Red Archer Reveal

The cover for Red Archer is done! This is the second book in my Red August series. There will be an update as soon as it is available for pre-order.

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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.

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Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 2

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Last weekend I was a vendor at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland. I’m a Maryland resident and not too far from Baltimore, so I thought it would be a good book event to try out.

My most difficult task has not been the hours upon hours of making graphics, layout and design of the book cover, coming up with marketing, keeping up with social media, even writing the books, going to events and so forth. The most difficult part of this has been finding my audience. My book comes off as a YA at first glance. The female protagonist in Red August is sixteen at the beginning of the story. She’s fairly confident, but has her body issues. This isn’t a trope to me. This is a reflection of myself at about 13 years old, so I know there have to be others who can relate to that. The character is extremely hormonal and sexually interested. This is where I think I lose some of the more YA-oriented folks. They are looking for Twilight and I have given them Twilight, but with more adults, strong female characters of varying ages, and erotic scenes. Detailed erotic scenes. There is also the distracted thinking and judgment that comes with the hormones of adolescence as I recall them. Let’s not forget, this is a Paranormal Romance Adventure book, so besides adolescence in general for her hormones, there are other reasons. Reasons. Anyway, my hope was to come across some readers who I could maybe chat with, answers questions, and find the audience who wants my work. The book festival delivered in that way. Had I been in a section that was more dedicated to my genre, I think it would have been an even more successful endeavor. We were a jumble of genres and even had a beauty pageant table in our tent, for some reason.

When you enter the Tablers Tent you sign in and select your table. It’s a long bowling-alley style series of tents with tables along each side. I mention ways I felt this wasn’t the best set-up and could be improved in the other post. Just a little helpful feedback, not trying to be whiny about it. Anyway, we selected a table about middle of the alley. We were lucky enough to be right at a vent so we could enter and exit behind our table and weren’t literally walled in, being forced to use the exits at either end of the alley. Here you can see Will eating a quick lunch outside of our vent and in front of the Visitor’s Center.

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I want to just say that I really LOVED being so close to the Visitor’s Center, so I hope that it’s in the same spot next year.

Nearing the end of the day I really needed to get up and stretch, so I went for a quick walk to check out the event. It was quite a large event with booths surrounding the harbor. I also took a swing by the Maryland Romance Writers tent to listen to some of the panel talk about writing Romances. At the moment I was there the discussion was about researching history, how difficult it is to make sure you get everything correct with non-fictional characters, and what terrible things a writer’s browser might give up if ever forensically investigated by the FBI. All true things. I could relate to these ladies for sure. It would have been nice if their tent was closer to ours, but I was pretty excited to see the Red Emma’s tent right outside of ours. I would have liked to have spent part of the day in there!

The event was heavily attended, a real plus. It was nice weather, also a big plus. There were plenty of food and book vendors. Plenty of portable toilets. And the Tablers Tent looked looked as though all of the vendor tables were full. There were volunteers that were polite, helpful, and checked on us regularly and brought us water. They could relieve us at our table for a short while if need be. A long list of events and activities were posted throughout the event in the form of large signs. A nice big glossy map to give to attendees. A pretty good event rating overall in my opinion. I hope next year they try to attract book bloggers/vloggers and reviewers.

During the event we were seated next to Rosa Pryor-Trusty and her husband Shorty – who were just wonderful to talk to. It was nice to have some really funny, smart companions to chat with during the slower moments.

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This is a photo of Rosa and me after a long day. We still look like we could take on the world, don’t we? LOOK OUT WORLD!

I met a couple of other authors at the event as well, though I wish I’d had time to meet all of the other writers that were in my genre. Natasha Lane came down and stopped by my table and we talked shop – though I didn’t realize she was a fellow writer at the beginning of the conversation. I’m hoping that if I collect enough cards of nearby women authors we can have the occasional salon. One thing that has struck me about the other women authors I’ve met, is how important the writing is to them. How it’s something they have to do, like any art you are driven to make. There is also an edge of enthusiasm, that despite the odds being against us being able to make a living this way, that is inspiring.  Women supporting women achieving their dreams. We are stronger together.

