View INSTAGRAM post HERE
Sometimes you have to take several steps back to move forward.
Writing a book today is much different from the days when I dreamed of being a published author and imagined stories in my head. For authors who have dedicated readers, they still get to follow their hearts and their readers will devour whatever they put on paper (or their Kindle).
New authors trying to find their audience today don’t have that luxury. A buzz phrase going around the Indy (independent author) world is ‘write to market.’ It makes some authors want to throw their laptops against the wall. It’s part of the strategic release plan an author has to make, not just before they publish, but before they write one word.
Will this story sell? Is there a ‘market’ for it? That last sentence is the polite way of saying, are readers (primarily on Amazon) gulping down books in that genre. Or are they flying by seventy miles an hour. Hot genres are nothing new. And traditional publishers have been rejecting excellent authors and masterfully written stories based on this theory for decades. Great book. I love it. Sorry, it just won’t sell.
Building on that, if you’re writing a series, you also have to consider sell-through (the rate at which a reader will keep reading the other books in the series). You can’t have sell-through, though, if the first book in the series isn’t selling at all. I faced both issues recently. So little people were buying (based on lack of visibility) my book 1 and those who did were not buying the other books. At the end of 2019, my small-town, family drama series, Darling Cove had four books, one being a Christmas short story featuring all the main characters from the first three books.
I’d made a few ‘mistakes’ or ‘misteps’ with my Darling Cove series. The family I’d based the series on, consisted of only three adult siblings. And one son. (Hint to new authors, write large families and lots and lots of brothers- winks). By book 4, I had exhausted all the Mallory siblings. However, I had been reading in author support sites and boards that the way to position is a series is for Book 1 to either be free or 99 cents. Or to have a Prequel to use as a free entry point into the series. I had that for a while. I had a free prequel, showing the characters in book 1, the summer before they met. That failed miserably. I’d not seen one sale. So I pulled that prequel back. That meant I had to reduce book 1 to free or 99 cents. But with only three additional books, I didn’t feel that strategy would work.
Those thoughts led me to start plotting out a fifth Darling Cove book. But with no more Mallorys, I had to branch out. I’d also not been very strategic in the other books to ‘drop in’ random tertiary characters that could eventually be used as leads one day. The only reasonable additional character was Martin Mallory, Greg, Gwen, and Skye’s father. So many readers have told me how much they love Martin. And I’d considered it for a time. Then that ole’ ‘write to market’ concept came back and sadly, ‘older, much older’ main characters were not appealing to the ‘masses.’
There’s a reason why New Adult (early 20’s), Academy (Young Adult) and Bully (College) romances are topping the charts. A large segment of readers fit into those demographics.
While writing book 2 of my series, Must Have Faith, I created a strong secondary-ish character in Lily Matthews. Faith’s assistant producer. And friend. The person she opened up to about her hidden feelings for her childhood sweetheart, Greg Malloy and the lingering desires for the man she’d left at the altar ten years earlier. While creating the setting for Faith’s world, a news organization, I rounded out the cast with the stage director, Carter Holden.
While finishing the Christmas book, the strategy for the series was coming to fruition and I knew I needed one, maybe two more books. Lily and Carter seemed the best choice. So I brought Lily into the Mallory family crisis in book 4 because Faith was in the hospital. And Greg needed someone to talk to through that difficult time.
Even as early as book 1, I had laid the groundwork for each future book and the conflicts. Greg (book 2) had been left at the altar by Faith and she was recently back in town. Skye (book 3) had a secret admirer, Fire Chief Edward who had a son. And while I’d hinted there may be something going on in the dark corners of the production studio between Carter and Lily…that’s all I had. I had to start from scratch and create two more backstories.
Plot, plot, plot. Conflict, conflict, conflict. I’d been using the same plotting worksheet for each book. I filled in all my boxes and off I went. My writing had changed at that point because I’d been writing vampire books, too, so my head was in a different place while plotting book 5, (Must Keep You). I was leaning toward a more edgy, dark, and combative romance.
There was one problem (well there were many), I really had no idea who Lily and Carter were. And it showed in the early draft. I’d received a brutal edit/critique that left me shattered. So much so, I put the book aside. “No one’s waiting for this book. No one cared,” I shot back to the editor. I felt broken and this was the book that nearly brought my writing career to the end.
The summer months were approaching. My husband is off during the summers and I knew my writing process would be interrupted. It was also the second year we’d be spending most of July and August at our summer retreat up in Maine. The first summer I spent most days writing my second vampire book, Guarding Bloodlines. I felt I’d missed so much that summer. I made a vow to not actively write a book and be more present.
However, I’d also decided to go back to Books 1, 2, and 3 of Darling Cove to address my ‘sell through’ problem. Despite the smack-down I got about Must Keep You, I’d felt my writing had improved enough to revisit these books and polish them back up. I also needed to add links to help readers find the next books in the series.
