Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year from the D'Antonvilles.

It's almost New Year's Eve and 2015 is coming to a close. Apart from celebrating with a nice glass of red wine and watching the amazing fireworks over Sydney Harbour, I thought I'd share the New Year's Eve masquerade ball in my latest release, BloodVault. It was such a fun chapter to write. And I love the key logo my cover designer, Patti Roberts, designed. Unfortunately, the coloured version only appears in the digital copy of the book. To avoid spoilers, I had to omit several paragraphs, but those who've read BloodVault will know what they are. For those who haven't, there's only one way to find out what you've missed *wink*  In the meanwhile, enjoy this segment.

Chapter 32 - Masquerade


‘Whatcha think?’ Kari’s entry into my room was like a whirlwind. She twirled causing the skirts of her midnight-blue gown to billow. She’d tamed her short, spiky Nordic-blonde locks into some semblance of order with a matching ribbon, the ends trailing down her low-cut back.
‘You look gorgeous!’ If Jake didn’t notice her tonight, he was blind.
Her tinkling laugh rang out as she put her glittery blue-feathered mask in place, twirled and curtsied. ‘Now let’s see you.’ She grasped my hands and pulled me from my dresser chair.
Judy had stocked my French wardrobe the same as she had in Sydney. I had a plethora of the latest designer dresses. One caught my eye, a beautiful red gown with velvet black trim and off-the-shoulder bodice that perfectly hugged my curves. It contrasted perfectly with the voluminous scarlet taffeta skirt.
I chose it in honour of Alec, whose clan tartan was black and red.
I’d curled the ends of my long hair, gathered a section and pinned it at the back.
‘Ooh….’ She cooed and clapped. ‘And your mask?’
I opened my palm to reveal a red-lace mask, trimmed with rhinestones and held it to my face. I, too, did a little pirouette.
‘Alec won’t be able to keep his eyes off you,’ she said.
‘I already have trouble doing that,’ Alec drawled, his deep voice sending little tingles scooting down to my nether regions. He leaned against the door, arms folded, gaze raking the length of my body, his eyes twinkling behind his tartan mask.
I wanted to purr.
He looked utterly delicious in his clan kilt – the red-and-black Munro dress tartan and black velvet jacket with silver buttons. The cropped jacket emphasised his broad shoulders, and the smile he gave me hinted at later pleasures.
‘Why can’t I go?’ Dominik stood at his elbow, his jaw dropping as he gazed at Kari.
Since coming to live with us, Dominik had practically become Alec’s shadow, following him around and even mimicking his mannerisms. If Alec twirled the ring on his finger, so did Dominik, even though he didn’t own one. And if I didn’t lock the door to our suite, he’d be there all the time.
‘Two reasons: first, you’re too young, and second, it’s an Elders and prefects ball only.’ Alec ruffled his hair as he stepped past him into the room.
‘Not fair.’
‘Life’s not fair, Dom.’ Alec took me in his arms, spun me around and dipped me low to the ground. I’ll enjoy untying that bodice later, his voice whispered seductively through my mind.
Make sure the door is locked first.
He chuckled as he lifted me up, and formally offered me his arm. ‘May I escort you, my lady?’
‘You may.’
Jake stuck his face in the doorway. ‘Ready to go, kid—?’
His jaw dropped seeing Kari. I enjoyed his stunned look. Surely he’d seen her in evening dress before? Recent balls she’d forgone. What had stopped her? He swallowed and offered her his arm, his eyes never leaving her face. I gave her a wink over my shoulder as Alec and I went to the door.
We started up the stairs to the ballroom; soon the guests would arrive. Several rooms on this top level had been opened for their comfort and convenience. One was a banquet room for the donsangs, where they could eat and meet other humans. Cook and her helpers had excelled. Earlier in the day, I’d peeked at the bustle of activity in the kitchen. The food was a feast for the senses: tiny triangular white sandwiches, a range of colourful salads, roast meats of every kind and delicate mouth-watering pastries and desserts only the most hardened dieter – or vampire – could resist.
In the driveway, fairy lights blinked on the trunks and leafless branches of the trees, while a million tiny bulbs twinkled in the windows and the front doors of the chateau. The candelabras in the entrance hall had been polished to a mirror sheen, the candles’ flames dancing and swaying on the ebony surface. Illuminated garlands twisted their way up the staircase that led to the ballroom.
