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paranormal romance

Scarlet Thread cover reveal and SNEAK Preview!

scarlet11-25

 

I’m so excited about this new cover for Scarlet Thread! It’s my most popular book, so with a new cover and a tweaked summary I’m hoping to boost my downloads significantly.

I had meant to publish the 2nd half of this story in “book one” – but since part one is already 60,000 words, and since the full story I have mapped out would be around 130,000 words, I’ve decided to add three chapters to part one and just call it “book one” – it’ll be as long as most normal urban fantasy books, at about 75K, and will end on a cliffhanger, but not quite such a dramatic and annoying cliffhanger as it does currently.

With those changes, I’m going to take it off permafree and change it to 99cents, with book two continuing the story, and book three finishing it.

If you haven’t read it yet, get it HERE.

If you get it before I update it with the new chapters, I’ll try and get KDP to notify you of the updates; I’ll also add the extra chapters to this site.

In the meantime here’s a sneak peek – a never before seen chapter.

(It’s rough and still needs editing).

———————————–

My name is Kaidance Monroe, and sometimes when I touch people, I see how they die.

At least that’s how this story began. But last night changed everything. A few days ago I saw Matt die. I saw the sword sticking out of his beastly chest, blood gurgling from his lips. The golden sword, glittering with blue jewels, the crown that symbolized Zeus’s kingdom shining like a beacon in the darkness. All of Zeus’s winged army had swords like that—hunters, created to rid the world of magic.

In the past, every time I had a vision of someone’s death, it came true.

But last night, when hunters broke in through the ceiling like bolts of lightning, it was my death they were after. So I couldn’t let them kill Matt. I couldn’t let him die for me. I was supposed to use the shotgun and sword Sitri gave me, but I couldn’t do it. Not when I saw Puriel. His tall, muscular body. His amber eyes and nearly white hair. The shimmering mirrored wings behind him. I couldn’t destroy something that beautiful. And I didn’t want any more deaths. I just wanted it to stop. So I offered myself to him. Let them take what they came for. In that moment, I was prepared to die.

Instead… Puriel burst into flames, and Matt lived.

Which means, my visions don’t have to come true. Which means, I might not be the monster everyone always thought I was.

But why did Puriel hesitate? Why not destroy me like Zeus ordered him to? He’d become a torch, cast off from Zeus’s favor. After serving obediently for thousands of years. How could that have happened? I was about to find out.

After the attack, Sitri had practically carried me back to my room and told me to stay put. The others started cleaning up the wreckage and removing the bodies. I was most worried about Matt and Priya, because I’d seen them get hurt, but I knew Alice would take care of them. I wondered how many others were injured. Sitri had posted four torches outside my door for my protection. Every time I stuck my head out to see what was going on they crossed their swords and blocked my path. I felt like I was under arrest.

I wanted to talk to Sitri or Able, I needed answers—and if I couldn’t have that, at the very least I wanted to help out and keep my hands busy. Being stuck in my room while everyone else was working was driving me crazy. I couldn’t stop thinking about Puriel. What had happened? Why had he caught on fire like that? Why didn’t he kill me when he had the chance? It was an hour before I realized I still had Able’s invisibility cap—I’d stuck it in my pocket after confronting Puriel.

I snuck through the bathroom into Sitri’s room and opened the door cautiously. With the cap on I stuck my head out to peek at the torches. The floorboard creaked when I took my first step out of the room and I froze, my heart racing. Two torches whipped their heads towards me, but after a moment faced forward again like marble statues.

Most of the mansion was empty, I thought there would be more damage but it seems the attack was focused only on the upstairs floors—as if they knew exactly where I would be. I heard voices and followed them to the second floor. Eligor was addressing a small group of torches.

“The threat was neutralized quickly—10 hunters drew attention away from the main building by starting skirmishes around the defensive barrier, just as four breached the top floor. Two lost their lives immediately, apparently they didn’t expect to find Stephanie there, or underestimated her power. The third was killed soon after—the fourth captured.”

“Is it true the fourth hunter fell?” someone asked. There were murmurs when Eligor nodded. He held a hand up and continued.

