Warning, this is going to be a big mess of a post.
2014: TO HELL AND BACK
I had big plans in 2014. Big plans.
And then around mid-year it all kind of fell in a heap on me. May 2nd. That was the day it started, and from there it was just a big dwindling mess of June, July, August and September – illness surged, people I loved died, I couldn’t keep up with what I was trying to do, whether it was the sport I was coaching, or my writing, or generally life (which is super, super hard to admit from someone who likes to achieve and doesn’t like failing), and basically I fell into a big black hole of fatigue when my colitis flared (and fatigue isn’t tired, trust me on this. Fatigue is like watching the Walking Dead, only, you are the Walking Dead. You sit and stare at your computer for hours on end, and only a grey haze emits in your mind, you can get through the day only by taking four two hour naps sometimes, and by the time seven o’clock rolls around and your boyfriend comes home you’re in tears. Not because something bad happened but just Because. You. Can’t. Even. Anymore).
The unfortunate fact is that I live with chronic illness (basically my immune system likes to pick on major internal organs and hasn’t quite got the memo that I need them to operate), and in May I was diagnosed with autoimmune issue number three. It’s usually not too bad. I take medications to suppress my immune system so it’s not strong enough to kill my liver/colon/now bile ducts, I don’t drink, I eat right, exercise, and my doc’s are always amazed at how well I am. Only, this time I don’t get to pop a magic pill, and make it all good like the other two, this time I’m headed toward a liver transplant, be it in 5, 10, 15 years, whatever. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it unfortunately.*
So that kind of… threw me. I had this magic block in my head where life was going to end in ten years time. Don’t ask me why I picked ten years, I just did. And things will get kind of unpleasant before then, because to get on the liver transplant list, basically you have to be sick enough that you’re only going to last another six months.
And everything in my mind went; what about children; can I have them; will I be able to raise them when I can barely get out of bed; what about my boyfriend; will he still love me when I am sick because chronic ill health is really, really hard to deal with; what about travel, which is my major love; my cancer risks just went through the roof; I won’t be able to play sport or run or lead an active life; how can I afford this; I need money to deal with my health, so I need to get writing, but I can’t write, I just can’t because of this bloody awful fog in my head…
And everything kind of associated with that.
This is not a cry for sympathy. I’m cool. I’m through it. I got to the point where I had to say, there will be life after this transplant. As in my theory of all things sick or pain related – just push through, it will only be a few years, and then everything is back on track. So I’m in a good place, but I just wanted to explain where my head was at, and possibly why any emails anyone sent might have gone unanswered because – grey fog of fatigue – and why the Will vs Blade serial story in my newsletter kind of disappeared… I had no inspiration. My writing dried up, and the more I pushed (why can’t I get 3000 words a day like I usually can! Duh, I’m sick. Let’s try for 300. Maybe even 30 instead.)
It was kind of hard/weird. Because usually my mind doesn’t operate like that. I always believe in glass-half-full, and life is awesome. But this time life wasn’t awesome.
Every time I felt like life was getting good, and 2014 was going to be my bitch, something else came along (like a flu with the type of wrath I’ve never felt before, or I tear my calf muscle and there goes my budding new fitness campaign, or my mum rings to let me know my nan – who has severe Alzheimer’s – has been re-diagnosed with cancer). And they weren’t huge things, but it was enough to kind of throw me back into my I-really-hate-2014 sludge.
The last few years have been really hard for my family, but even through that I was the cheerleader or the pep squad, I got to be mum to everyone else and push them through. But this time it was me. And this time I was the one who needed someone else to be my cheerleader (Which happened. My boyfriend, mum, and my sister Kara were awesome, and some of my netball friends really helped me put a lot in perspective). I’ve always been the kind of person who just soldiers through, keeps it all quiet, and puts a smile on my face, but this time I needed some love and I got it, and something really amazing occurred to me – you need to let people know when things are tough.
Yes, yes I know I am stupid.
BACK ON TRACK
I think the hardest thing about this entire situation has been not having any control over it, and letting go of that fear of failure. So I’ve been working on the things that I can control, and not worrying about those that I can’t. I have so many things to be grateful about (including Australia’s health insurance system, thank goodness).
