Weekly Roundup: Gladstone Shifters Part 2 – The Writing of EXPECTANT MOON

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Before I actually started writing the first Gladstone Shifters book, Expectant Moon, there were certain things I wanted the story to do. Shifter history needed to be explained – where did they come from, how do they live, what are their relationships like? In addition, I wanted a reasonable explanation of their ability to exist in modern times without being discovered. Lastly, I had to create the major dramatic elements which would keep the reader engaged from start to finish.

Sound like a lot? It was, and I didn’t realize at first how grand and extensive my goals were for the story, especially when it was supposed to be crammed into a single book! I seem to have a penchant for biting off more than I can chew, but I dove into the project, blissfully ignorant of what I was supposed to do, and did it anyway. In the end, my readers loved it, even if it was bit long, (at 110,000+ words, it’s at the upper limit of a full length novel). The few who mentioned it didn’t care because they couldn’t stop reading – a wonderful problem for any author!

It took a lot of research, but by using the actual history of gray wolves in the U.S., I was able to weave it into the experiences of the shifter community. Logically, the only way for wolf shifters to hide from humans was to do so in plain sight among the natural wolf population. This grew more difficult as the U.S. population grew, and especially after the great purge of wolves which began in the 1800’s. This tension and tragedy provided the background for nearly everything in the world I created, imbuing the story with drama, structure, and continuity.

Natural wolves are confined to a few of the northernmost states, Alaska, and Canada, narrowing my choices for a primary location. Since I was already familiar with Michigan, I decided to place most of the action at Gladstone, in the upper peninsula. Instead of creating imaginary places and names, I used the real thing, and in the process, lent the story a measure of believability. When I mention cities, parks, roads, lakes, rives etc., and even the distances between them, it’s virtually all from real life. This, too, took a lot of research, but it actually saved me time and influenced some story elements.

From the start, I intended to focus on the two main characters – Ben (Gladstone’s Alpha) and his future mate, Evan. After introducing Jack as the long-lost True Elder, (and eventually his mate), it became apparent I would have to widen my vision a bit! As the story progressed, I simply had to provide more background and interaction of the MC’s. As a result, the book was longer and far richer than I ever intended – all to the good.

Though it began as a romance, Expectant Moon grew into a story about acceptance and taking a stand in a hostile environment. Gay shifters, like their human counterparts, were experiencing the same issues, and I wanted to show how it affected them and what could be done to correct the situation. This dramatic element formed the story’s foundation, driving the action, discoveries, and love interests through the book. It was my desire to give the shifters a victory, though hard won; unlike the real world where people are still being rejected, bullied and killed because of their sexual orientation.

One of the fun elements I introduced was the shifter way of allowing same-sex couples to have children. Many of the stories I’d read included male Omega’s who could somehow get pregnant and pop out babies (mostly unexplained), but I found their approach lacking credibility. Important questions remained unaddressed: Other than same sex couples, why would a male wolf-shifter need such an ability? Where was his birth orifice? How could you keep a pregnant man hidden from prying human eyes? I was able to answer those questions, and more, leaving the reader with an imaginative and plausible explanation.

As mentioned earlier, an important part of the series is the romance, including the sex, and this author makes no apology for the explicit M/M content. Wolf shifters are famous for their libido, stamina, and overall enjoyment of sex, and my characters were no exception. For the most part, I place the sexual scenes within the context of a loving, committed relationship; something many humans, quite honestly, are incapable of doing. A healthy, vibrant relationship will normally include sex, so I saw no reason to be squeamish about it here. (For readers who may object, I provided a very clear warning in the book blurb.)

While more could be said, the best way to experience Expectant Moon is to read it for yourself. If you do, please leave a review or drop me a line at aelliottbooks@gmail.com to let me know what you thought!

Next week, without revealing too much, I want to discuss the writing of Book 2, Traitor’s Moon.

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Traitor’s Moon is FINISHED!! Wahoooooooooo!!!

