Late, Late, Late

Some of you have emailed me about the availability of KISS OF DARKNESS, and you’re right, it’s not published yet. You’re also right that I’m late. We had an unpleasant surprise this month when my father-in-law suddenly became very ill, and subsequently passed away. I wasn’t getting any writing done then, which isn’t a surprise at all, but now am getting back into my rhythm.

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

Damien’s story needs two more scenes and good read-through. The beta-reader, the editor and I will read all simultaneously to pick up some time, and the formatter is ready to jump on the file as soon as she has it in hand.

Which means I’m still hoping to publish it before the end of the month. Thanks for your patience, and my apologies. 🙂

Kiss of Darkness Released!

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

Kiss of Darkness, the second of the Dragon Legion novellas, is now available. This is Damien’s story. Here’s the cover copy:

They will sacrifice anything to regain the loves they’ve lost…

Damien, the Heartbreaker of the dragon warriors called the Pyr, can’t forget Petra, the only woman who could both captivate him and destroy him. He’s haunted by their firestorm, the prophecy that compelled him to leave her—and her subsequent death. When the darkfire crystal takes the Dragon Legion to the underworld, Damien seizes the chance to save his son. To his surprise he finds Petra just as enticing as ever…and still pregnant. When his kiss makes their baby stir to life again, they both hope for a different future. Can they learn from the past and trust each other? Even if they solve the riddle of the prophecy, will they be able to escape the underworld, save their son and claim the promise of the firestorm?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Amazon
All Romance eBooks
Barnes&Noble
KOBO

It will be available at Apple and Smashwords, but those links aren’t live yet.

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

Kiss of Danger Released!

And there goes Alexander, out into the world!

This is the first of the Dragon Legion Novellas. There will be three in total, and each will be published digitally first. After the third one is published, they’ll be gathered into an anthology, which will be available in a digital edition and also in trade paperback.

The excerpt is right here.

Available at:
Amazon (the link is for Amazon.com but it will be available at other Amazon portals, too.)
Barnes & Noble
KOBO

Other buy links are coming – Apple is slow this week – but these ones are live now!

Time for Chaos

I told you a while back that we’d be having renovations done at the house this year, and they’ve started today. This means noise and dust, at least in the short term. It means worker guys in the house, too, and the Queen Bee getting miffed about them coming in and out without ringing the doorbell. She’s set them straight a couple of times already today as to how we do things around here. This morning, she and I stayed in my office with the stereo on, but as the demolition got rolling, we chose to take refuge in the kitchen. Since she’s snoring, I’ll guess she’s not policing entrances and exits for the afternoon. I can smell plaster dust, because they’re ripping out the plaster and lathe. I’m just glad to not be doing that job myself. Mr. Math is changing out the bag on his ShopVac and is determined to go after the dust tonight and every night. All of this works for me.

I’m busy writing! Despite the disruption, Alexander’s story is coming along well. It’s kind of fun to write about reunited lovers instead of couples meeting for the first time – Alexander, as you might remember, was forced to leave his wife to do his duty and serve with the force that became known as the Dragon’s Teeth Warriors. Many things have changed, but not the power of the love these two have for each other. As usual, I’m wondering whether I’ll manage to bring in the story at novella length of 25,000 to 30,000 words. I’m determined to do it, though, because I don’t want to be late on this one.

Also, the newsletter is ready to go out on Thursday, so if you haven’t signed up, you might want to do that. (There’s a link at the top left.) There will be two new excerpts posted for subscribers to read – one from THE HIGHLANDER’S CURSE and one from KISS OF DANGER.

I’ve also seen the newly formatted file for the Jewels of Kinfairlie Boxed Set and it looks wonderful. That was the first file that the formatter worked on, and I’ll update you when each new edition gets uploaded and published on the various portals. I’m excited that my books will have such pretty new digital editions.

In terms of my knitting, I’ve just survived the tedious job of unwinding all of the remaining yarn in the ball to find out exactly how much is left. I’m finishing a shawl and want to make sure that I don’t run out before the hem is finished. Maybe I’ll get that project done this week, as well.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled renovation chaos.

The Future of Dragonfire

As promised, here are the details of how the Dragonfire series gets completed. I do have plenty of spin-off ideas, but want to get the main series finished before we venture into new territory.

So, here’s the plan.