We took our seats on the dais next to Luc and Judy. Swathes of entwined green and lavender silk – the D’Antonville colours – hung from the canopy and pooled on the floor. Five gold sashes lay draped across the arm of my chair. I knew their purpose, as Alec had briefed me earlier.
My mother, resplendent in a rich jade-green dress, acknowledged each guest as they were announced. Her silver-streaked auburn hair was caught back in a chignon and crowned with a white-gold tiara of intertwining leaves and flowers adorned with a single emerald. Her eyes shone behind her butterfly shaped mask.
She leant across and whispered in my ear. ‘You look stunning, dear.’
‘As do you. Nice bling.’ I grinned at her tiara.
‘Your father’s gift at your birth.’ She beamed and placed her hand over his. Luc drew them to his lips and kissed her fingertips.
Earlier, my father had approached Alec and formally apologised, ending several days of tension between them. The entire household breathed again, now they were reconciled.
This night, the Elders discarded their gold cloaks for formal attire. Kwome, Grey Bear and Zhao wore their traditional dress, while Maira came in an exquisitely embroidered gown with a fringed hem. They bowed to us and then mingled. They, and a few more of the most prominent prefects, were the only Brethren who stayed in the chateau grounds. Even with multiple guest rooms and cottages, the chateau wasn’t made to accommodate over four-hundred extra people, especially as many Brethren were accompanied by their donsangs.
The ballroom was a sea of colour. Elegant women in dazzling gowns of electric blue, silver-grey, apricot, sunny yellow and turquoise swept the room, greeting friends and chinking glasses. Lavender eyes glinted behind feathered, lace and rhinestone masks shaped like butterflies, cats and flowers, some covering only the eyes, others half the face. The men, likewise, many in tuxedos with long-nose masks or in traditional costume, added to the magnificence of the occasion.
‘Have I told you you’re the most beautiful woman here?’ Alec whispered in my ear.
I turned to face him, my mouth barely a breath away from his, and inhaled his intoxicating scent, drawing it deep into my lungs. ‘Not yet, but you can if you like.’
His heart-stopping smile had my insides twisted tighter than the flavours of my favourite candy cane – and just as sweet.
The announcer struck the tiled floor three times with his brass rod. ‘My lords, ladies and gentlemen. Sieur Marcus Antonius Pulcher. Arch Elder and High Lord of the Brethren.’
The crowd knelt as Marcus, in black bow tie and gold mask topped with a crown, entered. We stood as he took his seat next to Luc.
Alec spoke. ‘Brethren, welcome to our New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. This year, we have double reason to celebrate. First we welcome our new Ingenii, Lady Laura, whom many of you have already met.’ They bowed, and I inclined my head. Karl, standing near the front with Milena, cheekily gave me a wink.
I couldn’t help smiling back.
....‘Let the festivities begin.’
Alec led me from the dais, and we swayed to the romantic strains of a Strauss waltz, weaving in and out with other couples. I floated on an idyllic cloud beneath the blue and gold rococo ceiling that gleamed in the light of crystal chandeliers. The troubles of the last few days were forgotten as I lost myself in his arms and was drawn into the lavender depths of his eyes.
.... Luc strode to the dais. ‘Madames and monsieurs, the fireworks start in one minute. Please make your way to the balcony.’
Several-hundred people surged onto the wide verandah that ran the length of the upper floor, its white tiled floor and stone balustrade gleaming in the light of a full moon. The cool air hit my face and bit my cheeks. Unlike many of the donsangs, I had no wrap. Alec removed his jacket and draped it over my shoulders as we made our way through to the front the crowd. He stood behind, wrapping me in his warmth, as the countdown began.
‘Ten, nine, eight … two, one. Happy New Year!’ Everyone cheered and clinked glasses, others were locked in passionate embraces.
‘Happy New Year, darling.’ Alec lifted my chin to meet his lips just as the first explosions sparked in the sky. Those fireworks couldn’t compare to the touch of his mouth on mine. Behind my closed eyelids, I was vaguely aware of splashes of light and colour, and the “oohs” and “aahs” of the crowd.
If the Brethren had questions about our relationship before this evening began, they certainly wouldn’t have now.
