reader girl. Also higher literacy rates can only be a good thing, so yes. Make books easily available for everyone.
  • As a corollary to this: all E-readers should come equipped with the Library lending app, standard. Because more books! For free!
  • Richard Armitage and Jude Law should be required to narrate one audiobook per year. Have you heard either of them speak? YES PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
  • Indie bookstores are the future. I would like to see some sort of location app that pings to warn you whenever you’re close to one and gives you directions. Honestly, none of us care if we follow the road trip itinerary or whatever, we just want to know if we mistakenly passed the bookstore instead of going inside it as is proper and correct.
  • ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SIZES TO BE STANDARDIZED. Stop changing your minds on paperback sizes, publishers! I don’t care if it saves you money! You don’t exist to save money, you exist to give us perfectly matched series!
  • There is nothing worse than buying the fifth book in a series and finding out they’ve CHANGED the DIMENSIONS and now this book is thinner, or taller, or fatter, than the others in the series and GREAT, now I have to start over and buy them all again in the correct size or else spend the rest of my life twitching whenever I look at the mismatched series staggering across my shelf. STOP IT, PUBLISHERS.
  • The Big Five (or is it Four, now? I forget) publishers should immediately hire ownvoices sensitivity readers/consultants and pay them well, because they will save the publishers a huge amount of missteps, mistakes, and retractions in the long run.
  • Create and promote big name prizes and awards for Indie books. I’m talking Pulitzer or Booker status, but for self-published titles. They are a huge portion of the market share, they are here to stay, and they deserve some recognition. The awards ceremonies will likely be much more exciting and interesting than the traditional ones and I, for one, welcome our new confetti-blasting overlords.
  • Also a big name award for book cover design, because covers are seriously underrepresented in awards when they do most of the heavy lifting in selling the book.

Which Came First? The Plot, or the Characters?

This is a perennial question authors get asked, and it’s just as unanswerable as the chicken and egg conundrum.

Look, let’s be brutally honest here. Authors as a whole live in a half-unreal world with their heads feeling cloudy ALL THE TIME. Fictional people fill our brains with ghostly conversations. Interesting, exciting scenes play out behind our closed eyelids. Fantasy worlds and concepts capture our imagination. Reality is pretty much optional, okay. In the midst of all this noise, pinpointing the exact genesis of a story idea or the specific birth of one character is like grasping one tiny pebble from a rushing torrent of ideas.

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IDEA! New idea! Get it! Wait! Another new idea! Squirrel!

Nonetheless. I can take a stab at tracing the origins of my most recent book.

If I remember the story pebble correctly a group of us on #romancestagram were discussing our favorite tropes. (We do that a LOT.) Enemies to Lovers, of course, came up as one of the top contenders. Everyone loves a good spatting antagonists to hopelessly besotted plotline.

For some reason superheroes came to mind. Probably I had just recently watched the final Avengers movie, that was a 2019 thing right? Several years before this I read (and ADORED) the novella Superior, by Jessica Lack  and I think that novella added to the idea. Also I love the movies Megamind and both Deadpool films, writing a protagonist in those veins has always tempted me.

(YES. Being a writer means there are plots and ideas and half-formed notions in the back of your mind for literal YEARS and it all combines with current ideas into this constantly-bubbling SOUP OF INSPIRATION.  And yes, it definitely burns your fingers when you try to fish out one specific idea nugget.)

Anyway, all of that mushed together and I started thinking . . . what if? What if two enemies in a superhero universe fell in love?

The idea caught me hard and I started plotting it out. Who are the antagonists in a superhero universe? The villains. Even better, a supervillain. Having a superhero fall for a supervillain seemed too obvious, plus I’m fairly sure it’s been done already? So . . . what about a sidekick. Oooh, yes, a sidekick. Obviously, to be the loyal partner and not the main event, my sidekick would be considered kinda weak. Not too “super”.

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But, of course, narrative expectation told me the sidekick had hidden depths and more power than the big name heroes would like to admit. That gives me both a mystery to slowly unfold, and a motive. And my supervillain would definitely have a tragic past, because plausible morally-grey character motivation.

If you can’t tell, daydreaming up a plot took a considerable amount of my mental processing time.

