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rlwagner

Blood Oath: The Darkest Drae Book 1

Dragons. Dark Fantasy. Intrigue. Romance.

Ooo, I love this book. I love these characters. I love this story!!

There is so much I could say in this post. But instead of talking about Ryn, Irrik, Dyter, Irdelron, Ty, and Tyr (and so many more!!) I’ll tell you how Blood Oath came to be.

I was complaining to my husband about shifter stories and how I couldn’t seem to come up with the plot for one. It seemed like all the authors I knew who were making good money were writing shifter romance. As my friend, Ednah would say, Le sigh.

And the next day I had an idea. A brilliant idea about a dragon shifter fantasy!

I jotted down notes and talked with my editor (Krystal Wade) who told me she wouldn’t even look at the manuscript until I finished writing The Sphinx Series. I grumbled for a bit and sat on the dragon story while I finished battling Olympians and monsters.

I’d written about 25k words of the first draft when Kelly St. Clare came to Nashville for Utopia in June. She stayed at my house and we visited. I’d already read several of her books and was a bit of a fan (big fan, actually). Utopia was a blast and during the conference I decided I wanted to co-write with Kelly. I thought about her fabulous world building and her talent for romantic tension. She is great at developing characters, too. So I cornered her and told her my story about a girl (Ryn) caught by the Drae (Irrik) who’d sworn a blood oath to the wicked king of Verald.

She seemed interested, but when I asked if she wanted to help me write it, she didn’t immediately jump at the chance. Instead, she asked to read the manuscript (she later said it was to see if she could insert her Kelly flair). I thought she was having a looksee to assess the quality of the story.

She messaged me right after she landed that she wanted in. I had a celebratory dance (in my kitchen by myself) and we started the process of co-writing. She edited and added to the 25k until it was 35k, and that was after she cut out a couple torture scenes (I wrote the disgusting bug-scene, yes) and added world-building and the aforementioned Kelly-flair. After that we alternated writing chapters. Each of us touched every scene of the entire book.

I know not all co-writing goes that way, but Blood Oath and Shadow Wings have been written by both of us, and we’ll do the same for Black Crown. It’s been a pleasure to write with Kelly. I’m going to have to corner her again about another story idea… Shh. Don’t tell her.

Have you read Blood Oath? If so, what did you think?

Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies is the fourth and final book in The Sphinx series. I have thoroughly loved writing Hope’s story, and I’ve had a few surprises along the way. There are a couple of characters that have firmly let me know that even though Hope’s issue with Apollo is resolved, their story still needs to be told. And I have to admit, I’m not ready to close my door on this world.

So here’s what’s in the works:

When I wrote my first draft of Curse of the Sphinx (later became Cursed by the Gods), I wrote a 55k word story of Phaidra, Leto’s mother, the original Sphinx. Since then the first part has been updated, and I’ll be updating my free offer over the weekend so you can get the first of Phaidra’s stories free by signing up for my newsletter. I’ll also send a link to all my subscribers as soon as it goes live on the site. There will be a total of four stories, one from each of the following: Egypt, Thebes, London, and The States. The tentative title for the collection is Shades of Flight.

I’m also working on two new series, (already outlined and currently writing), another series that’s been outlined but writing hasn’t yet commenced. And then there are these…

**SPOILER WARNING** If you haven’t read Fates and Furies stop reading now! Then come back after you’ve finished to read the rest…

Dahlia will be getting her own book(s). Her story path veered very clearly once they got in the Underworld, and she’s got some unfinished business with Roan and Hecate!

Xan will also be getting his own book(s). I’ll be talking about this in my read along event on Saturday, but Xan was never meant to end up with Hope. He’s been constant and faithful to her the entire series, but his character arc is only beginning to be challenged. I’m so *freaking* excited to delve into his story.

So, to answer questions of WHEN!?!? At this point… I don’t have any firm dates. But I’ll definitely keep you posted.

 

 

Sphinx Series Finale… Come read the series with me!!

