A Peek at Here Be Dragons

Here be Dragons, the Dragonfire Companion and guide to the paranormal romance series by Deborah CookeSome of you have asked me why Here Be Dragons is taking so long to reach publication. Part of the answer is that it’s a big book! I wanted to give you a peek today at what will be in the book, and a glimpse at the process that’s taking the time.

The table of contents for Here Be Dragons looks like this right now:

1. The Books

  • The World of Dragonfire
  • Overview
  • Kiss of Fire
  • Kiss of Fury
  • Kiss of Fate
  • Winter Kiss
  • Harmonia’s Kiss
  • Whisper Kiss
  • Darkfire Kiss
  • Flashfire
  • Ember’s Kiss
  • Kiss of Danger
  • Kiss of Darkness
  • Kiss of Destiny
  • Serpent’s Kiss
  • Firestorm Forever

2. Glossary of Terms

3. List of Characters

4. Family Trees

  • The Byzantine Line
  • The Caledonian Line
  • The Caledonian Line II
  • The Line of the Cantor
  • The Celtic Line
  • The Dragon Legion
  • The Line of the Drakkir I
  • The Line of the Drakkir II
  • The Eastern Line
  • The Hibernian Line
  • The Roman Line I
  • The Roman Line II
  • The Line of the Smith

5. The Interviews

  • Quinn on hereditary roles
  • Donovan on Pyr vs. Slayer
  • Erik on the Pyr
  • Delaney on the Dragon’s Blood Elixir
  • Niall on affinities
  • Rafferty on the firestorm

6. Harmonia’s Kiss


Right now, the book is about 190,000 words and I’m still compiling. Firestorm Forever, in contrast, is 211,000 words and is 612 pages in trade paperback. Here Be Dragons is getting close to that size, but will be a bit smaller.

I had started this world guide myself, and then hired someone with experience in compiling other world guides to take over and finish it. Her contribution took almost a year, for a whole bunch of reasons, and she focused on compiling chapter-by-chapter summaries of the books. These are great, but I wanted a character list and a glossary, too. That’s what I’ve been working on.

For example, here’s my original listing for Marco, the Sleeper:

Marcus Maximus aka Marco (the Sleeper)—The nephew of the Slayer Magnus Montmorency and ward of Rafferty’s grandfather, Pwyll. When Magnus murdered his brother Maximilian because that Pyr had a firestorm, Maximilian’s mate and infant son were taken into protective care by Rafferty’s grandfather. The boy was enchanted to sleep until the darkfire burned, in order to hide him from Magnus. The Sleeper awakens in Darkfire Kiss. Marco is particularly tranquil and observant, and has the ability to both control and anticipate darkfire. Marco has his firestorm with Jacelyn in Firestorm Forever.

I intended for this to be fleshed out with his role over the series, each time he appeared. The world guide compiler added these details:

Dark hair
Dark eyes
Black with blue-green shimmer in dragon form
Affinities: Fire and air
First appears in Darkfire Kiss, Ch. 19 (though is seen “sleeping” prior to that)

That’s great, but still a lot less than I’d hoped. Here’s Marco’s current entry in the world guide, which does still need to be edited – I’ll format the excerpts so they look different from the main text:

Marcus Maximus aka Marco (the Sleeper)—The nephew of the Slayer Magnus Montmorency, son of Maximilian and Cornelia, and ward of Rafferty’s grandfather, Pwyll. When Magnus murdered his brother Maximilian out of jealousy for that Pyr’s firestorm, Cornelia and her infant son were taken into protective care by Rafferty’s grandfather. The boy was enchanted to sleep until the darkfire was released, in order to hide him from Magnus, and has been hidden at Bardsey Island by Rafferty. Pwyll used the power of darkfire to cast his spell over Marcus, and trapped the rest of the darkfire within three quartz crystals.

At the beginning of Darkfire Kiss, Chen shatters one of the three darkfire crystals and looses the darkfire. The Sleeper stirs in his sleep and the darkfire burns brighter in the crystal in Rafferty’s hoard, indicating his state. When Magnus abducts Melissa, he tries to barter with Rafferty, offering her life in exchange for the Sleeper. They fight instead and the fight moves to the refuge after Jorge locates the Sleeper and attacks. When Magnus is killed and Jorge trapped, Donovan carries the Sleeper to safety, only to have the Sleeper follow the darkfire to Rafferty’s lair in London. He awakens at the end of that book when Rafferty uses the darkfire crystal to rouse him. He can see the dead and talk to them, because he sees Pwyll in Rafferty’s home and facilitates a reunion between the two.