“As you know, hunters rarely fall, the circumstances must have been extreme. I don’t know what it means yet, nor should we be overly curious. We should also not assume, now fallen, he will join our ranks—the fate of the intruder will be decided by Able and the masters of Nevah, and we will accept their decision without question. For now, he’s being held in the dungeon until decisions are made. We should also not assume the threat is over. Zeus’s army did not get what they came for, this time. They will undoubtedly strike again soon with double the force. Be vigilant.”

Eligor gave instructions and the torches left to carry them out. He paused when we were alone and he looked at the place where I was standing. But then he left and I was alone.

I wandered lower and lower into the house until I found a room I hadn’t been in before. In the corner was a descending spiral staircase made of large rectangular slabs of stone. I followed it down into a sublevel of the complex, which looked practically medieval. It was mostly used for storage and seemed to have enough food and supplies stockpiled to last a hundred years. I shuddered as I passed a room full of hooks, chains and complex devices I hoped weren’t tools of torture. Finally I found a row of thick iron doors with tiny barred windows. I peeked through the rusted iron bars until I found Puriel.

I could barely see him in the dark. His pale, white body made him look like a ghost, surrounded by walls of solid concrete. Ash and soot stuck to his skin in dark patches, and he smelled like charcoal, singed hair and burnt feathers. I heard the grating noise of heavy chains being dragged across the stone floor and noticed that the dark cuffs around his neck and wrists were fixed to the wall.

I gasped when he looked up, his eyes were black sockets, gaping voids of desolation and heartbreak. The beautiful thing Puriel had been yesterday was gone, and this thing was ruin incarnate. His eyes sparked like glowing coals, as furious patches of bright orange burned in the darkness of the room. He moaned, straining against his restraints, his muscles tense as he reached towards the door. Towards me.

I choked back a sob at the thing he’d become.

Then I took the heavy skeleton key, turned the giant lock, and stepped inside.

“It’s you, isn’t it,” he said as the door creaked open. His eyes darted across the cell. I realized he still couldn’t see me. I stepped into the far corner of the room, out of his reach, and removed Able’s cap.

“Come to torment me further? Survey your handiwork?”

“I didn’t mean for this to happen to you. I had no idea this would happen, whatever this is… I was just trying to save my friend.”

“And that’s exactly why I fell. A cruel trick. A mean trick. But so what, it’s over now. I’m here, a prisoner without purpose, without hope, condemned forever to waste away in suffering and darkness.”

“Why were you after me? I’d never done anything to you. You chased me from JDRI. Then you followed me here,” I accused. “Why?”

“I don’t ask why. My Lord commands and I obey.”

“You mean Zeus?” I asked. Everything Able told me had been true.

““Zeus is his pagan name,” he spat. “We use his Latin name, Deus. The one true king,” he said. “Pure goodness and perfection. My maker and master. Whom I faithfully served since he gave me life, until today, when I failed him.”

“Failed him, by not killing me?”

Puriel nodded, then he sank his face in his hands.

“I hesitated, because I thought I saw goodness in you, and it made me doubt. Now I understand it was a trick. You are the worst kind of evil. The invisible kind. The kind that thinks they are good, but doesn’t know any better. You lie so perfectly I saw no trace of deceit or malice in you. Only innocence, kindness, courage—”

“Zeus is the evil one,” I said. “He slaughtered his own family. Able told me—”

Able,” Puriel repeated with a sad smile, “has told you nothing but lies. Even the name he’s given himself, it sounds so ordinary. So innocuous. It hides the truth of what he really is.”

“And what is he?” I asked nervously.

“He has many names. Father of Lies. Prince of Darkness. Ruler of the Underworld. In French he’s called Le Diable.”

My knees trembled as the world resonated in the small space. I’d heard those titles before… but they didn’t make any sense here. Those were titles for the Devil in Christian mythology. What did that have to do with Greek legend and mythology? A felt a sinking in the pit of my stomach as I realized the truth. Maybe I’d already known it. Le Diable—Able. I’d dined with the devil and didn’t even know it. Suddenly, everything clicked into place. The hunters could fly and had wings. They served their almighty Lord with pure obedience.

