Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"The Strix" New Excerpt

This is an excerpt from “The Strix”. In this scene Arcona has escaped a witch’s shop and fallen straight into the hands of handsome stranger, who happens to be waiting for her in a dark alley the moment she steps outside. The man she meets owns an odd bar named Slayers that’s peopled with more strange men…

“I wouldn’t go that way if I were you,” he called out to her.
She turned. “Why?”
“It’s a dead end.” A sly smile crossed his face. “Unless you’re carrying a grappling hook and a climbing rope in your purse, you’ll never get over the eight-foot brick wall waiting for you around the corner.”
He lifted his hand into the air and slowly motioned for her to approach. “Come here.” His tone softened. “A beautiful woman really shouldn’t be walking alone at night; it’s not safe. You can take a shortcut through my bar and walk straight onto a lit street.”
She relaxed her tensed shoulders. There was something dangerously intriguing about this Nordic beauty that drew her toward him. “You own Slayers?”
“Yes.” A proud smile warmed his sharply chiseled features. “You’ve heard of Slayers? My name’s Varn.” He thrust his palm forward in greeting.
“Hello, Varn.” She was too nervous to grasp his hand.

“Come inside and stay for a drink if you like.”

“I thought Slayers was some sort of private gentlemen’s club?”
Varn’s brows arched. He laughed softly as if he were enjoying a private joke. “Slayers is a gentlemen’s club by nature, not by choice. We’d welcome the privilege of entertaining an attractive female patron.” His eyes glittered in the darkness, almost as if they were casting their own light. “By the way, I’m not sure it’s accurate to describe us as gentlemen.”
He looked intense but seemed good-tempered. She silently admitted it was a heady thrill to have such a striking, semidangerous-looking man flirting with her. She loved the whole underworld attraction of ultratough guys but had never found one she could actually trust and relate to; most were just trouble, plain and simple.
A cool breeze funneled through the alleyway and blew Varn’s long hair away from his steep cheekbones. This guy sure looked like a big, burly bushel of trouble. His knuckles were raw with scars like he got in a fistfight every Saturday night, and won. Her imagination was really running away with her, but what the hell? He was just a bar owner in a touristy town, not a world-class mercenary, for God’s sake, though he certainly looked like one. The touch of danger called like a Siren’s song to her attention-starved libido.
“If you don’t mind, I think I will dart through.” God help, she was already thinking of staying for a drink and maybe more. Why rush back to an empty hotel room when a little fun might be had? She tried to be stealthy as she swept her gaze over Varn’s thick forearms. His sleeves were rolled up, and he didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the chill.
In her mind she cataloged each exciting detail, loving everything she saw. Solid, tough, and steely described Varn perfectly. How much would Jael love this guy’s icy good looks? A lot. She owed it to Jael to at least check this guy out.
Varn reached toward her and offered his hand a second time. “Be careful stepping over the crates. There are a couple of broken bottles. I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”
She took hold of his hand. His grip was iron, and his hands were heavily calloused.
Varn grabbed her around the waist and lifted her to his shoulders with an easy swoop.
She gasped in surprise as Varn effortlessly elevated her high above the crates and set her down gently at the threshold of Slayers’ back door.
He opened the door for her with a flourish. “After you.”
She breathlessly planted her boots on the ground. Men didn’t just pick her up and twirl her through the air every day, especially gorgeous ones in black silk shirts. This was a special thrill. What else could this guy do to make her heart race faster?
She felt a little shaky as she entered Slayers and immediately noted the building was chilly and dimly lit by old-fashioned kerosene lanterns. The scent of fresh-cut cedar hung in the air. Her first impression was Slayers felt like a men’s outdoor camping trip.
They walked down a narrow service hallway lined with wooden casks, dark cubicles, and storage closets, and past a small, candlelit room strewn with earthy red cushions and a curved lounge, before entering the main part of the bar.
Her gaze narrowed as she entered the room. The interior of Slayers was an odd, ultramacho ensemble of an old West saloon complete with a naked lady etched into an antique Parisian-style mirror hanging above the bar, a Viking longhouse with exposed wooden beams and dragons carved into the individual booths, and a military barrack embellished with Roman shields, medieval swords, weapons, and artillery shells of every description.
“Wow.” Every bizarre detail dazzled her. She couldn’t settle for long on a single thing. Slayers’ decor seemed to chronicle every great moment in warfare and mayhem. “Who’s your decorator?”
She began to worry she was barking up the wrong tree. When Varn had said gentlemen’s club, had he meant gay? This place definitely looked like it was a testosterone-drenched, chest-thumping, dick-swinging, war-craft-loving, all-male celebration, no-pink-panty zone.
A few of Slayers’ patrons sat in dark booths quietly playing cards and drinking from an eclectic selection of pewter-topped beer steins or wooden tankards. The rough- faced men casually looked up at her before returning their full attention to the card game.
There seemed to be a lot of combat boots and leather worn in this place along with steel rivets and fur. The whole place looked a little too Road Warrior, even for her tastes.
Varn leaned close to her ear. “Would you like a Humpen?” 
His deep voice sent thrilling shivers up her spine.
“Would I like what?” she asked in alarm.
Varn pointed toward a row of polished stoneware beer mugs lined up on the bar. He walked toward the bar, picked up a chunky mug, and began to draw a trickle of rich black beer from a keg. “A Humpen is a half-liter beer stein.”
His gaze dropped toward the dark, liquid filling the mug. “This is Slayers’ signature brew. It’s an ancient recipe and the only brew we drink. You can’t get it anywhere else. I want you to try it and tell me what you think.”
He handed Arcona the weighty mug with a tall head sloshing over the rim.
She accepted the drippy mug and fought the impulse to wipe her wet fingers on her pant legs. “Thank you.” She hoisted the mug in a toast. “To Slayers.” She paused before taking the first sip. “Are you going to drink?”
A dreamy, sexy expression briefly crossed Varn’s face. “I’ll drink later.”
I hope you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful. This week I'm editing book two "Claimed By Dragons" and that's a fun story too.