‘Hey, you’re missing it.’ Kari thumped my arm.
About to tell her to go away, I saw red tears glistening in her eyes. She swiped at them. Next to her, Jake appeared shell shocked – rubbing the back of his neck, eyes wide as he stared at the fireworks. Milena hung onto his other arm, a smirk on her face. Karl’s expression could’ve curdled milk. He turned and pushed his way out through the crowd.
What’d happened? Although I could guess.
‘Back in a minute.’ Alec went after him.
I missed the sudden loss of his warmth and pulled his jacket tightly around me. Kari rested her head on my shoulder. ‘What’s wrong? Want to tell me?’
She sniffled and shook her head. Above us, the sky exploded in brilliant hues, and the smoke and the partly burned paper casings from the fireworks floated down to us. Kari whispered, ‘She kissed him.’
I didn’t have to look to know which she Kari referred to. What was Milena up to? Poor Kari. She’d dressed to impress, hoping tonight she might win a kiss from Jake. Milena stole that moment. How cruel of her, and then Karl had stormed off.
From behind, a familiar pair of arms encircled me. ‘I asked Karl and O’Toole to meet us in Luc’s office, right after the fireworks.’
‘I’d like you there. After all, this doesn’t concern just me.’ He kissed the top of my ear. ‘Time we ended this boys’ club.’
I angled my head up at him. ‘If you’re not careful, you’ll become one of those sensitive new-age guys.’
‘Have to keep up with the times.’
We both chuckled.
‘How was Karl?’ I couldn’t care less if Milena overheard.
I glanced at her. It was hard biting my tongue, especially seeing how she clutched Jake’s arm. Didn’t she care he was Kari’s escort?
The last of the fireworks burst above us in a dazzling shower. The smell of the pyrotechnics lingered in the air as the music began and groups drifted back into the ballroom. Kari lifted her head from my shoulder and strode away. Jake didn’t follow.
I was sorely tempted to slap him in the back of the head but resisted.
Alec waltzed me into the centre of the room. ‘Let them work it out, Laura.’
I sighed. I hated seeing Kari so unhappy, but she was an adult, and older then me by a few-hundred years.
On the dais, we joined Luc and Judy.
My mother’s face was flushed from dancing. She plucked a drink from a passing waiter. ‘Another successful ball.’ She fanned herself with an exquisite Venetian fan. ‘To think how that wretched woman tried to sabotage it.’
‘She lost.’ I raised my glass, and we toasted.
Alec leaned close to Luc. ‘We need to talk. Heard the scuttlebutt?’
Luc lifted an eyebrow. ‘Like what?’ Alec repeated some of the comments we’d heard earlier. Luc shut his eyes and growled low in his throat. ‘Ah! Let them talk.’
‘Will it cause problems? I need to know.’ Alec glanced at me before returning his attention to Luc. ‘I asked Karl and Derek to join us in your office.’
Derek? Was that O’Toole’s first name?
‘Why?’ Luc’s brows snapped together.
‘In your office.’
Luc opened his mouth then closed it again. Alec twisted the serpent ring on his finger and waited. My father inhaled deeply and gritted his teeth while Judy placed her hand over his. He gave a curt nod, fished a key from his pocket and tossed it to Alec. ‘You’re princeps. You want a meeting; we’ll have one.’
Yes. I wanted to do a fist pump. Instead, I smiled and sipped my drink.
‘I’d like Marcus there, too.’ Alec took my hand. ‘Let’s hope this won’t take long … an hour, maybe, and we’ll be back.’
Jake joined us. Was he required? Or was facing a possible angry Luc preferable to being caught between two women?
As we left the ballroom, Alec approached Marcus, who stood with three others, laughing and drinking near one of the refreshment tables. From the dark red stain on his lips, it wasn’t wine he swirled in his goblet. As Alec whispered in his ear, I looked around for the other men.
Cal and Sam both had dance partners, yet their gaze never strayed far from Judy and me. Even at an occasion such as this, and within the relative safety of the chateau, they were still on guard. Where was Terens? There he was, towering above everyone else, a chequered harlequin mask on his face, weaving through the crowd to sit next to Judy. Guard or companion? Maybe both.
This was going to be an interesting meeting, I thought, as we traipsed down the stairs and through the library to Luc’s office. How was he going to react to Alec and me sharing the family secret with Karl and O’Toole? We might see another sort of fireworks.
And then there was Karl. He was already angry because of Milena. How would he take this latest news?

