Giving Thanks…

happy thanksgiving banner

For the past couple of years, I’ve been really trying to focus on gratitude.  My default demeanor is cranky and pessimistic, so I started making an effort to write three things I’m thankful for in my diary every morning. It got very boring until my friend Ona told me I wasn’t allowed to repeat the same things from day to day. WUT. Then it got a lot more challenging–and more fun.

Sometimes I’m grateful for a general thing, like my children’s health, or pleasant weather. But that’s hard to do without repetition. I mean, I’m sure I’ve repeated those once or twice–after two years, it’s impossible to remember every thing I’ve mentioned.

But the most fun I have is when I find something very small and specific. I’m thankful for my cat’s aggressive purr as she sits in my lap while I write. I’m thankful for the way that scene in Filthy Cowboy just flowed out of my fingertips and onto the computer screen. I’m thankful for my spouse’s support while I try to keep this book business afloat.

2020 is a hard year to be thankful for. I won’t recall all the hardship; it’s in the news every damn day, so what’s the point? But I can zero in on some of the better things if I get really specific.

I’m grateful for every single one of my readers–those who interact with me on social media, email, or elsewhere, as well as those who don’t. I’m grateful for the chance to write something different from my shifter books–I departed into alternate history/fantasy this year, and it was a blast. I’m grateful for a new desk that has space for a notebook on the side after working on something that was only as wide as my laptop for so long.

I could go on and on, because when I lift the magnifying glass to examine the small joys, I find so many more.

So, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving (or if you celebrated it in October!), I’m curious what small things you might be thankful for. Feel free to share in the comments, or shoot me a message on Facebook, Shifter Central, or via email. Or just hold it in your heart and let it be an ember of happiness, glowing quietly.

Playground of the Paranormal

This post first appeared on the blog Ravens and Books on March 24, 2020.

I’ve been writing shifter romance since 2016—a little earlier if you count some terrible books which shall never see the light of day. However, I started reading shifter romance much earlier than that, probably in the early 2000s.

Early into my reading, I found that I loved the different paranormal “worlds” almost as much as the characters themselves. They each had their own set of rules, and I was eager to figure them out with each new series I picked up.

My Fierce Mates universe has a few rules that I wanted to follow from the start.

  1. I wanted my shifters to be apex predators,
  2. clothes don’t shift with my shifters,
  3. there is no shifter virus—you’re either born a shifter or you don’t shift,
  4. shifters can sense lies and other emotions along with having heightened senses, and
  5. the “mundane” world is unaware of shifters and supernatural beings in general.

None of these rules is original in and of itself—I’m not treading new ground or anything like that.

Why have the rules to begin with? Isn’t it limiting? What if I want a hamster shifter? What if a story is just begging for a hapless heroine to be bitten by a wolf so she can become one, herself? Some might think that having the rules in place, and continuing them through several series, would be limiting. For me, however, it has been freeing. When I know the boundaries, I can play through them, stretching my universe where allowed. At times, I can subvert those rules. Shifters can sense lies…but what happens if they meet someone who can successfully lie to them? I tried that in my book Ruthless Misfit and I loved how it turned out. The hero, also a shifter, had been forced to hone dishonesty by a terrible childhood.

When I first started writing shifter romance, in my Sierra Pride series, the only paranormal beings present were shifters. But I never specifically said that vampires didn’t exist, so when I wanted to expand the universe in the Corona Pride series, I was able to do that. Recently, witches were added to the mix, and beings with different abilities, too.

Why not have these other supernatural characters from the start? To be honest, when I started in 2016, I didn’t know how far I was going to take my Fierce Mates world. I’d never published a book on my own, and if this whole independent author thing didn’t work out, I was fully prepared to walk away. But the Fierce Mates books started gathering a small, devoted audience. I needed to write more books. But I wasn’t going to be happy repeating the same stories over and over again, so I made the world bigger by introducing new groups and new supernatural creatures. Some shifters got new abilities—Matt in Ruthless Misfit can tell lies. Doug in Savage Penance can complete his shift from human to animal in half a second. Bryce in Ruthless Outlaw can walk through dreams.

This process has shown me the beauty of creativity, especially within the playground of the paranormal. As I develop a new series, Junkyard Shifters, I’m once again starting with the basics—shifters. And as the world expands, so do the possibilities.

