The Life and Tribulations of a Pantser

Hi. My name is Natalina Reis and I’m a pantser.

Most of the time this does not bother me in the least. I just ride the wave of creativity and see where it takes me. But there are moments when I wish I was more of a planner so I could avoid those instances of staring into the screen of my laptop wondering what the hell to write.

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I just started a new WIP. A while back I had written a flash fiction piece for my publisher and I immediately fell in love with the characters and knew I had to write their story. The problem is that beyond the fact that they would fall in love and have their HEA, I had nothing else. Okay, maybe I did have the sketchy beginnings of two hopefully awesome characters and their personalities, but that was it. Not unusual for me. My expertise in pantsing often repeats this pattern of starting from a big chunk of nothing and turn it into something.

I had to wait since I was still finishing my last WIP. Big mistake. A friend happened to suggest in passing that I ride the modest success I had with my last paranormal romance and write another. Cai and Sam’s story was lined up to be a contemporary m/m romance. However my freakishly hyperactive imagination immediately set those two into the background of a shifter romance.

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Fast forward to yesterday when I finally was able to start writing it. After a long stretch of time researching hawks, I was ready. Right! I sat, staring at the laptop for over an hour. My mind refused to make the jump from contemporary to paranormal, no matter how much I wanted it. After a while I gave up and went back to editing my other novel.

Later that day my brain lit up and the words came to me. I was ready to make the transition–kind of like my main character transitioning from human to hawk, I was able to begin the spin into paranormal. The words began to flow.

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This doesn’t mean that I won’t be staring at the laptop again tomorrow or the next day searching for words to push the story forward because in my mind, my story plans are still as clear as mud. I would describe my process as when you are walking or driving through a very thick fog–what’s in front of  you reveals itself one thing at a time and always when you are almost upon it. There’s a certain beauty to it, like unwrapping a unexpected gift. Like everything else in life there is a good and a bad side to being a pantser. When it’s bad, it is very bad. But when it’s good, it’s amazing.

What does your writing process look like? I’d love to hear about it.

Writing Samael- Behind The Character

 

Writing Samael- Behind The Character

(Lavender Fields villain)

Writing nice, likable characters with hearts of gold is easy for me. Writing villains, as it turns out, is not. Not because I can’t imagine a character vile enough to make a good villain but because I have a tendency—or so I’m told—to create cheesy villains. In the words of one of my editors (I should be mad at him but he made me laugh so I forgive him) at first, Samael came across as the cartoon villain in The Incredibles. I still don’t agree with this assessment of Samael, but I figured that if even one reader agreed with my editor, I’d be in big trouble. I decided to change it.

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Buddy Pine, aka Syndrome from the Incredibles

I needed Samael to be truly dark, inside and out, the epitome of evil. I wanted the readers to be afraid for my characters. And, if I’m totally honest, I wanted the readers to have some nightmares about this character and what he may do to Caleb and Sky. I dug into my previous experiences writing villains and rehashed the one I felt was the most insidious of all.

This character is from a novel I wrote a long time ago and which hasn’t as yet seen the light of day. It was never edited and rests on my pile of maybe-one-day-I’ll-revise manuscripts. This man—can’t even remember his name right now—was evil because he hated and harmed for no logical reason. He had no other motivation but hate itself. In the original manuscript, he hated the main character because of his race. Samael hated Sky because he was in many ways different from him. Ultimately though he just hated because it gave him pleasure, it justified his existence. Isn’t that the ultimate evil?

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Samael is the character that reflects many of Sky’s fears—his fear of being enlisted by the dark angels, losing his freedom, and ultimately his fear of losing the things and people he loves the most. Just like the boggart in Harry Potter, Samael is the incarnation of everything Sky abhors and fears.

Who wouldn’t be scared of evil that can sneak on you at any time and has the power of angelic magic on its side? Samael made my skin crawl while I was writing him, and yes, I had a few nightmares about him. I think I’ve achieved a truly scary villain but, in the end, the readers are the ones who will decide.

