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

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Cover Pretties: Frozen Hearts & Blazing Souls

Guys, the good news just keeps rolling in.

Crymsyn Hart and I have been up to no good together for awhile now, and we finally have something to show for it. Book 1 of our Dragon Warriors series was contracted by Purple Sword Publications back at the end of January, and last night we were graced with quite possibly the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long time. That means I’m going to share it with you!

Frozen Hearts & Blazing Souls

I am so completely in love with this cover. Seriously. Mrs. Traci over at PSP has really outdone herself on this one. I’m awed, amazed, and all those fun words that I can’t even think of right now because it’s Monday. But this… yeah. I’m totally loving this. I hope y’all do too.

Oh, and here’s what the book is about. If you can stop staring at that gorgeous cover, that is.

A prophecy exists: an Empress will rise from the ashes of the ruined empire.

On the run from a vicious sorcerer, Tazu seeks refuge in a ruined temple where she collapses into the arms of a stranger. When she wakes, she finds she has unearthed a relic from a fallen empire.

For hundreds of years Ryu has punished himself for the death of the Empress he once protected, but in Tazu’s presence, the ronin discovers the strength to heal both her physical and emotional wounds. Her closeness shakes his dormant heart and stirs the inner beast he has fought so hard to control.

Kyo, a warrior turned mercenary, hunts Tazu at the request of the sorcerer, Ning­Tse. Once Kyo discovers Tazu, he also finds himself entranced by her quiet strength. The sorcerer wants to exploit the power Tazu struggles to conceal, but the two warriors who have fallen for her will stop at nothing to keep her safe. The sorcerer’s insatiable greed sets the prophecy in motion, placing Tazu and her dragons on a path toward war, redemption, and the reclamation of long­lost power.

Walking Down a Dark Road, or, On Becoming a #ParanormalRomance Editor

Carpe Noctem Cover

Carpe Noctem: Truly. Madly. Deeply – Coming soon from Charon Coin Press

Isn’t this just the prettiest cover ever? I swear, Natasha Alterici does such perfect, emotional work. To me, that image speaks of a soul-deep longing, and a desire which can never truly be fulfilled. It’s tragic and beautiful, and it makes me want to cry.

It helps that my name is on the cover. That makes me smile.

So Carpe Noctem submissions closed two weeks ago, which means any day now I should be receiving the reading package. From what I understand, I have roughly fifty stories to read (FIFTY STORIES??? WOW!!!). I’m expecting close to 800 pages when that package arrives, which means it’s going to take quite a bit of time and some serious coffee intake. I should probably buy stock in Starbucks.

I’ve also noticed something else: since agreeing to take part in this project, my reading style has changed. I’m reading everything with a critical eye these days, including the newest Stephen King novel, which I’d been devouring up until I said okay.

I’m reading slower now, more carefully. It’s odd, too. I’m the girl who ripped through all four Twilight novels in about three days. Granted, the reading level on those isn’t particularly high, but it was a lot of pages and it took a lot of focus and concentration to stay interested in large parts of the story…but I did it. Where I used to read a novel a week, it now takes me all day to read a 9,000 word short story because I’m unconsciously picking it apart as I go.

I’m looking forward to the process, though. Being a lover of the written word, I’m excited to be able to read these stories first on paper instead of on a screen. I like the old-fashioned feel of the process. It makes me happy.

So one question I keep getting from those who have submitted and those who just seem interested in the project: What are you looking for?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. I’ve read a lot of fiction. And I do mean a looooot. I’m looking for something I’ve never seen before. Something new and different, and while the story has to have that impossible love story feel to fit the call, I want to see new ways of handling old tropes. I’m not looking for boy-meets-girl-boy-eats-girl… I’m looking for true love in odd packages. I’m looking for perseverance despite the odds. I’m looking for a satisfying, if not entirely happy, ending. But most of all, I’m looking for a good story. I’ll know that when I read it.

It’s almost time to start reading. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

On the iTunes: “Foreigner’s God” – Hozier
Mood: Optimistic. And Caffeinated.

One…More…Book…

Morning, y’all.

It’s been a minute. For that, I apologize. But there’s been some big stuff happening in the last few months. Remember how back in October I mentioned that Sugar & Spice handed me the rights back to four books? We’re taking care of that.

