I posted chapter 5 for Babet and Prosper’s A NICE, QUIET TOWN. Watch out for burrowing dragons! http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
Shifters–gotta love ’em
This is a gorgeous cover, isn’t it? The protagonist looks so alluring as a golden dragon, I can’t wait to read about what he looks like as a mortal:) My fellow writer/wonderful friend, Kyra Jacobs, has a book–DRAGONS AMONG THEM–coming out April 19, and it’s available to pre-order now. Kyra usually writes romantic suspense or contemporary romances, so playing with dragons is new to her. It’s been fun reading her tweets and blogs about writing fantasy, since she and I have both stretched our writers’ muscles lately, her going from romance to adding fantasy, and me going from fantasy to adding romance:) So I thought I’d ask her about her journey, and she was gracious enough to stop by to answer my questions. Here goes:
Question #1: You started out writing mystery romances, and you set them in our hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve used Fort Wayne as settings for some of my stories, too, but changed its name to protect the innocent (mostly vampires and supernaturals). Applause for using Fort Wayne But the new novels you’re working on are contemporary romances and a dragon shifter series. TWO series, and you work, and you have two boys. How do you do it?
Three words: Sleep is overrated.
Just kidding (sort of). I love my sleep, but I love writing more. Of course, the kids win over all—I love them the most. It’s a juggling act each and every day for sure.
But I carve out what time I can and am learning to jot ideas and scene fragments down as they strike because for me, not all “writing” is actually time spent in front of my laptop. Mental plotting/writing is every bit as important.
Question #2: What is there about dragons and shifters? How did you go in that direction? And I’m glad you did, because I find them sexy
They are rather sexy, aren’t they?
I know this may sound cliché, but DRAGONS AMONG THEM started with a dream I had. There was a confused girl in the woods cornered by a pack of hungry wolves and this magnificent golden dragon swoops in and saves her. And then of course my alarm goes off and I’m like, “NOOOOO!” Usually, dreams like that evaporate as the day goes by. But that scene refused to leave me alone and I started thinking, “What if the dragon wasn’t just a dragon but also a handsome prince?”
Even then, I told myself I wasn’t going to write it. I mean, was I nuts? I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. What do I know about writing in a fantasy world? But the story refused to leave me alone—REFUSED—and I realized that if I was feeling that passionate about an idea, I’d be a fool to ignore it, especially out of some silly fear over genre-hopping. Interestingly enough, I’ve never completed a first draft so fast in my life. Zayne and Addie’s story could not get on paper fast enough.
And, mmmm Zayne. Can’t wait for you to meet him.
Question #3: Did you find anything trickier than you expected when you wrote in new genres?
You know, the hardest part initially was me getting used to being ALLOWED to break the rules of reality. Duh, right? But as an author who tries to make my contemporary novels very believable, I had to learn how to bend and break rules in an alternate reality while still making the characters and situations believable. It was incredibly freeing, once I got the hang of it.
Question #4: Are you a pantser or a plotter? And do you have a series arc besides the novel arc for each book?
Oh this question—slays me every time! I’m really more of a plantser. (Yep, there’s me bending the rules again lol.) Usually my novels begin with a scene or a fragment of a scene in my mind. Then I start diving into who’s in the scene. What’s their name, their story? What do they want? What’s standing in their way? Often times I’ll follow the Donald Maas story arc that Janice Hardy introduced me to a few years back (here’s the link: http://blog.janicehardy.com/2012/08/the-inner-struggle-guides-for-using.html) to help me dig a bit deeper into the who and why of the novel and to keep the characters’ growth on track. As I write the story I also keep an outline going on the side listing each scene, whose POV I’m in (color-coded by character), and highlights from that scene. Helps me get a visual on the balance of POV (I’m a visual learner for sure) and is great if I need to go back and track down something that happened earlier in the novel.
As for the story vs. series arc, not always. With my contemporary romance novels, each book typically has its own set of hero and heroine and their happily-ever-after. For the dragons series, though, Zayne and Addie are the central focus throughout the series as they fight the odds in various situations on their way to the final happily ever after. The books are not cliff hangers, though, just a progression of time and situations. So in the case of the dragon series, yes, I do have individual novel story arcs that feed into the overall series arc.
Question #5: Care to share a blurb and a snippet of your novel with us?
I’d love to!