I decided my supervillain was a guy, and my sidekick was a girl, because that sounded right. Every time I reached the next plot point, I asked myself what next? What makes my supervillain A Bad Guy, but not too bad? What power could my sidekick have which seems harmless at first glance, but is actually pretty threatening? How does she feel about being pushed to the back? What would attract a supervillain to a sidekick, and vice versa? And how would she feel if someone cool and cocky and irresistible started paying attention to her and complimenting her unusual power? Coming up with fun hero and villain names was a bonus, and I also got to throw in kissing on a Ferris wheel ride, murderous nanobots, public naughty behavior—it’s a kink, don’t judge—mother issues, kidnapping, and a ton of sneaky callbacks to superhero movies.

Every answer spawned more questions, which told me I was on the right track to an actual story and not just an imagination exercise. I wrote out a quick blurb to clarify the main story obstacles, and it made them sound pretty good.

Thus THE SIDEKICK AND THE SUPERVILLAIN was born.

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So that’s how writing a book goes, at least for me. It’s a bit like . . . tossing stepping stones into a river boiling with ideas. Each stone brings me closer to crossing. Sometimes I have to haul a stone out and begin again, and I generally have to use dynamite to blast a bunch of stones for the climax, but eventually I do get to the other side.

Does this method seem familiar? Or sound completely kooky? What stepping stones do you use? Tell me about your process.

How to Support Diverse Books and BIPOC Writers: Author Toolbox

After the Black Lives Matter protests have died down, when local law enforcement has been restructured and defunded, as June Pride Month slides over into July, we will still be holding vigil and working to create change. As writers, we have a lot of options and a lot more power than we might think.

Words seem fragile, but we know words can turn potentiality into reality. Words can build or break, tear down or repair, halt all forward motion or keep momentum going. We can help flood the culture we swim in with own voices, melanated voices, diverse stories, new perspectives and change the very words we use to describe ourselves.

So let’s get started.

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  • Make a conscious effort to diversify your reading.

Here are some lists, because we all love lists and clicking on lists and making more lists about lists. This is 100% a thing.

There are POC centered romances (definitely try Courtney Milan! Alyssa Cole! Talia Hibbert! I could go on and on but just message me if you want some romance recs. Or follow me on Instagram where I do most of my reviewing.)

Young Adult is doing a stellar job building a super varied selection. Seriously there are SO MANY CHOICES in YA.

If you prefer fantasy or SciFi you are covered! Or you could just follow Holly at The Grimdragon here on WordPress or on their Instagram, their book reviews are kickass.

Horror has your back as well. In fact, there’s an entire website dedicated to this with a comprehensive list at Diversity in Horror.blogspot.com. Ahh, the internet is a wonderful place.

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  • Read nonfiction

Yep, more lists and listy things for you.

Even if you don’t like or typically read nonfiction (IT ME) it’s important to acknowledge the truly messed up history leading up to what’s happening right now. One way to do that is to read nonfiction books about it.

Or watch a documentary. Or attend a webinar. Or listen to a podcast by someone like the wonderful Layla F. Saad, seriously she’s a fabulous teacher.

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  • It doesn’t begin and end at BIPOC authors. Include authors who are LGBTQ, disabled, gender fluid, and/or neurodiverse in your TBR.

Basically, take a good hard look at your bookshelf and check to see if any combination of these applies to the authors on it. No? Not one? Luckily, this is an easy fix.

There are so many wonderful options! Let me shout, shamelessly, about Mark Oshiro, Tamora Pierce, C.G. Drews, and Sarah Gailey again, because it pleases me greatly to repeat myself. READ THEM.

  • Recommend your favorite reads to other bookworms.

We all know other bookworm recommendations have a lot of weight when it comes to deciding our own purchases. I’ve read entire fifteen book series recommended to me by #romancestagram readers and I REGRET NOTHING because they were RIGHT.

If friends come to you for recs, use this power to push and poke and prod them towards the melanated voices you’ve already discovered as a side effect of mindful TBR choices.

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  • Ask your library to purchase books by diverse authors.

Bonus: this is the zero money option.

Also, your local library will look all modern and dynamic with new releases and upcoming debuts on their shelves. Don’t leave the library lagging all dusty and forgotten in the racist past. Nudge them into bringing in new voices.

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  • If you blog or have a website, signal boost these authors.

Another low cost option! Yay.

