'I love you' is just the beginning of the story.

Giveaway, Excerpt, and Sale: Preorder “Blood and Ghosts” at 25% Off!

BloodandGhostsFSToday is cover reveal day for Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2)! And since Dreamspinner Press is running a great sale, you can preorder the book for 25% off. Haven’t read book #1, Blood and Rain, yet? That one’s also 25% off!

I’m running a fun giveaway ahead of the Blood and Ghosts release. Since the book has a time travel element, how about a cool Dr. Who “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” pendant? You can enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
There are three books planned in the Blood Series. For those of you who might have been putting off reading book #1 because it has a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, the second book ends with a HFN. And of course, you’ll find a HEA at the end of book #3. Three, HEAs, to be precise! The last book in the series, Blood and Eternity, will be released in early 2016.

Blurb for Blood and Ghosts:

Sequel to Blood and Rain

With vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

Pages or Words: Approximately 70,000 words/250 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner eBook and Paperback

 

SmBloodandGhostsFSExcerpt:

Adrien walked back onto the main street and over to the curb, where someone caught his eye. A man with short black hair walked toward him. Dressed in dark jeans, with a white shirt and dark wool jacket, he wore a single diamond stud in his left ear. A woman hurrying down the sidewalk dodged Adrien as he stopped, but the man behind him knocked him to his knees.

“Are you all right?” someone said with a hint of a French accent.

Adrien looked up into familiar brown eyes. Adrien inhaled slowly, hoping to head off the bloodlust that buzzed at the back of his brain. Heat tingled at the back of his neck, raising the hairs there. His palms felt suddenly sweaty. He felt sick. Not nausea—shock at seeing Nicolas here, realizing it really was Nicolas.

“Yes, I….” Adrien took the hand Nicolas offered and struggled back to his feet. The world spun and he grabbed Nicolas’s arm to steady himself.

“You’re not all right. You look ill. I should call an ambulance—”

“No ambulance.” Adrien righted himself. “I just need to eat something. It’s hotter than I realized.”

Nicolas glanced around, frowned, then said, “There’s a coffee shop at the corner.” He didn’t appear convinced by Adrien’s words. “Why don’t I help you over there?”

As if Adrien would object. “Thank you.”

Five minutes later they sat at a booth by the window, Adrien drinking coffee with a trembling hand. Adrien had watched Nicolas as they’d walked the short distance to the restaurant, his swordsman’s muscles straining against the fabric of his shirt. He looked only slightly older than he’d been when they met. “I’m sorry,” he said, coming back to himself and wondering why Nicolas was sitting with him when he could have left. “I must be keeping you from something.”

“No,” Nicolas answered. “In fact, I just came from a meeting. I’ve got the rest of the afternoon free.”

“I’m Adrien.” He forced a smile and set the empty mug down.

“Nicolas.”

“It’s good to meet you, Nicolas,” Adrien said in French. He drew another long breath and his heart slowed its gallop.

“Please call me Nico,” Nicolas said, also in French.

Giveaway and Writer’s World: Writing Series Part II by Shira Anthony

Reblogged from Love Bytes Reviews.

In my first post here about series, I blogged about the different kinds of series and their pros and cons. I also asked you to comment and let me know what you like and dislike about series. The responses were really interesting, and were pretty much split down the middle between those of you who won’t read a series until it’s complete, and those of you who are willing to read even if a series isn’t complete. There was also a pretty even split between those who said they prefer sequel (sequential) series and those who prefer spinoff (standalone books in the same universe) series. I’m doing another giveaway after this post, so check it out at the end and find out how you can win a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

BlueNotesFSIn this post, I’ll discuss the sequel series, in particular, and why and how an author decides to break up a much longer story into multiple books.

One of the commenters on my last post wrote, “I feel cheated if there isn’t some resolution to every book I read, particularly if there’s no warning ahead of time that there won’t be. It can seem like a cheap trick to sell more books.” A very valid point, and one I want to address here. Because, although it may seem that writers would want to put out more rather than fewer books in order to make more money, there can be some very compelling reasons why a writer will divide a very long story (sequel series) into multiple books. There is also some truth to the idea that writers divide stories because they want to sell more books, but it’s not exactly what you might think of off the bat.

StealingWind2Speaking as someone who’s written both sequel and spinoff series, I can honestly say that I don’t set out with the idea that I’m going to write a series. With my Blue Notes series, I had only intended to write a single book: Blue Notes. About 3/4 of the way through that story, however, I realized there were several secondary characters I’d included that I was genuinely curious about and wanted to revisit. Both Antonio Bianchi and Sam Ryan flirt with Jason Greene in that story, and those characters, whom I never intended to write into a longer story, became more three-dimensional to me as a wrote. That’s why I wrote The Melody Thief and, later, Aria.

