Grateful…

This Thanksgiving, I’m truly grateful for my life. Not only do I have an amazing family, a comfortable home, and good food to eat (things that, unfortunately, many people do not have) but, in addition, I’m able to support my family by doing work I love.

I write. And people are willing (and sometimes, very happy!) to pay me to tell them stories.

Do you have any idea how insane that is? This is something I’ve wanted since I was eleven years old and I sat scribbling really bad fanfic (was there a word for it then? Because that’s what I was writing) and I was getting to a point in my life in which I was starting to think I’d never actually do it. I was writing and proofreading for a living, and had nearly reached the point of settling on that being good enough. I scribbled down the beginning of Molly’s story when I was pregnant with my son. I wrote between taking care of my kids and feeding my newborn daughter and being sick and tired… because it was fun, and because it made me happy.

I never, in a million years, expected it to go anywhere.

As much fun as writing is, it’s kind of incomplete unless there’s someone there to read it. And that is where you come in. This year, some of those long-held (and nearly abandoned) dreams of mine came true. Thank you for helping make that happen.

(Related: Nether’s release was my second-most successful release day yet — Strife still holds the record for biggest release day. I don’t think the timing was great on my part, but for a holiday week release, I’m very happy! So thank you again!!)

XO,

Colleen

Nether is here!

Nether_UpdatedCover_700Here we go — NETHER! It’s here!

Here’s the description:

Molly Brooks has faced every foe thrown at her: power-hungry gods, hateful spirits, plotting demons, and everything in between.
She has been betrayed. Lied to. Tortured. Possessed. And she has fought her way back from the brink, time and time again.
It all leads up to this.
Two Titans, formerly imprisoned by Molly’s family, now walk the mortal realm.
The vengeful ancient, Nether, finally freed from her prison, longs for revenge against those who decided her fate.
And this time, Molly just might not be enough to fight them all, despite having everything to lose.
This is the final installment in the Hidden urban fantasy series.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I published Lost Girl. What a crazy, amazing year this has been. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. Words can’t express how much it’s meant to me to hear that people love Molly and her crazy friends. I never imagined my weird little story taking off the way it did, and for that, you have my eternal gratitude. Thank you so much!
I can’t wait to hear what you all think! Your reviews are very, very much appreciated!

Friday Reads – 11/21/14

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done one of these Friday Reads posts — final edits on Nether took up pretty much all of my time! Unfortunately, it’s also meant that I haven’t done as much reading as usual (and the new Warcraft expansion is also partially to blame for that! :) )

Here are a few of the things I’ve read that I’ve absolutely loved.

I was fortunate to be able to read Elizabeth Hunter’s entire Shadows and Gold novella (thank you, my friend!), which she’s currently publishing as a serial on her website. AMAZING. Tenzin is one of my favorite characters of Hunter’s and this, as well as her other Tenzin novella, The Bronze Blade, are both fantastic reads.

I’ve also read the first two books in Eve Langlais’s Kodiak Point series, Kodiak’s Claim and Outfoxed by Love — both very fun reads, and I definitely plan on reading the rest of the series. Eve also has a Kodiak Point book in the Kiss of Christmas Magic collection, which I’m currently reading my way through  — if you love paranormal romance, you need to grab this collection! It’s only $0.99 and contains 20 never-before-published novellas by some of the bestselling authors in the genre.

As far as comics, I’ve been catching up and revisiting some of my favorites via trade paperback. Hawkeye vol. 3, Captain Marvel vol. 1, and Lazarus vol. 1 and 2 (which I’ve read before but wanted to read again — glad I did. It’s probably one of my favorite comics right now) were all part of the rotation these last couple of weeks.

I’m also currently reading Amy Elliot Bragg’s Hidden History of Detroit, which has been on my TBR pile for quite a while.

I’m hoping to get more reading done over the next few weeks. I’m currently beta reading for a Twitter pal of mine and I have books on my Kindle by Killian McRae, Jill Myers, Jasinda Wilder, Marjorie Liu, and Amber Jaeger that I’m looking forward to reading. I’m also anxiously awaiting the trade paperback of Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked + the Divine, which will be out later this week.

So, that’s my list of recent and future reads. Any recommendations?

Monday is Nether Day!

Nether_UpdatedCover_700We’re almost there, lovelies! Nether, the final book in the Hidden series, will be out on MONDAY. 

Wow.

This book felt like it took so long to write, and now we’re here and I’m wondering where the time went. I’m so excited to share this story with you. It was hard to write, both because of some of the plot points and because I really, really want this to be a fitting end for the series. I’m proud of it. I told the story I wanted to tell, and it ended the way I’ve always known it would.

