The Power Cripple x2

If you didn’t see my Tweet… I posted chapter 21 on FictionPress last Sunday. Because both Rome and Mistress Healer are key in this chapter, I debated whether to name it “The Power Cripple” after Rome, or “The Silver Healer” because of Mistress Healer’s reintroduction through Rome’s eyes. In the end I named it “Power Cripple” because, used as a noun title, it could describe either Rome or (in a sense) Mistress Healer. If you’re scratching your head at saying Mistress Healer is crippled in the realm of Power, remember that she is notable among the temple wards (i.e. servants and maidens) for demonstrating political influence in lieu of magical Power.

lightning-bolts-with-laser-beamIn this chapter, Rome wakes up with temporary amnesia. He does somewhat recover from that, only to then find himself at a disadvantage of epic proportions: Powerless, within a Power fortress. Sure, Rome’s supernatural-enhanced body can take a pretty nasty beating. But Temple defenses were built to withstand the supernatural—specifically his brand. Rome was able to enter, but his supernatural component was not. Saving Bre without it could prove impossible, guarded as she is in the depths of the temple.

envelope-with-letter-clipart-free-vector-letter-envelope-clip-art_114467_letter_envelope_clip_art_hightThis chapter is epic, in my mind, because remember: Rome and Mistress Healer have never met before. Flash back to the first few chapters of Book 1, when teenage Rome is exasperated because teenage Bre wants a personal emotional response from him before she is willing to give him the note. The note is from Mistress Healer. Rome and Mistress Healer were corresponding way back then. Rome definitely wanted those notes—wanted them badly enough to admit to embarrassing-for-him emotions toward Bre. But no way was he going to clue Bre in on the contents. If your memory while reading is especially good, you might even remember that Rome thinks something about the mating rituals of humans as he’s stashing one of the notes into a tree trunk (which seems to be his favorite type of spot to hide stuff).

Well, now you get to find out what Rome really thought about Mistress Healer’s writing.

silhouette-of-couple-2785805You also may remember that later in Book 1, as Rome and Bre are walking through the forest, Rome makes a case for why Mistress Healer would make a good suspect in collaboration with Pandora. It doesn’t make sense to him why Mistress Healer has taken such an interest in teaching things to Bre that serve no purpose to her employment other than to potentially get her killed. It makes more sense to him that she is someone who knows too much without reason, and therefore should not be trusted.

Needless to say, finally meeting the “infamous Mistress Healer” is quite an event for Rome. And when something is an event for Rome, he tends to make it a memorable event for everyone involved.

Website Updates to Come

I am starting to systematically update this blog/website. When I posted the new chapter name to look for, under “Revision #1: Volume 2” (I always do that, by the way, as soon as I have a name for the new chapter), my attention snagged on the page’s other info besides the volume’s Table of Contents. Back when I originally created these “Series Info” sub-pages, I wanted to get the info out to the public, but the only way I knew how to state it was the way I was taught in English class.

Which is, in a word, quite unfortunate.

Thankfully, I have much better ideas now about how to present it.

For today, though, I focused on updating the BeastKing Chronicles glossary, based on the last couple chapters I’ve written.

My time away from my writing, while taking care of a few other things, has allowed me to see my web presence a little more objectively.  Strangely enough, my recent stresses have allowed me to more deeply connect to my characters, as well. I would like to say this means faster updates. Instead I will say it will (hopefully) make for more in-depth, engaging, character-growing chapters.

My current W.I.P. chapter makes an abrupt life turn for Rome, which no one in the story has anticipated. It’s meant to fly in the face of the Disney ending to Beauty and the Beast, where the beast turning human (i.e. becoming Adam again) seems to occur as a reward for saving Belle. That’s about all I’m going to say about chapter 21; I don’t want to spoil the fun! Lots of surprises this chapter, and “accidentally”-acquired info for readers (say bye-bye info dump, and hello eavesdropping!). 🙃

And now, please excuse me, because I have to get back to writing while I’m “on a roll”!

