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Matte or Glossy?

My second proof has arrived and the interior is per-fect. (finally!) I’m taking another day to decide glossy or matte? Matte or glossy? I really like the feel of the matte, but these colors really pop in glossy! A photo doesn’t quite show the difference, but here it is:

The Unraveling, Volume One of The Luminated Threads

Matte on left, glossy on right. Any opinions? I need to order the prize books for the givaway!

Speaking of that, the giveaway is still on for another week. Best entry–IMHO–is my newsletter sign-up! I won’t spam you, and you get five entries and notification of the releases of all three volumes of The Luminated Threads . Do it here: Laurel’s Newsletter
~~~
Giveaway:
One (1) winner gets a $10 Amazon gift card, and two (2) winners get paperbacks of The Unraveling by Laurel Wanrow (US/CA/UK)
Ends June 10, 2015
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

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What is ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’?

I’m using the tag ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’ to describe The Unraveling, but my novel isn’t all about gears and steam.

gears on steam engine

Steampunk falls within the science fiction genre. Libraries and bookstores will categorize my novel as: Fiction/science fiction/steampunk

But that still doesn’t explain it. So, think Jules Verne. He lived and wrote in the 1800s, and is considered the founder of science fiction. Steampunk is a kind of revival of his style of stories: A Victorian setting–or at least Victorian sensibilities–with fantastical machinery, powered by steam, or aether, or…something! That’s the fun part, the part I made up, the ‘fantasy’ part. And just to make it even more fun, I tossed in shapeshifters. And a romance, or two…I cannot imagine a story without a happily ever after.

Best Fantasy Books has the best explanation of steampunk fantasy I’ve seen, complete with a reading list. I’ve read a number of their selections, but not all. Jules Verne’s 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine were two of my favorites as a teenager.

Here’s a list of my more recent favorites…heavily weighted in young adult, because I really do read YA.

Leviathan, plus 2 sequels, by Scott Westerfeld

Clockwork Angel, plus 2 sequels, by Cassandra Clare

Souless, numerous sequels, by Gail Carriger

The Golden Compass, plus 2 sequels, by Phillip Pullman

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

And a new release I mentioned a few weeks ago by one of my writing partners: The Rooftop Inventor by Nooce Miller

In case you’re still wondering, gears and steam do play a part in my novel…and they will be right there on the cover to assure you they’re in the story, too! Join me for my cover reveal in three days!

Long time, no see a snippet…

I’ve been deep in edits for my first book, The Unraveling. And amid various concerns, one that pops out is my heroine, the city artist Annmar, doesn’t meet the rural-dwelling hero until chapter eight! Ach! Here is their meeting:

They ascended and the platform kept pace, its crates filled with squash and tomatoes. The chain clinking made conversation impossible. By the time they reached the top, the idling windlass hissed quietly. The gray-haired man held the platform steady while men and a few girls grabbed the crates and swung them into the space beyond. One of the young men sported a strange haircut. His dark brown hair was short over his ears but the back trailed down his tan shirt. He turned and met her gaze.

Annmar caught her breath. His brown eyes were like none she’d seen, wide and slanted, the rich chocolate color making a strong focus in his paler brown sugar skin. Face on, his shorn hair made his rounded ears prominent, nearly animal-like and cute.

Oh, to capture this strange, no, exotic look… Her finger slid along the side of the sketchbook and found the pencil splitting its pages.

He grinned, the smile open, friendly and playful all at once.

Before realizing she’d done it, Annmar smiled back. He was gorgeous. And her age. Much more suitable than Mr. Shearing would ever—oh, my! Her chest and neck heated.

Something hit her foot and clattered away with a familiar sound; she ducked toward the windlass to pick up her pencil. Straightening, her gaze caught the gold-edged, green lettering emblazoned across the machine’s water tank: Shearing Enterprises.

The flutter of excitement died. So there would be reminders, even here.