I’m now in the process of rereading the entire manuscript, followed by submission to my beta readers. If I’ve done my job properly, there shouldn’t be many corrections to make and then it’s time to publish it. I anticipate a February release, but stay tuned for a more exact date! Meanwhile, I need to create the book blurb, which is a difficult process all its own, and figure out the launch promotions. Also – check out the cover art for Traitor’s Moon on the main page of my website!

Even as I finish up the process for Traitor’s Moon, ideas are flowing for the third book, entitled Forbidden Moon. Despite the extended length of time it took to get Book 2 finished, I’m eager to get started on the next. Yes, I would dearly love a break, but I need to keep going lest I lose my momentum. I swear – writers are nuts!

 

Weekly Roundup: Gladstone Shifters Part 1 – Creating Their World

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

My children were strongly encouraged to read when they were young and used to make frequent visits to the library to load up on books. Somewhere in the ‘90’s they started bringing home the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate, and since the idea intrigued me, I began reading them too. An Animorph is a person who can absorb the DNA of any animal by touch, and thereby be able to morph into that animal. The early books were very imaginative and fun, and my boys and I had a great time talking about the stories.

That long-ago introduction to what is now generally called “shifters” was reawakened when I received a Kindle Fire tablet as a gift and started to search for something to read. Some of those shifter books were wonderful, while others were just plain silly or of poor quality. After I began writing, it was a foregone conclusion I would create a shifter story of my own. The first decision was what type of shifter, as there were many to choose from including wolves, bears, dragons, birds, cats, foxes, etc.

As I recall, most of the books I read were about wolves and I was annoyed by some of the ridiculous plots and nonsensical abilities given to the characters. By this time I knew I wanted to write about wolf shifters, and that it would be a gay romance, but I also wanted to correct some of the deficiencies I’d seen in so many other books. To do that, I had to establish the ground rules of what wolf shifters were, how they lived, and what unique abilities they possessed. Re-inventing the wheel wasn’t necessary, but the tires definitely needed some new tread!

As a first step, I created a list entitled “Common Traits for Wolf Shifters in Current Literature” and then noted after each one whether I wanted to keep it or change it.

Here are some examples of traits I kept:

  • Enhanced senses (hearing, smell).
  • Hidden from the human population.
  • Physically superior (stronger, faster, healthier).
  • Can control when they shift.
  • Live in packs.
  • Well-endowed, usually horny, love sex.

Here are some traits I decided to change:

  • Born in human form/shift at puberty – can be born in either form and start shifting after being weaned.
  • Fast healing – unnecessary, as a shift re-sets the original DNA, thus repairing any injury.
  • Super long life span – all live about one hundred years, with one exception (see below).
  • Some males can bear children – no, with one exception.
  • One true fated mate – no, but Luna (the moon) matches up mates.
  • “Werewolf” and silver – werewolves are Hollywood nonsense and silver has no effect.

I found most of these traits to be quite fluid, varying from author to author, so I kept the ones I liked and changed the others to form a more consistent and logical set of rules. Naturally, I added a number of new things to my shifter world, not found anywhere else.

  • In addition to Alpha, Beta, and Omega, I added a new class of shifters called Delta’s. They exist to serve or guide the packs, filling roles such as doctors, historians, ambassadors, counselors, lawyers, politicians, and judges.
  • One very special type of Delta is a True Elder. True Elders are longer-lived (about two hundred years) and gifted with tremendous memory and recall. These specialized historians are charged with collecting and teaching shifter history, customs, and wisdom. Only a few are born each generation.
  • Luna – the mysterious moon force which guides all shifters. The moon is prominently featured in most shifter stories but other than being howled at, doesn’t seem to do much of anything. In my world, Luna has more direct influence on shifter life via True Elders, the use of dreams/visions, and the selection of mates. It is not a deity per se, but all shifters acknowledge its power and can physically feel it (especially during full moons).
  • Because I wanted same sex couples to have families, I created ways for it to happen. Luna is directly involved in the conception/mating/bonding process for Change Mates, Honor Mates, and Triad Mates. (If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the books!)

