A Berry Merry Christmas Novella

A Berry Merry Christmas, a holiday contemporary romance novella by Deborah Cooke, writing as Claire Cross

A mysterious nanny has a special message to deliver to a young orphan and her uncle who long to feel the joy of Christmas in their hearts again—but it’s Drew and Natalie who make Holly’s secret dream come true.

A Berry Merry Christmas is a holiday romance novella, a paranormal romance and a romantic comedy which was originally published under my pseudonym Claire Cross. It’s still available in a print anthology called Silent Night.Silent Night, an anthology including "A Berry Merry Christmas" by Deborah Cooke (writing as Claire Cross)

As of the fall of 2017, however, it is also available in a digital-only edition and specially priced for holiday reading.

Order A Berry Merry Christmas for September 27th delivery:

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix and #1 of the Brides of North BarrowsLast fall, I participated in an anthology of Regency romance novellas called The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor. My novella, Something Wicked This Way Comes, was included in the volume, Spellbound. All of those books remain available, but Something Wicked This Way Comes is available on its own in a digital edition.

Seven years ago, Sophia Brisbane lost everything—her father, her brother, her family fortune—but worse, was rejected by the man she loved. She’s determined not to yearn for the past and its pleasures—until she encounters Lucien de Roye again. Although he knew Sophia could never be his own, Lucien vowed to retrieve her squandered inheritance—even wagering his very soul to a demon. When Sophia learns what he has done, no force on heaven or earth will convince her to let him pay the demon’s due, no matter what the cost to herself.

Buy it today at Amazon, Apple, B&N or KOBO – or buy it directly from me in my onlines store in EPUB or MOBI

You can also download the prologue from this story free in my online store—here’s the EPUB and here’s the MOBI.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix

 

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An Elegy for Melusine – Today!

An Elegy for Melusine: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Claire DelacroixMy novella and retelling of a French medieval fairy tale, An Elegy for Melusine, is available today in a new digital edition. This story is also available in print in the collection, Beguiled.

Cursed to shift shape for one day each week, Melusine knows that only love can set her free. When she encounters Raymond, a handsome knight in desperate need of help that only she can give, she believes her chance has come. She vows to be his devoted wife and earn his love, even as she chooses to keep her curse secret. When their happy match is tested by misfortune, Raymond vows to prove jealous whispers wrong. Will he be tempted to break his pledge to Melusine in search of the truth? And will his love of his bride survive if her secret is revealed?

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An Elegy for Melusine

An Elegy for Melusine: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Claire DelacroixAn Elegy for Melusine is a novella I wrote a number of years ago, which retells the French medieval fairy tale featuring Melusine. I’ve loved this story since I first read it, even though it doesn’t end well. In fact, I always wanted to give Melusine her happily-ever-after. There was no point in writing my continuation of her story until all of you read the fairy tale in the first place. It’s better known to francophiles than anglophiles, but probably best known of all to medievalists.

The novella is available in the print anthology To Weave a Web of Magic, and also in my own collection of short stories, Beguiled. As of today, however, it’s available on its own in digital format.

Why?

That’s easy. Because the “Mel” you’ve met in the teaser for Hot Blooded, the first book in my upcoming DragonFate series, is in fact Melusine. Her HEA will be accomplished in that series, and I thought you might want to know her background. Think of it as a pre-quel to DragonFate.

Because Beguiled is available in print, An Elegy for Melusine will not be available in a print edition on its own.

You can buy An Elegy for Melusine directly from my online store for the next 90 days, or you can pre-order it at the usual portals for September 15, 2015 delivery. Your choice. 🙂

Buy An Elegy for Melusine from Deborah’s store:
EPUB
MOBI

Pre-order An Elegy for Melusine from these portals:

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Upcoming Collection

I have a new title on my upcoming releases schedule – it’s a collection of my own short stories and novellas, called Beguiled. This volume will include six shorter works of mine that have been previously published—they’ll all be together in one volume for the first time. It’ll be released in both print and digital.

The included stories are:
An Elegy for Melusine by Claire Delacroix
A medieval fantasy novella with romantic elements, originally published in the anthology To Weave a Web of Magic.

The Leaves by Deborah Cooke
A short fantasy story, previously available in a digital-only edition.

The Ballad of Rosamunde by Claire Delacroix
A medieval romance with fantasy elements and a short story, originally published in the Mammoth Book of Irish Romance and later published as a digital-only short. It’s also included in the trade paperback edition of The Snow White Bride. It was edited in MBOIR for space constraints but appears in its entirety in all subsequent editions (including this one).

Amor Vincit Omnia by Claire Delacroix
A medieval romance and short story, originally published in the digital anthology Seven Deadly Sins and subsequently published in a digital-only edition.

The Kiss of the Snow Queen by Claire Delacroix
A medieval romance novella with fantasy elements, originally published in the anthology The Queen in Winter.

Coven of Mercy by Deborah Cooke
A vampire romance originally published in the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance II and later available as a digital-only short.

I’m thinking this will be a July release, but will confirm the date closer to publication. I’m in the queue for a new cover!

