Monday, December 22, 2014

A Very Sinclair Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all! It's a busy time of year for everyone and my household is no exception. However, I was able to finish up a short little seasonal story about my Sinclair boys. After all, this is the first real Christmas they've had, so it was worthy of celebration. They (and I, of course) wish you all the best!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Doing something stupid

Every now and then, I convince the super realistic, boring, responsible part of me to do something crazy. Now, for some of you who read this, what I'm about to say won't sound insane at all. In fact, it will sound like something millions of people are doing around the world all the time.

I just self-published my first book.

Okay, so it's not even really a book. It's a short story. One that I wrote a long time ago in college when I way playing around with retelling some of my favorite tropes. But I love it and always have. Worse, I know there's no way to expand it into a full story without losing that fairy tale-esque feeling.

Then a friend introduced me to the Kindle Short Reads. Finally, a place where flash fiction and short stories can get published and enjoyed by others.

Cue the hyperventilation, the craziness of legally agreeing to sell my book on Amazon, and voila! My book is in the review process right now and will soon be available for digital shelves.

Holy poop, it's a brave new world out there.

*     *     *     *     *

And here it is!!!

Set against the backdrop of an unseen war, this fantastical short story reimagining of "The Three Little Pigs" tells the story of three sisters. When unknown soldiers come to town, led by a wolf of a captain, the youngest sister is forced to decide what she values most: saving her greedy older sisters or bringing peace to a wounded man.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Holy cow, it has been forever since I've been able to get on here! Life has been pretty crazy thanks to my other job (the non-writing one). However, I have some updates!

  • I'm hard at work on the Lawmen series. These books take place in The Republic, the same galaxy Lace & Lead is set in. Right now I'm working with a five-book arc and I am so excited to introduce you all to the incredible cast of characters on First Lieutenant Alexander Cade's spec ops team. More importantly, these books have granted me the opportunity to delve into issues that matter deeply to me. The stories may not be light and fluffy, but sometimes the happiest endings occur after dark events. Once I have more news, I'll be able to provide more specific news.
  • My new adult novella I recently submitted is soon going to be joined with a companion novella. Both will focus on firsts: one heroine is losing her virginity for the first time, and the other is getting into a healthy, committed relationship for the first time. 
  • I'm trying my hand at something new, a short erotic novel. I'm really falling in love with my hero of this one and am looking forward to trying my hand at something I've never delved into before. Those courses from RWA conference are going to pay off now in a big way!
  • I've also entered an incredible writing contest with a short contemporary new adult story titled Winning. I won't hear back on that one until October and regardless of whether or not I place, I've enjoyed getting the experience.

My writing life is busy, but life at home has been too. Our handsome little Loki has almost grown into his ears and will be one smart cookie. Fall has hit Alaska; the leaves are golden, the fireweed has gone to seed, and the air has a sharp bite to the cold now. My official guess is that we'll have our first snowfall within the next three weeks. You may hold me to that...

So, there's the newest update. Once I have more info I can release, I'll be sure to do it here!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

RWA 2014 Debriefing

Okay, if you’re looking for a short blog post, skip this one. I’m still reeling from the RWA Conference, but I promise it’s in the best way possible. Every second of sensory overload was worth it. I will also warn that my use of adjectives is—at best—repetitive and—at worse—something worse.

Day 1...The Travel

I left for the conference from Sacramento, California. On the plane I met several people who were also going to the conference, including Mary Tate Engels, who graciously allowed me to pick her brain about what to do with a backlist and how to approach the conference. She and I hung out together as we collected our luggage and were going to take the airport shuttle to the hotels.

Another woman was standing near the ticket booth and since the man running it had stepped out, the three of us got into a conversation. The newest lady asked if we all wanted to share a taxi to get there (cheaper and much nicer than taking an hour on a loop of the major hotels). Since we were about to become taxi buddies, we introduced ourselves. Turned out that nice woman was Brenda Novak.

Cue fangirl moment #1.

We all hopped into a taxi and discussed a ton of stuff in our ten minute taxi ride. Brenda discussed more about the industry (I now will be looking up ACX) and mentioned that one of her newest book series is set in Alaska and she might have to pick my brain.

Cue me handing over my business card with a personalized note about emailing me for Alaska info while praying that she wouldn’t notice how rabidly excited I had become to be of use.

I reached my hotel. I updated my family and husband that I was indeed alive and in San Antonio and that yes, it was much hotter than I was prepared for. I got my room. I showered. (You probably didn’t need to know that, but trust me, after hours on a plane, it was definitely one of those treats I couldn’t deny myself.) Then I headed across the street to go find two of my Harlequin forum buddies who were at the first-timers session (I got in too late to make it).

