Dancer’s Flame Launch Party Report

I had such a great time with Offbeat Bride author and Offbeat Empire founder Ariel Meadow Stallings at Ada’s Technical Books on Capitol Hill to celebrate the launch of Dancer’s Flame. We had a great conversation with the sold-out crowd about indie publishing, feminism, romance and inclusion.

click for video

You can check out the Facebook Live video or the 3 part series I wrote for Offbeat Home & Life about the joys of being a feminist romance novelist:

Part 1: Yes, I’m a feminist who loves romance novels (+ a Seattle event on May 8th!)

Part 2: The romance genre needs better critique, not more gatekeepers

Part 3: Demanding greater diversity in who gets a happily ever after in romance

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The conversation continues! Facebook pages are dying, so be sure to join my group “The Academy” for the latest book news, sneak peeks, grammar geekery, giveaways and more —> https://www.facebook.com/groups/2002069650033332

Three Ways I Use Music When Writing

  1. Characters   Sometimes it’s hearing a song and knowing it fits a character’s personality, or a scene in the book, perfectly.
  2. On Repeat – I wish I could take credit for this, but alas, I’m not the first to advocate listening to a single song on repeat. I first heard about it from my husband, who uses it as a technique to get into “the zone” when he’s on a big work project, who attributed it to Mr. Four Hour himself Tim Ferriss (though it originally came from a WordPress founder ). The trick is to pick a song you can stand to hear over and over again (or in my case brings me to mind of a charter or scene I’m working on) and listen to it on repeat. A few of my favorites: “The Theme from Far from a Madding Crowd,” anything by Zoe Keating, and “Cheers to the Fall,” by Andra Day. One word of caution: depending on how often you use the song be prepared for one of two things to happen:
    1. You hate it and never want to hear it again.
    2. You hear it out in the world and your brain goes into work mode. In the grocery store. Or the shower.
  3. Playlists – By the time I’ve finished a book, it has a playlist of songs. Some of them carry over from book to book, but most are ones that fit into #1 or #2 above. Though sometimes I devote (procrastinate) an hour or so to shaping up a playlist for a project, most of the time it’s a more organic process. I listen to music all the time around the house and in the car and am always excited to discover new (or new to me) artists. Once a song hits me, I add it to a playlist or make a note to add it later. 

Where do I get my music:

  • NPR: I don’t listen to the music shows as much as I used to, but every year the music crew at NPR puts out the Austin 100, a free downloadable curated music from South by Southwest.
  • Other Playlists: In my attempt to stay semi-current, I listen to a lot of new release playlists on Spotify and Amazon Music. I’m not gonna lie, I hit the skip button a lot (Biebers of the word, I’m looking at you) but once in a while I’m digging what the kids these days are rocking out to (says Granny Silvera) I also like the mood/activity based playlists of Google Play. Most of their workout playlists are great for writing action scenes. I’ll talk more about writing sexy-times later…
  • Pandora… If I know I like an artist or a sound I let it’s algorithm create a list of like-minded songs.

How does any of this help?

Music has always had the ability to transport me. When I was a kid, my mom used to play Harry Belafonte at Carnage Hall (on vinyl, no less) to get us out of bed in the morning. To this day, Jump In the Line and The Banana Boat Song get me motivated and moving. 

Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Sustaining the emotions and mood of scenes or character as I edit and revise is so much easier if I can get back into the same state I occupied when that character or scene was first coming to me. I use the song on retreat trick a lot when I’m editing because it helps keep me in that zone.

Both Death’s Dancer and Dancer’s Flame have Spotify playlists if you’re curious to know what music inspired each.

What music inspires your writing, or your reading? Do you like knowing what songs an author listens to when they write, or do you prefer your own playlist?

Offbeat Ada’s: Feminist Romance Novels

Can romance novels be feminist? How do the politics and perceptions of race in publishing determine who gets a happily ever after on the page? And just what is a guilty pleasure anyway?

I’ve always considered myself a feminist and I gave up feeling guilty about enjoying romance novels a long time ago but the conversation goes on in both academia and pop culture.  And while the conversation is evolving, at least both are moving past the romance novel as “bodice ripper” reduction.

I didn’t set out to write a Feminist Romance Novel (TM), but I never check my beliefs at the door when I sit down to write. I was very aware as I handled power dynamics interaction between Azrael and Isela that historically, romance novels haven’t always done the best in representing feminist ideals in relationships in their heroes and heroines. I wanted to do better than the novels I’ve read growing up. Is it a perfect novel? No way! But I’m proud of the way I tackled their relationship.