The lovely Traci Markou at Purple Sword Publications has contracted two of the four so far. She took Blood Doll and She-Wolf, and is in the process of pushing them out for me as we speak. I’m so excited! Purple Sword is so good to me. Take a look:

blooddoll_original

It’s available today, as a matter of fact! The buy links are still going live, but so far we have three:

All Romance eBooks | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

I’ll let y’all know when Amazon turns it loose. I’m so excited to have this book back in production. It’s one of my first, but it’s also one of my favorites.

Homegrown Hearts

Look! Looklooklook!!! It’s here!!! It’s finally here!!! I’m completely over the moon about this book. I think I’ve had more fun writing this book than I have any other book ever. It’s light-hearted and fun, and if every book was this easy to write, I’d have a million of them by now.

And you can even buy it!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

And then there’s one more pretty for you to look at…

She-Wolf

That’s probably one of my favorite covers to date. It’s absolutely perfect for the book. It makes me so unbelievably happy. The book is still in edits (that’s totally my fault), but I’ll be able to put it in your hands soon enough.

So that’s my big news. I’ll be back shortly with more fun stuff.

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it… all of you lovelies have five more days to get your submissions in for Carpe Noctem – Truly. Madly. Deeply.

Call for Submissions: Carpe Noctem (Charon Coin Press)

Good morning and Happy November!

A new month brings with it a brand new project. Remember that Sooper Sekrit Project I mentioned earlier this week? This is it!

Margie Colton and Jerry Benns at Charon Coin Press have invited little old me to participate as co-editor of their very first Paranormal Romance Anthology.

Carpe Noctem

“Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply” is seeking Paranormal Romance titles (4,000 – 10,000 words) featuring complicated and impossible love stories. One character must be human and the other non-human. Steamy elements are welcome as long as they are integral to the story. No erotica, please. Submissions close February 1, 2015.

For the full submission call, click here: http://charoncoinpress.com/open-submissions/carpe-noctem-paranormal-romance-anthology/

Take It Off…No, Put It On! A Mom’s Perspective on Pushing the Envelope

When I was 20 years old, I was pretty damn stupid. I’ll be the first one to admit it. I thought I knew everything, but turns out, I really knew nothing. I was smart, sure. I had book smarts coming out of my ears (that’s what you have when you start college in your second year) and enough common sense to keep me from sticking my hands in blenders or playing in traffic. But beyond that, I was dumb as hell. Most people at my age would probably be ashamed of their early 20’s, but I embrace them as part of who I was and who I am now.

Before I get going too fast, let me interject this: I was not a partier. I didn’t do drugs. Didn’t even smoke cigarettes (and still don’t!). The only time I really drank was when I was in the safety of someone’s house and not going anywhere. In fact, my first beer was purchased by my father on my 21st birthday in a little Irish pub that’s no longer there on King Street in downtown Charleston. My birthday weekend was spent buying a bottle of Kahlua and driving half-way across the state to spend the weekend with my boyfriend and two of our best friends. (He’s now my husband and the father of my child, btw.) My rationale behind this post is that when I was a kid, I acted like one. I didn’t know better. And while yes, I’m still a very open-minded and open-hearted person who accepts everyone at face value and always tries to find the good in every person and situation, my feet are now planted firmly on the ground and I’ve learned a thing or two in the last few years.

So I’m in the kitchen preparing a few things to take to a family reunion earlier this week (hey, shut up) when my husband calls me into the living room. “Hurry up and look at this!” he says. So I dry my hands and swing around the corner to find myself looking at a picture of a baby shower cake. The cake is well-decorated, mind you. The artist did an absolutely fantastic job of visually representing this cartoon scene of a baby coming out of a vagina.

I nearly thwapped him in the back of the head with the dish towel because the first thing going through my mind was What if my two year old had been in his lap? She doesn’t need to see that! Then I realized how stupid I sounded in my own head. She’s two. She wouldn’t understand it. She would think it was a baby wrapped in a blanket. Just as she doesn’t understand the innuendo in Family Guy and its ilk, she won’t pick up the true nature of any crude humor for years to come. At the same time, though, she’s a little sponge, soaking up everything she sees and ultimately attempting mimicry. It’s how she learns. Heaven knows we’ve discovered just how foul our mouths are since she started talking. The first time I heard the words “oh, my damn it” come out of her mouth, I simultaneously burst out laughing and crying. It was hilarious. I mean side-splitting funny. But at the same time it was my baby using bad words that she shouldn’t even know! The timing was appropriate, even if the usage was off. She’d dropped her cup and the top popped off. But that’s what scares me. She’s learning these things.