Marco is particularly tranquil and observant, and has the ability to both control and anticipate darkfire. He has dark hair and dark eyes. In dragon form, he is black with a blue-green shimmer, evocative of his bond with darkfire. His affinities are for fire and air. The Pyr find him enigmatic. The darkfire Marco commands gives him the ability to spontaneously manifest in other locations; he shows a tendency to suddenly appear when needed that hints at foresight, though it’s not clear whether Marco or the darkfire has the ability to anticipate the future.

In Flashfire, Marco manifests in Lorenzo’s car, asking that Pyr to surrender the darkfire crystal in his possession. Lorenzo admits that it’s gone (Drake has claimed it) but Lorenzo goes to the house to be sure. En route, he taunts Lorenzo with the word Diavolo, proving that he can read Lorenzo’s thoughts, a skill Lorenzo finds troubling.


It was a point of pride that he never lost control, but he had lost control in the theater.

And he’d threatened JP in old-speak.

Lorenzo frowned and accelerated, telling himself that it wouldn’t happen again.

“Yes, it will,” Marco murmured beside him.

Lorenzo glanced at his companion in wary surprise. Had he heard Lorenzo’s thoughts?

“I did,” Marco supplied, with a serenity that annoyed Lorenzo. “Again. It’s the legacy of the darkfire, I think. I can hear the thoughts of all the Pyr.”
—from Flashfire


Marco also reveals that Lorenzo’s father was involved in the disappearance of the crystal. He collects the pieces of Chen’s brand, acknowledging the darkfire linked to them, and disappears. Marco attends the repair of Lorenzo’s scale in Venice.

In Ember’s Kiss, Marco appears when Liz is battling Chen, shooting the Slayer with the darkfire crystal. He gives the darkfire crystal to Liz, whose powers as a Firedaughter are shown by her ability to use the crystal as a weapon. He advises her to embrace her powers and help Brandon. She uses the crystal to defeat Chen on their next battle.

In Serpent’s Kiss, Marco collects a prophecy from Sara, manifesting suddenly in the home she shares with Quinn. He appears to Lorenzo in Venice when Jorge is suggesting an alliance to Lorenzo in old-speak. Marco simultaneously suggests that he and Lorenzo form the alliance of five Pyr mentioned in Sara’s prophecy, including Erik, Thorolf and Brandon. He guards Cassie and Antonio while Lorenzo meets Jorge. Marco retrieves the darkfire crystal from Liz, appearing in the bedroom of Liz and Brandon’s sons during the night. He later reveals to the Pyr that Chen has a brother and uses the darkfire to help Niall in his Dreamwalking, giving him a glimpse into Chen’s lair. He breaks the crystal, releasing the darkfire, knowing it will free Lee. He waits in a market in Bangkok, ultimately finding Lee and escorting him to the other Pyr. Marco attends the repair of Thorolf’s scale at Angkor, appearing after the other Pyr are gathered in a flicker of darkfire.

In Firestorm Forever, Marco has his firestorm with Jacelyn. He meets her originally because of her interest in hunting dragons, having followed the darkfire’s urge to move into the same building in Seattle, and is the first to recognize her link with Nathaniel. He gives her Sigmund’s book—which he stole from Erik’s hoard. He also has stolen the last darkfire crystal, the one that Drake returned to Erik at the end of Kiss of Danger, because there’s a spark of darkfire in it again. The theft convinces Erik that Marco is turning against the Pyr. Marco receives the prophecy while he dreams in his apartment and writes it on the wall.

Jac sees both the prophecy and the crystal when she visits him, and joins Marco when he goes to Easter Island. There’s a strong attraction between them and they’re intimate. But Marco is horrified when Jac seizes the darkfire crystal and injures his mentor and friend, Rafferty. He abandons her to help Rafferty, which only makes it possible for Jorge to forge an alliance with Jac. The Pyr assume that Marco fired the crystal and abducted Rafferty, which reinforces the idea that he is betraying them. In fact, he takes Rafferty to Sloane, using the ability to spontaneously manifest elsewhere given to him by the darkfire, in order to see Rafferty healed and also to disguise his identity. (Rafferty is in dragon form but so badly injured that Marco knows he will rotate between forms, in front of a large crowd of people and television crews.)

Marco feels betrayed by the darkfire and refuses to help Sloane with the Cantor’s song, which Sloane hopes will draw the darkfire out of Rafferty’s body. He returns to Easter Island, argues with Jac, then finds her with Jorge. Even though he doesn’t trust her, she’s still a treasure of the earth, so he remains to defend her without her knowledge, breathing dragonsmoke around the hotel where she sleeps. When he returns to Seattle, he finds Jorge in his apartment. Jorge is stealing Sigmund’s book and has burned a spell spiral in the floor like Chen’s. Marco is trapped by the spell and has his energy drained by Jorge’s dragonsmoke, while Jorge escapes with the book.