Want to read more?  Click here and start reading straight away. 
Until then, happy reading.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Writers Should Be Paid - Re-Blogged from Kristen Lamb's Blog

Just had to re-blog this from Kristen Lamb's Blog . What she says, I couldn't have expressed better myself.

Go ahead and read it.


PAY THE WRITER—Pirates, Used Bookstores & Why Writers Need to Stand Up for What’s Right

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
All righty. I’d vowed to take off for the holidays but *laughs hysterically* sure. Like THAT was going to happen. No, seriously, I’m working on resting more. I’m also working on learning to shut up. Clearly those two goals are getting re-slated for 2016 resolutions because the whole “Inside words stay inside…”
Not working out for me. So why not leave 2015 with a bang? Haters gonna hate.
To quote the great Tywin Lannister, Lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.
Today I’m going to say something that could quite possibly be grossly unpopular, but whatever. It’s for your own good. I’m feeding y’all broccoli to offset all that fudge and alcohol you’ve consumed during the holidays.
There’s a trend that just makes me see red and I’m calling it out today because if we do not address this 500 pound used paper elephant in the room, then it’s going to be really, really hard for you guys to reach your dreams, which I assume is to work as a full-time PAID writer.
For those of you who do NOT want to be PAID to write? The following does not apply. If you are content to work a full-time regular job AND slave over a manuscript as a second job and your ONLY reward is simply nice reviews, compliments, hugs, cuddles, and the joy your stories might create in the hearts of others?
I am NOT talking to you.
If, however, you have ever complained about “an evil day job” that you really wish you could leave because it is sucking out your soul and your very will to LIVE day by day and you would rather be lobotomized than return to Satan’s Cube Farm after the holidays?
Then probably want to pay attention.

Readers ARE Excused

Readers are different. Readers are excused from what I am about to discuss. Readers are NOT writers. Yes, I understand that many writers began as readers. But there is a difference. We have progressed past the point of consuming an intellectual/creative property and now we are producing this intellectual/creative property.
We now have something at stake.
So why am I in a tiff?
Yesterday, I was on Facebook and it would have been one thing to see one writer post this link. But I saw like TEN writers post this link and they were excited…as if this Washington Post article were announcing a GOOD thing for our profession.
In an Age of Amazon, Used Bookstores Making an Unlikely Comeback.
Here’s the deal. I don’t care about bookstores. I care about writers. In fact, readers should care about writers more than bookstores because no writers? Well no real point in bookstores now is there?
Want to support the arts? Pay artists. Want to support books? Pay writers. It is simple. Before we go any further, some education…

How Are Writers Paid?

This seems a bit silly, but we all need to learn this when we decide to do this writing thing as a job.
First of all, I am not against doing stuff for free. But the thing is? Writers already do all kinds of stuff for free. Every friend, colleague and family member expects us to be an on-call resume-writing, essay writing and editorial service.
Most of the time? We oblige.
Often, we blog for free (though if you do it the way I teach you actually DO get a return on that investment). Once we are published? We do interviews and guest posts for…FREE.
So please. Do not expect to ALSO get our books for free. We are frankly DONE with free.
How can a writer get PAID?
So happy you asked.
Digital pays writers the best. Then print copies. NEW ones. Buy on-line or in a bookstore or at an event in person. We writers get a royalty. Depending on the contract, writers can even get paid if a book is checked out of a library. That library PAID for the book and the writer was then, in turn, paid a royalty.
Upon so many times checked out? The writer is then PAID again for a new “copy” of the book.
Want to support a writer in the new year? BUY BOOKS.
Writers are NOT PAID for the purchase of used copies. So while I LOVE used bookstores I want to make a point here. Writers MAKE NO MONEY.
As a professional, I treat my fellow writers-at-arms the way I want to be treated. I do not buy used books as a first choice. If I DO happen to buy a used book, I make sure to purchase at least a digital copy so that writer is PAID for his or her hard work.
But that article? That article in The Washington Post was beyond the pale. I was livid. Ripping off artists is not cool. It is not cultural, not avant garde.

To be clear, I do not mind used bookstores. What I mind is the attitude that somehow digital is bad and Amazon is bad whereas “paper” and used bookstores are “cultural” and therefore GOOD and preferable for writers.

