Friday, November 3, 2017

Indiscretions - 99cts sale!

It's an exciting time for me. Next week is the release day for Intentions (#6 in the series, coming Nov. 9th, 2017). This is the 20th title I've written under my name. Wow, time did fly!

To celebrate the occasion, #1 in the series, Indiscretions, is only 99cts (for a limited time). smarturl.it/CarpenterHarding1


By the way...all Carpenter/Harding books are in Kindle Unlimited as well. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wednesday Women: Em by Djuna Shellam



Today in the Wednesday Women: Djuna Shellam is here to introduce us to the leading lady of her series, Em. Welcome!

  


The Em Suite Series

“Em”


By Djuna Shellam
    
     My name is Djuna Shellam, and I am the author of The Em Suite Series. It is a fictional series with lesbians as its main characters. Thus far, the series includes:

      Book One—The Incredible Transformations of Alice Hollywood;
      Book Two—Mackenna on the Edge; and,
      Book Three—Prairie Fire.

     I’m currently working on Book Four—Dot in the Weeds. Looking into the future, I’ve loosely mapped out at least two more installments following the fourth book: Eve of Destruction, and another as yet unnamed, but who knows? When I began this adventure of writing a novel, (after the initial story went from short story, to screenplay), I figured I had one story to write. That one story quickly became two, and then I thought I’d max out at three. Now I’m up to six, so I’m thinking taking a “wait and see” approach is best.
     Because my series is titled The Em Suite, I thought I’d take this wonderful opportunity to focus on the star of the show, Em: Née Mary-Mackenna Martín, and known professionally as Mackenna Martín. After the second book, I realized I had a series going and it needed a name. Choosing just the right series title was a long process, but as I systematically dug through the pile of possibilities, I realized the entire series ultimately revolved around one character, and that was Em.
     Mary-Mackenna Martín was given the nickname “Em” (technically “M”) in the military partly because all of her initials were “M.” In the military, your last name is your name—it’s what mostly everyone calls you. Period. Unless… you’re given a nickname. In Em’s case, her peers and superiors never seemed to get her last name right, pronouncing it MarTIN instead of MarTEEN, so she became Em, or “M,” and she liked it. A nickname made her feel normal.
An only child, Em is the daughter of a wealthy Spaniard businessman and diplomat, and a Boston debutante of Irish wealth and aristocracy. Her parents were strict Catholics and old-fashioned. She grew up in a world in which she never felt comfortable, mostly because of issues she had with her parents. Until their passing, she didn’t feel loved by them, or that she was anything like them. She realized she was gay at the age of seven, and so did they, which, as she tells it, is when she first felt distance between them. In addition to her thinking they loved each other more, and blamed her for ruining her mother’s womb, she was certain they didn’t love her because she wasn’t like them—she was different in too many ways. .
The Em Suite Series weaves and winds around Em Martín’s loves, her family and friends; her trials and tribulations, her struggles and triumphs. She is a complex character, with an unusual history. Though she was born into wealth and nobility, she only longed to be “normal.” At every turn, Em rebelled against their lifestyle and religion—as a teenager she proclaimed herself an Atheist, and at eighteen, going against her parents’ plan for her to marry someone chosen for her for their money and status, she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, alienating them for most of the rest of their lives.
Not fully realizing how important it was to keep her newfound fondness for other girls to herself, at the age of seven, Em was humiliated and chastised—an event that shaded and severely limited her social life until she met Alice “Hollywood” Hollywell. Because Em led a sheltered life, and was deeply hurt as a child, when confronted with larger than life or unfamiliar issues, she didn’t know how to handle them, burying them deep down in her psyche; and, sometimes, she would even turn to alcohol. For most of her young life and into her Thirties, Em never cared to share her feelings with anyone, especially feelings that might leave her vulnerable, so she would stuff them down until they would bubble to the surface demanding attention.
Loyal to a fault, Em is passionate to the extreme, and highly intelligent. She could have gone to any university in the world, but she chose not to in lieu of pursuing writing, her passion. She began journaling as a teenager, then she was a newspaper reporter in the Air Force. Later, she became a script reader for a Hollywood studio, eventually writing and editing scripts. She was a published author, a playwright with plays produced on Broadway, and a script doctor. Before her parents died in a plane crash, Em was successful at her vocation, needing nothing from her parents or anyone else. Once they died, they left her everything, upending the life she had built for herself.