I like that Jac rattles Marco, who has always been very composed and serene. She infuriates him and challenges his assumptions, even undermining his intuitive faith in darkfire. I think she’s good for him. Interestingly, while Marco lies ill in his apartment, Jac senses his protective presence. She even thinks she sees him one night when she wins a dart game at a local bar in Seattle. The darkfire rouses Marco during the second eclipse in Firestorm Forever, healing him, regaining his trust and giving him the power to go to Jac. She’s in Australia, hunting dragons, as arranged by Jorge. The pair reconcile and are intimate again before their firestorm sparks. His identity as a Pyr is revealed to Jac—who has read Sigmund’s book and recognizes the firestorm for what it is—and she flees, even as he feels compelled to shift to his dragon form.

Jac stumbles into Jorge’s clutches, and she realizes that he’s Slayer just before the dragonfight begins. Marco defends Jac and they fight together, until Jorge snares a wounded Marco in his dragonsmoke, draining his energy. Jorge also rips one of Marco’s dragon scales free. Marco asks for the Elixir, hoping that Jorge will take him to his lair and he’ll have the chance to trick the Slayer. Brandon hears his entreaty, which enforces the conviction of the Pyr that Marco intends to change sides, just before Jorge, Marco and Jac disappear. (Liz argues with Brandon about this, as she remains convinced of Marco’s integrity.) Once in Jorge’s lair, Marco feigns unconsciousness while Jac pumps the Slayer for information. Jorge is suspicious, though, and breaks Marco’s lost scale. The pair fight and Marco uses dragonsmoke to drain Jorge’s strength, building his own power so that they can escape the lair. With Jac’s help—she shoves a burning candle in Jorge’s eye and encourages Marco to put the Dracontias in his mouth—they escape the lair, leaving it burning with Jorge wounded on the floor.

When they manifest at the Holiday Inn in Virginia, near Sam’s house, Marco knows that the darkfire—which helped him move through space—intends for them to take the Dracontias to Sam. He’d thought that Rafferty would need it to heal, but trusts the darkfire. Jac insists that she won’t consummate the firestorm without being sure that her son will have a father, and Marco takes that as a challenge to win her heart.


“Good. It means the darkfire is working for and against us.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That darkfire has governed my life and darkfire has its sparks in my firestorm, too. Think about it: you’re the least likely candidate to be the destined mate of a Pyr. What are the odds of my having a firestorm with the one mortal woman on the planet sworn to wipe my kind from the face of the earth?”

“Pretty long, I’d think.”

“More than long. It’s completely improbable. It defies expectation and challenges assumptions, both yours and mine.” He seemed to find this reassuring.

“Like darkfire does,” Jac said and Marco nodded.

“Darkfire pushes and pulls, inverts situations and challenges us to see things in new ways. Like the way you fought Jorge and the Slayers. Like the way we both excite and get at each other. Darkfire is lighting our firestorm and making both of us reconsider what we believe to be true.”

“But that doesn’t change everything. I’m still not going to have your son.”

Marco smiled the smile of a man accepting a challenge. He turned a glittering glance on Jac, one that reminded her of what he was and also what they’d done before, one that dissolved her resistance and put her body on his side. The flames of the firestorm seemed to sizzle with greater heat.

“Which only means that I’m going to have to change your mind,” he murmured and Jac knew it wasn’t going to be as hard for him to succeed as she might have hoped.
—from Firestorm Forever


With Marco’s encouragement, Jac tells him about Nathaniel and about her own history. He tells her that he thought Pwyll was his grandfather—obviously this was clarified when he awakened in Darkfire Kiss and met Rafferty. (There is a continuity error in the original edition of Firestorm Forever: Marco tells Jac that he’s been enchanted for “fourteen or fifteen hundred years”. This is impossible, as he was born in 1055, so it’s been corrected to “over a thousand years” in the new edition.) When Jac takes the Dracontias to Sam, Marco retrieves the darkfire crystal from Sloane’s home. He can’t separate it from Rafferty, who needs its healing power, so he takes both of them. (Rafferty is in his salamander form.) Melissa witnesses this, which adds to the Pyr doubts of Marco’s intentions. Marco and Jac then restore Rafferty with the heat of their firestorm. Rafferty then tactfully leaves, having the energy to spontaneously manifest elsewhere. Marco and Jac resolve to wait until the end of the Dragon’s Tail War before satisfying the firestorm, then are attacked by one of the Boris clones.

