Writing

Romancing the Vote, 2024 Edition

Get your Democracy Dollars™ ready, everyone, because it’s time for another Romancing the Vote charity auction to support voting rights via Fair Fight and VoteRiders. The auction runs from July 1 – 5, and in the past, Romancelandia and friends have raised nearly $750k for democracy. This year they’re hoping to smash through that million dollar mark!

There are so many fabulous items up for bid, and a bunch of new Buy It Now items will be added throughout the auction, so even if the bidding gets ridiculous, you still might be able to grab something!

I have two items this year. The first is a signed and personalized nine-book set, featuring all three of my trilogies, plus a custom tote with a quote from HTS to hold all of your new books!

If the bidding goes truly bananas and breaks $500, I’m also including the first three chapters of Silver & Blood, my upcoming romantasy, which hasn’t even been edited yet (no one tell my editor 🤫). You’ll get a sneak peek way early and be the envy of your friends and enemies alike. :)

Unfortunately, this auction is US only because that many books is heavy and international shipping is expensive. But never fear, international folks, because the next auction ships worldwide!

My second auction is for a special Bookish Box edition of Hunt the Stars! This was a limited run of hardback books made exclusively for the book box, so they’re a little hard to find, but this one is from my small number of author copies. :) It’s already signed, but I’m happy to personalize it as well.

There’s a quote embossed on the front of the book, teal sprayed edges, custom starry endpapers, and a reversible dust jacket with the original cover as well as an all new cover just for this edition.

If you’ve been around long enough to live through the previous two auctions, you know bidding can get a little intense. We gladly (but lovingly!) stab each other in the back to raise more dollars for voting rights and secure those items that are most precious.

I highly recommend looking at all of the auction items because there are some incredible options. I’m going to highlight a few below, but fair warning, I might be the one sniping your bids. 😘

My agent, Sarah Younger, is offering a 30-minute Zoom session where you can ask her about publishing, querying, or anything else writing-related. I adore Ms. Sarah, and her advice is priceless, so get to bidding!

Ms. Bev (aka Beverly Jenkins) has two items: a hour-long chat and a signed and annotated copy of Indigo. Ms. Bev is an icon in Romancelandia, and a chat with her would be an hour well spent. I was lucky enough to meet her back when I was a baby author just starting out, and she was so warm and so kind, and she made me feel so welcome that I will never forget it. 💕

If crafts are more your thing, there are so many. I will be bitter with envy when this incredible rainbow angel wing shawl immediately zooms out of my budget (if it’s not already, since I’m pre-scheduling this post, lol). I can’t believe I’m even showing you this, wait, let me Jedi mind trick you all into not wanting it:

:waves hands: This is not the shawl you’re looking for.

There, that should do it. 😂

And if you want a little memento of the fun, the RtV folks have created a gorgeous new magnet this year! Just $10 and it’s yours, no backstabbing required.

If you don’t have an 32auctions account yet, I highly recommend setting one up. It’s fast and free, and then you’ll be ready to snap up any Buy It Nows that show up, since they tend to go very fast. It also lets you make a list of favorites to keep an eye on and/or guard possessively.

Good luck and happy bidding! 🎉

Books & Broadswords is Now Available!

Happy new book day! 🎉 Books & Broadswords is out in the world today, in both paper and e. It contains the two stories that were previously posted as free serials on the blog (Books & Broadswords and Rocks & Rapiers) as well as a new bonus epilogue as a thank-you for purchasing the book.

I fell down on promo for this a little bit since life has been busy recently, but I hope you enjoy spending time with Feora, Ansel, Baldric, and Zenira!

Get your copy!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | Bookshop

The purple and white Books & Broadswords cover on a light blue background with a floral border. Available now!

This novella-length volume includes two romantic fantasy stories set in a shared world, each with a guaranteed happily ever after, plus a new bonus epilogue.

Books & Broadswords

The only thing Feora likes more than stealing the king’s gold is using it to buy books. But when a handsome, persistent knight interrupts her day, Feora must decide if saving his life is worth revealing her true nature.

Rocks & Rapiers

Zenira never wanted to sell her rock collection, but when the new landowner raises her rent, she’s out of options. Armed with a sketchy rumor about a collector who will pay for stones others might consider worthless, Zenira sets out, but she’s met with an icy scowl, a muddy manor, and the overwhelming urge to mend the mess—owner included.

Get your copy!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | Bookshop

The Barnes & Noble paperback hasn’t linked up with the ebook listing yet, but it’s available here! If you’d like to order a copy from your local indie, the ISBN is 9781641972895.

Happy reading!!

Let’s Try This Again

The benefit of making your own book cover is that it’s relatively cheap in terms of dollars, though not always in terms of time. The downside is that if it doesn’t look how you expected, you have no one to blame but yourself.

I made the original Books & Broadswords cover, and while I liked it, something about it bugged me, especially at small sizes. So I made another one, then another one, and finally this one, which is the one I’m finally happy with. And since I’ve sent it off to my agency to be updated at the various retailers and I don’t want them to reach through the internet tubes and murder me for being indecisive, this is going to be the final form.

It’s brighter and matches the cozy fantasy vibe a little better. Behold!

Books & Broadswords Volume One cover. White text and sword, book, and magical icons on a purple dragon-scale background.

The new cover is still rolling out to retailers, and since I replaced the file here on my blog without updating the name, you may see the old version until it falls out of the browser cache, but the image above is an entirely new file, so you should be seeing a cover with large white text, a rose border, and various icons on a purple dragon scale background.

If not, blame the gremlins. :)

I finished edits this week, and the print preorder will hopefully go up next week. The stories didn’t change too much, but I did add around 1400 words, bringing the total word count up to just under 35k, so you’ll get a little more story with your story.