When I write sequel series like Mermen of Ea or Blood, though, I’m also not thinking series. I’ve got a single storyline in mind, with a beginning, middle, and end. And, as is often the case when writing a series that is mostly fantasy, it takes a lot of words and pages to create a new universe for theBlood and Rain 400x600 reader. So what starts out as a planned single novel now becomes a very, very, very long story!

Here’s where the behind the scenes sort of stuff happens that many non-writers aren’t aware of. In the publishing universe, most publishers will not print a story shorter than 50,000 to 60,000 words (that’s why you see some books in ebook format only, what are called “novellas”). Why? Part of it has to do with sales, but part of it has to do with the cost of physically printing a book. The sales angle? Books around 65,000 words tend to sell better than books considerably longer than that. Of course, there are always exceptions, but we’re talking about the general rule here.

For example, if the 3 Mermen of Ea books were a single novel, it would be approximately 200,000 words long. Depending on how the book is typeset, that can be over 600 pages long! It’s more expensive to publish, and would cost significantly more, whether in ebook or paperback. Why more expensive in ebook? Because editing a book that long (and formatting it, etc) also takes a lot more time. And most readers don’t want to pay a lot of money for a really long ebook. Because of this, publishers tend to limit the length of books. It’s a business decision for them: they sell more books if the books are about 65,000 words long because most readers prefer them, and also because they are less expensive to publish.

So the writer is in a quandary. Does he cut down his story? Or does he divide it so that it fits into traditional publishing business models? And let me add one more business consideration to consider: how does writing a super long book affect the author’s business? Because writing is a business, of course!

I’ll stop here and continue next month with the author’s side of the business, and how that affects a choice to write a series and where to break stories. That’s an entire post in and of itself. In the 3rd post in this series (*coughs*) of blogs, I’ll tackle the issue of endings in sequel series books (the dreaded cliffhanger, the happily-for-now, and the to-be-continued endings).

I’ll leave you all with a question: What do you, as a reader, think about balancing business and the art of writing from the publisher’s perspective? One commenter who answers the question will win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Contest ends at midnight on March19th! Can’t wait to hear your responses! -Shira

Vampires and hunters and mermen, oh my!

George the Groundhog2

George the groundhog, who makes his home near the building I work in.

Can you believe it’s already March? After nearly three weeks of snow and ice here in Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s going to be 70 degrees today! That just gives me hope that the groundhog was wrong.

March has me thinking of the busy spring and summer I have on tap. Stay tuned for the cover reveal for Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) sometime in March. The book releases on April 20th! By BloodandRainFSthe way, for those of you who read the post on series, Blood and Ghosts actually has a happily-for-now (HFN) at the end rather than a cliffhanger. Of course, there’s still one more book to come which will have several well-deserved HEAs.

Also coming soon? The last book in the Mermen of Ea Series, Running with the Wind is tentatively set for release on June 8th! I can’t tell you how excited I am (and a little sad IntoWindtoo) to be wrapping up the series. And to answer a question I’ve had a few readers ask me, yes, I am considering a follow up book or series based on two secondary characters. I promise I’ll keep you posted!

What else is in the works? A Blue Notes Series Valentine’s novella featuring a very special wedding, a cop/lawyer contemporary novel written with my good friend Cody BlueNotes[2ndEd]LGKennedy (writing under his adult pseudonym, Aisling Mancy), the last book in the Blood series, and another contemporary novel. Between writing and editing, I can barely breathe! But that’s a good thing.

I’ll be attending a bunch of conferences this year, including GRL 2015 in San Diego, Animazement 2015 in Raleigh, RainbowCon 2015 in Tampa, and Yaoicon in San Francisco. Oh, and I’ll be attending my first ever Romance Times (RT) conference in Dallas in May to kick the conference season off. I hope to see you at one of the events – be sure to come and say hello!

Stay tuned for the Blood and Ghosts cover reveal coming soon. Reese Dante’s cover is amazing, as always! I’ll be running some cool giveaways, including one for a Doctor Who “Wibbly Wobbley Timey Wimey” pendant leading up to release day. And, speaking of giveaways, congratulations to Dan, who won an ebook for commenting on the series post.

Stay warm and think spring! -Shira

Giveaway and Writer’s World: Writing Series Part I

BloodandRainFSReblogged from LoveBytes Reviews

I’m reblogging this with another contest because I got such great comments from readers and writers alike over at LoveBytes. (If you entered but didn’t win, feel free to enter again.) -Shira

A few weeks ago, a wonderful writers blog asked for discussion questions. I didn’t realize my question would generate such a lively discussion: How do you feel about series, both as a writer and as a reader?