And unfortunately, I witness a lot of this among writers. I “get” that many of you love old books and browsing dusty old shelves and discovering old treasures. For out of print books? No argument from me. Rock on. But…

We have to be really, really careful that as artists we are not perpetuating the very behavior that pisses us off.

We like getting paid for our work. We work really really hard and expect (rightfully) that we should be rewarded for doing so.
Surgeons work hard and they expect to get paid. No one gripes when the sales clerk gets paid. Heck, no one gripes when the UPS driver gets paid or the barista who makes the triple-shot espresso peppermint soy cappuccino with half foam and vanilla sprinkles in a special red holiday cup and does not commit MURDER gets paid.
Oh, but it is artsy and bohemian to rip writers off because old books are cool?
No. And again, let’s keep the debate clear here because I can already hear the blogs now, “Kristen Lamb hates bookstores!” No. Pay attention.

I love old books. Have stacks of them. Want to buy old copies of Jane Eyre? Be my guest. I doubt Charlotte Bronte is counting on that Amazon royalty check to pay to upgrade her Scrivner or unscrew Windows 10 or, I dunno, eat.

Want to support civilization? Buy old books. Want to support a writer and his/her family and career? Buy new ones or e-books.
Encourage and educate readers to do the same. Because here is the deal. If we writers go around cheering how AWESOME used bookstores are? How the heck are readers going to know they are benevolently gutting our careers?
They (readers) see us posting the links. They ASSUME we are benefitting. They have no idea how we get paid. Why not direct them to places where we might make money?
I will parse this article in a moment but first? Let’s look at some of the common reasons people defend the used bookstore.

Used Bookstores Allow Readers To Discover New Authors for a Smaller Investment

Okay, so does digital. Difference is? The writer actually gets paid from an e-book.
Know who else claims they are doing writers a favor by letting readers “discover” new authors on the cheap?
Writers are the first to grab digital pitchforks when their work is pirated because they don’t get paid. GASP! The horror!
Some site offering their books and they don’t get a royalty. Burn them! Take down the site! They are stealing! Oh, but when a used bookstore does the exact same thing?
It’s okay. Because, well, it’s paper. It’s “culture.”
*head explodes*
Why? That
pirate used bookstore gave you “exposure.” Shouldn’t you be happy that a reader could…”discover” you. That
pirate used bookstore is doing you a favor really.
Just to be clear, piracy is a whole other blog and not the topic of today and I KNOW used bookstores are not actually stealing. I am only using this to point out how Janus-faced we writers can be about the “Ooh! Exposure!” crap.

The Author Can Get “Exposure”

Will Wheaton took Huffington Post to task on this. Again, what I am seeing is a Digital Versus Paper Bias. Huffington is a Pulitzer-winning news outlet that when it sold last year, sold for over $300 million dollars. Why can’t it then PAY writers who submit? (Hint: It can. Just doesn’t want to because it doesn’t have to).
Oh but you get “exposure.”
Granted, I bit. I allowed Huffington to repost a couple of my blogs that had already gone viral. I was flattered to be asked to write for them and then wrote a couple of pieces just to be able to add “Huffington” to my resume of accomplishments.
But, I’m ultimately a businesswoman. I had to ask the HARD question. What were they doing FOR ME?
Truth was? Not all that much. It wasn’t worth being troll food, because, when you post for Huffington, you have no control over comments and you have to be nice to people whose sole purpose in life is to crap in your Cheerios.
Here? I am benevolent dictator and do not have to be nice.
If you want to comment here and write something like this:
Kristen, you are a talentless hack and a hopeless amateur. Every time you speak a kitten dies from the sheer stupidity you spew into the ozone layer.
I have this wonderful thing called “edit function.” I can delete. OR, I can change your comment to read.
OMG, Kristen. You are supreme writer of all that is genius and I want to be JUST LIKE YOU one day. I have even started dressing JUST LIKE you, which is weird because I am a dude! <3 <3 <3
Probably shouldn’t have told y’all that. Oh well. Sally forth…
Yes, here I blog seemingly for “free.” But I trust me, I don’t. Not wholly. Because this is MY blog. I own the content. I make money off my hard work. Which, by the way, is as it should be.
By the way. YOU work hard and guess what? I believe YOU should be paid, too. Wow! Imagine that.
And writers seem to have no problem getting very indignant that so many blogs and digital outlets expect them to work for free.
Oh, but sell my paper books and make all the profit? Go ahead! That’s “culture.”
And before anyone gets too ticked at me, yes, Amazon sells used books, but the difference is that there is ALSO an active promotion of that author’s OTHER books that are NOT used where the writer CAN be paid. On Amazon, it is also extremely easy for a browsing reader to discover and purchase other titles by that particular author.
Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.56.59 AM
So maybe I do buy a used book because it is out of print, but then I CAN buy something IN print so the author can…I dunno. EAT.