First off, we need to catch up with Drake and his Dragon Teeth Warriors. They collected the darkfire crystal from Lorenzo in FLASHFIRE and have been scarce ever since. As you might expect, the darkfire crystal has been taking them to some strange and unlikely locations, but in pursuit of a greater good. There will be three novellas following Drake and his men, each one of which will be a paranormal romance in itself. These will be digital-first releases. They will then be gathered into an anthology which will be published in simultaneous digital and print. (It’ll be a trade paperback print on demand book.) This bit of Dragonfire’s future looks like this:

KISS OF DANGER – February 2013

KISS OF DARKNESS – March 2013

KISS OF DESTINY- April 2013

The DRAGON LEGION Anthology – print and digital – will follow. This will be Dragonfire #9.

There will be a new page on my website for this suite of novellas. I’ll let you know when it’s live.

I am waffling about Drake himself. His story will be told, but there are two options for doing it: his could be the third novella in another trilogy of novellas featuring the Dragon’s Teeth Warriors, or he could get his own book. I’ll decide after finishing this trilogy and let you know then.

As for Dragonfire novels, Dragonfire #10 will be Thorolf’s book, and I’m aiming for a summer release. Whatever happens with Drake will be the subsequent release, Dragonfire #11, and it will be a winter release. Finally Dragonfire #12 will be Sloane’s book and the culmination of the series – the Apothecary has to heal the world, after all. I’m aiming for spring 2014. I’ll firm up the dates as they get closer.

After that, well, we’ll venture off the edges of our map – where there be dragons!

Upsides and Downsides

Now that EMBER’S KISS has had its release month, I can share some news with you: my publisher and I are no longer partners.

This is both good and bad for me personally, but I think the good outweighs the bad. It also results in both upsides and downsides for you as readers, but again, I think the upside is more powerful than the downside. Let’s walk through the list.

Upsides

• More Dragonfire
Once upon a time, not that long ago, when a publisher and a writer ceased to be partners in the middle of a series of books, that series died on the vine. There was no other way for the author to finish the series, as publishers tend not to buy series that have been started at another house. Also, when an author was writing a series, it was impossible to be certain beyond the current contract whether there would be more books in the series. This posed a challenge to plotting and also was irritating to readers.

But the world has changed, and there are more options for writers. Dragonfire will continue to the end of the series.

• More Frequent Dragonfire
While I will still echo the editorial and production process followed by publishers to ensure that my books are as good as they can be, my books won’t be in a queue anymore with books from other authors. This means that we can get to publication more quickly. I also have more flexibility in terms of publishing linked novellas, which is fun.

• More Dragons
Publishing houses tend to be cautious in terms of pursuing new ideas. Authors, on the other hand, have tons of ideas and like to chase them all. There needs to be a happy compromise somewhere in the middle. Over the years, I’ve had some ideas for Dragonfire spin-offs. One, The Dragon Diaries, was taken on by the house, but I always wanted more. The others have been sitting in my computer’s memory and in mine – until now.

There will now be other dragons in addition to the Dragonfire series. Some of these stories will take the form of novellas instead of books, which again will give you more dragons sooner. I have two ideas in particular that I’m pursuing right now.

There’s a post about the future of Dragonfire queued up to post an hour after this one, so you can find out more about my plans there.

• More Cooke Books
Publishing houses also tend to be reluctant to “diversify the author brand”. They like to ensure that an author has a solid audience before moving into other sub-genres. Authors tend to define their work more broadly. This past summer, I republished a contemporary romance series that I’d written years ago (The Coxwells) and the response to it has been terrific. I’ve always wanted to write more contemporary romance and now I will. I also have a very pushy chick on a paranormal quest who has been prowling my office for a few years. You’ll get to meet Mel, too.

• Lower Price Point on Digital Books
Because I’m not an international conglomerate with office expenses and payroll to cover, I can be a bit more aggressive about pricing for digital books.

You will get to read more for less.

Downsides

• Higher Price on Print Books
I will create print editions of my new book releases, and print anthologies of linked novellas, however the only current mechanism is to offer Print On Demand trade paperbacks. Because each book is created individually, there are few economies of scale here – as yet. I’m not the only one worried about this pricing so I suspect that there will be changes in the near future. The list price on these POD books will be higher, but I’ve noticed that many portals are discounting them for consumers. Shop around. 🙂

• No Physical Distribution
POD means no print run and no physical distribution. Whether you read me in digital editions or whether you want the trade paperback, you will have to order online. There are some bricks-and-mortar bookstores offering instore POD – one technology is called Espresso.

Again, I suspect that this will change even more radically in the near future.

• No Formal On Sale Date
Publishers have the ability to pre-set a publication date as much as six months in advance, which lets you pre-order the book for either digital delivery or physical shipping as soon as it becomes available. As yet, those options do not exist for authors who indie-publish their books. The book can only be offered for sale through various outlets once the author publishes the final version.