Two worlds. One unstoppable passion. A fiery secret that could destroy them all.
Prince Zayne Godfrey, heir to Edana’s throne, is betrothed to the lone princess of rival kingdom Forath. While his heart is not in the arranged marriage, he will do his royal duty.
When he finds a beautiful stranger cornered by a pack of wolves, he doesn’t hesitate to shift into his golden dragon form to save her. She thanks him by taking one look at him and fainting dead away.
Photographer Adelaide Miller is in England for a career-making shoot when a bizarre jogging mishap lands her in a dangerous, medieval-like world of royals, wizards and dragon-shifting men. Her first instinct is to find her way back, but the fire-breathing prince intent on protecting her threatens to melt her heart.
Zayne’s burning passion for Adelaide not only jeopardizes the fragile peace between two kingdoms, it uncovers a ruthless plot to destroy his family. Remaining together may change Adelaide’s very definition of home—and expose one searing secret that could forever shift the balance of power in Zayne’s world.
Zayne shook the thought from his mind. He had come here to forget his impending doom, not wallow in self-pity.
The prince drew an arrow from the quiver on his back, nocked it to his favorite bow, then shifted away from the oak and lined up his shot on the buck. During battle, the action would have taken him but a second—two, perhaps, if he were dodging an attack. Here in the deep woods where any sudden movement would give his location away, it took several minutes. Time well spent, he knew from experience, if it resulted in fresh venison for dinner.
The deer raised its head and stared in the direction of his hunter with unseeing eyes, ears twitching as he chewed. Zayne held his stance, praying his patience would pay off. After a long moment, the great beast turned its rack in the opposite direction. A victorious smile tugged at Zayne’s lips as he squared his shoulders, took a deep breath to steady his aim—
A woman’s scream shattered the forest.
The arrow slipped from his fingers and sailed six feet over the startled buck’s head. In a flash, he drew another, but the opportunity was already lost. The deer zigzagged over brush and bramble, bounding away to seek refuge in the darkest depths of the forest, and Zayne cursed his own arrogance. He’d taken too long, been too sure of himself. And while his stomach rumbled painfully at the thought of foregoing his anticipated evening meal, he knew better than to pursue the beast. Dangers far greater than the dark awaited him in that direction, and no buck was worth the risk.
A second high-pitched scream sounded, closer this time, and commanded his attention. Whoever joined him in the woods today sounded terrified, not hurt. Lord knew he’d been through enough skirmishes to recognize the subtle differences.
Zayne slung his bow onto his back and charged forward, sacrificing stealth for speed to try to reach the woman before one pitch bled into the other. Thick underbrush snagged at his clothes and sliced his skin, but still he surged forward. It would have been easier for him to transform, faster even, but then his whereabouts would be discovered, and he was not yet ready to return and face his father. Or his betrothed.
The wall of vegetation around him thinned as he drew upon a small clearing. Zayne slowed to quiet his footsteps, then stopped altogether as the scene before him came into view. A pack of wolves milled around one side of the clearing, snapping and snarling as they pawed at their muzzles. Across from them stood the clearing’s other inhabitant: a lone peasant woman.
The source of the screams.
Her outer layers of clothing must have been ripped away during her attempted escape, as she stood quaking in scraps of clothing the likes of which Zayne had never seen before. The bizarre black-and-purple fabric failed to do much more than contain her supple bosom, rounded hips, and slim thighs. Her long, golden hair was pinned up and back and, though mussed, offered him a clear view of her delicate shoulders and creamy pale skin. But what struck him the most was her eyes—startling blue, like brilliant sapphire ice.
A ray of sun broke through the clouds and washed over her, giving the girl an angelic appearance. Never had he seen a woman more beautiful. The sight took his very breath away.
A wolf stepped free from the pack, and the air around Zayne began to swirl. He gasped, as helpless to resist the beast within as he was to draw his next breath. Never before had the transformation begun without his prompting, nor surged forward with such haste. An armor of golden scales replaced his skin, his fingers stretched into talons, and human logic gave way to animal instinct. As the growing fire within his chest sought to consume him, Zayne could comprehend but three things:
He must save her.
He must protect her.
He must have her.