“You’re an angel,” I said, breathlessly.

“Some humans call us that,” he said. “We prefer the term Seraphim. We burn with the inexhaustible energy of Deus, like mirrors reflecting his power and glory.” He looked down at his hands in wonder, turning them over slowly. “I was Seraphim. Now I am nothing. Cast out. Defective. Unworthy. A broken vessel. Yesterday I could have melted through these chains.”

I felt sorry for him, even though he had been trying to kill me. In a twisted way, he’d sacrificed himself to save me. Even if he hadn’t done it on purpose, and even if he was regretting it now, I still felt a twinge of responsibility. My head was spinning as I reached for the door handle.

“Deus does not explain himself to the Seraphim,” he said quietly as I was leaving, “nor do we try to understand his will. But I can share what he called you, the name he used when he gave the order. Deicidium. From Deus, meaning god and cidium, which means cutting. In English, it would translate as godkiller.”

Hope you liked it! If you have read Scarlet Thread please add a review.

Not everything is a freaking love triangle (AKA: why your presumptions about young adult literature prove your bias)

I’ve made it no secret that I’m writing YA literature based on a template. Yes, a lot of YA is formulaic. Yes, there are some tropes that get annoying when they’re repeated. And you don’t want to annoy readers.

However, I maintain that writers shouldn’t just try to avoid all cliches. Writing popular fiction, like crafting any powerful story, is based on fundamentals of story construction that go back thousands of years.

Books need conflict. And a lot of bestselling young adult fiction really aren’t that innovative. They’re the same old stories, but retold in a fresh way. I want to give young adult readers what they’ve come to expect of the genre, while delighting or surprising them by remixing common themes in a way they haven’t seen before.

So it’s a little annoying to have all my future works criticized (as I know they will be) for merely having a “love triangle.” It’s as if a love triangle is a superficial thing, incidental to the story, that can easily be removed.

Most of the time, it isn’t. Because stories are built on character, not just plot events. In just about every cop show, ever, there’s a girl and a guy in a platonic working relationship. That’s so each of them can have multiple other partners, which opens up more plot events. In young adult fiction, the number is usually three. In my estimation, it’s because you need a representative of two warring races/classes, and a hero who is the medium between them. It allows for maximal conflict.

Sometimes the heroine is a girl. In The 100, (if you’ve been watching season three) Clark is sort of split between Bellamy, who represents the SkyCrew, and Lexa, who represents the grounders. She needs to make peace between them.

In the Shannara Chronicles, Amberle is a princess elf, the last of her kind. Wil is a halfblood. He alone has the power to use a magic weapon. Eretria is a human orphan with a mysterious background. She has visions and “her blood is the key.”

In Shades of Blue, Jennifer xxx plays a dirty cop, pinned between an FBI agent who is trying to bring down her ring leader, and Wozniac. Neither, incidentally, is her love interest – she’s actually banging the lawyer who can keep her violent ex locked up for good. So sex isn’t necessarily part of the “love triangle” at all – although there’s something creepy and sexual brewing between her and the FBI agent, Wozniac is more like a father figure to her.

Yes there is some romance and dramatic tension happening between all the characters, which keeps things interesting, but they’re really not that important compared to the racial warfare happening around them.

So I find it a little flippant to discount any book since Twilight with the complaint that it has a “love triangle” anytime there are three main characters representing necessarily diverse points of view. The conflict shouldn’t just stem from petty jealousy, but the fear, distrust, hatred and desire should be structured around the more important stuff that has calamitous consequences for everyone else.

Twilight is an excellent book, because it did the love triangle well. Which is exactly why I think the phrase “love triangle” needs to be assigned a new definition. As is, it has come to represent amazing, well told stories that should not be discounted out of hand – where the alleged love triangle is really a necessary and interesting center of conflict between three major players.

This is simply good construction.

Love Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Three decisions.

Peace, War, or aligning with either team.