I hope you love it. Monday! I’ll send out a reminder newsletter and if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I’ll definitely be mentioning it there as well.

In other news, I found out last week that Home: Hidden Book Three is one of the finalists for RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards for Best Indie Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Book of 2014. 

That is… I’m still in shock. Thank you, RT Book Reviews!

Okay. The next time you hear from me here, it will be about Nether! Have a great weekend, all!

Earth Bound is Available Now!

EarthBound_UpdatedCover_700-2Happy Halloween! Just wanted to drop in for a second here and let you know that Earth Bound, the most recent Hidden novella, is available now! And for today only, you can snag your copy for free on Amazon.

Here’s the blurb:

Hephaestus. God of fire. God of blacksmiths. Reviled son of Zeus and former husband of the goddess of love. He’s found his place in the mortal realm, working with his friend Molly and her team of supernaturals. And he’s fine. He’s good. There isn’t a single thing he needs.

Until the day a witchy waitress walks into his life.

Can he get over a lifetime of rejection and the dangers of his own past and finally give happiness a chance? Or is he destined to spend his long life alone?

**This is a novella set in the Hidden world. It takes place after the events of Strife, Hidden Book Four.**

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it! As always, reviews are very much appreciated.

Have a great day!

Colleen

Lost Girl: Hidden, Book One Audiobook is Now Available!

LostGirlAudioBookCoverIt’s a busy week over here — two releases in one week! The first is the audiobook for Lost Girl, which is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes! (I teased a sample of the audiobook in this post, if you’d like to have a listen.)

I can’t fully express what a great experience this was for me, and I am looking forward to working with actress Tonya Cornelisse and the awesome team at Punch Audio in bringing the rest of the series to life.

I should also mention that if you don’t have an Audible account, you can open one and get your first book from Audible for free — so that may be a nice way to have a listen and see if you like the audiobook experience. I think you’ll really enjoy this one. Tonya did an awesome job bringing  my characters to life. It really is almost like listening to a radio play by an amazing one-woman show.

Imps, man. You need to hear her as the imps. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Oh, and that moment Molly and Nain meet for the first time? She nailed it.

Oh, oh — and that letter at the end? I cried, and I was the one who wrote the damn thing. :)

Anyway. I hope you’ll check it out. Here are those links again:

 

EarthBound_UpdatedCover_700-2As for the second release of the week — Earth Bound will be out on FRIDAY! As with Forever Night, it will be free on release day so my amazing, loyal readers can grab it for no additional cost. Reviews on both the audiobook and Earth Bound are, as alway, very much appreciated.

Have a great day!

Sneak Peek (Listen?): Lost Girl: Hidden, Book One Audiobook

I have had the pleasure of working with actress Tonya Cornelisse and the team at Punch Audio in producing the Hidden audiobooks, and they just wrapped production of the first one! It should be available for sale in the next couple of weeks via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

This has been an awesome experience. Tonya is a very talented and busy actress (check out these interviews with her here and here) and our engineer, Samir, has been awesome even during those times when I forget check my email and he’s waiting on me to listen to things. :) Tonya will be the narrator for the entire series, so there’s definitely a team-type feel in making these audiobooks. Here is a first listen, just a taste, of Lost Girl:

Aaaah! Don’t you love it? The first time I heard Tonya’s voice, I swear I shivered a little. Her voice is just how I hear Molly in my head, so I was thrilled when she agreed to audition, and, even more so, when she accepted the offer to narrate. I am so excited about these, and I can’t wait to share more with you!

Friday Reads: Intisar Khanani, Grace Draven (Yep, again) and Strong Female Protagonist

This was a GOOD reading week. I mentioned last week on Friday that I had started reading Grace Draven’s Entreat Me.

Oh my Hades, you guys.

entreatmeIf you love Beauty and the Beast, and (even more) stories that re-imagine the tale, this book is definitely for you. Draven takes a familiar story and absolutely, 100% makes it her own, all while still managing to pay homage to the original. Here’s the blurb for the book:

“Afflicted by a centuries-old curse, a warlord slowly surrenders his humanity and descends toward madness. Ballard of Ketach Tor holds no hope of escaping his fate until his son returns home one day, accompanied by a woman of incomparable beauty. His family believes her arrival may herald Ballard’s salvation.

…until they confront her elder sister.

Determined to rescue her sibling from ruin, Louvaen Duenda pursues her to a decrepit castle and discovers a household imprisoned in time. Dark magic, threatening sorcerers, and a malevolent climbing rose with a thirst for blood won’t deter her, but a proud man disfigured by an undying hatred might. Louvaen must decide if loving him will ultimately save him or destroy him.