That exercise (which was supposed to be a two month project) turned monumental. Each book needed a drastic re-write. I’ve accepted the premise that my writing had drastically improved in just three short years. Grinding through chapters upon chapters, fixing weak sentences with a passive voice and plot holes, I’d not identified, geared me up to tackle Must Keep You head on. By strengthening Books 1-3 (4 didn’t need the same help), it made sense to make this a five book series with the lead book at a lower price point. In late December, I lowered Book 1, Must Love Fashion to a permanent entry price of 99 cents.
On December 1, 2019, I dug back into Must Keep You. I spent every day, (no breaks) until December 29th with Carter and Lily. Grinding into each chapter, figuring out who they are, what they really want, and what their fears and ghosts were. What made them tick and what made them happy. By the time I finished, I was more confident about this book then most others. And I love, love, love Carter and Lily. I hope you do as well.
Early reviews say:
“Must Keep You is an absorbing tale rich with heartfelt emotion, drama, and love. What a great addition to the series, I highly recommend you give it a chance, it’s certain to leave your heart happy… but not before torturing it just a little first!” ~ Reds Romance Reviews (5-Stars)
“The connection between Carter and Lily is explosive, confusing, devastating at times, yet, always emotional with a true, unbreakable bond. I had to know what was going to happen!!!” ~ In Our Opinion Book Reviews (5-Stars)
“Wonderfully fantastic… The book was amazing…” ~ Kathy B. (Goodreads 5-Stars)
I was so relieved!
Must Keep You is now live. It’s now out there. It’s a billionaire surprise baby romance set in the Mallory world of Darling Cove.
Also Must Keep You is Free on KindleUnlimited…
Fall in love with Carter and Lily. And read their story HERE
Happy New Year! Are you sick of hearing that yet?
I remember one New Year’s Eve, years back, a friend’s mother was crying. Not wailing. Not howling. Just quietly sobbing. When I asked about it, I got an answer that surprised me at the time. She was sad at all the years that had passed. That made no sense to me at the time.
While so many people look forward to a new coming year with positive attitudes, some sadly look at another year gone by with regret. To end a decade, and not just one year, must magnify that.
That’s how I felt last night. I felt that sob in the back of my throat.
Crying is wonderfully cathartic and can clear your head.
2020 marks a milestone, because it was August 2010 when I started writing my first novel. Ten years I’ve been at this. I’ve learned more in the last year than anything else to be honest. And I hope I can lasso that into a successful year and deliver books and stories you’ll want to read.
That title isn’t missing a word. In my vampire novels, the terminology my vampires use often is, I am vampire. It’s a verbal cue in the novels too. As a human comes to term with becoming a vampire, they drop the a.
Paranormal Romance authors have the best job in the world. Contemporary Romance offers a broad range of situations the average person would never find themselves in, and that stretch grows more and more every day, as authors compete for readers’ attention. No matter how the CR explains a character’s motivations and makes the setting as plausible as possible (as a CR author, as well as a writer of PNR, I know!), there’s always the risk of being so completely unrealistic that it distracts from your romance.
PNR authors, by contract, can just make shit up. Sorry for the expletive. But it’s true. And make it up, they do! The level of creativity I’ve seen is mind-boggling. And my hat is off those authors.
When I decided to dip my toe in the PNR world, I played it safe. With vampires. Sounds like a contradiction, right? Perhaps it came from the popular wave vampires had been on at the time, Twilight, TruBlood (Sookie Stackhouse Novels), the Argeneau series, and of course the Black Dagger Brotherhood vampires. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve not read Anne Rice. But I didn’t need to. Vampire authors don’t have a set playbook they have to follow. That being said, I felt there were a basic set of vampire anatomy rules I needed to follow to make my vampires relatable. Okay, that’s not the right word. Familiar, is a better word choice.
Back to the creativity thing, I wanted to concentrate more on the world in which my vampires existed and how they interact with not just themselves, but with humans. How they were organized. Who they obeyed. Who their leaders obeyed. There’s always a chain of command. So while I organized what I called the Allegiant World, I let my vampires be ‘classic’ vampires. As ‘classic’ as one could imagine.
In short, my vampires are turned. Not born. My vampires are technically dead. They need blood to survive, but they do not eat. They do not sleep. They have unbound strength and speed. My vampires are immortal. But they can be killed. A reviewer called my vampires classic, but in a negative way. She wanted ‘off the wall.’
My vampire series, The Princeton Allegiant, currently has three books published. With six total planned. It was vital for me to introduce my vampires and what they could do in book one, Drawing Bloodlines. Just as the first chapter of a book is difficult for an author, book 1 in a series is hard, too. There’s a lot to accomplish. Facts to convey. Backstories to tell. Motivations to reveal. Expectations to set.
