Happy New Year!
I hope 2017 is kind to us all. So many people had it tough in 2016. I’m hoping for a year of peace, joy and creativity. I’d like us all to flourish.
One of the things I mark the beginning of a new year with is reaching for my not-so-crystal ball (try, my coffee mug) and predicting publishing trends. Basically, I guess which genres will be hot, what length of books people will like to read, etc. I’m generally wrong ;) But I enjoy it.
I’ll also list the books I’m looking forward to reading this year. Some feel as if I’ve been waiting AGES for them. I’d be interested to hear the books you’re eagerly anticipating.
Finally, I need to buy a collection of poems to read through 2017. I did this with Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Other Poems last year and it was a thoughtful counterpoint to my daily rush. Although I might just randomly pick a collection or anthology of poetry simply because it’s on the shelves of my local bookstore, if you have a suggestion of what I simply must read, please share!
Book-related Predictions for 2017
I think djinns will finally break out as a subgenre of paranormal romance. We’ve had shapeshifters, vampires and angels. Djinns are a powerful, untameable force and will crash the paranormal romance shelves at some point. I’ve been writing about them since 2010, but (would you know it?) 2017 is the year I don’t have any djinn stories planned. If you’d like a free angel and djinn novella, my Fire Rose is free. For a serious history of the djinn, I recommend Legends of the Fire Spirits by Robert Lebling.
I’ve been predicting a return of gothic romance for a while now. Do you remember Barbara Michaels’ modern gothics like House of Many Shadows? I think those sort of books are sneaking in as romantic suspense with paranormal elements. But they need to loudly claim the “modern gothic” title with the whole heroine-in-jeopardy, brooding hero, enticing villain (and which is which?) trope.
I think audiobooks will continue to attract readers. It’s not something that works for me. If I’m driving, that’s music time, and if I’m focusing on tasks around the house, I love silence [hear that, Mr Barney Barkalot? sorry, sorry, off-topic, but my neighbour’s dog is a very alert little poodle]. Amazon has a read-aloud function on its kindle ereaders called VoiceOver. As people get accustomed to thing’s like ipads’ Siri, I wonder if automated audiobooks will boom? Not such a happy thought for voice artists.
What will be the next break-out comfort hit? This article on the Danish concept of Hygge was interesting for how editors scan pop culture to contract books for emerging trends – and thus, create those trends. In 2017 it wouldn’t surprise me if the trend merged cozy with survivalism. Preppers Go Cozy! And I’m only being a little bit tongue in cheek. People want to feel happier about their lives while also feeling as if they’re better prepared for the unexpected.
Books of 2017
I read and re-read Anne Bishop’s The Others series, and the final book in Meg and Simon’s story will be released in March. If you’re also a fan (it won’t make much sense if you’re not, sorry), here’s an excerpt from Etched in Bone. There is self-harm in the series. It is sensitively handled, but just a trigger warning for you.
I’ve been waiting for White Hot by Ilona Andrews FOREVER. Sorry for the all caps, but seriously, Burn For Me was fantastic, and then the sequel, White Hot was delayed. But it’ll be out in May. Woohoo!
The series is better than this cover suggests. The hero actually leaves his shirt on most of the time 😉
Shelly Laurenston (she also writes as GA Aiken) is one of my favourite authors. Yes, her books are sexy and violent, but also funny and with a powerful sense of family and friendship. Each time I finish one, I can’t wait to read the other characters’ stories. Finally, this is “the angriest Viking’s” romance. Ahem. Stieg would probably like another word used than “romance”, but suck it up, bad boy 😉 Lots of fun. The Unyielding is out in March.
Woohoo! I’ve started work on Storm Road. I’ve been waiting for Beulah’s story. No, you haven’t met her, yet. She wasn’t mentioned in Phoenix Blood. But I’ll give you a hint. Storm Road returns to North Carolina and there’s an old apple orchard in the story. There’s also a sternly sexy JAG lawyer! Oh yeah. Major Dean Fortescue is awesome. [Currently, Beulah doesn’t agree – He’s frustrating her plans].
The local gumtrees are currently going mad. I snapped these on Friday. A good thing I’m not allergic to bees as they were BUZZING in this bonanza.
Fantastical Island – From the Waste Paper Basket
I’m not sure if you’ll find this interesting , but in writing Fantastical Island (out Feb 21) this was the opening of the first draft – which I’ve thrown out. The final draft opens very differently.