Stepping into the lobby of the Marriot stunned me. Literally. I stopped in my tracks and I’m sure all of the wonderful people milling about in the lobby probably thought, “Huh. Why does she look like a deer in the headlights and stop in the middle of the sliding glass door? Doesn’t she know it will try to close on her?”

Noise. And bodies. And happy squeals of greetings that I have now come to adore because it is one of the purest, most joyful sounds here. Oh, and a line for Starbucks that was at least 40 people deep.

I wandered upstairs, managed to check in and get a bag of loot, and started to get myself to rights. While waiting for the session to get out I was able to purchase my audio recordings of the full conference sessions (totally going to be my driving to work audiobook for a while). I stopped at the goody room and got more loot. Then I stood somewhere that I figured would be obvious and waited.

The session ended and out comes a flood of people. Again, overwhelming. Then I hear the squeal and find Carol and Cheryl (a.k.a. carolopal and CASpeakman from the boards). Cue hugging, gushing, and true wonder at meeting them in the flesh. I was starving and hadn’t eaten anything but a Rice Krispie treat lovingly made by my mother since 3:30 a.m., so Cheryl (who lives in San Antonio) took us to Dough. The food was incredible and it makes sense why it was featured on Food Network. She also brought macarons from Bakery Lorraine. We ate and talked and talked and talked and finally headed back to the hotels.

I unpacked. I ironed my clothes. I scheduled out my days. And I crashed hard.

Day 2…Let it begin…

Met C & C in the lobby for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. after getting a tea from the Starbucks. At this time, it was early enough to get in line and not wait a long time. By the way, the ladies working there are ah-mazing and fast and polite and should be tipped in gold bouillon. Just saying.

First session was “Bang! You’re Dead: Guns for Writers.” I’m a nerd and take tons of notes at conferences. 9 pages later the session ended. I thanked the presenter (Antoine de l’Espérance of Captive Unicorn Publications) and headed to session 2.

“Conquering High Concept” was equally fabulous. May Chen of Avon Books and authors Sarah MacLean and Sophie Jordan were leading the discussion. It was interactive, totally packed until people were spilling out the doors, and I took 6 pages of notes. There were a lot of gems of wisdom in this one. Here are my favorites:
  • “As a writer, you need to find the crazy and go for it.” - Sophie Jordan (supported enthusiastically by May Chen)
  • “Never write from a place of fear.” -Sarah MacLean
  • “You’re always searching for the impossibility…and how can it work out?” -Sophie Jordan
  • “Here’s how I describe the plot of a romance novel: shit happens when two idiots fall in love.” -Sarah MacLean
  • “As a writer, at three-quarters of the way [in your book] you should be asking, ‘How will they ever be together?’ and you have to trust yourself to answer that.” -Sarah MacLean

The session was inspiring and energizing. It made me want to go and write. Later that day I got a chance to thank Sarah for the presentation. She was so kind and generous and I suffered from major fangirl moment #2.

I took a break, sat in the lounge and worked on my pitch a bit. While there I met Anne Eliot (YA writer) and she worked with me on the pitch for a while. Again, totally friendly and kind person. And we’d met in the Starbucks line, so we got to talk for quite a while.

Cue lunch. Keynote speaker Sylvia Day. More bags of loot waiting for me.

I have to take a second to gush. Sylvia Day’s keynote speech was one of the most inspiring I’d heard. She covered everything, from industry to craft to personal joy. But it was the end of her speech that teared me up. She said something I really needed to hear.

Let me go off on a side tangent for a second. I’m not a best-seller. I just want to write good books and have people enjoy them. Sometimes in this industry, people tell you that that’s not enough. You have to make it big. You have to have thousands of followers. You have to be a best-seller. You have to tweet/blog/sell your soul at least twenty times a day to get more engagement. (I must pause to give a huge shout out of ridiculous gratitude for Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing for taking that risk on me…I’ve been pimping Escape as much as I can here because I really feel like I’ve made a dream connection on my first shot in the dark). 

Okay, now for the bitter truth.

Despite realizing my dream of having my books published, I have felt so inferior so often because I thought it was wrong that I just wanted to write more good stories while saying, “Screw the rest of it.”

Sylvia Day’s keynote was perfect because she said this:

“The only person who can make you real, make your books real, is you.”

Le tweet
I tweeted this quote because it so elegantly encapsulated the issue I’ve been struggling with. And more than that, it validated that it was okay for me to write just because I love it.

By the way, this incredible lady actually responded to that tweet. I favorited it. And I squealed. And I fangirled yet again. Dude, lots of that going on here. More came when, on Day 3 I discovered she had retweeted my quote and bunch of other people liked it. Holy cow.

