The main purpose of the annual Women in Horror Month is to recognize the achievements and contributions of women in the genre, to raise them from the obscurity to which history has so habitually relegated them in all their endeavors.
My contribution to this year’s effort is to highlight the sub-genre of horror I favor the most – urban fantasy.
And in this first post, stories from the 1980s – 2000s revolving specifically around vampires. These are some of the earliest stories which featured vampires as something other than monstrous killers.
Their writers also happen to be the writers who’ve wielded the strongest influence on my own storytelling – and the majority of them are women.
In the 1990s, a movie hit the theaters that changed my perception of the horror genre. And when I read the book, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, it opened my eyes to a side of horror which fascinated rather than terrified me. Always an avid reader, I quickly embraced its more subtle assault on my senses.
I wasn’t the only one affected by Rice’s work. The vampire genre exploded in that decade, and there was no shortage of titles on bookstore and library shelves. Modern twists and viewpoints freshened the legend, bringing endless variety to what had been a stagnant theme.
Though I enjoyed works like Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula and George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, it was the vampire fiction written by women that impressed me the most. Several left their mark upon me, and their books still cling to my walls.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain collection focuses less on the blood-drinking and more on the immortality of her vampire as he moves through time in a series which could easily double as historical fantasy.
My favorite is Elaine Bergstrom’s Austra series. Starting with Shattered Glass, the stories followed an extended family of vampires whose unique traits set them apart from any others I’ve come across.
More recently, I discovered several other women writers whose stories have etched themselves into my brain.
If you haven’t heard of these writers or read their stories, I highly recommend you check them out. There are some real gems here, and no examination of the urban fantasy genre would be complete without them.
In my next post, we’ll look at the urban fantasy writers from the last fifteen years, many of whom are still at the top of the bestsellers’ lists today.
And if you have any favorite authors in this genre, please be sure to list them in the comments!
Watcher is being featured this week on the Vampire Book Club blog!
The Vampire Book Club, the “Home of the Alpha Showdown, and one-stop shop for urban fantasy, paranormal romance and fantasy news and reviews”, features best-selling urban fantasy/paranormal romance authors such as Christine Feehan, Rachel Caine, Carrie Vaughn, Faith Hunter, and a host of others.
I’m thrilled that Watcher was selected for their excerpt feature.
Here’s what Chelsea Mueller had to say about it:
“Roh Morgon’s The Chosen series brings a nice dose of paranormal romance to a solid urban fantasy framework.
…and that’s the kind of thing we dig around here.”
Bonnie Phelps is a romance writer who works tirelessly to promote other authors in the genre on her blog, Bonnie Phelps, Author. With her Character Interviews and her First Kiss Fridays, she provides a great platform to help readers find new books and authors to follow.
Her latest novel is My Sexy Veterinarian, released last summer. And an earlier book, Julia’s Star, was just re-released this month as part of the seventeen-book bundle, Sultry Nights: a Limited Edition Romance Collection.
And trust me, that interview was not easy to obtain. It took quite a bit of persuasion to convince Sunny to do the interview, and she ended up bolting before it was done.
Welcome to my new home!
Today is the launch day of my new website and blog.
I’m proud of my new site and am glad to finally catch up a bit with current tech.
Many thanks to Bob Perea of The Creative Bees for his tireless efforts to build this site and transfer over the archived posts. He’s done a great job bringing my vision for the site to life, and I’m grateful for all of the work he’s done.
Fans of The Chosen series will find a section on the site just for them that includes further exploration of the characters and The Chosen world. I plan to expand this section with additional character profiles, lineage histories, and other material relating to The Chosen while continuing work on the next story in the series, Seeker: Book III of The Chosen.
Upcoming features on the blog include the addition of a Writers’ Desk, Readers’ Corner, and Author Spotlight columns.
So look around and let me know what you think about the new site. We’re still working out a few kinks, so if you notice anything odd about the way it displays on your media device or browser of choice, let me know. And if you’d like to see something added to the site or the blog, be sure to drop me a line. You can reach me via my fancy new Contact the Author form.
I can’t believe it’s here already. It seems the older I get, the faster the years fly by.
Most folks welcome the new year with a list of resolutions. But I prefer to call it my list of goals, and the first one is to get back to writing.
I have several projects I’m working on, one of which is a young adult fantasy that I hope to publish this spring.