Mistress Gere gripped her elbow and guided her inside. “I’ll introduce the staff at dinner,” she said. “After you’ve seen your room and had a chance to freshen up.”

The workers ferried the crates past overstuffed chairs circling a woodburning stove and piled them on one side of an open room. Swings, ladders and ropes led upwards to more ladders set in mazes with crisscrossed beams in the second-story rafters. The height had Annmar swaying. Who would risk their necks up there?

Mistress Gere murmured, “A gathering place in poor weather.”

Behind her, someone called “All clear!” and a hiss erupted.

“Come into the production kitchens,” Mistress Gere shouted above the chain’s clinking, and led the way through swinging doors that swished closed, blocking the noise. An herbal-scented moisture hung in the empty kitchen, one far larger than any Annmar knew.

The door opened again and in walked the fascinating young man, wiping his palms down heavy brown trousers held by worn leather braces.

He was big. Much bigger than she’d realized from across the platform, the firm muscle of a broad, well-defined body. His rolled sleeves revealed fine, dark hair covered the lovely brown arms he loosely swung. He planted his feet before them.

“This is the artist from the city?” His deep voice nearly purred.

“Yes.” Mistress Gere crossed her arms, but couldn’t keep a smile from curling her lips. “I should have known you’d be in here as fast as you could manage, my boy. Annmar, may I introduce Daeryn Darkcoat, perhaps the most gregarious individual among our farm family. Daeryn, Annmar Masterson, who as you noted, is a city girl and not at all used to our casual country ways. You will keep to the borders of her territory until she gives you permission to enter.” The tall woman fixed him with an eye-to-eye look.

Annmar blinked at the bizarre introduction, so forthright. But Daeryn, which Mistress Gere pronounced day-rin, seemed to take it in stride. He nodded, a single dip of his chin. “Yes’m.”

He didn’t pause between that acknowledgement and extending his hand. His gaze searched hers curiously and he smiled, not the grin of before, but almost shyly.

Her stomach flipped. Sweet wasn’t how anyone would normally describe a young male who had so clearly crossed into manhood, but that was her exact thought. She wiped her clammy palm discretely in her skirt folds before shaking his.

“Pleased to meet you,” he said. “Are you finding the Basin to your liking?” His rough-skinned hand clasped hers in neither a strong nor a weak manner, but one that conveyed gentleness for its size.

His warmth felt nice and her head muddled a bit. “I, uh, I’m happy to have arrived, to be here. Yes. It’s all been…fine,” her mouth murmured.

Then too quickly, he released her. Somehow Mistress Gere took over the conversation, discussing an animal problem in the fields and listing several possibilities she wanted Daeryn to look into. His brows came together over narrowed eyes, changing his face into a calculating contemplation that had Annmar glad she wasn’t the source of the problem.

So, is he worth the wait?

Snippet time!

I haven’t featured an excerpt in a month!

Keeping up with my NaNo-PAWN count on my third book while editing my first book, plus critiquing for others adds up, people! And real life is in there, too.

So here’s a little scene later in The Unraveling that I’ve just reworked after a crit partner noted I could show more emotion. In it, the  Victorian Annmar realizes her proper city upbringing has left out so much that’s important in Blighted Basin.

 

“Alike?” Annmar wrinkled her nose. “But you know so much about country life—”

“And you know so much about life in the city. I would be a fish out of water there, and I want so badly to visit.”

Annmar eyed the redhead. Mary Clare had a point. “Well, society is complicated, but most city dwellers do master its rules. I could teach you.”

“Just like I can teach you about the Basin. It’ll grow easier, really. Why do you doubt we’re alike?”

She should just tell her. “You also know so much about boys. And I…don’t.”

Mary Clare smiled. “Boys are easy, too.”

Annmar shifted her gaze off, flicking glances around to the groups and couples, some flirting, some showing off in hopes of flirting. It’d be years before she could do that. She sighed. Or at least months.