A very basic premise which influenced some of the changes I made had to do with keeping shifters hidden from the human world around them. Their history, customs, and way of life, (explained in Expectant Moon), needed to fit the whole idea of a secret existence under the noses of an unsuspecting human population. You still need to stretch your imagination to make it all work, but I like to think I’ve made it much more logical and almost possible. This delicate dance is seen throughout the story line in both books, and maintains a mysterious tension, adding spice to the “what if it were real?” vibe.

Next week, I want to dive into the writing of Expectant Moon, the first book in the Gladstone Shifters series!

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Current manuscript – I am agonizingly close to finishing Traitor’s Moon! I ran into another issue which needed to be fixed, hence the delay. IF, and I say again, IF life doesn’t get in the way, the book should be complete and in the hands of my initial beta readers by this weekend. Cross your fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes (and hold your breath too). I want to get this thing done!

Weekly Roundup: Remembering 2018

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

While it’s certainly true I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to in 2018, it was still a good year! Below are some of the highlights, both personally and as an author.

Author Stuff:

  • In April I published my first paranormal, wolf-shifter novel Expectant Moon. Reviews have been very positive! Book two, Traitor’s Moon, is nearly finished.
  • Instead of scrambling to post something new all the time, I began the Weekly Roundup to keep my readers informed.
  • My writing has improved due to some great and timely advice from a number of sources and I continue to grow and learn.
  • Some fabulous story ideas are now waiting for me to find the time to write them!
  • While it was a difficult decision, my books have been enrolled in KDP Select for most of 2018. Along with other marketing changes, I’ve been able to earn a fairly stable (but meager) income from my writing.
  • My most popular post, the Odious Apostrophe appeared on April 16th.

While I have some goals in mind for the new year, I’m not going put pressure on myself by creating a list of resolutions. Aside from publishing Traitor’s Moon, I hope to write at least two novels and perhaps some short stories. If time permits, I may look into joining a local writers group. Much will depend on my work schedule and finances, so we’ll see.

Personal Stuff:

  • I completed a major move across country to live closer to my kids.
  • My oldest son welcomed a third child, my first Grandson, this year!
  • My younger son got married and they are now expecting their first baby in August!
  • I am blessed with a decent job, lovely apartment, good health, some caring friends, and my extended family. God has been very good to me, as always.

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Current Manuscript – Traitor’s Moon hit a couple of bumps at the end of the year, and I’ve missed my goal of finishing by December 31st by just a few days. One problem was the need for an additional chapter, which is now nearly finished. The other issue involved not being able to get a full night’s sleep for many days in a row. The old brain simply shut down, and I needed all my resources just to get through the work day. I think I’m back on track now! Word count stands at almost 117,000.

Even though I’m still writing book 2 in the Gladstone Shifters series, I’ve been busy jotting down more ideas for book 3. Some pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place, which makes it easier for me to finish the current manuscript, since it will include hints for the next book. I don’t want to commit myself to any major plot lines unless I’m certain I’ll use them, hence the need to plan ahead and consider the shape of the story carefully.

I don’t like cliffhangers, but I do enjoy giving readers a few hints about what may be coming in the next book – call them teasers if you will. Building in a little bit of anticipation creates interest and hopefully brings readers back for the next installment.

My posts for the next few weeks will be mostly about the shifter world I’ve created for my current series. In conjunction with the release of Traitor’s Moon, I want to share where it all came from and answer some reader’s questions. So get your wolf on, baby, and let’s get furry together!

Weekly Roundup 12-26-18 Having Fun With Obsolete Words

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

The English language has a boatload of obsolete words we rarely or never use, and I find it interesting to get reacquainted with some every now and then. Writers, take note of these gems and look for ways to put them back in circulation. I have added helpful explanatory notes for each.

Farctate – completely satiated or full to the point of bursting. (Usually followed by flatulate. I’m sure the words are related somehow.)

Philodox – a dogmatic person who is especially fond of his/her own opinions. (This term is especially useful when describing elected politicians.)

Gramercy – an exclamation of pleased surprise. (See also “Lordhavemercy” for unpleasant surprises.)

