NOTE: I know the first book is up at $0.99 already, but Reina is working with KDP to get the deal going for the other too! So check back!
One of the other writers in my local Nano-writing group* wrinkled his nose at the news that I had published Shifter Romance. “What does that even mean?” He wondered out loud. Really loud. “How is that even real fiction?”
Okay, so I want you to know he is still alive and breathing, but only because jail is real.
I’m used to the rolled eyes when I talk about romance, but hey… to each their own… and I love myself some romance. And there are people who are uninformed and then there are people who are willfully ignorant. I chose to believe he was part of the first group and asked him.
“Have you read stories about Greek Mythology?”
“Of course!” He seemed affronted that I’d even ask him such a silly thing. “Greek Mythology is classic storytelling!”
He knew I had him when I smiled. Not my normal smile, but that teeth-baring alligator grin that usually makes my son cringe and walk away, because he knows I’m about to take a bite out of someone.
“Oh good… well let’s talk about Greek Mythology. The obvious start is King Lycaon. Some forms of his myth tells the story of how Zeus turned him into a wolf as punishment for trying to trick him into eating human flesh.”
“Sure,” he shrugged, “but that’s just one—”
“Well, what about Arachne. Athena changed her into a spider.”
“Apollo mourned the death of the youth Hyacinth, changing him into the flower we know today.”
He gave me a sullen look. “And?”
“There are a ton of examples, but let’s just remember how many times Zeus had to change his form or the form of others just to get some love… physical love. So…”
Yes, I verbally beat him into submission with examples of what he considered “real fiction” — but what am I getting at here…
Mythology… origin stories… are a human way of trying to understand ourselves and where we come from. We see ourselves in nature, sometimes ascribing attributes of nature’s other creatures to understand what we feel inside. We’re skittish as a colt. We’re hungry as a bear.
We even roar like lions.
We find animalistic characteristics as both desirable and undesirable in ourselves… of course we’re going to seek them in our heroes… our lovers…
I guess that’s why I love writing shapeshifters so much. Heroes and Heroines who can not just dabble in those behaviors, but come by them naturally.
A shapeshifter trio of brothers, bears from the Orsino family who search for their perfect mate and find them in equally amazing women…
A tiger shifter who finds himself with the Catch 22 of all time—keep the secret of his kind… or save the woman who is his perfect match?
Where wild nature and the cultivation of love collide and co-exist…
The head of Orsino Security was hired to protect her for a week. Instead, his bear wants to claim her forever.
It takes one look for bear shifter Salvatore Orsino to know that Natale Durante isn’t just his client… she’s his mate. His first instinct is to lay Natale’s curvaceous body over his shoulder, find a den, and claim her with his bite. But, this beautiful head-strong woman only grudgingly endures his protection even as she welcomes him in her bed. He’ll have to set aside his bear’s need to mark her until he’s eliminated the threat to her life. Once she’s safe, he’ll turn all his energies convincing her that he isn’t after a short-term dalliance, he wants her, with him… forever.
Natale Durante knows that Durante Fashion House is on its last legs. Her new line, designed for women of every size and shape, is her last attempt at saving her family’s legacy. But there are those in high fashion who prefer that things stay the same—curves belong on the road, not the runway. When complaints and hate mail escalate to threats of bodily harm, her father hires a bodyguard—Salvatore Orsino. He’s over six feet of deliciously seductive muscular male and a distraction she can’t afford. One look from him and she wants her infuriatingly persistent protector to rip off her clothes with his teeth, or she might do the same to him.
Can Salvatore eliminate the threats to Natale or will he lose her before he has a chance to claim her?
When he saw his mate for the first time, her life was in danger. Keeping his Tiger a secret was no longer an option.
Every day was a struggle for Tiger Shifter, Devlin Kerr. Booted from one Police Department due to his ‘questionable attitude,’ he’d landed in Sylvan City determined to give the career another go. What was an Alpha to do?
Three weeks of even more bull and inside politics was already souring him on law enforcement all together when his Captain suckers him into working extra security at a society event.
A society event that ends in gunfire and blood.
And smack dab in the middle of the crosshairs? His mate.
Secrets be damned, Devlin did what it took to save her and suddenly danger is coming at them from everywhere.
Death, he could handle. Mayhem? Sure, just another walk in the park.
