We Don’t Really Talk About That…

Everybody knows the point of writing a romance novel is to keep it sexy. But as I was going through my evening routine last night, I got to thinking… There really is a whole bunch of stuff we leave to the imagination, and with good reason.

Nobody suffers gastrointestinal discomfort in romance novels. Our characters don’t face the sudden urge to pee that sends them out of bed and fleeing for their lives to the bathroom. They don’t have to worry about foot odor or chafing or rashes. It’s rare we see our heroine going through the motions of shaving her legs or waxing her eyebrows, because she doesn’t have to. She doesn’t agonize over her man seeing that little pimple on her shoulder, because that pimple doesn’t exist. Our heroines are always runway perfect, even when they have bad breath and bed head. Hell, even their bad breath is somehow adorable. It’s part of the charm of being a fictional character, I suppose.

We all know the truth, but refuse to admit it: no woman wakes up gorgeous. Yes, there are some women who get up ultra-early with the specific intention of making certain their husbands/boyfriends/whatever never see them without makeup, but most of us just aren’t that person. We write our heroines that way because we’re writing to the romantic, to the illusion of perfection. As artists we’re taking creative liberties with reality, filtering out the unnecessary and unsavory, to give the reader a condensed, sexier version of life.

And since we’re selling fantasies, chances are our hero and heroine are going to appeal to most everyone. I like to write my characters with somewhat vague descriptions so my readers can superimpose the faces they want on them. Of course a few things are always going to happen: we will assume our hero is packing heat like Ron Jeremy and our heroine has huge knockers because those things are the fantasy. But this is where the real-life itty-bitty-titty-committee has the advantage… Us well-endowed girls always suffer from the curse of boob sweat. It’s a real thing, and it can be enough to make us run for the shower at the first thought of personal contact. But even if the chick in the book is packing triple-D hooters, she’s still going to be ready to get it on without a second thought…

Because boob sweat isn’t sexy. Neither is the act of getting the bra strong enough to contain them off. We leave those details out, again, to present the beauty without the reality. It’s much more fun to witness our hero sliding the bra strap off the girl’s shoulder and kissing the spot where it was. That’s a pretty image. Utilitarian bras are not.

Random: Have you ever noticed how nobody talks about the horrible things corsets do to the body when the heroines wear them? Those things hurt like a mother.

But in some ways the glossing over of real life almost feels like cheating. I mean, you can’t play in the Olympic games if you don’t train, right? Half the fun of the mating ritual is the pre-game. The anticipation. The tension. The hope that your hard work will pay off. I suppose there are worse things than filtering relationships though rose-colored glass though. Considering the luxuries of Western civilization we take for granted, we can’t really complain about our bushy eyebrows, can we?

Happy Release Day!

Good morning, my lovelies! I have a treat for you today.

Courtesy of the lovely ladies at Mocha Memoirs Press, the lovely Shannon Wendtland has a fabulous steampunk adventure available for your kindles! I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Heliodor_72dpi

Malfric sees through the eyes of the dead – literally reliving their last moments as if they were his own. This ability is highly sought and highly priced, which is why the unscrupulous Captain Finch hires him to find the murderer of a nobleman and the whereabouts of a valuable artifact.

Quantex, the able-bodied first mate of Captain Finch, quickly becomes Malfric’s foil as he demonstrates uncommon intelligence during the investigation. Together the two uncover several clues that lead them to the killer, the artifact, and the frayed end of a mysterious plot that begins to unravel the moment Malfric takes it in hand and gives it a good yank.


How about a little taste?

Quantex threw the wheel hard to starboard and leaned in, digging his boot heels into the deck and gritting his teeth.

“Your orders, sir?” called Chulo, his acting First Mate.

The pirate ship had come up from beneath them, at ramming speed it seemed, and veered to the side just in time to swipe their hull. The pirates had outfitted their ships with iron tridents that extended from their hull like great black rakes.