Drawing Bloodlines set the baseline for the entire series. While also introducing the reader to the types of vampires that exist in my world. Maybe that’s boring. It was also my very first PNR. Drawing Bloodlines took me nearly two years to write. It went through many edits and changes. The Allegiant World developed more and more with every draft.
PNR authors also get away with letting the subplots take the wheel. But the R in PNR is ‘romance.’ It’s what distinguishes a book from Urban Fantasy. In PNR, the romance has to be the primary motivation for the characters, while fighting off enemies. In UF, the author doesn’t have to promise or deliver a happy ending for their main characters.
First and foremost, each of my Princeton Allegiant books are romances. Each book features a different couple fighting for their happily ever after, against all odds, usually a world that wants to keep them apart.
The first half of Drawing Bloodlines had to accomplish a lot. It had to introduce my version of vampires and the world in which they exist and the rules they follow. Oh, and the main characters in that book! I open my series with Dr. Alexander Manning, single-mother, Elizabeth Lockspier. Alex and Elizabeth fight their attraction to each other, while balancing their other loyalties. For Alexander, it’s to his Prime Direction: stay hidden. In my vampire books, vampires are a secret. For Elizabeth, her first loyalty, of course, is to her daughter. Part of the character growth for Alexander, ‘an all-consuming beast’ is to let the woman he wants to possess put someone above him. For Elizabeth, it’s to trust, well, a vampire, and his troublemaker friends and let them all into her life.
I had not intended for Drawing Bloodlines to be a series, to be honest. It was supposed to be a one-and-done. Then somewhere in my edits, I introduced a vampire that changed everything. I took my own rules and everything I thought I knew about my vampires and turned it upside down. Wait, that’s not true. The character did that. All authors can point to a character who lands on your page and just takes over. For me, that was Loren Tagaris. (Pronounced Law-ren, like short for Lorenzo)
I admit to being ‘inspired’ by the vampires in many other books, as far as what they can and cannot do. Loren is the only vampire with magical powers. In most vampire books, vamps have some kind of additional ability that goes beyond speed and strength. Mind-reading, mind-control, disappearing and reappearing, moving objects, setting objects on fire, etc. Loren can do it all. I threw the kitchen sink at this guy.
He’s Grindewald, Dumbledore, Magneto, Charles Xavier, Superman, Spiderman, etc, all wrapped up into one. Maybe not Antman, though. Can you say, ‘off-the-wall’?
A vampire that powerful, however, was a challenge because every character needs a weakness. My vampires are already fairly indestructible. It’s their oath of secrecy and their fear of discovery by humans that keeps most of them in line. Loren is no different. He’s been shunned because he’s so feared. And that loneliness has grated on him. He also understands that vampires need to be controlled by leaders. Every vampire must bend the knee to a commander (or be considered a rogue) and every commander reports to the controlling Lords. Every vampire except Loren. But he knows while the allegiant system is not perfect, it’s better than nothing. So he’s bound to their laws because he knows vampires won’t win a war against humans.
For me, instead of reinventing the wheel and educating a reader on a unique combination of characteristics for my vampires, I went classic. Familiar. I wanted the world to be the draw and the inner turmoil of the allegiant system and how it’s on the brink of war.
So why Princeton, some readers have asked me. In short, I was working on a design project in Princeton, New Jersey, when most of my ideas for this book came to me. Attacked me really. The sleepy university town seemed like the perfect gothic setting for mysterious hidden vampires to walk among humans, who only see them as tall and breathtakingly beautiful. Luring women who are strong and brave enough to take them into their bed, where they are ravenous and insatiable lovers.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t leaving those details out.
In April, Drawing Bloodlines, Book One of the Princeton Allegiant was released.
The TBR Pile said, “it’s sure to heat your blood.
The Romance Reviews was “drawn into this new paranormal vampire world.”
InD’tale Magazine said, it was “unique” and “quite engaging.”
NEVER FORCE A VAMPIRE TO MATE…
In October, Guarding Bloodlines, Book Two was released.
The Paranormal Romance Guild gave it 5 stars from , saying it’s “non-stop excitement until the end.”
The Romance Reviews said, “world-building is excellent,”.
NEVER STEAL A VAMPIRE’S MATE…
In just a few days, Book 3, Matching Bloodlines will be released.
NEVER MATCH A VAMPIRE WITH THE WRONG MATE…
2019 has been the year of the vampire, indeed.
I’m pleased to welcome debut author Julie K. Cohen to my blog. Her Sci-Fi Romance/Fantasy THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH, Mindwipe Book 1 was released on June 12, by Soul Mate Publishing.
Kira’s people blackmailed her into spying on enemy Commander Tal Kaegen—the one man who can prevent interplanetary war. As she falls for Tal, assassinations and a mole threaten his Command. She’s the only one he trusts… The only way to save him is to betray him.
AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON
In this post, Julie was great enough to give an interview. I read THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH and it was riveting. My review is included, as well as where to buy and how to reach and follow Julie.
THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH #1 of the Mindwipe Series. Where did you get your inspiration for this series? How will the books by tied together?
I grew up watching all the sci-fi television shows: Star Trek, Battle Star Galactica, Logan’s Run, Bionic Man, Bionic Woman, etc. My love of Star Trek is what attracted me to reading. I read all the Star Trek novels that were out at the time, which led to my reading other books. I always sought books with emotional connections between the characters. It never occurred to me to read romance, not until much later in life. I still focused on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and came across authors such as Doris Egan, Barbara Hambly, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (The Liaden Universe). McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series remains perhaps my favorite series and the inspiration for The Traitor’s Touch. All of my favorite books have a romance subplot but also include great world-building, action, and intriguing plots.
The next book in the Mindwiped series, The Traitor’s Truth, will feature Tal and Kira who are caught up in a plot that endangers the planet and their future as a couple. They will have to rediscover one another and fall in love all over again if they and their world are to survive. As for book three… I have a great concept brewing in my head and hope to create the time to write it in between all my other writing projects.
This Sci-Fi Romance/Fantasy takes place on the planet Serriss, but Kira, the heroine is a pilot from Derid. What year does the story take place and where are the planets located with respect to our known galaxy?
While there is no year specified, the story takes place in the future. People are still people, using and misusing technology, fighting over territory, and suffering from greed, miscommunication and all the faults that plague humanity. The characters are human with all the same fears, hopes, dreams and flaws that we experience. While they travel between planets, that doesn’t mean all planets in the story are advanced, either technologically speaking or from a cultural/human rights perspective. Therein is where much of the conflict arises between our hero and heroine, from the differences between their planets and cultures.
THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH is such a clever title. How did you come up with it?
Kira, the heroine, is branded a traitor for circumstances beyond her control. Her status as a traitor is a key part of the plot. As for “touch,” the word has multiple meanings in the book. This is a romance and I like characters who can be intimate with a simple touch, which of course can (and does) lead to steamier intimacy. But the main meaning behind “touch” is how the heroine affects the hero, how she “touches his heart and his life” in a way that leaves him forever changed. Of course, this goes both ways.
Tell us about the heroine Pilot Kira Jensen. What kind of person is she? How different is she from other women on Derid and Serriss, as far as what the hero, Tal saw in her?
She’s a fighter, but not a kick-ass woman who strives to best every man or adversary simply to prove she’s ‘better’ than they are. She’s trying to navigate life and the inane policies of her world. Kira will do whatever it takes to survive. It’s her determination to fight for herself and never leave her fate in the hands of another that sets her apart from the women of her word, Derid. As for Tal’s world, Serriss is a restrictive society for women, which makes acclimating there a challenge for Kira on several levels. There’s only so much she’ll put up with from a cultural standpoint. While Kira isn’t quite ready for the challenges of Serriss, Serriss is certainly not prepared for Kira’s fierce nature and refusal to be anyone other than who she is. Tal is in a unique position. While raised very traditionally on Serriss, he’s been exposed to other worlds and cultures through his time as an operative. He’s more open-minded and tolerant of different customs than his contemporaries.
What about Commander Tal Kaegen? What makes him such a swoon-worthy hero?
While he’s well-built (Of course he is, right? This is Romance!), he’s a decisive man who knows a good thing when he sees it… in this case, Kira. Tal makes no excuses for who he is or what he does. He can be quite arrogant, but he’ll do anything—anything—to protect those he loves. There’s an honor, and endless determination to save his people and his family, that shows in everything he does, good or bad, and that is what makes him so appealing.
Here’s a recent 5-star review on BookBub:
“Loved it! Who doesn’t want to read a good romp through space that includes super-secret codes, a mystery mole, a rescue of the love of the hero’s life, a traitor to a planet, a heroine REALLY good with knives, a bad guy who is nasty as hell, and a hero who is arrogant yet amazingly romantic at the same time? Oh, I forgot about the political intrigue and Councilmember whack-a-mole, puppets and puppet masters, stinky flowers to honor the dead, and siblings who get along like, well, siblings. And a psychedelic bracelet. All of this is as specific and general as I can make it without spoilers. You want explanations? You’ll have to read the book. Yes, there are declarations of love, explosions, intrigue, mystery, espionage, betrayal, and romance. But anyone can write those tropes. It’s the moments in between and the special details that make The Traitor’s Touch stand out as a great read.”
What is Tal and Kira’s first meeting like?
Their first meeting was in the middle of a kill or be killed situation, with Kira and Tal on opposing sides. Needless to say, neither was focused on much beyond survival.
Here’s a short excerpt from THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH:
Tal raised a brow at her daring, though he wished for her sake she would remain silent, or better yet, divulge the beacon’s location. She didn’t know how dangerous it was to aggravate Leukker like that, especially with his knife threatening the back of her knee. Leukker slammed the blunt end of the knife down on the back of her knee instead.