I actually wrote a scene in Seeker for a workshop last year. In that scene, Sunny meets someone who she believes will assist her in her journey. But not all is as Sunny first perceives, and as friend becomes foe, Sunny comes face to face with an old enemy as well.
My recent trip to Romania will provide part of the setting for this book.
I’m excited to embark on these next chapters in Sunny’s life, meet new characters, and get re-acquainted with old. As Sunny ventures deeper into The Chosen world, the lessons she learned from Colin will be instrumental in keeping her alive. I’m looking forward to discovering the challenges she’ll be facing along with the choices she’ll be forced to make to survive.
Besides working on Seeker, I have a few challenges of my own to face:
- Marketing and promotion – now that there are four stories published in the series (The Last Trace and The Games Monsters Play are related novellas), I feel it’s time to do some serious marketing. My biggest challenge will be learning the ins and outs of Amazon and Facebook ads. Publicist Beverly Bambury is helping me with blog appearances and Instagram, and I’m planning to have a more frequent presence on Twitter. All of this takes time, so I will be looking for folks who can help me with this vital part of the writing business.
- Website overhaul – Bob Perea of The Creative Bees has been building a new website which will fully integrate social media, SEO, and all the bells and whistles to help bring me into the modern age. There will be a bit of a learning curve as I assume maintenance of the site, but Bob’s promised to help me in the transition. I’m looking forward to utilizing the site to flesh out The Chosen world for readers who want to know more about it beyond the books.
- Newsletter—I’m developing a quarterly newsletter which will contain project updates and excerpts from works in progress. The first one will go out by the end of January.
- Speculative Fiction Writers – I belong to a writers’ cooperative that is dedicated to promoting speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and horror). We feature columns on writing craft, marketing, publishing, and promoting speculative fiction, and will be opening up the site this year for short story submissions. Our challenge is to develop a site that will draw both readers and writers, and our co-op members bring a variety of talents to help make that possible.
- Yosemite Romance Writers – the YRW monthly meetings in Fresno feature speakers on a variety of topics from finding an agent to writing craft to self-publishing. This year I’m sharing the responsibility of lining up those speakers, and I’m looking forward to helping coordinate their appearances (both in-person and online) at this year’s meetings.
That’s it for now. Hopefully you’ll read my next post on the new website!
Happy New Year to all!
All-in-all, 2017 was a good year.
It began on a hopeful note as the re-write of Runner: Book II of The Chosen neared completion, making the novel’s pending publication more tangible.
Once I handed over the final draft to my editor, Jodi Lester, several other dreams began morphing from fantasy to reality: 1) the long-planned release of a professionally edited version of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen, and 2) publishing it with a new, professionally designed cover.
My deepest thanks go to Jodi, and to the cover design crew at Deranged Doctor Design, for bringing the realization of both those dreams to fruition.
I’m also extremely grateful to my beta readers for their time and effort spent to read and comment on Runner. Their feedback provided me the information necessary to fine-tune the story and more fully immerse readers into the world of The Chosen.
I did manage to take a couple short breaks from the mad race toward publication of the two novels. The first break was a quiet week in May spent visiting my parents in Arizona; the second was a week-long cross-country trip in August to witness the Great American Eclipse in Casper, Wyoming. The eclipse was phenomenal, and I’ll never again look at a sunrise or a sunset without remembering the magic of the 360-degree twilight we experienced in the middle of the day.
After we returned from our eclipse trip, efforts to complete the edits on both books began in earnest. Jodi and I spent the next two months swapping versions of the books back and forth in a flurry of further editing and proofreading. As the October publishing dates neared, I donned my publisher hat and began prepping the manuscripts for both paperback and ebook editions. Jodi and I were literally editing and formatting clear up to the midnight deadlines for each of the books with scarcely a breath between.
October was busy in the PR department as well. The books and I were featured in eight different blogs and newsletters in the first real promotion I’ve done since Watcher’s initial release in 2011. Between those appearances and my engagement of an ARC (Advance Review Copy) distribution service, Watcher picked up a significant number of reviews. At this time, Watcher has nearly fifty (50!) 4-star and 5-star reviews, with new ones rolling in every day.
Also in October, I discovered a new music idol. Ludovico Einaudi is an Italian pianist and composer whose wonderful compositions defy any one-word description. Combining classical, rock, pop, and electronica, he frequently backs his piano with avant-garde string sections and semi-psychedelic visuals in concert. Though he’s a far cry from the hard rock artists I favor such as Tool and Nine Inch Nails, or the bluesy sounds of The Black Keys and the retro-psychedelic moods of The Black Angels and Wooden Shjips, he is currently my favorite musician. I used several songs from his “In a Time Lapse” album in Runner, and am already building the Seeker playlist with his music as its foundation.