There’s no way I can do justice to the subject of series in a single post, so why not a series of posts about series? I’ll explore the pros and cons of writing and reading series, as well as some of the reasons authors write them (you might just be surprised!). Since I want to hear your thoughts, if you comment on this post you could win your choice of an ebook (format of your choice) from one of my series (Blue Notes, Mermen of Ea, or the new Blood Series). I’ll choose a winner on February 27th at midnight from the entries.

I’m a writer and an avid reader (okay, I read less now that I write, but only because there’s a limit to hours in a day!). One of my favorite things to do is dive into a series, regardless of genre. As a kid, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books held me captive for years. I still reread those books today, when I need a “comfort” read. Yes, I’ve given up on series, too. My latest DNF? The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) books. Which brings me to my first series topic….

Living in a universe. For me, as both a writer and reader, the universe the writer creates is what draws me above all else to series. What is a “universe”? It’s both the setting of the series, as well as the characters who inhabit that setting.

Let me backtrack and get some of the publishing jargon out there just so we’re all on the same page. Although you may find variations, there are generally 2 major sequel formats, each offering a certain appeal. Each type of series exploit the series universe (characters and setting) in different ways.

  • A “sequel” series is the most popular of the series formats. Books must be read in order, and either follow a long plot arc, or follow chronologically (The Lord of the Rings trilogy is in this vein). My Mermen of Ea and Blood Series follow this model.
  • A “spinoff” series is generally set in the same universe but is made up of separate, standalone stories. My Blue Notes Series falls into this category. Within the spinoff series, you may find a continuing character having independent adventures (Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective mysteries come to mind), or you may have secondary characters from one book become main characters in the next (that would be Blue Notes).

The appeal of spinoff series is simple. Worldbuilding (creating the universe characters inhabit, whether real or imaginary) is time consuming if done properly. Once a reader or writer gets to know the universe, there’s a certain appeal to staying there for more stories. And what better way to connect with a universe than through the characters who inhabit it. In a sense, the characters become part of the universe. And when familiar characters reappear in books about secondary characters, the reader has an immediate connection to the new characters through them.

IntoWindIn my Blue Notes Series books about classical musicians, although each novel is a standalone work, certain characters appear in all the books. A common thread. Conductor David Somers is a bit of a fairy godfather (he even jokes around about that from time to time in the books) to some of the other musicians. He’s a familiar character to readers of the series, and he’s become one of my favorites. In a sense, he is part of the setting of the books, and ties them together in a very important way.

Sequel series are more of a challenge for some. These series require a reader to buy in to the universe and commit themselves to completing a far longer story. Sometimes these series end with what I often call a “comma,” a happily-for-now (HFN), or a pause. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger (a subject worthy of a post of its own!), or a “to be continued” ending.

In my Mermen of Ea books, there’s a HFN at the end of the first book, and what some might call a cliffhanger at the end of the second. That series, like the Blood Series, is one long story told over 3 books. Although the end of Blood and Rain isn’t what I call a true cliffhanger, it’s definitely a “to-be-continued”.

I personally love both kinds of series, and I don’t mind a cliffhanger, as long as the tension is resolved eventually. I prefer 3 book series, and studies show most readers do as well. Draw a story out too long, and you’ll lose me. And yes, there are horror stories of writers dying before they finish series! I love a good cliffhanger, and I’ll wait impatiently for it to be resolved. I know there are readers who won’t start a series until it’s finished. I get that, but I have no self-restraint.BlueNotesFS If it sounds good, I’m going to read it regardless of whether it’s complete.

Interestingly, Marion Zimmer Bradley, in the Darkover series I told you about? She combined both these models. She created a universe in the form of a colonized planet, where humans interbred with the aliens who inhabited the world and developed psi powers (telekenisis, teleportation, telepathy, etc.). She wrote series within series, focusing on one part of Darkover history for 3-6 books, then moved forward or backward in time. Same universe, 300 years later. Same universe 100 years earlier. It’s part of what I loved about that series.

That’s the 10,000 foot view of series. Next month I’ll get into the weeds and blog a bit about technique and cliffhangers in particular.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what kinds of series you read. Will you read an unfinished series? Why? Why not? I’ll pick a winner on February 27th at midnight from the comments. Want to read an excerpt from any of my series? You can find them all here: http://www.shiraanthony.com/series/http://www.shiraanthony.com/series/ Just pick a series and a book, scroll down and click “read and excerpt.”

Giveaway, Interview & Exclusive Excerpt: Andrew Q. Gordon is here!

LastGrandMaster[The]FSPlease welcome my guest, Andrew Q. Gordon! Andrew’s a wonderful writer, a great companion for conferences (we’ve had some great times together), husband to a sweetheart of a man, and “daddy” to one of the sweetest, smartest, and cutest little munchkins I’ve ever met. Andrew is on tour promoting the re-release of The Last Grand Master from Dreamspinner Press Publications, Dreamspinner’s brand new imprint! Don’t forget to check out the super cool blog tour giveaway, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the book.