It’s not fair to say, “Oh look, there are three characters, that must be heading towards a love triangle because they’re there” and then discrediting the book for that reason. If a book has a romantic interest flippantly, for no reason at all, which isn’t connected to the larger circumstances, then yes, that should be criticized. But that’s bad writing. It has nothing to do with the love triangle.

And I hate comments like “the love triangle was well done” or “poorly done”. Not everything is a fucking love triangle. If a girl has a love interest and another friend who likes her, but she doesn’t like him back in that way, is it still a love triangle? If she finds out one is her brother? If he’s actually an assassin sent to kill her or a prince in disguise? The story matters, not how many main characters there or how they feel about each other or whether they’re male or female and might develop feelings for each other.

Readers, stop hunting for love triangles and enjoy the story. If it’s poorly told, say so. Don’t discount it out of hand because some other critic says there’s a love triangle in there.

Authors, don’t avoid love triangles just because you think readers are sick of them; and don’t write them just because you think readers want them. Write what’s necessary to tell a great story, fill it with as much conflict as possible, and do things that readers have never seen before.

YA paranormal Romance Giveaway + custom-made corset!

I started this giveaway on Valentine’s but have extended it so I can do only last push. This is for young adult readers only. Enter to win a corset from Versatile Corsets (an amazing, Portland Oregon business). My friend Janet is a “corset connoisseur” – she’ll help you shop. Winners will also get a big package of dark fantasy paranormal romance books I like. I chose them by their covers, rather than theme, but they’re all excellent reads.

There are lots of ways to earn entries, so do as many as you want to – also don’t forget to grab your special link in the “Share this Contest” field. You can share that on social media, with the images down below – you earn more entries every time someone signs up.

Double book launch

I’m using this giveaway to get the word out about my next two books, which are dark, pseudo-gothic fantasies. The Scarlet Thread is based on Greek mythology (like Percy Jackson) but becomes an angel romance (like Fallen). You can read a preview (it’s rough!) on Wattpad, or view it on Amazon.

scarlethreadOrpheum dark fantasy romance

Orpheum is a dark fantasy based on Eastern European mythology, Orphism and Pythagorean philosophy. With maenads and satyrs. I freaking love this cover, and I’m so excited I finally get to use it. The sparkle effect was better before but I couldn’t replicate it…

You can read a preview (it’s rough!) on Wattpad. Or view it on Amazon.

Both books will be free on March 12th – 13th. You can download them and review them if you like them.

You do not have to buy or review my books to enter the giveaway – you can also just share.

 

Dark Fantasy $400 Corset Giveaway

This giveaway is international, but if for any reason we can’t ship the corset to your country, you can swap for a $250 Amazon card.

Images you can share with your special link

You can download/upload this, or just highlight and copy+paste them straight into your WordPress post. Remember you can earn 20 entries just by doing a cover reveal and/or blogging about this giveaway. You can just copy+paste the covers or giveaway stuff to your site.

I’ll add the book descriptions down below.

 

The Scarlet Thread

My name Kaidance Monroe, and sometimes when I touch people, I see how they die. After I saw my little brother’s death but failed to stop it, my parents abandoned me to a juvenile detention facility. I don’t let people touch me anymore. Not my fingertips, not my skin, not my heart. I make my own clothes by stitching together the donations we get; usually a bunch of crap that fits like a parachute. My sweater is a patchwork of different shades of inky, dark squares. I make plain gray skirts that hang to my knees, with cute or funny T-shirts sewed in. They clash ironically with my unsmiling face. My Allstar high-tops are black and frayed, like my soul.

I also wear a chunk of brightly colored legos around my neck. My little brother was working on it the day he died. The day I failed to save him. It’s unfinished, so I’ll never know what it was meant to be. Most days, I just try to get by. But then I got a visit from a cute guy, who tricked me into giving up my secrets. He said I was special. That he needed me. For a while, I believed him. But once I found out what I could really do, I learned everybody wanted the power I possessed. The power to destroy deities. To kill gods. To end the world… or to save it. My heart is torn, and those I loved most betrayed me. I’m trying so hard to do what’s right, but nobody can tell me what that is anymore, and the moral boundaries I’d always let define my life have been shattered. Whose rules should I obey now? Or do I have to make my own?