The Ariel had sustained some damage, rips in the hull and the like, and it might be a long time before it could safely land in the water and stay there.  Luckily, their ballast tanks were still full.

Still leaning on the wheel, Quantex grinned tightly as the ship swung around, the stern facing the broadside of their attacker.  Pirates swarmed on the other ship’s deck, raising their fists and voices in a rallying cry.

This was going to be a nasty fight, Quantex knew.  But he hadn’t always worked for Finch, had he?

“Arm the ballista and cinch it down at the stern.  Make sure the knots are good and tight ― let’s tie the bitch to us and take her for a ride.”

“That’ll take several minutes, sir,” offered Chulo, his hat in his hands.  “What’ll ye have me do with the rest of the crew?”

“Grapeshot in the cannons, aim for her mast and the sails.  And when I say, tell Jessop to release all the air in the big bladders.  We want to sink like a rock and take her down with us.”


About the Author:

Shannon is a wife, mother, writer, database administrator and general pot-stirrer-turned-mystic.

You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter at @ShannonWendtlan.


Available now at Amazon & the MMP Store!

Back on the Wagon

I have been writing a good bit these days. It’s mostly 500 words on one project then – ooh look! Squirrel! – but I’m getting things done in small bits.

Awhile back I gave a story to a friend to read over for a possible project. She kept it for awhile, read over it, edited it, and sent it back to me bleeding. It was the first romance-type thing I’d finished in over a year, and it was short. And in terrible shape.

I knew it was in bad shape when I gave it to her, but I did it anyway. Mainly because I was too close to it. I couldn’t see the problems because I’d been living in that world for weeks. Ultimately what it boiled down to was that the characters didn’t have time to build the relationship and I kinda fell off on some of the important details.

I’m fixing it. And in between fixing it (and fighting the crippling bouts of fear that I suck as a writer) and playing mom to TWO kids (yes, there are two of the little hellions now), I’m starting to put pen to paper on other projects. If I ever make it to the end of the 25 things I’m writing at once, I’ll have enough to keep me in new stories for at least two years.

But I’m taking it one step at a time.

Can't DecideRight now on my plate I have a romantic fantasy novel, a paranormal romance novella, a paranormal romance novel, a holiday… something… (novel, novella, I don’t know yet), a Cowboy romance (a sequel!), and a contemporary novel and contemporary short story. All of these things are in varying stages of completion, which means I have lots of things to divide my time. Which also means I have too many options and can’t focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. Lexxx and Lucy are both going to tell me to put all of it away and only pick one thing, which I’ve tried to do…desperately. It just doesn’t work with me. I’m way too hyperactive for that.

I’m also the type of person… I love the rush of beginning a new project. I’m not talking about the plotting and planning stage. I mean that very first moment you put pen to paper. There’s nothing at all like it and it’s a better high than any drug.

Or so I’m told…I’ve never done drugs.

Then 10,000 words in, I hit that slump. By 15k, I’m telling myself I hate the book. If I make it to 25k before I dump it and walk away, that feeling usually goes away. There’s a lot of anxiety that goes with writing a successful story.

Part of my trouble, I think, has been that I’ve not really had time to read lately. This two kids thing really eats into my free time. In the past few weeks I’ve started listening to audiobooks, which has greatly increased my productivity. Right now I’m listening to 12 Years a Slave on Spotify. It just went up this morning and I’m already on Chapter 3. The book is breaking my heart, but it’s also showing me a side of history the movie couldn’t even touch. I’m learning something while I trudge on in the mindless activities of my day job.

So it’s not the wild leaps and bounds of progress I’ve been hoping for, but it’s there. I’m trying. I’m getting better.

Baby steps, kids. Baby steps.

The Long, Hard Road out of Hell

So I kinda fell off the wagon for awhile there. It sucks, but it is what it is. Between a bout of depression, sickness from being pregnant, and a general sense of “why bother?” spawning from some less-than-productive professional relationships, I’d started the descent into giving up.