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Lovely Reviews

Thank you to all my recent FictionPress reviewers for your support! Nachiketa, Aki, purple-wolf-howl, Weeds-Are-Growing, and my guest reviewers… Your recent compliments have had me practically blushing—and I don’t blush easily. If I haven’t privately messaged you back, it’s because there was no link provided for me to do so. Even so, I wanted to give you a shout-out here. Writing is a very solo endeavor, and involves a whole lot of concentration-intensive work, like honing pieces of myself. So thank you; your encouragement goes a long way, and gives me hope that there truly is a market for my niche writing (which is often quite different from the mainstream).

I would also like to say that I appreciate Redmoon5678‘s honest input as well. Finding out where I am weak inspires me to learn more and write stronger, to reassess problem areas as well as to press forward with new ideas of the form my story needs to take. I invite more reviews like this that point to exactly what I need to address.

That being said, I know I have at least 2 reviewers who have a hard time with some of my story’s subject content, yet continue to read on ’til the end. I appreciate the diversity of my readership, and I understand that stomaching some of these scenes may be difficult for you (some are admittedly difficult for me to write, as well). As forewarned, I will not be pulling any punches. But rest assured that for every heartrending scene, there is a point to it that makes it completely necessary to the story as a whole, and to Rome and Bre’s personal growth. Thank you for joining me on their journey!

Again, thank you for all your support! Know that I am writing, and will do my best to get this next chapter out to you by the end of this month. I would love for it to be sooner; I’ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, keep tabs on my Twitter! (@SeriahBlackShp) I am already dropping hints there about what is happening so far in the chapter I am writing!

The Prodigal Returns: to his friend, to her mistress

I posted chapter 20 this week! If you haven’t read “Prodigal” already, follow this link to go check it out!

Bre comes face-to-face with the judgment of her temple, with the mistress she abandoned, and with the priest she pressured Rome to set free. But she never expected to have a chance at a “free pass”! All she has to do is give up Rome, and let him take the blame…

Meanwhile, Rome is determined to storm the temple to save Bre, but he is just about the only person who thinks that is a good idea. Poisoned, and standing on the wrong side of a supernatural barrier, Rome’s rescue attempt is moving at trudge.

Bre certainly could use some saving; she’s having a pretty horrid time of it. But can Rome even make it in there? Even if he does, he has no idea what is waiting for him on the other side, he has no map of the fortress, and the only way in is a doozy…

If you’ve been trying to guess thus far as to what Rome truly is, make sure you pay close attention in this chapter! You’ll get some major hints!


Please note that I have specified in the title of Volume 2 that it is specifically entitled “Ignoble,” as it was once before. If you have bookmarked it as only “Volume 2,” unfortunately because of the way that FictionPress does its web addressing the bookmark link will no longer work. However, a simple search on FictionPress should do the trick! The title on FictionPress is “The BeastKing Chronicles Vol 2: Ignoble.” If it doesn’t pop up, try taking out the semicolon.

If my updates haven’t been moving fast enough for you, or if you’re a Paranormal or Fantasy-Romance author looking to connect, be sure to follow me on Twitter! I realize blog posts can be far between, especially when I’m holed up writing the BeastKing Chronicles! Twitter should provide a quicker connection point. I plan to post some memes with quotes from whatever chapter I am working on, so if you want to get sneak peeks, go ahead and find me as SeriahBlackShp! The link is provided on the righthand side panel.

RWA Annual Conference Experience 2016

IMG_3840I just returned from the RWA Annual Writing Conference in San Diego, California! 5 days surrounded by writers of all levels, from aspiring to multi-published, and half of them pitching to agents and editors! The Marriott Marquis (connected to the ever-famous Convention Center) was awash with 2,000 authors toting their lime green-handled Swag Shop bags from ballroom to ballroom. On Day One, before Orientation was even a line in my schedule, I joined baffled forces with Contemporary Golden Heart Finalist Rayn Ellis. Together we ran into Romantic Suspense Finalist and previous Golden Heart Winner Diana Belchase…right before we spotted Nora Roberts passing by into the harbor!