LFFeathers

Lavender Fields-New Release

NEW BOOK RELEASE
Lavender Fields
LAVENDER FIELDS
Natalina Reis
Genre: MM Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Publication Date: July 15, 2017
One Angel To Bind You. One Angel To Save You.
Sky Heavensent, an angel of death, is charged with the collection of souls of the recently departed. Known to his peers and immediate supervisor, the archangel Gabriel, as the liability, Sky puts his heart and soul into everything he does.
When he meets Caleb Pierce, Sky is immediately smitten. The problem is Caleb is the soul he came to earth to harvest, and saving him means breaking one of the most sacred angelic directives.
Already in too deep, Sky pushes aside the consequences and follows his heart. Danger and mayhem follow, but he will do everything in his power to protect his lavender-eyed man.

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Available now. Grab your copy today.
Lavender Fields Teaser

An Excerpt from the Book

Take an inside look at Lavender Fields. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
When I read Caleb’s name on my mission note, my heart had taken control over my brain. I flew the fastest I ever had to the site where he was to meet his demise, not quite sure of what I was about to do. In the end I didn’t hesitate. I saw his bike as it careened around the curve, heading straight for a semi truck driving the wrong way. Before I even realized what I was doing, I plunged down in front of the truck and swept Caleb off his bike just as it fell and slid sideways under the giant tires.
“What did you do that for?” Caleb asked, surprised. I pointed to where his bike was nothing but a pile of mangled metal. “Fuck! You…. I…. Was I the soul you came to harvest? Am I dead?”
I laughed. A nervous chuckle as reality began to sink in. I had just saved the soul I came to take away. “You’re not dead. I saved you.”
Afraid of being spotted, I flew us into the first sheltered spot I could find and put him down gently.
“Are you supposed to do that?” His eyes were mesmerizing, and I found I couldn’t take mine off them. I nodded, incapable of uttering a sound. “I thought you were supposed to take my soul to—well, hopefully Heaven. Why did you save me?”
I should’ve just flown away and hoped for the best. Instead, I grabbed his T-shirt, pulled him closer to me, and kissed him. This had to be some kind of seraphic madness for which I was in no hurry to find the cure. Caleb didn’t fight me, raising his hands and threading his fingers through my curls while his tongue explored my mouth. Ambrosia. Pure, intoxicating ambrosia.
“This is madness.” His breath caressed my lips, and I had to refrain from crushing him between my craving body and the wall behind him. “Am I dreaming, Sky? Hallucinating, maybe? You’re an angel. A real, honest-to-God angel.”
In the back of my mind there was a foggy idea of his earlier statement about having met another angel before, but the slow burning in my gut quickly convinced my brain to ignore it and focus on the task at hand. My hands had become a force to be reckoned with, moving of their own accord beneath his T-shirt, eager to explore every detail of his body.
It was indeed madness. I had just saved my charge. There would be hell to pay.
With that last thought I came to an abrupt realization. I stopped my hands and detached my lips from his, breathless and suddenly anxious. I was in so much trouble. “As much as it pains me to say and do this, I have to go.” I wanted to stay so badly. “I have to tell Gabriel what just happened. He’s not going to be happy.”
My eyes locked with his and I was flying over those sweet scented fields again. My lips stretched into an uncontrollable smile.
“I don’t know why you did it, but thank you for saving me,” he said, sunshine taking over his face. I may be the angel, but he shone as if enveloped in a halo. “When will I see you again?”
Could I stay and ignore the call of responsibility? I wanted to. God, did I want it. But I knew I couldn’t. Being an angel meant I wasn’t free to do as I pleased. My life was not my own, and if I stayed the Corps would find me one way or another. Easier to just go and face the music. At least Gabriel wouldn’t be able to accuse me of being a coward.
“Soon.” I hope. I touched my lips briefly to his and then, unfurling my wings, I took off, heading upwards toward the clouds and the wrath of the angels.

Giveaway

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Contest runs from July 20 – 26, 2017.

About Natalina Reis

Natalina Reis

Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, Loved You Always, and Lavender Fields.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
Connect with Natalina Reis on social media:
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For more information, visit the Lavender Fields Book Page at Book Unleashed.

