Saturday, December 21, 2013

Guest Post & Series Spotlight by Jacqueline Rhoades

Writing on the High Seas

I still consider myself to be a novice on this voyage I've begun or maybe I've finally graduated to journeyman status. It hasn't been all smooth sailing, I can tell you that. My sails have been tangled more than once. So far, it's been an exciting, if sometimes frightening, trip. There are a lot of things I never even thought about when I boarded this ship and I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned.

Readers, reviewers and sales count. Like many writers, I began by writing for myself. Safely ensconced on dry land, I wrote stories for fun and personal pleasure and only shared them with a few close friends. I appreciated their comments -particularly their praise, but it really had no bearing on what I wrote. My stories pleased me. Then that ship called Indie Publishing pulled up to my dock and I found the courage to step on board. (Actually, I was shanghaied by my daughter and pressed into service, but once there, decided I liked being Captain of my ship.)

I will never forget how excited I was when my sales went beyond those of family and friends. Strangers were reading my books! Some of those strangers actually wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed my stories. I can't tell you how much those early emails meant, certainly more than the meager royalty checks I was getting then. Their value hasn't diminished over time. Hearing from readers is, for me, the discovery of an unexpected treasure chest of joy. And the best part is that I get to experience that feeling each and every time a reader writes to me. Some of them have become friends.

Along with these readers, however, came responsibility. I was no longer writing solely for myself. I was writing for them, too. They're so kind and generous; I don't want to disappoint them. They've boarded my ship and I want to make this journey as pleasurable for them as they've made it for me.

Reviewers have become those mysterious ships spotted on the horizon and headed my way. Are they friend or foe? You never know until after they've boarded and there is no way to fight them off. They're out there waiting for you with each new book you write and they hold your writing life on the point of their swords.

I've been fortunate with the reviews of my books, but I haven't gotten away entirely unscathed. I read all of my reviews from both bloggers and readers. Most make me raise my flag proudly. A few have made me shed blood and tears. At the end of their sword points, some have forced me to look at my writing flaws. I pay attention to those, learn from them and try to improve. I don't want to be skewered the next time we meet!

If readers are my fellow passengers and reviewers are unknown ships, then sales are the winds that fill my sails. Do I go my own way or do I go in the direction they lead me? I would like to say that sales have no influence on a writer's direction, but in my case they do, since this is how I earn my living. Finding the balance between what I want to write and what sells best is a constant struggle. Don't get me wrong. I don't write anything I don't enjoy writing, but the temptation is always there to go with the story that will fill the coffers before the story in your head that cries out to be written. For me, it's a constant struggle to maintain my course and still pay my creditors. Sometimes the winds of fortune blow pretty thin, but so far I've managed to avoid floundering on the shoals.

There are other Captains out there with ships of their own and each has their own story to tell. I can only tell you mine. I'm on one of the most exciting voyages of my life. I can't wait to see what's just over the horizon and while stormy seas may lie ahead, it won't alter the fact that my life has been enriched beyond measure by those who have chosen to travel with me.

Bio: A New Englander by birth and an Ohioan by choice, Jacqueline, known as Jackie by her friends, makes her home in a small, rural town with one lovable husband, one spoiled dog and one disinterested cat. (The adjectives are often interchangeable). An avid reader from a very early age, Jackie has an eclectic taste for books and therefore has trouble naming a favorite genre or author, though she does admit that for pure personal fantasy and 'take-me-away' books, you just can't beat a good romance.
Jackie believes in the beauty of all women and thinks most women don't see themselves as they should (herself included). She tries to make the women in her books reflect the best of 'average' in a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and backgrounds, and each is beautiful in her own way. Some of her heroes are movie star handsome, while others are not. All her characters are beautiful in the eyes of their lovers and that, to Jackie, is the most beautiful of all.
Connect with Jacqueline: Website   Twitter   FB   Goodreads   Email