But truth be told, I’m not ready to give up. I’m just ready to be done with the bullshit. I’m ready to do my thing, tell my stories, raise my kids, and say To Hell with the internet in general. Unfortunately in this day and age of everyone trying to scream the loudest, I can’t push it all off to the side. I have to be here and present.

I did get off my duff and re-release this book, though:

Loki's Game

I still love this book. I’m ecstatic over the new cover. The story is updated a bit for continuity and grammatical uglies as well. Click the picture and take a look. I promise you’ll enjoy it. It’s also enrolled in KU, so there’s that as well.

But back to the point…

Yes, I’m struggling with my own personal demons, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is to say that I’m still here, I’m still around, and I’m still writing, very much against the desires of my subconscious.

It’s tough out there. Publishers are folding left and right. The big houses are growing even more elitist. The masses are turning more to self-publishing out of necessity than desire it seems. And the turd peddlers are cranking out even more crap than ever before. And nobody is making any money.

Last quarter, I sold four books. FOUR. And not for lack of trying. It’s extremely disheartening to know how bad the market is. And writing romance means it’s even stiffer competition. None of the readers have any money, and the ones that do are playing it safe with A-list authors they know by name. The market is flooded, and not necessarily with good fiction either.

Hence the “why bother” attitude. Sadly I’ve made more money by giving Loki’s Game away through Kindle Unlimited than I have selling copies of every book in my backlist combined. THAT is how bad the market is.

I was scrolling back through some of my older blog posts and came across one from right after I got started. It was talking about Digital Marketing and how I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Sadly, that was the point in my life when I was doing everything right. Sure, I second-guessed myself and had a pretty bumpy path in front of me, but back then I didn’t shy away from the daunting task of putting myself out there. I could sit here and make excuses as to why, but that wouldn’t be fair to myself or to you. The simple fact is this: I don’t do it. I should, but I don’t. Coincidentally, it was when I knew the least about my craft that I seemed to give the best advice.

I’m frustrated. I’m disheartened. I’m still overwhelmed. I need to learn to let those things go and get back on the writing wagon. Even if it’s 100 words a day, it’s something. I’m NOT giving up. That’s not what I’m made of. So please be patient, but expect great things. There’s always something wonderful just around the bend.

Oh, Look… I’m Back!

Yeah, yeah, yeah… for someone who writes books and things I don’t seem to do much writing. At least here, that is. There’s a good reason for it.

Being a human incubator takes a lot out of you.

Of course, holding down a full-time job with a three-year old, a writing habit in more than one genre, AND taking on two huge editing projects at one time will take a lot out of a person without the tiny succubus now present in my life. She’ll be here in November and we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Maybe.

So all of that aside, I have still been pretty busy. Crymsyn and I ended up doing a total rewrite on Frozen Hearts & Blazing Souls after contract, and it’s back in the hands of the editor for round two.

Purple Sword Publications has taken Marked and we’re finishing up cover art and minor details on that as well. I love that book, and I’d forgotten just how much until I reread it and did a little updating prior to submitting it. Now I just have to decide what I’m going to do with Loki’s Game now that I have the rights back.

I’m working on a really schmoopy Christmas romance and a few short projects. They’re all sort of jockeying for last place in my brain right now (I haven’t written anything substantial since finishing the rewrite on FHBS), so that’s an adventure. I’ve got a few interesting horror things cooking up there too.

As for the editing, which seems to be the big question on everyone’s tongue these days… It’s going well. The selection process took a bit longer than we anticipated simply because we had so many stories to read, and so many of them were so good. Margie and I have completed our selections, and Carpe Noctem has now turned into a two-book ordeal. It’s sister book, Tenebris Amore sprang from the four-hour discussion in which we discovered we had way too many stories we loved to let them all go. For the most part we agreed on everything. There were one or two we each championed to the other, and in the end it has all worked out for the best.

