Writing Under a Pen Name

Not everyone knows I have a nom de plume, which I do. I started writing under Leila Bryce Sin almost as soon as I started publishing under this name.

My first series was a YA series but I found that I had a little bit of talent at writing racier content and came up with this idea of a race I called Bright Elves. Bright Elves were kind of a take on a succubus who didn’t kill. They raised magic and power through lust and love and all that good stuff.

But, since I was starting out as making my name as a YA author, I was a little worried about the wrong audience picking up something they weren’t expecting from me.

So I decided to publish under Leila Bryce Sin. One of the cool things about writing paranormal erotica was that I didn’t have put out full-length novels every time–a lot of readers of that genre like novellas and short stories. I liked it too because it helped me hone some writing skills. When writing fantasy and world building I tended to get lost in descriptions and narrative, but if your word goal is less than fifty thousand words, you tend to focus on character and plot.

But then I had an idea for a novel. A story set in Las Vegas, one of my favorite places, following an actual succubus who was hiding from the other demons of Hell and working as a bartender at an Irish pub. Billie the Bartender.

I love Billie and her story was pretty well formed in my head when I first set out to write her book. I didn’t realize it was going to be a full-length novel, let alone the trilogy it turned into, but some characters demand more stage time than others.

I got the first novel, Hellfire, and the second novel, Holyfire, written in good time while trying to balance writing under my real name. But the novels I was working on as Shauna Granger definitely took precedence and I realized, as I was starting to hit a creative wall thanks to a massive word count I was building, I didn’t have anything left in the tank to figure out the third and final book.

I’d ended book two with a cliffhanger and the start of a war, I couldn’t not write the ending. But I also couldn’t write it. While I’d given myself a creative outlet for a different audience and type of story, I’d also pushed myself to the limit and couldn’t find it in myself to keep going.

So there was a very long break between publishing Holyfire in April of 2016 and even starting the outline of the final book this past autumn. Honestly, if it wasn’t for NaNo last year, I don’t know if I would have finished writing the book, let alone be ready for it to be live tomorrow. #shamlesspromo

But I did.

So what I can tell you about writing with a pen name is that it gives you a lot of freedom. You can delve into new genres or age categories that you don’t normal wade into. You can try new techniques and voices that don’t lend themselves to your normal milieu. And if those genres are a bit racy and you don’t want friends and family to know it’s your work, they don’t ever have to know! But you need to be careful. As with any creative job, it takes something from you, so if you’re not careful, if you don’t find a balance, you can wear yourself out and burn out before you’re ready.

Pre-Order Announcement!

A little while back I shared the cover reveal of my upcoming young adult novel, Blackbird. Well, I’m very happy to announce the publication day and the pre-order links (if you’re so inclined)!

Blackbird

What if YouTube warned of the end of the world? Would we even take it seriously? Or just assume it was some lame, internet hoax?

Maggie has her first college finals to prepare for; she doesn’t have time for pranks and conspiracy theories. But a super flu has broken out on campus and her dorm mate keeps coughing, threatening to get her sick before she can get through the tests and get home for Christmas.

More and more people are coming down with the super flu and the vaccines aren’t working for everyone and when one of her professors is dragged out of the classroom by cops and doctors, Maggie realizes she’s waited too long to leave campus.

Finals are the last thing she should be worrying about—she needs to get home, but can she make it in time?

Coming June 1, 2018!

Pre-order from your favorite retailer now:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks

Add it on Goodreads now! 

Whose Turn Is It?

I have been trapped in my office for the last week, finishing the line and content edits of my twentieth novel. Yup, 20th. I’ve been so consumed with it that I’ve lost track of days and hours and, for a minute, I was ready to email the Scribes to see who had dropped the ball on posting this week.

Well. Guess what?

It’s me.

Yup. This week is my turn to post and this is what happens when you use up all your words in the final stages of a book. You have no more space in your head for other things. It even took me fifteen minutes to write a four line email to my editor because I had to keep correcting it again and again. At the end I said, “I have no idea if any of this makes sense because I’m out of words.”

But, this morning, I finished the edits. It is done. The final draft is ready.

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All I have left to do is write the acknowledgements and format it so it’s all pretty and polished for ebooks and print editions and it’s done.

