Sexy Shape Shifters?

Last month Red August was featured in the February Ever After Box fairy tale and romance book subscription service. Red August was my debut novel, and the first in the Red August series about a girl who is becoming a woman, and discovers a world she is a part of, but never knew existed. It also happens to be a modernized Red Riding Hood retelling. For March the theme is Sexy Shifters! Since werewolves fit that theme, they have accepted the second book in the Red August series, Red Archer, for their March box. The exciting part is, apart from people who come to my launch party on March 18th at the New Deal Cafe, Ever After box subscribers will be the first to read Red Archer because they will get a free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) download of Red Archer in the March box!

Visit the Ever After Box website to sign up for their subscription boxes, for the fairy tale romance lover in your life.

You can visit the Facebook invitation for the book launch here: https://www.facebook.com/events/255044768254137/  (PLEASE RSVP if you plan on coming – it helps us to make sure there is enough nibbles and drinks)

 

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Following a season of late weddings and new romance, August Archer is ready to embrace the next part of her life—ready to reclaim her lost heritage, and to join herself with the man she loves.

But her sojourn with Faolan to their Scottish homeland turns out to be a very different trip than either of them could have imagined. August feels the bonds of love twisting into knots when the past comes back to haunt them both, even as the bonds of family grow stronger when she finds the hunter clans—her ancient kin—preparing to fight for what they hold dear.

Before this journey ends, August will face her bitterest enemy, confront a shocking betrayal in the Archer family, and become transformed by a spirit world she never dreamed existed. And she will encounter a ghost from the past that threatens to unravel her entire future, in this reimagined saga of the Red Riding Hood story—the sequel to Red August.

I Fell in Love (just a little) -Writer Blues

I fell in love with you a little when I read it. Pixels or paper, it wouldn’t have mattered. Though  there is something to be said for the slip smooth, the crinkle, of paper. But the pixels reach me so much faster, a bullet hitting its mark.

Slide your glossy razor fingernail down my breastbone, peel back a layer. And another.

Focus your laser insight into my eyes. Blind me with your gifts. I won’t have to see my own overly-dramatic adolescent ramblings.

You can never make a great writer out of a good writer, a great writer once said. Mr. King, what a wound. Not so wide as a church door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.

So I will wash my mouth out with adverbs. I will slice away planks of purple prose and drop them into the pot with what I thought were wild parsnips. On high. Until boiling. Drink. Sleep.

Incoherent. Disjointed. What is this, anyway? It doesn’t make sense. It does, too. A flashing sign overhead, “EDIT ME.” Spellcheck. Wait, I need to look up “lie” and “lay” again. It’s the mechanics of cameras all over again.

I’m tired, but inspired. And it starts over every. single. day.

You don’t care. And I’m fine with it. I will keep working at going from competent to good while you spill great all over the place. I’ll wipe it up. I’ll like it. And I’m not even mad about it.

Actually, you do care. And that’s what makes it all worth something.

Abstract works better in acrylics. Eyes roll. “Wow, she’s trying way too hard.”

“Fishing.”

“Yeah.”

One foot in front of the other. Writing mix on the playlist. Focus. Steady as she goes. O CAPTAIN! my captain!

Be grateful it’s out there, all of that beauty. Stop worrying. Don’t show any lack of confidence, it’s deadly you know.

Is it?

Well, if that were true, I’d have died at twelve.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Does it matter?”

I can if I say I can. From competent to good is better than “never tried.”

 

 

 

 

Micro Fairy Tales

I have been writing micro-stories that are based on images I find in my feed. So far Faerie Magazine has been the source, but I see many things on a daily basis that get me inspired. Here are a couple of micro-fairy tales. Perhaps they are just a nip of something much bigger. You never know. I post them on my Facebook page, so if you wish to catch them, that’s the best place to do it. I can’t promise they will always end up here. PLUS, at the FB page you can click all those little links and learn about the models and the photographers and stuff. Which you TOTES wanna do!  🙂

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Red Archer 2016

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My friend Tracy has been to London and Edinburgh – so she invited me over to pick her brain about that as research for the second book in the Red August series – Red Archer.

