In case you’re wondering… That chick who beheaded her captain, and the dude who came THISCLOSE to getting executed for high treason are the four-greats grandparents of the family in The Proviso. Just sayin’.
I used to be a writer. I wrote lots of stuff. It never got published and I gave up. I just…stopped…one day. Sometimes I read what I wrote and I get a charge from it, and I catch myself wondering how the author would have finished it if she had finished it. I suppose I’ll never know.
(I started writing The Proviso in August 2007.)
The original one stunk. I know it. You know it. You probably don’t know that I know. It’s a wonder anybody bought it at all. It’s taken me two years to figure out another one that accurately represented the book in 250 words or fewer (actually, 232). With tons of help from my chat buddies who’d read the book, I finally came up with what I think is an accurate and succinct blurb:
Then, after his bride is murdered on their wedding day, Knox refuses to fulfill the proviso at all. When a brilliant law student catches his attention, he knows he must wait until after his 40th birthday to pursue her—but he may not be able to resist her that long.
Sebastian Taight, eccentric financier, steps between Knox and his uncle by initiating a hostile takeover. When Sebastian is appointed trustee of a company in receivership, he falls hard for its beautiful CEO. She has secrets that involve his uncle, but his secret could destroy any chance he has with her.
Giselle Cox exposed the affair that set her uncle’s plot in motion—twenty years ago. He’s burned Giselle’s bookstore and had her shot because it is she who holds his life in her hands. Then she runs into a much bigger problem: A man who takes her breath away, who can match and dominate her, whose soul is as scarred as his body.
Knox, Sebastian, and Giselle: Three cousins at war with an uncle who will stop at nothing to keep Knox’s inheritance. Never do they expect to find allies—and love—on the battlefield.
I feel SOOO much better now.
I want to thank everyone so much for helping me in my experiment, retweeting, Facebook posting, emailing, message board posting, and downloading. Nothing makes an author happier than when people are sharing in her vision. The links to the free download are broken now, replaced with links to the purchase point. The samples on the sidebar are back, so you can still try before you buy.
Final download tally in 26-1/2 hours: The Proviso, 420 and Stay 364.
* * * * *
I’m going to try something here. Y’all know I’m a writer and I have books for sale. More than 1500 copies of the sample for The Proviso have been downloaded, and 450 for Stay. That’s awesome! Thank you!
The thing is, I’m excited about the world I created and I want you to be as excited as I am. But I’m a new-to-almost-everybody writer and I write long, angsty, family saga books that can be polarizing, so one might be hesitant to try it. I get that.
So just for the next little while (a couple of days or so 24 hours), I’m going to offer the ebook versions of The Proviso (book 1) and Stay (book 2) for free. In their entirety. (The files are huge.)
UPDATE: I’m going to disable the sample links on the sidebar while the books are available free. I don’t want somebody to pick up the sample, thinking it’s the whole thing and then be upset.
UPDATE 2: This is good until Friday, February 26, 2010, at 3:08 p.m. CST. When I said “today only,” I meant for 24 hours. What, you can’t read my mind???
UPDATE 3: So, exactly 24 hours after I posted the links, what did I get? Numbers. I don’t really know what they mean, but I’ll share them. In 24 hours:
The Proviso: 385
I’m not sure why there is such a discrepancy between the two, but I’m going to guess it had something to do with file size and download time. I’m breaking these links by midnight, so hurry! The samples are back up on the sidebar, plus they are littered elsewhere throughout the web.
Anyway, thank you all for participating in my experiment and I hope that you enjoy my imaginary friends as much as I do. And if you do, could you tell somebody else who might?
. Thank you!
I’m camping out at KatieBabs’s blog today, spilling my guts.
At 12, Vanessa Whittaker defied her family to save 17-year-old bad boy Eric Cipriani from wrongful imprisonment and, possibly, death. She’d hoped for a “thank you” from him, a kiss on the cheek, but before she could grow up and grow curves, he left town.
Fourteen years later, Vanessa is a celebrity chef at the five-star Ozarks resort she built. Eric is the new Chouteau County prosecutor on his way to the White House.
Four hours apart and each tied to their own careers, their worlds have no reason to intersect until a funeral brings Vanessa back to Chouteau County, back to face the man for whom she’d risked so much, the only man she ever wanted—
—the only man she can’t have.