Hey there visitor!!

Do you like reading? Do you LOVE it?? Are you a fan of Hope? Are you #teamAthan or #teamXan?

Have you ever finished a book and thought… I’d love to ask the author a question or two?

I’ve got giddy tingles of nervous anticipation because my team and I are trying something new. Like, I dreamt up a doozy, and my fingers are crossed that it’s going to be as fabulous as what I have in my head!! I think it is. And I think you’re going to love it!

I’m hosting a series read-along on Facebook, and I convinced my team to help me put together an event like I’ve never seen before.

We’ve got daily games, giveaways, contests (seriously those are all different), read along questions, scavenger hunts, and live author chats with me (inside info and all your questions answered). I’ve got close to a dozen authors that will be doing takeovers (with more giveaways), and an insider look at Utopiacon, too. AND (because that’s not enough), one of my favorite authors from Australia is in town, so we’ve got some extra crazy fun planned with Kelly St. Clare!! Woot!

HERE is the link to join the event. We kick off on Saturday, June 17th and wrap up the series July 1st.

I can’t wait for all the shenanigans. It’s going to be a blast! I hope you’ll join me!!

Oh, and if you haven’t started the series yet (perfect), Cursed by the Gods and Demigods and Monsters will be on major discount from 6/14-6/18.

Pretty Girls and Pretty Covers…

There seems to be a theme in YA covers as of late, and I’m not afraid to say there is something about pretty that pulls our attention and sucks it in. I’ve toyed with doing a remake of my covers for a few months, and I’ll be honest, I LOVE my white covers. I didn’t want to remake them. Especially as I was getting ready to finish the series.

But I’m also a big believer in trying new things. So this is an experiment of sorts. I’ve had book one re-covered, and I’m going to give it a couple of weeks to see if it matters? Do sales increase? Do more KU people click and read? Do more readers finish the available books?

Covers are marketing, just one more lesson in this journey of indie-publishing. It is a cover that pulls enough emotional response from a reader to get them to read the blurb. That whole – a picture is worth a thousand words – takes on a whole new meaning because the cover IS those first thousand words. So, in this type of sales, the packaging makes a lot of difference.

Or so I’m told. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks.

Here’s to hoping that a pretty girl in a pretty dress hooks more readers for Hope’s story.

Personally, I like the innocence of this image of Hope. I think it portrays who she is at the very beginning of the story… innocent and naïve. I also really like the woman she becomes. I can’t wait for that cover! 😉

Happy reading!

Loyal Fans will be getting an early peek…

Starting tonight, and every week until release, I’ll be sending out a link so my newsletter subscribers can read a bit of Fates and Furies… now. How about a chapter, or maybe two? Yes, I’m that excited to share it!

I could go on and on about what you’ll find in the early chapters, and what my favorite parts are, but I’m fairly certain that no one is reading this far. I wouldn’t be. Unless I just stumbled upon the series and then I’d definitely still be reading because I’d want to know how I could get special treatment like this.

If you haven’t signed up and you’re thinking BY THE GODS I WANT TO READ IT, TOO!!!

*deep breath*

Go ahead and sign up, every Thursday I’ll be sending out a newsletter and if you missed this week you’ll get them all with the next newsletter.

Oh, and I’ve got some shenanigans planned. Like crazy, CRAZY, I’m-not-sure-I-can-pull-this-off-but-I’m-going-to-give-it-a-try, crazy shenanigans. I’ll post a bit more soon.

Muah!!

 

Cursed by the Gods Here’s why I changed the title…

I loved my title ever since I started the first draft of Curse of the Sphinx in 2009. Like serious, mad love. I thought it was so clever… But as my husband pointed out the other day, when someone says sphinx to me, I have a clear picture of a beautiful creature sitting atop a craggy mountain with the bones of the men she’s strangled scattered about.

