The writing of FORBIDDEN MOON

WARNING – spoilers ahead, proceed with caution!

This story was a labor of love, with the emphasis on labor! While it’s the third book I’ve published since the start of the pandemic, it affected Forbidden Moon far more than the others. Though I never contracted COVID-19, pandemic fatigue plagued my writing efforts from the beginning. Distracted by work issues, stress, and the disruption of life routines, my poor brain lacked the energy and creative juices needed for the project.

When I began, I fully expected the process to take about four months. Instead, it launched after eight and a half! There were serious plot issues to fix, doubts to overcome, and days where I couldn’t write anything at all. Bone tired and discouraged, I wondered if the manuscript would EVER be completed. When the glorious day finally arrived, the sky-high word count forced me to cut over eleven thousand words—and it was still too long. I came to the conclusion that Forbidden Moon was destined to be both BIG and beautiful!

Despite the challenges, the book contains some terrific ideas that were fun and exciting to write! It also included a number of firsts for the series:

  • first Black character
  • first human/shifter mating
  • first wedding
  • first visit to the Afterworld
  • first bar scene
  • first shifter-human conflict

It may not be apparent to the reader, but this story wasn’t supposed to have two bad guys. Originally, I intended for Dominic to be the heavy and then make sure he was suitably punished. Well, that idea went out the window about twenty-five percent of the way through, as I came to realize I couldn’t do that to him. I liked the character too much to bring down the full weight of wrath upon his head!

Instead, I cooked up a different but related evil character in the person of Russell. Doing so was no easy feat, and for several weeks the manuscript came to a standstill while I figured out how to integrate him into the story. I was terrified that I’d written myself into a corner and would never get out. That left two options: start the book over or abandon it altogether.

 I can’t recall now exactly how the solution came to me, but it finally did and I got busy writing again. In the end, Dominic unintentionally caused a lot of trouble for the pack, but he goes on to find a better life. On the other hand, Russell became the sketchy character I needed to pull off the dangerous and dramatic portions of the story. Of course, he got what was coming to him.

As mentioned above, this book features my first Black character (RJ). He even made the cover! You may wonder why that’s such a big deal, but I was eager to present him realistically without my own cultural baggage and attitudes. So, I searched for information and found an informative blog post written by a lovely Black author. Her guidance gave me the courage to move ahead with the idea, and I wrote to tell her so. Coincidentally, her mother was also going through stage four cancer treatment, the same as RJ’s mother! I still consider this real-life connection to my fictional characters inspirational.

My favorite story threads were those relating to the romance of Jonah and RJ. I grew to love them as they struggled to build an unconventional relationship under difficult and dangerous circumstances. It was a fun challenge to create and implement an entirely new set of rules for the first shifter-human couple. They turned out to be sweet, funny, and smoking hot in the bedroom! While their future family situation remains unresolved for now, I expect to address the issue in a forthcoming book.

Introducing new characters is always enjoyable (even the bad guys), and this book has quite a few. I found Dominic’s story arc particularly satisfying, and my sassy waitress, Darlene, was a hoot to write! Walter’s nephew, Gray Claw, was another intriguing addition, though there wasn’t adequate time to give him the attention he deserved. Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

I must also mention the importance of recurring characters, as they are the backbone of the series. Readers tell me repeatedly how much they love the Gladstone pack and miss them between books! Honestly, I’ve come to think of them as real people and enjoy watching them grow and change with each new story. The tough part is choosing which ones get the limelight since no single volume could ever contain significant updates on all of them. It’s a somewhat arbitrary decision, but I try to give past characters a chance to shine, whether a little or a lot, in each addition to the series.

Lastly, I want to mention the creation of the book’s cover. This one turned out to be a collaborative effort between the author and the graphic designer. I always look for photos that resonate with me and send them to the artist for consideration. So far, none of my suggestions ever made the final cut. This time, she loved the image as much as I did, and it fit perfectly with the overall design of the series. After a few minor tweaks, it became not only my personal favorite but hers as well.