This clone of Boris offers Marco a deal, suggesting that they become partners, use Jorge to make a new batch of the Elixer, triumph over the Pyr and rule the Slayers together. Marco agrees, although he plans to betray the clone. He believes that the alliance will give him the inside information to ensure Erik’s survival. Marco turns on the clone when Erik is cornered and Erik sees Marco’s blood run red, which convinces him of Marco’s loyalties. Jac helps Eileen and Zoë escape, and also destroys the clone with the darkfire crystal. Marco offers the heat of the firestorm to heal Erik’s wounds and the leader of the Pyr accepts. Marco loses a scale at this moment and Jac confesses her love to him after she catches it, because she knows what it means. They retreat to satisfy their firestorm in private.

For the final battle, Marco joins Donovan, Erik, Lorenzo and Quinn at Quinn’s home to defend Erik in the inevitable attack by clones. He uses the darkfire crystal as a weapon until it goes dark. When the antidote to the Elixir is spilled, Marco goes to Sloane at Machu Picchu to get more. He takes two syringes, empties one into a Slayer brought to him by Rafferty, then returns to Michigan in time to innoculate the last clone. Erik sends him to check on the other two battles, and he witnesses the spark of Sloane’s firestorm. He spontaneously manifests with Sloane, taking Sloane closer to his mate, and they end up at Quinn’s place in Michigan. Sloane follows the spark from there. (Sam is in Ann Arbor.) Marco and Jac buy Sam’s house in California, becoming Sam and Sloane’s neighbors. Marco’s missing scale is repaired at the ceremony at Erik’s lair in Chicago and he participates in the Pyr’s last televised appearance, the darkfire indicating that his firestorm will burn forever.


Here be Dragons, the Dragonfire Companion and guide to the paranormal romance series by Deborah CookeIt’s just a bit more detailed. 🙂

Here Be Dragons will be published on January 14. (There will be a new Amazon link on that day.) Have you reserved your copy yet?

Pre-order ebook at:
Apple
KOBO
Nook

Welcome to 2020!

It’s a brand new year! What will you do in 2020? What will you change? What will you accomplish?

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but I’ll take any opportunity to review and revise. The start of a new year is a good time to do that. First, let’s take a look at things I learned in 2019.

Bad Case of Loving You, book #6 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeAccomplished in 2019
• I published four new books last year: Bad Case of Loving You, Under the Mistletoe, Maeve’s Book of Beasts and Dragon’s Kiss.

• I also published revisions of three titles: One Knight’s Return, Unicorn Bride and Pearl Beyond Price.

• I published four new Dragonfire boxed sets: Dragonfire Quest, Dragonfire Elixir, Dragonfire Reunion and Dragonfire Triumph.

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah Cooke• I started to initiate translations of my historical romances and published my first two Italian translations. (You can find Claire’s translations here.)

• I attended two conferences, a reader conference (Romancing the Capital) and a writers’ conference (Romance Mastermind). I taught a workshop at RTC.

Lessons from 2019:
Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new edition• A year ago, I was wondering where my days were going. It seemed that I didn’t have much time to write, even though I planned to do so every morning and spent all day at my desk. So, I started a spreadsheet, documenting exactly what I did every day and how long it took. The answer became clear very quickly: I knew that being my own publisher took time, but those publishing jobs were taking a lot more time than I’d realized. Part of this was because I’ve republished a lot of older books in the last couple of years. I’ve been streamlining my publishing processes, experimenting with timing – either a publishing day per week or a few publishing afternoons in a row seems to work well.

Dragonfire Quest, volume one of the Complete Dragonfire Novels digital bundles including Kiss of Fire, Kiss of Fury and Kiss of Fate from the Dragonfire novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke• I experimented again with KDP Select and was underwhelmed again by results. Switching between wide distribution and exclusive-to-Amazon distribution is a lot of work, so I’m sticking with wide distribution for the foreseeable future. I may write some projects specifically for KDP Select, but we’ll see.

• Recognizing that my focus had shifted from writing to publishing, I started a creativity journal last winter. I bought a planner and a lot of stickers, then tracked and celebrated how much I wrote each day. Having it open on my desk helped me to write first, then turn to the other jobs after the writing was done. I really like the stickers, which is silly but it’s effective. I wrote 700K words last year, which is really a lot for me. I’ve already set up my new journal for 2020. (And it has stickers in it already!)

One Knight's Return, book #2 of the Sayerne series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix• Those are pretty big take-aways from 2019, but there was another big one. A year ago, I thought I could republish some older Claire Delacroix titles easily. I knew I had a full schedule with launching DragonFate, plus finishing up Flatiron Five and Secret Heart Ink, and didn’t want Claire’s readers to be neglected. I chose three books that had been published by Harlequin, blocked in a week to proofread the scanned book files, and scheduled them for publication. That plan had worked well for the Bride Quest and Dragonfire. It didn’t work for these books. They needed revisions to the point that it would have been easier to just write new books. Those revisions added a ton of stress to my year, because I miscalculated and hadn’t left enough time for them. There isn’t a lot of upside to doing these revisions either – while it’s nice to have the books available again, they aren’t the stories I’d write now and they don’t have a huge following. My time really would be better spent writing new books. At this point, four of Claire’s eleven Harlequin Historicals have been revised and republished in new editions, and there won’t be more in the foreseeable future.