Most people (myself included prior to the aforementioned painting), if they’re familiar with a sphinx at all, know only of the Egyptian structure in Giza built by Khafra (Khafre). I’ve had several readers make comments about how they thought the book was going to be about Egyptian mythology, which the blurb of the book then solidly contradicts. And the confusion was very likely costing me readers.

After lots of learning about self-publishing, hours and hours and hours, I’ve decided to change the title of the first book to Cursed by the Gods. I’m hoping my loyal fans will indulge me the late change, and that the new title will entice readers to dive into a modern realm, still ruled by Olympus, and journey with the cursed girl, Hope, as she tries to break Apollo’s curse.

The story is exactly the same… Only the title has changed.

Here’s the blurb:

Hope has a deadly secret…

Even though mortals think the gods have disappeared . . . Olympus still rules. Demigods have elite hunters who viciously kill monsters. And shadow-demons from the Underworld, the very harbingers of death, are tracking her.

When tragedy destroys the only safety she’s ever known, all signs point to Hades’s demons. Or do they? Something doesn’t add up, and Hope needs answers. But now, someone knows she exists . . .

Forced to hide, Hope pretends to be normal. She’ll do whatever it takes to keep her secret safe— and her heart protected. But when Athan arrives, her world is turned upside down.

With gods, demigods, and demons closing in, the question is…

How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Join Hope on her unforgettable journey to discover what it means to live and her daring fight to break Apollo’s curse.

Happy reading!

The Surprising Truth in Dahlia’s Story

I’ve always said I believe in the power of stories to change lives. Heck, I went into nursing because of a fictional character (Kitty Freemont in Exodus by Leon Uris, if you were wondering). But this was my most profound experience with a story… ever!

A couple of months ago I was working on the prequel story for Dahlia. If you’ve read The Sphinx series, you know she’s a strong character, so I was surprised at how her story started. I’m going to share a bit with you in a minute, a scene that even as I wrote it I got emotional. At the time, I thought I was being a bit of a baby, and I probably even laughed at myself. I mean, who cries writing their own stories?! Well, me apparently.

The next day my son, Seth (pictured above) was having a tough day. He’s a soft-hearted little man with a stubborn streak a mile wide. Anyway, he said he couldn’t do something, and then he said he was no good at it, and it quickly escalated to “I’m no good at anything.”

Well, THAT was not going to fly. I immediately thought of the scene I’d written the day before (truly divine inspiration if ever there was such a thing-and I do believe there is). Then I did the very same thing my character had done.

I marched my son into the bathroom and told him to look at himself in the mirror, right in the eye, and tell himself ten things he was good at. It was a simple thing because Seth is incredibly talented. I waited for him to say something about his piano, soccer, his determination, or sense of humor… But my little Seth dropped his head and started crying. And then he said, “I’m not good at anything.”

And my heart broke.

I made him do it. I made him look at himself, (at that point we were both crying) and I made him repeat at least a dozen things- talents, skills, and beautiful quirks that make him unique. I told him what to say, a mother’s desperate desire that her son would see his worth, if not through his eyes, than through mine.

I realized that there is a bit of Dahlia in each of us. The story I’d initially thought would only resonate with the few readers of my series, suddenly became a message I was desperate to share. Yes, there is more to Dahlia’s story, and people may not feel the same emotional resonance, but the message of individual worth and self-acceptance is threaded throughout.

I hope you’ll enjoy Dahlia’s story, Daughter of Darkness, and more than that, I hope you’ll understand that everyone has value that is uniquely theirs– especially you. It’s available for preorder now, and it’ll be released next week (May 11th).

And here’s a challenge… Write down ten things you’re good at. It can be something you do (I’m good at baking) or an innate talent (I’m good at seeing both sides of an argument). Another thing I’ve learned over the years as a nurse practitioner is that most of what people consider character weaknesses often comes with a very positive flip-side. One of my children is highly emotional which means we have a lot of drama in our home… the flip side to that is he’s very, very compassionate. The challenge for him will be learning to harness his empathy and emotion and express his intense feelings appropriately. But isn’t that what life is about… learning.