People going after his mate? That wasn’t going to fly. He was going to do whatever it took to keep her safe from danger…
…but who was going to keep Paige Lundin safe from him? Less than a day after they’d met, she was The Tiger’s Innocent Bride.
*This is Book 1 of the Sylvan City Alphas Series. As the series goes on you’ll meet Alphas of a number of different species who will find their mates amongst the citizens of this city, complete with lush woods and fields as well as a concrete jungle. These hard-edged heroes and their lusciously-curvy mates are turning this island into a shifter paradise filled with Happy Ever Afters*
I make my living as a freelance writer and editor. Therefore, I find that my standards for professional quality content differ from that of many self-published authors, because I cannot separate the quality necessary for my clients from the quality necessary for my own stories.
Being an avid reader as well as a writer and editor, I encounter far too many self-published books that make me cringe. From misused apostrophes to malapropisms to incorrect grammar to tense switches between past and present so frequent as to give H. G. Wells whiplash, these writers lack understanding of what I call the mechanics of language.
However, correct grammar in itself does not translate into good writing. Writers who commit the sins attendant upon poor language mechanics also and often fail to grasp the intricacies of good storytelling: minimize passive voice, avoid information dumps, use adverbs sparingly, reduce expository description to only that which is necessary, and eschew obfuscation. (If you didn’t get the two instances of irony in that last sentence, then you probably shouldn’t consider yourself a professional writer.)
The hallmark of a professional writer lies in the skill with which he or she executes an idea.
If one subscribes to the literary authorities regarding story plots, then one must also admit that every overarching plot has already been written. In his 2004 book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker declares that literature has only seven basic plots that storytellers everywhere and in every medium continuously recycle: 1) overcoming the monster, 2) rags to riches, 3) the quest, 4) voyage and return, 5) rebirth, 6) comedy, and 7) tragedy. (Yes, the plots can and do overlap within a story.) Other authorities cite the number of distinct, archetypal plots to six, nine, and thirty-six. The Guardian reported on an academic study, conducted in 2016, that analyzed commonalities among the plots of 1,737 stories. According to the article, the two most popular plot archetypes basically fall into two general story arcs reminiscent of Oedipus and Cinderella.
For those who write romantic fiction, the Cinderella archetype reigns. Look at practically any story within the umbrella genre of romance or its myriad sub-genres and you’ll find that requisite happily ever after or HEA ending. Sometimes, the HEA is temporary, labeled in the industry as happy for now or HFN. Regardless of whatever tragedy befalls the protagonists throughout the story’s journey, the story ends on a note of hope and happiness.
Those who write romance then ought to understand that their overarching plots are not original. What is original is how the author treats that selected plot. The permutations upon a well-used plot often fall within the parameters of certain sub-genres, of which the most obvious copy of the Cinderella story is the billionaire romance. The tired old plot becomes fresh with the addition of unusual circumstances that affect the characters, with the writer’s skill in creating witty repartee, and the writer’s ability to convey emotion and ambiance such that that reader shares the main characters’ experiences.
Great storytelling requires more than a good idea, because all the good ideas have already been used.Great storytelling demands expert execution and manipulation of language to refresh the old idea and give it new vigor.
Bear of the Midnight Sun
After a thousand years, immortal polar bear shifter Sindre finally finds his mate—on a talk show. In the city where anything goes, an impromptu wedding is just a taste of what’s to come. Startled into going through the ceremony, Miranda can’t stop the big, virile man from staking his claim on her and releasing her bear. Sindre can’t believe his good luck and will do anything to keep his mate at his side, up to and including taking marital advice from Atlas Leonidus. An independent woman with a successful career, Miranda melts at his touch and shuns his control, except she can’t control her bear.
Holly Bargo has over 25 years of professional writing and editing experience. She has published 20 books spanning the fantasy and romance genres and writes from the perspective of having made all the mistakes and helping other writers learn from those mistakes. Her latest book, Bear of the Midnight Sun, will be released on October 31, 2018, in both e-book and print format. Holly lives on a small hobby farm in southwest Ohio.
Throughout history, The Lady, Goddess of the Lycan world, has gifted werewolf packs with humans who carry her mark. Theodora Morrissey’s plans to return to college for her graduate degree are ended when she is awakened by an otherworldly voice on a rarely used airstrip in Nebraska. Injured and disoriented, she has no idea the discoloration on her back has marked her as a Seer, and that she is now a possession—and the prisoner—of the Novus Pack of Lycans.
