Posts Tagged: Devil Mountain Shifters

Writing Erotica

JM & MFIf you have followed my blog at all, you’ve probably heard me mention Marie Force a time or two. I started as a HUGE fan of her work – I even went to her first Reader Weekend in Rhode Island where I got to meet her. I was a total fan girl! I had just started my journey on becoming an author. My goals at that time were to write and publish one book in that year…you’ve heard me talk about how that went…

Fast forward to today. Marie recently gave an interview on what it’s like to write erotic novels for a living and in addition to being a fan girl and reading it, I also related as an author. Now, I’m far from an erotic author – in fact, by most standards, I’m really tame. But I could definitely understand the reactions she encountered from people who knew her when she published her first erotic novel (Virtuous – in the Quantum Series – an excellent book/series). I was born and bred in the Bible Belt – we simply don’t talk about such things. And we definitely don’t admit to reading them! Imagine the surprise from the people who know me when they picked up the first Tip of the Spear book!

I published my first romantic suspense novel, In the Shadows, in March of 2015. This was the first of what will be six (possibly seven) books in the Tip of the Spear series. I will admit that I had to be totally alone to write the first sex scene of my career. I’ve yet to progress to being able to dictate one… When it was finished, I re-read it and thought it was not too bad. There wasn’t anything too graphic. I avoided all the weird words for body parts that drive me nuts as a reader. Overall, I thought it walked the line between too much and leaving you wanting more.

Then my family read it…

My aunt was the first to call me. Thankfully this conversation took place over the phone. All she said was she had gotten to “that part” in the book. She was surprised that something like that came from me – the good girl of the family. I think I turned five shades of red. Really, I don’t know why I was embarrassed. I mean everybody has sex, don’t they?

Then my mother called. Thankfully I live in a different state. She said, “Julie Louise (in the south, pulling out the middle name is dangerous…), I cannot believe chapter sixteen!” We now use “chapter sixteen” as a euphemism to warn about upcoming questionable content. I’m just thankful that she hasn’t read the Devil Mountain Shifter series!

I’m still not sure why they found it so shocking. But I do know that if I ever venture into anything more steamy, I’ll be using a pen name!

Cover Art

Who knew the process of publishing a book was so involved?  When I started this dream, I thought, “Hmmm, I’ll just write and put it out there.” Wow, was that ever wrong! There’s writing, revising, editing, sending it to beta readers and an editor…and that’s just the book. Then there’s the website, social media, and book covers. Whew, it can be exhausting.

Now, there are several sites out there that offer pre-made book covers, and some of them are pretty good. But I happened to have a friend who is a really talented photographer and graphic artist. I can describe to him exactly what I have in mind and he makes it 100% better than I could have imagined. And then there are the times he just creates a masterpiece from his own thoughts.

church

FtoK thumbnailFree to Kill in the Katie Freeman series was the first book I completed and published. It was also the first time I had to actually think of what to do for a cover. Michelle (my social media guru), Ryan and I sat down to begin brainstorming. I gave them a pretty in depth description of the book and what I had in mind. Ryan asked what the church I envisioned looked like, so I started searching online. I found a church in a small town in Kentucky that was PERFECT! But who had the time or money to go to Kentucky? So I started looking for similar architecture in Tennessee. I found the church on the cover of Free to Kill in downtown Nashville – and BONUS! it even had the red door!! The only problem was that it was on a weird street corner with traffic all around and electrical wires obscuring every view. But Ryan took his camera and somehow made the church look like it was in the rural setting from the story. It was the first time I realized what a master he was behind the lens.

From that time on, we have worked to build a theme between the books in a series. This was something I didn’t really think about in the beginning. Take a second to go look at the covers of your favorite book series. Do you see a similarity? That’s called Branding – and it’s vitally important. Who knew!?

With this information, Katie Freeman covers had a color scheme and a main attraction – that was always red. In Free to Kill, it was the door. In Free to Deceive, it was the fountain. In Free to Live, it was the front door of the house (Ryan actually had this cover designed before I published book 2, but it was so perfect for book 3, that we held off on using it). I can’t wait to see what it is in Free to Believe – book four (no release date yet, but shooting for June…).