“The Strix” Katalina Leon & Amber Skyze
Book one in “The Bag Of Tricks” book series.
Loose Id Publishing
"The Strix" Katalina Leon and Amber Skyze Loose Id Publishing

Monday, July 30, 2012

Great Writing or Fab Sex? Can't I have both?
Recently a high profile blogger in the romance world stated that "we" readers are willing to put up with so-so writing if the love story is satisfying.
I had to re-read that. Many times.
If we agree that the definition of "satisfying" is one the blogger would have to clarify and I note for you here that she did not define her term, then we can move on to her general statement and critique it.
Are you willing to read a mediocre work to get a high from the romance or the erotic aspects of it?
My answer is no, I am definitely not willing to "put up with" poor writing.
And while many readers might be looking for a quick fix or the Happy Hump, I am looking for a great story along with my HH. Specifically, with romantic suspense, I am looking for the crisis and plot structure that tell me I am thrilled. With historicals, I am looking for the accuracy of time, place and milieu as well as dialogue. With contemporary cowboys (especially because I live in cowboy country), I am looking for accuracy of character, dialogue and contemporary issues like Mexican cartels, gun-drug-prostitution and drought issues.
Yes, we all know that the indie side of the industry has (as another industry blogger has put it) shown us that the lack of gatekeepers has permitted, if you wish to call it this, a "race to the bottom" in quality. (Not my terms.) But it is still possible to see what an author is offering in quality and what a house is doing in terms of finding and editing talented authors.
How to find quality writers and their stories?
1. FREE is the new price point to find new authors, even those who are print/traditionally pubbed.
I must get 3-5 emails per day and ever so many Tweets announcing these offers.
I do take advantage of some, not all, of these. Some do not interest me, along the lines of: So little time, so many authors, etc etc.
But for those that do intrigue me, I bite. It is easy to download and very quick to ascertain if this author has what I want for my limited time of enjoyment each day.
Confession? I have downloaded quite a few books that I have deleted within 5-20% of the book.
I can tell ( and so can you) if an author understands POV, bad grammar, poor dialogue, info dumping and lack of research.
I can also tell a lot about the publishing house, too. If I find a house has poor formatting (which drives me up a wall), or no copyeditor. Worse, many houses will sign on authors who are frankly very new. Especially in erotica houses, I find most of their books offer up just a lot of Happy Humps. Great, if that is what you want in your reading. But I could go to a BDSM club or rent a few porno flicks and get a similar high. All in how you want your entertainment delivered I guess. But for this Reader, I want quality with my romance and erotica.
2. Sales at 99 cents and more are the new new upscale pricing points that denote other authors worth trying.
I will certainly spend 99 cents to try an author who is new to me.
Stats show this is true of millions of others.
What we are now seeing in sales analyses across many vendors is that anything up to $2.99 really sells a book, an author and has significant impact on his/her backlist. Any price point above $5.99 is not useful. Publishers have learned this and offer, often for limited times, their books at lower rates. Many offer the first in a series at a lower rate.
3. Trading books too is a great way to find new authors. The profusion of tablets/devices and lending programs means that I can discover new authors whom my friends and family like.
Heretofore, this was possible only if I bought the book and gave it away after finishing or told others to borrow it at the library.  Both either involved time or money.  Now, with the challenges to the library systems in the USA, this too becomes problematic.
Recently, a good friend of mine and I hooked up our iPads to each other's and gave each other more books than my eyeballs will ever read in this lifetime. But let me just say, her recommendations (and some of them were negative ones) were intriguing. Yes, I was intrigued by her negative reviews of some she gave me and those books (I use the term very loosely) along with the blogger's statement with which I began this post inspired me to write this ditty.
4. Reviewers really do not tell me about the quality of the writing and we know some of the old truths such as "everyone's a critic" and "what's good for the goose, is not..." often good for the next goose.
In fact, I find only a few reviewers whose assessments I trust. And I do mean people not sites.
So what is your take?
Do you demand good writing with your fiction?
Or will you take something other and call it worthwhile entertainment?
This inquiring mind wants to know!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Winners chosen and prizes sent...