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It was a long day, and I am grateful to have had Will’s help. I couldn’t do this stuff without him.

Reading in Baltimore – 3 and 4 of 4

These are excerpts from the book Red August, by H.L. Brooks – read by actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy. It is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel and iBooks, among other places. Links can be found at http://www.hlbrooks.com

In this scene Red/August has been meeting her handsome neighbor near the stream that runs down their properties. They read books and discuss them.

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This reading took place at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, Maryland.

http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com/

*This is an abridged version meant to be read out loud.

Book 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.

 

Reading in Baltimore – 1

There was a reading of Red August at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore this past Saturday.  Actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy read excerpts from the book and we enjoyed warm cider with a tiny audience.

This particular excerpt is one of about four I will post.

The excerpts I chose include those where August and Faolan have interaction.  I came to realize that the excerpts may give the impression that the book is straight romance, but it’s a fairy tale adaption of Red Riding Hood set in 1980s small town Maryland.

Find out where to buy Red August by visiting HLBrooks.com.

VIDEO INFO

This is an excerpt from the book Red August, by H.L. Brooks – read by actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy.  It is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel and iBooks, among other places.  Links can be found at http://www.hlbrooks.com

In this scene Red and her handsome neighbor meet for the first time.  She is new to town.  She’s had a rough several months, including having been assaulted by somebody, which she is trying to heal from.  On this night she watches something kind of naughty on TV and falls asleep and wakes up restless in the middle of the night, so goes for a walk along her property.

This reading took place at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, Maryland.

http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com/

*This is an abridged version meant to be read out loud.

Book 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.

Sexy Stuff

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I put sex in my stories.  I addressed some of it in a podcast before the release of Red August – but I thought I would blog about it, to explore it a bit further.  If you want to listen to the podcast you can hop on over to Raven Heights Radio and listen to that episode HERE.

To state the obvious, some people aren’t bothered by sexual scenes in a story, and some people even seek out books with sexual passages.  Then, there are readers who don’t like sex in a story, and regardless of my reasons for including sexual scenes, it’s not going to really make them like it.  So, for those who are curious, here are some thoughts about about those sexy bits of Red August  and also, why you will find sexy bits in my second book in the series, Red Archer, as well.

When I first conceived of writing a fairy tale, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at an erotic short.  I had listened to a podcast from an erotica author who cranked out many erotic shorts a month and makes a good living at it.  I was at a bit of crossroads in my career life and wanted to switch from focusing on art and photography to writing.  Naturally, I wanted to write something that would be financially supporting.  So, I figured I would try out this model mentioned in the erotica writer’s podcast.  I’d write something under 10k words and I would self-publish it for 99 cents and move on to the next fairy tale.  However, once I got to writing the character of August Archer and her budding age-gap relationship with werewolf Faolan Conall, I couldn’t just stick to the erotic stuff – I wanted more story.  Eventually, there wasn’t a lot of sex in the story left, but what was there was pretty hot.  So, what could I do now but finish the story?

I had believed writing erotica might be a good route for me because my first ever paycheck as a writer was back in the late 90s and it was a short erotic story for Playgirl.  I figured I could channel that part of myself and write something short and steamy – but I failed.  I just wanted to know more about the characters.  I wanted to know where they would end up and all of the adventures they might get up to as their relationships developed.  So, I decided instead to write a modern fairy tale adaptation and put sex in where it felt right to me.  That’s how Red August was born.

I am a sensualist.  I immerse myself in the clicks of a keyboard and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sweet and rich melting of chocolate on my tongue, the tickle of the hair on the back of my neck and the warm pressing of my lover’s lips to my cheek – all while just sitting here at my desk.  These things cannot be sorted out from each other.  They are interwoven.  Eggs, flour, milk, sugar, all baked together – touching and creating a full experience.