The Scarlet Thread is a dark fantasy for fans of Greek mythology and Gothic romance. Fans of Fallen and Percy Jackson will be captivated by this mashup of fallen angels and forgotten gods.

Amazon link to use:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scarlet-Thread-D-S-Murphy-ebook/dp/B01B5COTFI/

Orpheum

I always knew music was powerful. Even though I rebelled against the marathon forced practice sessions that turned my adolescence into a prison camp, there were moments—even in the mechanical repetition of practice—where I stopped being a robot and felt a kind of transcendence, a connection to something deeper.

I wasn’t raised to be religious, but in those fleeting spaces, often between beats in the tempo, my body seemed to go on playing by itself, while my awareness shifted to something greater. Almost like I was outside my body, sitting in the audience, feeling the music wash over me like a pounding surf, telling me to relax.
To let go. To give in.

But that was before I learned what music really was, and that it was capable of more than just pretty feelings and a mystical connection to a transcendental Other. That it was a weapon, which could cause great pain and destruction; that it was deeper and older than humanity; and that there were forces in the world that wanted to reclaim it for themselves.

Orpheum is a young adult dark fantasy romance based on Eastern European history, the myths and literature of Orpheus and Pythagoras’ theory of Musica Universalis, or the music of the spheres.

Amazon link to use:

http://www.amazon.com/Orpheum-Part-One-Fantasy-Romance-ebook/dp/B01B4Y8034/

 

PS) These are both “Part One” of new potential series. I do have them mapped out, but I wanted to get your reaction first and see whether you want to hear how the story ends. So if you like them enough to want to know what happens next, please let me know by reviewing them!

PPS) If you’re interested in getting an early ARC, and helping me to troubleshoot/fix any issues, you can sign up as a beta reader.

 

review1

How do mermaids have sex?

Like many people, been curious about mermaid intercourse since watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Now that I’m writing my first mermaid romance, I had to figure it out with science.

I don’t like paranormal romance books where you can’t understand the physics of love-making, and mermaid sex is a biological challenge.

It’s not like with minotaurs or centaurs, or other shifters, where you assume they have working genitalia between their legs somewhere. Mermen and women are shown with a fish tail up to their waist, leaving little room for spare parts.

The obvious solution is to have them breed with eggs: the female lays them, the man does his thing after. But that’s not very sexy or passionate. So how do merpeople hook up when they like each other?

mermaid sex

 

The Shellfish Solution

To solve this problem, I just made my merpeople crustaceans. They have an exoskeleton over their lower body, which they molt.

He reached across the table and squeezed my hand. There was another question I was dying to ask, but I was a little afraid of the answer.

I finally worked up the courage and blurted out, “How do you… mate?”

I blushed.

His grin widened, he was enjoying himself.

“We come on land and remove our exoskeletons. Under our shells our organs are… nearly identical to humans. I’m sure you’ve heard the birds and the bees speech. If we want children, the females will stay in caves near shore until the eggs are ready, then go into the ocean and give birth. Young merrow are defenseless for the first few years, and need to be guarded and watched by the mother and father. After a few months, they’ll grow their first exo, but then they’ll need a new one every year for about twenty years. After that, they will stay virtually unchanged for decades.”

That solves the mating issue, and also gives them some uniquely awesome powers and abilities.

“In the ocean, with our exos on, we’re nearly invincible,” he smiled. “Hardly anything can puncture our shell, even our fists are protected by almost a centimeter of cartilage. We use them to break shells of other crustaceans, or fight off large ocean predators. Have you ever heard of the Mantis shrimp?”

I shook my head.

“We keep them as pets, they’re beautiful. Its punch is as strong as a gunshot; it’s so powerful and fast it boils the water around it. And their skin is so resilient, the military has been studying their cell structure to make advanced body armor.”

“So what you’re saying, basically, is that you’re a giant shrimp?” I couldn’t help teasing him. He smiled back at me.