And, again, that was Day One. First Timer Orientation wasn’t even until Day Two. Workshops, keynote speaker sessions, and publisher spotlights didn’t start until Day Three.

Yes, when I say publisher “spotlights,” I mean the editors from the major Romance publishers were actually there, detailing their publication lines, telling us what they were looking for, answering questions, and even hosting book signings and free giveaways. Which was totally separate from meeting with authors to hear them pitch their stories in person, to determine whether they wanted to read the manuscripts.

IMG_3843There was so much going on at that conference at any given time! Every hour meant a choice between 5-10 workshops, spotlights, book signings, or author panel “chats.” Chats were individualized to cover each sub-genre of Romance, and workshops ranged from author/publishing/marketing career decisions to structure, wording, and focus of the story itself. For three days, from 8:30am to 5:30pm, I tried to absorb as much as I could from as wide a variety of workshops as possible, sometimes even workshop-hopping because there was more than one workshop per hour from which to glean. Kindle representatives were there, Nook representatives were there… It was insane.

Author insanity, in the best of ways.

There was a distinct moment when I realized that one of the authors on my current workshop panel was Elizabeth Hoyt—as in, the Historical Romance author of at least one of the books I downloaded onto my Nook when I was binge-reading Beauty and the Beast stories. And she was right there, in front of me, on a panel answering questions about writing intimate scenes! 😱 Imagine my shock!

There was another moment when I realized my workshop instructor was Sarah MacLean, whose books I had actually shelved in Barnes & Noble. (You come to remember some of those big names, when they take up that much room on the shelf.)

Yes, you should wish you had been there. So, attend next year!

Special shout-outs to Brea Vinagh and Jen, my fellow first-time conference buddies! And a shout-out to Stephanie Garber as well, who encouraged me to attend events like this. Her first YA Sci-Fi novel, Caraval, will be released next year! Dare I say I knew her beforehand? She has been a splendid trove of advice for me, and I wish her all the best on her launch in January 2017!


IMG_3875The sheer number of people I met at the RWA conference who asked me if I had a critique partner (CP) alerted me to how badly I need one at this point in the game. I originally joined FictionPress because I was so hungry for feedback. Writing is a solo endeavor, and constructive reviewers are hard to come by—particularly for the non-YA Fantasy-Romance sub-genre (which is distinctly different from Paranormal Romance). I just joined the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter of RWA. I am also reactivating my membership in Janice Hardy‘s Critique Connections group. So, if you are interested in being a beta reader or a critique partner for my story, please let me know! I am very interested in how I can better my story, better represent my characters, and ultimately succeed in publication.

Thank you for your continued support! Story progress will be ramping back up shortly. You have Brea to thank for that. 😉

From Chapter 18 to 19

In case you missed the notification, chapter 18 is posted, named “My Fight.” When Rome is summoned to a hearing suspecting his involvement in Lord Alonza’s demise, it’s up to Bre and the Wheat Girl to escape their room to intervene. But with a group even more powerful than the nobles arriving on the scene, Bre might have to choose between keeping her own secret safe or keeping Rome’s. The chapter is named for Bre and Rome’s individual resolve, each “stepping up to the plate” to protect the other, in their own way.

In the Author’s Notes section of the chapter, I warned you (my dear readers) that, unfortunately, there is a good chance the long stretches between updates will continue. Upon finishing last chapter, I was happily ready to blaze a trail into the next chapter. College homework, however, is very good at monopolizing time and depleting energy and concentration. Part-time work takes up a third to half of my day, and schoolwork gobbles up the rest. Since (contrary to belief) budding writers cannot live on bread crumbs alone, I am stuck in this situation until I can find another way.

Summer, however, should provide plenty of time to write, distraction-free. I look forward to it. I also look forward to whatever gaggle of writing workshops and conferences I can finagle my way into, whether online or in person. I might even make it to RWA’s annual conference, which is in San Diego this year.