For those of you who read The Proviso, you know it ended on January 1, 2009. Stay picks up with the adult Eric Cipriani (Knox’s executive assistant prosecutor) and Vanessa Whittaker (Knox’s ward and business partner) on January 5, 2009, five days after Eric replaces Knox as the Chouteau County prosecutor. “The Pack” are secondary characters, with enough face time to give you a good idea what’s going on in their lives.
You can special order it in print from your local bookstore or library (it’s in the Ingram’s catalog—don’t let them tell you different) with ISBN 9780981769639. You can order it in print online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Powell’s, and Book Depository (Borders is, apparently, out of the loop). You can get it in digital at Scribd, Amazon for Kindle, and Smashwords.
What we hope you do, though, is buy directly from the publisher, B10 Mediaworx, in either print or digital, as it’s cheaper for everybody.
Magdalene, Book 3 in the Dunham series, has a tentative release date of April 24, 2011.
Thank you for your continuing indulgence on the travails of designing a cover if you’re not a designer of covers. As I’ve said in the past, it took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. Then I realized there was no way to write this in three parts without making everybody crazy.
We are now at the final cycle of decisionmaking, when The Bewbies™ perked up.
Continue reading Evolution of a cover, part 4
Originally published at Publishing Renaissance on February 12, 2009.
Thank you for your continuing indulgence on the travails of designing a cover if you’re not a designer of covers. As I said last week, it took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. I originally titled it Barefoot Through Fire. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. This is the story of book 3.
Continue reading Evolution of a cover, part 3
Originally published at Publishing Renaissance January 30, 2009.
Thank you for your continuing indulgence on the travails of designing a cover if you’re not a designer of covers. As I said last week, it took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. I originally titled it Barefoot Through Fire. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. This is the story of book 2.
Continue reading Evolution of a cover, part 2
I’m a visual person, so when I write, I have to have some fairly specific object or person in mind in order to describe it. I write because I can’t paint, so if I have never seen what I see in my head, I’ll try to find something relatively close and make sure I can look at it often.
A lot of authors use real people as the basis of the looks of their characters. Some authors even reference those people in the text (I did it with Giselle and Bryce). Some readers like it, some don’t. Some readers like faces on their covers, some don’t. Some readers (*ahem* Th. *ahem*) don’t like any description at all. It gets to be a balancing act for an author not to intrude on a reader who likes to imagine the character, yet provide enough for the reader who wants to know which famous person the character most looks like.
Anyway, I’ve been debating writing this post for about a year now, but I’m going to go ahead and bite the bullet. Wanna know who I had in mind while writing The Proviso and Stay and Magdalene (albeit Magdalene‘s only about half written)? Here you go, in order of actual appearance across the books:
Originally published at Publishing Renaissance January 6, 2009.
If you’ll all indulge me, I though it’d be fun to do a little series on the evolution of a cover by a non-cover artist/designer. It took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. I originally titled it Barefoot Through Fire. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. This is where the cover journey begins.
Continue reading Evolution of a cover, part 1
I’ve taken a lot of heat the last couple of months because I dared to say that the bodice ripper romance was a product of its time and thus needed to be considered for the time in which it was written. Is the forced seduction PC? No, and never was. It was a fantasy, a fantasy that, if the contemporary nonfiction literature at the time is to be believed (both anecdotal and academic), was common. Considering the number of those written and sold, I’d say it was a pretty popular one, all dressed up in period clothing and the mores that clothing represented.
Also lately, around the romance blogs, historical and contemporary romance/erotic romance with bodice-ripper elements have been ridiculed, maybe rightly, maybe not. But in a romance reading public that’s taking to male/male romance and BDSM romance, this abhorrence of the longest-running sexual fantasy in romance is bewildering to me. Women have their fantasies. Some of them involve the forced seduction. Is it PC? Absolutely not. Is it valid? Yes.
Genre romance has always thrived on the power imbalance between the male and female, but this has its caveats, and the caveats make up the majority of the fantasy:
1. The heroine is always clearly superior to any male in her milieu except for the hero, who is the only male strong enough to conquer her.
2. The heroine is always isolated from female companionship for many reasons, one of which is that she is superior to all other females and thus, the object of female derision/jealousy. If there is a female, she takes on a mentor/sister/mother/fairy godmother persona.
3. She’s already attracted to him and he gets her off.
4. The “asshole alpha”’s transformation into acceptable mate material depends on whether his eventual groveling is equivalent to his previous assholishness.