I want to thank everyone who entered...

In a day to two I will begin the pre-release contest for Come, My Love, to be released August 29, 2012.  My "Quickie"! LOL!

On a sour note, today was also the grand release day for another pirate site offering all of my books (including this one).  I just have to shake my head. The lady who is giving all of my books away is a professional dog trainer. I hope she gets bitten on the butt by one of her students. LOL! I sicced our pirate chasers on her.

Still waiting for a verdict from my editor on the sequel to Hallie's Cats.  They say "no news is good news" but I have found that it is often a prelude to another reject.  Sigh.  Maybe I should just give up on getting Cal his own gal?

I have been buying all the new books that all of my pals have out recently...and I am actually trying to read them instead of simply storing them on my flashdrive. :)  I have three books that I have been working my way through this week...more next week.

Have a wonderful week, my dears...

Fran Lee

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strix Excerpt.

This summer is going too fast! It's been another busy week and I'm nearly finished with my half of the first draft of "Claimed By Dragons".  Amber and our editor have both been very patient with me while this book grew and grew. Thank you ladies it will be done this week.

Today I want to share a excerpt from "The Strix" book one in "The Bag Of Tricks" book series.

In this scene Arcona has inadvertently returned to the same occult shop she was in earlier in the day. Dame Bishop is a witch in authority who enlightens her about exactly what a Strix is.

(Dame Bishop) “Are you familiar with the legend of the Strix?”

“No.” Arcona shook her head, noting that the amulet was warming almost too quickly in her cool palm.

“You won’t find this myth in many books; few know or speak of the Strix. The Strix was a compilation of all ancient Rome’s guilty fears about the so-called barbarians they enslaved, punished, and brought under their own roofs as domestics, lovers, and lethal entertainment. The Strix combined fearful barbarian lore and Roman superstitions in a single horrific creature that traveled the night as a grotesque bird of prey, sucking the blood from innocent people and turning them against Rome.

“The Strix might start life as a worshipper of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and necromancy. She could be born Roman or Celtic and work as a healer, witch, or midwife, but somewhere along the way, hatred and the need for revenge against the oppressor corrupted the witch’s capacity for doing good. Rage and destruction took the place of healing acts. Stray witches made bargains with dark forces in exchange for the power to grant invincibility in battle to others, who in turn would walk the earth in violent wrath.”