I met Offbeat Bride author and founder of the Offbeat Empire Ariel Meadow Stallings on a panel at Geek Girl Con last fall. We hit it off and over lunch, we had one of those instant-endlessly deep conversations about publishing, race, and romance. As part of her events series “Offbeat at Ada’s”, she invited me to launch Dancer’s Flame. 

Rather than a traditional book launch, we decided to continue our conversation about romance and feminism.

If you’re in the Seattle area, please join me on May 8th, at 6 pm at the Lab at Ada’s on Captial Hill for

Offbeat Ada’s: fantasies and realities of feminist romance novels

The conversation will start at 6:30, followed by a Q & A and social time until 9.

The Lab @Ada’s is a fantastic venue: a cozy lounge with a full bar and the most amazing sciency-fabulous decor. It’s one of my favorite places to visit and I’m excited to be celebrating the book birthday of Dancer’s Flame with friends and readers!

For more information.  To RSVP, check out the Facebook event

Guaranteed seating is available for $5 and you can include a book with for $19.95 Tickets 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle Sale: Death’s Dancer

So, news: Kindle Press has put Death’s Dancer on sale for just 99¢ from now until May 2nd. If you’re looking for a new series to start, now’s the time.

Get yours for Kindle–> https://amzn.to/2JbG2xf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Death’s Dancer:

Dancer Isela Vogel forged a lucrative career bending the power of gods in service of her patrons. Facing an injury that will end it too soon, she agrees to one big job for the payout of a lifetime.
The assignment? Help a necromancer find a killer.
Icy, impenetrable Azrael can make the dead walk, but the spirited dancer’s refusal to bend to his will sparks his interest in more than her choreography.
But what should have been an easy paycheck puts Isela in the crosshairs. Now she must rely on her training and discipline to stay alive… and resist the lure of her captivating new patron. Because behind Azrael’s controlled exterior is a fire, and fire irrevocably transforms what it does not destroy.
 
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Journey to the magical streets of Prague with the first book in the new Grace Bloods series. It’s a sexy supernatural thriller that will delight fans of romantic fantasy.
Q&A
Why Prague?
Why not?! It’s an absolutely magnificent city, with a history steeped in mystery and magic. Plus it’s not as well-trod as Paris, New Yor, or London, so it’s a new city to explore. I lived there for almost 2 years and absolutely fell in love.
What’s a godsdancer?
A godsdancer is trained from a young age in a specific set of dance moves used to communicate with gods. They often begin training in ballet and are selected based on talent and the unknowable “something” that makes their dancing special. From there, they can have lucrative careers as hired interlocutors to the gods on behalf of their (often wealthy) clients. Both men and women can be trained to dance for gods.
When does the novel take place?
Death’s Dancer takes place in an alternate present-day version of Prague. In this world, the human ability to call on the power of gods through dance lead to an international conflict known as the Godswar sometime after WWII. A cohort of 8 powerful necromancers known as the Alliegance saved humanity from annihilation and divided the world between them, ruling from the shadows of puppet human governments. All communication with the gods is now strictly regulated by necromancers.
How about vampires? Any vampires?
Nope. Sorry. Wrong book.
Is this a kissing book?
Absolutely. I prefer “romantic urban fantasy” to “urban paranormal romance,” but what you call it is up to you.

Get yours for Kindle–> https://amzn.to/2JbG2xf

 

The Wait is Over

I can’t believe it’s a year and a half in the making, but I’m so delighted to be making this announcement. The sequel to Death’s Dancer, Dancer’s Flame launches on Tuesday, April 24th.  That’s right, less than a one week!

This time preorder is Kindle exclusive for the discounted price of $2.99 until launch day.

They won the battle and started a war. 

With the help of a god, Azrael and Isela exposed a conspiracy and altered the world’s balance of power. But victory brings dangerous new abilities that cost Isela the life she’s built and unleash a monster in Azrael. When an impossible creature brings a dire warning, the search for answers divides them. Now, Isela must bond with the power within her, while Azrael fights to keep from tearing himself apart. Time is running out: the gods don’t forget or forgive, especially a betrayal from one of their own. 

Dancer’s Flame is a romantic fantasy for adult readers and the second book in the Grace Bloods series.