“A very charming, handsome shrimp,” he replied.

Fun, right?

Would you sleep with a mermaid?

If you did, what would you be worried about?

PS) If you want to read my novel, Shearwater, you can get it on Amazon.

mermaid3D

Another dark fantasy paranormal romance (about a girl with supernatural powers)

This month I started at least five new books; probably because I’m in the editing stages of Shearwater and it’s frustrating. But also because, I keep finding images or art that is so fucking beautiful I have to use it.

This one was something I made for a client a couple years ago, but I revamped it and it’s so pretty… I’m reading “The Wilds” right now, which reminds me a bit of  Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” – and I was already thinking I wanted to write a book that starts with a girl locked up.

I just wasn’t sure how it would go. But now that I have a cover, I was able to plot out the premise in 5 minutes. And it’s awesome. Somewhere between Lauren Kate‘s “Fallen” – an angel romance – and Shatter Me (but instead of hurting people when she touches them, she forsees their death).

Maybe I’ll write it for Nanowrimo, I need a break from Shearwater.

My YA novel just went NA: how much darkness can teens handle?

I’m writing a YA mermaid romance. I’ve been reading up on the competition, and I’ve learned that most YA mermaid romances are pretty light.

They may be a little bit dark – there’s some death and violence – but mostly the protagonist is fighting against a few powerful antagonists. And maybe a slight bit of depressing real world stuff like a sick family member.

Now that my plotting is basically done, I’ve been going through and making my characters more likeable, by making them more real; giving them personality traits and habits, fears and hobbies, passions and beliefs. But I’ve also made them more human: more scared, weak and frail. At the same time, I’ve been adding in some tension and drama.

The first quarter of my book was setting up the conflict and drama. There’s a lot of mystery and intrigue, but not that much conflict, other than trifling high school shit. (How can a high school boy with a bat compare to an army of mermaid soldiers?)

So I went back and added some dead bodies.

On my first day of school, the dead girls started arriving. They were found left on the beach, arms neatly folded, like presents Mischief would sometimes leave outside our door: the odd bird or rat. The drowned. No papers or identification. Beautiful young women.

Which made my main protagonist, Clara, go really dark and emo today. How can she enjoy something like her birthday party when there are mysterious dead girls around?

The dead girls came to my birthday party. I didn’t want them to, but I couldn’t get them out of my mind. The pasta was delicious but sometimes, mid-chew, it would taste suddenly like ash and dirt. To cope, I drank. I thought leaving America behind, I’d somehow closed the door on loss and death, and gone through a reality portal; I’d thought somehow Ireland would be green hills and flowers and a fresh start, a chance to start over. But death had followed me.

But how else is she going to process all this death: her own parents just died in a car accident, leaving her orphaned, and she had to go live in Ireland with her grandfather. She’s raging with emotional trauma, and she was sensitive and anxious to begin with. Her therapy is pounding out her thoughts on the typewriter her father bought for her: it helps her process her emotions. She types with no paper, feeding her thoughts to the wind:

I spent months typing things out, eating up stacks of pristine white paper, starting dozens of stories, but by the time I was eleven I’d gotten into singing instead. For years it was just an expensive paperweight and decoration. Then it became a representation of my failure as a daughter: I’d promised him I’d use it, and I imagined the silence emitting from my room was heavy and meaningful. Maybe that’s when I’d developed the habit of writing nothing at all, just spending a little time each day hitting the keys. I stopped using the paper and just used it to clear my mind by typing out my thoughts.

It became a therapy of sorts. I’d purge all my musings, ideas, fears and regrets into the typewriter, and it would punctuate my confessions with the sharp clicking of the metal keys, it gave a very satisfying click, and I adored the subtle give of the keys against the persistent force of my downward stroke. I guess it would be similar to what some people call morning pages, or screaming into a soundproof room. It was a way to purge myself, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. And I was hopelessly addicted: I’d formed the embarrassing habit of “thinking out loud”—my fingers twitch when I’m processing. The tension will build up until I can release it by working through my thoughts and emotions on the typewriter.