Cavil – to raise trivial and oftentimes irritating objections or to find fault unnecessarily. (Marriage counselors use this one a lot.)

Churlish – a rude, boorish, or miserly person. (Normally, we simply say “stop being an ass”, but that requires four words.)

Frisson – a sudden, passing shudder of emotion or excitement. (I believe romance writers could get some mileage out of this one!)

Gargalesthesia – a term given to the sensation caused by being tickled. (Hmmm…I was sure this meant a fear of gargling.)

Beldam – a term for “grandmother”. (Related to Ohdam which means “mother-in-law” and Hotdam which refers to one’s wife.)

Defalcation – the act of misusing funds or embezzling. (Similar to defecation or “Oh Shit”, the expression used when one is caught defalcating.)

Vulpine – crafty and cunning. (This is less confusing than saying “foxy”, which may be confused with “Hotdam” above.)

Buccula – the fold of fatty tissue under the jaw, commonly called a “double chin”. (Related to Buttula, Guttula, or any other sagging body part.)

Brontide – a rumbling sound like distant thunder. (Do not confuse with “farctate”, above.)

Morosoph – a learned fool, or one who puts up the pretense of knowledge or wisdom. (Most of us either live next to, or work with a Morosoph. See also gasbag, jackass, moron.)

Hypermnesia – having an exceptional memory. (A little less clumsy than “memory like an elephant” and the opposite of amnesia or “can’t remember a damn thing”.)

Factotum – a person having many diverse traits and different responsibilities or serving in a wide range of capacities. (Replaced in modern English with “Mom”.)

Virago – a large, strong, or domineering woman. (See note on “Ohdam” above.)

Lalochezia – the emotional relief gained by emitting vulgar or indecent words. (Huh! And all this time I just thought it was someone who lacked self control, manners, or a proper upbringing.)

And there you have it! English is fascinating, and it’s too bad we restrict our word usage to the tried and true. So, good luck preventing your churlish beldam from farctating in public. Gramercy!!   (click HERE for the source article)

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Traitor’s Moon – Chapter thirteen is now complete! Word count = 109,800.

Somehow, this book turned out to have fewer chapters, but each of them is longer. I don’t like interrupting the flow of the story in odd places with chapter breaks. The problem is that readers have been trained to expect not only shorter chapters, but shorter books overall (eBooks, that is). Another way to address this is to make two books out of one with a cliffhanger, but again, I don’t like that approach. Sure, it’s possible I could make more money, but it’s not my impression that readers like to be taken advantage of this way. I know I wouldn’t.

Unfortunately, chapter thirteen didn’t turn out to be the last chapter as I predicted earlier! I’m not surprised really, as this seems to happen at the end of very book I’ve written. Too much information I still need to include, necessitating an additional chapter to fit it all in. I’ve always maintained the book isn’t finished until the story is complete, and I refuse to cheat my readers or characters by leaving things out. There are a lot of plot threads in a novel this size, and I simply can’t leave them dangling with no resolution.

So, what does this mean? It means I may not meet my goal of completing the manuscript by December 31st. It also means the book will end up being a bit longer than I anticipated. I don’t think it will cause a significant delay in the release date of the book, but that depends heavily on when my beta readers finish doing their thing.

Anyway, I had fun wrapping up one of the main story arcs and fixing the little red wagon of a certain odious character. What’s left is the above mentioned threads, as I carefully tie them off with some sort of resolution or satisfactory follow up. I don’t want my readers to start saying, “Wait! What happened to so and so?” I spent an awful lot of time and effort developing those lovely sub-plots, and I want to see them through to the end. Honestly, without them the book would be flat and rather uninteresting, so I don’t begrudge the time it takes to do it right.