Contracts and rejection emails should be just about complete, and as soon as I have the digital files in hand, I’ll begin round one of edits.

Let me tell you guys… there are some absolutely outstanding stories, which is how we ended up with two volumes. For the most part even the rejections were very good…they just didn’t fit the call. It’s very hard to accept a horror story for a romance anthology. And we did get quite a bit of horror, which tells me the idea of Paranormal Romance many not be quite so cut and dry as we originally thought. Nonetheless, I’m considering one or two for my horror anthology project simply because they were just so freaking good.

So, two anthologies? How does that work???

I’m glad you asked. Carpe Noctem will be the first book, and will feature paranormal stories with a strong romantic thread and a happy ending. These will be the more traditional romantic stories that, despite the paranormal critters, are meant to give readers warm fuzzies.

The second book, Tenebris Amore, is much darker. The stories are still love stories, but not in traditional ways. The endings aren’t always happy, but each of the works we selected showcases a soul-deep love, and the ability of the human heart to accept the painful, and sometimes even the impossible.

I love these books, and I can’t wait to see them in production. Those of you who were accepted… you’ll be hearing from me very soon. To those who weren’t selected, thank you for your fantastic submissions. I look forward to seeing future work from each of you.

Look at the Shiny! (It’s a book release, kids!)

She-Wolf

It’s that time, my lovelies! She-Wolf is back on the market with an updated cover, re-edited interior, and even more juicy werewolf goodness. I love this book. LOVE IT. I do. It’s one of those that, when I go back and read it, makes me all tingly and giddy. Ridiculous, I know…but it makes me happy.

And I have to say, I absolutely adore Traci at Purple Sword. This cover is everything I always wanted it to be and more. So, so, so much more. I’m excited, so you guys should be too!


Back Cover Blurb

Is the wild attraction between them enough to upset her curse?

It is almost the full moon, and young werewolf Mira Winterborn is restless. Research has failed her, and she is convinced that no matter what happens, there is no way to stop the change. But when her best friend invites her out for a late night on the town, she finds herself drawn to the bad-boy in the corner as a likely candidate for a final experiment. Unfortunately, he’s there to kill her.

Rune Morwyn is a hunter, working to repay a blood debt. Mira is to be his last mark, but she makes him a bizarre offer that seems too good to be true. Is the wild attraction between them enough to upset her curse, and what will happen if he lets his normally guarded heart go?

♥ ♥ ♥

And a Taste…

Mira had never seen the bar packed quite so tightly before. Their normally deserted hole-in-the-wall pulsed with raw energy. Maybe the full moon was affecting more than just her tonight? Not likely, but she let herself believe it anyway to quell the frustration rising in her chest. It had been known to happen, after all.

As soon as they were through the ID check, Tempest vanished into the crowd with little more than a peck on the cheek and a backward wave, leaving Mira standing in the doorway alone. This was exactly why she’d tried to back out in the first place. The deep throb of industrial music filled her ears and her body, its heavy melody thumping all the way to her center. She had learned from experience it was useless to try and fight the rhythmic bump of the drum machines. The beat took hold, and she found herself swaying under its control, feeling the effects of her surroundings begin rip away her inhibitions and her anger.

Maybe Tempest was right…maybe Mira could find someone to take home. Even if the attraction wasn’t strong enough to stop the change, or if he wasn’t into the whole ritual sex-while-asking-the-cosmos-for-favors thing, at least she could have a little fun, scratch the itch building in her belly, and distract herself for a while.

Yeah…and frogs fell from the sky daily. As Mira passed, the men around her turned to watch her, sizing her up with obvious appreciation as she slipped and slid against their sides and around other men and women. She watched them with equal interest, making determinations based on her gut instincts as she passed.

Too young…too old…too much hair…too fragile…BINGO.