Getting ahead of myself though…

Another great piece of advice she gave during her speech was, “You must ask yourself, ‘Am I afraid? Am I making the decision because I’m scared?’ Then throw the fear away…We are only the best writer we can be at this time. We can only get better.”

I walked out of that lunch feeling lighter and more inspired than I have since I got my first acceptance letter.

But that’s what this conference does. If you have great CP partners like I do, it’s like throwing two thousand of them together and releasing them on the world. (Love you Kari and JM! Someday we will meet and storm the romance barricade together!) This conference surrounds you with people who understand what you’re trying to do. They don’t look at you funny when you talk about your characters as real people, because everyone here feels the same way. You do not have to hide yourself here. It’s a miracle. It’s freeing.

I spent more time relaxing in the lounge and working on my pitch. I talked to more people and had a great conversation about Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird with Diane Hester.

I sojourned upstairs for “The Secret to Powerful Writing: Activate, Activate, Activate,” led by Claire Cavanaugh and Robin Perini. I know I’m running out of adjectives, so forgive me. It was nitty and gritty and again left me chomping at the bit to get writing. I wrote out the opening scene of The Wastes #2 there. Then Robin was even nice enough to answer one of my specific questions after the session and helped me tweak the scene to do what I needed it to. GAH! FANGIRL!!!!
Carol and me visiting with Travis

Off to the “Celebrating Authors” Reception. 

Lots of cowboys. Lots of food and fun and more people to meet. Pictures and interviews that might go up on Kindle Love Stories. Laughter. Blushing. Super cool.

Quick dinner at Denny’s for me since I seriously needed some downtime and was hungry again. I get hungry a lot when I travel…Anyway, my waitresses there were super friendly and very Texan and I adored them, especially when they confirmed that they did have my favorite soda, Dr. Pepper. Yeah, good people these Texans.

Back to the hotel for the Harlequin forums PJ party. I met tons of people who I had only known by their online handle. I met Shirley Hailstock (fangirling again) and she shared hilarious stories and beautiful wisdom and made our table snort tea. “Queen Elizabeth was gay.” If you’re laughing, you understand this inside joke and remember how we snorted our tea all over our red velvet cupcakes. If you’re not laughing, you had to be there. Sorry.

Back to the hotel. Shower. Promise to work on pitch. Exhaustion. Sleep.

Day 3 dawns

Wake up at 6 a.m. after a series of weird dreams involving the sensation of losing my grip on a whirling metal object and flying off into a void…Is there some kind of message there I’m missing? I once again practiced curling my wild, frizzy, untamable-in-Texas-humidity hair with my flat iron (my little sister is so proud I’ve finally learned to do this!) and headed across the street where we had a buffet breakfast and presentation by Cindy Ratzlaff. I left early to get in line for the Harlequin book signing.

Totally worth it.

Here’s the thing about the authors here. They’re kind. They’re personable. They ask you questions and really are genuinely interested in your response. I collected far too many books to take home because there was no way I couldn’t stop by to gush over their work or learn about a new book or series. I’ve given up counting my fangirl moments because there are too many.

Okay, that’s a lie. One more.

I came out of the Harlequin book signing and who is standing there but Jackie Ashenden. I preorder her books religiously. If I could have a writer spirit animal, it would be her because her heroes are dark and angsty and so real it hurts to read their stories. I love them and she’s an inspiration.

After some awkward pseudo-stalking (she was so gracious and didn’t act at all creeped out by my waiting to talk to her), we had a conversation. And, unbidden, I became so emotional and so embarrassed about being emotional because I had to thank her for writing those kind of heroes. Her kindness encouraged me to ask the question I’ve been trying to find an answer to.

Here’s the deal. I’ve been told by some people (not my editors, not my trusted CPs, but others who shall remain nameless) that my heroes are too dark, they’re too broken, and that they can’t work in romance. People don’t want them.

I asked Jackie if that was true.

She made a face somewhere between amusement and disbelief, shook her head, and promised me with complete conviction that it’s not true. That we need to be completely honest to our characters. If they’re dark, let them run with it because an editor can always tone it down, but we can’t amp that part of them up. That if we give in to those voices, we aren’t being true to ourselves as writers and then what’s the point?

I believe that God doesn’t let anything happen by accident. The timing of meeting her was too perfect, her advice too poignant, and her willingness to talk to a crazy fangirl too sweet and genuine for me to ever believe that coincidence alone led me to be given that advice by one of my favorite authors. When we doubt, signs are given that we need to trust that truest spark of ourselves and breathe it back into an inferno.

I apologized for fangirling and headed to the Avon signing where…MORE BOOKS!!! MORE AUTHORS!!! MORE FANGIRLING!!!

Are you noticing a pattern yet?

Had lunch with Carol and Cheryl, discussed our pitches, and then Cheryl and I headed across the street early for our pitching appointments.