Arcona grimaced. “The Strix sounds absolutely repulsive.”

“She isn’t, and by the way the Strix is always a she. The essence of Venus imbued the Strix with the power to seduce and sexually torment any young man she approached. She sought out strong, battle-worthy men. Her victims were powerless to refuse. At the climax of the sexual act, she’d drink their blood and send them into a violent rage. During these unnatural couplings, rarely but sometimes a male, Upir Likhyi, was created.”

Arcona was almost afraid to ask. “What’s an Upir Likhyi?” She struggled to pronounce the unwieldy words.

“It’s an old pagan Baltic term for wicked or foul vampire. It is a revenant, or undead soul, that seeks the thrill of blood sport and warfare. In ancient times many were recruited to secretly serve Mars.”

A shiver trembled up her spine. “We certainly don’t need any more of those violent, bloodsucking sorts hanging around, that’s for sure.” She laughed with nervous self-consciousness until she noticed Dame Bishop’s serious face. It was apparent she did not share the dismissive attitude.

Arcona struggled to compose herself. “I don’t mean to sound so disrespectful, because I love mythology too. It’s had a huge influence over human history, but myths are just a way to explain human desires and behavior. I’m a bit puzzled that you’re talking about the Strix as if it’s a real entity.”

Dame Bishop blanched. “It is a real entity. Make no mistake; every myth carries a grain of truth within. There are realms loosely tethered to this one far stranger than anything you can imagine. To say these realms are less real than ours is to profess the Earth is flat. It is a statement only the ignorant can speak freely.”

“I’m sorry.” Damn, she really put her foot in it. Arcona gently lowered the amulet back into its box. “Thank you for sharing this with me. It’s fascinating.”

She gazed at the skeletal bronze birds and strange craftsmanship one last time. “How exactly did you come across this? A rare artifact of this age seems like it should be safely stashed in a museum.”

“I agree.” Dame Bishop’s expression brightened. “Some associates of mine at the Universita di Roma know my interest in such things and were kind enough to allow me to examine the amulet.”

“I’m familiar with the University of Rome! My ex-husband once taught there. Who are your contacts; perhaps I know them?”

“I highly doubt it.” Dame Bishop’s mouth drew tense. “My colleagues are very private people.” Her gaze dropped toward the amulet. “Tomorrow it’s headed to the Smithsonian in an armored car. I just wanted to share it with one last soul before it continued on its journey to lie locked away in some sterile vault until the curators can figure out what to do with it.”

A heightened gleam shone in Dame Bishop’s eyes as she lifted the amulet from the box and held it toward Arcona. “Why don’t you try it on? Just to see what it feels like.” A sly smile crossed her lips. “This is a bit of living history. You may never get an opportunity like this again.”

Something about the amber riveted Arcona’s attention. The center of the amulet was translucent and glowed like a fiery ember. Against her better judgment about carelessly handling antiquities and possibly ill-gotten property, she reached for the leather thong and looped it around her neck.

The amulet hung heavy and prominent atop her breasts. Arcona glanced downward. This was a big, bold piece of ornamentation obviously meant to immediately identify its wearer as a witch who had wandered over to the dark side.

A loud knock pounded on the front door of the shop.

Arcona started.

“Excuse me.” Dame Bishop pulled the curtain to the back room aside. “Let me see who’s at the door.”

Arcona was left alone in the back room to gaze down at the amulet and decided that in spite of the somewhat disturbing bronze motifs it was actually very beautiful and must have made a strong impression in its day.

The warm, subtle scent of amber resin reached her nose. She sniffed again in disbelief, knowing there was no way this ancient piece of fossilized amber could possibly be emitting a scent.

She inhaled the mystery fragrance, and sure enough, the rich scent of earthy amber was filling the air. She glanced around curious to know if there was anything near that could possibly be the source of the aroma and saw nothing she could hold to account.

She glanced toward the curtain. What was Dame Bishop up to? She didn’t hear anything going on in the front of the shop. All was silent.

She turned to leave the back room, and her knees buckled. A moment of extreme dizziness knocked her off balance and sent her flailing toward the dusty countertop in a scrambling attempt to keep from falling to the floor.