5. He better damn well grovel and do it right.
6. At the end of the book, the reader knows that while the heroine can go on and live without the hero, the hero cannot live without the heroine. He always winds up more dependent on the heroine’s love and presence than she is on his, turning the power imbalance 180 degrees.
7. It’s all about the groveling.
Other than the innumerable authors who write the six Harlequin Presents novels every month, I can’t really name any contemporary romance authors who write the “asshole alpha” except, perhaps Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and boy does she write good groveling, viz. Kiss an Angel, which is one of only five romances on my DIK list (and the only contemporary).
Lately, Anna Campbell and others have come back with the bodice ripper, but again, they write historical and I don’t think it does anybody any good to pretend that some of these characters are a century or two more enlightened than the people around them at the time.
The power imbalances in my own book have been pointed out to me with startling clarity, and I’ve been chewing on this for days, not because I disagree in the case of Knox and Justice (an homage to the Harlequin Presents line of books I cut my teeth on and my best crack at writing an anti-hero), but because I do disagree in the cases of Giselle and Bryce, and Sebastian and Eilis. I’m not going to go into why because that entails spoilers.
What ultimately brings me to write this post, though, is because lately, despite my professed ambivalence (possibly distaste) for paranormal romance and urban fantasy, I’ve been reading a few books (that I liked!) that have led me to a conclusion:
The asshole alpha still lives and breathes, as assholish as he ever was. The bodice ripper hasn’t gone away. The forced seduction hasn’t lost its appeal.
Into demons, werebeasts, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. In many, many cases it’s further disguised as the (overused) “one true mate and nature has given us no choice” device.
Only now, because it’s dressed up in con clothes and otherworldly window decoration, it’s perfectly acceptable. Except . . . some of us don’t care for the window dressing.
I also made a statement a while back that a lot of Mormon authors write our basic tenets and philosophies and beliefs and religious history in science fiction and fantasy, where it’s almost or fully unrecognizable to non Mormons. I said that I thought it was cowardly. I was told by one author that his first instinct was to write science fiction/fantasy and that the incorporation of our doctrine, traditions, and culture was secondary. I believe that—for that author. I don’t believe it across the board.
Why does this happen? Perhaps because suddenly, one person’s fantasy/message is another person’s call to battle?
I don’t write that way. I can’t wrap the bodice ripper up in paranormal and urban fantasy paper and put a shibari bow on it because that doesn’t appeal to me, although the sex probably will. I can’t put a pretty dress on what is, to many readers, an ugly philosophy/belief system in science fiction and fantasy because that doesn’t appeal to me, although the philosophy will.
This is why I like erotica, because, by its very nature and reader expectations, it’s bald. It’s honest. It’s also why I did actually appreciate The Actor and the Housewife for one thing: It put our culture and beliefs and jargon out in the open honestly, naturally, with no apology or preaching.
I want it straight and I write it that way. I call it what it is because that appeals to me, the honesty of it, the setting of human-as-animal in a contemporary world where our baser wants and needs are not only taboo, but ignored as if they don’t exist. And likewise, where our spirituality/religious beliefs offend a whole lot of people, and short shrift is given to the struggle between the natural (human) man and the enlightened (human) one, who attempts to control himself and sometimes simply doesn’t.
I have no issue with control, losing it, struggling with it, conquering the natural man. After all, that’s why we’re here, right? To vanquish the natural man?
But I’m interested in the process.
And the groveling.
I don’t expect a non genre romance reader to get this, so the objections I’ve received have only made me think about the genre, think about why women read romance, the vast subgenres of romance, and why some women despise genre romance altogether.
Whatever universal truths are revealed in fiction, no matter how they’re portrayed, I don’t give a shit about vampires or demons trying to overcome their natures to be moral creatures because vampires and demons don’t exist.
I don’t give a shit about a being (possibly alien) who drives a spaceship for a living (or who has some fantastical adventure) who’s going through some vague spiritual struggle that Mormons can drill down to the most minute nuance, and might kinda look like Mormonism to anybody with a passing familiarity, because I can’t relate to that.
I can relate to asshole people whose feet are planted on earth, who don’t have regular contact with the boogeyman or aliens, who have no magic or fae blood, no superpowers, who strive and fall and fail and lose themselves in their baser natures, who want something better for themselves but may not know how to get it, who make bad choices and know it even while they’re doing it, who depend on other people or a religion or a deity or a philosophy to help “fix” them.
We all need fixed in one way or another, and there is always a power imbalance in a relationship. It shifts and it changes and it morphs and it takes time to level out as much as it’s ever going to. It’s a neverending process, and sometimes it seems like being on a hamster wheel.
