An Update and a New Beginning

This post comes a little late, but there are reasons. I promise! I wanted to give an update on what’s been up with me and make a new commitment to my blog. I’m thinking a post like this is a great place to start.

First, let’s go back a bit to 2011, when I wrote Mind Magic and suddenly things began to change. I never thought for a million years that it would be published. No really. I never dreamed it. But I was encouraged by a fantastic group of friends to give it a go, and submitted the book to Dreamspinner Press in August of 2011. I got my first contract at the very first GRL retreat in New Orleans that October. I cried like a big old baby. Sobbed. No kidding. It was a life changing moment, and I knew it.

From then on, writing became even more of a passion. I’ve always loved to write, but now I found a focus for that passion. An energy that I didn’t know I possessed. I whipped out a few books using the fuel of the excitement over Mind Magic and the Triad series came to life.

And I kept writing. And learning. And loving every minute of it. Until early 2014, that is. Then I hit a road block. I found that I’d run out of steam, that the passion and excitement had started to disappear and it broke my heart. I tried to force myself to write, but just couldn’t.

The passion was still there, however, it just transformed into a different one. I became passionate about helping authors understand the ideas behind branding and marketing. I had a degree in it, after all, so it seemed natural to me to help fellow authors out behind the scenes. I’d been helping all along, actually, but the passion really began to shift for me.

I decided to take some time off from writing. I didn’t make a public announcement or anything, I just…stopped. I needed a breather, and in a series of very fortunate events, my breather happened to coincide with Dreamspinner deciding to add a new member to their marketing and social media teams. It was the opportunity I’d been waiting for, and I didn’t even realize it. Suddenly, everything started coming into focus again.

I’ve been working for Dreamspinner for a while now, and I can’t tell you how happy I am. Funnily enough, my self-imposed writing breather came to an end as well. I told myself I was going to take off until the beginning of 2015 to regroup. In January of 2015, I sat down and wrote the first book in a new series that began burning a hole in my brain during my sabbatical. Books two and three are also partially written.

The first book of the Holly Creek series, Dogwood Days, was just contracted for a September, 2015 release date.  In early March, I attended the Dreamspinner Author Workshop and made my first “public appearance” as Dreamspinner’s new Marketing Director. Both the new series and the new job have brought me back to where I wanted to be.

I realized something, however. I wasn’t practicing what I preached as far as author marketing was concerned. I listened and I advised, but I wasn’t doing what I needed to do either. How could I ask our authors to do things when I wasn’t doing them myself? I couldn’t, and I can’t.

So here I am, laying it all out in front of you and telling you that I am new and improved. It’s been a rough road in some ways, but mostly, it’s been a dream come true. If you’d told me in 2011 when I hit submit on that first book that I’d be here today making this post, having this job, and this many books under my belt, I’d have laughed at you. But I did it. And I’m so dang happy.

For readers, I’m promising to be around more. You’re going to get to see the silly side of me that you’ve seen in my books. You’ll see even more of me in Dogwood Days, as it’s based on a small Southern town very much like the one I grew up in.

For my author friends, you’ll be seeing me practice what I preach on marketing. I’m hoping to give you all some tips and tricks on this blog as well. Why not, right?

So thank you for reading this post! I know it was a long one, but it had been a while and I had a lot to report. I can’t wait for you guys to see what I’m cooking up for you!


Poppy’s Pick: Until Forever Comes by Cardeno C

paranormal romance recommendations

I’m starting a new feature on my blog today called Poppy’s Pick. Most folks know I’m an avid paranormal reader and they ask me for recommendations. There’s nothing I like more than telling my friends about a great book so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you all.

My first recommendation is Until Forever Comes by the delightful Cardeno C. Book two in the Mates series, Until Forever Comes is an amazing addition to the series. Here’s the blurb:

Ethan Abbatt is a wolf shifter who can’t shift. Plagued by pain and weakness all his life, he hopes to find an honorable death by joining his pack mates in a vampire attack. Instead, Ethan learns two things: draining his blood releases his pain and his wolf, and he has a true mate—a vampire named Miguel. 

Miguel Rodriguez is more than four centuries old. Strong, powerful, and vicious, he walks through life as a shadow, without happiness or affection. When a young shifter tells Miguel they’re true mates, destined to be together, Miguel sends him away. But Ethan is persistent, and Miguel can’t resist for long. Once Miguel gives in, being together comes naturally. The challenge is keeping themselves alive so they can stay by each other’s side until forever comes.

