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
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Nook

New Flatiron Five Boxed Set Coming Soon

It’s time for the first Flatiron Five boxed set! This bundle includes the first three romances in the series, and will be specially priced at just 99 cents for the pre-order and the first week on sale. Pre-order is only available at some portals, although it will be available everywhere on January 21. Reserve your copy today!

Flatiron Five: The First Collection, a digital bundle of the first three contemporary romances and romantic comedies in the Flatiron Five series by Deborah CookeFlatiron Five: The First Collection includes the first three contemporary romances and romantic comedies in the Flatiron Five series featuring the founding partners at the hottest fitness club in Manhattan. They haven’t had time for love—and some of them think they never will—but that’s about to change…

In Simply Irresistible, Tyler is sure that a fake date will be the ideal answer to his family’s inevitable matchmaking efforts at his sister’s wedding. He likes to solve things himself and keep control. He chooses a cute woman who works in his office building—he calls her the librarian because of her conservative appearance, but Amy has a lot of surprises in store for Tyler when she lets down her hair. In fact, her unpredictability and verve makes her irresistible: what will it take for Tyler to convince Amy to make their relationship real?

In Addicted to Love, Kyle’s assumptions are challenged by the one-who-got-away. He’s always known that Lauren was the only one for him, but she married someone else. He’s been content to play the field and intends to continue for the duration—until Lauren gets divorced and calls him, but just for a one-nighter. Kyle is shocked that’s he’s the one who wants more, but Lauren is skeptical of all men, thanks to him and her ex. Can he change her mind about giving him a second chance?

In In the Flatiron Five: The First Collection, a digital bundle of the first three contemporary romances and romantic comedies in the Flatiron Five series by Deborah CookeMidnight Hour, Damon is struggling with his mother’s terminal illness and hasn’t confided in his partners. He takes refuge with a compassionate nurse, more than happy to teach her therapeutic massage—and follow wherever that leads. Haley loves unravelling secrets and she’s found a treasure trove of them in enigmatic Damon. If she helps him heal from the wounds of the past, can they have a chance at forever?

Come to the hottest club in Manhattan for three emotional contemporary romances and romantic comedies. Come to Flatiron Five and fall in love!

Coming January 21, 2020

This bundle will be specially priced at 99¢ only through January 25. Be sure to reserve your copy today!

Pre-order Flatiron Five: The First Collection at:
• Amazon.com
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• GooglePlay
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Goodreads

New Sample for Dragon’s Heart

Dragon's Heart, book 3 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeHer kiss will rock his world…

Dragon-shifter Rhys believes in what he can hold in his talons. A chef with his own restaurant, he is organized and practical, and dislikes surprises. When his firestorm sparks in the realm of Fae, he’s sure it’s an illusion and isn’t going to be seduced by a fake destined mate—even if the kiss of that beautiful selkie melts his very soul.

Lila would do anything to save her kind from extinction, even entreat a dragon shifter to join the battle against the Queen of the Fae. But Rhys is unlike any male she’s known before—he’s unmoved by her kiss and even her surrender to the combustible attraction between them. There’s only one way to convince him to fight, and that’s to conceive his son—even though bearing a child will cost Lila everything she holds dear.

Rhys is awed by Lila’s sacrifice and determined to retrieve everything she’s lost—and not just for the sake of their unborn son. As they plunge into unknown realms with only each other to rely upon, will their combined forces be sufficient to triumph—or will they be forced to surrender even more?

Coming May 26, 2020

Download a sample of Dragon’s Heart from BookFunnel.

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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
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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.

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
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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

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On Fresh Starts – and Bats

I used to blog more regularly than I have in recent years. A big reason for that has been a lack of time, but suddenly this year, I feel as if I can take a breath. This was such a novelty that I was suspicious of the impression and waited to see if it lasted. It did. 🙂 So, now I want to find my rhythm again or maybe figure out a new one. Writing a post five days a week is still out of the question. I’m going to try for a new blog post every Monday and see how that works out. It’s almost exactly the midpoint of the year – there are 22 more Mondays after this one in 2019 – so my plan is to write a blog post for each of these 23 Mondays.

We’ll start with work stuff first each Monday then something more personal. Today, that’s a fresh start and bats. 🙂

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionWhy does it feel like a good time for a fresh start? Since I went indie in 2012, I’ve been doing several things simultaneously, each of which would be a job in itself. I’ve been pursuing rights reversions, then repackaging and republishing my previously published works in new editions. I sold 45 works to New York publishers between 1992 and 2012, and all of them have reverted to me (with the exception of English Commonwealth rights on two YA books but we’ll ignore that for now). I’ve re-edited, repackaged and republished 38 of them – although one was closer to a complete rewrite. (Writing a completely new story might actually have been faster.) #39 (Unicorn Bride) will be republished in August. That’s 39 books in 6.5 years, or six books per year, which is a good publication schedule in and of itself.

Abyss, #4 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah CookeAt the same time, I’ve finished series that were abandoned by publishers, adding Abyss to the Prometheus Project, three novellas and two books to the Dragonfire Novels, as well as the True Love Brides and the Brides of Inverfyre to the Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie cycle. That’s four novellas, a short novel, six regular length novels and one double-length novel, all new work in existing worlds. Call it 8.5 books in 6.5 years – that’s another 1.3 books per year.

I’ve also been writing and publishing completely new works. The Champions of St. Euphemia is a medieval romance series with a structure I wanted to explore for a long time. I participated in a group project of Regency romances, which was a lot of fun – the Brides of North Barrows are the result of that collaboration. I began a different paranormal romance series featuring dragon shifter princesses from space – the Dragons of Incendium – and, of course, I wrote the Flatiron Five and the spin-off Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances. That’s ten full-length novels, eight short ones, two novellas and five short stories. Call it 15 more books – another 2.3 books a year.