Kiss of Destiny Released!

Kiss of Destiny, a Dragon Legion Novella by Deborah Cooke

Kiss of Destiny, the third of the Dragon Legion novellas, is now available.

He will sacrifice anything to win his destined love…

When the darkfire crystal takes the dragon shape shifters Thad and Drake to an unknown location, only fulfilling his firestorm matters to Thad. Little does he know that in following its light to his destined mate, he’s stepping into the realm of the gods, a place so forbidden to mortals that any who enter it must die. Aura has always been skeptical of long-term promises—but Thad is irresistible. No sooner does Aura surrender than the gods demand their due of her dragon shifter. Can she save Thad and make the dream of the firestorm come true?

This edition includes a cast of continuing characters, a Dragonfire glossary and an excerpt from Deborah’s upcoming Dragonfire novel, Serpent’s Kiss.

This is Thad and Aura’s story, and you can read an excerpt right here.

Amazon.com
Apple US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes&Noble
KOBO
Smashwords

You can read about the whole series on my website, right here.

To Do Lists

Every time I go to a conference, I come home with a To Do list. This has always been the case, but my lists have become longer with conferences in the past year or so. RWA Atlanta was no different – and I still have list items from BEA in May and even Novelists’ Ink last October. I’m halfway wondering if I should stay home for a year, just to catch up on my To Do lists!

The reality isn’t that I’m inefficient. We’re in a strange market in which everything is changing very quickly – and those who are nimble and take advantage of new opportunities quickly see the biggest results. Also, being indie-published means everything is my own responsibility. While I have a team (a beta reader, an editor, a cover designer, a formatter, etc.) everything stops at my desk. This is the challenge of indie-publishing – being completely in charge and fully responsible – which not every writer welcomes. There is something enticing about the idea of having someone else (like the publisher) do all of the nitty gritty while the writer just writes: the problem is that, in my experience, it doesn’t work out that way very much of the time. As I said many times at RWA this year, my publishers over the past 20 years – by offloading jobs to me – have done an excellent job of training me to publish my own books.

So, what’s on my updated list this time? RWA for me was about opportunity and networking. There are a lot of interesting ideas and possibilities out there, so many that I’ll have to pick and choose. (Sadly, my days still have only 24 hours. Boo.) Kim Killion had a fabulous idea for Thorolf’s cover which I’m hoping works out well. It would be a whole new adventure for me, which is exciting. I’ll let you know more about that when/if the details come together.

Overall, though, my plan for the next year is to write, and all the other stuff will have to fit around the perimeter of that. I’m ready to finish up my existing series and dive into a new project (and there are lost of candidates in my office.) There are two more paranormal romances  to finish the Dragonfire series (Thorolf and Sloane) and two more medievals (Malcolm and Elizabeth) to finish The True Love Brides series. I suspect Drake and Ross will get novellas of their own to conclude both series. (In an ideal universe, they will be Christmas 2014 novellas.) I’ll spend the next year researching other story ideas and developing them, maybe even launching something new soon.

These are exciting times. Stay tuned!

Update!

It’s hot and humid here this week, but the construction frustrations of last winter are paying off – the new air conditioning is truly wonderful. Usually in hot weather, I get nothing done, but this week, I’m zipping along. Yay!

So, I thought I’d update you on the status of various projects.

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.

I’m doing the final final FINAL read through of The Highlander’s Curse. It’ll go to the formatter tonight or tomorrow, so I should have it back Wednesday to upload it to various portals. It’ll go live most quickly at Smashwords and All Romance eBooks (in EPUB and MOBI at both portals) but should be available from Amazon on Thursday. (Fingers crossed.) B&N and KOBO should post it Thursday or Friday, and I hear Apple is taking about a week to process and post new book files – count on seeing it in the iTunes store by the end of next week.

My monthly newsletter will go out Thursday or Friday, depending when the Amazon link is live.

Kiss of Destiny, #3 of the Dragon Legion novellas in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances, by Deborah Cooke

Next, I’ll write the last couple of scenes in Thad and Aura’s story, Kiss of Destiny. That’s #3 in the Dragon Legion novellas, which together are Dragonfire #9. I’ll send it off to my editor by the end of this week, and she’ll do her thing while I’m at RWA National in Atlanta next week. I’ll publish the digital novella when I return (i.e. two weeks from now), and it’ll appear on the various portals with the same kind of speed as mentioned for THC above.

The Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cooke

Once Kiss of Destiny is done, I’ll format the Dragon Legion Collection and publish it, initially in the trade paperback print edition. It’ll be available from Createspace and Amazon early in August (maybe very early in August) then will perk out to be listed on other portals. The timing on that distribution is hard to predict.

Abyss, an urban fantasy romance by Claire Delacroix

In August, I’ll be heading back to the Republic. I’ll be finalizing files for Fallen, Guardian and Rebel, plus doing edits for Abyss. The goal is to publish the books in order, with Abyss going on sale at the end of October.

Phew! After that, it’s Thorolf’s turn and I’ll dig in to his story. After Thorolf comes Malcolm, then Sloane, then Elizabeth.