Guardian’s Grace

Book 1 of Guardians of the Race Series 

Grace Masters always wanted a family she could call her own. Of course, in her imagination it didn’t include a pair of rambunctious and affectionate twins who can turn into killers within the blink of an eye or an aging vampire who has trouble controlling his thirst. She never expected to find a friend and mentor in a three hundred year old witch who looks like Sophia Loren. And she certainly never dreamed – okay, she dreamed but never thought it would come true – of a tall, handsome hero who would sweep her off her feet. Yet here she is, in an old Victorian home, living and loving under the cover of night.
Who knew that the source of her lifelong torment was really her gift as a Daughter of Man or that this gift could be controlled and used for something good? Who knew there was another race called the Paenitentia who live side by side with humans? Who knew that demons were real?
Grace certainly didn’t until one fateful night when her world falls apart and comes together again in a place where she finally feels she belongs. Sometimes a person just knows when something is right and destined to be. Sometimes convincing someone else of that fact is a little more difficult. Canaan ad Simeon is that someone else.
Canaan is Liege Lord to a House of Guardians whose job is to protect the Race from a demon threat many no longer believe in.  Already breaking away from the outdated traditions that are depleting their numbers and threatened by a hierarchy resistant to change, the last thing Canaan needs is to fall for this innocently sexy Daughter of Man. But fall he does, with a mixture of comedy, drama and sexy fun that will touch your heart.
Available at: Amazon  / Smashwords 

Guardian’s Hope
Book 2 of Guardians of the Race Series

Hope Parsons has heard about the evil of demons since she was a child in the little isolated community where she grew up. Demons were part of the outside world; demon sex, demon drink, demon music, demon woman. According to her father, her mother had a demon in her, too.
This is Hope’s world until she finds a box her mother hid years ago and the remnant of a letter her runaway sister wrote begging for help. These finds are the impetus she needs to embark on a journey out into the world and the city where she hopes to find her sister and learn more about her mother’s legacy. Once there, she learns her father was wrong about most of the evils of the outside world. Unfortunately, he was right about one; living, breathing demons are real.
Nico ad Nimeni, with his dark charm and magazine cover good looks, is a recent addition to Canaan ad Simeon’s House of Guardians. As a Guardian of the Race, it’s his job to protect his people, the Paenitentia, along with humankind from the demons who cross over from the Otherworld, but Nico knows there are demons other than those that stalk the night preying on the fear and flesh of humankind. Nico’s personal demons are the ones that plague a man’s soul and insist he stand apart.
When circumstances bring Hope to the House, she finds a place where everything she was taught about good and evil is turned upside down. In this world of witches and demons, vampires and Paenitentia, she learns that things are not always what they seem and that a shy, self-conscious country girl can be beautiful and find love in the arms of a suave sophisticate.Join Hope and Nico as they search for her missing sister and discover in each other the healing power of love.
Available at: Amazon / Smashwords

Guardian's Joy
Book 3 of Guardians of the Race Series

Joy "JJ" Justice has spent her adulthood lost and alone and vulnerable to the haunting of a past she can’t remember. It’s no wonder she feels different from other people and not surprising that she chose the police force as a way of standing up for others who are defenseless against the evils of the world, but when her only friend and partner is brutally murdered by a creature not of this world, JJ discovers a greater purpose. She is called to hunt the monsters only she can see. Once again, she resigns herself to living her life alone.
Guardian of the Race, Bernardo ad Tormeo, longs for a woman of his own, one that’s as fun loving and loyal as his Liege Lord’s Lady, Grace, and as soft and gentle as his fellow Guardian’s mate, Hope, but the chances of meeting such a woman seem slim to none. What with the nightly patrols and his gaming business, he hasn’t the time to go searching for love. Besides, he’s seen too many mating’s that didn’t work out.
Nardo is sworn to protect his people and their human cousins from the demons who cross over from the Otherworld. He never thought he would be hunting a vampire; just like he never thought of falling in love with a leather clad ex-cop who can kick demon butt with the best of them.
How do you romance a woman who thinks more of knives than roses? And how do you help her fight the demons of her soul when she can’t remember who they are? Nardo doesn’t know, but he’s determined to find out. He only hopes he and his new love can find the answers before a monster from Joy’s childhood and a myth from the Paenitentia’s ancient past take away the only woman he will ever love.
Available at: Amazon /  Smashwords

Guardian's Faith
Book 4 of Guardians of the Race Series 

Physically and emotionally damaged by the horrors of her past, no one is more surprised than meek and silent Faith Parsons when she feels compelled to stow away in the van of the taciturn Liege Lord, Lucien ad Toussaint and travel to his House of Guardians in the faraway Southwest. She’s even more surprised when some of the local women see her as the one who will heal the 160 year old wounds that are destroying their way of life. Lucien, too, is haunted by his past. He has withdrawn from the world around him and lives a reclusive and duty-bound life. He never expected that a tiny Daughter of Man could open the doors to a heart he’s kept closed for so long. As the attraction between Faith and Lucien grows, the events of both their pasts begin to replay in the present. Must history repeat itself or can their future be changed?

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