This was my least favorite part of the day. Not because of my pitch. It was incredible to meet with the agent I had an appointment with; she was professional, answered my questions fully, and didn’t remind me of how nervous I was to sit across from her and pitch a story that’s dear to my heart. No matter how my submission to her goes, I feel honored that I made it that far and appreciate the time she gave to me.

The volunteers organizing the pitch sessions were amazing. So organized and efficient and funny and making what could have easily been a dire situation involving palm sweat and nerve-induced vomiting into a peaceful experience.

Several of the fellow writers I met during this sessions were a joy to sit beside. They were passionate and dedicated.

However, as with any meat market situation, there was an element of cattiness in some of the other women waiting in the room. I realize that I was in an unusual position. I love Escape and didn’t feel the need to pitch to another publisher at this point in my career, so I only signed up for an agent appointment. However, when appointments weren’t filled, the opportunity would arise for women to jump into that open slot.

This is when I heard whispered conversations about how unfair it was that some writers jumped over others for this opportunity. The potential for tearing each other down was too great for some of the people in the room and they seemed to enjoy complaining about the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t ruin the conference or the pitching event for me. If anything, it reminded me that even in such a tightly knit, supportive community as romance writers are, there are always people who will focus on those “what-ifs” instead of the “what-nows.” The desire for personal success is a risk of any creative art and it happened to show its stripes at this point.

Okay, back on target with this post…agent pitch went well and I was very happy with the result. As was my family, who had been praying for me all afternoon.

After the pitching experience, I went to the session held by Maisey Yates and Jackie Ashenden about “Protecting Your Joy.” This was the ultimate pep talk for a yes-woman like me who often can’t escape that niggling doubt that my publication is a fluke. And I walked out again feeling empowered and ready to come back to my laptop and tackle my writing.

I swear, if this conference has taught me anything, it has taught me that I love writing. I cannot be happy without it in my life, regardless of fame or publication or review ratings. I bring my own baggage to the table, but as Maisey Yates said in the session, “If something doesn’t add to you more than it takes away from you, it’s not worth having it around you.”

Spent a little more time with Carol and Cheryl before I headed off to prepare for the Harlequin authors party. To put it mildly, it was a blast. I was in awe of all the great authors who were there…I mean, it couldn’t be real that I was there too. It was my Cinderella moment.

Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke...
wicked awesome ladies!
My fellow Escape Artist Nicole Flockton introduced me to Kristina Knight, Jenn Burke, and Kelly Jensen. Jenn, Kelly, and I actually ended up migrating to one of the outdoor balconies and talking about our SFR (they just had a 5 book deal picked up by Carina and I cannot wait to read it!), video games, writing process, asshole heroes, strong heroines, magic, demons, fantasy worlds, and everything under the sun. I am so grateful I got to meet them at the party. Talking with them was effortless and I will celebrate every new book release they have.

I came back to my hotel to look over my loot and to pack since I was due to leave the next morning. And, in the spirit of complete honesty, I broke down.

I called my husband and we talked for an hour about what my next steps are as a writer. He let me sob to him about how much this has honed my vision for my future. It was a painful, cathartic release borne of complete overload and I needed it desperately.

After all my experiences in those two days, I learned where my key values lay as a writer. It’s nothing too fancy. I’m not worried about fame or money. While validation would be nice at times, I don’t crave positive reinforcement from others to remind myself that what I’m doing has merit. My characters remind me of that themselves.

Day 4...Bittersweet Symphony

By the time Day 4 dawned (far too late for someone who hadn’t gotten into bed until 2 a.m.), I felt at peace with where this conference had led me. C & C met me at Denny’s where I was too tired and nauseous to eat much, but we enjoyed the quiet and time we had to decompress. We hit up three last book signings (one was for the Harlequin 5th Avenue series and was awesome) and headed to the last two sessions. I went to “Practical Self-Defense for Writers and Their Characters,” led by K.M. Fawcett, Cathy Tully, and Rayna Vause. The women running it were not only hilarious, they ran the session as a completely interactive experience. We gave them scenarios and they talked us through it, demonstrating the moves as they went. They even read over one of my paragraphs from The Wastes and were able to give me feedback on it to ensure it read smoothly and accurately. The session definitely inspired me to get those scenes right when I’m putting them on the page, but also to take a self-defense course in my life because of how unfrightening they made it.

C & C & I met up for my last session of the day; we wanted to take one together and were all interested in this one. That’s how we ended up sitting in “How to Write Hot Sex” with Christine d’Abo, Delphine Dryden, Kate Douglas, and Shoshanna Evers. Exhaustion was creeping in, but I took a lot of notes and will be able to listen to the recordings later and take it in. It was a hilarious, honest panel and gave me some good advice about what to look for when revising those scenes.

