Saturday, August 19, 2017

Say "Hey, good to see you again" to the new Queen of Shadows by Suz deMello (#scifiromance #iamwriting)


I've often mentioned one of the great joys of epublishing--an indie author can get her rights back to books published by a traditional publisher and repackage them as her own.  And so it is with Queen of Shadow, a book that appeared originally with Liquid Silver (I think) and then went through editions with Totally Bound and Ellora's Cave, where it was presented as Queen's Quest. 

When I decided to indie publish it, I contacted April Martinez, the cover artist who created the original cover--I loved it and felt it expressed the themes, characters and story very well. I was lucky enough that she still owned the original files, and recreated the cover beautifully:



But what's it about, you ask?

Here's the blurb:

Looking for the next GoT? Here you are.

A brave queen struggles to control divided kingdoms on a terraformed planet thirty thousand years in the future.

Janus is a planet which lacks both tilt and spin, and the Shadowlands are the pewter band of dusk dividing its violently hot Lightside from the Darkside, imprisoned by eternal night. Because of the peculiar conformation of the planet, birthrates are low and indiscriminate mating encouraged.

Audryn, Queen of Shadow, has reached that time in her life when she must choose a King to rule with her or fail to bear an heir, casting not only her realm but all of Janus into chaos.

Despite her duty, she is reluctant to share power, even a bit distrustful. Janus’ nobles vie for Audryn’s hand. Although she enjoys trysting with all her suitors, none seize her heart.


Then Storne, the warrior Prince of Darkness, arrives to claim her as his bride. Will his masterful ways allure or repel the willful Queen?

Here's the backstory:

I wrote Queen of Shadow while I lived in Thailand in 2006-07. I was coming out of a dark period of my life during which my father and eldest brother died, my dearest friend from childhood committed suicide, and my marriage fell apart. I also had endured writer’s block for several years.


Queen of Shadow brought me out of my personal darkness and into light. I hope her story does the same for everyone who reads it.

While I hadn't read GoT when I wrote QoS, there are many similar elements, but there are differences. I took an idea I'd gathered from my interest in history--a Royal Progress--and combined it with the "tour of a strange planet" storyline that Robert Silverberg had used in Lord Valentine's Castle, one of my fave books. 

I had also seen a sci-fi TV  movie in the 90s--can't remember the name--that had used the conceit of a planet that, like our moon, has a lightside and a dark side, always turned away from the sun. I wondered what kinds of societies would evolve under those conditions.

What reviewers said about the older editions:

“sexual elements that can set your eyebrows on fire…”

Mrs. Giggles

“thrilling…Spicy, erotic sex scenes so hot they singed the pages…exceptional erotic fantasy.”

Coffee Time Romance

excellent… The plot line unfolded perfectly leading us into…dangerous political intrigue…will keep you glued to the pages… Another winner!”
Sensual eCataromance

“an ingenious plot…the story blazes…4.5 hearts”
The Romance Studio

 “The Planet Janus all but leapt off the pages and into my imagination…
Suz deMello has done a wonderful job…
an extremely satisfying read." 
ParaNormalRomance.org 

“An extreme amount of very hot sexual activity…I enjoyed it immensely… 
Queen of Shadows fulfilled my every desire." 
Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews

Here's where you can score your copy:

Amazon: http://a.co/73CMKQ5

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/743053

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How Reading Can Make a Good Writer by Suz deMello (#iamreading #MFRWAuthor #writersblock)

In another installment of what to do when you're blocked, another option is to seek inspiration. Or, rather, do what you did when you were an author in training. 

I didn't know I was an author in training as a child and as a teen, when I read obsessively. I clearly remember the first book I really loved--I believe I was about three years old. I don't remember the title, but it was about a train, all the things the train carried, and the people on the train. 


I went from there to read just about everything I could lay my hands on. When I was a teen I was a little bit more organized. I had a science fiction phase in which I read sci-fi from A to Z, literally from Asimov to Zelazny. Then I read
every British murder-mystery I could, starting with Holmes of course, moving through Sayers and Christie. Then I started to read Regency Romance. Going to college interrupted my unplanned unconscious reading schedule. But I still read novels almost exclusively with the exception of British histories, mostly by Thomas Costain.


I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but the obsessive reading of pop fiction educated me in the basics of writing pop fiction. I unconsciously learned everything from the overarching notion of story down through plot characterization conflict and even proper sentence structure. 