No one is more invested in a book than the author, and while I love each volume of the Gladstone Shifters, Forbidden Moon is a personal triumph over daunting circumstances. Is it perfect? No. Is it the best in the series? You decide. Am I proud of it? Yes!

NEW RELEASE – Forbidden Moon!

Book four of the Gladstone Shifters series is now live and available on Amazon!

Wolf shifters have kept the secret of their existence for centuries, living in harmony with their human neighbors. Now, a secretive blogger threatens to expose them to the world. While efforts are made to find the dangerous human, packs everywhere tighten their security. Meanwhile, Gladstone is plagued by a series of attacks by unknown assailants. Threatened on every side, Ben must find a way to protect his people or risk losing everything.

Amid the danger, Jonah discovers his long-awaited mate. Trouble is, he’s not what anyone expected. What should have been a joyous union is marred by secrets and deception, presenting Ben and the pack with a difficult problem. Will Jonah’s unconventional mating bring happiness, or has Luna made a serious error?

Join your favorite shifter pack for a thrill ride of danger, secrets, drama, and romance in this fourth installment of the Gladstone Shifters – FORBIDDEN MOON! (Book 4 of 4. Contains steamy M/M content.)

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Your favorite wolf shifter pack has returned! It’s been a while since the last book, and this story is packed with all the goodies you’ve come to expect. With love and danger in the air, Gladstone is in for a wild ride. Don’t miss your next great read – pick up a copy today!

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See what my readers are saying:

“Elliott crafts his best and boldest story here with moments of humor, danger, cultural respect, and topical racism all woven together into an endearing love story. Fast-paced, lovable characters and hot sex! Highly Recommended!!” DC

“Another wonderful book with great characters, interesting plot, and fantastic world-building. It was like coming home, and I hope the series continues. Definitely a five-star read!” AS

“Wonderfully written, with well-developed, likable, and interesting characters. The best book yet and my favorite in the series!” BB

“Mr. Elliott has crafted such a rich reading experience and a world so realistic that I can’t wait for each book to be published. I couldn’t put this one down! He has great attention to detail and wraps up all loose ends while leaving many possibilities for future storylines. Best series installment yet!” KC

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As an indie author, I rely on readers to help promote my books through word of mouth, social media, blog posts, and reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, or any sites where recommendations may be found. Will you help?

If all else fails, send me an email with your feedback. I love hearing from my readers!

New Release! ABUNDANT MOON

Fans have been waiting a long time for this one, and the book is now live on Amazon! It’s been a strange journey for this third installment of the series. In fact, book three was supposed to be something entirely different. I’m pleased as punch with the story and early feedback tells me I have a winner! Take a look at the book blurb and ARC/Beta reader comments.

Get your copy HERE.

Gladstone is preparing for an invasion – of pups! With five little ones on the way, Ben and Evan have their hands full with first-time parents, a daring winter rescue, and disturbing information from Hezekiah’s journals. If that weren’t enough, a visitor arrives with a troubled past and a bond gone awry. Their only hope lies with a risky True Elder intervention that’s never been tried and could end in tragedy.

Join your furry friends for all the fun, drama, and romance you’ve come to expect in this celebration of love and family. Nobody does life like your favorite wolf pack, in book three of the Gladstone Shifters – ABUNDANT MOON! Notice: contains steamy M/M content.

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“Gladstone deserved some happiness after being under attack for so long, and the book flowed nicely as a third installment. The story has enough drama, fun, and romance to satisfy everyone. Readers are going to love it!”

“I’m loving Abundant Moon. You’ve made me laugh and cry – one time in the same chapter! You have a gift, my friend.”

“I am absolutely in love with the characters, story line, and the culture/society you have created. The characters have great depth and many dimensions. Relationships are well-defined and clear. Dialog seems natural and appropriate. The threads to the first two books have continued and are logical. Alex, this is your best book yet!”