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Lavender Fields-New Release

Title: Lavender Fields
Author: Natalina Reis
Genre: Gay Paranormal Romance
Release Date: July 15, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
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One angel to bind you, one angel to save you.Sky Heavensent, an angel of death, is charged with the collection of souls of the recently departed. Known to his peers and immediate supervisor, the archangel Gabriel, as the liability, Sky puts his heart and soul into everything he does.

When he meets Caleb Pierce, Sky is immediately smitten. The problem is Caleb is the soul he came to earth to harvest, and saving him means breaking one of the most sacred angelic directives.

Already in too deep, Sky pushes aside the consequences and follows his heart. Danger and mayhem follow, but he will do everything in his power to protect his lavender-eyed man.

 

 

Author of We Will Always Have the Closet, Desert Jewel, and Loved You Always, Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

 

 Rescue Me Submissions

Heavensent-Behind the Character

My fourth book will be released to the world next Saturday (July 15). If you follow me, you know I’m a sub-genre hopper–like a rabbit or a frog, I hop from one sub-genre to another for no rhyme or reason other than to write the story in my brain. Possibly not the best thing for me as I build up my platform but on the other hand, that’s who I am as a writer. Why not share it with my readers?

Print

Lavender Fields is a M/M Paranormal Romance and had strange beginnings. Not unlike most of my books, this story started as a flash fiction piece written from a picture prompt, but took a whole unexpected life of its own.

Sky Heavensent was to be a girl alien at first (don’t laugh), but–pantser that I am–as I wrote the story she turned into a he, and the alien became an angel. By the time I was finished, the angel in my story grew to mean something much larger than just a character in a book. Thus the decision to turn a few pages of writing into a full-length novel.

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Sky was born of some very deep beliefs I carry about humans and the way we relate to each other. It also embodies a lot of my hopes, fears, and emotional baggage.

As a character he’s not perfect. In fact, among his kind he’s an outcast ( know, I know. Another one), a very clumsy angel who seems to be an expert at making his boss, Gabriel, irate beyond what should be possible for an angelic creature.

But he is perfect in so many other ways. He’s color-blind, gender-blind, difference-blind. Like all angels he’s made of pure love but unlike the others he actually practices what he preaches. Sky is willing to do just about anything for what’s right even if that places him in all kinds of danger.

He has a big heart and he’s not afraid to use it.

This KissLF

Writing Lavender Fields was an amazing experience because it came from the depths of me, those corners of myself that remain under wraps most of the time. I’m a terrible introvert who is incapable of participating in a conversation involving more than two people. So, a lot of what I think, of what I feel, of what I believe stay buried deep inside. Writing this story was in so many ways a release because the characters (all of them but Sky in particular) spoke for me.They all have a little bit of myself in them (including Caleb’s foul-mouthed younger sister) but I dare anyone who knows me to figure out what.

In fact, I believe that Sky was indeed heaven-sent. Have you ever written a character who meant a lot more to you than all the others?

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New Markets

New Markets or How to Reach Readers Who Feel Left Out

We all know that the market is fickle and fluctuates all the time. For example, dystopian was huge just a couple of years ago but now agents will not touch it with a ten-foot pole. In the romance genre we are lucky because romance has been a steady market for as long as the genre has been around (don’t believe me? Shakespeare wrote romance and so did Austen and the Bronte sisters).

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It’s the sub-genres that fluctuate a lot. Right now it appears there is a huge market demand for cowboy romance (don’t look at me. The only thing I know about cowboys is that they herd cows, wear boots to bed, and you can never see their faces because of those damn Stetson hats), M/M romance (hot right now), and in the paranormal sub-genre, shifter romance (I’m not even sure I know what a shifter is. Will have to read on that).

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So what’s the real new markets out there? Something that has never before been explored because the publishers and agents were not interested? I was surprised and pleased all at once to find out that some of the big romance publishers are currently interested in later-life romance.

I sat through a panel hosted by Entangled, a small-going-big romance publisher, and was floored when they told us that the publishing house is opening a new imprint called August which will target romances for women who are anywhere between 30-50 years old.