I feel like my world and characters are becoming more real, more unique, more memorable, but the whole thing is starting to feel so hopeless and tragic. They are up against crazy odds, 3 different ancient organizations want to kill them, and even though her feelings for Sebastian (main love interest) are overwhelming at times, she’s smart enough to know running away with him while the world burns isn’t really an option.

It’s starting to feel like a really depressing read, which isn’t something I’m necessarily opposed to (after all, it’s a series: the first book is really just about her learning to trust herself, and having the courage to fight back for what she cares about). I want it to be tragic. I want it to be heartbreaking, in a way that extremely few pieces of literature are these days, and especially not YA literature (except the really, really good stuff).

I guess my main worry was that, if it gets too dark and depressing, if it doesn’t have a little bit of high school fun, humor and games, then teen readers won’t like it… but maybe I shouldn’t worry about that. After all, I don’t want to be another mediocre teen read, something light to pass the time. I want something that is going to strike a chord, something solid enough for adults to enjoy reading without feeling like it’s a guilty pleasure. I want it to be good. I want to take the most superficial, light, silly genre I can think of (mermaid romance) and claim it, redefine it, and tell a tragic mermaid romance in a way that’s never been done before.

Anyway, at this point, I feel like it’s kind of getting away from me. Since this is my first novel, I’ve heard of this happening but never really witnessed the process myself before. All I can do now is write the thing as best as I damn well can, and get it to some beta readers for some serious feedback.

(Want to be one and get an early draft of the book? Sign up on the email list!)

How to market paranormal romance / YA urban fantasy

I get a lot of emails about how to market fiction; today I got one specifically on how to market paranormal romance. Coincidentally, I’ve been brainstorming for hours on the same topic: my first novel Shearwater is in final edits and I’m planning a big launch. I’m going to do a lot of things that should work and a lot of things that may not work.

The best book marketing for all genres seems to be:
1. Networking with other authors in your genre and getting them to share your launch.
2. Building a targeted email list of your own of interested readers.
3. Make the launch exciting, with prizes, competitions, etc.

For #1, I built a Thunderclap campaign; and I’m hoping to reach 1 million people and get 100K free downloads on launch. If you write in similar genres, I hope you’ll check it out. BUT I hate to ask for things unless I’m giving more than I’m receiving; so I’m trying to find ways of rewarding you for supporting my book launch.

Reward 1: I will put up a “thank you supporters!” page on a few of my high-traffic sites. I’ve also set up both www.edwardcullensucks.com (for paranormal romance) and www.UrbanEpics.com (for urbane fantasy), which you can co-opt to your advantage (we can do an author interview, you can review other books in the genre, or a guest post on writing tips for the genre). Yes, you should be doing that stuff on your own blog as well, but you want a wide net of content linking back to your main blog or page, for increased traffic and SEO. Many other sites charge for stuff like that; I’m only asking for one Tweet.

Reward 2: I thought about running a giveaway, like a $2500 marketing package – where one of you would win a custom author platform overhaul (new website, new cover, improved author bio/mission/book summaries, and some content marketing). I could do it as a random giveaway, though I’d like to do it as a prize for the person who makes the biggest contribution to my book launch (hard to track though).

Reward 3: I’ll also be needing some quick, early book reviews before launch – if you have time to post one, you can download the full ARC here; I will in turn review any book you want me to. I’m not suggesting “trading 5 star reviews” – just sharing honest ones that genuinely help readers. If you think my writing sucks and doesn’t deserve more than 2 stars, that’s fine; I appreciate your feedback and will take your comments seriously.

I’m in a tricky position, in that for years I’ve been against spammy and self-promotional book marketing tactics, like “Twitter Blasts” – and I want to avoid it as much as possible by doing classy, fun, novel things to market my books. I’ll be sharing the results of my book launch through guest posts and podcast appearances in October, so you might see me around the interwebz.

If any of this sounds interesting and you want to be involved, please sign up at my other list on the book launch page here:
http://urbanepics.com/shearwater/

PS) Do you know any other PN romance or urban fantasy authors who could use book marketing help? Please share this with them.