Tal winced, which was an oddity in itself. He’d seen Leukker do much worse and had never been this affected. Tal inched close enough to hear her short, rapid breaths. No, this was not how a woman, this woman, should be short of breath, from pain and fear. He envisioned her below him, her beautiful lips curving into a smile and her hazel eyes shining as he slid into her warmth. Together, they’d find a rhythm that will bring them pleasure, perhaps even an intimacy that his parents had shared, rare as that was. Whether or not he would ever have her in his bed was moot, but he knew one thing. He couldn’t let her sacrifice herself without trying to save her.
“You can end this,” Tal said to her, again reminding himself that he should not be interfering, that his sergeant was doing his duty. Even now, Leukker was shooting him a look, one that said he found the interruption unsettling. Her facial expression had already given her away. She knew exactly where the beacon was. The problem was she wouldn’t give up the location, even to save herself.
Another muffled cry tore from her lips, and Tal’s fists clenched. “Leukker.”
Leukker glanced up, his knife just a hair’s width above the back of her knee. “Sir?”
The blood running down her leg was containable, if Leukker stopped soon. She was shaking, from fear or pain, both most likely. Maybe that last cut had done the trick and she’d divulge the beacon’s location before more damage was required. Tal squatted beside her. A clump of mud-encased hair fell to the side, revealing one deliciously curved jaw and a graceful, delicate neck. The urge to let one fingertip glide along her rich skin rose within him. It hadn’t been long since a woman had entertained him, but that had been nothing more than a release. This woman, she would be worth knowing, he was sure of that now. If nothing else, to understand the allure she held.
She rolled onto her side to face him, drawing a sharp breath as the wires dug deeper into her wrists. “Nasty shoulder wound you have there,” she said, the corners of her mouth hitching upward. “I bet it hurts.”
The anger returned. Not because she bit out words intending to incite, but because she felt the need to go on the offense, trussed-up as she was. It was her only recourse, short of offering them something they needed. What they needed was the location of the beacon, and that was the one thing she wouldn’t give them, not willingly.
And still, he had no idea what to do about her. She should be with her family, not here, living minute-to-minute at his mercy. Her blood had already been spilled because of him. If she didn’t cooperate, there would be more.
Another excerpt, an intimate moment:
She closed her eyes. All she could see were the mindwipe needles that would soon pierce his skull. “You should have left me there to die.”
He sailed forward and entwined his fingers in her hair, working their way along her jaw and down to her neck. A lover’s touch, memorizing every detail. Intoxicating . . . the feel of his fingers dancing over her skin was utterly intoxicating. The feel of his hand, the promise it held, would help her through the long days and lonely nights ahead, but it wouldn’t be enough.
How could she have lived her life without ever knowing a touch could speak louder than words? She did not deserve his touch . . . or him. She had come here on orders, to betray him. “The risk . . .”
“Was necessary,” he said a second before a soft, delicious kiss landed behind her ear. She pressed her palms to his chest, intending to push him away. Then another kiss, more delicate than the last, caressed her cheek. Mindwipe, she reminded herself. If she failed, they’d mindwipe him. “A soldier must also have the mettle to let another die,” she whispered in his ear. “I meant nothing to you, you should have . . .”
Anger, pure and swift, swept over him as if she had dealt him an unforgivable blow. The soldier had re-emerged for a split second, long enough to tell her that he still saw her as a Deridian, his enemy. He turned his back to her. She should not be here, she realized. Whatever this was between them wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.
“I was not prepared to discuss us,” he said.
Us? Kira sank to the cot. The scratchy cotton against her palms reminded her of just who and where she was. “There is no ‘us’, Commander,” she said, staring down at the floor.
Legs appeared before her, but she couldn’t look up at him. What if she saw that grin that made her heart speed up? What if he wore his stoic face, the one that said nothing could hurt him, even though deep down she knew that wasn’t true.
Warm fingers touched her chin and guided her head up. “Then why are you here?” he asked.
I don’t know.
“Why are you here?” he insisted, his voice gaining in intensity as he knelt before her.
He trusted her. She could feel it in her soul. He had no reason to trust her, of all people, yet he did. If he knew her past, he wouldn’t trust her, he’d turn away like all the others. Yet her past was not the issue here. She couldn’t let Kaegen be punished for her wrongs. For him to trust her as he did, it was an honor, one she could not ignore, even if it was sorely misplaced. Her father would have liked him, this man of unerring faith and loyalty. No, she could not let them mindwipe him. He needed to return home. One way or another, she’d find a way to get him there, away from her people who would mindwipe him without a second thought.
What makes Tal and Kira perfect for each other?
