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." 

“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:




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.
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!