Back to This Article…

I think why this article aggravated me so much (aside from writers promoting the heck out of it) was it was treated as it it was some “grand thing” for the arts and some big favor to authors. It isn’t. It helps readers. YES. Writers? Eh, not so much.
Let’s take a look, shall we? From the article…

Quote #1

Sierra, like ­other book lovers, has read articles about slowing e-book sales and watched as independent bookstores such as Politics and Prose thrive, catering to readers who value bookish places as cultural hubs and still think the best reading device is paper.
First of all, Sierra, e-book sales are NOT slowing. That is a patently FALSE claim that does not account for the explosion of indie and self-publishing. Yes, e-book sales have slowed for traditional publishers and print has picked up for traditional publishers, but namely because when publishers insist on charging the same for a PAPER book as an e-book? Readers will just go ahead and buy paper because $14.99 is just simply ridiculous for a digital book.
But even if that were the case, if you really do love books? Be a sweetheart and try supporting those who write them. Thank you.

Quote #2

And it’s a business with good economics. Used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones.
That part I outlined in red was my favorite.
It is amazing how much profit margins increase when you don’t actually have to pay the person who worked long and hard and sacrificed to create the product you are profiting from. The sky is the limit!
Then there is THIS gem.

Quote #3

“It’s (the used bookstore) like having a museum or a theater. It’s a cultural center.” ~Gottwals
Except that museums are supported by private donations, government funding, grants and patrons PAYING A FEE to walk around and look at the collections. And theaters? Same thing. Try going to Phantom for free, Mr. Gottwals. Good luck getting a seat NOT in the nosebleed section for under $250.

Quote #4

“I can find these books online, but I don’t want to…and if you don’t support the little guys, they won’t be around anymore.” (Customer)
Exactly, dear customer. If you don’t support the little guys they won’t be around. They will have to give up writing and work retail and then saw open their wrists with a spork while listening to Bjork and I hope you are happy #writerkiller .

We Must Take Ourselves Seriously

Yes, I admit it. I’m ranting today. Why? Because if writers don’t take themselves seriously, why would anyone else? When I protested the article on social media, writers argued with me. They acted as if a book is the same thing as a house or a car.
A car is a tangible property, not intellectual property.
I have no problems with people reselling books to used bookstores. I do it. I buy books from used bookstores. BUT, I also actively go out of my way to make sure writers are PAID. 
Because here’s the thing. We cannot cheer that used bookstores are “socking it to Amazon” and at the same time bemoan we aren’t making any money.
We cannot collectively cheer the “return of paper books” when they are in the used form and then also cry that we can’t leave the day job because we are not being paid for our work.
We can’t promote articles like these, directing readers to outlets where we don’t make royalties and then stand mystified that no one takes our career seriously. Why are we promoting businesses who brag about not paying us? Again *head explodes*
We cannot say, “Well I am just happy when a reader discovers my story” if we are not in fact simply okay with just that. If cuddles and compliments are enough? Then good. But do not let me hear any complaint. I do not want to hear ONE word about how much that day job sucks.
And if we ARE going to promote used bookstores (which IS fine) then by GOD educate readers and ask for the sale. Let them know that you will not be paid off that sale and to please also buy a full-price version if they like your book.
Educate your readers because the bookstores aren’t going to. Clearly they do not care if writers get paid because they make money either way. In fact bookstores make MORE money if writers don’t. That’s just math.

Working for free while others are sole profiteers is NOT okay. It is exploitation. 