When I finished the first draft of Hexed and I realized it was my 20th completed novel I couldn’t help but do the math. Not counting some of the novellas I’ve written, just these 20 books, I’ve written somewhere in the ballpark of 1.75 million words in the last six years. If I include the novellas and short stories, I think I’m pushing 2 million.

That’s a lot of words, guys. I’m kinda tired, to be honest.

It’s strange too, because when I’m not writing, when I’m between books/projects, I feel guilty for not writing. I’m actually working on book 21 as we speak as a flash-fiction series for my Patreons right now. Seriously. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about! That’s a career’s worth of books in 6 years for Pete’s sake!

I think it has a lot to do with the shift we’ve seen in the publication market in the last 3-5 years. Readers don’t want to wait 12-18 months for sequels and writers really feel the pressure. I know I do. Of course, this is my full time job right now so I feel the pressure to write write write even more. But… I need a break.

I’ve said that before and allowed myself some time off, but not enough, honestly. I’ll give myself a couple of weeks and then I’m right back at it. But I think this time, I need some real, substantial time off. I’ll keep working with my Patreon posts because I need to, but my husband and I are taking our first real vacation in ten years exactly one month from today. So I’m going to take this month to try to decompress. I want to be rested for the vacation so I can enjoy it and not be exhausted. When we get back, it’ll be the start of October, and you guys know how much I love that time of year. I think I’ll be ready to write something new, something spooky, something fun.

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Cover and Title Reveal!

So, I am very nearly done with the eighth installment of my Urban Fantasy series: The Matilda Kavanagh Novels.

One of my most hated favorite things about books is figuring out the titles. Seriously though, they’re hard, but once you figure out the title, it’s awesome. Seven titles in, all being one word and a magical reference, I was stumped on this one. Until, suddenly, it hit me. I wasn’t sure until I did a mock up of the cover, and then seeing it? Yeah, I knew that was the title.

I’ve kept things pretty uniform with this series, creating a brand for it if you will, so once you get this far into a series you start to worry you’ve push it too far. Over done it and now it’s all starting to blur together like the same cover again and again. Some people may see it that way, but I think I’ve managed to keep them individual enough and I still dig em.

Anyway. I hope you guys like it, and if you’re a Matilda Kavanagh reader, the release date will be 9/5/17–just two months away! If you’re looking for a new series to binge, might I suggest this one? *end shameless plug*

Hexed

Pre-order links:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Shameless Self-Promotion/New Release

If you’ve been following me on other outlets then you know I’ve been working on the very first companion novel to my Ash & Ruin Trilogy. I’ve turned it into a full-fledged book with a full cast of characters, some of whom will get their own spin-off books. And this one ended up earning a TBC ending even though I really intended for it to be a one off.

Books. Whadda gonna do, right?

Anyway, this baby drops in just under twenty days on 4/25/17 and you can pre-order your ebook copy now at all the outlets. If you’re a paper book person, never fear, this will be released in paperback as well!

So, are you ready to see it?

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended. Not because she’s gone through a break-up. Not because her parents are ruining her life with a lame curfew. Not because her grades are struggling. Not in the way a fifteen-year-old’s life usually ends.

At fifteen years old, Gwen has burned the dead bodies of both her parents and fortified her home against the plague-spreading monsters who killed them, waiting for her sister, Maggie, to make her way back home in the apocalyptic landscape that is the world now.

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended, but she’s not giving up. She’s not giving up on life, her home, or her sister. Because all you have left when the world ends is hope, so that’s what she’s got, a BB gun and hope.

Hopefully it’ll be enough.

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | ibooks

(It, along with all of my other books, are available on all of Amazon’s sites, but there are so many to list, so just do a quick search for it and you’ll find it!)

Late, but not too late

So, here it is, nearly 11:30 at night and I’ve just remembered it’s my turn to post. I’ve been in bed, unabashedly for a couple of hours already, reading.

Just one of those days where your partner asks, “Is 9 o’clock too early for bed?” and you think of the engrossing new book that’s already taken up much of your free time and reply, “No, not at all!”

But just as I was finally putting my book down for the night, telling myself I’d be disappointed if I finished it too fast, I realized I’d forgotten you, dear reader!