She blinked in shock as she doubled over the countertop. God, it was getting warm in here. Her skin felt burning hot. She gasped and tugged her coat away from her body, but it didn’t help.

A terrifying sensation of thousands of vicious needle jabs prickled the tender soles of her feet and spread upward. She struggled to kick her tall leather boots free of her feet but couldn’t. The burning sensations licked higher up her legs. She gulped air, fighting rising panic. Her skin felt crispy as if it were being cooked. The pain escalated until it was unendurable. “Help!”

The curtain of the back room was thrown open, and Dame Bishop appeared. “What’s wrong, dear?”

Arcona pulled herself upright. Suddenly nothing was wrong, except the sleeves of her trench coat were covered in dust up to the elbows from writhing against the countertop. The horrid burning sensation left as swiftly as it had arrived. “Dear God, that was weird. For a moment it felt like I was on fire.”

“Really?” Dame Bishop didn’t look the least bit surprised.

“Really. I think this amulet is cursed. Wearing it feels awful.”

“Cursed?” Dame Bishop balked. “I thought you were a skeptic?”

“I’m still a skeptic, but I’m telling you there is something unwholesome about this piece of jewelry. Perhaps it should be kept in a sterile museum vault.”

“Hold on a minute. Don’t be so quick to judge.” Dame Bishop wagged an admonishing finger in the air. “You were the one who was burning. Maybe we should concentrate on that.”

“Are you implying that what just happened to me was my fault? I put the amulet on and immediately felt like I was on fire. That never happens to me. Does that sort of thing happen to you? It’s kind of weird. I think I’m entitled to blame the amulet.” She half listened to herself, cringing at the childish tone of her argument.

Arcona took told of the leather thong and tried to yank the amulet over her head, but it tangled in her long auburn hair. She grasped the bronze setting and tried to untangle the thong. The setting hooked onto her sweater and clung like a bur. “Look at this thing!” She tugged at the amulet in exasperation. “It’s like an octopus grapping me.”

“Leave it alone,” Dame Bishop said tersely. “Don’t provoke it.”

“What?” Arcona frowned. “I want it off.”

“It’s not coming off, at least not until it’s ready.”

“No way.” Arcona grabbed the thong and gave it a sharp upward yank. A hellish burning sensation reminiscent of having cooked skin peeled from her bones racked her. “Oh my God!” she wailed.

She let go of the amulet, and the pain stopped in an instant.

Dame Bishop’s brow creased with serious concern.

“You didn’t know this would happen, did you?” Arcona fought a rising sense of panic. “Please take it off me. I don’t want it near me, and I’m afraid to touch it.”

“I wouldn’t dare.” Dame Bishop took a cautious step backward. “I can’t take it off you. You’re the only one who can free yourself.”

“There must be something we can do? It hurts too much if I try to remove it, and I can’t walk around wearing something the Smithsonian is waiting to receive. I’m supposed to be at the airport bright and early tomorrow morning! What can I do?”

“You’re not leaving Salem with the amulet. That is unacceptable and cannot happen.”

Arcona huffed. “I don’t want your amulet. I’d love to take it off and hand it back to you; please just tell me how to do it.”

“It’s not my amulet. I’m just a caretaker.” Dame Bishop’s gaze was piercing as she spoke calmly. “You’re the only one who knows how to break the curse. I’m not the Strix--you are.”

“Whoa, wait a minute, this is nonsense. Is this a Halloween joke?” Arcona glanced around. “Is this being filmed? Are you having fun jerking a tourist around? Because I’m not enjoying it. Whatever you’ve rigged up to this amulet is causing real pain. If this is a prank, it’s getting abusive.”

Dame Bishop gently shook her head. “I’m not doing anything to exploit or harm you; I swear it. It hurts because you’re in the process of remembering your most regretful deeds. Take note that you came to me. I saw you were in need, but I let you go, and you quickly returned to the shop of your own volition.”

“I was lost.”

“Yes, you were, but a clear path has opened to you, and I heartily encourage you to use this brief opportunity on the eve of All Souls’ Day to walk the path and set your wrong deeds right.”