I make the point in my book About Writing, as follows:



Writing a book starts long before you open your new journal, or begin a new document on your computer and type “Chapter One.” You need to have read a lot of books, and I don’t mean craft works like this manual. Read, but not just anything.

Aspiring writers are often told, “read in your genre.” But Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”

I don’t completely agree with the above advice. Mine is: Read well-written books.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/628973
What books are they? Try using the internet to search for lists of the best books ever written in English, or whatever language in which you’re planning to write. Do not read translated books. While many are great, you want to read excellent books by those who have mastered all aspects of writing. Book translators possess extremely refined skills, and writing an original work from start to “the end” is not often among them.

Be selective. While reading works such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the original middle English may be interesting and educational, you want to read books that are written in the version of English we use, so as to accustom your ear and your mind to modern, grammatically correct language.

The purpose of extensive reading is not to entertain but to enlighten. Pay attention to what you’re reading. Read books that call to you more than once, to figure out why they’re compelling. Look at the big picture aspects first: character and conflict, plot and story. During the next reading you can analyze narrower mechanical concerns such as word choice and sentence structure. Ask yourself, “How does this writer use these tools to elicit a particular reaction from the reader?”

Third reading: start looking for subtleties such as symbolism, subtext, and theme. How does the writer express these? What images does the author employ? What words does she choose? How long or short are sentences, paragraphs, chapters? Why?

It’s not the purpose of this treatise to teach everything there is to know about every aspect of fiction writing. It’s not possible. But reading programs your brain in particular ways. I emphasize reading modern works, works that use the same sentence structure, grammar, and vocabulary common in contemporary fiction. Read to increase your knowledge of, and command over, your tools: words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes. Read great books over and over again. Learn an appreciation for the English language and good writing, even down to correct apostrophe placement and comma usage.

Reading well-written books will imprint strong storytelling, correct grammar, and good sentence structure upon your mind, and it’s a lot easier to learn by reading than by taking classes. A lifetime of good reading can create a good writer. You’ll become a more able author, especially if you’re writing as well as reading, such as keeping a journal or making notes. It doesn’t really matter what you’re writing at this phase. If you’re writing fiction, great. If not, that’s okay too.

All of this is to encourage becoming thoroughly fluent in the English language. If you aren’t, the sad truth is that you needn’t try to write anything more complex than a shopping list or a thank-you note. Readers know what good writing is and isn’t, and they can be as unforgiving about sloppiness as the plastic surgeon’s patient.


Law school interrupted my reading. I did not realize how much I missed it until
after I had graduated and I found that something in my life was missing. My eye fell upon a copy of Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, one of my favorites, and I realized that I had not read a novel in 3 years. 


Because I'm blocked, I'm back to reading. I used to read books that I loved, and rewatch TV and movies that I adored, but now I don't do that very often. A book has to be amazing for me to reread it, and the same is true of films. I like new things. I like novelty, and I like to learn something new when I can.

And so I've returned to my roots, and am again reading fanatically. And enjoying every word.


Right now I'm reading all of Nora Roberts' The Obsession. What are you reading?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Want something #sexy and #free? The #NaughtyLiterati are on Instafreebie!

The Naughty Literati are now on Instafreebie! And we're starting off by giving away our Autumn 2015 anthology Naughty Reunions: Return to Romance -- for free!

Just go to our Naughty Reunions page on Instafreebie and sign up to subscribe to our newsletter, Naughty News. Instafreebie will send you your choice of an epub or mobi file.

Naughty Reunions has nine stories including BBW, Contemporary, F/F, M/M, New Adult, Paranormal, Regency, Shapeshifter, Speculative Fiction, and Stepbrother Romance from bestselling authors writing as The Naughty Literati!

Silent Sky by Regina Kammer
Homeward Bound by Alexa Silver
Lady Esther’s Lesbian Lover by Berengaria Brown
Renovating the Relationship by Katherine Kingston
Part 2: The WyndMaster’s Homecoming by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Back in Your Arms by Marianne Stephens
My Cups Runneth Over by Francesca Hawley
Ocean Dreams by Suz deMello
Hybrid Mates 5: Take Me Home by Nicole Austin

Subscribing to Naughty News keeps you up to date with new releases, giveaways, author spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and contests! And now you'll get a free copy of Naughty Reunions: Return to Romance!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Peter's Story has hit the shelves--let me know what you think by Suz deMello (#AA)



I've been working on a miniseries for my writing group, the Naughty Literati, and the third out of four shorties came out this month. I'm delighted to share Peter's Story with you.