5 Netflix RomComs You Don’t Wanna Miss

I am probably not alone in blazing through the offerings on Netflix, and I am not ashamed to say that I blazed through five in quick succession. When I’m unsure about the world, and unable to focus on writing my steamy paranormal tomes, watching romantic comedies is my next go-to!

5 netflix rom coms

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

This is based on a young adult novel (which I read and loved). I also loved the film, and adored watching it play out on my screen! The concept is hilarious and cringe-worthy (love notes she never intended to send over the years to different guys all get sent out at once). Go read the book, too. It’s great.

Set It Up

This was utterly delightful, and I’ll very likely watch it again soon. It’s an office romance with some matchmaking going on, and overall a blast.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

This is a modern, teen, gender-swapped retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. I don’t recommend this one as easily as the others here, because I was a little disturbed by the deceit, especially when it came to the first kissing scene. However, this might not bother everyone else, and I thought the movie was still good. Just uncomfortable in places.

Nappily Ever After

I loved, loved this movie. It’s not quite a rom com in that it was super heavy at times, and it doesn’t have quite the neatly tied-up HEA that I usually expect in rom coms. However, thoroughly enjoyed this (even when I cried) and highly recommend it.

The Kissing Booth

Very cute, another teen love story. It hasn’t been that long since I watched it, but the details are pretty hazy other than the fact I enjoyed it, the kissing booth was a minor plot point, and it didn’t end quite like I wanted it to. But again, super cute.

❤ I hope these gave you some ideas of what to watch. Have you already seen them? None of these is particularly new, so you might have! Any favorites in the bunch? Or a recommendation for something else to watch?

7 Paranormal Romance Authors Share Their Recent Faves

So often, you hear what your favorite authors are writing and publishing. Well, here I’ve collected the books that author friends and I have recently read and recommend to you. Go forth, and find some great new books to check out!

PNR Authors Recommend covers

1. I recommend Meow by Skye MacKinnon. This is the first urban fantasy in her Catnip Assassins series, and it features TONS of cats! Oh, and the heroine is a cat shifter. Which, as we all know, is awesome. You can find Meow on all retailers. My most recently published book is Ruthless Knight.

2. Keira Blackwood, author of Dragon Guardian of Water, recommends Blow Me Away by Christina Hovland. Keira says, “Take a sexy florist hero who likes to dance while working shirtless, add a heroine who bakes cock-shaped cookies, and I’m interested. Throw in a fake relationship and an over-the-top meddlesome grandmother, and I’m hooked. Blow Me Away manages the perfect balance between sweet, sexy, and ridiculous.” You can find Blow Me Away on Amazon

3. C.D. Gorri, author of The Enforcer, recommends Goldilocks and Her Harem of Bears. C.D. says, “I thought this book was told amazingly well. It is a unique and quirky retelling of a classic fairy tale and it rocked. I love pretty much everything P. Mattern writes and this was no different. I highly recommend.” You can find Goldilocks and Her Harem of Bears on Amazon, Google Play, and Kobo.

4. TJ Finn, author of Dangerous Love, recommends Rebel by Helen Hardt. TJ says, “Helen Hardt is a master at bringing her characters alive and has me falling for even the who I think is the worse/antihero. She gives me all the feels when I read her stuff.” You can find Rebel on all retailers.

5. Natalie Aejaz, author of Lion’s Heart, recommends Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. She says, “Love him or loathe him, Zsadist is the reason I would recommend this book. An angst-ridden character, he is given a chance at happiness with Bella, but can he move on from a horrific past?” You can find Lover Awakened on Amazon.

6. Michelle Fox, author of Motherducking Magic, recommends Carrie Pulkinen’s License to Bite. She says, “It’s light, it’s fun, it’s all my favorite things that go ‘bump’ in the night. Just the kind of distraction I need right now with everything going on!” You can find License to Bite on Amazon.

7. Carrie Pulkinen, author of Shift Happens, recommends The Vampire Wants a Wife, by Andie M. Long. She says, “It’s a quick, light-hearted read about vampires and other supernatural beings. It had me giggling quite a few times, and I just really enjoyed it! Such a fun read!.” You can find The Vampire Wants a Wife on Amazon.

I know I added a few books to my list–how about you? Find anything new you want to try? Let me know in the comments! ❤