For shame!

But to be fair, I think I have a good excuse. A few even. All of which add up to my memory being much like a sieve these past few days.

One: I finally finished the first draft of a book I’ve been working on for five months. It was a brutal book to write and I know it needs a lot of work, but getting the bones done is what matters for now.

Two: I had a new release drop yesterday under my pen name. My pen name doesn’t get near as much attention as my real name releases, but I’m still proud of the work and I still stress over it just as much.

Three: I was/am taking much needed down time. Thanks to the first two things listed above, I’ve been stressed and tired and things have been neglected. You manage to keep things going, mostly clean and orderly, but nothing is quite how it should be. So I’ve cleaned and done a metric ton of laundry. I’ve given myself mani-pedi, watched TV and, most importantly: read for pleasure. I’m reading out of my preferred writing genres and it’s glorious. There’s a frustrating love triangle and twists and surprises. Just the tonic I need.

So, dear ones, remember, we all need the carrot as much as the stick. Take breaks when you need them, but when you hit goals, make accomplishments, reward yourself. Even if it’s just a book, or maybe a particular Funko Pop you’ve been wanting for a while.

You deserve it. I deserve it.

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My tiny Sirius for a big accomplishment!

Second Book Publication – Excitement and Fears

Camelot's Queen eBook Cover LargeThis is a slightly modified version the blog I posted on my own web site on Tuesday when the book came out. I’m reusing it because it’s really the best expression of my emotions about this book.

My second book is out in the world! What a strange feeling for someone who was only first published on January 1. Before we get into my musings, here are the buy links for the Camelot’s Queen print (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) and ebook. Audio will be available in May.

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Let me start by saying that Camelot’s Queen is the book I’m most proud of to date (and I’m including my two as-of-yet unreleased books in that statement). It is long, but I think it really shows what I can do as a writer and adds a lot to the collective Arthurian legend.

You would think I’d be less nervous than for the first one, but I’m actually more. I think it’s because I have no idea how people are going to take this book. I mean, I expected some push back on the first book because it’s a totally different Guinevere than people are used to, especially if they come at the books expecting the perfect, docile Guinevere of some stories. But since most authors haven’t explored her early life, I had some leeway.

I explained this in the author’s notes to Camelot’s Queen, but I wrote this book with no small amount of trepidation. This is the part of the story everyone knows and loves. Everyone has their own interpretation, vision, and expectations, so no matter what I do, I’m going to let someone down. I have made the choices I made for a reason, but I know they won’t sit well with everyone, especially given that Morgan’s role is different from what you would expect and I’ve given a completely different reason for Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot.

Not only that, this story delves into a few controversial and dark issues, including rape, physical and mental abuse, and PTSD. Guinevere’s kidnapping and rape is part of the canon of Arthurian legend. Just how badly she was abused (if at all) varies by the telling, but to leave this event out simply because it is distasteful would be disingenuous to both the tradition and to readers. I have done my best to treat these issues with respect and not use them simply as plot points but to show how they affected the characters’ lives and brought about change, as they do for victims in real life. However, I know some people will take me to task for it.

That being said, this isn’t a totally dark book. There are moments of happiness and scenes I truly cherish, especially with characters I invented. I look forward to all of you meeting Sobian, the pirate-turned-assassin-and-spy from Arthur’s past and Mayda and Elga, the Saxon sisters who will continue to cause trouble into book 3. I also can’t wait for you to get to some of my favorite scenes: there are three with Aggrivane that are close to my heart, I love the battles, and the Holy Grail was so much fun. I especially can’t wait for all of you to see the twists, especially the one with Morgan and Arthur and also the circumstances leading up to the end of the book.

I’m hoping and praying that readers who haven’t discovered the series yet start with the first book. You probably could read Camelot’s Queen on its own, but you will miss many of the relationships and motivations built up in the first book, which may lead to misunderstanding or frustration, and I want readers to have a pleasant reading experience. But that’s not up to me.

I’m going to take a deep breath now. My baby is in the world. She’s no longer mine; she belongs to the readers, too. I hope you all like her!

About Camelot’s Queen

History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.

Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but be prepared to suffer its downfall as well.