A tale of vengeance and devotion.”

Louvaen is one of my favorite heroines to date. Prickly, tough as hell, straightforward, and strong… yet incredibly sweet and generous to those who deserve it. She was immensely fun to read, and her devotion to her sister was very sweet. I have to confess to being frustrated with her and her staunch dedication to protecting her sister’s virtue — just as both the hero and her sister were. Draven did an excellent job of letting us see both sides of that situation, and it says a lot about her skill as a writer that we can easily empathize with both Louvaen’s desire to help her sister and her sister’s desire to be her own woman. Excellent.

And then there’s Ballard. Oh, man. Both monstrous and enticing, angry yet caring. When you first meet him, he’s described as monstrous, so deformed that even Louvaen’s sister can’t look at him. Yet, just as Louvaen comes to see his deformities as dear, so do we.

You can’t talk about this story without talking about the setting, and Ballard’s castle is both a warm home and a living nightmare. It all comes together in a story so full of romance, angst, loss, revenge, and love (both love for family and romantic love) that it is nearly impossible to put down. I read it in a day. :)

lgwifeboneknifeAnd then, not having had enough of Grace Draven’s work, I read her short story, The Lightning God’s Wife. You get a teensy bit of Silhara and Martise (from her excellent Master of Crows) but, more so, you get a peek at the mythology in that world, and the story is beautifully told. Highly recommended!

After that, I read a short story that Grace Draven (oh, let’s just make this the Grace Draven fangirl post, shall we?) recommended on her Facebook page, The Bone Knife, by Intisar Khanani — and I immediately ordered Khanani’s Thorn, which I hope to read next week. Here is the description:

“Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way. Wary of all things beautiful, Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie. Further, his presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.”

This is a short story that feels so much bigger than its fifty-five pages would suggest. And Khanani’s writing is stunning. I cannot wait to delve into Thorn.

Finally, I was excited (see photo below — haha) to receive my copy of the Strong Female Protagonist book, which I supported via Kickstarter a while back. I have read it online, but it’s nice to have a paper copy in hand to leaf through. If you haven’t read it, it’s a really great webcomic by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. You can (and should!) check it out here.

Photo on 10-24-14 at 10.09 AM #2

 

That’s it for this week! Have a recommendation for me? Tell me about it — PLEASE! :)

Thoughts on life after Hidden

Can you tell this is on my mind a bit lately? If you are a regular reader of the blog or if you follow my page on Facebook, you’ve likely seen me talk about “life after Hidden.” Maybe I should just start referring to my creative life in terms of B.H. and A.H.

The period B.H. (before Hidden) was about me finding a way to make a (admittedly meager) living writing. I wrote about gardening and green living and parenting. I had two books about gardening published, and was published in what is still my favorite magazine, Mother Earth News, not once, but three times. I wrote for TreeHugger, which was, to me, like finally getting that stamp of “green-cred” approval.

I started writing Hidden. And this story lived in my mind, and went through multiple drafts over the course of the past five years. And I took the (to me, absolutely fucking terrifying at the time) step to get it out there via publishing it as a web serial here.

And then it came out in ebook form. Through it all, I was goofing around. I was finally giving form to this story that just wouldn’t leave me alone. Molly and company lived in my mind for a long time before anyone ever read them on my blog or in an ebook.

I am surprised, to this day, that the books have found the audience they have. I don’t think it really hit me until after Home came out that, holy shit, people are actually following this story. Way more people than I ever would have imagined. I didn’t think anyone would care about my oddball band of heroes and antiheroes. And I am immensely grateful for every single person who has taken a chance on an unknown author like me. It is more than I ever could have dreamed. It’s a modest success compared to some of my indie author brothers and sisters, but it is mine and I am thrilled beyond belief with it.

Which brings me to life A.H. (after Hidden). We’re almost there, because the final book comes out next month, followed by one final novella (since readers want this story told, and, more so, because I am dying to tell it.)

And I find myself both excited to share the rest of the stories I’ve been living with, and a bit terrified. Excited, because writing runs through my blood just as strongly as my Polish/German/Irish ancestry and I have fun doing it and I learn more about myself and the art of telling stories with each and every word I write.

Terrifying, because what if this was it? What if, as that bitchy voice in the back of my mind so often tries to tell me, I am nothing more than a one-hit wonder? What if I release the next stories, the next series, out into the world, and they sit there, fading into nothingness?

When I shared this fear, a good friend told me that you can only be a one-hit wonder if you stop working and putting books out.

This friend always gives me things to think about. Including, back when I started, the advice that this whole book-writing thing is a marathon, not a sprint.