Weekly Roundup 12-19-18 Becoming a Full Time Author

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Some months ago I saved a post entitled “What It Takes To Go Full-Time As An Indie Author”. Unfortunately, the post is now “marked private by the owner” so I can’t tell you who wrote it. The writer claims to be making four figures per month through hard work (not luck), and following this must-do list:

  • Study your market. No that isn’t selling out, it’s making sure you understand what your readers want.
  • Get top quality, genre-appropriate covers. They should look like the bestsellers in your genre.
  • Learn how to write a really hooky blurb. Copy writing is a completely different beast to fiction writing.
  • Write books that people want to read. Yes you can write for yourself, but that’s going to make going full-time, far, far, more difficult.
  • Learn how to market. I don’t mean that stuff about getting a big Twitter following, I mean CPC ads and newsletter marketing. There are plenty of books and resources out there to teach you the ropes for both of those.
  • Target your readers and only your readers. Some people go for the spaghetti approach, but that has been shown to drastically screw things up. You need tight also-boughts that are relevant to your book. Don’t waste money marketing your dark UF to humorous UF readers.
  • Publish regularly. You don’t have to publish every month, but 4 books a year is the ideal minimum. You’ll need to run ads between launches to keep eyes on your books though.

Wow! While this formula apparently worked for the author, I will never be able to afford the time or expense to make it happen. Even if I could quit my job today and do nothing but write, I would need professional help with all the aspects of marketing, which involves four of the seven suggestions in the list above. I would guess most indie authors share this same struggle and despair of ever reaching full-time author status.

One additional objection is the whole “write what people want to read” mantra. While I understand the concept, and agree in principle, I dare say most authors want to write what appeals to them, not simply what will sell. Cranking out garbage simply because people will buy it gives all authors a bad name. On the other hand, churning out book after book with no personal appeal seems like a soul-sucking waste of time. Much of my joy and satisfaction as an author comes from writing about what speaks to me, interests me, or what stirs my passion. All of that is very personal and cannot be reduced to “write what people want to read”.

So, am I ever going to go full-time as an author? I’m sure you’ve already guessed the answer. Unless lightning strikes or I can retire with lots of extra cash, I don’t see it happening. Discouraging? Yes. Will it stop me? No. I write because I enjoy it! I have things to say and stories to tell, and readers like my stuff. In the meantime, if anything changes, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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Update on Traitor’s Moon – I’m about two-thirds of the way through the last chapter! Next comes the Epilogue where I tie up loose threads and drop some hints for the next book in the series, but the end is near (in a good way)! I’m still on target for finishing by the end of the year, with a tentative launch in late January. Word count stands at 104,000+.

The final chapter deals mostly with the primary antagonist receiving his comeuppance, and I’ve been editing and re-editing the manuscript to get it just right. This person has been a thorn in everyone’s side since the middle of the first book, and now the time has come to give him what he deserves. I must say, it’s been most satisfying, and I hope my readers will be pleased!

Weekly Roundup 12-12-18 Jump-starting Your Creative Flow

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Sometimes the well of creativity and imagination runs dry and it’s up to you to find a fresh source. There are many ways to get the juices flowing again, but it may not be from the comfort of your favorite chair. Great material is all around us if we are paying attention, so try these the next time you need new ideas or inspiration:

  • Conversations – go ahead and eavesdrop at work, home, or the grocery store. The breadth of topics is astonishing.
  • The news – always full of colorful characters and interesting story ideas.
  • Dreams – sounds crazy I know, but as your brain cleans house every night you may pick up an idea or two. Keep pen and paper on the nightstand to record them before they disappear!
  • Books – you aren’t the only one with good ideas, so feel free to borrow from other writers (not in a plagiaristic sense of course!)
  • Entertainment – movies, concerts, TV, even your 5 year old’s school play.
  • People watching – go to the Mall or search your favorite magazines to find your next hero, romantic character, or bad guy.
  • Advertising – there are signs everywhere and many are clever or amusing. Churches, businesses, yard signs, billboards, and posters abound.
  • Change of Venue – get out of the house on a regular basis. Try visiting a library, cafe, park, museum, Botanical gardens, aquarium, pet store, or even a subway ride.

Sometimes the greatest story ideas come from a single word, a new face, or a familiar smell, jump-starting your imagination. So get to it! We’re all waiting to see what that creative mind of yours can come up with.