That’s where we’re at. Now you know – and now I’m getting back to work. Stay cool, everyone!

New Versions of The Dragon Legion Novellas

Kiss of Danger, the first Dragon Legion Novella, by Deborah Cooke, first of the Dragon Legion trilogy of novellas

Kiss of Danger and Kiss of Darkness have been edited and proofread again. They’ve been formatted again, and uploaded again, as V2.0 where such data displays. Kiss of Destiny will go through the whole process before it’s published for the first time, and – of course – the Dragon Legion Collection will include the final versions of all of the novellas.

Kiss of Darkness, the second Dragon Legion novella, by Deborah Cooke, #9B in her Dragonfire series of paranormal romances

So, if you already purchased either or both of these novellas, you might automatically get a notice of the new version from your portal of choice, or you might have to request it. The new versions are live on All Romance eBooks, B&N, Kobo, Amazon and Smashwords right now. They will probably be live on Apple by the morning. If you shop at another site fed content by Smashwords (Sony, Diesel, Page Foundry, etc.) the new files will take a couple of weeks to perk through the distribution system.

Thanks again to DJ and Ang for the comments. I’m chalking this one up to experience!

Resonance

Stories that are complete and coherent have a resonance, at least to me. There is something wonderful about a book that leaves no loose ends, a story in which every detail adds up. Every character acts in character in these books, yet their actions aren’t entirely predictable. The plot makes sense, but twists in surprising directions. The style of storytelling is elegant, with the flourishes of a master storyteller. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

This is what I mean by resonance. These carefully crafted stories don’t strike any false notes. In fact, they seem to chime in a perfect tone that indicates everything within them is exactly as it should be. They are the best possible recounting of their particular story.

Over the years, I’ve developed an inner ear for story resonance. Of course, I’d like every single book I write to have this kind of coherence. The problem is that the last perfect idea, the one that pulls everything together and creates resonance, doesn’t always pop into my head on time. Ideas can’t be scheduled. They turn up when they want to – or not. And the ideas that create resonance are particularly evasive. Creative thinking and problem solving dislikes stress – like that created by deadlines – or interference – like that caused by real life. The creative part of the brain likes to play, and find solutions sideways.

This is why the strategies in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way are so helpful. She not only understands sideways thinking, but knows how to encourage it. You need lots of sideways thinking to create books with resonance, so I’m always looking to improve my strategies.

In the past year, I’ve realized that I came up with an adaptive strategy – a compromise, really – to deal with the evasiveness of the ideas that create resonance and the realities of print publishing schedules. When working with a traditional publisher, delivering to deadline is a very important measure of the author’s reliability. Authors who don’t deliver on time might not be offered new contracts. They might have their books rescheduled, or they might be assigned to a more junior editor (who has more time to juggle the author’s perceived unreliability). Because publishers work with so many books and need to keep their production costs down across the board, keeping the schedule in Production is more important than most (if not all) other concerns. There’s a big potential downside to being late, so I’ve always been  very driven to meet deadline.

But what about those evasive ideas? The good thing about traditional publishing schedules is that the delivery for the book is usually twelve months or so before its publication date. The editorial process can easily take six months, albeit at 45 to 60 day intervals. At my most recent publishing house, there was always a revision requested to the ms. That was new to me – at other publishers, revisions were only requested if the delivered book had a serious issue. This house revised everything. So, previously, I had been late once in a while or worked very intensely to deliver a resonant book on time. For this house, once I recognized that this pattern was the rule not the exception, it was easier to deliver on time. I knew there would be the expectation that I’d do a major revision in 45 – 60 days. I would keep thinking about the story and making notes on it while it was on my editor’s desk. In the revision phase, I could make the changes required by all the ideas that had come to me in that waiting period. This was all good.

One of the joys of indie-publishing for me is that I can hold off on publishing a book if it isn’t resonant enough to make me happy. One of the challenges is that I’d forgotten about that compromise solution. I was thinking that I still always delivered a resonant book on time, and that the idea fairies were more biddable than they are.

This calls for a different kind of revision, one to my work schedule!

It’s quite common for a work to be technically complete, but not quite resonant. This happened with KISS OF DARKNESS in March. It was done, but I knew it was missing something. It wasn’t quite right. Because everything in our life was at sixes and sevens, the idea fairies made themselves scarce. I couldn’t focus on the story enough to figure out what it needed, not when my husband was commuting to the hospital to visit his dad. My spring fever binge late last week made a tremendous difference in coaxing the fairies back to work. While I focused on flowers and colour and plants, the creative part of my brain was thinking sideways. Now *ping* Damien’s story has the resonance it needed.

Kiss of Darkness by Deborah Cooke, #9B in her Dragonfire series of paranormal romances

The second Dragon Legion Novella is at the formatter today. Damien’s story will be published very very soon, maybe even later today. 🙂

The revision is to my announcement schedule. I’m needing to leave a little more buffer in my plans to allow the idea fairies to play and resonance to develop. In future, I’m going to give you publication dates when works are much much closer to publication. I’ll still set out a schedule, but that will give me a little wiggle room and keep you from being disappointed that I’m late.