Pearl Beyond Price, book two of the Unicorn Trilogy of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix• Another milestone from 2019 was initiating translations of my books. My Italian translator and I are making good progress on the Jewels of KinfairlieThe Beauty Bride is available and The Rose Red Bride is publishing, while she is translating The Snow White Bride. I’m waiting on the Portuguese (Brazil) translation of The Beauty Bride and will have the German translation this winter. It’s been a very interesting process, with lots to learn, and many new connections to make.

The Year Ahead
Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeFor the past year or so, I’ve been aware that I’m coming to the end of existing series for each of my author brands. Last year, I launched DragonFate for my Cooke paranormals, and I’m really pleased with Dragon’s Kiss. I’m having fun with that series and looking forward to its continuation. I’m in a similar place with my contemporary romances – Secret Heart Ink is done and after Some Like it Hot, Flatiron Five will be done. (Maybe. I’m not sure where Nate’s story fits yet. It might be a novella at the end of the series.) And Claire needs a new series, too. So, I’ve been planning and dreaming. The hardest part is always deciding between competing ideas.

Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion by Deborah CookeRight now, these titles are scheduled for publication in 2020:
Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion – January
Flatiron Five: The First Collection – January
Some Like it Hot – February
All’s Fair in Love and War – March
Dragon’s Heart – May
Dragon’s Mate – October

That’s about 300K of new words right there.

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeI really want to get ahead of the publishing cycle this year, and get back to having books done and uploaded at least a month or two before their publication dates. I also want to publish linked books more closely together. That means the calendar is going to look empty for a bit as I write and work to get ahead of the curve. (You can see that gap in the schedule above.) The plan is that by the time you see the cover reveal and the pre-order, the book will be complete.

I’ll be filling some of those inevitable gaps with boxed sets. The new Flatiron Five bundle Flatiron Five: The First Collection comes out this month, at a special price. Claire has a new boxed set, All’s Fair in Love and War, coming in March and there will be other trope-based bundles. I’m hoping to write and publish some shorter works, too, to keep you reading while I write away.

Dragon's Heart, book three of the DragonFate Novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeI’m also revising my schedule to keep my focus squarely on writing. I’m not teaching anymore or making treks to writing group meetings. I attended two conferences last year and while they were great, this year, I’m staying home to write.

This year, it’s all about the words—and the self-care. A year and a half ago, I started walking 4 km every day and that’s become a habit. I really miss it if I skip a day. I’ve added yoga at least three times a week, too. I’m still not very good at it, but it does make me feel better. 🙂 I’ve cut back on social media commitments, too.

Of course, there’s still knitting and crafting. I’ll show you a new sweater tomorrow on Fiber Friday.

I hope you have exciting plans for 2020. Let’s make it a great year!

Read an Excerpt from Dragon’s Kiss

Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeThe first full-length paranormal romance in my DragonFate series will be published in November. Pre-orders are live at most portals, and there’s a new excerpt posted on the Dragonfire Novels website. (DragonFate is set in the same world.) Meet the heroine, Bree, in the prologue from the upcoming Dragon’s Kiss.

Dragon shifter and Pyr warrior Kristofer follows the spark of his firestorm into Maeve’s dark realm, only to discover that it’s an illusion and a trap, not his firestorm at all. The fake mate who lures him into Fae is another species threatened by Maeve – Brianna is a Valkyrie, whose sister has been imprisoned by the dark queen. Brianna has to collect a Pyr soul to save her sister, but Kristofer doesn’t intend to die just yet. Trapped by Maeve, Kristofer and Brianna reluctantly join forces to save her sister—even when they discover that their skills are complementary, they know that there can be no future between a mortal Pyr and an immortal collector of souls. How much will either surrender to triumph over Maeve? And what will they do when the firestorm sparks in truth?

Coming November 26, 2019

Pre-order ebook at:
Amazon.com
Apple
KOBO
Nook
Books2Read Universal Link

Read an excerpt from Dragon’s Kiss

Schedule Changes & Amazon Pre-Orders

Dragon's Kiss, book #2 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeIn writing and publishing circles, there’s a lot of discussion about rapid release schedules, i.e. publishing linked books in rapid succession. While I think this is a good idea, it’s not my preferred way to work. I like to take a break from a given world and then come back to it with fresh eyes for the next book in the series. So, I’m going back to my tried and true, because I think I write better books that way. So, I’ve moved the publication dates for the next three DragonFate novels, which will give me time to do other writing in between.