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Traitor’s Moon – Chapter twelve is finished! Word count stands at 100,498. (I love crossing the 100,000 milestone!) I have at least one more chapter, plus the Epilogue and then the book is done. I’m still hoping to have the writing finished by December 31st.

I had a blast working with Everet in this latest chapter, one of my sub-plot characters who is about a hundred years out of date. As it turns out, I probably could have written an entire novel about him alone, but this wasn’t the time. The Gladstone Shifters is primarily a romance series, with a healthy dose of intrigue and drama thrown in to keep things interesting, and Everet’s journey hasn’t reached the romance stage (yet).

 

Weekly Roundup 12-5-18 Reference Material for Romance Writers

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I prefer to get my news online and like to save articles which might help my writing, be it general information or new story ideas. Back in June I was intrigued by this one: “Sixteen Hot Spots on a Man’s Body You Should Know About” by Carina Hsieh. Naturally, as an M/M romance writer, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. It never hurts to introduce some new ideas into a hot bedroom scene, and I certainly can’t claim to know it all.

While the list contained the usual suspects (lips, penis, nipples, perineum), there were a few odd places mentioned:

  • Adam’s Apple
  • Lower back
  • The dip under the ankle

I am uncertain how much serious research is represented, but the author claims the advice comes from “experts”. I can think of at least two hot spots which were left off the list, though most gay men are not shy about taking advantage of them. You’ll have to read the article for yourself and decide if the information is helpful!

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Traitor’s Moon – I’ve made some great progress this week and am deep into chapter twelve! Word count stands at 96,300+. This part of the book is both winding down towards the end and building up to the final conflict. During a short break in the action, I’m having fun with one of the sub-plots, fleshing out a newer character. Too many new people tend to distract from the primary pair in each story, so I have to be careful. It remains to be seen if he will be featured, or only mentioned, in future books.

Since I’m near the end, I occasionally have trouble remembering details from the early chapters. Research is often required to make certain I am being consistent with important details (thank goodness for the “search” feature in MS Word!). I suppose it could be said that many readers would not notice minor errors, since they have most probably forgotten the details by the end of the book anyway. Perhaps, but I simply can’t let things like that slide. As an author, I feel obligated to give readers my very best, and I hope it shows.

My goal is to complete Traitor’s Moon by the end of the calendar year and publish it early next year. Stay tuned for the cover reveal!

Reader Roundup 11-28 18 November Birthdays

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Apparently March is a popular baby-making month, since my November calendar is filled with birthdays! In fact, today is my youngest son’s special day, and he insists on getting older every year, dragging me along with him. November also included birthdays for my sister, niece, and granddaughter. Break out the cake, ice cream and balloons – and don’t forget the presents.

Most of my extended family are several states away, so I make an effort to send a card and call them on their day. It feels nice to be remembered on your birthday, even if you hate the idea of getting older. Hey – you’re going to age no  matter what, so you might as well get some attention and gifts out of the deal!

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Had our first winter storm here a few days ago. It wasn’t too bad, but all snow and ice make me nervous if I have to drive in it. My recent move brought me 800 miles northeast, and the winters in my previous home were nothing in comparison. I went from six inches of annual snowfall to sixty-eight! Since I used to live here for many years, it shouldn’t take long to become accustomed to it again. No one here seems to pay much attention to the weather.

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Traitor’s Moon – I’m finally making some significant progress! Chapter eleven was completed over the holiday weekend and I got a great start on chapter twelve. Following that, I should be able to wrap things up with one more chapter and the Epilogue. There is still a lot of story to tell, both major plot elements and minor story threads. It’s all important! I love seeing my characters grow and change, new ideas introduced, and conflict resolved.

I don’t plan out everything in advance with my books. I prefer to work with a rough outline of ideas and then allow the story to tell itself as I write. I’m sure a lot of authors would cringe at the idea, but it works for me. Some of the best elements in my stories are ones literally added as I’m writing, and they often surprise me. For instance, in my current manuscript two of the main characters have a unique and humorous way of interacting which I hadn’t even thought of previously. Initial feedback from beta readers confirms their verbal fencing fits the characters well and made the story more enjoyable. Cool!