To the Novus pack, the word of their leader, their Laird, is the law. With compelling gray eyes and long dark hair, Raider Black rules his pack with intelligence and ruthlessness. To cement the security of his pack, Black has committed to mate another Packleader’s daughter. But he’s finding it impossible to fight his attraction to the pack’s alluring new Seer, claiming her as his own.
Sweet, fearless, and unintentionally funny, Theo upends Black’s world and pushes the boundaries of his rules. How far is Raider willing to go, and what will he sacrifice, to save both his pack and the human Seer who’s found a way not only into his bed, but his heart?
Okay, I’m going to come right out and admit it. My confession/admission might get me in trouble with some erotica readers, but I have my big girl pants on and can take it.
There’s a popular among some people erotica genre that focuses on a submissive/dominant relationship that IMO takes a relationship to the extreme. I’m talking about daddy/baby scenarios. I admit I’ve only read a couple of them all the way through, but I’ve read enough blurbs to feel I understand how they’re structured. In essence (and correct me if I’m making this too simple) the dominant male insists that the female under his control act and is treated like a small child, complete with diapers and a crib. For reasons I don’t get, the women go along with the treatment. They might object in the beginning, but then it seems, something kicks into their brains and they decide to explore and even enjoy the situation. Often the so-called hero has staff or relatives that help raise the ‘child’. The whole house is set up to accommodate what doesn’t seem at all like playacting to me.
Okay, here’s where I jump on my soapbox. No way do I see any redeeming qualities in a man who treats a woman like that. I also don’t think much of a formally independent woman who goes along with such a demeaning show.
That said, to each their own. After all, I often write about capture situations. Note that I didn’t say the word fantasy since in my stories, the capture and its aftermath is the real deal and not some play situation the characters have agreed to. A shrink might say I need help. All I know is a lot of readers buy into those stories, and I’m here to thank them.
Forced together by a mountain snowstorm and their smashed cars, two loners are fated to spend a night together. Once the cabin door closes behind them, need takes over. They must have sex, only sex, not a relationship. But the nearby dark wolves have their own agenda.
Quite a bit, actually. Whether we like it or not, people make assumptions about us based on what we wear.
I’m currently wearing a white short-sleeve T-shirt and a pair of black capri leggings with a hole just above the knee. What does that say about me? I like comfort. I’m relaxed at home. I’m not concerned about seeing people. Maybe I need to buy some new capri pants. 🙂 Or maybe, that I’m a writer on a deadline.
I have at-home clothes and clothes I wear when I go out into the world. It’s funny how my wardrobe changed after I quit my day job back in 2005 to write full-time. Over the years, the selection in my closet has dwindled. Now, it mostly consists of comfortable clothes. There are a lot of leggings and T-shirts—both short and long-sleeved in my closet. I tend to find something I like and buy it in multiples and different colors. Saves on shopping. These days, I even wear leggings when I go out, just not the grubby ones with the holes in them.
And we all know that everybody’s crazy about a sharp dressed man. Just ask ZZ Top.
Which brings me to Luther Henderson, the hero of Drakon Unchained, the latest book in my Blood of the Drakon series. He is the head of security for a member of the Knights of the Dragon, a secret society that traps and uses dragons for their own gain. Most of the men he works with wear your typical black combat-style clothes. Maybe they think it makes them look tough. Maybe it’s for ease of movement. Maybe it simply helps to hide the bloodstains.
But Luther wears custom tailored suits. Custom because he’s tall and extremely well-built. Nothing off the rack is going to fit him. Over the years, he’s discovered that him wearing a suit puts people at ease. They relax around him and tend to forget just how dangerous he really is. It’s a mistake they often regret as Luther doesn’t hesitate to use it to his advantage.
Blood of the Drakon, Book 5
Victoria Marshall is living a lie. She works for a member of the Knights of the Dragon, a secret society that traps and uses dragons for their own gain. As a child, she made an unlikely friend—a drakon. He went missing, and she’s spent the past twenty years searching for him. The only thing distracting her from her mission is Luther Henderson, her boss’s new head of security.