You have a platform? Good. Boost other authors up onto it. Lift their voices with your tools, time, and media.

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  • Buy media created/written by BIPOC authors.

Yep this one is a simple command, but it’s also the most powerful. If you’re able to, put your $$ where it will make concrete changes.

Publishing is a business. Businesses exist to make money. Typically, publishers won’t take a chance on diverse authors because there is a false narrative in place that no one will buy their books. We all know this is racism, but it’s worked like that for hundreds of years.

The way to change the narrative is to prove beyond a doubt that authors who are not white, cisgendered, and typically abled can, in fact, make a publisher money. The only way to do that is to buy their books and prove there is a demand for them. Go forth, author friends, and create demand.

 

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This is an author toolbox blog hop post. To sign up for the hop yourself and get in on all the goodies, head over to our fearless leader Raimey Gallant’s website and sign yourself up. Any and all types of writers welcome!

 

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Has Secrets

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Happy Insecure Writer’s Day! Prepare to bask in the support and let your insecurities go, at least for a little while. To join in the hop yourself, head to their website here.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre! Don’t forget to go thank them as you’re hopping today.

June 3 question – Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

I’m going far off topic today because I’m an intensely private person and especially fierce about guarding my privacy online. I like to keep the illusion that my secrets will stay mine. True, it feels a bit futile in the Time of Alexa and Google Location Services but I find I can’t shake my Luddite tendencies when it comes to this topic, so here we are.

Instead I’d like to bring the focus to the #muted movement on social media. Basically, what this means is taking a back seat and letting marginalized voices step forward in my place, using my inherent privilege to amplify their stories. People of color are literally being murdered in my country and it’s not okay. It will never be okay. It is not a society I want to live in. If you’d like to help this change, here are some options for you:

  • If you’re interested in some tactics to take practicable action right now, may I suggest this list from Racial Equity Tools.org
  • If you’d like to support authors who write romances featuring non white characters, try this list from Book Riot (Alyssa Cole, Courtney Milan, and Jeannie Lin are particular favorites of mine!)
  • Maybe fantasy and SciFi are more your style? Check out this list of upcoming books from Den of Geek
  • YA is doing an especially wonderful job of attracting and promoting fantastic POC authors. Check out this list of books from Epic Reads and put some money towards these writers. Their list unaccountably left out my favorite author, Mark Oshiro, so I’ve fixed that lack.
  • Addressing systemic racism can start early, at home, with this list of children’s books from Embrace Race.org
  • And last but not least there are a lot of vetted organizations you can donate to in support of the movement happening right now, here’s a good starter list. Always do your due diligence before donating, of course.

 

An Incendiary Inciting Incident for Your Author Toolbox

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

This is an Author Toolbox post. The toolbox is a free, monthly, open sharing of information between authors here on the Wild Wild Interwebs. Topics cover everything from writing basics to editing, querying, marketing, and publishing. There are over forty of us now, blogging away like helpful little bees. Come join in!

After months and months of agonizing and writing and editing and changing and freaking out and writing some more, my newest book is done. Finished. FIN. Clocking in at 51K, the book is crammed full of love, silliness, superpowers, and the reason supervillains don’t wear yellow. I rewarded myself by sending it off to an editor, so I can find out exactly where I did everything wrong, and buying three new books I’ve been wanting for my Kindle. And then I realized . . .crap. I have to write the next book.

I already have an idea (or six) floating around waiting to land. In fact they’ve already landed, usually as I’m trying to get to sleep. The problem right now is— how do I get this party started?

I need an inciting incident. And I need it to be incendiary.

  • The inciting incident is the pebble which gets the story avalanche rolling. Reedsy Blog defines it as “the narrative event that launches the main action.”
  • I like to picture the inciting incident in my mind as the match touching the end of the fuse. Which will wind and twist and spark all the way to the explosive BOOM of the climax. The image helps remind me that all of the story is interconnected.
  • It generally happens in the first act of the story, because it propels the action.

Okay. Cool. I know what an inciting incident is. But…how do I write one?

You’d think I would know the answer to this with six finished manuscripts under my belt. SURPRISE! I feel lost every single time I stare at that blank Word document getting ready for a new story.

