Upcoming publications

Yesterday, I wrote about Blood Bathory 3, which is coming out at the end of this month, but we’ve got some other books coming out in the near (and far) future.

On November 2, the next book in the Herc’s Mercs series will be released. Herc’s Mercs: Where Angels Fear to Tread is a more action-packed adventure with our leading men trying to escape the war-torn streets of a city under the siege of a military coup.

We’ve got two books coming out in December! On the 15th, Dreamspinner Press will release Striking Sparks as part of their new Dreamspun Desires line. Two former high school rivals reunite during a BBQ cook-off, and the old sparks of rivalry — and attraction — start flying once more.

Also in December, we’ve got a lighter holiday story coming out from Torquere Press. From A to Z focuses on two men who meet under highly unusual circumstances and begin a holiday romance.

And looking ahead into June, 2017, we’ve got Breaking Bonds, which will be another release in the Dreamspun Desires line. A resort owner in the mountains of NC is desperate to keep his resort open, and he finds unexpected help from an executive chef on vacation.

We’ve also got a manuscript in the editing stage that we’ll be submitting this fall, and of course, we’re working on new stuff as well. We’re trying to keep a fairly steady pace so our output doesn’t drop like it did last year. It’s been tough with our schedules — especially mine — but I think we’ve done pretty well.😀

Blood Bathory 3

At last, the release date for the third book in the Blood Bathory trilogy is nigh! It will wrap up the story arc that’s run through the previous two books. There’s room for us to return to the Blood Bathory universe — and we have a couple of ideas along those lines — but we aren’t leaving any big loose ends dangling.

For the first two books, I found inspiration for the characters I wrote (Evan and Tyr) in Evanescence songs. I hadn’t heard of the group until I heard someone perform “Bring Me to Life” at karaoke. I was sitting in a position that let me read the lyrics on the screen, and they gave me an epiphany about Evan. I’d been struggling with his characterization, but when I heard that song, I thought, “That’s Evan”. From then on, I knew who he was, what he wanted, and why he returned to Will.

After that, I bought a couple of Evanescence albums because their music is grand and gorgeous, if a bit overdramatic for someone my age. My teenage self would have eaten this with a spoon if they’d been around back then. At any rate, it wasn’t difficult to find Tyr’s song once we started working on Blood Bathory 2. “My Immortal” summed up where he was in his grieving for Aaron (who had only a cameo in the novel, but I found a song for him anyway: “Swimming Home”).

I wanted to continue the tradition of connecting an Evanescence song to my character in Blood Bathory 3, but there isn’t really one that fits him. Instead, I found a song for Ari’s character, Antonio: “My Heart is Broken”.

It captures his loneliness after losing Raphael, the Dark Guardian he was bonded to five hundred years ago. Part of his heart and soul were lost when Raphael died, and he still feels the loss of his “dark angel” to this day.

Part of Antonio’s journey in Blood Bathory 3 will be deciding whether he can move beyond his grief and take a chance on loving a man who is different from the man he lost or whether giving his heart away during such dangerous times is too great a risk.

Blood Bathory: Be Not Proud will be released on August 31 by Torquere Press!

Being Dependable

I’ve had a bad experience with an editor lately – an independent one, not one of the wonderful folks at Torquere or Dreamspinner – at a place called “Wicked Pride” that I thought based on reputation would be reliable. Unfortunately, after three months and having prepaid $172, all I’ve gotten back of my ~28K is a half-editted word doc (when I submitted and asked for a google doc), and a lot of empty promises. I am highly disappointed, especially since the owner assured me that she prided herself on her professionalism. I have kept all the emails, and I can prove that she said she was finished but “googledocs wasn’t letting her share the doc”, then she said she would do it again, and it didn’t show up. THEN there was a litany (I haven’t counted, but no less than four or five times) where she promise she was “almost done” and I’d have it “in a few hours”. Always some excuse why she couldn’t – the flu, then multiple hospitalizations, then computer problems – some of which may have been true, but I have my doubts, ESPECIALLY after she promised to refund my money and didn’t. Now she is refusing to answer my emails or facebook messages at all, which I find highly unprofessional.

So you indy writers out there, please be wary of hiring editors, even if they look professional. I guess I should have gotten recommendations, so if anyone has a recommendation for a good, reliable editor, please let me know. And don’t be afraid to spread the word that Ari had a horrible experience with Wicked Pride and that Tash Hatzipetrou (the owner/editor) is unreliable and unprofessional.

Writing what you know…

So, one of the cardinal rules of writing fiction is to write what you know – draw on your own knowledge and experiences to help shape your characters and stories. For those of you who have read our stories, you may have noticed that we use a lot of different locations and have characters from a wide variety of occupations and with a varied set of skills. For those who are curious, McKay and I really do draw upon our life experiences for these things.