Shira: So, Andrew, I’ve always been fascinated by how writers find inspiration for their work. How do you find your creative mojo? How do your ideas become a fully-fledged plot?

Andrew: I used to think I was weird until I started talking to other writers, because I’d see something or listen to a piece of music and I ‘see’ stories come from them. I’m not sure I can explain it other than once an image or idea takes root, I can run with it in my head forever. It might not end up being a good story, but it’s there.

How these jumbled thoughts get to be a full-on plot is something of a process. Typically, I have to write a ‘chapter or two’ to get the ball rolling. The act of putting the idea to paper requires fleshing it out and from that, the story grows. I’ll be honest, I don’t always know where the story is going. And I’m not going to say the story has its own life, but in my mind it will change as I write it. Maybe the original idea doesn’t work out with all the pieces, so I change it up and that sends it in a new direction.

This can be a bit of an issue with a series like Champion of the Gods if you haven’t finished the series before you start to publish the books. If you decide to move in a different direction, you can’t go back and un-write those books. In those cases, you can’t always go where you want.

Shira: How much preparation do you do before you start to write? What sort of things do you do to prepare to write?

Andrew: Very little, typically. While writing, I’ll stop and research things, but generally before I start I don’t worry about what I can and can’t do. My thinking is, books are fluid. I’m very apt to change things up before I get to the things I’ve researched. Better to look for it when I needed it, then waste my limited time. This has, however, been a problem when what I think is right isn’t and I’m forced to go back and re-do whole sections. But those are the exceptions, generally this method works for me.

Shira: When you’re working on a story, have you ever changed plot or character direction unexpectedly? What made you change?

Andrew: As I’ve said above, yes, probably all the time. Why? Hard to say. Most times it’s because what I intended to do doesn’t work. Either it’s too pat or contrived, or it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be once I wrote it down

Shira: When you submit a manuscript for publication, do you let it go until the editing process, or do you continue to tweak the manuscript until you start edits?

Andrew: I put it aside and work on the other hundred or so characters in my head. I figure they’re going to give me a slew of edits anyway, so why mess it now?

Shira: What is your favorite time and place to write? Why?

Andrew: With a three year old, any free time I get is when I write. It’s not ideal, but it’s what I have to work with. After ‘lil q was born, I started to write in the little office I have upstairs so I could hear her. Ideally, I find I get my best writing done in a coffee shop. There are far fewer interruptions and usually the wi-fi sucks so I have fewer distractions on-line too.

Shira: Did you hit any roadblocks in writing your new release? What were they and how did you overcome them?

Andrew: Most of the ‘problems’ stemmed from something I hadn’t researched (ironic that you asked about research, no?) when I began the story. To me, fantasy stories were long—as in three or more books long—and I had no idea about word counts. Stories were as many pages and words as they needed. And in truth, now that DSP Publications is around, those notions are not so far fetched. But when I started book one, there weren’t that many places you could publish LGBT fiction and most of those were MM Romance publishers. While I didn’t need to change the story to fit into the MM Romance Genre, I did need to change the word count.

As originally written, The Last Grand Master was more than twice as long as its final version. Editing in general might have cut a third of the words out, but getting it to a max of 120K required something of a re-write. It got harder fitting into the number for book two. Fortunately, DSP Publication has given me a greater word count for the remaining three books so I’ll be able to do more with books three through five.

Thanks for having me, Shira.

Shira: Thanks for stopping by and letting me pick your brains! Best of luck with the release!

******

BLURB: In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.

But then Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.

Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.

Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost he and Miceral their lives.

******

Here’s the link to Andrew’s blog tour giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt:

Master Thomas stared at Miceral before bowing his head an inch.

“Master Thomas,” Farrell said, stopping an arm’s length from his teacher. “This is Miceral, son of Horgon, Chief of the Muchari. He’ll be joining us from now on, as he’s staying with me.”

As Farrell put on his jerkin, the older man gave no indication he cared about Miceral or whom he slept with. Extending his arm, he said, “Pleased to meet you, sir. Kindly stay out of our way while I work with the prince.”

Miceral nodded and unwrapped his own swords. Farrell watched him select two similar blades and swing both in a twirling motion. A firm slap on his ass from the flat of a sword elicited a short yelp.

“Stop watching your friend over there and concentrate on your own practice.” Master Thomas’s voice held nothing except the business at hand. Rubbing his “wound,” Farrell began to limber up, performing the stretching routine he’d been taught as a boy. When ready, he picked up his sword and bowed to his teacher.

After a perfunctory bow, Thomas attacked. Farrell used a lighter sword that played to his wiry build and natural quickness. After a few passes, Thomas stopped and lowered his sword.