She had a wonderful little journal from her trip to Britain when she was a teen, so that was perfect – getting an American teen girl’s impressions of parts of Europe, and in the same era that my book series is set in!  How about THAT!?  PLUS – I got to hang with my pal Tracy and she made me food and we had wine.

We don’t get to see each other face-to-face too often, so we had lots of catching up to do.  We talked about travel and men and love and hurt.  We talked about sex and lost loves and what lessons we’ve learned here and there.  We also talked about things like how switches on the walls in the UK work and what time it gets dusky.

I took lots of notes.  But we didn’t make it all the way through her journal, so I’m hoping to head back down there for another bout of research in the coming months.

OH!  I almost forgot.  She also made some freaking DELICIOUS spiced cake cupcakes.  They were SO GOOD I could have eaten one every day for breakfast for a week.  Do I have amazing friends or what?

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Look how cute these cupcakes are – and her arm was hurty too!  ❤ ❤ ❤

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Emotional Day

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I’ve had a really emotional day.  Not sad exactly, just lots of feelings bubbling up to the surface.

I’ve been watching my husband fall in love on stage every weekend.  He’s so beautiful and talented, I am just in awe of him.

I have this book about love and longing and hurt and adventure simmering inside and have had very little time to work on it.

So today was spent listening to haunting music and reading poetry and avoiding the work I needed to do.

Tomorrow, I will write about love and longing.  I will write about hurts and healing.  I will find a way to use these emotions to make something.  ❤

Writing in a Bubble

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You can’t write in a bubble.  You’re influenced by everything you’ve been exposed to.  Good, bad, whatever.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective when you are feeling a bit like you can’t offer up a fresh voice in stories.  It’s a hurdle I had to overcome.  I had a sense that I couldn’t add anything to the conversation.  I had a sense that even though I wanted to reach out and touch people with a story about different kinds of love and struggles, I didn’t know if I had anything special to add.

In the end I decided to just sit down and write the story.  To write down the show unraveling inside of my head.  To see where it takes me.

Now that I have finished the first book – Red August – I am thrilled that book two – Red Archer – is already full of life in my mind.  It’s crackling with energy and concepts that are exciting to me and I can’t wait to write them all down.  My sweetheart has been helping me with ideas about love and bonding and even obsessive feelings and where they come from and how to work with them.

Right now I am hip deep in props and set decorating for an amazing play written by my friend Audrey.  My sweetheart is in the play, too.  So we’ve been all about the play these past couple of months and “hell week” is next week, so it’s going to get busier before it lets up.  But come November, once a brilliant run of Maytag Virgin is over, I can settle back into working on book two.

I’m always looking for people who have insight on the Celtic/Scottish and Irish aspects of the story as well – if you have some thoughts, please send them along (email below).  I’m interested in traditions related to weddings, marriage, birthdays, holidays, things lovers might say to each other and other cultural things that would be hard for me to know about without living there.  I always want to research well and be respectful.

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If you would like to review Red August (ebook only at this time) please contact me at hlbrookswrites(at)yahoo(dot)com.  See my Media Kit page for images and synopsis.  Please note, the book contains sexual material.

Messy Desk, Messy Heart, Good Workflow

Yesterday’s Mood:  “I can do a really good impression of a fettuccine noodle, I bet somebody’s gotta want that.”  ~Dharma (see 5:36 in the video)

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My desk has two glasses, one mug, an empty dried plums box and a bowl with dried up soy milk in it.  I know the spoon is stuck to the bottom, without even touching it.

The more I dig into my work, whether it’s writing or artwork, photo editing – whatever – the messier my desk gets, until I am pushing things this way and that just to see my side monitor.  The mess on my desk means progress in my work, and I’ve tried to make friends with that idea.

I’m busy doing a lot of things right now, including dealing with some rejection.  Book two (Red Archer in the Red August series) started out so nicely yesterday, about 700 words in just a few hours, and that felt nice.  Then the rejection came, totally unrelated to my books and writing, but still.  I cried a bit, because no matter how confident you are, rejection stings.  When you get rejected, especially for something you feel vulnerable about, you feel like all of your tender spots have been poked with a stick.