Anyway, when you have your ten things, go to the mirror, look at yourself, and tell yourself of your individual worth. What are your talents and gifts? Say them out loud so that you hear your value declared. It sounds so easy, but I had a hard time doing it. I felt stupid and silly, and I almost gave up on it. But I couldn’t ask you to do something I wasn’t willing to do. And guess what? When I was done… I really did feel better about myself and how I move in the world.

I believe in the power of words to change the world. I always have. But words change the world because they change us.

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Daughter of Darkness and the gorgeous cover created by Nathan at StudioOpolis. I hope you enjoy it!

He studied her, his blue eyes sparking with intensity she only rarely saw. “Tell me ten things you’re good at.”

His words were a strike, and she had no block or defense for them. “I don’t have ten things.”

Xan raised his eyebrows. “Tell me five.”

She shook her head and dropped her gaze. Gods, why was he doing this to her?

He stood and extended his hand to help her up. She took it and followed him to the mirror.

“Look at you,” he said.

She stared at her unruly curls, thin body, and nose that was too big for her face.

“Now repeat after me: I’m Dahlia, daughter of Eris.”

She rolled her eyes but repeated his words.

“I have excellent reaction time.”

Dahlia stared at him as it registered he was talking about her. “I do?”

He nodded and pointed at the mirror.

The words fell out of her mouth in disbelief, sounding more like a question than a statement.

“Now say, I’m focused, determined, and surprisingly creative.” His look was intense, his eyes the color of ice.

She thought over the last several weeks, and as if his words gave her new sight, she recognized the truth of what he was saying. She repeated the affirmations this time with tentative conviction.

“I excel at debate, painting, sparring, and anything athletic that requires balance.”

She stared at Xan. “Really?”

“Aye, lass. Now look at yourself, in the eye, and say it.”

Dahlia did, and as she spoke the words, her shoulders straightened.

“Now, tell me,” he said in a low voice. “Knowing you’re good at all those things, are you worthless?”

Splintered Souls and Fates and Furies

It’s up for pre-order! I can hardly believe that Hope’s story is coming to a close. Fates and Furies is an epic conclusion, and I’m thrilled with it.

Here’s the blurb:

The Olympian gods cause nothing but chaos…

Hope escaped the Underworld with her life, but her memories are as blank as the Book of the Fates she brought back. Still determined to break the curse, she and Xan take an offering to the Olympian temple to solicit the goddess Artemis for aid. But the petition has disastrous results, and now the gods are hunting her.

Athan sacrificed everything for Hope, but she’s leaving him behind to travel with Xan to Mount Olympus. But the closer they get, the more Athan’s mortality becomes a liability. Forced to seek refuge in mists and darkness, Athan tangles with deities that weave the very threads of fate. But these goddesses also wield the immortal blades that lay ruin to destinies.

With everyone she loves damaged or destroyed by the blood of Olympus, Hope must face the power of the past to change the fate of the future…

I’m a huge fan of the Runes series, so when Ednah asked me to write a story in the world, I jumped at the opportunity. And what a story Splintered Souls turned out to be. Just over a year ago I wrote a story about the Narcos in Mexico (it was published in an anthology, and I’ll be releasing it later this year when I get my rights back). The main character in Splintered Souls comes from that world, and Aricela and Chase both have tortured histories and they are beautifully flawed characters with a story I’m thrilled with.

Here’s the blurb for Splintered Souls:

Aricela trusts no one.

At seventeen, she learned that promises are nothing more than lies, honored only by the weak or naïve.  And Aricela is no longer either.

After Narcos destroyed her innocence, they took her life, but Aricela escaped death with a new purpose. As Valkyrie, she is charged to take the souls of fallen warriors and athletes to Valhalla to await the final battle. But souls need to trust her before they’ll follow, and Aricela has no trust to give.

When collecting failures, instead of souls, draws the attention of the Norns, they give Aricela an ultimatum. If she can’t collect, she’ll be stripped of her powers and sent to Hel.