When it comes to locations, you may have noticed we tend to favor the South. Both of us are born and bred southern girls, so that made it easy. Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Richmond and rural Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas… all of these are places we have either lived in or visited, and I think that gives our writing a certain authenticity. My absolute favorite city on the West Coast is San Francisco, so we’ve used that, too. I’ve travelled a lot in the Caribbean, and the locale in Caribbean Blues is based on a place I’ve actually been in Port Lucaya. McKay and I have both been to London, and we’ll probably be including it in something in the future, and since I was raised in Miami, it’s probably only a matter of time until Florida shows up, too.😉

As far as characters, many of ours are based on the types of people we tend to like or be attracted to — yes, there is a reason there are quite a few tall, dark-haired, snarky men in our stories.😀 Some characters are based on real people, both celebrities and people known to us. When it comes to their occupations… well, English professors, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and yes, even the mercs are familiar to us. I have worked with a great many military people from all branches of the services over the course of my career, so it was easy to bring those characters to life — plus my father was a paratrooper in WWII, and I grew up on his stories of the Pacific theatre. McKay and I are both geek girls, so our nerdier characters have a firm basis in reality.

Aside from personal experiences, good research helps, but I  prefer to use things I actually know. One of the beauties of writing with a co-author is that we both have different experiences to draw upon, so it quite literally doubles our comfort zone. So while neither of us ever has been a gay man (unless there is something McKay hasn’t told me), we hope that the real-life aspects that we bring to our writing accomplish the goal we both have for our writing – to tell a story that will entertain our readers, and bring them back for more.

 

 

In a world…

So, today I wanted to talk about finishing what you start.

I think, in the world of writing, this is one of the hardest things to do. I can’t tell you how many stories McKay and I have that we started and either the idea just wouldn’t gel, or the characters wouldn’t speak up — and even, on rare occasions, the characters just wouldn’t get interested in one another no matter how much we tried. I think every writer must have a folder of things that didn’t pan out, and that’s fine. But what do you do when you’re two books into a series of three and the last one refuses to let itself be written?

Fortunately, we didn’t have that happen with Blood Bathory, although I think writing that third book was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We KNEW how it had to end, of course, because that was obvious, but just because you know where you’re going doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get there, or how long it will take. Or what unexpected things you might discover along the way.

McKay can correct me, but I think we made something like three or four starts on BB: Be Not Proud before one finally worked. Mostly, it was the characters not coming together properly, which is probably, in my book, the absolute worst thing that can happen. We knew these guys well, but they kept wanting to show unexpected quirks that would cause us to have to go back and rethink where the story was going. And it wasn’t one character, but both of them who did this to us. In the end, we finally did get the dynamic worked out, and I believe the story is actually stronger for all the time we put into writing things that DIDN’T work. But while the act of discovery was working itself out, there was more than one grim moment when I wondered if we might be in danger of committing the cardinal sin of not finishing a series. Thankfully, our sins –thus far — remain only venial.😉

Which brings me to world building. The Blood Bathory universe is a fantastically detailed one, and it sometimes is hard to walk away from something you’ve spent so much time — literally years, in this case — building up. McKay and I both have talked about setting other things in the universe, because we’ve gone to great lengths to create a reality that is logically consistent and self-sustaining. Gaia’s playground is large and varied, and other hazards face the theriomorphs and Dark Guardians.

I hope we do go back and do more with it one day. But for now, I’m just incredibly glad that we have told our story, told it well, and can be proud of what we’ve done.

 

New release: A Taste of Honey!

atasteofhoney185A Taste of Honey is now available from Torquere Press! We took a break from writing about big, badass mercs to write something a little lighter. A Taste of Honey is more of a romantic comedy set during a Southern family reunion, and we had fun putting a different spin on the “fake girlfriend” trope.

Boone is just trying to avoid his mama’s matchmaking by bringing his crossdressing friend to the reunion, but a glimpse of Rob’s white lace panties makes him question whether he’s as straight as he thought.

This is one of our shorter, lighter works, but it was a fun little palate cleanser after the heavy adventure-and-angst of the Herc’s Mercs series and the third Blood Bathory novel.😉

As Ari posted a few days ago, we’ve got another Herc’s Mercs book in the pipeline. We don’t have a release date for it yet, but we’ll update here when we get it.

Currently, we’re writing an epilogue for The Quality of Mercy, which is a sequel to Finding Forgiveness that focuses on Carlos Hernandez. In Finding Forgiveness, Carlos mentions his regrets over losing a former lover because his eyes and his feet wandered too much, so we’re giving him a chance to try to win back the man he loves. Once we finish the epilogue, that manuscript will be in my editing queue.

Next up, we’re working on a second book for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Line with a goal of getting it finished and submitted by June.

After that, we’ve got a holiday story to write, and then it’ll be on to the next book in the Herc’s Mercs series! So many plot bunnies, so little time.

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