I won’t lie. November was good. December was good. I’m feeling fit after getting back into the gym and doing boot camp, I’m discovering all these wonderful new gluten free recipes to play with, I kicked NaNoWriMo’s butt, and have a major business plan mapped out for 2015 plus heaps of works in progress. I cut off all my hair, and I’m now feeling like a new me, one who is so ready for 2015.
There are plans in place to travel to Mexico and Costa Rica with my brother this year even if I have to rob a bank (jokes), and the end of the first arc of London Steampunk will hit stores in March.
I’ve been waiting since Kiss of Steel for this book, where I get to say goodbye to Leo, Honoria, Lena, Blade, Will, Perry, Garrett, Lynch, Rosa and the rest of the gang. I’ve been planting seeds through the whole series for what is to come, and I hope you all enjoy it!
Don’t worry, I still have plans for another story arc in my blue blood world which I’ll hopefully self-publish later this year, but right now I’m focusing on a couple of other little stories that have been brewing for a few years. I was a little burnt out. I need to be fresh and play with something else for a couple of months, and then I’m diving into Eric’s story (the Scandinavian verwulfen you may remember from Heart of Iron). There might also be a glimpse of Lena and Will beckoning from that story, as I’m nearly finished mapping it out.
I’m also keen to start playing with a little bit of a different style, genre and format to really stretch my writing skills. By this I mean I’m working on something in a first person POV, something in first person present POV for my agent, and something else in a serial format (by that I mean a little episodic, kind of like a TV show, not just one book cut up into several parts). Plus the usual. There is paranormal and steampunk goodness galore for me to dive into.
I’ve always been a polygamist when it comes to reading and writing, and there are so many stories that want my attention.
So keep an eye out, as there are grand schemes ahoy!
PS. I wish every one else a fantastic 2015 too!
* SIDE NOTE: I remember ticking that form when I first got my driver’s license (kinda pessimistic of the road network I think) at 18, saying I was happy to donate organs in the case of no longer needing them. And you never really think you or someone else will ever need a transplant until it happens. So please, please, wherever you are, please think about it (I’m not saying do it, that’s your choice, but please think about your choice). It’s not a nice thing to think about, but there are so many people out there who need a transplant, and I never even realised it until now.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHOY FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T WATCHED VIKINGS SEASON ONE AND TWO
So I started watching Vikings with my boyfriend earlier this year – he loves that kind of thing, and so do I, plus hot men! – and for the first few episodes I was really excited about Ragnar’s story. He’s a compelling hero, and I liked his relationship with his wife, his children and his quest to conquer what was essentially parts of England and France. He’s precisely the type of hero I like watching, wondering at his character evolution. I was fully expecting this to be all full of bro-love and how cool these men are (and I don’t mind that at all), but the series has taken an unexpected turn for me.
Halfway through Season One I started paying more attention to his wife, Lagertha. Here’s this woman, a viking shield maiden who can kick some serious ass (oh, be still my heart!), is a good mother and wife, kind, clever… basically all things cool. And viking society being what it is, Ragnar accidentally gets another woman pregnant, as he wants children more than he wants Lagertha. My romance writer heart was devastated, and I was thinking oh no, here it comes, the bitch fighting etc.
But the script writers were way ahead of me there. Lagertha isn’t the type of woman to slap down another woman. She supports her, even when the other woman bears a crippled son, and sticks up for her. I HATED the other woman for a long time, but I’m starting to think the relationship between these two women is probably the most fascinating part of the show for me now, especially the path that Lagertha is taking. Does she just sit there and let her husband take two wives? Hell, no. Ragnar loves them both and expects to keep them both, but Lagertha is all “I’m going to be your equal”. She rides off into the sunset, gets herself another husband (an abusive bastard, at that, but then she doesn’t take his shit for long either), earns the respect of his men, becomes a female earl/jarl, and comes back and saves the day when Ragnar desperately needs an ally. Men respect her, some of them love her, and even the other women are all, “I want to be like Lagertha.” There’s one moment where some man holds a knife to her throat, and she literally stares him down, pushes the knife aside and tells him why he won’t rape/hurt her. As for the second wife, Aslaug, I’ve gotten over Ragnar’s betrayal. It’s clear that she knows how cool Lagertha is, both respects her and envies her (I think she wants to be like Lagertha too), but I also like how she’s trying to do her best, especially when life throws her some challenges. She’s really growing on me, and I love how they both push their sons to know each other and their father. I expected Vikings to be all brutish fight scenes ala 300, but the complex relationships are totally winning the show.