You might think my mind is totally consumed with finishing Traitor’s Moon, but you would be wrong. While my new job requires more concentration and less time for my mind to wander and create, I’ve still been churning out story ideas! As always, it’s been a mixed bag; dragons, fairies and elves, various romances, sci-fi, and of course the next book in the Gladstone Shifters series. If I could start writing full time today, and lived to be a hundred, I would still have file folders full of ideas. That’s OK, it keeps me out of trouble.

Weekly Roundup 11-21-18 Thanksgiving – More Than a Holiday

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.

Growing up, I loved Thanksgiving because it meant a big family dinner and time off school. I didn’t care why it existed or when it started or what it might mean for me personally. Introspection and history were for grown ups, and I couldn’t have cared less.

I’m happy to report my attitude of gratitude has changed over the years, but Thanksgiving provides a crucial reminder to get me back on track. Many have forgotten or ignore the spiritual side of the holiday, which is more than regrettable considering how blessed we are as a people in this country. God has been so very good to me, and I am eternally grateful for His love and provision.

I must confess, however, it’s entirely too easy for me to focus on the negative and gripe about what I don’t have. If you’re like me, then I challenge you spend some time tomorrow making a list of blessings and place it where it can be seen every day. As more things come to mind, add to your list and review it when your attitude starts to sour. While we often can’t change our circumstances, we DO have the power to change our attitude, and a thankful heart will go a long way to lifting your spirits and encouraging friends and loved ones.

My best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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I’ve made some progress on Expectant Moon this week and am more than halfway through chapter 11! Have you ever planned a memorial service for shifters? Well, neither had I! This was another difficult and emotional portion of the manuscript, and I found my self choked up and crying as I wrote. Good thing the tissues were close at hand! Hopefully I managed to create something unique to the wolf shifter community, yet still recognizable to my human readers.

This event marks the end of the dramatic attack sequence and leads into the final wrap-up portion of the story. I still have a bad guy to deal with and a number of dangling threads to tie off, but the end of the book is now in sight. With the holiday tomorrow, I have a long weekend ahead and plan to spend most of it writing. No promises, but if all goes well, I may actually get the book finished before the end of the year after all!

Weekly Roundup 11-14-18 Book Review – LEVITY

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

If you are a fan of fairy tale re-tellings, get a copy of LEVITY by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews. This gay fairy tale contains many of the classic ideas: a prince, a witch’s curse, a love story, a happy ending. All similarity ends there, however, as the authors spin an enjoyable tale with an incredible twist.

The prince is cursed from youth with a lack of gravity, both physical and emotional, requiring constant care to keep him from floating away! Though taught about normal emotions by the royal staff, the young prince spends his life laughing through most circumstances, never shedding a tear or showing remorse or sadness.

A birthday outing results in the prince floating away into the sky, only to be rescued later by a handsome woodsman. The lonely man also suffers from a curse of his own, yet the two of them manage to quickly develop a relationship before the prince’s keepers arrive to take him home. When the witch who cursed them both gets involved once again, the lovers face a crisis which seems to have no solution. How can they ever free and remain together?

I enjoyed both the classic format and the unique elements which made the story deliciously different. This is an example of imagination at its best! I can’t say I would ever have thought to curse someone with a lack of gravity, but the authors make it work. I found the use of flashbacks to explain the curses a bit clumsy, as it broke up the flow of the book and felt artificial. Otherwise, it was a wonderful read and one I highly recommend. You’ll like the cover too!

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Though my writing time this week remained severely limited, I did mange to get a good start on chapter eleven. Word count now stands at 88,000+. It felt good returning to the story!

I had hoped to publish Traitor’s Moon before the end of the year, but it looks doubtful. My new work schedule leaves me with even less writing time than I had before, and I am often so tired I have to use my free time to catch up on sleep. Believe me, I’m just as disappointed as my readers, but my health and ability to pay the bills has to come before my books. I will keep trying, and who knows – it may still happen. I’ll keep you posted!