Just so you’re aware: I changed the description of Volume 1 on FictionPress. The previous summary was quite boring, to be frank. The only way I could see to get around that was not to write the description in first person. I will probably end up changing the summary for Volume 2 as well, now that I have a better idea of what fit into the book (and what will be left to the next one). The only reason I’m holding off is because words like “alpha” and “pack” (which are in the current summary) draw in a certain audience, which I would like to keep, and those sorts of words will probably disappear from the vernacular if the summary isn’t written from Rome’s perspective.


SPOILER WARNING…

In case you’ve already made it to the end of chapter 18, and are wondering where I’m going with it… Worry less about Bre being left unconscious, and more about what lengths it may take to get Bre back. Provided Rome can successfully eject himself from the nobles after they’ve condemned him to death, rescuing Bre means Rome’s first personal entanglement with the temple—something Bre has spent most of her life trying to prevent, and for good reason. You had your first glimpse of the temple’s Powers and resolve at the end of chapter 18. Rome isn’t necessarily used to meeting his match in Power.

The strange thing I’m seeing as I begin to write chapter 19 is that plotline takes SO many less words than romance and relational development. I’ve accomplished more in 2300 words (action/plot-wise) than I feel like I have in the last 20,000. I’m not sure whether that’s because the groundwork took so long to lay, or if I’m just not writing enough of what Rome is thinking anymore. I feel like Rome’s actions speak for themselves at this point. But he’s already surprising me, talking more than he’s acting in the face of Bre’s second disappearance. Writing the beginning of chapter 19 might turn out to be more of a struggle against OOC than anything else. It would be simple, in/fight/out, if it weren’t for the Wheat Girl—which is turning out to be like a stop sign, slamming Rome to a halt. That’s a problem. Not necessarily a bad one, but she’s not supposed to have that strong of an effect over him yet. Finding a way around that may take time.


My Dear Reviewers:

Purple-wolf-howl: What caught me most off-guard about your review was your allusion to mystery in the story. Once you listed all those attributes, I could see why; I could think of specific instances that illustrated each word. But I suppose, in my narrow, categorical view of trying to squish my story into genres, I failed to realize the significance of the spectrum of my story: romance, action, sex, and mystery. Thank you, for helping me see. 🙂 I’m curious as to whether the mystery you see has to do with the temple, or with Rome, or even with Bre (and her developing Power)…?

How Killers & Servants Fall in Love

I really hope you noticed this by now, but in case you didn’t…I posted chapter 17 two weeks ago. Due to in-chapter wrestlings with concepts of love and killing, I ended up naming it “On the Kill Side of Love.”

This chapter was both very therapeutic and very difficult to write. I heard Akiyume when they reviewed:

“I’m glad she didn’t unrealistically greet him with open arms. It was time Bre needed to actually see for herself what the ‘beast’ is and decide whether to accept Rome or not.”

standoff_backtoback_shadowplayBut I also heard the cries of:

“Why can’t they just see each other’s love for one another!”

And,

“With love comes trust, and he doesn’t trust Bre at all.”

Some of these are old comments, but they make solid points. Rome is distrusting, since he feels he’s already been betrayed. Both Rome and Bre are new to the idea of love, as unloved orphans, and are naive to the pitfalls of defining love against obsession and fascination, adult lust and childhood crushes. It’s part of what defines this story as less a “coming of age” tale, and more a tale of growing into oneself, of wrestling with those past experiences and hardships that make you who you are now, to choose who you will be. It’s in favor of making the hard choice, when the hard choice is the heart choice, knowing the consequences could be dire.