Kira doesn’t allow Tal’s arrogance or often overbearing manner intimidate her in the least. Her courage and her ability to push forward no matter the circumstance makes her a perfect match for Tal, who has all but given up on life. Tal’s sense of purpose is tied entirely to the well-being of his people and planet, until he falls for Kira. Her undeniable spirit has renewed his zest for life. As for Kira, she sees the man beneath the cold exterior, the man who’s afraid of letting his people and her down—the man whose unerring loyalty to her may finally allow her to find a peace and happiness she thought she’d never have.
What for you is the most romantic moment between them?
Enjoy another intimate excerpt:
Tal placed his hand on her back. The tenderness in that touch quenched her soul. She wanted more of it, more of him, but she had less than twenty minutes to get him off of Derid.
Kira kept moving, ignoring Tal behind her, as much as she could. He’d moved up so close, she could feel his breath on her neck. More than once, she had to resist the urge to lean back against him and simply breathe him in. He was leaving, returning to his home, his life. Just like she’d return to hers. She’d be alone, except for Danny, but that was no longer enough.
Tal, the enemy commander she barely knew but nonetheless trusted, the Serrissian who challenged her in ways she’d never expected, the man who warmed her soul despite his cool façade, would probably never think about her after today. She’d have to do the same.
A few more turns and they found the hangar. Kira removed the screws to the grate and dropped down to the cargo bay floor. Tal followed, slipping behind a stack of pallets with exceptional stealth for a man of his height. Except for a handful of maintenance crew servicing a fighter aft, the bay was empty. Tal followed her, his steps as silent as when she had met him. As soon as she found the courier ship, she slid into the pilot’s seat. Pre-flight systems check proceeded smoothly. Tal strapped into the co-pilot’s chair, familiarizing himself with the ship’s systems. Within a few minutes, Kira locked in her pilot’s code and rose.
His arm reached across, blocking her exit. “Come with me.” His voice was heavy with need.
She squashed the cry that threatened to burst from her lips. Danny would be expecting her to call soon, knowing her latest rotation was ending. She couldn’t leave her brother, not like this.
“There’s something between us,” Tal continued, green eyes sure and unyielding.
“We don’t know anything about one another.” Her words sounded as empty as they felt.
“We know enough. What we don’t know, we’ll have fun learning.” He flashed that charming grin of his.
She had to clamp her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. She marveled at how this one Serrissian could make her laugh when her darkest fears and memories threatened to overwhelm her. Kira reached up and traced his scar with one finger. “We’re enemies, Commander. We should part as friends and—”
His mouth enveloped hers. Soft, tender, and very sure, his tongue prodded at her lips, demanding entrance. It was so easy, natural, opening to him as if he was the piece of her soul she’d been missing her entire life. There was promise and hope in that kiss, which was more than she could give in return. Why must he tempt her so? She was already finding it hard leaving the ship instead of strapping herself in and flying off with him. Kira let his tongue glide over hers one last time before pulling away and slamming her hand against the palm lock. The door swished open and she stepped out.
Which character in the series was the hardest to write? Why?
Tal. He tends to lock away his emotions, and yet he’s a very passionate person when it comes to defending those he loves. Striking the balance between his reserved and his open sides was perhaps the hardest to do. That led to what Kira considers the ‘two sides of Tal’. His military side and the gentler side—the one he shows only to her.
What kind of research did you have to do to write this book? Please share an interesting fact or unique behind the scenes experience.
I’ve never thrown knives, though I want to learn how to. I’ve read about the various techniques, attempting to understand the physicals involved (physics was definitely not my favorite course in school) as well as what goes into training. In my mind, I saw a correlation between my daughter’s training in karate and the training Kira needed to master knife throwing. Both required years of hard work, dedication, and determination. As it turns out, my daughter just passed her black belt test two months before The Traitor’s Touch was released!
Please give us a sneak peek at book 2 in the series.
The Traitor’s Truth
(Mindwiped, book 2)
Tal: “You’re my wife.” Kira: “Prove it.”
Stranded on an enemy planet with no memory of her past, Kira’s confronted by the powerful Commander Tal Kaegen who claims she’s his wife. She has her knives and her wits . . . just what she needs to escape Kaegen and his world. If only her body didn’t crave his touch . . . Commander Tal Kaegen may well be the key to her past—and the instrument of her destruction.
The Traitor’s Truth
(Mindwiped, book 2)
A living nightmare, his worst in years. He had found her at last, entwined in another man’s grasp. Her eyes widened the moment he entered the cabin. Fear. Fear of him, her husband. The one who had tied the kenut on her wrist only six months ago.
Thought held no part in what he did next. Pummeling the man with the flat end of his gun had been instinct, nothing more. Kira’s screams pulled at Tal in a way that only deepened the wound in his soul. Beautiful hazel eyes clamped shut as she wrapped her arms about the fezak and used her body to shield him against Tal’s fists. She left him no choice but to stop. He would not risk injuring her, though she had dealt him a blow he knew would never heal.
His men moved in, separating Kira from the man, roughly pulling her hands behind her as if she were the enemy. Reason began to pierce the fog of his rage. Whatever had happened here, she was still his wife.