Also, Amazon opened the option of creating longer pre-orders yesterday, so I’ve added the Amazon pre-orders for Some Like It Hot (February) and Pearl Beyond Price (December).

Dragon’s Kiss will be published in November instead of October. This is the last of the halo from Bad Case of Loving You requiring a big revision. The pre-order is up at all portals, now.

Dragon's Heart, book 3 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeDragon’s Heart will be published in May. I’ve just added the pre-order for Amazon.

Dragon’s Mate will be published in October 2020. This date will remain incorrect at Nook until November, as pre-orders can’t be scheduled more than a year in advance at that portal. (I just learned that. Who knew?) There isn’t a pre-order at Apple anymore, because they can’t be scheduled more than a year out. The listing disappeared when I moved the date and I expect it will reappear at the end of October. There isn’t a pre-order at Amazon on this one because it’s too far out.

Here be Dragons, the Dragonfire Companion and guide to the paranormal romance series by Deborah CookeOn the upside, some other things can slide into the months in between. For example, Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion will be published on December 31. The pre-order links are live for this one now, even at Amazon, and it’s going to be a fat book.

I’m excited about this. Having the pre-orders up makes me feel organized and I like having a bit more time between books.

Secret Heart Ink & Short Stories

Snowbound, #1 of the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeSome of my books have come out of KDP Select and are back in wide distribution.

The first three books in Secret Heart Ink are available wide again, just in time for Chynna’s story to join them.

In Snowbound, you’ll meet the three friends from Honey Hill, Maine, on their girls’ weekend trip to New York – they attend the opening of Chynna’s tattoo parlor at Flatiron Five and Olivia wins the first moon tattoo from Chynna. It tempts her to take a chance and be with Spencer, Lexi’s big brother and Olivia’s secret crush. Snowbound has been discounted to 99 cents at all portals.

Spring Fever is Reyna and Kade’s story. Reyna is an established customer of Chynna’s but when she accepts a secret heart tattoo, her romantic luck changes—but can she leave her past behind to trust in a future with Kade? Spring Fever is now priced at $2.99 US.

One Hot Summer Night, #3 of the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeOne Hot Summer Night is a second chance romance for Gabe and Lexi. Gabe reveals an old secret and learns of an even bigger one that Lexi has kept. Can this pair heal each other and build a future together? It’s their Christmas wedding that Chynna attends in Under the Mistletoe, which pretty much tells you the answer. One Hot Summer Night is now priced at $2.99 US.

Don’t forget to pre-order Under the Mistletoe, coming September 24. This is Chynna’s story and a holiday romance – you’ll also see Theo get his tattoo in this story, which takes place at the same time as Bad Case of Loving You.

An Elegy for Melusine is one of the short stories. This is a retelling of a medieval fairy tale and also linked to the DragonFate series – Mel and the ghost Raymond are characters in that series.

Coven of Mercy, a short story and vampire romance by Deborah CookeCoven of Mercy is a short story, also available at all portals again. This story introduces Micah and Rosemary, as well as the Coven of Mercy itself. They all appear in DragonFate, too.

Beguiled, a collection of short stories, is available in wide distribution again. It had to be taken down because two of the stories included in it were enrolled in KDP Select.

Kindle Unlimited Update

This summer, I put some books into KDP Select, which means you can read them free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. This was an experiment – I think KU skews to new content not backlist, and also to frequent publicataion. My suspicions have been proven right this summer, at least for my books. As a result, these titles will be going back into wide distribution at the end of their 90 day term in KU and I wanted to give you fair warning of the change.

The Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke
The first three books in the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances are currently in KU, but will finish their term September 1 and go wide again. This will make them available at all portals in time for the publication of the fourth and final book in the series, Under the Mistletoe.

Coven of Mercy, a short story and vampire romance by Deborah Cooke An Elegy for Melusine: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Claire Delacroix Beguiled, a collection of short stories and novellas by Claire Delacroix and Deborah Cooke

Coven of Mercy and An Elegy for Melusine will also finish their term in KU on September 1 and go wide. This will make them available at all portals before Dragon’s Kiss is published, which is good since they are connected to the DragonFate Novels. I’ll also republish the collection Beguiled (which includes both of those stories) at all portals in September.

If you’re a KU subscriber, grab your copies this month!

On New Series – and Stalking the Muse

Last week, I started this Monday column – for lack of a better word – for a reader update on the state of the empire, so to speak, and some musings on a creative life. Last week, I wrote about the last six and a half years of being indie, and making the transition from traditional publishing. I wrote about bats, too. 🙂 This week, we’ll look ahead at the work in progress and books coming soon, then talk a bit about sewing.