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Me: Wat r werdz? My Brain:

So off I go to consult my colleague Mssr. Google. After perusing lots of articles (most of them directed towards aspiring screenwriters, but hey) I’ve written a bit of a list to help get started. Please feel free to keep and use it yourself if you’re also getting started on a new project. The Flying Wrestler‘s Erik Bork, Write-L.A. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Margaret Moore (romance author) are my main sources for this post. If you’re in a fact chasing mood yourself I really recommend taking a look at their sites.

Types of Inciting Incidents


The Worst Possible Thing has happened

Example: the definining thing about your character is suddenly taken away (like their identity, well being, or mission in life). Woody’s position as Andy’s favorite toy is taken away when Buzz arrives in Toy Story. Bilbo is dragged out of his comfortable Hobbit hole on an adventure in The Hobbit.

Example: your character joins/is thrown into a group, setting, or institution which either seems like a dream opportunity (and will turn out to be the exact opposite) or seems like the worst place to be (and will turn out to have unexpected benefits). Mike and Sully desperately try to work their way to the top in Monsters Inc. Ariel wants to join the ranks of humanity after she falls in love with a human in The Little Mermaid.

Example: an enemy directly threatening your character arises. This is a super common movie theme, everything from The Matrix to The Avengers to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho utilize it. Romantic suspense novels, like Adriana Anders’ Whiteout, use it too.

Example: your character’s deepest, darkest secret is exposed to everyone, or comes back to bite them hard. The 40 Year Old Virgin beats the hell out of this idea. Sarah’s selfish wish gets her brother abducted by goblins in Labyrinth. In romance it could be a secretly failing marriage which needs a dose of good ol’ sexual healing, like When The Duke Returns by Eloisa James. Or something like a mistaken identity, or a secret baby plot.

Example: your character finds out a fact about their life or past which changes everything. In Halloweentown Marnie finds out she’s a witch, from a family of witches. In The Parent Trap, Sharon and Susan meet at a summer camp and figure out they’re identical twins, separated at birth. Percy Jackson discovers he’s a demigod in The Lightning Thief. Beth Randall finds out she’s a half-breed vampire in Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.


The Best Possible Thing has happened

Example: an opportunity for a new identity or way of life comes along for your character/a new mission for them to undertake appears. Emma Woodhouse decides to happily marry off the neighborhood in Emma by Jane Austen. Maria is hired as the nanny for the seven Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. 

Romance Specific Example: Your character encounters or has a ‘meet cute’ with someone who seems like they could be perfect. Of course it won’t be that simple! Steve saves Mary’s shoe from a runaway dumpster in The Wedding Planner (I adore that movie and always will, fight me on this, I dare you). To avoid suitors or marriage, Maddie has sent letters for years to a completely made up Scottish beau, ‘Captain Logan MacKenzie’. But surprise! The Captain is a real soldier, got every single letter, and appears on her doorstep insisting she keep her promises in When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare. Honestly the meet cute is a romance staple and coming up with the obstacles which separate your characters after the meet is most of the battle anyway.

Example: Something unexplained and MAGICAL happens to your character. Cora wakes up one morning in an alternate magical reality to find out she’s switched places overnight with her otherworld twin, who is married to Prince Noctorno (oh and btw he hates his wife) in Fantastical by Kristen Ashley. Jenna is sick of being a teenager and gets everything she thought she wanted in 13 Going on 30. Fletcher’s son gets tired of him lying and wishes he would only be able to tell the truth in Liar Liar.

Example: an opportunity arises for your character to do the one thing they’ve always wanted. Obstacles making this harder than they hoped will abound. Charlie finds a golden ticket in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Lucy has the chance to land her dream job, if she can only beat Joshua to get it, in The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

Guest Post: Welcome Elizabeth Black!

Happy Book Birthday to a fellow eXtasy Books author! In honor of her latest release, I’m hosting her on the blog today and sending sincere congratulations.

Be advised this is a mature book with adult themes, as are all eXtasy Books titles. Mostly, if you’re under 18 and wanting to read this book, the answer is no. Them’s the rules.

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First, welcome to the blog, Elizabeth! I’m getting a strong ménage-á-trois vibe from this sexy paranormal cover. Or is it more of a reverse harem situation?

Thank you very much for hosting me here today. I’d like to introduce you to my GLBT paranormal shifter romance. It’s not a typical ménage, no. But it’s also not quite a harem . . . you know what, I’ll just let the blurb speak for itself.