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They want to see no stereotypes (divorcees looking for a husband) but strong women who have put off love in favor of careers, or for whatever other reasons, and stumble upon love late in life. They are asking for 45-60K word manuscripts and, according to the spokesperson, they are rather anxious to test the waters. Their reps at RT told us their market analysis shows there is a huge demand for these stories. So there you go. What are you waiting for? Get busy writing that story you’ve always wanted to write and prove that older women can still cut it in romantic pursuits.

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Never Again – New Release

*** New Release! ***



Her faith is tested as she tries to survive the Hell her life has become.



 
Blessed with a good life and the perfect love, Sam couldn’t be happier. On vacation with her adoring husband, she is convinced that everything is exactly as it should be…until it’s not. One accident sets off a string of events that forces Sam to watch her life fall apart piece by piece. Loss, grief, betrayal—and the revelation of a long-kept secret have Sam questioning whether she will ever be able to find the happiness she once had. She’s broken, her heart shattered, her trust ruined, and her faith is tested as she tries to survive the hell her life has become. Now Sam needs to decide if she’s brave enough to move on, or if she’ll never again find a love worth living for.
 
Jamie Lynn Boothe is from the south and will always be a southerner at heart. He currently lives in Connecticut. Jamie loves to write stories that will touch someones heart and soul to the depths and at the same time have them sitting on the edge of their seat. He is currently with Limitless Publishing and is excited about what the future holds. Along with writing he also enjoys reading, art, music, movies, cats, naps on occasion, coffee and time with friends and watching sports. His favorite teams are the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees.

Marketing Vs. Selling-The Non-Identical Twins

Marketing Vs. Selling-The Non-Identical Twins

One of the best panels I attended was led by Tara Lain and Poppy Dennison, “You Only Think You’re Marketing”. These two bestselling romance writers and marketing experts led an over-flowing room (several people were asked to leave by the fire marshal) in an eye-opening session where they debunked some very prevalent myths about marketing. I cannot possible do it credit (even though I took notes) but I would like to highlight some of the most important things I learned in this session.

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  • Even though marketing and selling go hand in hand, they are NOT identical twins. In fact they are pretty different.  In the words of these two amazing ladies, marketing is all the steps to get a product to the market. Marketing is the bow and selling is the arrow. Marketing is an overtime process while selling is immediate.
  • An author MUST determine her/his market before considering how to market herself/himself. For romance writers like me the audience is a very wide range of people: mostly (but not exclusively) female, aged between eighteen and sixty-five, voracious readers who will read at an average of three to four books a week.

Things to consider in marketing yourself to such an audience: pricing (if a reader goes through that many books weekly she/he won’t be able to afford to pay too much for the books), availability of e-books (cheaper both for writer and reader), speed to the market (how fast can you get your book in the hands of your readers?) and (this is a huge plus) there is no competition. Romance readers go through books so fast there is room enough for every author.

Content-marketing-cycle

  •   In such a fast market a writer must consider the product design. What will the book look like because, let’s face it, how many of us have bought books because you like the title or the cover? Guilty as charged 🙂 But it goes beyond that. The choices a writer (if you do have a choice) makes in the design of her books can help (or destroy) her branding and ultimately sales.

Titles are very important. You must be careful not to start with a “The” or an “A” because those will make it harder for a reader to search and find your book. Also avoid “funny” characters.

Cover design must reflect the content of the book. One of my books has been criticized for having an amazing cover that unfortunately (for me in terms of sales) that doesn’t hint at romance at all (I still love it, lol).

The type font you use for your name on each cover should be uniform across all books so that readers will recognize it immediately.

I also learned (after this panel) that a good blurb can make or kill a sale.

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  • Build your platform (how many times have you heard this one?) by interacting, not only with potential readers but also with authors that write similar romances (especially with those authors who are doing well in the charts).
  • Build a newsletter email list. This one is a tough one for me because not only I lose subscribers weekly but because the large majority of the ones I have haven’t even read my books. So why stick with the newsletter? Because even if there is only a handful of readers that follow you, that is worth its weight in gold. Those readers will talk about your books to their friends or help promote your books online (this is true. I have a couple of very faithful, amazing followers). So nurture that list no matter how useless it seems to be.