For the first time, I don’t want the man to get the girl (or both of them in this case). Ragnar’s pretty, but he’s no longer the main reason I’m watching this show. And he cheated on his wife after she miscarried, and also after their daughter died of illness. I’m hoping she sticks to her guns and doesn’t take him back, but I respect her for still having a relationship with him and his new family.
I have a girl crush and I’m not afraid to admit it.*
*Please excuse my over-excited rambling. Is there a point to this post? Possibly. I’m just getting excited about all of the strong female characters we’re starting to see on film. Hollywood may be a little behind when it comes to movies, but I’m liking how TV shows are almost the forerunner here. Other shows where my inner feminist is waving flags or can’t wait to watch? Peggy Carter, Agents of S.H.I.EL.D, Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Buffy, Sons of Anarchy, NCIS (my other girl crush Ziva), Spartacus… Yes, some bad things happen to women on these shows, sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes they do bad things, but I like how the women in all these shows transform themselves from this and how the men respect them for their mad skills – also, I love that sometimes the female characters can be just as dangerous as their male counterparts, if not more so. Case in point – Gemma Teller from SOA, Lucretia and Ilithyia from Spartacus, Katherine from Vampire Diaries.
First chance to get your hands on an ARC of Of Silk And Steam!
The giveaway is available at Goodreads, and there are five copies up for grabs from my publisher, Sourcebooks!
It’s open to US only, so if you are not in the US keep an eye on the blog here in the next month, as I’ll be sure to offer some international giveaways myself. Good luck!
So What’s Going On In My World?
* Right now, I’m going hammer and tongs at a WIP trying to make my 50,000 words by the end of the month for NaNoWriMo. November is National Novel Writers Month, and the challenge has been set. I made the target last year, but I think I’m going to miss it by a bare couple of thousand words, as I lost 6k on Tuesday, which has set me behind. *weeps*
*In other news, I’m now googling backup systems like OneDrive and DropBox, so if you have any recommendations, throw ‘em at me.
*Also, I’ve been stalking several RSPCA’s, as we’re keen to get another dog or puppy, to give our staffie a friend. Not sure what to get, as we need something that’s going to match Kobe in personality, and also be happy to live with her – and vice versa. It breaks my heart every time we go in, because there are so many old dogs and cats, and I have this horrible feeling that they’re not going to be adopted. Would love to take them all, but if they clashed with Kobe, it would be devastating, so forcing ourselves to be patient.
Kiss of Steel is only $1.99 at the moment on Kobo. Amazon has price matched and iBooks has it at $2.99.
Forged By Desire is up for Best Steampunk Romance 2014 at Under the Covers if you feel the urge to vote. There’s some tough competition in Meljean Brooks and Delilah Dawson.
Pre-Order Of Silk And Steam:
Of Silk And Steam is available for pre-order at Amazon and iBooks. Cheapest price I’ve seen is $4.61 for ebook, so get it while it’s hot!
I’m glad so many of you had so much fun working out who your perfect match in the London Steampunk world would be! It feels a little like Blade might have rigged some of the quiz…
The winner of the $30 Amazon gift card is Jessica Ashbaugh – or comment number 64.
The winner of the second prize signed copies of Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron is Stephanie Burgess – or number 14.*
Please contact me with your addresses by contact page. If I don’t receive any replies by 5th October, I’ll draw the prize again.
Thanks for playing!
*Both numbers chosen by random number generator.
Forged By Desire is out in the world!
EDITED TO ADD:
There’s a couple of really good deals going at the moment. As we all know, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is free on most ebook retailers, but Amazon has My Lady Quicksilver listed on kindle at $2.99, and Forged By Desire has dropped to $4.80 eBook and $5.05 for paperback. I really don’t know how long these two will last as I’m usually the last to know – so get it while it’s hot! – but TCCOCM is going to be free until the end of September if that helps.