Sounds like a good idea. Take it away!

William Shakespeare said All the world’s a stage, but he hadn’t counted on shifters under a theater’s hot lights. Lovers Sam Hightower and Grant Newsome live for the stage. Although they have enjoyed the wanderlust of traveling theater for many years, each has grown tired of the road and wants to settle down. They also have a secret. As shifters and no part of any pack, they are lone wolves in every sense of the word. The full moon brings out the beast in them.

Even though their work as gaffers—lighting techs—puts them in contact with a large variety of willing, sexy men and women to share their love, they prefer men. They find a dancer, Luke Pearce, who makes their blood run hot, but Luke has a secret of his own to test them. Add scenic artists and lovers Charlotte and Lina to the mix, and you have a wild and sexy fivesome.

To spoil their fun and to their surprise, Sam and Grant discover another shifter in their midst, but this young person is so inexperienced and terrified she could expose them to the human hunters and get them killed. How can Sam and Grant protect themselves as well as the people they love?

Fascinating! I haven’t read a five-way in quite a while. Where should interested readers look to find this title?

Readers can find it at all the usual suspects: AmazonBarnes & Noble, eXtasy Books websiteKOBO, and even Google Play Books

I have a short excerpt for you, as well.

Excerpt

“After many decades, Grant had grown weary of running and hiding, and that evening drove his melancholia home harder than ever.

There he sat with Sam in the Portland forest, part human and part wolf, smoking and drinking, waiting for their meal to appear. Grant sat in front of Sam while Sam rubbed his shoulders.

So much had changed over time. Now, he relied on his iPhone to keep track of moon phases. Before his trip to Freiberg, he hadn’t even noticed the moon in the sky at all. No matter where he lived or toured, he had taken to hiding out in the nearest forest on those couple of nights each month when the blood lust took over his mind and body. No one was safe when he transformed, and he did what he could to avoid harming people. A deer or stray dog quenched his blood lust while he hid from the world in the safety of the deepest area of the forest, waiting until the full moon decayed the five percent he needed to be out of trouble. He only transformed at night, and his gallon jug of monkshood rye alleviated his symptoms somewhat, but in the end, he knew he was a danger and needed to hide, not only to avoid killing people but to keep away from the local authorities.

He crouched on the forest floor, swatting the black flies that bit through his thick fur. He wished there were some way of reversing the curse thrust upon him. He wanted nothing more than to sit at home with Sam, drink some beer, and watch a porn flick while making love to Sam again. He cursed his bad timing and rotten luck. He could say “if only” until the tides reversed. Nothing would change the fact that he would go feral every full moon. While he accepted his fate, he did not like it at all. Each full moon he fell into a rage that often came with thoughts of suicide, but when he thought of Sam and his sweet nature and even sweeter body, he realized he had reason to stay alive.

Sam sat next to him, smoking a cigarette, and Grant handed him the jug. Why did Sam seem to take to the change better than he? Or did he really take to it better? What if Sam only pretended so that Grant wouldn’t feel so bad? Misery loved company, but Sam, being a good-natured sort, didn’t wallow in sorrow. He considered the moonlit change a monthly inconvenience, much like some women considered their menstrual cycles. An irritant. If only Grant felt the same way.

Sam gulped as he drank, making slurping noises that grated in Grant’s ears. Sometimes Grant considered the potion the only control he had over his life.

“I feel miserable. I hate the full moon,” Grant said. “Sometimes I just want to curl up and die.”

“It will last only another day or two and then things will be back to normal.”

“What kind of normal is this kind of life?” Grant let his chin rest on his chest as Sam rubbed the kinks out of his shoulders. “My entire body hurts. The monkshood rye helps, but I’m as sore as I know I’ll be every month.”

“I know what you mean. We need something strong for the pain, like morphine, but I don’t know where to get it.”

“I’d rather have cyanide.”

“Don’t talk like that. We can get through this.”

Grant groaned in ecstasy as Sam’s fingers rubbed down his spine. Even though his entire body ached and he wanted to do nothing more than sleep for the next two days, his cock reacted to Sam’s amorous touch, growing larger and becoming sensitive to the slightest touch.

“Hey, I found a great movie for us to watch,” Sam said. “The Brotherhood of the Wolf. I figured it was the perfect movie for our time of the month.”