As you may remember if you've read any of the preceding stories, the series, A Fortune to Win, centers on the three children of... Well, just reading the Prologue and Chapter One of Peter's Story will explain everything you need to know about the aristocratic Fortunes and their dilemma:

LORD DARLINGSIDE AND WIFE MARA FOUND DEAD

DRUG OVERDOSE SUSPECTED

[ROME] The jetsetting couple known as ‘Marvey,’ Harvey Fortune, Lord Darlingside and his supermodel wife Mara Tove, were found at three a.m. today (local time) drowned in the historic Trevi Fountain. An autopsy is planned, which many fear will confirm the initial assumption that the couple’s known heroin addiction caused their deaths. Reportedly, used syringes were found on the fountain’s marble balustrade… They leave three adult children: Peter, age 26, the new Earl Darlingside; daughter Alice, 23, a teacher; Sophia, 19, a model.


            …one week later…


CONTENTS OF ‘MARVEY’ WILL REVEALED

[LONDON] …Though the Fortune family solicitor, Rabbie White of White, Cheshire and Queen (Lincolns Inn Fields) remains closemouthed, an unidentified source close to the family states that the Fortune fortune, encompassing a manor house in Kent, a mansion in Hampstead, and invested monies totaling some 50 million pounds, will be divided between ‘Marvey’s’ children. However, the ‘Marvey’ trust requires the heirs make a substantial non-monetary contribution to society. Whether each child’s acts are sufficient to inherit is a decision left solely to White’s discretion. Apparently Lord and Lady Darlingside wanted to ensure that their progeny did not follow the same dangerous path they trod…

...eighteen months later...

Chapter One

One cool, bright summer morning, Peter Fortune, Earl Darlingside, awakened in a big, four-poster bed covered with a fluffy white duvet with a woman beside him. She was dead.

Until that moment, he’d been doing quite well, thank you very much, considering that he’d spent the night before drinking Remy Martin Black Pearl with a number of equally dissolute young noblemen and getting drunk as, well, drunk as lords. He should have had a throbbing head, unclear eyesight and a belly that pitched like bloody hell, but he felt great. And, given that he’d won rather than lost betting on billiards was another point in favor of the day.

Which was, he remembered blearily, Monday, perhaps? Or maybe Tuesday. Did it matter?

The window was open to the Hampstead sunshine and also admitted birdsong. Every once in a while he heard the sound of a distant siren, reminding him of...of…?

Oh yes, the dead girl.

Melanie.

He supposed he ought to call 9-9-9 and get an ambulance, though judging by her total lack of movement and warmth, the authorities would get to her too late. Far too late.

He rolled to the side, reaching for the bedside table where his mobile reposed. Something jabbed his arse, and he threw back the sheet to find a used syringe. A needlestick from an addict’s rig. Oh, shite, I’m fucked. He grabbed the thing and flung it across the room, then called for help.

*****

She’d been called Foxy Roxy for as long as she could remember, but she hadn’t embraced the nickname until her fifteenth birthday. That day she’d visited a charity shop with friends. One had spotted an old fox stole on a mannequin and bought it for Roxanne Fox as a gift. She’d worn that fox pelt around her neck on cool days until it had fallen apart, then bought another and then another. Only from the charity shops, though—she wouldn’t be directly responsible for the death of an innocent animal. Later she’d found a source for high-quality fakes, which fit her vegan habits far better.

This morning, she was nibbling a gluten-free currant scone slathered with soya cream cheese whilst enjoying her second flat white of the day (made with soya of course), reading a fairly interesting case file about a fellow who had been recorded by the many CCTVs roundabout London. Unfortunately for the client, he’d been taped with his zip open whilst fondling an impressive erection. Even less fortunately, the Crown was not amenable to letting the incident go by even though he claimed he’d been “pissed legless.”

Roxanne’s secretary stuck her head into the open doorway, her eyes round. “That prat Darlingside has gotten himself arrested again.”

“Oh, happy day.” Roxy wiped her mouth with a hanky. “What is it this time? Dead drunk? Car crash?”

“No, it’s more serious. Unless someone’s having a go at us.”

“Not chundering onto some poor copper’s shoes?” That had been a memorable case.

“No, murder.”