Get yours here: http://amzn.to/2DnAcFI 

Any questions?

Do I need to have read Death’s Dancer before I read Dancer’s Flame?

Yeah, I recommend it. Sorry, no getting around it. Most of the stuff that happens in Dancer’s Flame is a direct result of Book One and all the favorites from Death’s Dancer appear, in addition to some new characters.

Do Isela and Azrael break up?

I personally hate it when the only conflict for a couple is a breakup. Honestly, as anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can attest, there’s plenty of conflict to be had just trying to stay together. Isela and Azrael come from very different worlds. Figuring out how to make their shit work is a big challenge, nevermind the fact that the Allegiance wants them dead and the gods want revenge. And Isela’s not exactly in her right mind…alone, anyway. So, no breakups. Pinkie swear.

So who gets together? 

As anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship can attest, the best thing about fighting is the makeup sex.

Who dies this time?

Nice try. Like I’d tell you…


(An extended excerpt is included on the Extras page)

Chapter One:

A goddess tilted her face up to the sky, drinking in the stars and the distant moon and her own thin breath, and wondering what greater magic there was than this. Her skin prickled. She relished the sensation of gooseflesh and the tickling of hair on her shoulder blades and breasts.

The other stirred fitfully in the back of her mind. Sleep, little one, she stroked it tenderly. Tonight is for me.

She lifted her arms, bathed in the moonlight, and danced.

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Father.

Azrael woke alone in the dark. His fingers reached for Isela. The sheets where she should be were rumpled but cool. He sat up.

Lysippe? A quick scan of the room determined Isela was gone.

The garden. Her telepathic voice was terse, worried.

Azrael leaped from the bed, tugging on the pants discarded hours ago when Isela had decided to show him her own version of the dance of seven veils. Returning arousal at the memory was immediately dampened by unease. He may not have been able to read Isela’s mind, but even when she turned restlessly in her dreams he was aware of her. What happened?

Barefoot, he jogged down the stairs. The glass doors to the garden stood wide open. Rory waited on the other side, scowling.

“Thought it best for Lysippe to keep an eye on her until you got here,” Rory grunted, thrusting a bit of fabric at him.

It took him a moment before he recognized the heavy silk. Isela’s robe. He looked at Rory. The bigger man shrugged, articulating his opinion without words: your choice, your problem, mate.

Azrael followed two pairs of tracks through the snow-dusted garden. He recognized only Lysippe’s. He stepped over a familiar crumpled length of cotton jersey. Isela’s nightshirt.

Lysippe stood in the shadows cast by the trees circling the fountain. The old winter palace, long ago closed up, loomed in the background. He followed her gaze.

Isela danced in the moonlight, clothed only in the spill of her sleep-tousled hair. She’d been in the fountain; water dappled over the velvet expanse of her brown skin. The pale moonlight caught in droplets and glittered like jewels. Her muscles bunched and lengthened as she swept through wild, uncoordinated movements.

Desire jetted through him even as the hair on his arms stood on end.

Lysippe said, Rory called me when she started—

Her brow rose. Isela cartwheeled, missed the landing and tumbled into the snow, laughing. Snow clumped in her hair, mud on her elbows and knees. He’d seen her perform more acrobatic maneuvers. She didn’t just fall.

Lysippe dropped back into the shadow of the trees.

Azrael turned his attention to his consort. “Little Wolf.”

She didn’t respond. He stepped forward. She was on her feet again, dancing. The movements were uncontrolled and uncoordinated, like a child’s.

He raised his voice. “Isela.”

She froze, deer like, and turned to him. He’d followed the contours of her face a hundred times with his fingertips. Fast asleep or in the throes of passion, he knew every curve. Whatever was looking out at him wore her features like a mask.

It was said that gods had no language before humans danced for them, but it wasn’t entirely true. Most had just forgotten it by then.

“Goddess.” He spoke in the oldest tongue, the one he used to summon the dead and command the essence of his power.

Eyes the color of molten gold fixed on him. “Be gone, death dealer. This night is mine.”

“Where is she?”

“Her heart was heavy, I offered to lighten it.” The goddess curled around herself as if cradling a child. “She sleeps. Safe as a babe.”

“This was not the agreement you made,” he said.

The goddess flung out her arms as she stalked toward him. Her mouth curved, teasing. “How do you know what bargain was made, between she and I, oh Lord of Death?”

She slid against him. His body responded and she smiled.