“Never heard of it.”

Sam turned to Grant and gave him a look Grant was all too familiar with. It was the you’ve got to be shitting me look, since Sam enjoyed relishing in the ways of the world much more than Grant . . . “

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Thanks, Elizabeth! Do you also want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

I do happen to have an author bio for you.

Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, dark fiction, and horror. Her erotic fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), House Of Erotica (U. K.), Circlet Press, eXtasy Books, Ravenous Romance, Riverdale Avenue Books, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. She also enjoys writing retellings of classic fairy tales, including her two self-published fairy tales “Trouble In Thigh High Boots” (Puss In Boots) and “Climbing Her Tower” (Rapunzel). An accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine nuts4chic (U. K.). Her articles about sex, erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet, CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Novelspot, The Erotic Readers and Writers Association Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama Magazine, and Circlet blog.

Find Elizabeth at her website where you can sign up for her newsletter, on FacebookTwitter, or her Amazon author page

It was great having you on the blog today. Congratulations again, and best wishes with your new release, Full Moon Fever!

 

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and Getting Out of The Zone

This is an Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Once a month, authors from all over come together and post in a hop where it’s safe to admit that this writing job has its bad days. There will be listicles, support, and digital shoulders to lean on.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

To sign up for the hop yourself go here. The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken! The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is also on Twitter and Instagram, in case you were wondering.

The Question for May is: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting in the writing ZONE?

I got some wires crossed and accidentally answered this question in last month’s post so you all already know that I am an anti-ZONE sort of person. Instead, this month I’ll share what I do that reliably helps me to get out of a writing slump/blue period/seasonal depression zone.

Sometimes it takes one step to lift me out. Sometimes I have to use several steps, or all of them. Still other times, I have to go through this whole sequence a few times. The end result, though, is they work for me. If they sound helpful, feel free to steal them for your own dark times. We’re all in this together.

Step one: Accept that rainy, bad times happen. No really, they do. No matter how mature or well adjusted I think I am. Perhaps for no reason, other than that it’s been a while and my hormones feel like slapping me upside the heart. It’s okay for there not to be a reason. I don’t have to pretend I need one.

Step two: Take a break. No writing for a little while. If the voice inside won’t stop telling me how awful everything I’m trying to write is, it’s time for a break. Fifth rejection in a row, or a manuscript that didn’t even make it to the final round of a RWA contest . . . yeah, it’s time for a cooling-off period from the Doubtful Voice which sings the same old tune over and over.

calm down gif
Words to live by

Step three: Deliberately look up all of the things I’ve done right. Dig out that old critique feedback that was so nice. Look up my name in the one RWA contest that I did place in. Reject the idea that the good things are few and far between. There’s that little voice again, and I’m going to ignore it AGGRESSIVELY.

Step four: Read something funny. My poison of choice is Terry Pratchett. Watch something sweet, or inspiring. Enchanted (from the gif above) is a fantastic choice for this. Take a walk. Sunshine preferred, but I’ll take what I can get.

Step five: Work on a different project. Pick a writing prompt or stumble on a meme that really speaks to me and just let words flow. This project might never go anywhere or be published and it doesn’t matter. Just gotta get those words gushing again.

Step six: Repeat as needed.

What I Thought Author Life Would Be Like vs. What it’s Actually Like

What I thought it would be like:

A00WZ1CXA6Writing retreats full of discourse, stimulating discussions, plotting, and lots of other authors.

What it’s actually like:

writing life gif

What I thought it would be like:

writing gif

Ideas lining up, falling neatly into their places, everything is flowing and glorious and ticking along like pure, perfect, writing clockwork.

What it’s actually like:

writing life gif 2

EVER HEARD OF SLEEPING, Ideas? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

What I thought it would be like:

boom baby

Editing, DONE. Polishing? This baby is shining. Revision number three is going SO WELL.

What it’s actually like:

mark watney gif

This was such a great idea to edit this bit here—DAMN IT now I have to re-write every part with foreshadowing and change the spelling for one noun hidden throughout 60,000 words.

What I thought it would be like:

writing gif 2

Blissful hours spent writing.

What it’s actually like:

beach bum gif

Why am I on Canva again? How did Pinterest boards take up three hours? What happened?