November and December were as hectic as those months usually are, and it was with some relief—and some reluctance—that I stepped away from the book business to focus on shopping, cooking, and visiting family for the holidays.
As I look back over the year, I feel grateful for all that I have and all that I’ve achieved. My family members are doing well and are in reasonably good health, and I’m thankful to have been able to spend time on several occasions with my aging parents. They, along with my children and my husband, fully support my writing, and I’m fortunate to have their love and encouragement.
Writing is a balancing act, and with a day job and family, there is little time to pursue other interests. But, as cliché as it sounds, it is important to stop and smell the roses. Or watch a sunset in the middle of the day, or hug a parent or a grandchild.
With the publication of Watcher and Runner now behind me, I’m looking ahead to the next chapters in both the series and in my own life.
Farewell 2017. It’s been a good year, and I look forward to the next one.
Today is Launch day for Runner: Book II of The Chosen. The day it is officially available for purchase or borrowing as a Kindle Unlimited title.
It’s been a long journey for both the book and for me. But it’s over now – the editing, the revisions, the formatting, and the uploading.
It feels a bit surreal to no longer worry about this book ever being published.
Now my worry is a new one – that fans of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen will find its sequel equally engaging.
Guess we’ll just have to wait for the reviews to roll in and hope for the best.
But I suspect fans might like reading about the new challenges facing Sunny and how she deals with them.
Meanwhile, it’s time to turn my attention to Seeker: Book III of The Chosen and follow Sunny as her story continues.
Today is the day. Launch Day.
The day a new Watcher: Book I of The Chosen is revealed.
So far, the reviews for the Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) are pouring in, more than half of them with five stars.
Unless you’re an author, you have no idea how stressful it is to release your work to the world and hope like heck that everyone doesn’t hate it.
I write weird stuff. It’s dark, violent, bloody, and heartbreaking in places.
But it makes you feel. At least, it makes me feel when I write it (yes, there are parts that make me cry), and, according to direct testimony from fans and reviewers, it makes readers feel as well.
And isn’t that the point of a story? To make you feel something? Whether you’ve never experienced those feelings yourself, or you have all too frequently, a good story should elicit emotion.
My own emotions are all over the map right now. Today is the culmination of an adventure I started nearly nine (nine!) years ago. It began with writing down a one-page lament from a strange vampire woman who was in my head when I woke up one morning in December 2008.
The various stages I’ve been through since that fateful morning have been like riding a rollercoaster as I navigated through the initial drafts, critiques, edits, rewrites, and publishing – all to do it again with the second edition. One moment I’m elated; the next I’m doubtful, and fearful that what I’ve written is absolute crap. And some folks might think just that.
But it seems the majority of readers like the story – and many of them love it. Sunny touches something within them. Maybe it’s sympathy. Or maybe she connects with that little part so many have within themselves that feels isolated and alone, that wants nothing more than understanding and caring from another.
Whatever it is, her followers want more of her story. And so I keep writing it as she gives it to me. The second installment, Runner: Book II of The Chosen, is due for release in a few weeks on October 25.
As with the first book, the second will likely leave you wanting even more.
And yes, “more” is in the works. Seeker: Book III of The Chosen, is slowly getting underway, and I’m going to do everything I can to bring it to the readers as soon as is humanly possible.
Or, with the help of a lonely, but brave, vampire woman, inhumanly possible.
It’s finally here.
The day that I announce that Runner: Book II of The Chosen is available.
It’s been a long journey, filled with interruptions too numerous to count, medical issues, family problems, and repeated revisions.
It started eight years ago, when I finished writing Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. As the final words of the first book in the series hit the page in May 2009, I realized I needed to keep going. So I wrote the first section of Runner—about 20,000 words—and saved the file at what I felt was a good stopping spot. I then spent the next year and a half trying to learn how to write properly, and in October 2011, published Watcher.
Anyhow, I had one of those moments. And in that moment, three characters walked into my head: a tall, massively built Native American male; a stocky, red-bearded Scot with a wee bit of an accent; and a diminutive, chocolate-skinned Creole woman every bit as lethal as the other two.
I had no idea who they were, or what role they’d play in Runner. I just knew they’d be pivotal.