Em Martín has known wealth due to the circumstances of her birth, but she’s also known what it’s like not to have money, barely scraping by during her script reading days. For a few years after her parents’ demise, she continued to work, choosing to donate her proceeds to charity, but her life changed again, causing her to rethink her priorities. Now, I won’t go any further than that because I don’t want to give too much away about my work in progress.
There’s so much I want to tell you about Em because she is a deliciously subtle, yet complex character; but to do that, I’m afraid I would ruin much of the series for you. I will, however, tell you as much as I can without giving away too much of  the myriad series plots. Because I jump back in forth in time in order to tell The Em Suite women’s stories, in particular, Em’s, we can see how Em evolves as a character through her life, from a young child and into her forties (so far, anyway).
In Book One, The Incredible Transformations of Alice Hollywood (TITAH), Em is the shy, seemingly sheltered character, who plays second fiddle to the worldly and fickle Alice Hollywell. The story takes place in 1976 on an Air Force base in Texas, and at first glance, is primarily about Alice. As the story of first love progresses, through Alice’s own conflicts, she unwittingly shapes Em’s future, but it is Em who ultimately motivates Alice. We see as the series progresses that TITAH is a major, life-altering, turning point for Em.
In Book Two, Mackenna on the Edge (MOTE), occurs seventeen years after the conclusion of TITAH. Now living in Los Angeles as a successful writer, Em’s  parents have recently perished in a plane crash, leaving her their unfathomable wealth. What she wanted most—her parents to love her, she would now never achieve; and what she wanted least—their money, is what she got. A letter from her father has caused issues in her past—issues she was able to successfully stuff deep down in her psyche for nearly twenty years—to bubble up, threatening to consume her. As a result, Em is teetering on the edge of depression, and is afraid she will completely succumb to it if she doesn’t do something to stop the progression. She decides to write about her life from the beginning as she remembers it, hoping it will help her find a way out of the darkness. In the midst of her process, Eve, Alice’s older sister shows up on Em’s doorstep, revealing a  long-buried secret that changes Em’s life.
Prairie Fire (PF), Book Three of the series, introduces Em’s physical therapist, the red-headed, female Casanova, Prairie Fire Vaughn. Taking place in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and San Francisco, California; England, and Missoula, Montana, the story begins shortly after the conclusion of TITAH. Em has been in a terrible automobile accident, but blaming herself, she refuses to aid in her own rehabilitation, choosing instead to waste away. Desperate to save her, Colonel Dot Baverstock enlists “Wonder Woman” Prairie to help Em, who previous therapists have labeled a monster.
This particular installment time shifts between 1976-1978, and 1996, after MOTE, weaving the story of how Prairie and her roommates, as well as Eve, Fiona, Dot and her adult son, Waverly impact Em’s life.
My work in progress, Book Four–Dot in the Weeds, features Dot, Em, Eve, Prairie, Waverly and Liam. It takes place in 1997, mostly in Palm Springs, but also Los Angeles, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.
Em, Eve and Prairie rush to Palm Springs to Dot’s side at her son Waverly’s request when she suffers a terrible fall. They’ve been asked to help her with a serious, and rather mysterious situation while Waverly goes to serve with the California National Air Guard. This story features Dot, (a fan favorite), taking us back in time to Ivey, the love of her life; how they met and loved, and Dot’s struggle with grief after losing Ivey. It also explores a recent, shocking, development in Em’s life that has completely changed her world, and how Dot helps her navigate the waters. I’m very excited about this book and can’t wait to finish it.
Well, that’s a bit about Em Martín and The Em Suite Series. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a little bit of Em and my work with you. I particularly love her, but I also adore my other characters and their stories so much. When I first began the writing process, I was living in England and decided to write a short story about a personal experience I’d had that encompassed all of but a few months in time. That story, over the course of decades, ultimately morphed into Book One. As the years churned by, that short story ended up being but a framework for the series; which, by the way, no longer resembles the original short story except perhaps the general feel of it. The characters and circumstances changed, and as I wrote, characters I never imagined seemed to appear from nowhere and began to tell me their stories, weaving themselves into the lives of my other characters. I love most of them dearly (because, of course, there are some villains), flaw and all, and I hope you will, too.