“Release her,” Tal said, unable to stop the growl that accompanied his words.
“Ayella, protect me,” the fezak said as Tal’s men dragged him out of the small farmhouse. The fezak sounded like he was ordering a slave to do his bidding.
Tal could almost see the mental shift in Kira the moment the fezak spoke. The fear in her face washed away. In fact, all emotion drained from her. Never had he seen her appear so blank.
“Leave my husband alone,” she said to the soldiers.
Her husband? Tal’s head snapped up at that. Could Driss and everyone he knew have been right? That she had not been kidnapped but instead had run off? Tal swallowed hard as he surveyed the cabin, with its one bed. Had she forsaken her marriage with him and married this fezak?
Bile rose in his throat. He was going to be sick. It was too much to take. For months, he had searched for her, putting everything he had at risk. He had nearly lost his seat on Council, was barely on speaking terms with his brother, once again, and scarcely maintained his hold on the Intelligence sector. They had all called him a fool for pursuing her. The note, they kept reminding him, had said everything. She could no longer deceive herself into thinking she belonged with him after what he had let happen to her brother. She knew the people around her all wanted her gone.
They were right about her, in part. She was an outsider and would always be one here on his world because they wouldn’t accept her. They all theorized that she had left, of her own will, to find some peace and happiness off of Serriss.
They were wrong.
Tal knew firsthand that notes weren’t to be trusted. More importantly, he knew Kira, unlike no other. He knew her soul. She would not have left him because others disapproved of her or their marriage. He had vowed his life to her when he laid the ancient threads of the kenut on her wrist. And he had vowed that he would not quit until he found her. And now he had, here with another man.
Tal peered into her beautiful eyes. Angry, frightened eyes. Full of hatred . . . for him. “Shaiya?” His name for her sailed from his mouth without thought.
She took two large strides forward and slapped him. There was a fire in her still, but not for him. “How dare you! I am not your shaiya.” Her gaze fell to him, the fezak kneeling in the dirt, with his hands bound behind his back.
“Get him out of here,” Tal ordered.
Two of his men clamped their hands around the fezak and dragged him toward one of the flitters.
Her eyes followed. “My husband,” she said, her voice barely a squeak.
“He’s not your husband!”
Delicate brows lifted, and she tilted her head, like a confused child. That gave Tal pause, especially when he heard her sigh of relief as the fezak disappeared into the flitter.
What had the fezak done to her?
With two fingers against her cheek, Tal turned her to face at him. “That man stole what is mine, Kira. And you are mine.” He pushed her sleeve up to reveal the kenut she wore on her wrist, to prove his claim to her.
He nearly winced at the condition of the kenut. Dark. Blacker than night. The ancient ceremonial threads should be dancing wildly, weaving colorful new patterns even as she stood there, seething at him. Except for two lone red threads that moved about, sluggish and lost, the kenut was lifeless.
The bond between Kira and him, nearly gone. It couldn’t be! He looked to her, for an explanation, but she yanked her arm free.
“Don’t touch me! I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but you will not touch me.”
Too many emotions surged through him. Fear, hatred, hurt. Fear again. “You don’t know me?” Confusion added to an already dangerous mix of emotions.
She rubbed where he had held her arm so tightly. “I’ve never seen you before.”
“You have to remember me. Concentrate, please, Kira.”
“Ayella,” she corrected him, her voice pitched with newfound strength. “My name is Ayella.” She nodded her head slightly, a welcome one gives a stranger.
Something was definitely off about her, more than her failure to recognize him.
Kira pulled her shoulders back into a less threatening stance. “Does this mean that you have come here by mistake?”
When he said nothing, she continued, forging forward, showing the same strength of will and courage he had fallen in love with all those months ago. Then that blank look came over her again as her eyes searched among the soldiers outside. “My husband doesn’t want you here,” she said, her voice a pale copy of what it was moments ago.
A whistle from outside cut through the pain that had started anew. His men were scurrying into a defensive position. “It’s not safe here, Commander,” said one of his men as he poked his head in.
“Secure her,” Tal ordered. He didn’t miss the shock on Kira’s face as one of his men pushed her out toward a flitter. “And keep them apart!”
Tal briefly glanced inside the cabin one last time. The place was nothing more than a hovel, with a kitchen, a few chairs by the fireplace and one bed. Their bed . . . the one they shared. Tal stormed out and his lieutenant immediately fell in step beside him.
“Burn it. Burn it to the ground.”
My Review of THE TRAITOR’S TOUCH:
A fantastic debut. The Traitor’s Touch drew me in from page one and held me until the whirlwind ending. If you enjoy creative world-building, romance, suspense, juicy subplots and steamy love scenes, this is the book for you. Can’t wait for Book 2.