So, I can tell you the publication month, but there will be some squish in the actual date of the release. There also will be variation between outlets – any works I publish myself are available from Smashwords and Amazon within 48 hours. Other outlets (Sony, B&N, Apple etc.) can take up to six weeks to get the work and make it available to you. Again, I suspect that there will be changes in this area, but this is how it works now.

You might want to subscribe to my YahooGroups newsletter, like my Facebook page or subscribe to this blog to know as soon as each book actually is published and available.

• Different Branding
This is nitpickity, but I’m one of those people who likes to line up a whole series of linked books on my bookshelf and admire how they look all together. Obviously, switching to trade paperback format in the midst of the series is going to change how my Dragonfire books line up on your shelf, as well as the look of the series overall.

I’m taking the opportunity to modify the branding slightly, but all of the Dragonfire books from this point forward will have a similar look. Essentially, they’ll fall into two groups. Also, all of my new trade paperback POD editions will be the same size, so they can get along together on the shelf.

I think that’s it!

Overall, I’m quite excited about these changes and I hope that you are, too. When I teach, I always remind authors that the only constant in publishing is change. The important thing to me is that there are readers who want stories and there are stories being told. That will always remain the same, although the way that my stories get to you is changing now. More good news – I’ve done a lot of writing this year in preparation for this, so we can get off to a nice crisp start.

As mentioned, later this morning you can pop by here for the Dragonfire plan.

Short and Spooky Reads

At this time of year, people have believed that the veil between this world and the realm of the dead was thinner than usual. There was a full moon this week, as well, just adding to the spookiness factor. I suppose it makes sense that as the days grow shorter and the nights seem darker, that we think about ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. This is a great time of year for horror writers and movies.

I don’t tend to write horror, but I do like ghost stories and spooky stories. I do have a couple of seasonal stories that might interest you – both are 99 cents.

First there’s a spooky little short story of mine that’s available only on Amazon for Kindle. It is NOT a romance, and since it’s just over 3,000 words, it doesn’t have a table of contents. I like it, though, and I think of it every fall when I’m walking in the wind.

It’s called The Leaves and here’s the link.

Halloween is also a time for the undead to rise. I’m not written many vampire romances, although I did love the vampire books written by Anne Rice. Here’s the only one of mine published so far – it’s a short story written for The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance II. The antho was published simultaneously in the UK and I loved their title – the UK house called it Love Bites. My story is called Coven of Mercy, and is a little bit different take on vampires. It again is a short story but is a romance – this is about 10,000 words in length You can buy the whole antho, or you can just try my story. Here’s the Amazon link, the B&N link, the Smashwords link, the KOBO link and the Sony link. It’s also on Apple, but the iTunes links are territory-dependent, so you’ll need to hunt it down yourself.

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope the goblins at your door tonight are just looking for candy!

Dragons in My Future – and Yours!

We’re talking about linked series this week, keeping the faith with readers, and future plans for existing series of mine. Today we’re talking about my dragons. (Well, actually, they’re dragon shape shifters.)

I have two dragon series, Dragonfire, which is paranormal romance, and The Dragon Diaries, which is a spin-off paranormal YA series.

1/ The Dragon Diaries
First, the executive summary.

My idea for the Dragon Diaries grew out of story, not out of a particular desire on my part to write YA. I realized that Zoë, who is the daughter of Erik Sorensson and believed by her father to be the next Wyvern of the Pyr, would come into her powers at puberty. This development would be more challenging for her than for the other Pyr teenagers, because there is only ever one Wyvern at a time so there’s no one to give Zoë advice. Also, previous Wyverns have been mysterious and elusive – even her dad isn’t sure of everything they could do. I thought her coming of age would be a fun teenage adventure, and it was terrific fun to write. Book #3, BLAZING THE TRAIL, will be published in June.

People have already asked me where the teenage dragons go from here. I really like where the series ends (no spoilers from me!) and the possibilities it opens for the future of these kids. On the other hand, I don’t really see the stories of the kids we’ve met so far as YA books. The Pyr guys, for example, will see major character developments when they have their respective firestorms. Maybe they are “new adult” books. Or maybe there could be a spin-off paranormal romance series featuring the next generation. There are also all of the younger Pyr who were too young to have roles in this YA series. It’s possible that they could have their own YA series. So, I’m not sure where this goes, at least not right now. Ideas are simmering, and I need to wait for one to come to the boil.

As a result, the YA book that I have in work is totally unconnected to the Pyr. It’s paranormal YA, and in very early stages. At this point, I’m not sure there will be dragons in it at all. In a way, that’s part of the adventure of writing it!

2/ Dragonfire
Again, an executive summary.