Arcona’s temper and deepest fears flared. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is it exactly that you think I’ve done? I know I’m not perfect, but honestly my misdeeds in this life have been petty. I have no idea how you would know any of this, but if you’re talking about the potato I shoved in Principal Ross’s tailpipe in middle school, I apologized profusely for that. I had no idea a potato could do that kind of damage to a car, a plank fence, or a plate-glass window.”

Dame Bishop closed her eyes and clasped her hands in front of her face, almost as if she were absorbed in prayer. “I’m not talking about projectile potatoes, and I’m not referring to this life. I’m talking about the deeds of the past that have come full circle.”

A sickening and sad feeling gripped her. “I just want to leave. Please tell me how to safely get this amulet back in the box so I can go back to my hotel,” she pleaded.

“I can’t tell you how to free yourself from the amulet because I don’t know the secrets of the Strix.”

Hearing Dame Bishop pronounce her a Strix caused a wave of melancholy to wash over her. At that moment Arcona wanted to go home so badly, though her little bungalow near the beach was practically empty and there was nothing waiting for her there, not even a pet. “How do I know if any of this is true? I’m not sure I believe in reincarnation, let alone any of the rest of this wild tale.”

“Everything in the universe recycles itself. You can see it with your own eyes. A human being is a single soul with many facets that returns to life again and again to polish itself. Would you like a chance to look back at one of those facets?”

“Can you do that?” Arcona’s mood lifted. “Will it help?”

Dame Bishop motioned for Arcona to follow her into the front of the shop. “It might help to know what you’re dealing with.”

They returned to the cozy, firelit shop. Dame Bishop walked toward the front window and tugged the velvet curtain aside. A blaring red sunset glowed in the west. “It’s already nightfall.” She bent forward and retrieved a Romanesque bronze dagger from the front window display and turned with the polished blade clutched in her hand.

Arcona gazed warily at the elegant but dangerous-looking blade pointed at her. “What are you going to do with that?”

“We are going to do some scrying, my dear.” Dame Bishop closed the curtains and invited Arcona to sit at a small table.

The Strix is available now:
Loose Id LLC
All Romance eBooks


I've Got Nothing

and I feel terrible. I've been busy writing proposals and planning a birthday party for the little one. I wrote and subbed on and started working on a three book proposal.

Next week it's back to actual writing. There's another book in the Bag of Tricks series to get done!!!!

See ya next week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

ALL tied up! Corsets for you?

French, late 17th century

Two weeks ago, my buddy and Sassy 7 gal, Nicole Austin, sent me an invitation to join Pinterest. I accepted, saying to self, another way to promote, and asking self, How Much Time will this one cost me?
But I am here to wave and shout and declare I am a convert!
Why? Cuz wow, I love being able to declare my interests by clicking.
Sounds weird, but I like it! And to my delight, I have folks who follow me!
1864-, American
1880, European. Silk.
Aside from astonishingly lovely pix of MEN (alleluia!) and couples in a clinch, I have a great time with finding vintage or museum quality attire that I crave to put into my historicals.
Looks painful!

Approx. 1775, French.
I have found items at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (one of my favorite museums especially for their medieval armor collection but also these) and at local museums which have been so kind as to post their priceless treasures.
Do join me on Pinterest, or as they say, FOLLOW ME! Here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Strix Has been Loosed!

Loose Id that is. Loose Id's website is back on-line--hooray!
The Strix is available now.


The Strix Will Be Here This Week!!!!!!

…After drawing a piece of amber from a witch's wish bag, Arcona awakens to a past life as a vengeful Celtic witch - a Strix, who used blood and sex magic to get her way. She turned the gladiator Tyr into a bloodthirsty Slayer. Now Tyr wants his revenge…

That’s how “The Strix” first took shape in my mind. Last year my dear friend and sister in publishing toil, Amber Skyze had a great idea. She mentioned two very intriguing ideas that grabbed and held my interest. She mentioned she had an ancestor who was accused of witchcraft (I it knew all along! lol) and she mentioned her yearly trips to Salem Massachusetts and how fun it would be to have her fortune told in a real witch’s shop…. Fun indeed.