Sex, passion, lust and hormones are a huge foundation of our motivations as humans, even if we don’t want to admit it, despite the reality of it being all around us.  I realize for some people, they’ve got that part of themselves pretty locked down.  They keep it private.  They don’t like it intruding on their stories about adventure or danger.  But, for me, there is a message in that:  sex intrudes, whether we want it to or not.  If people want to read it just to enjoy the idea that there is this horny teen girl who has an interesting paranormal back-story – I am totally fine with that.  The book belongs to the readers once you put it out there.  The author’s intent sometimes isn’t clear, or the person reading it might not have an experience or perspective that lets the message in.  There is nothing wrong with any of that.  If sexy writing isn’t for you, I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.  I’m just saying that I can’t help but include it.

The messages I got when I was younger, compared to those that I claimed for myself later, helped me come to a place where I recognize that sex is embraceable as a whole part of yourself and not something to try and put in a box.  There are so many contradictions in our society about sex.  We require consent, but don’t always prosecute rapists.  Or we get consent, then are accused of breaching a boundary we didn’t know was there.  We say girls are too young to dress in a sexy outfit or buy dolls that push sex, then we sell everything with sex.  There is a calamity about young girls wearing sexualized make-up and clothing, then we deny that clothing or appearance can be sexualized (feminist perspective).  It’s confusing as hell.  And there is no way for me as one human to un-confuse it.  But what I can do is write about a girl who is in touch with her sex drive.  I can also make an attempt to not romanticize things that are unhealthy.  I will write about things that are not healthy happening in a relationship, but I make great effort to not romanticize or objectify in my story.

I wrote about August’s desires and private actions because that is part of who she is.  Her body is doing things that are invisible to those around her, but hormones and chemicals rage on inside of her nonstop.

For me, I think part of the problem is that too often, women aren’t portrayed as whole individuals.   When we get explicit sex in a story some feel it defines the story, putting it into a specific slot (I know), saying “oh, this book is about sex.”  There’s nothing wrong with reading it on that level.  But that’s not what I’m trying to create – a story that’s primary objective is titillation.  My objective is simple – to show a whole girl, with her desires, menstrual cycles, awkwardness and cleverness–all the good and the bad–and sex is part of that story.

Take all of the above and add onto it the fact that August is not just a human girl.  She has hormones of something other than human coursing thorough her veins.  Her blood is rich and heavy with longing and the drive to procreate to a point she doesn’t understand it.  Furthermore, because as a general rule, people don’t talk much about sex to each other, she’s confused by it.  And if teenagers do talk about those things, particularly before the information age (my book is set in the 1980s), they can be misinformed.  They don’t know how normal it is to be having these aches and desires.  It’s an aspect of our animal side that is going on in our brains as we go on with all of the activities of our day.

There is a well-loved episode of the original Star Trek series in which this subject is the main theme.  Pon Farr highlights the power of hormones and instinctual drive.  You won’t get to see any steamy sex scenes with Spock, but I would have liked to.  I also wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there isn’t some fan fiction out there taking that episode much further than shirtless fight scenes on Vulcan.

Hormones and bonding chemicals, like oxytocin, are fascinating and still a bit mysterious.  I’ve learned a lot about bonding chemicals in the past four or five years. They are addictive and  powerful and can affect you like other drugs – clouding your judgment, making you feel euphoric, or numb.   When people have affairs, they can get the sense that they don’t love their earlier partner any longer because of the bonding chemicals that take over their brains with the new person.  This isn’t a mystery and it isn’t new, but it’s overwhelming and sometimes ruinous.  I like exploring the way these bonding chemicals can make us hold on to relationships that were cut short, or idealize people who aren’t good for us.

I attempt to write sex in my stories sensually rather than what somebody might consider raunchy.  But, if you like your sex tucked away, as an aside mention, or avoided like tip-toeing through a garden, then the Red August series probably isn’t for you.

Red August Review by TomeTender

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“Grab a fan, because the teen hormones are raging, in full, intimate detail! Red August by H.L. Brooks is not your childhood fairytale come to life, but rather a contemporary version starring an older Red, caught between womanhood and childhood. Filled with wonderfully quirky and kind secondary characters, a feisty grandmother, an ancient feud, death, misunderstandings and a cameo appearance by the Woodsman, H.L. Brooks has taken May-December romances to an entirely new level…”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW

WHERE TO BUY RED AUGUST

Red August Quote – Healing

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Find out where to order Red August HERE