The same theory applied to the Devil Mountain Shifters books that I released in October. They all had the same mountains in the background and the same physical look.

The Tip of the Spear series was a little trickier. I said from the beginning that I wanted the large spear on the cover with the main image in the center. Ryan still argues with me to change that, and one day I might let him win. But changing that now would mean redoing all the covers so that they are consistent. I think both he and I struggle more with the Tip covers than any other. He sends me beautiful first drafts that would be sufficient if I used them. But there’s just something that doesn’t hit right. He’s become a mind reader when I say “there’s just something not right about it.” One thing I’ve learned is to actually tell him when something doesn’t sit right. That’s a difficult thing to do for a person who hates to make waves. I’m one of those people who will never send food back in a restaurant, just because I don’t want to upset anyone. I’ve had to adjust that mentality for my books. After all, these are my babies. If I don’t speak up for them, who will?

blog pic

Goofing around during the photo shoot for the In The Wind cover.

Ryan Bukowski

Ryan Bukowski, my cover artist and photographer

 

Three Years and Counting…

My friend, Michelle, and I sat down three years ago and had a conversation about where we wanted to go with our careers. Both of us were in jobs that didn’t really call to us. They paid the bills and paid the bills and provided health benefits – you know, the things people want and need to feel secure. But the long-term prospects for those jobs just weren’t satisfying. Instead of letting this conversation become a ‘woe is me’ pity party, we decided to set goals – with time limits and action steps. My goal for that first year was to write and publish one book. Looking back, that was a very naïve and uninformed decision – good thing I’m adaptable.

During the first year, I went to two conferences, signed up for many courses on self-publishing, and started researching the success of some of my favorite authors. Not only did I learn how much more was involved in being a self-published author, I finished not one, but four books. I had headshots taken, got a website up and running, joined several social media platforms, and, yes, published my first book.

Year two brought some major changes to my personal life. I spent several months in transition between day jobs and finally ended up with a job that is perfect for accommodating my second career. I can now leave work at work and go home to spend my evenings and weekends writing.

The third year is coming to a close with my 40th birthday in June. My original goal wasn’t to become a successful, self-supporting author. It was to see if my books had gained traction and, more importantly, if I still enjoyed the process. I’ve worked in the professional world for over 20 years, and the last thing I want is to be pursuing something that doesn’t bring me joy. So, what have I decided, you ask? I love writing! It still fulfills me every time I sit down at a computer. I love dreaming up new stories. I’ve discovered that even something that I do for fun can strike a chord with a reader. Putting in humor has become easier. And, I’m almost over the embarrassment when my parents read an intimate scene that I’ve written…not sure that will ever go away completely!

Blue TempestWhat about my friend Michelle? Well, she too has made adjustments to her day job. She’s expanded her art to several retail spaces around town, started her own social media campaign (in addition to running mine…), and sold several paintings/mixed media art pieces. If you’d like to see her talent, take a look at the photo attached to this blog – it’s one of many of her pieces I’ve purchased.

We might not be successful by society’s definition, but we made it! We’ve set out to do what we outlined. And we’re going to continue to grow and expand and adapt and learn. Most importantly, we’re going to keep creating. Because that’s what brings joy.

Giving Thanks

In America, this week is for giving thanks. That is sometimes difficult to do, especially with all that is going on in the world. The recent terrorist attacks show us a dark side of humanity. Instead of dwelling on all the negative things going on in the world this week, take a minute to hug your family and pull them close.

I was fortunate this past weekend to have Thanksgiving lunch with my grandmother and all my aunts, uncles, and extended family on my mother’s side. I spent an entire day over the stove – baking, roasting, cooking, mashing, and all that comes with making a huge meal. But I was able to do it one more time for my grandmother, and that makes it worth it.

My grandmother taught me to bake and make a meal large enough for an army. We spent several years in a row in her kitchen while I cooked and she supervised. Sure, after the first year I could have done it by myself – but where was the fun in that? My grandmother has been in failing health for several years, and this past year she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. We honestly didn’t think she would be with us for another holiday season. So when it came time to celebrate with the family, I was more than happy to be able to cook her a meal.