We started talking about a collaborative book series that would include magic, romance and big-time, life-changing adventure. Amber came up with the idea of having four girlfriends in their early thirties get together for a weekend reunion in Salem, to celebrate the Halloween season. The ladies visit a highly unusual occult shop peopled with immortal beings and each pulls a wish stone from a magic bag. After each woman makes her wish—her life gets tipped upside down, shaken and then some.

To add to our peril we started this project November 1st as part of NANO national novel writing month. One month of work? Yeah right. The project grew and grew and before we knew it four very different adventure stories were shaping up into full-length 85k+ novels.

I have to back up a little, in October, I knew I was going to do a NANO experiment with Amber but I had no idea what I was going to write. I hadn’t yet thought of anything. Nothing interesting was coming through. Then one gorgeous day in late October, I was at a yoga class, standing in some semi-painful pose with my eyes closed and my deceased friend Arcona came through to me loud and clear.

I lost my beloved friend almost ten years ago and the real life Arcona was a beautiful, successful, philosophical person who was a mentor to me on many levels. She died far too young. One of the things I missed most about Arcona’s passing was the loss of our creative collaboration. She was a good group leader and knew how to get the best out of everyone.

On that October day in the yoga studio, Arcona’s spirit brushed passed me. I actually had the physical sensation she was near and started to cry a little. She was German and in her typical precise way, in a flash she downloaded a complete story into my head of a Teutonic witch who goes astray. It was an astonishing experience and I hurried home to make notes and tell Amber our paranormal book series had the go-ahead from the spirit realm.

The Strix was a pleasure to write and I seemly couldn’t write fast enough. Arcona seemed to help me the entire time continually pointing me toward important names and places. The story that unfolded was passionate and violent. Clearly it wasn’t for the faint of heart. I began to wonder which publisher I should show it to.

About a week into the work, I shared a 31-page partial with Amber, simply to see what she thought of my plot set-up. The sneaky girl, bless her for this, secretly showed the partial to someone right away and that publisher later bought off on it no subbing and no struggling. It was the easiest sell of my career to date.

The Strix and several other high adventure woman’s stories found a good home at Loose Id Publishing in the “Bag Of Tricks” Book Series.

The next book in the series is Amber Skyze creation “Claimed By Dragons” It’s Jael’s story, which is a sizzling hot ménage with two gorgeous male dragon-shifters on Mount Kilimanjaro. That book is due for release September 28th and we’ll have more to share about it soon.

Here’s the official Strix blurb:

A cursed amber amulet unearthed in Pompeii flings Arcona into a past life of witchcraft, bloodshed, revenge and sexual slavery to the cruel Master of a gladiatorial school. This violent parallel world is populated with “Slayers,” blood-drinking immortals devoted to the gods of war and mayhem.

As a Strix, or malignant witch, Arcona once used sex and blood rituals to create a race of immortal warriors to unleash on Rome. Now it’s time to pay.

The gladiator Tyr was one desperately lonely lover she betrayed. Against his will, she turned him into Upir Likhyi, a foul vampire. For two millennia he’s lived a grim existence as a Slayer, in constant sexual arousal yet denied release; now, he's pissed off and wants revenge. He kidnaps Arcona planning to drink her dry and break the curse. 

Along the way Arcona and Tyr relive their sexual slavery at the hands of Rome and blood sport in the arena, but the real magic is they forgive and fall in love. 

Too bad another Slayer wants them dead.

The Strix Book Trailer:

This year my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on Friday the 13th. As an anniversary gift he gave me this beautiful book trailer. 

It seems so fitting that The Strix is about a witch who goes wrong and has to redeem herself... Ummm. 

The haunting music is one of my other loves--Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. This piece of music is titled the "The Mark Has Been Made" it's from the Fragile album (1999 Halo 14) NIN was the internal soundtrack for this book. 

Thank you Honey for the book trailer. Thank you Trent for writing inspiring music.

If you haven’t given Loose Id Publishing a try, this is the time. Be brave and take the ride. Loose Id isn’t afraid to go to the edge and leap. Check out Loose Id. They are bold and I love my new publisher. Thank you Loose Id for giving me a chance.

At the time I wrote this blog, the Loose Id website was down for maintenance and I was unable to post the buy-link. Be assured the store will soon be back on-line with a fresher, sophisticated look.