A life, not a moment.

And I realize that when I started all of this, it was to prove to myself that I could. That I could get past my fear of putting my fiction out there. That I could finish writing books instead of letting partially-finished manuscripts pile up on my hard drive, never to be seen by anyone but me.

And I have done that. But you know what the funny part is? It’s something I think I’m going to have to prove to myself over and over and over again until it feels real. And I think, maybe, I’m grateful for that. I’ve always thrived on being the underdog, on feeling like I need to prove myself. And I’m here again.

I guess I’ll never settle on my laurels, so that’s a good thing.

I have several series and books in the works. Next year, you will see the first books in the series about the vampires from HIDDEN. You’ll be introduced to the Copper Falls series, which I teased here on the blog. and there will be superhero romance, because I am a geek and those are the kinds of stories I get a kick out of writing. There may also be a contemporary romance along the way. We’ll see.

What do I really hope to achieve in posting something like this? It’s not to be patted on the head and told that everything will be fine. :) Partially, it’s to untangle my thoughts, which I obviously do best in writing. But it’s also because I know I have several readers and followers who are starting out, or maybe thinking about seriously giving their writing a chance. And I want them to know that I’m pretty sure the insecurity never dies. And really, it probably never should. I also want them (and me, when that bitchy voice gets too loud) to know that they should keep going, because there’s nothing on Earth like making characters who only lived in your head live in other people’s minds and hearts as well. It’s magic. And it is worth every single second of doubt.

That’s that, then. Back to work.

 

What I’m Writing Wednesdays: Nether Prologue

My time with Nether is drawing to a close. Well, at least the writing part of it is. There will be editing and polishing, but I usually edit as I go along so by the time I’ve finished the first draft, everything is pretty clean.

It is starting to feel final now. I made banners for my Facebook and Twitter pages, sharing the release date (11-24-14!) and, in several of the little promo images I’ve made up to this point, I’ve included the phrase “because all things must come to an end.” And of course, that’s an allusion to the series ending, but it’s also taken directly from the prologue to Nether. I think it’s a good time to share that part of the book!

 

Nether: Hidden, Book Five

Prologue

The Story of Aether and Nether

As told to the Fates by Nyx, Darkness Be Her Name

In the beginning there was Chaos, and out of Chaos was born Darkness, and from the Darkness came everything.

Darkness called Herself Nyx. And She brought order to Chaos.

The first thing She made was to become Her most beloved creation.

The first thing She created, was Aether. Light. Her son.

After Aether, She created more.

Life.

 

And, because balance is essential, She created death as well.

 

She created Nether to balance Aether’s light.

And She set to Aether and Nether the task of creating realms to house the beings She would one day bring into existence.

From the moment she saw Aether, Nether was entranced.

He was light in all the ways she was dark;

Good in all the ways she was evil.

And she felt unworthy.

 

And all of the things she saw in Aether, he saw in her as well:

Someone to shroud him in darkness when the light became too much to bear;

Dark to his light,

Cool to his warmth,

Passionate to his calm.

The other side of himself.

And so, they loved.

 

And it came to be that the differences that had enamored them so

Began to drive them apart.

 

Strife found her first breath in them,

As did Misery, Sadness, Rage, and Violence.

And so, they fought.

The heavens thundered with their power,

And the newly-formed realms were set ablaze.

And the stars came to be;

Eternal proof of their passion.

And of their downfall.

 

When it was over, Aether lay crumbled, broken.

Nether, weakened.

And Nether wept over her lover, begged unforgiving Nyx to save him.

And Nyx could not repair the damage that had been done to Her most beloved creation.

She could not let him go.

And yet, he was beginning to fade.

 

Death would have its first victim.

 

Instead, Nyx used her power to keep Her son alive the only way She could:

By turning him into the realm that would be home to Her next creations.

A place of light, beauty, and hope.

She would never hold him again, but She could feel his presence there, and it gave Her peace.

 

But Nyx is not a forgiving being.

She turned Her wrath on Nether,

And, as punishment for what she’d done to beloved Aether,

Nyx turned Nether into a realm as well;

A realm that would be home to monsters.

It would house evil,

And those who lived there would one day rule the dead.

 

There they would exist for eternity, alive, imprisoned, their strength powering what would, one day, be the homes of beings so great and cruel and powerful that odes would be written and people would pray their names

They would watch life pass them by. Until the end of everything.

Because all things must come to an end. Balance demands that it be so.

 

When it was done, Nyx created the Fates and the Furies to provide guidance and punishment to those who would come after.

And, with Her work done,

With Her heart, Her soul, in mourning,

Nyx slept.