No one else works for free. You shouldn’t either.
You don’t fill up gas and expect it for free. You don’t expect cashiers to work at the grocery store for free. You don’t expect people who cut your hair to do it for free. You value others and what they contribute to your life. And maybe I’m a jerk because all I am asking…all I am imploring is that you give the same honor to yourself.
Because in the new year? It won’t matter one whit what resolution you make. WE are the first step. WE have to draw the line and say that what we do has value. And we have to call people out when they devalue what we do.
And when bookstores go around bragging to The Washington Post about how much profit they make because the margins are so much better on used books than on selling NEW books (which is code for:We don’t have to pay royalties) and expect me the author to bite on some Book-Buying-Trickle-Down-Economics wrapped up with an “It’s Culture” ribbon?
Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.19.22 AMYes, I love paper books too. I buy them NEW.
Honor yourself. Honor your fellow authors. I love all of you. I believe in you and hope you see that I DO support bookstores, but dammit…it is about %$#ing time they returned the favor and supported those who are bleeding to line their pockets.
You matter. Your dreams matter. Your work matters.
What are your thoughts? Have I finally gone too far? She is MAD! Mad it tell you! I would blame it on alcohol but I haven’t started drinking…yet. I needed to drink after that article. What are your thoughts? Do writers need to stand up more? We already do way too much for free. We needed to with the expansion of Web 2.0 But now that the Internet and social media has hit a critical mass, do you think we need to step back and start saying NO more? What are your thoughts? Were you unaware how writers were paid?
Do you think use bookstores need to do more to support the actual WRITERS instead of this cop out of “exposure”? Maybe take some of those “high profits” and invest in apps or tablets with links to NEW works by the authors? Maybe let authors come in and talk and promote NEW works so they can continue to WRITE? What are your thoughts? Are you dressing just like me? :D
By the way, I LOVE this short film. There IS STRONG adult language so you are warned. But THIS!!!!!!
I love hearing from you!
Make SURE you sign up for my upcoming classes! This is part of how I fund my plans for global domination. Purchase a class! Buy a book! OR ignore all that follows but DAMN sure buy all your books NEW or I WILL FIND YOU O_o ….

Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International. Your friends and family can get you something you need for Christmas. Social Media for Writers, Blogging for Writers, and Branding for Authors. 

Also, I have one craft class listed. Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line. Our stories should be simple enough to tell someone what the book is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do this, often there is a plot problem. This class is great for teaching you how to be master plotters and the first TEN SIGNUPS get their log-line shredded for free, so you will be agent ready for the coming year.
Enough of that…

Click here to read the comments.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Very Vampire Christmas Tradition.

Most countries, and even individuals, celebrate Christmas with a range of traditions. One of the most famous is kissing under the mistletoe. That one's fun. 
While writing Bloodpledge, the second book in my Dantonville Legacy series, I needed a particularly gruesome tradition for Sam and Terens, once former Roman soldiers. So, it couldn't be anything soft and, being vampires, of course there had to be some blood involved. It also had to be unique and based on something very practical. 
I have to admit I had fun devising it. 

Here's the scene:

‘Don’t you think it’s ironic. Nobody speaks Latin anymore, yet Frisian’s everywhere—in modern English? Maybe it’s just as well I didn’t waste my time learning to speak yours.’
Cal guffawed, reached for the decanter and poured himself another glass of wine. ‘How you gonna counter that one, Terens?’
‘Only one way I know.’ Terens rose from his seat and flexed his right arm. ‘Brand new model.’
‘By all means, test it out.’ Sam’s chair scrapped across the floor as he too, rose and began flexing his right arm. ‘Ready to lose some fingers?’ The two stood facing each other, grinning.
Kari rolled her eyes. ‘Oh no, not this stupid game.’
Alec leaned toward me and whispered, ‘Maybe we should go for a stroll around the deck.’
‘Why?’ I asked. ‘What are they going to do?’
‘Their version of an arm wrestle.’ Alec looked uncomfortable. ‘They do it every Christmas.’
‘It’s gross, Laura.’ Kari grimaced. ‘The loser must chop off a finger and hand it over. The one with the biggest collection wins.’
‘You’re kidding! At Christmas?’
‘It’s the only time they can do it—good way to test the strength of the Ingenii blood. Any lost appendage regenerates in an instant,’ Alec said.
‘Sorry boys, you know I can’t stay to watch,’ Judy said. ‘If anyone wants me I’ll be in my room.’ She wished us goodnight and kissed Luc and Marcus on the cheek. The men rose and bowed as she left the room.
‘Think I’ll do the same,’ I said when I saw Terens move one of the candelabras aside and pull a blade from beneath his trouser leg. ‘No way am I going to watch them cut off fingers, even if it is some weird Christmas tradition.’
Allez, ma petite, this is not for a lady’s eyes.’
‘I agree,’ Kari said, and skipped to my side of the table. ‘Let’s join Judy.’