Through writing this series, I’ve come to realize why people usually don’t write romances with so many conflicts of interest—where both characters are virgin, let alone have a virgin antihero, or start off with the romantic love interests not just estranged but actually at odds. I’m also understanding why things like bondage and abuse are taboos. For those of you who haven’t muddled through writing these things in conjunction with one another, let me help shed some light: Every single one of the aforementioned conflicts propagate endless writing fuel, yet is long and difficult to resolve. If you’re a “pantser” (writing “by the seat of your pants”), like me, it means you have this many scenarios you’re waiting to pan out, without knowing the outcome—almost without knowing whether they will help the plotline progress or not. Maybe one of these conflicts is going to stunt the resolution of the other, and you won’t know it until 30 pages in. Maybe it’ll speed you into the next resolution so fast, the two “aha” moments blend into one.

The truth of the matter is, my story surprises other people because it surprises me. I lay down the ground rules, and the characters write the story. Then one character does something naughty, which the other character may or may not like.

That being said, I somehow ended up with a bastard half-noble child who was taught by his esteemed, deceased father how to break servants to preserve household order. And, well, you can see how that might be a problem, considering years (of antisocialness) later what he wants most in the world is to bed a servant—a servant who previously suffered from bullying, abuse and being broken.

At this point in the story, you probably see why Bre was so tame at the beginning of the story, at the opening of Book 1. Why she let the bullies kick her. Why she didn’t want to be noticed. How attractive it might have been to run wild with Rome before she re-entered what she perceived to be a tomb—a temple she only saw as a tomb after she met Rome, and saw what it meant to be wild and free.

love_kills_by_lmd93-d4bt1ss

Artwork by LMD93

Bre’s perception of Rome’s wildness is getting turned on its head now. She saw the freedoms of wildness, but not its hard edge, not its restrictions, not its narrowed perspective. In chapter 17, she’s faced with the question that’s been before her all along: Can she accept both sides of Rome’s wildness? Can she bed the killer with the boy? After judging him to be more dangerous than her greatest foe, does she even still want to be with him?

This chapter was hard to construct, because how do you get a temple servant to embrace a creature denounced by her religion? How do you get a second-guessing virgin to give herself up to an unruly man who admits to getting outside advice to make up for his lack of knowledge/experience? How do you get an abused girl to not cower before a torturer? How do you get a punished servant not to fear her chains? How do you get a self-conscious girl to let the guy she’s crushed on for a score of years see her naked imperfections? How do you get a lifelong servant to play like she’s worthy of a noble’s utmost attention?

And how do you get the torturing bastard not to look like a jerk?

A large portion of this chapter was a sequence of highly sexual scenes. And whenever I write scenes like that, I wonder how many people I’ll turn away, based on their principles alone. It would have turned me away, once. But, as I’ve read several erotica authors say, The sex isn’t why I write it. And in every sexual scene that I write, I’ve got to hope somebody sees more than pornography.

So, “thank you” to my reviewers, because I can tell not only that you’re enjoying reading my story, but that you’re seeing my characters as people with real struggles and failures and misgivings, in need of growth. I could ask for nothing more.

Stay tuned, because there’s about to be a whole lot of growth.


To my beloved reviewers, who always thrill me with their comments:

I’m so glad you both thought the chapter was “amazing,” and felt there was relational progress! Considering the height of the challenge to keep the characters’ reactions within their personality and development ranges thus far, I’m truly relieved to read your positive responses—particularly after my lengthy absence. So much enthusiasm! I was concerned that I was spending too much time on Rome and Bre, in the bedroom, but maybe that was a much-needed tension release?

trueBibliophiliac, I was genuinely surprised that you found the chapter “sweet.” It was a pleasant surprise. With Rome’s gruffness, and without switching to his perspective, I was worried he might come across too hard or too soft, and I wasn’t sure how much I could put the initiative into Bre’s hands without raising questions of why Rome wasn’t taking back control. If Rome came across as sweet, then his emotions came through to Bre’s perspective after all, and accurately. More on that at the beginning of next chapter. 🙂

You are right to fear for Rome. So if the chapter reveal about the nature of the beast is putting you on edge…good! Now you and Bre (and you other readers) have a better idea of what’s really going on here. And in the next chapter, some of the more antagonistic characters are going to begin to discover that as well. Bet ya can’t guess who just got themselves invited to the party!