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeWhat can you expect in book releases from me in the next year? Well, there’s a tiny bit of finishing up to do yet. Under the Mistletoe is the fourth and final book in the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances and it will be available in September. Some Like it Hot is the seventh and final book in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances and it will be available in February. I know that all of the partners have their happily-ever-after, but I wanted to take one last peek in at the club, and leave them with a new means of recruiting models for their Times Square billboard. It’s true that there are characters who still need their stories told – Hunter, Sonja, Rachel, Nate – but the current plan is for Some Like it Hot to end the series.

It’s entirely possible that there could be a spin-off series, or that these characters could find their HEA’s in another series (which is a much more interesting proposition to me.)

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionOver on the historical side, my Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances is still in progress. I think this will be scheduled at a book a year or so, at least for the time being, with some shorter works or republished works in between. One Knight’s Desire is the next Rogues & Angels book, and I’m hoping to publish it in the spring. I’m enjoying researching and writing this series and want to savor the process a little. 🙂

Unicorn Bride is the next republished work for Claire and will be published later this month. I’m not sure what the next one will be. I have covers done for the Rose trilogy, but they need some work to be a more closely-knit series.

The shorter stories in between will be Kinfairlie Tales. I have covers done for three of them and will tell you more about each one when it’s available for pre-order.

Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeThen there’s entirely new work. The most obvious example of that is the DragonFate series of paranormal romances, which is a new series featuring my dragon shapeshifter heroes, the Pyr. The prequel, Maeve’s Book of Beasts, was published earlier this summer, and the first full-length romance in this series, Dragon’s Kiss, will be published in October.

This series is proving to be a lot of fun to write, because there are lots of other paranormal creatures in the Dragonfire world and now they all have to band together to defeat Maeve. You know that vampires aren’t going to get along with anyone, that dragon shifters are going to lose their tempers and get fiery, and that the dark fae will be tricksy. Throw in a slow-burn romance between a librarian and the hot vampire she knows is no good for her, and a firestorm between a dragon shifter and a Valkyrie, and New York night life will become very interesting.

There are a few more things in the works, but that’s plenty to talk about today.

The thing about writing for me is that I can’t write all the time. I generate new content for maybe four hours a day. In the past, when I was traditionally published, I would spend the rest of the day doing other stuff and letting my ideas for the next day’s writing percolate. Sometimes there was promotional stuff to do; sometimes there were publishing jobs (like reviewing proofs) to finish. At least half of the time, though, I would do other things, activities that had nothing directly to do with writing and publishing. I would sew. I would garden. I would knit. I would walk or ride my bike. I would go to an art gallery or a museum, or go shopping. I would cook or try out a new recipe. All of these activities – and more – cut my imagination loose to figure out what came next in my book, and by the time I sat down at the computer the next morning, I knew what to write. They also gave me a more balanced schedule and a healthier lifestyle.

Going indie changed that schedule. I still write for three or four hours each morning, but for the past few years, I had publishing tasks to do, each and every day. My ToDo lists were so long (and remain that long) that I never finished them. So, I spent more time at my desk and my imagination had less time to play. Writing became a little harder each day. I gained some weight and my stress levels rose.

On Writing by Stephen KingSo, taking a step back from the business of publishing my books is an excellent personal decision in many, many ways. I’m glad that the rate of change in the digital marketplace has slowed to the point that I feel comfortable doing that. About a year ago, I realized that my ToDo list was never going to be done and made my peace with some things just not happening. (This was tough and I still struggle with the imperfection of it.) I switched my office – which was in a large bedroom in our house – with our TV room, which is a smaller room. This felt like assigning the writing to its proper role in my life. Stephen King talks about making a similar change in his book On Writing, which is an excellent work that I think every author should read. I also divided this new office, putting my sewing table in there as well as my desk. I started to walk more last year which made me feel a lot better.

One stressful element of spending so much time at the desk, battling the endless ToDo list, is that the muse, the source of ideas and creativity, becomes more elusive. I knew I needed her back.

I revisited a favorite resource of mine, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This series of books features readings and exercises to help creatives restore and feed their souls, and I highly recommend it. It’s invaluable when trying to balance commerce and creativity. There actually are a number of books in this series – this is the first one, but I’ve worked through three of them.

I need to create other things in order to create stories. I need to play with colour and texture in order to tempt my muse to visit regularly. Sewing is one of the ways I create but I had packed it all away. I was still buying fabric, but just packing it away! Two years ago, I first tried Japanese sewing patterns, which tend to be of simple, classic shapes. This year, I have a collection of Japanese pattern books and am working on some more new garments from them. I have an astonishing stash and have begun to cut into it. This year, I also started to sew with knits for the first time and told you about that when I made some Mirri dresses.  This summer, I learned more about fitting garments, which is a fascinating business. I also pieced a new quilt top this year, the Escher quilt.