Cardeno C

I love books that take your typical paranormal tropes and spin them around. CC does that beautifully in this book. The twist? Well, shifter Ethan is sick, but draining his blood helps. Who better to mate a wolf who needs his blood drained than a sexy and powerful vampire! Miguel is a strong and powerful character who doesn’t quite know what to make of his mate. It makes for some really great twists in the story. I enjoyed the power differences between the two. Ethan’s innocence was charming and unusual for a shifter character. I’m sure you’ll love him as much as I did.

Since I had so much fun reading this series, I sweet talked Cardeno into answering a few questions about life and the books.

Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
CC: Hmmm. I fear this will be dull to nth degree. I’m a fairly low-key person, more than a bit of a home-body, better with friends and small groups than big crowds, vegetarian for more years than I wasn’t, and really thrilled to have the privilege to write.
If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?
CC: Pillows. I don’t have a desk. I write in bed or on the couch. JThat aside, you’d find various cups of coffee, tea, and Diet Coke.
Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?
CC: I’m not sure if I have that exactly, but when tough decisions come my way, I try to remind myself that I have to live with whatever I do or say or don’t do or don’t say, so I better act in a way that’ll make me feel right about my life choices long after I’ve made them.
When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?
CC: I don’t have a lot of free time so when I read these days, it’s almost always books in our genre. As far as naming names, I try not to do that but I don’t think I’ll surprise anybody by saying that I’m a big Mary Calmes fan. I’ve also enjoyed some books from Dreamspinner’s #tweetaway, including Kim Fielding’s Good Bones.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Who are your latest crushes (celebrity, book character, or otherwise)? Do you ever keep those people in your mind when writing your own works?
CC: For many years, I’ve adored Joseph Gordon Levitt, Matthew Montgomery, and Seth Green.
Let’s talk about the Mates series. What inspired you to write the first book, Wake Me Up Inside?
CC: I wanted to write a story about bigotry and acceptance but I didn’t want it to be heavy-handed or preachy. It seemed to me that putting that message into a paranormal world would make it more palatable. That’s the inspiration for the whole series, not just the first book. Plus, I like shifters.
Cardeno C

A little birdie told me that you’re really inspired by music. Is my birdie telling the truth and can you tell me a little bit about how music inspires you?
CC: I love music of (almost) all kinds. I listen to it whenever possible, including when I write. Usually when I start a story, I think about my general plot, my characters, what I want to say, and then I find an inspiration song (sometimes two) and listen to it throughout the writing process.
Until Forever Comes has a really different tone than Wake Me Up Inside. Did you do that intentionally?
CC: I supposed that depends on what you mean by different. Some of the major differences that were intentional are:
·                     Wake Me Up Inside is written in the third person, Until Forever Comes is in the First.
·                     Wake Me Up Inside is a childhood friends to lovers story, so it spans many years/decades and has more softness to it given the ages of the characters and the setting. Until Forever Comes is a story of mates who meet as adults. It’s a much faster courtship.
·                     Wake Me Up Inside ends more than 50 years after Until Forever Comes starts. In Wake we hear about some incidents that took place in the past and get a sense that the past was more violent and less accepting than the present, but we don’t actually live those things. Even within Wake, we see growth and change due to the main shifter character, Zev, and the love he feels for his human mate, Jonah. Until Forever Comes has a darker, rougher feel. It’s the start of the growth and change within the shifter world, but as is often the case with growth, it’s slow going.
·                     Finally, the dynamic between the mates is very different in the books. Wake is told in the third person by Jonah and Zev, two men with the types of personalities and builds that are traditionally considered strong in an overt, obvious way. Until Forever Comes is narrated by the small, up-to-then sickly Ethan. He can’t hold his own in a fight, he doesn’t have an education or a job, he is looked down on by almost everyone, and he’s not ashamed to admit that he’s scared much of the time. Ethan’s mate is Miguel, an incredibly powerful vampire who fears nothing but causes those around him to cower and beg. He has money, property, and the admiration/respect of his peers. So on the surface Ethan and Miguel are as different as Jonah and Zev are the same. But that’s just the surface.
Ethan is a shifter with some pretty unique qualities. What inspired you to have Ethan have the blood condition he has and what sort of research did you have to do for that plot line?
CC: I read about a person who had health issues due to having too much blood several years ago and I found it interesting. When I was planning this series, I remembered that story and wove it into Ethan’s character and his connection with his mate.
Are there any other books planned in the Mates series?
CC: Yes. I’m going to bring the past to the present, taking us from where Until Forever Comes ended until Wake Me Up Inside. And then we’ll go to where Wake ended.
What’s up next for you?
CC: I’ve been working on books for my Family series. Strong Enough is the next one and it’ll be released in August. It’s about new characters. Then More Than Everything will be released in November. It’s about Chase, Daniel’s friend from Something in the Way He Needs, and about characters we meet in Strong Enough. I’ve also got a short novella called A Shot at Forgiveness that was released June 1st.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Poppy. It was really fun!
Nothing like an amazing author, huh? Thanks for answering my questions Cardeno and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! 
If you’re interested in more of Cardeno’s works, you can find them over at Dreamspinner Press. 