IMG_0027There were five generations present at lunch this year. The picture here is of the oldest and youngest of the generations. I am so thankful to have family to hold close.

This year has been full of changes. New job, new friends, new house. It has also brought sadness. The loss of some people I held dear. Through it all, I had family and friends that never stopped supporting me. I was able to publish six books this year, with a seventh coming in December. I have also reached a larger number of fans than I could have anticipated.

All of this to say THANK YOU! Thank you to all of you who have purchased and read my books, whether it was Katie Freeman, Tip of the Spear, or Devil Mountain Shifters. I started this journey to let the characters in my head have a voice and you all have surpassed my expectations with the response to my books.

So even if you are not in America, take the opportunity this week to express your thanks or appreciation to those who make your life whole. Then curl up with a good book and celebrate all you have accomplished in 2015!

Colder weather…hotter scenes…

treesWell, it’s that time of year again – the time when it gets dark outside earlier; the sweatshirts come out of the closet; fragrant stews are on the stove; fireplaces are lit. Most important of all? There’s more time to snuggle with a good book! I’ve had a lot of time to write lately and have big plans for 2016.

DMS websiteBut first, I need to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the readers who have read the new Devil Mountain Shifters series. October was a really busy month for me with the release of the trilogy and the results were better than I could have predicted. It was such a fun series to write and I am ecstatic to see it so well received.

Next up is Katie Freeman, coming December 2015. For all of you who have been following Katie, Free to Live will finally answer the questions from book one. Is Charlene Katie’s mother? Did Charlene kill Hank? I have been enjoying writing this book and winding together the story from 26 years ago and the investigation of the current cold case. It’s so much fun to see how this affects the relationship between Katie and Michael. Ryan Brewer also makes an appearance – and his relationship with Katie could be growing.

I’m not a fan of cold weather – never have been. Anything under 70* is entirely too cold. In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, but this year I’m putting those multiple hours to work getting my own words on paper. I hope to share those words with you in the future. Until then, stay warm.

October Releases

Wow! What a month October has turned out to be. This has been a whirlwind month with the release of the Devil Mountain Shifters series. For those of you who missed last week’s release, check out The Only Wolf, available on Amazon and KU now.

Those of you who enjoyed Dirk and Ada’s story and want more, I’m happy to tell you that Walther and Sascha are next up in the series. Their book is available TODAY!!

Second Mate

Second Mate - FINAL for KindleWalther is happy for his friend, really he is. The only problem is that, with Dirk bonded, he is the only one without a mate. Walther lost his mate ten years ago in the incessant war waged by the enemy pack. Now, his wolf is destined to be alone. Trying to hide his depression and loneliness, Walther dives into his duties as General of the pack – including guarding the visitor from the enemy pack. Surely one little female can’t be that much trouble.

Sascha is the last cub born to her pack, and the last one ever to be born if she can’t find a way to convince the rival pack to let her have access to their lair. But first she has to convince her father that allowing her to proceed with a diplomatic solution is the way to go. Her father would rather continue the war and further deplete their numbers. But is going into the enemy’s lair the best solution, or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

History says a wolf mates for life. But what happens when the sparks fly for a second time?

The series will wrap up with the release of the third book NEXT TUESDAY! Bear to Bond will follow the story of Harald and Ursel as they navigate the obstacles that stand between them and Happily Ever After.

As a teen, Ursel witnessed the explosion of her parents’ relationship and the eventual death of her father. Determined that she will never endure that pain, she has sworn off mating. As the first female alpha of the polar bear pack, she lives a full life leading and helping others. Then Harald crosses her path…

Harald has spent his life as part of a pack that has no future. Their clan is slowly dying out and there is no one left for him to bond with. When his pack merges with their former enemies, he watches as all his friends find mates. Then he catches Ursel’s scent and knows she is the one.

Can Harald convince Ursel to take a chance on their bond? Or will she deny their bond and continue to live a life of loneliness?

And, for those of you who are wondering about Elfi and Konrad, they might make an appearance in Bear to Bond, but you’ll have to read to find out…