Does the crying help?  No.  Well…maybe.  I don’t know.  I cried and got comforted and then I felt better.  So, maybe it helps to cry and let it out.

Then I sent my sister a mopey text.  She sent me back “don’t be silly” stuff and told me that it had been the first day of school for my nephews.  I posted an uncharacteristically mopey status on social media.  Normally I’m all zen and cheer or feminist and angry.  I thought about Dharma and her lost yoga class.  I think my feelings would be easier to cope with if I didn’t feel like I don’t pull my weight around here.  It’s a matter of pride.  After all, I supported myself before I ever got involved with a man.  Oh – my life.  It’s taken some unexpected turns. I really wouldn’t change most of it, though.

I’m fortunate to have a sweetheart, sidekick and partner in all things arty to keep me grounded.  I have people who send me nice notes when my work has touched them in some way.  It can really get you through a low spot.

A friend said to me today that she was so surprised when I published a book.  That she had no idea.  And I explained that I didn’t talk about it much because I wasn’t sure I could do it.  But I did it, and that’s something.  And now I am on the second book and some people are waiting for it.  They really want to read it.  And that’s amazing.

This messy heart has a lot of stories to tell.  If I had to go through some of the shit I went through in life, I might as well find a way to make something beautiful of it.  If I can’t make something beautiful, then I want to find a way to connect.  That matters to me.

I’m all patched up today.  Rejection stings are all tended to.  Messy desk is messier – which is good.  It means I’m working and getting somewhere.  I guess it’s the same way for my heart.

Book Update

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I’ve updated my website HLBrooks.com to reflect all of the links that you need in order to purchase Red August.  The most recent addition is approval by Amazon yesterday.

The e-book is only $3.99.  There is not a print copy available as of yet.

Links for purchase:
Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Nobel
Smashwords (you can read 33% of the book for free here)
Kobo

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Synopsis

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl–even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges–one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy–in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.

Smashing Words and Other Adventures

RedAugust_lowres_800wideWE DID IT!  Between my editor and my proofreaders and many reads and re-reads and re-re-reads (I could do that about ten times and it would be about right), the manuscript for Red August was uploaded to Smashwords.  I uploaded a previous copy, but the formatting was a bit off and we hadn’t linked the Table of Contents – SO MANY THINGS – so Will futzed with all that stuff and VOILA, I got it uploaded.  And guess what?  You can read 1/3 of the book on Smashwords for free RIGHT NOW, before it’s even released on August 19th.  You can also pre-order the book through Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks.

Yesterday was kind of a magical day.  We got up super early (Will got up super early, I got up an hour behind him).  By 12:30 the specially formatted for ebook manuscript was uploaded to Smashwords.  Then, we got ready to head down to a birthday party for my beautiful, smart and amazing friend Tracy, who lives about an hour south of us.  We were a bit late to her party, but we stayed extra late to make up for it.  I had SO MUCH FUN.  First of all – BOOK UPLOADED without errors.  So YAY.  THEN I got to see my wonderful friend for her birthday at a lovely bistro with tasty food and wine.  During the party one of her friends pulled into the parking lot in a sexy new red Corvette convertible and I started singing “Little Red Corvette” and then I met the woman who owned it and she took me for a drive.  WHICH WAS AWESOME.   Did I mention that the weather here in Maryland was BEAUTIFUL?  Well, it was.  It was the kind of day you would order, if you could order weather, for convertible driving.  Everybody was sweet to me and I think I made a couple of new friends.  AND somebody pre-ordered my book right there in front of me.  Then, on the way home we found out that my friend, talented playwright Audrey Cefaly, won a pretty amazing Samuel French contest in New York city with her play The Gulf — which is now going to be PUBLISHED by them!  She’s kind of a big deal, y’all!  When we got home my favorite parking space was empty at a time it normally wouldn’t be.  I was exhausted from not enough sleep all week and all the fun, but I was excited too, so I had a hard time getting to sleep.  So what do ya do?  You pull up the social media.  I  looked at Instagram because it’s the social media choice with the least amount of dissonance and nightmare material.  And lo, a nice comment from an instagrammer said they were really looking forward to my book.  I finally made it to sleep not long after that.