“Your arm is too low.” Thomas moved Farrell’s sword arm approximately three inches.

Feeling foolish at the almost negligible adjustment, Farrell barely paid attention to the additional instructions.

Master Thomas moved in front of Farrell, and they resumed practice. Without warning, Thomas changed his attack, stopped, and repeated the drill of showing Farrell what he’d done wrong this time. Farrell chafed as the lesson continued. He wanted to show Miceral his skill with a sword, but his trainer consistently focused on his weaker points.

“Boy!” Thomas slammed the point of his practice sword into the ground, signaling a stop. “What in the Eight Gates of Neblor are you doing? Trying to show off for the pretty lad sitting over there?”

Farrell turned beet-red, glaring at his instructor.

Undeterred, Thomas scowled back. “We’re here to work on where you’re most vulnerable, not to do fancy moves to impress someone you hope to get in your bed tonight. Trust me. I saw what he can do. You’re not going to impress him. You aren’t that good.”

Humiliated, Farrell ground his teeth, eyes barely open. If this fool thought to insult him in front of Miceral without consequences, he—

“Master Thomas.” Miceral’s voice broke into Farrell’s thoughts. “If you wouldn’t mind, may I talk to Farrell a moment, please?”

The two locked eyes for an instant before Farrell saw his teacher nod.

Putting a hand on Farrell’s shoulder, Miceral drew them aside. “He’s correct. I am a distraction. I shouldn’t have come. I’ll go back to the rooms to wait for you.”

“No.” Farrell grabbed Miceral’s arm. “It’s not you, it’s him. I’m a much better wizard than he is a swordsman, and this is his way of humiliating me.”

Shaking his head, Miceral gripped Farrell by the biceps. “That’s not true. He’s trying to teach you how to work around your weaknesses. It makes no sense to work on what you’re good at and ignore where you need help. You were in the wrong. Master Thomas is a fine teacher. If you want me to stay, you need to apologize to him.”

Farrell’s head snapped back. “Are you joking? He’s a surly, grumpy old man—”

“Who’s trying to save your life by making you a better swordsman. He was right to call you out just then. He might have been a bit mean, but he got your attention.” Miceral suddenly smiled at him. “It was sweet of you to try to show off for me. I’m impressed. You’re a much better swordsman than I thought. But if you really want to impress me, then learn what he’s trying to teach you.” He kissed Farrell’s forehead. “Go on, apologize and get on with the lesson.”

TLGM BT Banner

BUY LINKS:

 DSP Publication – http://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-last-grand-master-by-andrew-q-gordon-53-b

AUTHOR BIO: Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of nineteen years, their daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: www.andrewqgordon.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon

Twitter: @andrewqgordon

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndrewQGordon

E-mail: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

******

TOUR SCHEDULE

 2/10 – Cate Ashwood

2/11 – Susan Mac Nicol

2/12 – Tali Spencer

2/13 – Shira Anthony

2/16 – M.A. Church

2/17 – Charlie Cochet

2/18 – Raine O’Tierney

2/19 – RJ Scott

2/20 – Sue Brown

Dreamspinner 25% Off Sale

Juno_sale_DSPsiteDreamspinner Press is running a sale that will make you want to stay indoors and read (that’s me, just about every weekend). Everything in the store is 25% off right now, including my new release, Blood and Rain! Book 2, Blood and Ghosts, will be released in a couple of months now!

Or maybe you haven’t checked out my mermen. The Mermen of Ea Series is also on sale. Or maybe that’s “sail.” (Anyone hear crickets?) The last series book will be coming out this summer (June or July).

Have my fantasy series, but haven’t tried my contemporary musici series, Blue Notes? Now’s a great time. Those can be read in any order, so pick the one that speaks to you, and dive on in.

Kindle users, don’t forget you can sign up to have DSP send your books directly to your device (and get them cheaper than they would be on Amazon!).

Stay warm, ignore the snow, and read! -Shira

“Running with the Wind” (Mermen of Ea #3)!

photoI just signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press to publish Running with the Wind, the final installment of the Mermen of Ea Series! Tentative publication is June or July 2015.

I’m both excited and a little sad to be wrapping up the adventures of Taren Laxley and Ian Dunaidh, the two Ea (merfolk shifters) at the heart of the series. This last book may not be the end of stories in this universe, however, since I am considering a spinoff featuring two of my favorite series secondary characters.

In the upcoming months, I’ll be revealing the book’s cover, as well as running some contests with some cool IntoWindmerfolk-themed prizes I’ve picked up along the way. I’ll also be sharing excerpts from the book with you. Oh, and before Running with the Wind is released, Dreamspinner will be publishing the second book in the Blood Series, Blood and Ghosts, which is currently in edits and will be released in March or April.