How do I know this?
’Cause I’m an asshole and I strive and I fall and I fail and I lose myself in my baser nature, trying, always striving, for enlightenment. And because I need my husband to “fix” me, and I daresay he needs me to “fix” him, too.
And we both have to grovel.
But please, can we stop pretending the forced seduction romance, and the inherent power imbalance the male has over the female is gone? It’s not. It never will be. We like it too much, and, as a fantasy, it’s no less valid than the up-and-coming PC fantasies of male/male romance or BDSM romance in all its incarnations.
It’s just been driven into the closet.
Scroll down to #64.
My faith that I put in Moriah after reading The Proviso was justified. This book is good. Parts of it are excellent. And it’s still only a draft. It still has explicit sex (though not as much) but you should have no other qualms about checking this one out when it’s released in a few months.
Congratulations, Moriah, on a great book. Keep ‘em coming.
I am positively giddy.
Also, independent publishers Zoe Murdock and Riley Noehren and I had a roundtable chat about independent publishing. What we have in common: We’re female, LDS, and publishing ourselves. That transcript (and awesome discussion) are up at A Motley Vision.
If you read The Proviso, you know that the protagonist of “John 3:16,” Leah, lives with Knox for five years and that, at the beginning of The Proviso, she and Knox are about to get married.
And oh, by the way, it’s steamy.
June 23, 2009
My blog’s been around long enough now, with enough posts, that nobody wants to go digging through what I had to say a buncha long time ago (centuries in blog time). I’m coming up short on content lately (heh, didja notice?), so I’m going to recycle some of this stuff because now people have been asking me questions I’ve answered in my earliest posts.
This [original article with comments are here] is from June 13, 2008:
I have a buncha novels on my hard drive that have been sitting around collecting dust since, oh, 1990 some time, I guess. In ’93 I wrote one that got me an agent, and another that year that got me a contract—before the publishing company was shut down (because, according to the rumor at the time [get this] it was making too much money and it had been created to take a loss for tax purposes) (remember Kismet? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?); one in ’95 that got me an early-Saturday-morning phone call from Harlequin to pleasepleaseplease overnight the manuscript; and a fourth novel in ’98 that got me a different agent.
In ’95 I wrote my senior thesis; since my major was creative writing and journalism, I wasn’t required to write a paper deconstructing anything. Instead, my assigned professor (a Latin professor, no less!) asked me to write 25 pages of a novel. When I came back a week later with 100 pages, polished, perfect, she switched gears and asked for me to write a paper describing my creative process. She was fascinated with how I’d done what I’d done.
However, that 100 pages was the basis for The Proviso and I knew I had something different, something that would probably never sell. I set out to continue the flow of the short story I had written the semester before. I had become fascinated with a throwaway character (Knox Hilliard) I’d created simply as a tool for the protagonist of the story (Leah Wincott) to complete the allegory. Knox is a bastard. He would never sell in genre romance and I knew that.
On the other hand, my four attempts at writing romance to spec failed to impress since the three that didn’t get picked up missed something somewhere. So between those four instances of “oh so close but yet so far away” and the impossibility of selling an anti-hero when anti-heroes were de trop, the whole thing got to me. I threw up my hands and said, “No more.” Then I woke up one morning last summer  re-energized.
So today. Just now I’ve read two articles that have left me pursing my lips and thinking maybe it’s just as well I never grabbed the brass ring. As I’ve said before, technology caught up to me and got cheap enough to not break the bank, the atmosphere changed (and is still doing so as more authors get publishing savvy), and I’m older with enough DIY skills and a little money to do it right.
The first takes my breath away with regard to artistic integrity:
In an age when reading for pleasure is declining, book publishers increasingly are counting on their biggest moneymaking writers to crank out books at a rate of at least one a year, right on schedule, and sometimes faster than that.
It takes my breath away because I could probably do that . . . but why would I want to? And all that for…
I have no words.
As the one person (other than I) who reads this blog already knows, I come down firmly on the side of taking the risks and reaping the rewards. And at this stage of publishing’s evolution, why shouldn’t I?
I drank the Kool-Aid of being A Published Author when there were no other viable options, so I don’t feel my time was wasted at all. At the same time, I watched my author friends churn out three, four, five category romances a year to make a decent living and that I can’t do. I don’t have the discipline or talent to write within those specs and on that timetable.