Here are some links:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Carpenter/Harding: Intentions for pre-order

The title of the new Carpenter/Harding novel is Intentions. #6 in the series about Detective Jordan Carpenter and Officer Ellie Harding (starts with Indiscretions) will be released November 9th, and is now available for pre-order.
I love writing these characters, and am happy whenever I hear from readers who have followed their story from the beginning. Jordan and Ellie are pretty much at the center of my writing these days, art, business, and those characters in particular, also a bit of an indulgence.

Why?


First of all, I always wanted to have MY series, crime, suspense, lesbian main characters. For me, being able to continue to write those two, is a dream come true. Especially since I know that mainstream books/TV is not going to give me that, maybe not ever. There are still too many gatekeepers in place that keep things straight, so to speak.

I gravitate towards crime dramas that have at least one or two women in the main cast (you know the ones). We all know what happens to lesbian characters on TV, most of the time: If they don't get killed, we rarely see them, let alone the girlfriend. I indulged myself sitting down and writing exactly what I would like to see, two women in a relationship trying to navigate their lives together in this particular setting and genre. I think you can tell who some of my favorite books are as well, mainstream and lesbian (though I strongly dislike the separation - I think there should be room for lesbian fiction at the mainstream table, but change is too slow).

Then there's the business side of all this - I write in various genres. I've been around long enough to see the patterns, and clearly, romance is the better seller. That is simply a fact, no matter how you're published, or who your characters are. Every once in a while, yes, I have written romance, and I will continue to do so. Urban fantasy, dystopian, political fiction even. There is always some kind of suspense in them, because that's where I come from as a reader. I dream of a world in which Lindsay, Lisbeth, Jane and Micky form a secret society to combat patriarchy...Well, they belong to other authors, so dream is all I do where they are concerned.

In my own world, Jordan and Ellie put away the bad guys, and I have many more cases planned for them.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Women: Amy Sadler and Lira Ward by Michelle Arnold

This week, Michelle Arnold visits, and she brings Detective Amy Sadler and Dr. Lira Ward from Out of the Shadows with her. Welcome, have a seat!







Detective Amy Sadler is a homicide detective in the fictional Midwestern city of Brookwood. This is Amy’s hometown, and she knows it well, but her life hasn’t always been predictable. She grew up as the middle child in an interracial family. Her father was a firefighter who was killed while rescuing a family when Amy was a kid. Although he is hailed as a local hero, he wasn’t always the best husband and father, so Amy has felt a lifelong drive to be a better person than him and to make her mother proud. This pushes her to take on sometimes dangerous assignments at work if she believes it will save others, and it also makes her hesitant to admit she’s gay, for fear of disappointing her family.
Amy’s detective career began not in the Homicide division, but in the Sex Crimes division. There she had a reputation for working well with victims while being ruthless with offenders. On one occasion she went undercover to lure in a serial rapist, but when her then-partner got distracted on the job, she ended up beaten and nearly raped. Her partner wasn’t fired as he should have been, so she transferred to Homicide in order to get a fresh start with a new, more reliable partner. She excels in this division as well and is happy to be putting killers behind bars. Amy is fiercely loyal, tomboyish (though with a feminine side that peeks out at times), and very protective over the ones she loves…especially Lira.
Dr. Lira Ward is a forensic pathologist working in the county morgue. She’s beautiful, highly intelligent, and a bit nerdy. She has a gentle, patient demeanor, but can be a bit awkward and slow to make friends. This is partly due to her own childhood. Her mother is a well-known author who constantly moved herself, and her child, around the country and sometimes overseas. Lira never got much chance to make friends growing up, and she still doesn’t know who her father is. Her mother refuses to tell her and has hinted that Lira is better off not knowing. Moving to Brookwood for work and buying her own house is Lira’s way of trying to make a stable, independent life for herself, but her mother doesn’t approve of Lira’s line of work and they’ve become a bit estranged as a result. When Amy – undaunted by Lira’s awkwardness and mysterious past – makes friends with her, it gives Lira a chance to put down roots in the community. In many ways, she is Amy’s opposite, but the two balance each other out nicely. Lira admires Amy’s boldness and appreciates her protectiveness, while Amy is amazed by Lira’s ability to maintain her sweet innocence in the face of everything they see and comes to view her as a refuge from the storm.
At the start of the book, the two have been friends for a few years and secretly in love with each other for much of that time, but neither believes the other loves her back. Part of this is because they have never been open about their sexuality with each other; Amy hasn’t even admitted to herself that she’s gay, and Lira just happens to have never mentioned her bisexuality to Amy. One night, something drives them to admit their feelings, and their relationship grows and develops over the course of the book, contrasted against the horrifying case they are working on. When the case becomes unexpectedly personal, it threatens to tear their relationship apart. Will they be strong enough to get through it? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Here is an excerpt:
“So Jennifer O’Malley’s parents aren’t aware of anyone who might have been stalking her or might have wanted to hurt her,” Amy told Lira as she drove away from their favorite Chinese restaurant. “And if he’s abducting women he doesn’t know just because they fit the physical type he finds attractive, he may be on his way to becoming a serial killer. In other words, this case is all kinds of bad. It really doesn’t get any worse than this.”
She stopped at a red light and looked over at Lira, who was being uncharacteristically quiet. She saw that Lira had opened the glove compartment and was taking things out.
“What’re you doing?” Amy asked her.
“I’m organizing your glove compartment.”
Not a good sign. Compulsive organizing meant Lira was upset about something.
“Yes, I see that. Can I ask why?”
“It’s a mess.” Lira examined a little-used tube of lipstick. "Amy, I'm just going to throw this out. It expired three years ago. Where's your trash bag?"
"I don't have one."
"Then what do you do with your car trash?"
"As you can see, I stuff it in my glove compartment."
"I'm going to get you a car trash bag. This is very unhealthy."
"You do that, Lira," Amy said in resignation as she parked her car in front of her building.