Also, Book Depository has 30% off both Kiss of Steel and My Lady Quicksilver paperbacks at the moment – free shipping worldwide.
Here are a couple of reviews for Forged By Desire:
‘I cannot say enough praises for the London Steampunk series and specifically, Forged by Desire. The mystery and intrigue built into the superbly crafted plot kept me engrossed and excited throughout the entire book. Yet it is the love story of Garrett and Perry that provides immense satisfaction and emotional gratification. With its unusual mix of paranormal, steampunk, historical, and mystery elements, the author creates a unique setting and world with an honest to goodness romance at the core. You really should be reading this series!’ - Jen at That’s What I’m Talking About
‘Well, we know Garrett finally saw Perry as a desirable woman at the end of My Lady Quicksilver, and I was surprised to see that neither of them could act like it never happened. Oh, they tried, but the non-stop sexual tension and banter between them was insanely sexy!! This is one couple who isperfectly right for each other and I loved seeing the journey they took from partners to friends and that final step to lovers.’ – Heather C at The Blogger Girls
Don’t forget to take the Who’s Your London Steampunk Perfect Match quiz (previous blog post) to work out who your ideal London Steampunk hero is – and enter the giveaway! It’s open until 22nd September 2014!
With the release of Forged By Desire (2nd Sept 2014), I thought I’d post a fun little quiz. Want to know who your perfect-match London Steampunk hero is? At the end, let me know in the comments who your match is to go into the draw to win a $30 Gift Voucher from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice)…
To score, simply jot down your answers to the following questions, and check out the score at the end! (No peeking! LOL)
1. What’s the sexiest thing a man can wear?
A: Black leather from head-to-toe
B: Nothing but skin
C: A tuxedo, with bow tie
D: Leather coat and red velvet waistcoat
E: A sexy smile…
2. What’s the sexiest thing he could whisper in your ear?
A: “You look beautiful. Though I prefer you in red. And wet…”
B: “You’re mine, mo cridhe…”
C: “Keep the mask…”
D: “I have no plans to hurt you… Unless I plan on stealing your heart. Then you should be on your guard.”
E: “Can’t ‘elp meself, you were made to be stared at…”
3. What would be your perfect date (Victorian-era style)?
A: A bottle of blud-wein, a roaring fire, and a night in, with a sumptuous bed nearby covered in silks and furs
B: A midnight waltz in the Venetian gardens, with perhaps a swim… sans clothing
C: A dance at a ball, followed by a stolen kiss in a darkened corner
D: Dinner at an exclusive restaurant, then tickets to a bawdy play, and a slow seduction
E: A battle of wits over chess, with the winner taking all…
4. What gift would you prefer from your hero?
A: Fully modified pistol with firebolt bullets that explode on impact
B: Himself, tied up in a big, red, bow
C: A chess set
D: Something sexy, lacy… and easy to remove…
E: A knife; perfectly balanced and made to slip between a pair of ribs
5. What traits do you admire most in your hero?
A: Leadership qualities, a sense of suave, and a mind that is always several moves ahead
B: Honour, intelligence and complete trustworthiness
C: Protective, cunningly intelligent and a sense of humour
D: Complete comfort in his own skin, humour and charm
E: Protective, honest and loyal
6. What flaws can you overlook in your hero?
A: A guarded heart and emotional detachment
B: Gruffness and the type of manners that would see you thrown out of Court
C: Glibness and a stubborn streak a mile wide
D: Appalling taste in clothing and a slightly manipulative tendency
E: The urge to control all situations
7. What catches your eyes first when a sexy hero walks into a pub?
A: Wicked eyes and a dangerous stride that reminds you of a predator wondering just how delicious you’d be…
B: The kind of face that makes you think of a fallen angel, and a mouth made for sin…
C: Thighs like tree-trunks and the type of build that indicates some serious heavy-lifting.
D: A sexy smile that could melt the coldest heart, and have a lady’s stockings hit the floor.