Which is exactly what spawned this post. Just because she doesn’t completely understand something doesn’t mean she isn’t filing what she sees away for later. And while I try to steer her toward age appropriate material, I can’t always control the influences around her. My husband doesn’t see the problem in allowing her to watch pop music videos with nearly naked women twerking while they sing about one-night stands and drug use. But I do. He may enjoy it – and he’s allowed to because he’s a grown man – but she doesn’t need to see it. I don’t want her dressing like a ho-bag and twerking by the time she’s five. That’s not cute. It’s sad.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about censorship. I’m not rallying the torch and pitchfork clan to go after YouTube and the television networks to cut the obscenity and only show reruns of I Love Lucy. This is about my sudden and surprising disgust on behalf of my daughter for the low standards of today’s media. I know that since the dawn of media, there has always been someone there pushing the envelope, and I not only applaud but appreciate that. The envelope needs to be pushed. The world needs to evolve. Marilyn Monroe was a visionary in her time. What’s mundane and last year’s fashion today was pretty damn racy when she was singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” And let’s not forget the King of Rock N’ Roll… they wouldn’t even show Elvis Presley from the waist down because [interjects best southern drawl] it might give self-respectin’ ladies the vapors. [Ahem.] Then there was Madonna, who took racy to a whole new level.

I have a lot of respect for Madonna’s career, and I often hear my mother come out of my own mouth these days. The things she said about Madonna in 1989 are the same things I say about Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus today. But you know what? I turned out okay living with her. My little girl will turn out okay with me. I have no doubt.

Hey, while we’re here, let’s go ahead and press that shiny-red controversy button now. I called on the Candyman so I may as well let him(her) out of the mirror.

Let’s talk about Miley for a minute.

I’ve had this argument with my husband and step-daughter a hundred times since she got naked and dry-humped Robin Thicke (who coincidentally looked too much like Beetlejuice for my liking) on stage for the whole world to see. There is absolutely no doubt that she’s a beautiful, wildly talented girl with the ability go anywhere and be anything. Personally, I love her voice and a good bit of her music. She’s the whole package. Almost. Girlfriend just needs some serious common sense.

I want to sit her down and teach her one very important lesson that I should have learned when I was her age and didn’t. The things you do at 20 will haunt you for the rest of your life. I get she wanted to break away from the Disney mold and show the world she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But from the perspective of a mother, her antics over the last year and a half haven’t shown me that. They’ve shown me that she’s still an immature child desperate to stay in the spotlight at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her dignity and integrity to do it.

We’re not going to talk about her tongue either. She really needs to keep it in her mouth. I want to tell her “Sweetie…that’s not sexy. That constant licking makes you look like a giraffe with a canker sore.”

What blows my mind and completely destroys my faith in her ability to intelligently maintain a long-standing musical career is the video for Wrecking Ball. That song… it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It’s one of the most powerfully moving pieces of music I’ve heard in years. And the video destroys the image. I mean completely and utterly massacres the artistry of the song. See for yourself:

From the perspective of an artist, the video would have been much more effective in conveying the heartbreak if she’d kept her clothes on and not licked the chain. Seriously. When you’re singing about complete and utter heartbreak, being nekkid in boots is just corny.

From the perspective of a mom? Holy Mary, GET THAT CHILD SOME CLOTHES!

Her director should have put her in time-out for that decision…though I’m pretty sure he went with it so he could see Miley Cyrus naked on his set. A really good friend of mine made an offhand comment about her on Facebook awhile back that ended badly for him because (1) it was worded wrong and (2) people are stupid. However, I agree with his point. His comment was something to the extent of “her daddy should have whipped her butt when she was a kid”. The hotheads immediately flew off the handle and accused him of condoning violence against women and children, which was so far off the mark I wanted to punch these chicks. (I’m a girl, so it’s okay, right? No, I know…but you get my point. If they’d said it, it wouldn’t have been as controversial a comment.) While he wasn’t specifically demanding the use of corporal punishment against her, he was implying that her parents should have set boundaries and taught her better. The sad truth of his statement is that she is a child of television and most of those children don’t have the limits and moral values the rest of us eventually develop. Look at Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears… two beautiful, talented girls who turned out to be total train wrecks when they reached the age of consent. Again, I blame their parents for being on a quest for the almighty dollar instead of teaching their children how to function as real people.quote1