Mary Clare nudged her. “Step one, you talk to them. You find the one interested in the things you are.”

She glanced around again. “I can do that.”

“Good for you. Practice on Henry. He’s so young, he’s safe.” She turned. “Henry?” The blond boy turned and, with a big smile, edged closer. “Can you show Annmar the table with the cookies?”

“You bet. Need to head that way myself.”

Mary Clare gave her a little push and she followed Henry up to the bunkhouse and food tables. She felt silly nodding along to his chatter. What should she say? Then, he offered her a sugar cookie. “These are good, but my favorites of Mrs. Betsy’s are the chocolate chip raisin oatmeal. Which are yours?”

Annmar blinked. She had to say something. “I—uh—I haven’t been here long enough to have those, but I like these fine.” That answer came easily enough. She took the cookie, and suddenly her tongue loosened. “They look like the moon, though not tonight.” She held hers skyward towards the crescent moon.

“I can fix that.” Henry grinned and took a bite of his, then held out the bitten cookie.

Thanks for reading!

Good news on my PAWN writing: A fellow @NaNoWordSprints writer assures me I can count my words written in November as NaNoWriMo achievments, even though I had my world and prior Blighted Basin books written. And on that note: NaNo, take me away!

Day 2 of NaNo: The Switch

I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Then realized I couldn’t. I’m far enough along in The Binding, my head is filled with the story. I want–I need–to write on it. For NaNo that writing can’t really count for a ‘win’, not when other NaNo writers start from scratch. So The Binding it is. I’ve decided to call my month ‘Playing Along With NaNo”…er, PAWN.

But I love those tracking graphs NaNo provides! I bet there are any number of word trackers available online, however it never occurred to me to look them up. I made a donation to NaNo and will use theirs to see if being accountable to a writing tool motivates me. Crazy? Well, convenient.

On the first day of NaNo yesterday, one of my RWA home chapters, the Washington Romance Writers, sponsored our first Write-in, complete with meals. We provided the snacks and drinks. Our wonderful hostess provided two floors of seating for 40 writers from 9 am to 9 pm. Writers could choose comfy chairs, a seat at the table, or a spot on the floor (though no one did: plenty of seating), in solitary corners or the ‘conversation room’, in seating groups or lining the dining room table.

WRW Write-in

I was writing by 10, set my timer for 15 minute sprints and took many stretching breaks, including a short walk. I had conversations also, at lunch, mid-afternoon and dinner. But mostly I sat in a great antique rocker in a lovely corner and fast drafted. (Here’s my selfie with my iPhone3–that’s why the photos aren’t the greatest.)

photo-2

I accumulated far more than my goal–8K, I’m proud to say. When I entered that word count in the NaNo chart, I was amused to see at that writing rate, I should finish in 7 days.

Woo-hoo, if only it were so easy. But for my PAWN project, I’m willing to shoot for the recommended minimum each day.  Best wishes to all those undertaking the NaNoWriMo challenge!

Snippet time!

This weekend I made progress on my WIP, The Binding. In this last book of my trilogy, things are heating up for the hero and heroine, Daeryn and Annmar. This scene is from Daeryn’s point of view:

 

“You have to go, I understand, but…” Her voice dropped. “I’m going to miss you.”

He pulled her to him, and not as gently as he should. “I’m going to miss you. But it will make me run faster.” Her body against his—a faint growl escaped his throat. He ran his fingers into her hair, knocking her hat and pins askew. But Annmar lifted her face, no protest on her lips.

Her lips… He bent and caught her bottom lip between his and sucked it—for just a moment before he captured both. Her hands slid up his chest and clung to his shoulders. Her honeyed vanilla scent filled his nostrils.

She sighed and pressed herself to him, her body warming his chest, his… front. Her mouth opened in a small pant. His tongue flicked to trace the smooth inner edge.

Her breath caught.

He stilled. Ah…damn.