E: Shoulders that were made to be stared at and hands that look like they could play the pianoforte – or over your naked skin…
1. a—1, b—0, c—2, d—3, e—4
2. a—2, b—0, c—1, d—4, e—3
3. a—3, b—4, c—0, d—2, e—1
4. a—0, b—3, c—1, d—4, e—2
5. a—4, b—1, c—3, d—2, e—0
6. a—4, b—0, c—2, d—3, e—1
7. a—3, b—4, c—0, d—2, e—1
WHO’S YOUR HERO?
Congratulations! Dashing and daring, with the smooth charm of a duke, Leo Barrons is your man!
The urbane Leo Barrons guards a troubled heart – but if you let him, he’ll steal your own. An alpha to the core, he’s a dashing figure, smart and sophisticated, and quite content to guard his heroine’s back – and hold her reticule – if she needs to do her own manhandling. Dangerously seductive, he’ll require a fiery heroine with the smarts to match him on all levels…
Pre-order Of Silk And Steam (March 2015) if you want to seduce Leo.
Congratulations! Blade, the darkly flirtatious Devil of Whitechapel is for you!
A dangerous man, the Devil of Whitechapel isn’t afraid to back down to anyone, and has, on occasion, dabbled in slightly illegal affairs, but if you have his heart, then you’ll never want for anything. Charming, seductive and fiercely protective of those he considers ‘family’, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Only a brave woman could expect to handle him… Or let him handle her.
Read Kiss of Steel to tempt the Devil.
Congratulations! Reckless charmer, Garrett Reed, is your perfect hero!
The type of man who can gain a woman’s guilty confession with but a single devastating smile, Garrett Reed is a rake who’s just begging to be reformed. Loyal, protective and good fun to be with, Garrett would be perfect for a woman who doesn’t mind being pursued. Don’t think he’s a push-over however. This handsome beta has a stubborn streak a mile wide, and he knows women. Through-and through…
Read Forged By Desire to fall prey to Garrett’s charm.
Congratulations! Your perfect match is the cool and clinical Nighthawk, Lynch, who just demands some ruffling!
The type of alpha male who is always in control, Jasper Lynch is powerful, intelligent and coolly rational – except when it comes to his one weakness, the woman he loves. He’ll expect you to be his match in all ways – but he’ll support you when you need it and isn’t afraid to let his guard down first…
Read My Lady Quicksilver to discover the force-of-nature that is Sir Jasper Lynch.
Congratulations! Brutish Will Carver is yours for the taming!
Stubborn and protective, with a heart of gold, beta-hero Will Carver is a man who’ll never turn away from those he loves. While he might not be so trusting, and guards a heart he doesn’t understand, Will is the perfect match for a woman who wants to be cherished and supported in all ways.
Read Heart of Iron to fall in love with Will.
For a chance to win a $30 Amazon Gift Voucher, tell me who your perfect hero is.
Second prize is a signed copy of Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron … Open internationally.
The prizes will be drawn on September 22nd, 2014, by Rafflecopter!
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is live on Amazon for $2.99.
PLEASE NOTE: that I am offering the book for FREE for a limited time, but I need it to go up at the other distributors (Nook, Ibooks, Kobo etc.) before Amazon will price match.
Want it now for FREE? Smashwords have it in MOBI versions, EPUB and .rtf. Or I expect it will be up at other retailers within the week. It’s not a HEA romance – after all that is coming in Forged By Desire – but expect to see come confrontations and a certain heroine coming to realise her feelings, at least. Enjoy!
EDITED TO ADD: It’s live at iTunes for free! Still waiting on Kobo and B&N.
Friends, partners, and professionals. So just why is this case coming between them?
In a Victorian London ruled by the blood-drinking elite, Perry Lowell is a logical and accomplished Nighthawk: a rogue blue blood who tracks murderers and thieves for the Guild. So when she and her charming-but-reckless partner, Garrett, are charged with finding a missing theatre starlet, it should be a simple solve.
But with an entire theatre of suspects, including a flirtatious understudy and whispers of a Clockwork Menace haunting the place, tension is brewing between the pair of them. Can they come together to solve the case – or will it be too late, when the murderer turns his gaze on Perry herself?