It’s been a busy and fulfilling week.  I’m hoping to get things working on Amazon in the next couple of days and I will be able to just focus on marketing and book 2, Red Archer.

Raven Heights Radio – Red August – Episode 48

Red August will be available August 19th on Kindle – and if all goes according to plan, a variety of other platforms as well!  You can find out where to buy Red August at www.hlbrooks.com as soon as the links become available.

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Erica of Raven Heights Radio

As I posted in a quickie post yesterday, I was a guest on Raven Heights Radio.

I wanted to go ahead and do a little episode guide of sorts, to provide links about things that Erica and I discussed, as well as clarify a few points.  Because, as I stated in the episode, being misunderstood is kind of my kryptonite.

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I DO realize that some people make it their MISSION to misunderstand people, so those are NOT the folks I’m worried about.  So long as I do my best to be clear, I know I’ve done my part.

Before I want to get on with the links I want to make it clear that I don’t think there is anything wrong with classic romance where the guy saves the girl.  Romance is a fantasy world, and particularly fairy tales have that element.  Those are the stories I fell in love with and I still like those kinds of stories.  People rescue each other all of the time.  And I think if you look at the underlying elements of many romance stories – even if on the surface it seems like the guy swoops in and saves the day – you will see that people just rescue each other in different ways and sometimes the swooping is mutual.  For my part, in Red Riding Hood, I wanted to take the story of the little girl who was warned about going through the woods and turn it on its ear.  Whether I manage to do that, remains to be seen in the court of public opinion.  But whatever others bring to the story and read into it, that was my intention.  There is a possibility in the future that I will write a more classic “guy rescues girl” scenario – and there ARE elements of that in Red August – we don’t exist inside of a bubble, after all.  Relationships are built on mutual helping and understanding.  Whatever your tastes, somebody is writing it. There are many wonderful writers of romance out there to fill every type of story fantasy you could wish for, so go forth and find them.  Look for them on twitter and Instagram.  They want you to read their stories and you want to read them – what better match is there than that?

STUFF RELATED TO THIS PODCAST EPISODE!

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Fast Time on VHS!

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Genre Guideline Links

Sub-genres of Romance

What is Erotic Romance?

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Sex Positive Links

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Joy of Sex 1972 – Man, everybody’s parents had one of these.

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I was going to say the two types were the top 40 and rock – but also rap was just starting to come out and I was fascinated by that as well.  I listened to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Blondie, Queen, Billy Idol, John Cougar (no Mellencamp), Heart, Billy Joel, Sugarhill Gang, Olivia Newton John, Comodores, Hall & Oates…man the list just goes on and on.   Everybody who liked any kind of popular music would not miss Casey’s Top 40.  I’ve found that through the magic of the interwebz we can listen to a whole episode from July 24, 1982 – 33 years ago! WHUT!?  Even though it doesn’t have the full songs (I guess they can’t) but it’s got the commercials and everything!  Talk about flashbacks!  There is no doubt I was laying in my room on my bed under all of my music posters listening to this on my radio.  After I listen to this I’m going to have to make a mix tape and go make-out with my boyfriend.

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WHFS – DC (Historic)

HFS – Baltimore – you can listen online (but it ain’t exactly the same, tho!)

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George Lucas and Star Wars

This was written in 2014 —

“In 1978, Star Wars won seven Academy Awards. But if you want to watch that original version, the first of George Lucas’s soon to be seven-part saga, you’ll find it difficult. In fact, it’s actually impossible to buy an official copy of Star Wars as it was first released. Lucas doesn’t want you to see that version. Instead, he wants you to watch the continuously updated special editions—movies with added CGI, changed sound effects, and whole new scenes.”  READ MORE AT THEATLANTIC.COM

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As an example of the discussion over the digital work on the original movies, which birthed the controversy – Han Shot First.

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Jedi Academy at Disneyland

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After the show the featured song (which is really good, y’all!) – Slow Motion by The Jesters