Out of the Shadows is available in paperback and Kindle form, and is free to read on Kindle Unlimited. This is the first book in the series, and the second, Beloved Wife, will be out in time for the Christmas shopping season!
Links:
Facebook: facebook.com/MichelleArnoldbooks
Twitter: twitter.com/berry2120

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Depicting the end of patriarchy - one book at a time.

I published RISE about a year ago, The Exodus Strategy just last month, but they weren't written in that order. The premise is a similar one - what would a society look like without inequality and bigotry, and how can we get there? Could anyone help speed up the progress? Both stories deal with real life issues. The assumption in the Exodus Strategy is that humans could be able to get it right eventually, which makes it more of a utopia.
RISE plays with the idea that we need a little more help from a different kind of friends, with powers that go far beyond the human. It also suggests that female shifters, vampires, angels and such would side with human women, to end patriarchy once and for all. Not paranormal creatures against humans. Not men against women--just decency against bigotry, and this time, the former has to win. RISE is an urban fantasy I wrote when I wasn't so sure most humans are even motivated to advance society that far. After all, the knowledge of the cost of inequality has been out there for a long time.
Due to some logistic issues, The Exodus Strategy couldn't be released until recently, but it's more timely than ever.
  
smarturl.it/TheExodusStrategy


One of the books that has haunted me the most, and continues to do so thanks to a brilliant TV show, is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's infuriating and terrifying, and if you look at global politics and trends, it's not at all that unrealistic. According to a UN report in 2015, no country in the world has achieved 100% equality. Not one. With all the information that is available, it's quite shameful that we're still lagging behind.

So I took my fear and my anger, and wrote this book about a group of friends, one lesbian couple, and a straight one, who decide, enough. They intend to start over, with friends, families and employees, and start a better society from scratch, choice, marriage equality, no tolerance for bigotry. Exodus becomes a physical place as well as a philosophy, a way of life. Implementing those changes proves to be more challenging than they could have ever imagined, and they work against a fierce opposition.

smarturl.it/RiseBW


RISE, on the other hand...this was an experiment, one I'm happy I started. I had never been such a huge fan of urban fantasy and characters that weren't all human. For the longest time I thought problems had to be solved in the contemporary, by humans. At some point I got so frustrated looking at history, and politics, and the regular in-fighting of people who are generally on the right side of both, that I wanted a time-out. You can argue about how much of a time-out this actually was, with subjects of misogyny addressed as well, but...It's different. I realized what the pull of fantasy is. Humans have to compromise all the time to get ahead, wait, make detours. This was more like a superhero movie, where the characters come equipped with special characteristics like wings and fangs. Yes, human laws are important, accountability is important, but what if humans are simply too slow?