I’ll leave you all with the unofficial blurb for Running with the Wind. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, Stealing the Wind and Into the Wind, both are available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and other online booksellers. -Shira

******

StealingTheWindFSBlurb: The stage is set for the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions. Taren and Ian sail with Odhran to the Eastern Lands to investigate a lost colony of merfolk. Once they arrive, they meet the King of Astenya, who welcomes them as friends. Odhran, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendant of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone he must protect from harm–the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. But when Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. Will Ian’s fear of losing Taren become reality, or does the goddess’s plan for Ian and Taren include a chance at happiness?

 

 

Looking Ahead at 2015 and “Blood and Rain” Blog Tour Winners!

Blood and Rain 400x600Happy 2015 everyone! I hope it’s a great year for you, your family, and your friends! It’s going to be a very busy year for me, and I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve got planned.

This spring, look for Blood and Ghosts, the 2nd book in the Blood Series. The last book of the trilogy, Blood and Eternity, should be out by the end of 2015.

Also in 2015, look for Running with the Wind, the 3rd and final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series! I’m so excited to share the final book with you, although I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to the slippery men who inhabit the world of the Ea. I am considering a companion series based on secondary characters from the Mermen of Ea books, though, so I may have a chance to visit with them again.

My current WIP is a book I’m co-authoring with the wonderful Cody Kennedy, writing under his adult pen name, Aisling Mancy. It’s a contemporary drama set at the Carolina coast. Tentative publication is in the fall of 2015.

10850559_972727042741775_1386310541_nI’ll also be traveling this year. I’m planning to attend Romance Times (RT) in Dallas, Gay Romance Literature Retreat (GRL) in San Diego, Animazement in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I’m hoping to be able to swing a trip to Yaoicon in San Francisco this year. All in all, I’ll be putting in a lot of miles! But I love to travel, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you haven’t already picked up a copy, you can find my newest release, Blood and Rain, at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon, among other booksellers. The series, three books in all, tells one long story with its main focus on Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of a French vampire hunter family, and Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire, not created) vampire. Adrien’s mother was killed by a vampire when Adrien was just a small child, and Adrien has grown to hate vampires because of it. Born a vampire, Nicolas is both powerful and kind. The last thing Adrien expects is to fall for Nicolas Lambert.

Special thanks to all the wonderful blogs who hosted the Blood and Rain Blog Tour and the very special giveaway. Below are the winners of the giveaway, who I’ve emailed. Artist Martin Brodour, the gifted man who made the amazing Ea pendant for the release of Into the Wind, made another unisex pendant to offer up on the giveaway as the grand prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll leave you all with an excerpt from Blood and Rain. Happy New Year! -Shira

*****

Blood Series: Book 1

Blood: Book One

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zinto a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Note: Books in this series must be read in order.

******

Excerpt:

“I know why you’re here,” Deniel said as he opened the door to let Adrien in.

 

Adrien rested his hand on the hilt of his sword, unsure if Deniel would attack him. He’d been taught to be vigilant, to act quickly to dispatch his target, but he hesitated, unwilling to attack without provocation even though it was his right.

 

“You admit you killed Mademoiselle Faucher?” Adrien asked. Deniel would not meet his gaze, his eyes focused firmly on the floor.

 

“I tried…,” he began after a long pause. “I thought sheep’s blood would satisfy my thirst. I hoped… I tried to stop before she….” His shoulders slumped in obvious resignation.

 

Adrien swallowed hard. He’d spent hours learning to fight. He knew the angle needed to dislocate a skull from a neck, the spot where his blade would meet the least resistance. He knew how to kill, but he’d only once before taken a life. He reached into his jacket, retrieved the carte, and tossed it at the vampire’s feet. What life? The life of a creature who kills to survive?

 

“Yves Deniel, you are sentenced to die by the authority of the Council of Hunters. Will you respect the Council’s will, or will you challenge me?”

 

“I was a farmer,” Deniel said in a soft voice that quavered slightly as he spoke. “We lived a good life here, my wife and I… before I became what I am.” He paused, glanced up at Adrien, then looked away again. “I went to the city…. We’d had a good harvest that year, and I had a few more francs to show for it. I only meant to buy a few tools… I stopped for a drink.” He shook his head. “I’m ashamed. The woman at the bar…. She was so beautiful. She spoke kindly to me and told me I was handsome. But when I awoke, she had changed me. God has punished me for my infidelity. I am what I am—a beast—because of my own selfish desires.

 

“Kill me,” Deniel whispered. “I’m pathetic. I deserve to die for what I’ve done. I can’t stop myself. I won’t challenge you.”

 

Tears streamed down Deniel’s face. Adrien gripped his sword tighter, but he didn’t draw his weapon. He’s right. He deserves to die.