This paranormal romance series currently stands at seven novels in print and one short story. Dragonfire #8 will be published in October of this year and is called EMBER’S KISS. I’ve always thought there would be a total of 13 books in the Dragonfire series, but have been playing around with that assumption this year. Thorolf and Sloane will have their own books – and Sloane will be last, as the Apothecary must heal the world – but in documenting my loose ends, I’m thinking of different ways to resolve them.

There is Marco, the Sleeper, whose story even I don’t know in its totality. He’s interesting, though, and likely merits his own book. (I really do want to see Marco be surprised, and have to think of what kind of woman would be able to surprise him. Hmm.)

There is Drake and also his Dragon’s Tooth Warriors. One of the things that can be frustrating about writing a linked series is that I like to have an over-riding story arc. So, Drake and his guys disappeared in DARKFIRE KISS. I know where they are and what they’re doing, but each time I add a scene to update readers about Drake’s adventures, my editor thinks it distracts from the story at hand. It’s very hard to build the over-arching story if virtually all scenes have to be in the POV of the hero and heroine of the moment, and have to directly impact the resolution of their conflict. So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to tell the adventures of Drake and his dudes. I think digital-first novellas might work, so I plan to write the first novella this summer and see how it works out on the page. I still suspect that Drake will get his own book, but shouldn’t his guys get their HEA’s too?

In addition, there are a few new loose ends that you don’t know about yet because you haven’t read EMBER’S KISS. They might also be well resolved in novellas.

I’m now looking at either ten books plus novellas (depending on how the novella plan works out) or twelve (maybe thirteen) books.

(N.B. – someone mentioned on FB, that not all readers read digital novellas – I know that because I’m one of them! I should make clear here that my intention would be to gather the novellas together into anthologies, which would be available both in both print and digital formats. That’s what I like about the idea of doing them in groups.)

There’s also a new possibility for another spin-off paranormal romance series, given the events in EMBER’S KISS.

My dragons are in flight right now, and I’m still watching their flight patterns to see their destinations! I’ll let you know when I know.

3/ Other Stuff
I also would like to diversify my Cooke brand a bit – that’s publisher-talk for my writing paranormal romance that stars creatures other than dragon shape shifters. I wouldn’t mind getting back to my Coven of vampires, for example, and there is another idea taking shape on my hard drive. I doubt that much will come together before the fall, partly because it’s so exciting to think about possibilities (and partly because I have Claire’s stories and dragon stories to tell.)

So, now you know what I know! Things can change due to opportunities arising, but this is my working plan right now. I like it.

Visit from J.K. Coi

Today, my guest author is J.K. Coi, back for another visit to Alive & Knitting. Her previous posts here were The Art of Relaxation and The Surprise Hero.

Please welcome her back!

I have a holiday story out this year called FAR FROM BROKEN and it’s part of the A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS anthology, now available from Carina Press.

This was the first time I’d ever written something with a holiday theme of any kind (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Arbor Day…)  It was nice to write it in the springtime because it gave me a surge of wonderful warm holiday spirit just when all the dreary rain was coming down (that might just have been the rum LOL), but I also wanted the book to appeal to readers beyond the Christmas season.

I think this story does that, because while it conveys a familiar Christmas theme—it’s also a theme people can relate to at any time of year. Strength. Forgiveness. Hope.

Have you ever been told a lie, or discovered that someone close to you kept a secret—the kind of thing that made you second guess whether you knew that person at all, if your relationship could survive the deception? Hopefully not. I like to think that people are basically honest. And yet, lies can be told – not with the intent of hurting anyone, but in an attempt to protect. Sometimes we tell ourselves that certain lies are harmless or they serve a greater good…or are those just more lies designed to make us feel better for our deception?

In FAR FROM BROKEN Jasper lies to his wife, Callie, about his involvement as a spy for the War Office…only to come home from his last mission to find that she’s been taken and tortured for information by his enemies. Now they have a long, hard road ahead of them, and forgiveness is harder to come by because of the difficult physical recovery Callie has undergone, made even more complicated by the fact that to save her life, she had to be fitted with mechanical limbs.

You’re wondering when I’m going to write a comedy, aren’t you?

Yes, I know. I write ‘em dark and angsty, but I can’t seem to help it. The characters who come to me are always damaged. Ah, but…FAR FROM BROKEN. There can be no light without shadow, right?

So, thank you for visiting with me! I’d love to offer a gift to one commenter today, so for a digital copy of FAR FROM BROKEN, please leave me a comment.

Tell me, have you ever told a lie because you wanted to protect someone from being hurt? Did it work, or were they only hurt worse when they discovered the deception? And what are your favourite holiday stories?


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