Julie K. Cohen has always ‘played’ with stories and plots in her head, but never conceived of putting pen to paper until her high school years. While building a career and family over the years always held the highest priority, Julie never gave up writing. Through the years, family, husband, and friends encouraged her to keep writing. Without their love and support, and the additional support of the writing community, she wouldn’t be where she is today, sitting in front of her computer, creating new characters, plots, and romances for her readers to enjoy.
~Author’s Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter links/ Newsletter~
Goodreads: Julie K Cohen
It’s a day that most authors love. Release Day!
I should be happy. But honestly, I’m exhausted. If you’ve been following what’s happened, you know my publisher closed down Oct 1st. My release Must Be Crazy was in galley reviews (my last chance to find errors) and was supposed to be released yesterday. Then the bomb dropped.
Must Be Crazy is Book 3 in my Darling Cove series. Collateral damage from the publisher closing was, Books 1 and 2 were removed from all retailers. Since Book 3 was on the 1-yard line, why not just publish it myself? What was the point if Books 1 and 2 were unavailable? That put me back punting range.
I had to publish THREE books.
And I did.
This post is about why?
Why did I stop everything I was doing (including finishing another book for a new series that I planned to pitch at the NJ Romance Conference)? Looking at the calendar, I cringed. I had 3 back-to-back-to-back weekend trips planned. I had EVERY EXCUSE to give up and walk away from this series. My favorite line “I’ll deal with that BS later.”
So why didn’t I?
Writers peak at different points in their career. Some write a masterpiece out of the gate and then fizzle. Some write best sellers again and again and again. My skills are slowly sharpening with every book. Must Be Crazy is technically the 5th full-length serious novel I’ve written. For a contemporary, it’s my best work to date. I am so immensely proud of it. Even if it’s still a dud compared to the masters. What’s important to note that, while I had help from Donna Alward (who loved it enough to let me put her name on it), I had ZERO development input from the editor. That’s important. This book is mine. All mine.
Authors openly brag about how amazing their editors are. I’ve yet to experience that. If you’ve read Must Love Fashion or Must Have Faith, for better or worse, that’s ALL ME. And it’s the same for Must Be Crazy. So back to the question…why?
I truly love how this book came out. I finally got it in this book as far as pacing, emotion, and conflict. And that was why I dug in and fought against the odds to get it out. I was lucky enough to find bloggers who already read the publisher’s ARC and posted positive reviews on Goodreads. (check it out 🙂 The book that’s up for sale as of today, is the same book. Only better actually because I was able to go in and clean up mistakes missed in the editing process.
I had already written a Christmas Novella for this series which will be available immediately after Must Be Crazy (A Must for Christmas). And I really really really want to keep this series going. I have outlines for two more novels, but I can’t make any promises. Self-publishing is expensive. I’m tremendously lucky to have the resources to put my love on the page and hand it out. That’s kind of what it feels like. And I’m okay with that.
So this post is just explaining what’s going on. I have a newsletter coming out later with all kinds of blurbs, sexy teasers, and links. There’s none of that here. This is just me saying thank you for staying a subscriber to my website.
I plan to chat more in the coming year. I have a vampire series coming out next year from Soul Mate Publishing and I am really excited to announce 3 publishers asked for Forty Times Platinum. I’m not the greatest writer, but I don’t exactly suck 🙂
Have a wonderful day xoxo
My publisher announced a few days ago they were closing. Must Love Fashion and Must Have Faith have been removed from Amazon and all other retailers. Must Be Crazy was also scheduled for release October 22.
I had a couple of choices to make.
Oh, I cried, that wasn’t really a choice.
Option 1 (the easy lane)- Let it go. Can you hear Elsa singing? The easy thing would have been to deal with this in a couple of months. When I got this news, I was in the middle of editing Drawing Bloodlines, I am putting the final touches on Forty Times Platinum (2.0) for pitching at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference later this month and I have to go away the next three weekends. Then as I’ve done the last few years, starting November 1st, I will sit down and write, Matching Bloodlines, the 3rd book in my vampire series.
Option 2- Bulldoze ahead and get these books back up on my own.
Ignoring all the reasons why I can’t do this, I am doing it.
So stay tuned. Must Love Fashion* and Must Have Faith will be back up for sale soon. When they do, for a short time, they will be available in e-book only format. I have paperbacks and will be at a few signing events (listed below). Must Be Crazy, will be available in both e-book and print and hopefully will still be released on the intended date Oct 22.
Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, please.
*One piece of exciting news, Must Love Fashion is getting a little bit of a makeover. I will be unveiling a new cover when the book is ready for sale again. I just saw a mock-up and teared up.
New Jersey Romance Writers, Put Your Heart in a Conference Book Fair, Saturday, Oct 20, 4:30-5:30, held at the Woodbridge Renaissance Hotel, Iselin New Jersey, Diamond Ballroom
St. Stephen’s Fall Author Fair, Saturday, Nov 3, 3-5pm. Raffles! Held at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Hicksville, New York.