Sadly, after that session ended, it was time to head to the airport. I wished Carol goodbye and was heading down to the lobby to meet Cheryl (who kindly offered to drive me to the airport) when I met Maisey Yates’s mother in the elevator. It was funny since I didn’t know who she was, but it was a pleasure to talk with her about the conference and share how much I enjoyed her daughter’s session. And like that, the conference was over.

Cheryl and I hugged at the airport and I headed in to begin my great northward migration. Even now, I’m typing this at my gate while waiting to head home, although I know I won’t post it until I get some good sleep.


Final Thoughts

Conference = life changing. Both on a personal level and luggage level (I ended up with over 25 pounds of books to bring home…eek!).
Le loot

The time I’ve spent here is precious.

So, dear readers (and dearest readers, if you’ve stuck around to the end of this post), here is my solemn promise to you.

I will hone my craft to improve with each book. More importantly, I will not write from a place of fear. I will put myself out there and give you the most honest book I can produce.

Thank you for helping me to achieve my dream. I will never take that for granted. Much love to you all!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Author: Stefanie London

I was fortunate to meet Stefanie through the Harlequin forums and was not at all surprised when she landed a contract with the Harlequin KISS line. This lady knows how to write! Her debut novel Only the Brave Try Ballet is fantastic and I'm pleased as punch that she was able to stop by and share a bit about what being a writer means to her.

I've always wanted to be a writer. It sounds so cliche, but it's true! I took as many English subjects in high school as were available, and I crammed a for English Lit subjects into my Bachelor of Business. I claim this was a move to protect my sanity from the accounting and economic subjects that were part of the core curriculum.

Writing a book is no easy task. It takes hours and hours of work, it eats into your social life and it keeps you awake into the wee hours of the morning. But writers have this drive that surpasses the need to keep a clean house or the need to get adequate sleep. 

Here are five signs that you've got a writer's mind:

1. You constantly think 'what if'...' and follow the thread of thought until a scenario builds in your mind
2. You lay awake at night thinking about imaginary things
3. You listen in to conversations on the train/in the office kitchen/at cafes and make up histories for the people talking
4. You hear voices (and they don't tell you to kill people...or maybe they do?)
5. You get invested in characters (whether they're from TV, movies, books etc) and you wonder about them past the conclusion of the series/show/book. 

If you've always wanted to write, if you've wondered why you imagine strange things, if you love telling stories then put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. You never know where it might take you.

Only The Brave Try Ballet:
Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!
Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!
But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!
Purchase from: Amazon (US | UK | CA | Aus), Harlequin Mills & Boon (US | UK | Aus)

‘Once more from the top.’
As the music started he followed her lead, bending with his feet in first position. The teacher in her couldn’t ignore the fault of his techniqueas he bent his hips moved out of alignment and his feet rolled inwards. She instinctively reached out to correct the error but retracted her hand when her brain kicked into gear.
‘I don’t bite.’
His wolfish grin seemed at odds with the promise of safety, but Jasmine wasn’t going to let some arrogant joker mess with her head. Shewas the teacher; she was the one in charge here.
‘You need to keep your hips steady.’ She stepped forward and placed a hand on each hip. His muscles were tight and flame-hot beneath her palms. He bent down into plié once more and she guided him, ignoring the frisson of electricity that shot through her.
Make sure your core is pulled in. It will increase balance and stop you rocking forward.’
‘Like this?’ He grabbed her hand and placed her palm against his stomach. She could feel the ripple of each muscle through his T-shirt. His sports tights moulded every curve of his muscle, every bulge…
Jasmine gulped, her blood pounding as though she’d run a marathon. Get it together.
‘Yes, like that.’ She withdrew her hand, the heat of him still burning her fingertips.
She was going to strangle Elise, her soon to be former best friend, for roping her into this disaster waiting to happen. She was going to—
‘Earth to Bun-Head.’ Grant waved a hand in front of her face, chuckling when she returned her focus to him. ‘I don’t see how this is helping my hamstring. Shouldn’t we be stretching or something? We need to speed up this flexibility thing. I’ve got an important game coming up.’
He shook his leg and rubbed at the muscle.
‘Flexibility is a slow process. You can’t turn up to one ballet lesson and expect to be a contortionist. It takes time.’
‘I’d settle for being injury-free,’ he replied. ‘But if you want to show me how you can put your ankles behind your head then be my guest.’
‘This is not Cirque du Soleil.’ Jasmine bit each word out through gritted teeth.

Stefanie London
Sparkling, contemporary romances with a pinch of spice

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Author: JM Bray

I am a lucky gal. Why? you ask. Well, despite his crazy busy schedule celebrating the release of Mending the Shroud (the second in the Shroud trilogy), author JM Bray dropped in with me to chat about his books, his writing process, and the 1980s. 