Both of those stories matter to me a great deal, and I think they both fit into my general concept of women loving women taking the lead. Kerry and Vivien in The Exodus Strategy, and Madina and Daphne in RISE. All my characters do what they can, but I enjoyed to imagine, just for a moment, what would happen if the good had resources at their disposal that go far beyond the usual.
Like a billion-dollar company. Like superhuman strength. And patriarchy would be gone for good, someday sooner than we can currently hope for.

If we can imagine it, it can become true.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Women: Cam and Michelle by Claire Highton-Stevenson



Another Wednesday is here - meet Cam and Michelle, the leading ladies of Claire Highton-Stevenson's novel Out:



I used to have a job driving around the UK in my van delivering blood to hospitals, and I'd spend a lot of time in traffic jams or waiting around. In those moments my mind would wander, and what started off as thoughts about what I would do in certain situations slowly developed into characters that, over time, came to fruition in Camryn and Michelle.

Cam Thomas is a down-to-earth, easy-going Brit from South London. She's tall, blonde, and with her ice blue eyes she certainly makes heads turn, but it isn't until her life is turned upside down that she really finds herself. She is pretty resilient and though she might wallow for a few days, she isn't the kind of woman that just falls apart.

When her life restarts in LA, she finds herself surrounded by people and opportunities that give her a new perspective on who she is, but she has one rule: not to fall in love again.
Her situation has left her guarded and a little afraid, yet she is the most loyal and loving woman anyone would want to meet. Of course, nobody is perfect, and Cam certainly has her issues when it comes to love and relationships. She also has a big thing about taking her clothes off when she's angry! Haha, you'll have to read the book to find out why!

A lot of people assume the title of the book means it’s a coming out story; it's not. Out is the name of the bar Cam owns. It's where she meets Michelle.

Michelle Hamilton is beautiful: raven-haired with deep chocolate-brown eyes. She's confident, driven, and sexy. Known to the world as Shelly Hamlin, she ventures into the bar one night in disguise with the intention of just looking. She has spent her entire life pretending she's straight and not acting on her feelings in order to further her career as an actress, but recently something has been niggling at her that there is more to life. So, she has her own fears and limitations to deal with too.

When she meets Camryn there are sparks between them that neither can deny, and the internal battles that each of them faces produce a scenario that could end it all before it even begins.

Of course, no lesbian romance story is an easy path to happiness, right? But, I do love a happy ending! And the sequel is out in November! 




Website
www.itsclastevofficial.co.uk
Amazon
https://www.amazon.co.uk/OUT-Camryn-Thomas-Claire-Highton-Stevenson-ebook/dp/B074CQ9554/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507541261&sr=1-2&refinements=p_27%3AClaire+Highton-Stevenson
Twitter
https://twitter.com/ClaStevOfficial
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ItsClaStevWriter/

Friday, October 13, 2017

Redis-Cover Open Spaces

Open Spaces came out at the end of June as planned, but at the same time, some other, big, unexpected things happened. I went for my citizenship test at the beginning of June (we had thought it might happen next year). Since we had already booked a trip to visit family in Germany, I needed to get my new passport ASAP, and then there was some more paperwork and travel preparations. The actual trip.

 I feel like I haven't given Lauren and Summer the space they deserve, so...I'm going to change that.

Open Spaces got a new cover.

smarturl.it/OpenSpacesBW



Something someone said in a conversation some months ago, stuck with me. Readers should be able to derive from the cover what the story is all about, and while cover #1 was done with that in mind, I realized the focus could be more accurate. So here they are.

I love to play with themes that some people say are overdone - in my opinion, there's no such thing, and it all depends on how you tell the story. Lauren and Summer start off with a one-night-stand, and for a short time, everything is easy before it gets complicated. Is it even possible to have a relationship out of a quick unexpected encounter? What if two people who are madly attracted to each other, find out they lead very different lives in the light of day? The two of them will venture into these open spaces, but there are no guarantees for anyone.

If you want more stories where women loving women always take the lead, check out
www.amazon.com/author/barbarawinkes

Thanks for stopping by!