But when she meets Chase, everything changes.

Forced to face the myths of her past, Aricela will also have to decide the fate of her future.

HA! Both of my strong protagonists will have to face the past to set their future paths. Which is really a lot like life.

Finally, there’s an EPIC party happening today and tomorrow on FB to celebrate the launch of the Runes Universe. Here’s the link to join! I’ll be hosting shenanigans on Wednesday, 4/19/17 at 3:30pm Eastern.

Son of War

I’m super excited to reveal the cover for Son of War, A Sphinx Companion Story. It will be available April 27th, 2017, exclusive on Amazon. You can preorder it HERE.

Xan is a fan favorite, and I adore him too. When my friend Kristin encouraged me to write a prequel story from his POV, I didn’t have to even think about it. Of course, I wanted to tell a bit more about the son of Ares.

Xan’s mother was Irish, and he spent most of his childhood with her, so I spent a lot of time reading Irish slang. It was so much fun to dip my toe into researching some of my own heritage. Whoa, can I tell you the Irish have so much profanity? Don’t worry, I keep it clean!

Another fun tidbit… I had never really thought through Xan’s last name, he was always just Xan, but he needed a last name if he was getting his own story. I found a couple surnames that I liked and had my fans help me chose one. Tierney was the winner, which I think is appropriate (it means lord/ie; royalty). Xan is such a great leader. *sigh*

Big shout out to Josh Thompson from Bellator MMA. He’s the cover model for Xan, and he really epitomizes a lot of the character of Xan (work ethic, compassion, selflessness, team spirt). What a nice serendipity that our paths crossed.

Here’s the blurb for Son of War:

Xan Tierney was raised by his father Ares to be ruthless and lethal. As a kynigόs, he spends his time eliminating monsters that prey on naïve mortals and foolish demigods. There’s no doubt he’s the best, so when the daughter of Athena asks him to let Apollo’s sons tag along on a routine hunt, he agrees. But the sons of Apollo are arrogant idiots, and what should’ve been an easy kill turns deadly.

Forced to recuperate at the conservatory, Xan is surrounded by painful memories and fresh accusations. He can’t wait until he’s well enough to leave, so he can return to hunting. Unfortunately for him, the resident demigods have their own agendas.

Xan may be the son of Ares, but his fighting skills are no match for the destiny the Fates have woven for him.

Son of War is a Sphinx Companion Story; however, it can be enjoyed independent of the series.

The Sphinx #4 Update- Fates and Furies and other writing news…

I’ve been deep in the writing cave the last couple of weeks finishing the draft of book 4 in the Sphinx series. I’ve played with lots of titles, but with everything happening with Hope, Athan, and Xan, I’m really loving Fates and Furies.

However, the questions I get most have less to do with the title, and more to do with the release date. That being said, I’m hesitant to announce a date until I know that the draft I’ve submitted to the editor isn’t going to have any major revisions. But just so we’re all on the same page: I’m expecting to announce a release date by late March, and if there are no major revisions, I’ll release Fates and Furies in June 2017.

As for other writing projects… I have quite a few!

Xan is a fan-favorite, and I had an opportunity to write a short prequel story from his point of view in December. Son of War will be released sometime before June. I’m working with my marketing partner to pursue the best route for publication of this short story.

I also got the rights back on a short story titled, Narcos. This is more contemporary political thriller, and it’s very different fare than my Sphinx series. I’m debating expanding it, but I may leave as is, and just have it formatted and release it soon.

And I’m working on a super secret project, too! Hint, it’s another short story. I’ll be announcing info on it in the next couple of weeks.

Finally, I’ve got a draft of Legends of the Sphinx that is sitting on my hard drive that I’ve decided needs to be shared. It’s going to need a bit of polish, but the story of Phaidra (the original Sphinx) is a beautiful tale of self-acceptance, redemption, and mostly love.

So much good stuff that I can’t wait to share!

And now back to my cave so I can get some stories out to you!

Happy reading!