How to write a bestselling YA dystopian novel

I’m in the process of writing 5 YA (young adult) novels. As young adult novels, the protagonist in all of these novels are teenage girls. There may or may not also be some teenage guys involved. Well – there definitely are some of course as romantic interest, but I haven’t decided if they will get their own voice or if I stay with only one narrator for each book.

But I’m also currently reading some dystopian/postapocalyptic novels, like Wayward Pines and Dust and The 5th Wave. And I’m making some notes about how elements I need to include in my novels. And I got a little confused, because while most of my novels play with Armageddon settings (the stakes are high enough that failure could mean the end of civilization), my novels all start from the Ordinary World. So they are actually more paranormal romance than they are dystopian.

And I’m almost bummed out, because it would be so much easier to start after the end of the world. Everybody died. The lead characters are already dead and broken and hopeless, just trying to survive. But they find hope and meaning in their love for each other. That’s a simple plot. And it’s exciting. Start with the action. The first scenes can be gore and violence.

In my books, the first scenes are boring high school stuff. A call to adventure, sure… but I’m showing the ordinary world as a foil; so that eventually the heroine will look back and see how far she’s come. She’ll have something to miss.

That means my books are going to be a little bit slower. I’ll have to work harder to add in some early intrigue. I’ll have to work harder to establish the narrator’s voice and personality. And also show her develop in a satisfying way. In dystopian/postapocalyptic, the character can start out broken. The author doesn’t need to show heartbreak. In my novels, I’ll have to introduce a current or past event that makes them afraid, distrustful, uncertain… afraid to love.

I’ll have to throw a lot of shit their way, to force them to become the strong characters I need them to be by the end. This might not all be able to happen in the first book. Maybe the first book is just about survival. They just have to not die.

There are also some elements of dystopian fiction, however, I’ll see if I can work into my stories. I’ve made a convenient list for you.

Tyrant

A dystopian needs a tyrant, an oppressive government/society without freedom. A place with no hope. Cruel and unjust. A secret conspiracy.

Complacency

Nobody is happy… but they don’t rebel. They walk the line. They don’t have a leader.

Violence

Probably involving teens and kids with guns, and death and gore.

Inciting Event

The protagonist gets forced onto a path of action that’s impossible for her to refuse. She does the best she can. It may involve sacrificing herself to save someone she loves (a family member).

Love interest (x2)
There’s usually at least 2 main love interests.

There’s a lost guy, she gives him meaning and purpose.
He wants to save/protect her.

She wants to be strong and pushes him away. They fight because she refuses to accept help. He can be controlling and overprotective. He’s dark and secretive.

The other guy is happy, confident, funny and friendly. She should like him. He likes her. But she doesn’t feel that way about him. This other guy may turn out to be the bad guy. She has mixed feelings; because she does like him a little. Maybe they kiss. Maybe she’s attracted to him.

A revolution

She becomes a revolutionary hero, and leads an uprising. Her role is more important than sorting out her relationships, so she stalls on that front and ignores her feelings. She won’t let herself be happy until her people are free.

She feels bad about killing, at first, but gets better at it.

YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy

If you took out the “dystopian” part, but kept the YA – you’d still get the love interests. Instead of a tyrant, you’d have an evil force or power – she has something he wants. She’s the only one who can stop him. She discovers she has powers; powers that are mysteriously and abnormally strong.

She has a best friend who’s ordinary (and might have a crush on her… but she doesn’t feel that way about him/her).

Daddy Issues

In any kind of YA, parentage is important. Usually one or both parents are missing – assumed dead. Later we may discover they aren’t really dead. They are in prison; or they are the enemy; or something else happened. The protagonist finds out that through her parents she is irrevocably tied to the core plot. Her father started this. Her mother is the villain. She inherited powers through one of them. Maybe we find out that her parents aren’t really her parents, and her new boyfriend is actually her brother.

Dealing with these revelations is part of the character coming to grips with her new self.

What else am I missing? Tell me in the comments!

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