Roxy sat up straighter. She’d been White, Cheshire and Queen’s criminal defense specialist for four years, having left the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue more lucrative options. At WCQ, she’d had the opportunity to sample a more varied menu of cases than she’d expected. Along with the anticipated tax avoidance schemes and family squabbles regarding bequests—which occasionally devolved into wine-throwing and fistfights—a prominent client occasionally committed the odd sexual peccadillo, like the fellow diddling his dong in Notting Hill.

And then there was Peter Fortune, the Earl of Darlingside, who seemed intent upon imitating his parents’ strikingly self-destructive ways.

Bless him—he’d brought her a case she could really sink her teeth into. “Where’s
he being held?”


*****
If you like what you read, find the entire anthology in which it appears here:

http://a.co/fCrNKEd (Amazon) and at just about every other etailer.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Yet Another Opinionated Post about Writing Craft--Setting and the Novel (#iamwriting #romantic suspense)


Outstanding books are memorable for a variety of reasons. Perhaps in one it is the romance we find so compelling.  In another, the characters stay with us for a long time. 

But for many readers, the sense of "being there" is the aspect that draws them into the book and keeps them there despite distractions.  I call this a sense of place, or setting.

Its importance can't be underestimated.  Some genres, such as certain subgenres of romance, are based totally on a unique or special setting, such as the English Regency or American West.  Some readers will purchase nothing but books placed in their favorite setting. People will read books in their favorite setting--Middle Earth, Hogwarts--over and over again just because they want to again experience the feeling of being there.

While I was editing professionally, I sometimes came upon a submission in which it was impossible for me to know where the book was set because the author assumed way too much. In one, for example, I had to go to the author's website to discover where her werewolf/vampire series was set. 

Fortunately for any of my readers who like to feel deeply grounded in a book, I love to travel and then put my observations and experiences into my writing.

http://a.co/j79CdEA
I set a couple of recent re-releases in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I lived for about five years and still visit frequently. Here are a couple of snippets from those books:

...she took the handset and walked to the window, hoping to see a street sign so she could tell her partner where she was. Unfortunately, the view four stories below showed only a small back garden, typical of homes in San Francisco. It was beautifully landscaped with Japanese maples and azaleas, which were in bloom. A small stone bench sat by a pond.

The above is from Phoenix and Dragon, a novel set in San Francisco, and the description of this courtyard is based on one I saw years ago, in the Marina District, I believe. 

And here's one from Spy Game, which takes place farther south. This clip describes Skyline Drive, which is off Highway 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz, which I call Santa Laura in the book. It's best not to be too tethered to reality when writing. Otherwise one gets letters from irate readers stating that "I've been there and it's not like that!"

http://a.co/eklA2RJ
The wooded, two-lane road wound up a hill past a playground and a park. A swing set and a jungle gym were nearly invisible in the night, lit only by a few dim streetlamps. At the lane’s crest a row of mailboxes sat with a whimsical stuffed or carved animal perched atop each. A wooden bird with brightly painted, outstretched wings roosted on the box marked #2730...a little cottage that screamed “hippie heaven.

I would never have dreamed up the mailboxes with the sculptures, so visiting the area while I was writing was a really good idea. Touches like those add a sense of reality to a book, which is really an imaginary construct even if it's a contemporary set in a recognizable place.

It's hard to make it as an author these days, and every aspect of the writer's craft must be well-honed and perfect, including setting in the novel.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Naughty Novellas...and a Contest from the Naughty Literati by Suz deMello



A project that we in the NL have been contemplating for awhile is a shorter collection of longer works, which we've dubbed Naughty Novellas. It's available for preorder at 99 cents and will be published on March 1--when the price will go up--so order now!

What's it got, you ask?

Including BDSM, Contemporary, Fairytale, Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Shape-shifter & Threesome from bestselling authors!

The Woodsman by Belle Scarlett
Kahn’s Haven by Nicole Austin
Anything You Want by Tina Donahue
Tropic of Pleasure by Tina Donahue
The Property of Twin Dragons by Berengaria Brown
Walpurgis Night by Katherine Kingston
Edge of Passion by Kathy Kulig

By day, Belle Scarlett is a mild-mannered story consultant, film producer, and award-winning screenwriter in Lost Angeles. By night, she assumes her super-secret identity as Belle Scarlett, author of futuristic and paranormal romances with a high sizzle factor. Belle is also a proud member of The Naughty Literati - romance authors who publish boxed sets of their hot stories several time a year.