Let the interview begin!

You've mentioned in the past that your inspiration sometimes comes from dreams. How often does this happen?

Great question. Not as often as I’d like, and usually a ton come at the wrong time. Most often the dream ideas come when I’ve let a story idea stew for a while, and the pressure of it wanting out builds. Unfortunately, that usually happens while I’m working on another piece. I’ve finished the first draft of Shrouded (book three) and am editing a first pass so I can send it to critique partners. To stay focused, I don’t let myself write another story. Of course that’s exactly when the new novel starts waking me up with ideas via dreams. I’ll have about 4-5 day where it happens repeatedly, then nothing for a couple of weeks. It’s sort of an all or nothing kind of thing

Speaking of all or nothing, you've been working on the novels from the Shroud trilogy with great diligence. Since it's set in a different time period and features fantastical elements, did you have to do any research? 


What kind? 

Whew...that could go a lot of ways. Here’s a few examples:
  • Astronomical: I needed to know how often Jupiter aligned with the Pleiades constellation and was visible on moonless nights. That’s 11.8 years by the way.
  • Location: If someone were going to commit suicide from the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, what would they see? 
  • Spiritual/Personal: How does someone in a same sex relationship, who also is a Christian, align their beliefs with the God of the Bible? I took a swing at a possibility, then interviewed a gay friend and let him read it. He loved the scene.

[Interviewer's Random Note: If you ever need to gather information about South California, you now know the expert. Seriously, this man knows a ton and has connections...]

Okay, so you've earned your research badge...But you're not off the hook yet! In your books you're having to balance a number of characters, from strong heroes to kick-ass heroines. Since you've had to work with both, do you find the male or female perspective easier to write? 


Why's that?
As a guy, it fits the ‘write what you know” mantra. But I’ve run into interesting situations with this, because I write what I and other male friends would actually say or how we might react. However, readers are used to reading male perspectives written by females and what they believe men are thinking...the two are not necessarily the same. At times I’ve had to adjust the “actual” male perspective to meet the readers “expected” male perspective.

I’d give examples, but the idea is to attract readers, not piss them off. Right?

Right. And, those of you reading this, please note his willingness to compromise, a most valuable trait. 

Okay, JM, it's time for the hard questions now! If you could steal one author superpower from a famous writer, who would you steal from and what power would it be?

The ability to pound out large amounts of quality words each day. My very best day writing, I hit 4k words, but usually it’s around 1K. To have the kinetic power of Steven King and write a seven hundred page manuscript in six months...Oh yeah.

Favorite 80s movie quote...go!

Only one? There are so many good ones. Since I’m limited we have to go with the classic: “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”

If you had an archnemesis, what would he or she be like?

I’d love to say the Kurgan, from the movie the Highlander. Best villain ever! How can you not love a guy who rattles off lines like he does? Notice how self-controlled I am, not listing them. But actually, since I try to get along with everyone, my archenemies would probably be more like Sean Connery’s character, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, a friend who I knew I’d eventually have to defeat.

Ouch! And while facing that enemy, what kind of battles would you two have? 

Sword fights that lasted for half an hour, so we’d have to take a break, have a drink and a laugh or two, then go back at it.

Of course, you would win said battle. Excellent job answering in that speed round!

Before we finish up here, let me pick your brain one last time. With book 2 of 3 complete and that final third story going through revisions and edits, have you thought about the projects that are sitting in your To Be Written pile?

Two are currently waking me up. One is a time travel story, that involves the post office Dead Letter Department, a woman motorcycle racer in 1930, the election of FDR, Randolf Hearst plus a lot more.

The second is about a guy who’s been alive for the past two thousand years, but isn’t a vampire. It starts in the first century near Jerusalem and includes chases on camel-back, sea battles, shipwrecks and sibyls.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat, JM!

If you have any other questions for JM Bray, feel free to ask here, or stop by his Twitter (@jmbraybooks) or Facebook ( account.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moon Dance

Every author I know has scenes that they eventually cut from the story for one reason or another. When I finished Red Moon and began work on Blood Moon, one of the scenes I left behind also happened to be one of my favorites: Flynn and Evie's wedding.

Fortunately, Blood Moon's release and Escape Publishing's incredible support has granted me an opportunity for this short to see the light of day. If you pre-order Blood Moon during the month of July, I will be sending you an exclusive PDF copy of the short story Moon Dance (The Sinclair Pack #1.5). Just direct message me through my Facebook page or my website, including your order confirmation number and the email you'd like the story mailed to, and I will add you to the list. PDFs will be sent out July 25th; if you pre-order after that date, I will send you the PDF when I receive your information.

I can't wait to share this story with you and have you experience that special moment in Flynn and Evie's lives.