“I know Isela,” he said into the gilded pools of her eyes. “She would not want this.”

“She wanted you so badly, she would have agreed to anything.” Her mouth brushed his. “Now I know why.”

His arousal throbbed, painful. She danced her fingertips down his chest, nails having tracks as they went.

“Come, death dealer,” she whispered. “Let this night be ours. Do you think you can bring a goddess to her knees?”

TO BE CONTINUED

© 2018 Jasmine Silvera

Preorder Dancer’s Flame on Kindle now! 

Read in February

Daken/X-23 Collision has been on my list (and my shelf) for the longest time but it took finally watching the movie Logan drove me to finally pick it up. The series is written by Marjorie Liu and I’m a huge fan of her writing in both Iron Hunt books and the award winning Monstress comic. In fact, I totally fan-girled her and Sana Takada at the Monstress vol. 2 release signing event in Seattle. Witness:

That’s my “OMGOMGOMG” fangirl smile, btw.

It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed and X-Man comic run as much as this one. And the bonus was seeing the familiar art of Takada in X-23 #7. Seeing how well their storytelling styles work together made me wonder if this was a bit of Monstress origin story.

Any Duchess Will Do was the fourth trip to Spindle Cove, and I’m always pleased by how much Dare feels as much like a matchmaker as an author. Even more, I appreciate the way she spins the tropes in new and satisfying ways: Griffin’s relationship with his mother was absolutely delightful.

The Women of Color in Romance Book Club (#WOCRBC) pick this month was Farrah Rochan’s Deliver Me

Two headstrong doctors, one nosey mother and a fake relationship complicated by the feels. Which had all the fun and drama of a good episode of Grey’s Anatomy, set in a vibrant post-Katrina New Orleans. The subplot featuring a husband and pregant wife with a marriage crisis didn’t work for me, but Rochon is a great read. The great part about the club is that anyone can join by becoming a Patreon sponsor. 

 

Hands down my favorite read this month was this steampunk set in 1840s China by Jeannie Lin:

Before I picked this up, I would have said I was done with steampunk. Instead, I was totally compelled by Jin Soling’s struggle to keep her family safe as she gets drawn into the legacy of her father’s work. The world building was so intense and compelling, I can’t wait to get back to as quickly as possible: good thing Clockwork Samurai is waiting.

“LIVE-n It Up” Appearance

Last night I had a blast during the Bookies page author takeover event. I read an excerpt of Death’s Dancer, answered questions, gave away stuff and did the big COVER REVEAL for Dancer’s Flame. So basically it’s like going out to a book reading…without either of us leaving the comfort of our homes.  I loved doing it, and I hope you’ll enjoy the video!

 

It’s a weeklong event, and here’s the full lineup:

The great thing about Live videos is that thanks to Facebook they live forever, so even if you can’t make the event you can still pop over to Bookies and watch ALL the authors videos after they’ve gone live!

Tonight is my good friend and fellow author, Eva Moore. She’ll be reading from her contemporary romance series, Girl’s Night Out, and talking about her new series Exposed Dreams. Check it out!

Read in January

A Breath of Fire – Amanda Bouchet

I’m not going to bother to tell you how much I loved this book. Cause you probably already know I’m a sucker for this series. I love seeing couples “after the HEA” but I wasn’t as crazy about the first half of this one. The second half and the gladiator team Olympics was more fun than I’ve had in a book in a while…and (no spoilers) the final showdown was a boss battle for the ages.

The Prague Sonata – Brandon Morrow

I really, really wanted to love this one (and maybe that was my first problem). I’ve loved ‘found the object of historical and/or magical significance’ since the movie ‘The Red Violin.’ This trope often combines a past and current timeline, and I love reading fictionalized accounts of historical periods. They’re also almost always set in interesting places. So, yeah…catnip.

This book has it all: a mysterious sonata broken into pieces and scattered by circumstance and geography, a truly fascinating historical period (post WW2 central Europe) and PRAGUE. You know I love me some Prague.

And yet…

I just couldn’t get into the “present day” storyline, which I found myself skimming to get back to the history, and found only mildly more interesting once the two timelines began to collide (no spoilers, but it’s not via magic). But the tacked-on romance and the clumsy mayhem caused by a comic book academic antagonist were eye rollers. Go for the history, the details of the city and THE MUSIC.