Aiding Belle in her quest for kick-ass, magical romance and out-of-this-world, passionate-ever-afters are her trusty sidekicks, Tall-Alpha-Blue-Eyed Boyfriend, upon whom her heroes are based, and Evil Feral Cat, upon whom her villains are based.

Goodreads ✯ Twitter ✯ Facebook ✯ Amazon ✯ Website

Colorado: The new frontier. This is the voyage of Nicole Austin. It’s been a lifelong mission. To explore awe-inspiring vistas. To get out of the rut, seek new experiences. To boldly go where she’s dreamed of being.

Now she lives in an incredible world where fantasy comes to life in bold, vivid detail. Well, until real life intrudes, but Nicole fights a valiant battle to keep reality moments at a minimum and hold on to the dream.

Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work.  Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

Berengaria Brown is an award-winning, best-selling, multi-published author of erotic romance with over one hundred published digital, print and audio books. She writes contemporary, paranormal (magic, ghosts, vampires, fairies, dragons, and werewolves), futuristic, medieval, and Regency-set historical. She loves to read all different kinds of romance so that is what she writes: MMF, MFM, FMMM, FFM, MM, FF, and MF. Whatever the characters need for their very hot happily-ever-after, Berengaria makes sure they get it.

Goodreads ✯ Twitter ✯ Facebook ✯ Amazon ✯ Blog

Katherine Kingston is the author of a dozen or so novels and novellas, most of which are currently out of print but re-edited and re-released now. Currently the first three of her Suburban Dominants series are available at most ebook retailers. She’s also a member of The Naughty Literati and has had a story in all of their anthologies so far. Kate writes in a number of genres including contemporary BDSM, historical, paranormal, and fantasy.

Facebook ✯ Amazon ✯ Website

Kathy Kulig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist of erotic contemporary and paranormal romance. She’s a science geek by day and escapes into her writer’s world at night. Known for writing dark and edgy stories, Kathy’s books are passionate, emotionally-charged and always have a happy ending. She began her writing career in journalism, publishing articles in magazines and newspapers. Now she lives in a fantasy world making up sexy stories to entice her readers.

When she's not writing, she loves to work out, travel, read stacks of books, watch movies and have dinners out with her darling husband. She lives in Pennsylvania in a 100 year-old Victorian house with a garage built out of reject tombstones.

Facebook ✯ Website ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ Amazon ✯ Blog ✯ Pinterest 

Amazon US ✯ Amazon Int'l ✯ B&N ✯ Kobo ✯ Goodreads

And there's...




Friday, February 10, 2017

#FreeBooks from Suz deMello

It's no mystery that writers, especially indie writers, are constantly creating new ways to find readers and convert them into fans of their books. One favorite way is to discount books for a short period of time, or maybe even offer a story or two or three for free.

This tactic works especially well with books or stories that are the first in a series. 

Viking in Tartan is the first in my six story Highland Vampires series. Three are short stories and three are full-length novels. Best if they're read in order, but each is a fine standalone.


Here's what the series is about:

Rumors have followed the chieftains of Clan Kilburn for centuries. Said to be descended from the Viking Berserkers, they were ferocious in battle, known for tearing off the heads of their enemies and drinking their blood.

The gossip is frightening, but the reality is even darker.

From the elegant mansions of Mayfair to the mist-shrouded Highlands, the Kilburn vampires hunt, swive and kill. None are immune to their dangerous allure.


Who are the women who would dare to love them?

About Viking in Tartan:

Medieval romance from the Highland Vampires series.

Scotland, Yule Eve, 1260. A Viking raider with mysterious powers brings change to little Clan Kilbirnie, especially to the chieftain’s daughter Rhona.

Find it here: 



I also offer two more short stories as freebies. 

Here they are:


Agent Kathie Belmont has long lusted after her boss, Ross Guerrero, but has never even flirted with him. Could he be the strong but tender Master she craves?

Ross wants Kathie in his life—on her knees. But the constraints of their jobs with an ultra-secret US security agency have come between them. Will their undercover roles as a sex slave and her Master bring them together...forever?

Get it here for free: 

This next story is a complete departure. It's the first story I wrote and my first (and only, alas) #1 bestseller on Amazon. When it came out, it was #1 in free parody and satire  :)




Here's what it's about:

Suz deMello flips the traditional Regency romance upside down and sideways in this gentle satire in which Marlene, the Earl of Maybegood, roughly woos gentleboy Georgie Longjohn on the eve of his first Season.

Find it here for free:

Hope you enjoy these stories and that you become a fan of my work!