The writing of RISE OF THE DRAMAN

The book launched two days ago on April 6, 2020. Here’s how it came to be.

Over a year ago, tired of the series I’d been working on, I decided to take a break and try my hand at a short story. Up to this point, my smallest work came to just under 34,000 words – in the mid-novella range. Could I actually write a short story? I had no idea. Would it be the same as writing a novel? Turns out the answer is a resounding NO!

So, how in the world did my foray into shorts end up as a 109,000 word five-story collection, spread out over 400 days? I’m glad you asked, and as it happens, I have a perfectly reasonable explanation. Hang on – this gets a bit convoluted.

I’d been toying with the idea of a fantasy story involving dragons, which meant a new topic AND genre. The “Grand Experiment” began with Dragon Child, a medieval tale about an orphan boy who accidentally becomes part dragon. I finished it in just under three weeks and quickly realized I had a problem. The manuscript was way too long to qualify as a short story (at nearly 12,000 words!), and there was so much more to say! This wasn’t too surprising, but it left me in a quandary.

My theory has always been to write until the tale has finished telling itself, no matter the word count. Obviously, I was not cut out for short story writing, so I decided to forge ahead anyway with a series of “shorter works”. At the time, I loathed the idea of writing another novel length book, and thought the novelette idea was much more manageable. And so it began, and continued…

By the time books two and three (out of five) were finished, I needed to make a decision about how to market them. The original idea was to publish each one separately, releasing them one at a time over a six month period. All the self-publishing gurus said it would result in greater sales and more recognition for my brand. Exactly what I needed! What I hadn’t figured on was the enormous expense of publishing five titles in quick succession.

With a very small writing/publishing budget, it soon became clear I would never be able to afford the original plan. Instead, I decided to finish the five stories bouncing around in my head and then sell them as a collection. As the months flew by, a number of things (work, health issues, a major move, the holidays) got in the way and slowed my progress considerably. To remain motivated, I decided to serialize the stories and feature them on my blog.

In the end, very few people actually read them, but it gave me the impetus to continue and finish the project. Somewhere in the middle of book four It dawned on me I no longer needed to worry about word count restrictions. This resulted in story number five being three times longer than the others! It also became clear I would have to go back and fix the first four, fleshing them out with all the detail I’d withheld earlier in my quest to keep them short.

It took over two months, but I ended up adding over 28,000 words of new content. In addition, the book now has four beautiful hand-drawn maps to guide my readers! My biggest disappointment is probably the book’s cover, as it is not what I imagined it should be. My go-to cover artist could not even come close to what I wanted, so I went with a pre-made cover site and found one that was workable but not very exciting. Someday, I hope to switch it out for something better.

As I look back now, I recognize how many things I learned in the writing of Rise of the Draman.

  • Creating short stories is talent unto itself, and one I do not have.
  • Fantasy (and dragons) are fun to write!
  • The medieval period is fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the research.
  • I consistently underestimate the time requirements for my WIP.
  • Book descriptions are hard to write, especially for a collection.
  • Though I love my books, I’m sick of them by the time they’re done!
  • Characters really do take on a life of their own, and I come to love them.

I don’t know what the future may bring, but I have a sneaky suspicion I’ll be returning to Croft’s world before long. After all, there are a lot more story ideas waiting in my files!

 

 

 

NEW RELEASE! Rise of the Draman

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Orphaned as an infant, Croft spent his early years in the harsh confines of the Abbey, dreaming of befriending a dragon. When the day finally came, an accident leaves him utterly changed and bonded to a beast named Rueloo. Facing prejudice and fear, Croft builds a quiet life in the nest among his dragon friends – unaware his unique abilities would soon be needed.

With a powerful foe marching towards their borders, King Augustus appeals to the dragon child for his help. Croft’s example of sacrifice, kindness, and bravery inspire the people of Spiredale to unite and overcome. With the dragons, they forge a powerful alliance and embrace an entwined future neither were expecting.