Once an Angel – Theresa Medeiros

Oh, what can I say? This was January’s pick for the Old School Romance Book Cub, so part of me wants to hold up my hands and say, “this wasn’t my idea!” and the other part of me wants to own the cray cray and roll with it. I mean, I grew up watching soaps while my grandma folded laundry, watered the houseplants, and talked on the phone all day. I saw a LOT of drama.

This book. Oh, this book. All improbable twists, and turns and, gasps! of shock and horror as characters pulled multiple 180’s and reacted to each other with lines like:

“‘So this is what it’s come to between us. You think you can waltz in here after you’ve made it clear what you think of me…Do you think me so desperate I’d take any scrap you’d care to throw my way?…Do you think I have no pride? Well, you’re right,’ he shouted. ‘I don’t!'”

and scene.

And it went ON. And on. England, New Zeland, England, back to New Zeland. From orphanages to aristocratic homes to ballrooms to bawdyhouses… My lord. My head still hasn’t stopped spinning.

This is considered old school romance for a reason, people. Once I stopped fighting and just surrendered to the cray, I was much better off. But please, hand me a Tessa Dare.

Speaking of…

A Lady by Midnight, Spindle Cove #3 by Tessa Dare

I have decided, that as much as I love the OSRBC and community within, I like my historical romances new school. And it’s totally splitting hairs to declare that while Spindle Cove isn’t my favorite of Dare’s series (Castles Ever After, hands down) it ticks all my boxes. Particularly with lines that make me laugh out loud in public places.

“Everyone stared at [the mace], rapt. The image was transfixing — this instrument of death swinging faster and faster through its drunken orbit. Evan’s face told her even he was wary of what he’d unleashed — and uncertain how to control or stop it. He shot Kate a bewildered look. His eyes seem to say, Did I truly do this? Fight your betrothed with javelins and broadswords and then lift a bloody medieval mace over my head and start swinging it recklessly about in a room full of people?

Yes, Evan. You truly did.

I’m also fond of how the Spindle Cove men are dealing with some real issues: PTSD, war, childhood trauma. They have good reasons for shying from love.

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence – Lisa Chron

The thing about writing is that it isn’t  a science, and while I love a good memoir with tips (Anne Lamott, Elizabeth George, Stephen King) I’m always skeptical of any prescriptive writing book. What I loved about this one was the application of modern brain science to techniques in fiction as a “here’s why this works.”

In February, I’m hopefully knocking a few off my backlogged SFF stack (Red Rising, Prey of Gods and Daken vs X-23), working my way slowly through another from the dare Dare backlist (Spindle Cove, I’m coming for you), and catching up on some new things that hit my radar (two dance based romances: On Pointe and Take the Lead…heaven!)

What are you reading now? Reading next?

 

*full disclosure: most of the links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase after clicking, I make a little scratch.

Book Two Update… and a sneak peek!

2017 was a doozy of a year. Though Dancer’s Flame was mostly complete I wound up doing major revisions, while moving… twice. The second time involved buying a house. So yeah. My brain was just not fully engaged. By the time I got Flame to a point where I was happy sending it off, I’d missed both of the deadlines and it was almost December.

In any case, you’ll be happy to know it’s currently in the hands of my brilliant editor, with a tentative release date of April 2018. And I’m including a sneak preview, below.

Next update will be the cover reveal. The best way to get the most up to date release news is by subscribing to my newsletter


WARNING: the preview includes spoilers for Death’s Dancer.

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YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!

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Midnight in the garden (from Dancer’s Flame)

A goddess tilted her face up to the sky, drinking in the stars and the distant moon and her own thin breath, and wondering what greater magic there was than this. Her skin prickled. She relished the sensation of gooseflesh and the tickling of hair on her shoulder blades and breasts.

The other stirred fitfully in the back of her mind. Sleep, little one, she stroked it tenderly. Tonight is for me.

She lifted her arms, bathed in the moonlight, and danced.

More

Death’s Dancer now on Squirl!

Want to know where Isela learned to dance for gods? How about the location of Azrael’s private quarters? And the park where the Vogel boys run wild?

Download the Squirl app for your iPhone (sorry they don’t seem to be on Android yet) and find maps and excerpts from the Prague of Death’s Dancer. New books are added every day, and you can set the app to notify you if you happen on a place featured in a book.

Here are some screenshots of Death’s Dancer in the app.

 

 

 

 

(Authors can create a profile and add their books for free at squirl.co)