I still had Alec’s Christmas present. This was a good time to slip away and give it to him.
‘Meet you there, Kari. There’s something I need to do.’ I mouthed the words, ‘Present for Alec.’
She nodded, and gave me a knowing smile as she left.
I turned to Alec. ‘I accept your offer of a stroll around the deck.’
With his arm around my waist, Alec led me from the dining room just as Sam
and Terens took up their position, elbows on the table, hands clasped, steely gazes locked. Two long, menacing-looking knives lay in the centre of the table.
I shuddered and turned away. 

Did I succeed in making you squirm? If you'd like to read the rest, assuming you haven't read Bloodpledge yet, here's the link - Amazon

Until next time, happy reading everyone. 
PS. The pic at the top of the page refers to my fun Christmas event - A Very Vampire Christmas With The Dantonvilles. Come and join in for some fun and games and great prizes to win. Hope to see you there. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

How Old Is The Legend Of The Vampire?

How old is the legend of the vampire? The word itself probably originates in the 16th century to describe the blood-sucking fiend who rose from the grave at night to prey on the living - the vampyre. But references and variations of the myth go back far earlier to ancient Roman, Greek and Babylonian times. Ancient writers such as Homer, Philostratus, Apollodorus and Ovid, mention creatures such as the empusae, the mormolyces and the lamia. What they all had in common was the creatures' thirst for blood.
In BloodVault, Book 3 of my Dantonville Legacy series, I introduce the lamiae (plural for lamia) - nasty, smelly, almost gargoyle-like creatures who prey on the young for the purity of their blood. The name is thought to derive from the Babylonian Lamashtu, a mythical female being who fed on the blood and flesh of children. She's often depicted clutching snakes, hence the association with fangs.
By the time we get to the ancient Greeks (some two thousand years later), the Lamashtu had morphed into the empusae or lamia, a beautiful young female ghost who craved human blood. Either she could shape shift into the form of a serpent, or the lower half of her body was thought to be serpentine.
Ancient Greek writers such as Pausanius, Apuleius and Aelius Aristides, describe this creature as a flesh and blood eating ghost, while Aristophanes in his play Wasps (1035) states that the lamia had smelly balls! Clearly, they could be either male or female. Take your pick.
To the misogynistic Romans, the lamia were deadly females who sucked the lifeblood from young men. From there the myth spread to the rest of the Roman world to later evolve into the vampire of popular literature today.
On a final note, lamia NEVER sparkled.

And if you'd like to find out what my lamiae are like in BloodVault, you can get it here - Amazon

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

First Reviews Are In For BloodVault - And They're Brilliant.

BloodVault, book 3 in my Dantonville Legacy series, had a fantastic reception on its first day in the world. Both pre-orders and sales soared. Readers from America, Britain, Europe and Australia, and even from as far away as Brazil, raced to get their copies.
I owe a big thanks to all who attended and made the day such a grand success.
Thank you.
Now, only three days later, the reviews are coming in. As with birthing a baby, there is pain and joy and you want everyone to love and fawn over your precious offspring. And that's what my books are to me. So it's with some trepidation I peek through my fingers to view those dreaded reviews. But so far, they've been only positive.

"I loved it and I want MORE. I laughed, I cried and I was gripping my kindle with anticipation."

"BRILLIANT!! A whirlwind of emotions ran through me … Happy, sad, mad, heartache ugh I cried. The whole series is a must read for anyone who likes pnr."                                          afranhammond

"Tima has left me speechless with this amazing read!!! I have laughed, cried, got mad through this book. I love the other books in this series but I believe she has outdone herself with BloodVault."

"I absolutely love author Tima Maria Lacoba! I absolutely love her books! Especially this one. I cried, I swooned, I got upset, I swooned some more, I cried some more and LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!"       LadyViki

And thank you to Nook Books and More Blog for this fabulous review.

Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Until next time, happy reading :-)