 

“She wasn’t the first,” Deniel continued. He began to shake in earnest now, sniffling and sobbing like a child. “My wife… I thought I could transform her as I’d been transformed. I didn’t know… I didn’t realize I was too young, too weak….” He dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands. “Please,” he begged. “End this before I kill again. You must… you’re a hunter… you must end this!”

 

Adrien drew his sword with a trembling hand. He would do this. Do his duty. He touched the blade to Deniel’s neck.

 

“Please. End it for me.”

 

Adrien’s eyes burned. He should feel nothing but hatred. Pity at best for having fallen prey to the female vampire who’d lured Deniel from the bar. Why did he hesitate? Why should he care that in his weakness, this pathetic man had given in to his baser urges? And yet few humans could resist a vampire’s alluring scent.

 

It isn’t for you to judge. Your duty is absolute.

 

He gritted his teeth and inhaled long and deep. He must do this. He set his left hand over his right to steady the blade, then drew it back and swung. He did not miss.

 

He stood, numb and unmoving, after it was done. Something on the ground caught his eye: the carte, splattered with blood. The smell of copper permeated the air and wound its way to his nostrils, sweet and slightly nauseating. He picked up the carte. He held it between his thumb and forefinger, smearing the blood. He stared at it for a moment, then allowed it to fall from his hand. It fluttered onto the vampire’s lifeless body.

 

 

 

 

Blood and Rain: Christmas with a Vampire

Blood and Rain 400x600It’s just about New Year’s Eve, the last day for the Blood and Rain Giveaway on Rafflecopter. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the amazing unisex Council of Hunters pendant by artist Martin Brodour! Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9497/ You can snag the book at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon. Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press right now, and you’ll get a 20% discount in the ebook format!

To celebrate the holiday, ancient vampire Nicolas Lambert was asked to speak about Christmas, so I thought I’d share his memories of Christmas in France. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! -Shira

******

This year, Christmas came and went, and I barely noticed its passing. For nearly 200 years, I’ve spent Christmas with my brother, Jean, at my family’s home in Lyon, France. This year, I’m outside of Paris at the home of my future bride, Rosina Rousseau. And although our two families are no longer at war, the atmosphere is thick with intrigue and lacking the warmth of Christmases past. Rosina is a kind and generous woman, but my heart is already spoken for, and the joys of the season seem very far away.

Both my parents were killed in the war between our clans when I was just a baby. Still, I remember that as a child, I’d set my tiny shoes before the fireplace in the old library, hoping Père Noël (Father Christmas) would look kindly on me. The next morning, I’d awaken to discover them filled with treats—candies and small toys I now know my brother purchased in the small Christmas market in the city center.

As an adult, I recall Christmas dinner in the great hall, though there were few guests and the table always felt far too large. We were at war, and Jean would let no one but our most trusted friends and relations into our home. I know he feared for my safety, and I don’t begrudge him his concern. In spite of their modest size, those festive meals were marked by more food than we could eat. Venison, fowl, cook’s wonderful bread, and my favorite dessert: a bûche de Noël (Yule log), decorated with marzipan mushrooms and sugar trees.

While the ancient vampire clans have never practiced human religions, I remember watching families walking home from churches on Christmas Eve, laughing and singing happily in the streets. I often watched them through the windows of their homes as they feasted afterward. That feast, called le Réveillon (awakening) is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth.

This year, my heart is heavy. The man I love, the vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert, is far away and I’m not sure I’ll see him again. Worse yet, I may see him on my wedding day. That will be the day I must give him up forever for the sake of peace. Some nights, I look out at the stars and think of him. I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t duty bound to marry. I also wonder if he, too, is looking up at the sky and thinking of me.

Reblogged from Molly Lolly Reviews.

******

Excerpt:
Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.

Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.

Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.

It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.

Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.

“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”

“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.

For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.

“Adrien.”

The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?

He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.

Pathetic.

Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.

About Shira:
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 35’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Author Contact:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4641776.Shira_Anthony
Twitter: @WriterShira
Website: http://www.shiraanthony.com
E-mail: shiraanthony@hotmail.com

Where To Buy:
Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=55_484
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-bloodandrain-1686465-145.html

Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Writer’s World)

write-a-review It’s been a while since I’ve written a “Writer’s World” post, so I thought I’d weigh in on a longstanding and important conversation about book reviews.

This past Sunday, PizzyGirl over at Prism Book Alliance posted a blog about negative reviews that I shared on social media. You can read the post here. In a nutshell, she posted a not so flattering review of an author’s book, and she received some serious backlash in response. The timing of her post was a bit of a perfect storm for me, since my newest book, Blood and Rain, has just been released by Dreamspinner Press, and I’m in that “will they like it or will they productreviewhate it?” mode that leaves me feeling like I’m not quite standing on solid ground.