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  • Branding yourself. Tough one. If you like high heels, apparently is a big thing in romance writing. Just kidding. Sort of. I’m always jealous of writers who seem to have it all together. I’ve been trying to brand myself but I’m too over the place, I think.  I will come back to this one in a future blog since Lain and Dennison suggested a few interesting things on how to find your thing, the one thing readers will identify you with (other than your books).
  • Finally–and apparently a big surprise to some writers–you have to read. Writers are readers. I heard a young writer claim he didn’t read at all because he always took on the tone or the style of writing of the author he was reading. Come on! Really? I wish I could do that actually. Who wouldn’t want to write like Jane Austen or J.K. Rowlings? I don’t have much time to read due to a full time day job and writing afterwards, but I make a conscious effort to do it at least a few times a week, even if it’s only a few pages at a time. I love reading just as I love writing. The two are like two peas in a pod. Besides when you write those reviews for other authors, you’re making friends and gaining allies in the field of publishing.

And there you have it in a nutshell. I hope this can help you a little. I know it helped me. If nothing else it made some things a lot clearer, less of a mystery. After all, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a mentor, writing and publishing are pretty much a learn-as-you-go experience.

Good luck to you all and comment with suggestions and/or questions you may have. Until next time.

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Loving Her Scars

Loving Her Scars

by B.M. Griffin

Loving Her Scars

**On sale from June 10-15th for $0.99.**

 

Shayla’s scars run deeper than those on her body. Being beaten by a man you loved can do that to you. Shayla barely survived her first love, Eric. He left her broken and scarred in more ways than one.

Her best friend Adam is the only man she has been able to trust since. Friends since childhood, Adam has been in love with Shayla for as long as he can remember. He couldn’t save her from Eric, but he is determined never to fail her again. There’s just one little thing she doesn’t know—Adam is a werewolf.

Shayla gets sucked into a world of werewolves and finds herself opening up to Adam’s love, but there is one alpha wolf who threatens to take it all away. If they are going to survive they’ll need to come together to fight for each other and their pack. Can Shayla find the strength to leave her past behind and fight for the future she

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Dead End Road – Cover Reveal

We are very excited to reveal with you all the stunning cover of DEAD END ROAD by Lori Whitwam designed by Deranged Doctor Designs! This Romantic Suspense is set to release July 4th from Limitless Publishing!

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DEAD END ROAD
by Lori Whitwam
A writer, a musician, an unexpected love…and a killer who wants to destroy it all.
Reclusive author Abby Delaney never dreamed she’d meet her rock-n-roll fantasy Seth Caldwell in her quaint, lakeside town…or that his love might be deadly.
Seth is weary of road trips, endless parties, and dead-end relationships, but what choice does he have? Songwriting and performing are all he knows. Then he meets Abby and finally finds a heart he can’t stand to break.
But forget small-town tranquility. An attempt is made on Seth’s life, and another mysterious death hits eerily close to home. Everyone’s a suspect, he’s taunted with ominous messages, and it’s only a matter of time until the killer finds his mark.
What if the only way to keep Abby safe is to do the one thing she can never forgive—walk away?

As the noose tightens, one thing becomes clear…

If the killer isn’t found soon, Seth and Abby will take their love to the grave.
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MEET LORI WHITWAM
Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.

 

She has worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. Her current day job, conducted from her World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (her couch) is as the Managing Editor for Limitless Publishing, as well as editing for a select group of indie authors.

 

Her dogs are a big part of her life, and she has served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and her own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.

 

She has been a columnist and feature writer for auto racing and pet publications, and won the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award for a series of humor essays.

 

Parents of a grown son, Lori and her husband were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love her in spite of herself. Some of his duties include making sure she always has fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach her to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring her from house arrest in her hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but she still really, really appreciates it.

 

** WEBSITE ** FACEBOOK ** TWITTER **

 

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