Luther is also living a lie. One, if discovered, could lead to a fate worse than death. He’s attracted to Victoria, but can’t fully trust her, doesn’t know if she’s truly innocent or a true member of the Knights. It’s not only his life at stake, but those of the people he loves.
As they’re thrust deeper into the dangerous dealings of the Knights, they each have to share their secrets in order to survive.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
On August 21st, Lion in the Shadows releases! It’s a very erotic story—so consider yourself warned! 🙂
This opening scene I’m sharing today includes details of rescue procedures I gleaned from reading articles and speaking to a fireman in the Texas Hill County, who specialized in cave rescues. That was one fun conversation!
In Lion, things get hot…and weird…really quick. So, if you love a hot paranormal with hints of ghosts/demon possession/shapeshifting, Lion might be what you need.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me whether you could see yourself crawling through caves for fun!
Lion in the Shadows
When a teen dies inside an unexplored cave, it’s Lani Kimmel’s job to bring him out. This is not a pleasant job, but one she’s handled many times as a member of the local fire department and an expert in cave rescues. The trek into the cave awakens a creature that will push this no-nonsense woman’s boundaries of belief and test her newly emerging love for one man.
Rafe Chavez, the new sheriff in this small Texas town, has already staked a claim on Lani. He’s a man with a goal in his sights, and he’s not letting anything get in his way—until he dreams about an Indian brave who died in that unexplored cave, savaged by a mountain lion. When his dreams cross into reality, Rafe realizes he may be possessed by the Indian’s spirit—but the spirit isn’t alone, and it wants Lani.
Just when Lani’s resistance to his erotic persuasion crumbles, Rafe must push her away to protect her from another creature that has also cast its gaze upon her…
Sounds other than the usual chirping of cave crickets and the incessant drip of water intruded on the sleeper’s dreams, echoing down the cavern. Voices, laughter, feet scraping over stone.
The sleeper opened his eyes and found that, for once, the exercise wasn’t futile. A sliver of grayish light penetrated the gloom.
He stretched, willing blood to quicken through his body, to heat and ease muscles that had remained dormant too long.
Then a new scent—musky, warm-blooded, human—entered his tomb. He rolled to his feet.
Then gathering his strength he roared up the cave wall.
* * *
Lani Kimmel drove over the cattle guard onto the gravel road that marked the beginning of rancher McKelvey’s property. She followed the ridgeline of the steep, oak and cedar-covered hill, bouncing in her seat despite her truck’s heavy-duty shocks. The tires churned in caliche, the fine sandstone gravel pinging on the wheel wells.
She tried to keep her mind focused on the task of keeping her pickup on the rough road and away from the reason she climbed to the remote spot. But her stomach already burbled, her palms grew moist, and that little voice in the back of her mind—the one that sounded like her father’s—taunted her, What do you think you’re playin’ at, little girl? You aren’t strong enough.
As she rounded a curve, a long line of parked vehicles forced her to pull onto the shoulder to continue forward. Further along, she passed an EMS unit, two county squad cars, and the trucks and SUVs belonging to other members of the volunteer fire department. Parking in a narrow space between two vehicles, she had her door open before the engine finished chugging to a halt. Heat blasted her, and she grabbed her volunteer’s baseball cap to shield her eyes from the bright afternoon sun. Then she slid her duffel from behind her seat, kicked a booted heel against the door of her truck, and headed toward the mouth of the unnamed cave.
She nodded to the EMS team crouched beside two boys huddled beneath blankets, shivering despite the late afternoon heat. Compassion could have swamped her, but she quickly tamped down the emotion. If she thought too much about it, she wouldn’t be able to get through the next few hours. Their buddy likely lay on the bottom of the cave floor, and it was her job to bring him up.
Lani approached the group standing in front of a narrow black hole. Stones and gravel were already piled to the side as the men worked at widening the opening. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “Anybody looked inside yet?”
Cale Witte, the captain of the volunteer fire department, turned and gave her a crooked smile that creased his suntanned face. “Glad you could make it, Lani. Did you bring your vertical pack?”
Lani lifted her duffel. “Got it here, boss. So, we have a drop-off? Anyone hear from the kid inside?”
He shook his head, his grave expression telling her he expected the worst. “Those skinny runts shimmied through that hole carrying ropes and Maglites,” he said, sounding disgusted. “Said they didn’t know there was another level until their friend dropped out of sight.”
Lani swore under her breath.