Before I get into my personal feelings about reviews, I thought I’d break them out into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Good, of course, are those are the 3-5 star reviews (yes, a 3 star can be a good review!) where the reader really liked the book. The bad is pretty easy to spot, as well. 1-3 star reviews where a reader didn’t like the book. Then there’s the ugly. These are the reviews that are just plain nasty, including those that attack the author, are snark-filled, tell a prospective reader nothing, and make anyone reading them want to cringe (or at least, anyone with a conscience). The first two categories, “good” and “bad” can be helpful to readers trying to decide whether to read a book. The last category is pretty much worthless to anyone.

Time to add the author into the mix. I have two jobs–I write full-time, and I spend nearly every waking hour when I’m not at my real life job (public sector attorney) writing. Why does that matter? Because I work very hard to write books readers will like, and when they don’t, it smarts. No doubt about it. Do I read reviews? Yep, although there review_scottare times I wish I wouldn’t, since they can really mess with my focus. Yes, focus. I’ve got that cheerleading squad in my brain that pushes me to write, and when I get a bad review, the squad has to work overtime. Doesn’t matter how many glowing reviews I get, it’s that one bad review that I remember. Why? Because I write not only for myself, I write for readers and I want them to enjoy my books.

So let’s talk “bad” reviews. They’re really not so bad. Sometimes, I learn something from them about what readers like. And believe me, I do listen! Most of the time, I’ve realized bad reviews do not reflect bad writing, per se, but differing personal tastes. Case in point, my first novel, Blue Notes. I’ve had a number of people say it’s one of their favorite books ever. Ever. Which totally blows me away. But  take a look at the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and you’ll see there are readers who said it was boring, or too slow, or, my favorite, that it must have been “Twilight” fan fiction (yeah, no, don’t like Twilight and it was never fan fiction). How can you square such differing opinions? Let me use my favorite food example. I LOVE chocolate. Any kind. My husband? Can’t stand the stuff. I don’t get his taste, he doesn’t get mine. Apples and oranges. I can’t force you to like an apple if you prefer oranges. We’re all different. It’s really that simple.

The “ugly” reviews are the easiest to stomach to some extent, because they’re truly 04c9ea33c9dcadf91702bc963d09df46not worth very much to people considering reading your book who are looking for direction. These are sometimes called “troll” reviews. They don’t explain what it was about the book they didn’t like. Some of my favorites? A 2-star review with the text, “I don’t like reading May/December romances” for a book that was clearly a May/December. Why read it? I’ve seen the same with M/M/M romances or BDSM. Why bother reading something you aren’t into? I’ve had a few of these where it was clear the reader didn’t realize they were picking up a gay romance (as opposed to het romance) and then gave it a 1-star and said, “This book isn’t for me. I didn’t realize what I was picking up when I started it.” What good is that to a reader?

But “ugly” reviews are the ones that make your fingers itch to respond to. I won’t, regardless of the temptation. Someone who can’t understand that the tone of a review is mean, or that the content does nothing except bash and author won’t ever be convinced by something I have to say about it. Period.

I know a lot of authors. I know some who will not look at Goodreads reviews. I know some who pay people to collect good reviews so they don’t have to wade through potentially bad ones. It’s tempting to do both of these things, but this is where I’ve laid down the gauntlet to myself: I want to encourage reviews, the good and the bad, regardless of my emotional reaction to them. Authors need reviewers (readers and blog reviews). And we need them to be honest. Kind, too, but honest first and foremost.

Does it hurt when a fan writes a lukewarm or even negative review of a book I’ve written? Damn straight. Do I get angry? No. I take a deep breath, shrug off the “ouch”, and appreciate that they’ve taken the time to review. To me, it means they care about books, and about sharing the reading experience with others. With the ugly reviews, I do my best to be 2d723db58dfae5bcea025e456f33ccf8sanguine. As a reader, those are the reviews I wouldn’t pay much attention to anyhow. Do I condone them? Not at all. But given the anonymity of the internet, I think they’re here to stay.

For 2015, I’m going to make myself a promise. Well, two promises, actually. First, I’m going to continue to read my reviews, good, bad, and ugly. Second, I’m going to “like” them all, regardless of the content. Because, let’s face it, without readers my books will just sit on my own bookshelf. My “like” doesn’t mean I agree with the review or that I don’t get the ouchies reading it, it just means that I respect the reviewer for his or her opinion.

If you’re a reader, please consider reviewing the books you read. Just a sentence or two and a rating can go a long way to help others decide which books to read, and it may really help your favorite authors sell more books (yes, some of us really do this for a living).

I welcome comments from writers and readers (and those of us who are both). I think this is an important discussion to have! Happy holidays, everyone. -Shira

 

Page 1 of 2812345...1020...Last »