And boy, did they turn out to be—in ways I never expected.
In June of 2011, I attended a self-publishing workshop in Oregon put on by Dean Wesley Smith. At the workshop, one of their recommendations for those of us working on a novel series is to write short stories that tie into the novels. The appearance of these stories in anthologies, periodicals, and other mediums provide an additional avenue through which to funnel readers to your series.
As my husband and I started the 16-hour drive home, I thought about that, and recalled the trio from my shower inspiration. The most interesting of the three was their leader, and so I decided to write his story about how he’d become a Chosen and how he winds up encountering Sunny, the series’ main character.
The result of that was The Last Trace, the first of three novellas that explore Taz’s life up to the time of Runner. But writing his story gave me more than just another book—it gave me a deeper insight into who he is and why he does the things he does.
But writing The Last Trace also delayed the writing of Runner, and the novel languished while I focused on historical research, editing, and publishing the novella.
Once Taz’s past was out of the way (at least the first part), I was able to dive back into Runner and made substantial progress on the novel.
A second major interruption (a wonderful one) was an opportunity to participate in a vampire anthology edited by Gabrielle Faust, noted author of the vampire series ETERNAL VIGILANCE and other dark fantasies. The theme centered on vampires and the games they play with both their prey and with each other, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to submit a story.
I didn’t even have to think hard about what to write. I had a ready-built world with The Chosen series, including characters. What I didn’t expect was the entrance of a character previously unknown to me—Colin O’Neill.
The story that ended up in 2013’s High Stakes: A Vampire Anthology, along with stories from nine award-winning authors, was The Games Monsters Play. And when the rights reverted to me after a year, I expanded the short story and published it as a novelette.
Again, all of that brought my work on Runner to a screeching halt. But I’m glad it did, because it allowed Colin to infiltrate my psyche, and he did it so surreptitiously that I was stunned when he walked onto the pages of Runner.
In early 2014, I sent the first completed draft to my core beta readers—Lex, Janine, Mellie, Edd, Earl, Vanessa, and Odette. The feedback was glowing, and contained wonderful suggestions for improvement, which I promptly incorporated.
But that draft was missing an early chapter—a chapter dealing with a complex medical emergency for one of the characters. I’d simply labeled it as “Surgery??” with the intention of researching that scenario once the first draft was finished.
That ended up being more complicated than I expected. And the more I researched, the more I realized I needed the expertise of a medical professional.
I found one later that year. Janeane was an emergency room nurse, and when I gave her the first part of Runner, she excitedly dove into her own research. Her critique of the chapters both before and after the missing one was invaluable, and I realized that I would need to completely rewrite the first section of the book in order to keep somewhat medically authentic.
That same year, and the one following it, was filled with my own medical issues, along with family problems and other distractions. The rewrite haunted me, and it wasn’t until 2016 that I completed it. I ran it past my sister-in-law, Gazelle, who is also in the medical profession, and after a few minor adjustments, she gave me the green light.
The second draft went out to another group of beta readers, including the wonderful Jeannie, my fox friend who read it several times and provided great insight and suggestions.
With a few changes and a last bit of polish, I handed the final draft over to a third group of betas, as well as my editor, Jodi Renee Lester.
At her suggestion, I sent it to a few readers who had not read Watcher. We wanted to ensure there was enough flashback and other references to the first book that someone starting the series with Runner wouldn’t feel lost—and yet, not be boring with too much rehash for current fans.
Another milestone in this journey was the discovery of a cover artist who captured the kind and quality of look I wanted for these books. I’d been looking for one for years, and though a couple were promising, I still kept looking. I was so thrilled when I found Deranged Doctor Design and fell in love with the covers done by Milo.
The timing couldn’t have been better—DDD was able to fit the first two books into their summer schedule in time for me to meet my publication deadlines in October. They’ve been awesome to work with, and I highly recommend their services.
And so here I am, with both of my main goals for the last six years just weeks away from achievement:
- Watcher: Book I of The Chosen – with a professional, high-quality edit, additional content, and a shiny new cover, this book is finally what I’ve dreamed it could be, and, for the first time, I feel proud of it. The second edition premiers October 7. The ebook version is available now for pre-order.
- Runner: Book II of The Chosen – after a journey as arduous as that of the main character, Runner will debut on October 25. Pre-orders for the ebook are available now.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
In Part II of this post, I’ll talk about some of the folks who’ve helped me along the way. Be sure to check back – you may find yourself in the story!