“Ye-uck,” Naomi Twain whispered her disgust as she lifted her boot out of a pile of bison poop. She knew better than to become distracted while hiking on Catalina Island, but then, she wasn’t exactly hiking. Not tonight. She was stalking.
She scrubbed her boot through a patch of rough grass. Cleaning it when she got back to her rented room in Avalon would not be fun. For now, she just needed to ignore the smell and keep going. She had a limited window of opportunity before the tide turned and her quarry escaped her, swimming back out to open water.
Sea serpents were one of the more common fantastical creatures that called the island home—or that’s what the fifty year old field report that had brought Naomi here said. Undoubtedly a lot of things had changed in half a century, but sea serpents were resilient. They, of all the island’s fantastical creatures, ought to have survived the changes in the island’s habitat and climate.
If the sea serpents’ nesting pools were empty tonight, then Naomi would really worry.
She tripped over a tussock of grass and staggered ungracefully, but didn’t fall. She straightened and readjusted her backpack, circling back. The waxing moon and stars provided limited illumination, just enough to deepen shadows and hide holes in the ground. She crouched. If it had been a jackalope’s burrow that she’d fallen into, she’d have counted a wrenched ankle well worth it. But this was just an ordinary hole in the ground.
“Damn.” She could hear the sea ahead of her. The land sloped down to a rocky coastline, too dangerous to reach by boat even in daylight; hence this trek. She rubbed her ankle before stretching it. Not really wrenched. Just a warning twinge. She’d been lucky.
She had to scramble down the last bit of hillside, clinging to the tough grass and finding footholds. She landed on the narrow, rocky beach and breathed a sigh of relief as her ankle survived the jolting impact. The sea glittered. Dots of phosphorescence and reflected moonlight danced on the waves. A cool wind brought the scent of the sea and left a tang of salt on her lips. She slipped off her backpack and reached up, stowing it securely above the high tide mark. Then she began inspecting the rockpools.
Sea serpents were lesser fantastical creatures, which meant that the traces they left were easier to see. The glamour that hid them was thin. Naomi had seen sea serpents’ nesting pools and their discarded empty shells in Sydney, Australia. She knew to look for fragile rainbows in the rockpools, the shimmering iridescence being the sea serpents themselves.
A crab scuttled near her left boot. She stepped around it and reached the first rockpool, about as big as her arms encircled. It was dark, the water in it still. But it wasn’t the most likely nesting pool. She edged around it toward the sea. Waves hit the outer edge of the beach, hissing against the rocks there, murmuring as they withdrew.
It had taken her longer than she’d hoped to trek across the island. The tide would turn soon.
She walked to the furthest rockpool, one as long as her outstretched body from fingers to toes. She bent over to study the algaed edges, then the centre, before trying to peer into its depths.
No rainbow iridescence flashed.
A wave licked over her boots. Sea spray was dampening her jeans. She studied a second pool, then a third, retreating back toward the land as the tide turned.
There! Hope surged as she glimpsed a rainbow shimmer in her peripheral vision. She swivelled toward the fourth pool and saw a rainbow slither into an incoming wave and swim out with it. A sea serpent. Small, perhaps as long as her forearm, but a sea serpent. Were there any eggs in the nesting pool? Any discarded shells? Baby sea serpents were only as long as her thumb and lacked the adults’ iridescence, but their eggshells, although fragile and fleeting, were detectable.
She rolled up her right sleeve and plunged her arm into the water. Her fingers investigated the edge of the rockpool, feeling the roughness of the rocks and the slimy algae covering them. She carefully worked around a feathery anemone and flinched from the warning tap of a crab’s pincers. Perhaps it was the same one that had scuttled by her boot?
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
At the unexpected voice, Naomi fell forward into the rockpool. She swallowed water and felt the burn of it in her nose. Ugh. She’d panicked and breathed in water like an idiot. She managed to get her arms under her and braced herself before she hit the rocky bottom face-first.
A strong hand grabbed the collar of her jacket and hauled her out. Water streamed from her. She was completely soaked.
She sat back on the rocks on her butt and wiped water out of her eyes. She spat saltwater toward the incoming tide. It was inelegant, yes, but better than continuing to choke and splutter. Gradually her breathing and heartbeat settled enough that she could pay attention to her attacker/rescuer. She started with his boots.
Worn leather boots, showing darker where water had splashed them, led up to jeans over muscled thighs to a fisherman’s navy-blue sweater, and so, to a face Naomi recognised.
Fantastical Island is out February 21, and available now for pre-order. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Fantastical-Island-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01N56RZ7Z/