(I know this post is getting a little long, but Kyra sent me 2 excerpts to choose from, and I liked the second one so much, I thought I’d add it, too, if you’d like another sneak peek at her book):
Zayne watched with amusement as Addie’s crystalline gaze flashed to the odd slippers dangling from his fingers, then slowly shifted to his face. Even here, in the shadows, the sight of her took his breath away. Emeline insisted the girl was nothing more than a peasant sent into the woods as bait to lure him into a Forathian snare. But no peasant he had ever encountered possessed skin so perfect or golden hair so smooth and long. She rose to stand before him, her pale skin angelic in the moonlight, and the scent of wildflowers and honey nipped at his senses. His gaze trailed uninhibited over her trim yet supple body, dressed once again in nothing but her unusual yet gloriously minimal undergarments.
An angel in devil’s clothing.
“What are you doing with my shoes?” Her voice was low and unsteady.
Shoes? What an odd word. He held up her slippers and fought to keep a smirk from his face. “These? Why, holding them, my lady, nothing more. I feared for your safety and so removed them from your path.”
“Uh-huh.” The blonde vixen’s eyes narrowed. “You knew I was awake?”
“Aye. You blushed when I touched your cheek. I knew it would be but a matter of time before you magically awoke.”
“And yet you let Emeline leave,” she said. “Why?”
“Perhaps I wanted to have you all to myself for a moment.”
Her eyes widened a fraction. Addie took a step back, sucked in a sharp breath and quickly took another. “I see.”
She shifted her gaze from his and swept it across the room toward its lone window, feigning interest in the chamber’s furnishings. She was bold, this one. Perhaps that was why he felt inexplicably drawn to her. The feeling was both new and infuriating at the same time.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” he said. “Even if you survived the fall, there are things lurking in the neighboring woods far more dangerous than I.”
Her gaze shifted back to him. “Look, I don’t know who you are or how I got here, but if you’ll give me my shoes, I’ll be out of your hair in no time.”
“But you are not in my hair.” He took a step forward and wished very much that she was. “Nor am I quite ready to let you go.”
Addie held her hands out as though he were a charging horse she was trying to slow.
“Look, buddy. I appreciate you and Emeline taking care of me this afternoon and all, but it’s been a long day and all I really want is to get back to my hotel and forget this day ever happened. So just give me my shoes already, will ya?”
“Leaving tonight is out of the question.”
She stared at him, appearing dumbfounded. “Why’s that?”
“Because, you are being held for questioning on order of the royal family.”
“The royal family? But why? What have I done?”
Her perfect brows knit together. Zayne struggled not to reach out and try smoothing them back into place. Because if he touched her face again, a kiss was sure to follow. And with a kiss…
No, not yet. Questions had to be asked to ensure she truly was no spy. While he had little doubt of her innocence, Emeline would hound him no end if he couldn’t prove that was truly the case. Zayne set the slippers beside the fire, then began pacing the room, walking in slow circles around his guest.
“You endangered the life of their heir apparent today.”
Addie spun to face him. “But Emeline was the only person I saw this afternoon.”
He quirked a brow at her. “The only one?”
“Yes, I swear! I was out for a run, and then this car swerved toward me because its idiot driver was probably paying more attention to their cell than the road. So I dove out of the way, but then I tumbled down this really steep hill, and the next thing I know, I’m being chased by the biggest wolves I’ve ever seen and then—” She looked away, her cheeks darkening.
Car? Cell? He longed to learn more about these things, more about her, but she’d grown quiet, unwilling to share her memories further.
“And then?” he asked, his voice soft.
She shook her head, blinking to hold back moisture now sparkling in the firelight.
“You…you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Zayne sensed the fair maiden’s distress. Though her story to this point made little sense, the embarrassment in her tone was quite real. He reached a gentle hand to tip her feathersoft chin in his direction. “Tell me.”
She shook her head again, stubborn even now. But why? What did she have to hide?
“I know you saw another today.” He flashed her the same fiery look he’d set upon the wolves several hours before. In the daylight, the effect would have been diminished by the sun’s warm rays. But in the current darkness of this guest room, the glow of his eyes would be impossible to miss. “Because I was there.”
Awareness dawned upon Addie’s face as her eyes widened. “No,” she breathed. “No, it…it can’t be.”
Zayne lifted his shirt to reveal the blood-soaked bandages wrapped tight around his midsection. “I assure you, it can and it is.”
Thanks for stopping by, Kyra! It’s always fun to pester you:)