Cale spat a stream of chewing tobacco. “A couple of us crawled in. The entrance is blocked with loose-packed gravel and stone. It’s pretty unstable, but the cave opens wide once you’re through the mouth. About twenty feet inside, it bottoms out. We shined our lights around, but it was too deep to see much. We need to climb down.”
“Well, that’s what I’m here for, huh?” Lani said, willing confidence into her voice.
He nodded. “No one knows caves like you do—that’s a fact. You better have a look for yourself.”
Randy Brandt, another member of the department, leaned on his shovel. “Think we’ve got this hole wide enough for your butt now?” His grin stretched across his handsome face.
Not for the first time, Lani thought Randy’s lean, muscled frame, and sun-tinted brown hair belonged in a firemen’s calendar. “Better put your back into it.” Lani gave him a teasing glance. “Gotta make room for that big head of yours, too.”
The men chuckled.
Lani took no offense. She’d long ago figured out she was one of the team when the men included her in the insults they traded. Besides, the banter helped drown out the voice that ate at her composure. The sooner she was in the cave—her world—the sooner she’d be in control. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most compelling and sought-after romance books are shapeshifter romances. Do you love shifter stories? I do! Shapeshifter books have been a hot topic in romance for quite some time. What makes creatures that can change from human to animal and back to human again, so appealing?
I have a few thoughts but would love to hear what you think. How many types of shifters have you read? What’s your favorite? Dragons, wolves, bears, lions, leopards, tigers, deer, eagle or more. I even read one about a shapeshifting seal.
So, what makes a shapeshifter story element so HOT!
Readers, including me, love Alpha male characters. Brooding and troubled heroes and courageous heroines who can tame them. The rugged kick butt kind of guy who can battle evil, protect love ones, love intensely and save the world. He’s a primal, fierce being when his animalistic side emerges. Imagine the power and strength of predatory animals, then consider what a human male/female would be like possessing some of these traits. That makes for a powerful character.
Many shifters possess super powers, like heightened senses, Superhuman strength or other mystical powers. Birds and other mythical creatures can fly. Who wouldn’t want the power to fly? Some may travel through dimensions, move objects or read minds. They demonstrate keen eyesight, hearing or the ability to run fast. These animal traits occasionally transfer to their human form.
Conflicts and drama in these books are cranked up on high. A character’s human side may not always agree with his animal side, adding more dynamic struggles. Fights between two shifters or shifter vs human kick up the tension a notch.
Paranormal and Fantasy world. The paranormal or mystical quality of these stories are interesting and compelling. Fans of paranormal and fantasy worlds are fascinated with strange, unusual or bizarre settings. Add in non-human creatures, an adventure and steamy love story—what’s not to love?
Mythology, folklore and ancient history all report various shifters. I love the mythology and folklore that authors create. Some of these stories are based on actual mythology, other make up new realms. I used the Norwegian folklore of the Eigi Einhamr in a shapeshifting series, yet to be re-released soon. In this folklore, humans can wear the skin of any animal and change into that animal. Many people believed in shifters or believed that they were one. (more on that below).
Put fiction aside and look inside our real world. Within some subcultures, there are people who seriously believe that they are not human. These ‘otherkin’ are considered non-human and come in all shapes and sizes.
Some people claim that they’re truly vampires, not cosplay, pretenders or wannabes. Others call themselves theriomorphs (shapeshifters), some say they come from another world or other dimensions. There are those who claim they’re animal but can change into human form. Not sure I see the difference. It’s a wonderful, strange world we live in.
What are your favorite shapeshifter creature and/or books?
Share below in comments. I have a few shifter books and a backlist series that I’ll be releasing soon. My current shifter titles:
A sexy space pilot on a desperate mission. A headstrong biologist he loves. And a dragon shifter caught in the middle as their worlds collide. Passion, love, greed and betrayal threaten their survival. When worlds collide, can love survive?
Kathy is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of steamy paranormal, contemporary, and suspense romance. She’s a science geek by day and escapes into her writer’s world at night. Kathy’s books are passionate, emotionally-charged and always have a happy ending. Some of her fav things: walks on the beach, traveling, curling up with her eBooks, binge watching Netflix series and having dinners out with her darling husband. She lives in Pennsylvania in a 100-year-old Victorian house with a garage built out of reject tombstones.