Katalina Leon & Amber Skyze, “The Strix” book one of the, Bag Of Tricks Book Series. Coming soon  from Loose Id Publishing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012's Bastille Day...

July 14th is Bastille Day...
French Independence Day...

And I just learned that Never Tempt Fate will be released from Ellora's Cave on September 26, 2012!  I guess you could say that when I got my rights back on three of my earlier books from another publisher that I declared my own Independence Day.  

It's hard to find a publisher and fall in love with them, only to realize that there are drawbacks publishing with them...the main one being that they don't have the wide base of readers and exposure needed to sell your books for you.  They were a fairly new publisher, and were working hard to make the grade. I loved the people. It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, deciding to ask for my rights back on the three books they published with me.  I loved being with them...but these three books deserved a second chance at life after three years of pitifully sad sales.

I will always thank them for taking a chance on an unknown author who loved to write long books in spite of warnings that full-length e-books never sell well...and I will always think of them as friends.  At first I figured I would go the self publishing route and sell these books with minor revisions and great covers, but I felt that my first publisher, Ellora's Cave, might like them this time around, since longer novels are becoming more fashionable.

So all three of these earlier books have found a new home, and will be published by end of year.

So, if you are French pastry...or even like to French-kiss...have a marvelous Independence Day!  And please don't forget to drop over to my website to drop your entry in my My Sexy Sensei pre-release giveaway before July 27th.  If you happen to be my fan over on Facebook, you are eligible for a second giveaway. So be sure to get your entries in before release day.  Um...The FB prizes are fabulous.

Hugs to all!

Fran Lee

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Knock On Wood

The other day my work buddies, my daughter and I enjoyed a delightful lunch at our favorite Asian restaurant. As is our way, at the end of the meal, fortune cookies were opened and read from right to left around the table. Two were quite profound, one was incredibly stupid, and one made no sense at all.

I was the last person to crack open a cookie. It was EMPTY!!!

 I don't consider myself to be an overly superstitious person. However, I do try to be mindful of spelling. For some reason, I just hit 'thesaurus' after spell-checking 'superstitious', and was surprised that the words irrational, gullible and illogical came up.

Irrational - my instant fear over the lack of a fortune in my cookie.
Gullible - my worrying about not getting a fortune in my cookie.
Illogical - my instant fear over the lack of a fortune in my cookie.

Have a great weekend - 
Don't step on any cracks in the sidewalk,
Don't walk under ladders,
Don't let black cats cross your path,
Toss some salt over your shoulder!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"The Strix" Is Coming Soon To Loose Id!

Amber and I got our new book cover for "The Strix" last week and we were jumping for joy! I love the gorgeous cover that artist Valerie Tibbs designed for us. The eyelashes on this man really get to me.

I also have a beautiful slightly spooky book trailer coming soon that I hope to have posted in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile the countdown continues. The Strix will be released next Tuesday July 17th
from Loose Id Publishing. We are really looking forward to sharing this book.

Blurb: The Strix

A cursed amber amulet unearthed in Pompeii flings Arcona into a past life of witchcraft, bloodshed, revenge and sexual slavery to the cruel Master of a gladiatorial school. This violent parallel world is populated with “Slayers,” blood-drinking immortals devoted to the gods of war and mayhem.

As a Strix, or malignant witch, Arcona once used sex and blood rituals to create a race of immortal warriors to unleash on Rome. Now it’s time to pay.

The gladiator Tyr was one desperately lonely lover she betrayed. Against his will, she turned him into Upir Likhyi, a foul vampire. For two millennia he’s lived a grim existence as a Slayer, in constant sexual arousal yet denied release; now, he's pissed off and wants revenge. He kidnaps Arcona planning to drink her dry and break the curse. 

Along the way Arcona and Tyr relive their sexual slavery at the hands of Rome and blood sport in the arena, but the real magic is they forgive and fall in love. 

Too bad another Slayer wants them dead.

In other news...

"Something  Wicked This Way Comes Volume 2", which includes one of my stories "Asterion" is available today in PRINT! from Ellora's Cave Publishing.

Have a wonderful week!