She spotted him at the back of the building, close to the DJ’s pedestal. He leaned against the wall, a beer in hand. He looked like he was at the extreme edge of boredom as he turned a disinterested gaze toward her. The second their gazes connected, she felt the effect of his presence lash through her body. A shiver of delight wormed its way down her spine and seated firmly in her belly, sprouting tendrils of warmth that twisted around her insides and drew her forward.

He seemed to feel it too. The look of boredom disappeared from his face, replaced by an odd mixture of tension and amusement. He abandoned his station and his drink and started toward her. The look on his face was feral; he appeared almost as wild as she felt. Another were?

Not likely. She sniffed at the air and picked up no trace of her kind in the building. He had to be human, or she’d have known it already.

As he neared her, she realized how big he was…tall, broad-shouldered, with formfitting leather pants and a tight, black T-shirt that showcased a well-defined body, perfect for clinging to. Deep-set silver-gray eyes held her gaze with laser-like precision and shoulder-length black hair to match her own framed his face in a messy, I’m-a-man-and-I-don’t-care shag.

So this is animal magnetism, she thought as they met without a word and fell into step with the music. He did not ask her name, and she didn’t offer it, content only to be here with him in this moment, moving together in a time-old mating ritual. He towered over her; she was of average height, but the top of her head scarcely came up to his shoulder. The smell of aftershave curled around her, the familiar, sexy smell pinging against her senses and upping her pulse considerably. She wanted to reach up and draw her fingers across his jaw to test the give in those sinfully crafted lips. Mira couldn’t take her eyes off of him, and delighted in the fact that he seemed inclined to watch her as well. A dark, wicked smile curled his lips as he stared down at her.

♥ ♥ ♥

Where to Get It

Purple Sword Publications Webstore
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks

♥ ♥ ♥

And remember, my darlings… if you’ve read this book, reviews are love!

Let the Reading Begin!

So this happened Monday:

Carpe Noctem Reading Copy

That’s a pretty pair of rat smashers, isn’t it? Two great, big volumes of story goodness, all for me! There are 47 stories, to be exact.  Over 540 pages, too. This is definitely the beginning of a new adventure. Good timing, too. It’s been snowing outside with a forecast for more (in South Carolina, no less!) and I need something to do.

My tools are ready too…see?

Carpe Noctem ToolsI may have gotten a little excited and started reading. For the most part, I’m liking what I’m seeing. I’ve read six stories thus far and two are high on the list. They rest are very well-written. I absolutely love one of them, though from a paranormal romance perspective, I’m not entirely certain they qualify as  “romance”.

The first story is my favorite so far, but it falls into that questionable category. It’s a good way to start too, since it immediately hits on the biggest fear I’ve had for this anthology – is it romance?

While for this anthology a story doesn’t necessarily have to have to have a traditional happy ending, it does have to be romantic in nature. This particular story…it’s beautiful, heartfelt, loving…and has what could be considered a bittersweet ending (in other words, everything a romantic story should be), except it bypasses the very idea of romance. There’s very little about the relationship between the two characters. It makes me sad to think I would have to reject this story, as I love it so much. However, it isn’t romance. It doesn’t fit the call.

This is the hard part… falling in love with something and then not being able to keep it. Or on the contrary, loving a story up until the point when the ending ruins it. That’s happened on one so far too. I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say the idea of such a cruel ending broke my heart.

So let’s do this… before we get much farther into this process I want to provide any information seekers with the list of things which will immediately get you banned from my selection process:

– Rape/abuse for pleasure
– Incest
– Infidelity between main characters
– Anything that leaves me wondering where the story might have wander off to

That’s pretty much my rejection criteria right there. I don’t yet know about my co-editor’s choices (she may tell me to sit down and shut up), so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ll be back when I’ve read a little more.

Carpe Noctem

Selection Copy Header Page – I’m a bit excited, y’all!


On the iTunes: “Adagio for Strings” – Blackburner
Mood: Partially frozen, but mostly chipper