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThe interesting thing about this summary is that when I was traditionally published, I published two to four books a year and those were all new work. Since going indie, I’ve averaged 3.6 new books per year, plus the republication of another 6.5 per year. I’ve been publisher as well as writer, too, so was responsible for more of the publication process. (All of it!) I haven’t even talked about audiobooks, of which we produced 13 in 2014, or foreign translations, several of which are currently in the works.

In addition, the ebook market was rapidly changing in those first few years, which meant that things had to be done over and over (and over) to accommodate changes, mostly in the format of ebook interiors. Now, the industry and its protocols seem to have settled, my backlist is available, and the various series I wanted to finish are completed. Even the new series I began in indie are coming to their completion.

This is an excellent moment for a fresh start. Where do I go from here? I’ve been thinking about that a lot this year, and have made some decisions, and will talk more about that each Monday with you.

Romancing the Capital 2019This week, I’m off to Romancing the Capital, Eve Langlais’ reader conference in Ottawa, and looking forward to that. I’ve packed all the books and swag etc. and stacked it all in the living room so Mr. Math has a few days to figure out how to get it all into the car. The advantage of driving to a conference is that I can take more; the disadvantage is that it’s easy to take too much. I’m teaching a workshop as well as participating in panel discussions, and there’s a big booksigning on Saturday to wrap up the event. The booksigning is open to the public if you’re in or around Kanata, Ontario. It sounds as if this will be the last RTC – it’s such a lot of work that I’m amazed Eve has done it four times, but I will miss this event, and seeing the readers who regularly attend it.

It is almost August, and the bats are back. (I’ve blogged about this a few times before: Guests in 2009 and If it’s August in 2012. Notice that they’re both August posts.) Actually, this is huge news this year – bats have been in short supply and I haven’t seen any for a few years. There was an epidemic that killed many of them (white nose syndrome) and they’ve been very scarce since 2015 or so. This year, they seem to be making a comeback – or maybe a fresh start of their own. I saw two bats Saturday night when I was watching the fireflies. I was happy to see them flying figure-8’s over the garden. The bats are back! Last night, driving home from my mom’s, we spotted ten – and we were driving – before getting home to find one doing laps over our garden again. Although I don’t want to get up close and personal with bats, they’re good to have around to keep the mosquito population under control. Plus they’re kind of mesmerizing to watch.

Mr. Math always says “Eat up” when he sees the bats, because the mosquitoes adore him. Back when there were more bats, if we went for a walk in the evening, they’d follow him, because there was always a buffet for them in his vicinity. Of course, if he goes out to sit and watch the bats, he’ll see a lot – they swoop around him for the same reason.

I’m happy the bats are back (but they can stay outside). It’s a week for fresh starts. Have you made a fresh start lately?

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

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DragonFate Covers

Maeve's Book of Beasts, book 1 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeThe DragonFate series features the Pyr‘s battle against Maeve, the dark Fae queen who wants to exterminate all species she considers unnatural (because they are half human). We met Maeve in Firestorm Forever and glimpsed her souvenir gallery of species she had already eliminated. In this series, she targets the Pyr and other species in the world – and the Pyr come to the defense of shifters like themselves, led by the spark of the firestorm. What I like about this series is that there are lots of paranormal creatures in the cast, as well as some humans and an opinionated ghost.

Dragon's Kiss, book #2 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeWhat I like about this series is that the heroines will also have special powers of their own, and this is going to complicate matters with their dragon shifter heroes and destined mates. We’ll see an over-arching romance between Melusine and Theo, one that is complicated both by her special powers and the persistent ghost of her dead husband, Raymond. There will also be another over-arching romance between a very human librarian and a hot vampire who is part of the team battling Maeve. We’ll also explore the origins of the Pyr. This is a big canvas and I’m excited about all my plans and possibilities.

Dragon's Heart, book 3 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeMy original scheme was for DragonFate to be four books. The working titles were Hot-Blooded, Spell-Bound, Star-Crossed and Dusted, but I’ve since learned it would be better for discoverability if the titles to include the word Dragon. Donna Grant has also published a dragon shifter book called Hot-Blooded (as well as one called Dragonfire) in the interim, so it’s better to avoid confusion.

I’ve gone with Dragon’s Kiss, Dragon’s Heart and Dragon’s Mate for the first three books. The pre-quel is called Maeve’s Book of Beasts and will launch in August. Dragon’s Kiss will be published in October, followed by Dragon’s Heart in January and Dragon’s Mate in April.

Dragon's Mate, book 4 of the DragonFate series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeOne of the things I really like about these covers is that the artist used the colours of each Pyr in his dragon form on his book cover. Kristofer (Dragon’s Kiss) is peridot and silver in his dragon form, and has blond hair and blue eyes in his human form. Rhys (Dragon’s Heart) is garnet and silver in his dragon form, and has dark hair and dark eyes in his human form. Hadrian (Dragon’s Mate) is emerald and silver in his dragon form, and has auburn hair and green eyes in his human form.

Another thing I noticed later which I think is funny – the model chosen by the artist for Rhys on Dragon’s Heart is the same model I chose for Some Like It Hot in the Flatiron Five series. He looks a bit different with his shirt off and a dragon tattoo. I think it’s also possible that the model on Dragon’s Mate is the same one used on Some Guys Have All the Luck, but am not positive about that. This is why so many covers show the models without their faces, but I like to see their eyes.

Pre-order links are populating now and will be added to the landing pages for each book as they go live.

This series lives on the Dragonfire website, since it’s set in the same world. You can find it here.

What do you think?