And seriously, MTV needs a great big spanking with a flyswatter for unleashing stupid shit like “16 and Pregnant” on the world. They were the boneheads responsible for telling Farrah Abraham she was important (and we all know how I feel about her). I’m so terribly sorry, everyone, but I have a fundamental issue with those shows. I get they’re meant to show the trials of a teenage parent, but you know what? They don’t. They’re glorifying adolescent pregnancy. They’re showing young girls that “yeah, it’s okay to get knocked up. Your parents will take care of the baby or you can just go out and get the government to pay for your kid.” I’m sorry, but fuck you, television. That’s not okay. You can’t preach abstinence in the classroom then give a sixteen year old mother a television show. Defeating. The. Purpose.

I was a married adult well past my early twenties when I gave birth to my first child. Why is that so wrong now?

But I digress.

Or maybe not. That’s sort of the point of this whole rant in a nutshell. Morals and common sense.

I love horror movies. Do I let my baby girl watch them? No. Why? Because she doesn’t need to experience that yet. When the time comes, I’ll be more than happy to sit down with her and let her watch the movies that have scared the hell out of me over the years.

Do I write racy, adult-based things? Absolutely. But I don’t leave them where my child, or any other child in my family, can get to them. They’re clearly labeled as fiction for adults, and while some of my writing is erotic, the sexual aspect is always between two consenting adults who understand the ramifications of their actions. And usually those two people end up in a long-term, committed relationship.

Was I a virgin when I got married? No. But my husband is the only man I’ve ever been with, and we lived together for five years before we got married. Our daughter was born after. Plus I helped raise his daughter from his first marriage. I’ve seen her through elementary, middle, and high school, and now she’s in college and on her own path. And I worry about her every single day succumbing to the bullshit pressures of the media. She doesn’t weigh 110 pounds soaking wet, but she says she’s fat. I want to punch the fucking television.

I applaud the need for today’s pop stars to push the envelope, but I ask that (1) they slow down a little (I mean seriously, Miley. Now that you’re naked, there’s nothing left to take off without turning into a sci-fi freak show), and (2) the media asshats stop with the constant oversexualization of our society. There’s a time and a place for everything, and let me tell you from the mouth of a mother who is by no means a beauty queen, your physical appearance is not the most important thing in the world. I’m not a skinny girl by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you could split me in half and get two skinny girls. But I was a size 16 when I got married and I’ll tell you what… two centuries ago, I would have been the epitome of beauty.

quote2Here’s the dirty little secret: I’m not skinny, but I’m married with a family and moderately successful in my life. I’m happy with me as I am, and if every impressionable little girl out there had a role model teaching her the values I’ve learned in my thirty-something years, this world would be a much better place. Image is not the key to happiness. Being happy with who you are and what you have is better than trying to fit some jacked-up Hollywood image of beauty any day.

Catching Up

Jesus, I’m slipping. What the hell happened to me to make me go this long without an update?

Laziness.

In all honesty, yes, that’s it. I’m lazy and I’m busy and I don’t know which way is up. But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is I’m here now, and I need to stay here.

Since we’ve had radio silence for-freaking-ever, let me catch you up before I dive back into full-tilt rant mode (and yes, there’s one cooking. Be patient, kids.).

  1. Sugar & Spice Press has given me the rights back to four books – Marked, She-Wolf, Blood Doll, and Loki’s Game. Fear not, children… I’m in discussion with another publisher as I write this to get those fan favorites back in the spotlight.
  2. The lovely Traci Markou at Purple Sword Publications has seen fit to purchase Homegrown Hearts. Trashy cowboy romance shall be served up shortly. It’s already in edits, so you won’t have to wait long. Oh, and book two is cooking.
  3. I survived Imaginarium. Big fun, good show. Not particularly well attended, but such is life for a first-year convention. I survived being one of the organizers, so I count it as a win.
  4. Just this morning I was invited to take part in a beautiful new Sooper Sekrit Project. Details coming once the press release hits the interwebs.
  5. I set up a mailing list. Don’t have but one person on it right now, but it’s there.  Or here, if this is easier: http://shroddey.com/mailing-list-sign-up/
  6. Absolutely nothing else interesting has happened to me.

So there’s the update. I’ll be back tomorrow or possibly Friday with a rant. Because I know how much you guys love those. And somewhere in the mix there will be an announcement.

Stay beautiful, y’all.