Warning: This is not a complete HEA. It’s a pre-romance novella featuring the couple who will find their HEA in Forged By Desire (available Sept 2014). Heads will butt, tempers will flare – and perhaps one of them might come to realise just what the other truly means to them?
I’ve just returned home from the Romance Writers of Australia conference, which was held in Sydney over the weekend. Picture 350+ avid romance writers. It’s a little like a flock of seagulls; noisy and circling the food tables, going ‘MINE! MINE! MINE!!’ before they pounce on the pastries. The keynote speaker was Cherry Adair – who is my new lady crush, with her fabulous shoes – and Marie Force was an international guest, plus a VERY savvy business lady. I want to be Marie Force when I grow up. Or maybe I just want to have her daily word output.
Highlights of the conference:
* Cherry Adair. Seriously, this lady is hilarious and such a ball of energy. If you ever need a keynote speaker, send her an invitation! She was still going strong in the bar on Sunday night I hear, regaling everyone with either words of inspiration or possibly tall tales…
*Cocktail Party. The costume theme this year was Leather and Lace. Kudos to the lady who pulled off Cher.
Yes, in that outfit.
* Finally meeting Anne Gracie in person. She has been raving about my series online and spruiking it to everyone she meets, and is just such a lovely, gracious lady, as well as a top-notch writer. For a debut author (well, kind of debut), it’s kind of like being a newbie on the music scene, and having Beyonce rave about your work. I’m like, OMG, but you’re Anne Gracie!
* Getting to meet so many fabulous readers – and authors – at the Australian Romance Readers Association book signing.
*Watching the waitressing staff try not to piss themselves laughing during Cherry Adair’s Literacy High Tea speech. I could just see the poor girl near me repeating, ‘You must be professional. Be professional, be professional…’, in her head as she poured my tea while Cherry described a sex scene on horseback during a chase scene, along with accompanying gestures. I’m guessing that’s been the craziest – and most entertaining – conference the waitress has ever worked at…
* The ‘blood-splash’ curtains in the hotel rooms. Whoever thought that would be a good idea in decorating?
* Meeting all my writing buddies again, and making many more new friends!
Shenanigans were involved, as always, with my writing buddies (from left to right): Kylie Griffin (fantasy romance), Jennie Kew (erotic and contemporary), moi, and Dakota Harrison (contemporary). PS, this is the costume party, we don’t usually dress like that.
* Turning up to the cocktail party and walking past my friend Kylie Griffin forty times, because I didn’t recognise her in her costume – and she doesn’t usually attend. (Also, I didn’t have my glasses on, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I kept thinking, ‘Who is this woman that is grinning at me? Do I know her?’ Kudos to Dakota, who saw her name tag and demanded to know where she’d gotten Kylie Griffin’s name badge from, before the penny dropped!
*The amazing food! It’s been the best conference in terms of food – was devastated to get to the cocktail party after eating a burger, only to find heaps of delicious platters being circulated! Usually we are all starving and that one glass of champagne goes straight to your head! (Ha, ha, one glass…) We thought we’d be so wise this year and it totally backfired. Also, the awards dinner menu was superb! It’s alternating plates, and usually I always get the meal I don’t like, but everything on the menu was fantastic.
*Eating my body weight in passionfruit over the weekend. The fruit platters were OMG, Nom, nom….
In summing up, conference is always a shot of inspiration, and my mind is reeling with ideas I can’t wait to get to work on.
In other news, there was a Facebook Chat Party this morning (or yesterday’s evening if you’re American), and if you want to check out what went down, click here (in which we bribe you with pics of tattoos and hot, bearded men). Featuring Meljean Brook, Karina Cooper, Kristen Callihan and Delilah S. Dawson (and me), it was a blast.
Love steampunk? Parnormal romance? Giveaways? Getting to join some of your favourite authors for a fun Facebook chat?
Then clear the diary – on Monday 11th August, between 6:30 – 9:30pm (EDT), I’ll be joining Karina Cooper and Kristen Callihan over at Meljean Brook’s Facebook Page. Click here for more details!