But the next moment she tilted her head, bringing them closer. Her tongue touched his, ever-so-carefully. She explored his lips, his gaping mouth, and back to his tongue again. Soft pokes, then with the faintest of moans, her tongue swirled into his mouth—

Sweet Creator. Another rumble broke from his throat.

She laughed and nipped at his lower lip.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Snippet of the WIP

I’ve decided to return to posting snippets on a regular basis. Too long between and I fall completely out of the habit! This one’s from The Binding.

The dark entrance of the small stone chapel opened to a lit nave. Annmar lifted her gaze and gasped. Pinpricks of blue light sparkled across the round room. One leaped, trailing a line of blue headed straight for her. She stumbled.

Mary Clare caught her arm. “Annmar?”

She blinked. The light had quickly faded, like a shooting star. But the twinkling of blue continued flickering up and down the stone support columns. It wasn’t just the sight from her Knack, nor a result of the sunlight angling under the roof through long… She peered upwards. “Those aren’t windows, are they?” she whispered to Mary Clare.

“Just openings. That’s why most Creator chapels have fallen to ruin. Open to the rain, thatched roofs, mud walls which paint only protects so far. Only those pillars of bluish stone have held up in most chapels. It’s crazy. I mean, who puts up a half-open building, and round at that? Those old worshipers didn’t have much sense when it came to construction.”

A warm September breeze whipped through the chapel, bringing the fresh scent of trees and earth and water to Annmar. She sighed. “It’s beautiful. The materials are—” She glanced at the other grievers around them. Someone might overhear if she told Mary Clare what she saw. “—perfect for the building. The symmetry is incredible. An old master must have designed this one.”

Mary Clare sniffed. “In Blighted Basin? I don’t think so. Can we get a seat? Daeryn is waving to us, if you haven’t noticed already?”

Thanks for reading!

Catching up…with myself.

I’ve featured my writer friends for a few posts now, but haven’t put out a post about my own writing journey in…longer than I want to go back and check. I’ve written at a slower pace the last year because my family property was affected by flooding in Colorado. But between travel and repairs I’ve grown a new adult novel I first called ‘The Farm’ into a trilogy. That first book is now titled ‘The Unraveling’ and the third book is in progress.

Here’s an excerpt from ‘The Binding’. The heroine, Annmar, is an artist from a Victorian city who has taken a position drawing advertising for a rural farm. In the first book she learns the local residents are shifters.

Several in the group nodded. One of the girls said, “Are we all ready?”

Was that Jac? Annmar’s gaze shot to Daeryn’s tough teammate, dressed in a fashionable brown-gold gown, complete with patent leather heels. Jac caught her look and raised a brow over one yellow eye.

“You look beautiful,” she told the wolf girl, and nodded to Jac’s cousin Maraquin, who was wearing a different design in the same fabric. “You, too. The color is stunning with your eyes and hair.”

Jac bobbed her head, and murmured, “Thank you,” a lady-like gesture Annmar certainly didn’t expect, and pulled a pair of gloves from her reticule. The mannerisms were so proper, and so unexpected from the ‘cambire Annmar had seen ruthlessly biting the neck of a crop-chewing pest the night before. She had to force her gaze back to Jac’s.

Jac was grinning. “Didn’t expect me to be able to pull it off, did you?”

“Uh…well, this is quite a change for you.”

Maraquin leaned across to whisper, “Jac’s in line to take over the central lowlands. She’s been to finishing school.”

“Which was dead boring.” Jac swiped a stray strand of hair from her brow and tucked it deftly under the tiny hat perched on the thick roll of her black hair. “And my Grandmother is nowhere close to even turning the pack over to Mother, so the lessons were mostly pointless. Let’s go now. Being late will kill the everyone’s efforts.” She linked arms with Maraquin and the two strode along the drive, their paces far too long and fast for city etiquette.

Annmar hid her smile beneath her gloved hand.

 

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