What I thought it would be like:

bookworm gif

Writing, writing, writing, more writing, lots of writing, all the words!

What it’s actually like:

paperwork

Re-writing my goddamn author bio for the 50th time.

What I thought it would be like:

writing life 3 gif

The house will just somehow keep itself clean? I dunno, somehow I thought there would be time for writing and cleaning and cooking and parenting and writing.

What it’s actually like:

messy house gif

This mess keeps multiplying although I am sitting quietly at my computer desk without cleaning, how unfair, I did not authorize this method.

What I thought it would be like:

writing gif 2

Writing the story.

What it’s actually like:

bookworm gif 7

Back on thesaurus.com looking up synonyms for “moist” for the 800th time

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 8 Finale Review

TLDR; I just cried for thirty straight minutes. Everyone who said I would love Stranger Things was so very right. You know who you are, and you have my complete agreement, and what have you all done to me.

stranger things 20 gif

The Upside Down

First thoughts: I am not emotionally prepared for any of this. Bring it on.

We’re starting with a big, brutal helping of THE TRUTH for “Papa” and I could sit and watch nothing but Joyce laying into him for a straight day. She doesn’t buy his lines for a second. If he thought Mama Bear would be an easy target he was so very wrong. I also have to hope that Hopper knows what he’s doing as he’s making deals left and right with Assassin Granny who is more than ready to kill him instantly. But he does get both him and Joyce into the Upside Down for a rescue attempt, so I’m calling it a net positive.

Unwise Scientist: “BTW the atmosphere is toxic, put these hazmat suits on.”

Joyce: “WAT the FUCK my SON has been in there for a week!”

And off they go on walkabout in The Upside Down, where we immediately get a flashback to Hopper’s past, to crush my heart into tiny pieces. Oh god I can’t take these revelations about Hopper’s daughter and him crying in the stairwell. It made me start crying, although I tried to hold it back so I could focus on what was going on.

Back with our monster-hunting duo, Jonathan gets cockblocked by Steve “I Creep on You Through The Window” Harrington in the most awkwardly timed decent impulse ever. Seriously Steve pushes inside and immediately you can watch the realization dawn on his little face: his girl is into sacrificial rituals and he probably barely escaped with his life. Bad timing level: expert because the Hellflower shows up at that moment.

Jonathan: “Jump!”

Steve: “There is a set BEAR TRAP in the HALLWAY what the everloving kind of kink is this?!”

Steve’s suffering makes me feel better, though, because I am a bad person. Do I have to LIKE Steve now? Seriously? I still don’t ship him with Nancy.

stranger things 21 gif
RIP Assassin Granny

H E L P Eleven is squishing brains inside skulls now and I don’t even know if I can feel happy about this! Oh god oh god oh god Eleven! This is so disturbingly cathartic. Also “Papa” done fucked up and she wants Mike now. Because Mike gives her, you know, kindness and compassion and Eggos and basic human decency and other unnecessary things. Karma comes for “Papa” in the form of a rampaging Demogorgon and it is glorious. I’m not disturbed about this bit.

My feeling of triumph is immediately squashed, though, because they find Will in the Upside Down and it’s not okay. Nothing is okay. There’s a tube thing in his mouth and he’s not breathing and nothing will ever be okay again. This is all juxtaposed with flashbacks to the death of Hopper’s daughter and you better believe I started sobbing at this point.

Elven and the boys are trapped in a classroom, guns apparently have zero effect on Hellflowers from other dimensions and . . . wait . . . goodbye, Mike? As in, she’s gone? Eleven sacrificed herself? ENDLESS SADNESS and I’M ANGRY AT EVERYONE RIGHT NOW. Still crying.

Will starts breathing again and guess what, I’m still a tearful mess.

I need a hug. And a tissue. And then another hug.

stranger things 12 gif

The Loser’s Club and their happiness a month later as they smash out a great D&D campaign was so good for my heart. (Still crying, softly.) But the moral of the whole story was that if you baseball bat the face-hugging flower monster you get the girl. Happy Christmas. I STILL DO NOT SHIP THEM, OKAY.

We’re left with two extremely intriguing cliffhangers, involving Eggos left in the woods and Will possibly still being connected to The Upside Down. Oh you clever cliffhanging bastards, now I have to watch Season Two. I must.