I also am making good progress on weeding and mulching my gardens this year. Weeds are similar to ToDo lists, in that they’re never all eradicated, but it’s very satisfying to clear them out all the same.

And what happens in the middle of all this? The muse appears in my peripheral vision and if I don’t spook her, she stays. Then ideas happen. Questions arise. Possibilities abound and I get very excited about new work.

We’ll talk more about that next week.

Dragon’s Kiss and Under the Mistletoe Pre-Orders

We have pre-orders!

Under the Mistletoe is the fourth and final book in the Secret Heart Ink series.

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeAlthough Chynna is a complete romantic, she avoids weddings because they renew the pain of losing her beloved husband. So does Christmas, so an invitation to Lexi and Gabe’s holiday wedding should be easy to decline. All the same, she’s tempted to see three recipients of her secret heart tattoos happily in love, and with some encouragement, agrees to attend. A hook-up with Trevor, Gabe’s handsome partner, seems like the ideal way to settle her nerves—but Trevor wants a lot more than one night with the most attractive woman he’s ever met. Chynna is the woman he’s been waiting for—all he has to do is convince her to take a chance on love again, with him.

Coming September 24!

Pre-order ebook at:
Amazon.com
Apple
KOBO
Nook
Books2Read Universal Link

Dragon's Kiss, book #2 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke

Dragon shifter and Pyr warrior Kristofer follows the spark of his firestorm into Maeve’s dark realm, only to discover that it’s an illusion and a trap, not his firestorm at all. The fake mate who lures him into Fae is another species threatened by Maeve – Brianna is a Valkyrie, whose sister has been imprisoned by the dark queen. Brianna has to collect a Pyr soul to save her sister, but Kristofer doesn’t intend to die just yet. Trapped by Maeve, Kristofer and Brianna reluctantly join forces to save her sister—even when they discover that their skills are complementary, they know that there can be no future between a mortal Pyr and an immortal collector of souls. How much will either surrender to triumph over Maeve? And what will they do when the firestorm sparks in truth?

Coming October 22, 2019

Pre-order ebook at:
Amazon.com
Apple
KOBO
Nook
• GooglePlay
Books2Read Universal Link

Amazon Pre-Order for Bad Case of Loving You

 Since Theo and Lyssa’s book is finally off to my editor, I’ve listed the pre-order at Amazon. I’m so much happier with this version of their story and hope you think it worth the wait!

Bad Case of Loving You, book #5 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke

Theo knows what’s possible…
Because he’s learned the hard way what’s not. The internationally successful supermodel known as Angel stole his heart forever when she was just Lyssa Monroe. There’s never been another woman who could compete—he even loved Lyssa enough to let her walk away when she said it was over. When he sees her again, he’s resolved to make one glimpse of her sustain him for another ten years. When she offers him one night together, Theo can’t say no—even though he knows a taste will only tempt him to hope for more all over again.

Lyssa has tasted forbidden fruit…
And she can’t forget it, no matter how hard she tries. Theo’s love is a touchstone for all that is pure and good in the chaos her life has become. When she sees him again, everything is simple for once and only one choice is possible. The secret she keeps from Theo could destroy any chance of a future together, but surely she can keep it hidden for just one more night. Or maybe two. How much will she sacrifice to defend her son—and how far will Theo go to give them a second chance?

Coming July 23, 2019

Available for pre-order at:
Amazon.com
Apple
Nook
KOBO
Books2Read Universal Link

Schedule Updates

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeI’ve been moving my schedule around to accommodate the new publication date of Bad Case of Loving You. I also want to start some new projects.

One of the results of this reorganization is that Some Like It Hot has been moved to a February 2020 publication date. That will take my contemporary romance publication schedule back to two titles a year. (Theo and Lyssa messed me up, but in 2020 we’ll be on track again.)

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeThe contemporary romance after that (summer 2020 pub date) will be a Coxwell book. I also want to set some romances at Flatiron Five West, and will be attending RWA National in San Francisco in July 2020 with the plan of doing some research there.

I’m planning to finish up Under the Mistletoe and publish it this fall, so it will be my 2019 holiday romance read. First, Theo and Lyssa, then Chynna.

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionAs for Claire’s books, there will be One Knight’s Return this month, which has proven to be another one of those little republication projects that ended up taking a huge amount of time. (The second half of the book is all new and the first half has significant changes. It would have been faster to just write a new book!) Then there will be a republication of Unicorn Bride in August, which really will be a republication and very close to the original.

That’s where we stand!