Blood Moon can be preordered at the following sites:
Amazon (Kindle)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Release Day Celebration: Mending the Shroud

The second in the fresh, exciting romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off – with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond our own. 

After accepting bodily possession and saving the world, Vincent thought his life would get easier. He thought wrong.

The Shroud may not have torn wide open, but it did tear a little, and the retribution for the failure is coming hard, fast, and directly at Vincent and the people he loves.

His only hope is to once again accept possession from Coleman and do battle with the deformed, terrifying Kafla. But this time, he's not alone. Jule, the woman he loves and hopes to marry, is possessed as well, and together the four of them become a formidable team.

Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, but only a supreme sacrifice can mend the Shroud and save both their lives and their worlds.

Mending the Shroud Links
Goodreads - Amazon - AmazonAU - iBooks - B&N (coming soon!)

About the Author
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his "day job", he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named "Tuffy" at tracks in the southwest.

Connect with JM

Twitter: @jmbraybooks
Facebook Author Page:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Blood Moon

It's finally here. Final edits and proofreadings are done, the blurb is official, and the cover of Blood Moon made me cry when I got it.

This story was one of the hardest I've ever written. Several times I nearly gave up (props to my husband for telling me to sit my butt in the chair and finish it). But seeing the cover made all that pain worth it.

The sequel to the critically acclaimed Red Moon, about a playboy werewolf, his shy roommate, the ties that bind, and a battle for true love.

Dana Patterson never regretted the simplicity of her life in Alaska until she moved in with playboy Connor Sinclair. On the surface, Connor is the darkly seductive owner of Vegas’s hottest new casino. But in private, she gets to see a vulnerable side that no one else knows about—and the combination makes him a temptation she isn’t willing to resist any longer.

After Connor openly sides with his brother Flynn in the battle against their unstable lycanthrope father, protecting family and friends becomes a necessity. Having Dana move in with him was the chivalrous decision; sharing his bed with her was not. Dana may think Connor’s everything she’s ever wanted, but his scars run deep, and he can’t bear the thought of hurting her.

But war changes everything – and exposes dark secrets. As Rupert’s true plans come to light, Connor must decide whether he is truly the monster his father created, or the man Dana knows is hidden within the beast.

Available August 1st from Escape Publishing

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Power of Touch

I just wrote a scene in The Wastes where the hero and heroine have to make a difficult good-bye. My inner debate began when I had to decide how they'd each say goodbye to her as she left on a mission she may not come back from. And that led me to thinking about just how important those non-sexual touches can be, especially in a romance.

The value of contact can't be ignored, especially in tense emotional scenes. As Mad Dog, Jenks, Tane, and James make their goodbyes to Talia, each uses a different form of physical contact to get their point across. Cade, on the other hand, avoids that contact.

It's not just an arbitrary choice for me. I realize that some writers may choose to have this be the big moment when he makes a passionate overture or does something that will leave her memory lingering on his touch as she disappears into the night. But I believe that sometimes there is more power in restraint.

One of my all time favorite films is M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking parts of the film is the attention drawn to touch, even the most platonic kind. Both Edward Walker and Lucius Hunt channel immense restraint to not touch those they love.

In Edward's case, it's an admirable decision since he is happily married and unwilling to risk the temptation which could be caused by touching another woman he cares for deeply.

Lucius fights his feelings for Ivy for the first half of the film. The moment when their hands meet is one of the most emotional scenes from the entire film and I get goosebumps every time I watch it.

If you want to see a lovely, gentle romance play out on screen, watch this movie. Forget the suspense, forget the plot twists, watch it for the romance alone.

I hope that I can do Cade's emotions justice through use of this kind of restraint. I have to try.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I can't lie, I prefer to be an introverted tech dinosaur. But I love books and talking about them, so the concept of a vlog is kind of appealing in that sense. As a result, here's my first attempt. Feel free to ask questions, make suggestions for books to mention in the next one, etc.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Wastes teasers

I have been hard at work on The Wastes, the prequel/companion novel to Nov. 2013 Lace & Lead, and I have to say, I am in love with this story. It's taken me completely by surprise (again).

I'm at 44K words and climbing, with no real end in sight. And I've been so happy with this that I'm gushing about it.

Hence my pretty pictures below...I figured it's time to share!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mending the Shroud Cover Reveal!

The exciting sequel to Tearing the Shroud is coming July 1, 2014 and here's the cover! Once again Escape Publishing did an amazing job on the artwork and tying the two books together visually. JM is hard at work on the third book, so keep a lookout for it.

When you’ve learned to take possession in stride, love should be easy. Right? It might be if your life and the lives of people you loved weren’t threatened by an invasion of monsters.