In this five-story collection, join Croft and Rueloo through a series of adventures filled with intrigue, survival, love, sorrow, and triumph. Their bond is only the beginning… (Suitable for ages ten-adult.)

Now available for purchase at Amazon!

 

Weekly Roundup NEW RELEASE! Traitor’s Moon

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

Traitor’s Moon, book 2 in the Gladstone Shifters series, went live on Amazon as of Monday! If you’ve been following my blog, you know how long I struggled to finish the manuscript. With the help of some wonderful beta readers, the book is in great shape and I am very proud of it. It’s a shame I will be unable to market it effectively.

It’s probably safe to assume most indie authors do not enjoy the business side of writing, and marketing is a large part of the angst. It requires computer savvy, money, time, and comes with no guarantee it will work. Will readers buy the book? Will they like it? Will I recoup my expenses? Will I get some great reviews? The only way to find out is put it out there and see what happens. Scary. Risky. Discouraging. Exciting. Uplifting. Rewarding. it’s really a mixed bag.

The hard part for me is not wondering if my book is any good – I truly believe it’s a wonderful story and it represents my best work to date. The difficulty is knowing my marketing efforts will be largely ineffective in reaching my potential readers. Why? Because I lack the know-how, money, and time to do it “right” if I go by all the articles I’ve read. I’m left with doing the best I can with what I have and hope it sort of works out in the end.

So do I continue or throw in the towel? I could give up, but I’m not going to yet! I truly enjoy my writing, and over time I hope to build up enough titles to start bringing in sufficient income so I can hire a marketing professional. What if it never happens? Then I will still have a hobby I love and the pleasure of creating great stories. My dream is not to become rich or famous, simply to earn enough to quit my day job.

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As soon as the promotions for Traitor’s Moon are in place, I can get busy writing again. I wish I could crank out a book every four months, but if the pattern holds true, it will be the fall before the next manuscript is ready. Meanwhile, I have lots of great ideas simmering on the back burner.

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker this week, after finding out he was an avid reader. I don’t know him very well yet, and I had him pegged as the kind of guy who loves nothing better than to park himself in front of the television and watch sports – preferably with a can of beer handy. It was a pleasure to find out I was wrong, and he thought my assumptions were amusing. I told him he was like an onion and I was just now learning things as the layers are peeled away. I enjoy the instant connection with people who love to read – even virtual strangers!

Just a reminder – both books in the Gladstone Shifters series will be on/off sale over the next several weeks, so check my website or book listing on Amazon if you want a good deal.

NEW RELEASE! Expectant Moon

My latest book, Expectant Moon, is now available for purchase! Order from Amazon

 

Take a look at what others are saying:

“Expectant Moon is everything a great shifter romance novel should be. Steamy scenes, fantastic drama and some very surprising new ideas. I loved this book and look forward to the second installment. This is a series I already know I will be rereading multiple times.”

“Wonderful! Elliott introduces new ideas to the shifter genre and does it quite successfully, and I would love to meet some of the characters in person. It was a joy to read and I am anxious to get my hands on the next one!”

“Love, love, love it!!! Hurry up and write the next one!”

“Once again Alexander Elliott has created a world full of people I want to know, and a story I don’t ever want to end. The premise is completely plausible, the characters are robust and real, and the story line will grab you from the start.”

 

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Tolerated. Ignored. Threatened. Modern gay shifters struggle for equality, but history paints a different picture. When Alpha Ben Blair challenges the status quo, he unintentionally ignites a controversy which divides the community.

While Gladstone soon becomes the focus of competing forces, Ben gains new allies who change everything: Evan Reid, a misunderstood Arctic wolf possessing unique gifts, and Jack Eby, an ancient shifter holding the key to their future.

Join the Gladstone shifters as they find love, acceptance and purpose in a time of monumental change. Expect the unexpected. Expectant Moon.

Notice: Contains male/male romance and sexuality. Recommended for readers 18+.

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