If you want to secure yourself a copy for the June 11 release, I’ll drop some handy links below. Happy almost Friday!

Get your copy!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | Bookshop

Sticking the Grovel

A blue outlined book with a blue question mark hovering over it.

Let’s talk about writing craft today, mostly because it’s on my mind thanks to a book by a new-to-me author I read this weekend. I’m not going to name the book, but I want to talk about writing romance in general, and romances with grovels in particular.

First a little groundwork. Genre romance often follows a series of story beats: the couple meets, sparks fly, and while they want to be together, generally something is holding them back. They try anyway or are forced into it somehow, and real affection starts to grow.

Then, right when you think everything is going to be okay: BLAMMO, the bleak moment (this is also called the black moment, but I prefer Alyssa Cole’s “bleak moment” nomenclature). Not every romance has one, but a lot of them do. It’s when all of the things that were originally keeping the couple apart come back around and smack them.

Handled well, the bleak moment has the ability to truly wrench the reader’s heart. That is one of the benefits of romance: no matter how dark the bleak moment may seem, you know they’re going to get together in the end, so you can really feel that sadness and anguish.

After the devastation of the bleak moment, the couple gets together again, stronger than before, and gets their happily ever after. If the bleak moment was caused by one of the main characters, then usually that character will have an epiphany where they realize they were in the wrong and apologize profusely while working like hell to win back their love. This is known as the grovel.

Once again, not all romance books have grovels, but in those that do, they need them to rebuild the trust between the main characters. The bigger—or more damaging—the bleak moment, the bigger the grovel needs to be, because we, as readers, want to believe the main characters love each other and are willing to crawl through fire to prove it. We want to see it, to see the changes love can work on someone.

And this is where things can go really sideways.

Because if the grovel doesn’t work, the whole book falls apart.

If I’ve made it through the bleak moment and the grovel and I still think one of the characters should be punted into the sun, then the romance is dead, and I’m mad, because I’ve spent hours rooting for these characters only to be disappointed.

In the book this weekend, the male main character (MMC), who up until that point had been very likable, did something I considered borderline unforgivable that left the female main character (FMC) devastated and sobbing in the street, which meant the grovel was going to need to be huge and heartfelt.

Instead, the FMC forgave him before he even apologized.

Ugh. UGH!

I skimmed the last ten percent of the book to see if it could be redeemed, but no. The MMC did eventually fix the thing he broke, but it had no impact because that was literally the bare minimum from which the rest of the grovel should’ve been built instead of the sum total of his effort.

So, how do you stick the grovel?

First, read a lot of romance. You should be doing that anyway, if you’re writing romance, and it’ll help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. The Fated Mates podcast did a whole episode on groveling, so if you need some recs, start there.

Then look at the stakes. If it’s a small misunderstanding, an apology and promise to do better is good enough, if you then show the character doing better. But if it’s a huge, heartbreaking moment that drags the reader through an emotional upheaval, then your grovel and resolution needs to be just as big and emotional.

And it needs to be believable. Romance readers are already rooting for the couple. We’re primed to believe they should be together, no matter the odds. But we also want to see that “oh, shit” epiphany and feel how far the MMC (usually) is willing to go to prove his love is true. We want to see him learn and change and grow. To be worthy of love and trust.

We don’t want him to be let off the hook, even—or maybe especially—if “he had good reasons.” Of course he had good reasons; it’s a romance! “Good reasons” come with the territory.

The character doing the groveling should rise from the ashes of the bleak moment with the absolute knowledge that they were wrong and they need to make amends lest they lose the one thing they value—the other MC. Then they should make those amends, to whatever degree necessary. And it should hurt. Not so much in a punitive way, but in a “this is new and scary and what if they don’t forgive me” way.

Baring your soul isn’t easy, change isn’t easy, and groveling shouldn’t be, either.

And while I’d like to tell you that it’s actually very easy to write, I’d be lying. It takes a great deal of skill to write a believable grovel that carries the reader from devastation to cautious hope to joy. But when done well, it appears effortless, like that was the only possible outcome, and of course it all worked out.

Because romance writers are a little bit magic. :)

Happy Leap Day!

This week has been a lot, so I’m not entirely sure I’m happy to have an extra day of February, but here we are. The month decided to end on a bang: this week, a friend suffered a loss, and a family member had a health scare, so fingers crossed that March will calm the eff down.

If you’re seeing this on the blog, you might notice the header image has changed. The last one was a little space specific, and now that I’m branching into fantasy, it needed an update. It will probably change again (as my mood changes, lol), but it’s good enough for now. Don’t worry if you don’t see it yet, caching can take a while to refresh.

I finally have the draft contract for Silver and Blood, so it’s edging ever closer to being a book. Publishing moves at the speed of frozen molasses, but it does eventually move. Most of the time. 😂

Book two is started, though not by a lot. It follows so closely on the heels of book one, that I’m sort of half waiting for edits before getting too far in. If I have to change the end of the first book, then it will definitely affect what I’m writing now. But I’m also trying to get a head start so I don’t burn myself in deadline hell this fall. It’s a delicate balance. :)

I also have edits for Books & Broadswords coming soon-ish, so I’ll have plenty of things to keep me busy. I started poking at a new sci-fi idea—two actually—but that’s kind of how my brain works. As soon as I’m supposed to do something, everything else looks so much better. It’s why I refuse to join book clubs: the very moment reading becomes homework, I will refuse to do it.

It’s chilly and gray out today, which hits especially hard when it was sunny and 90°F two days ago. Though, I wouldn’t mind if the rest of the ninety-degree days held off until July.

A girl can hope. :)

But at least it’s the perfect day for potato soup. Mmm, soup. I hope you’re enjoying your extra day!