Vincent thought saving the world once was a challenge, he didn’t figure on retribution putting a price on his head. It means college takes a back seat again as he’s possessed by Coleman to fight a new battle with the Kafla. But this time he’s not alone, Jule, the woman he loves is also is possessed.

Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm,
where only a supreme sacrifice can Mend the Shroud and save their worlds.

About the Author
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. 
When not writing or working his "day job", he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named "Tuffy" at tracks in the southwest.

Twitter: @jmbraybooks

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Excerpt from "The Wastes"

One of my current WIPs is the prequel/companion novel to Lace & Lead, the SFR novella that was released last November. For now, the working title of this full length novel is The Wastes, and it's a blast to write.

The story centers around Alexander Cade, a lieutenant with the Lawmen, and his small team of elite soldiers. When he was training to be an officer, Cade had freed a Northern Wastes labor camp from the rebel army; one of the prisoners was Natalia Volkova, Talia for short. Years later when Cade returns to the Wastes (the most dangerous and uncivilized part of the Republic) with his team, she's working as a Lawmen scout and the fascination between them grows into something much stronger.

Inspiration for Cade
Inspiration for Talia

Yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked whether it was better to continue to write the story in order, a new method I've been trying to see if it increases my writing quality and quantity, or whether I should go ahead and write a fun scene that was out of order.

Comments instantly reminded me that life is too short to not get to the good stuff, which is why this snippet exists. Here's my out-of-order scene from The Wastes for your reading pleasure...

“She thinks I’m handsome–?”

Talia laughed. “No. She’s saying...she means...your strength...your–” She placed a hand on his chest. “Your soul...comes through your eyes.” She looked up, swallowed. “You have nice eyes.” She stepped back. “That’s what she means.”

“That’s what she means?” Cade asked, his lilt teasing out the emphasis.

“Of course.”

He took a step closer to her, eyes focused on her lips. “And what about you?”

“What about me, Lieutenant Cade?”

His eyes flicked up to hers. “Alex,” he ordered.

His command danced over her skin, sending out goosebumps that had nothing to do with the cool night breeze. Something shifted between them, and the teasing was gone now, leaving a crackling awareness in its wake.

“What did you say when you were answering her? I saw how you looked at me, Talia. I’m willing to feign indifference to a point, but not with that look–”

She didn't realize he’d been forcing her backward until her back hit the cold stone of the abandoned building. “What look?” she asked, confused.

“The one that says you think I could be a hero.” One hand went up against the wall near her face. He leaned into her, his face lowering so they were cheek to cheek. She closed her eyes and bit her lip, refusing to moan from the scent of sweat and sulfur and dirt that clung to him.

“I’m not a hero,” he whispered. “And I don’t want to be.”

“What do you want, Alex?”


She tilted her head to see him better. She could see the lust warring with confusion in his eyes, knew that he was just as torn over this...thing that existed between them. “You said you can’t have me.”

“I can’t.”

“The boys–”

“I won’t put your safety over theirs.”

“I wouldn't ask you to.”

“Then tell me what you said to her.”

“It was private.”

“Not anymore.”

“She asked if you were passionate,” Talia said, wishing her cheeks weren't burning.


“When we’re...together...”

A lazy smile was spreading. “You’re telling me the tribal elder, who is well over eighty years old, asked you about your sex life?”

“She can still appreciate a handsome man. And women here aren't as prudish as your blue-bloods.”

“Agreed,” he murmured, his other hand playing with the slit of her skirt. “So what did you tell her?”

Talia shifted against the wall and she saw Cade’s jaw tighten as her hip accidentally brushed against his. When had the night become so warm? And why didn't she have more than a thin layer of fabric between her and his touch?

“I told her I didn't know yet.”

A dark, primal hunger sharpened his face and she could hear as his fingers curled and dug harder against the building stone. “Yet.”

“Yet,” she whispered, unable to look away from his mouth.

“But you told her we were together. Is that why no other women gave me a second glance tonight?”

She kept her chin up, refusing to feel embarrassed over the claim she’d put on him. “Perhaps.”

He chuckled at her answer.

“Are you angry that you weren't fawned over like Jenks or Tane?”

“Not at all. Just amused at how alike we are.”

“Oh, are we?”

“I wanted to kill that man who danced with you.” His tone was light, but she heard the steel beneath his words. “And if you’d left the celebration with him, I would have.”

“I wouldn't have left with him.”

“But you left with me.”


“A poor decision, really.”

“Only if you keep talking.”

His expression became serious. “They can’t know.”

She knew who he meant. “They won’t.”

“If I have to choose, I’ll choose them.”

“Every time.”

They stared at each other for a moment and she murmured, “You can still walk away, Lieutenant.”

“Like hell,” he growled. And he was kissing her.