Coming Soon: Soul Magic

It’s pretty crazy to think that almost one year ago, I was biting my nails in anticipation of my first book, Mind Magic. Now, a year later, the final book in that series is on the Coming Soon page at Dreamspinner Press.

Soul Magic continues the story of Simon and Gray while adding in a connection between Cormac, Simon’s vampire ancestor, and Liam, the High Moon Pack’s Beta. Here’s the official blurb: 

Blood runs soul-deep. Cormac hasn’t been the same since the night the High Moon Pack was attacked. With his magic weakened, he’s consumed by a bloodlust he hasn’t felt since he first became a vampire. His need to replenish his power makes him a danger to his last remaining family member, and his hunger makes him careless. And that’s just the beginning of his troubles. Feeding from pack beta Liam Benson was supposed to slake his appetite, not leave him craving more.

Simon Osborne and Gray Townsend are trying to fight a being history says shouldn’t exist—one with all three types of magic. The pack must use all of their resources to combat the mysterious triad, even turning to the shady Council of Mages for help. While Cormac struggles to reconcile his past failures with his current desires, Simon must attempt the impossible: an alliance between mind, body, and soul.

You can find more information on Soul Magic here:
At the same time, another book popped up on the Coming Soon page with my name on it. Almost a year to the date after Mind Magic’s release, it has been translated into Italian. It really boggles the mind how much support and love has been shown to this series! 
I look back on the past year and count my blessings. They are many and varied. I’ve found the path I was meant to be on, after years of struggling to find my place. Finally, my soul is happy…I am happy. I love what I do.

So many incredible people have joined my life on this journey. I’m thankful for each and every one of them. My life is enriched by their presence and they provide the fuel for my muse that helps me keep finding worlds and characters whose stories demand to be told. 

I can’t wait for everyone to read Soul Magic and complete the circle with me. My journey is far from finished and with three more books scheduled for release in 2013, I can promise that I have plenty more for you all. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Do You Believe in Magic?

What a shiny happy week this is! It’s good to be me. Mind Magic released on Monday from Dreamspinner Press and is also available on Amazon. No one warned me what an absolutely totally and completely awesome feeling that would be!

I’m in the midst of a blog tour for the next few weeks so you can catch me on several blogs. This week, I’ve been over at Thorny’s Blog talking about character inspiration in a post called Somebody’s Watching You. In it, I reveal part of the super secret inspiration for Gray’s character.

Then I stopped by You Gotta Read to discuss my reactions to the “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay” letter from a teenager that really struck a chord with me. You can read the original letter here and my thoughts on it  in my post Getting Off the Pot.

More exciting things coming up this week. Today, I’m being interviewed over at Rom Fan Reviews. Friday, I’m blogging about the paranormal version of Gay For You over at Chicks & Dicks.

And then on Saturday, I’m having a wee little party over at the Dreamspinner Facebook page! I’ll be there from 2pm-7pm EST, so stop by and ask some questions, read an excerpt or two, and help me party like a rock star. Well, okay…maybe not a rock star…I’ll leave that to M.J. O’Shea. (Have you read Coming Home? If not, you should. It’s wonderful!)

That’s all the news for now. Stay tuned for next week’s update, when there *might* be some incriminating photos of my meeting with the lovely ladies of Mantastic fiction and their book club. Mind Magic is one of the books they chose for their GRL-Albuquerque reading challenge, and I’m thrilled that I get to be there to chat about the book with them!

Coming Soon: Mind Magic

Well, the moment has finally arrived. I’m trying to control my excited squees, but it’s difficult. My first novel, Mind Magic, has an official cover and blurb. I wanted to share it with you all!

The Blurb:

Magical species must never mix. According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.

Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.

The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.

Coming in April from Dreamspinner Press.