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The Masks We Wear

Think back on your life so far. Think of one instant when you have made a conscious choice to be completely open and vulnerable with another person. I’m talking sincerity, honesty, and all those things that make us all so uncomfortable. No defense mechanisms, no lies, or omissions, no subtle (or obvious) changes of subject. Just one moment when you decided to lay your soul bare to another human being and let them see the whole, true you.

Can you think of more than one? Can you even think of one?

Continue reading “The Masks We Wear”

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On Life as a Modern Wizard

I’m just going to go ahead and get the point across right at the start here: Books are magic. They just are. You can argue all you want, but you won’t convince me otherwise.

Books are magic, and in the hands of a skilled wizard, they change the face of the world–for better or worse, but mostly for the better, I think.

Books show us things we rarely see, or want to see. They open our minds to possibilities we never considered. Science has shown that reading fiction books enhances brain function and increases empathy in readers. Fiction allows us to escape to another place, another life, to live grand adventures and weather terrible tragedies, and experience fated love, all contained within the safety of a book. And whenever it gets overwhelming, we can set it aside for a while, catch our breath, and restore our equilibrium before moving on.

I am an immersive reader. When I read, I forget the outside world exists. I forget to get off the bus at my stop. I don’t feel hunger or thirst. I tune out the cloying noise of the real world, ignore what’s going on around me, and just sink into the story I’m reading. I become an unwritten character in the book, following the heroes’ journey from the shadows, but everything they see, I see. Everything they hear, I hear. The tone of the book sets the tone of my moods, and the characters’ personalities and attitudes affect my own. When I read about a brave hero, I find myself walking a little taller, speaking up a little louder. When I follow a character with a particular speech pattern or accent, it sometimes leaks into what I say and how I say it.

When I read Charles Bukowski’s Post OfficeI kid you not, I had to stop a third of the way through because I sank into an existential crisis that made me resent just having to wake up at a set time in the morning to go to work. I was annoyed by everything and everyone that week. I hated my job and imagined quitting on a daily basis. I just didn’t see the point of it, and I hated the fact that I had to report to the office for those set times because they paid me to do it, and the usual bills just won’t go away on their own.

I applaud Mr. Bukowski for the brilliance of what he’s accomplished, but I will never read another of his books again. Not because he isn’t good, but because he’s too good. I read to escape the doldrums of everyday life, and he gleefully drags me back into them and sinks me even deeper, where I can’t see a way out.

But that’s the thing about fiction: When it’s good, it’s transformative. That’s why I prefer stories with happy endings, ones that are uplifting and awe-inspiring, because reading them changes my entire outlook on life and my place in it. It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything, and everything will work out in the end. Don’t scoff. I may put a brave face on it, but when my writing stalls, or when life throws obstacles and disappointments in my way I need a little encouragement.

The worst thing about books is that they end, and when they do, I’m forced to deal with reality again, where animals don’t talk, and Othercreatures don’t hide in the shadows, and  people can’t change shape. It annoys me at the best of times, but when I’m interrupted in the middle of an intense scene, it actually jars me quite a bit and it takes me a second to reorient myself to the present.

I’m telling you. Magic. Guided astral projection that turns ordinary people into Seers.

The same phenomenon applies to my writing, too. I don’t make up the story, so much as watch it happen and describe what I see. When I type it out, it’s as if I’m revealing words that already exist on the page, and I become the book’s first reader.

Some writers do their best work when they outline a book and follow its path to the end. That doesn’t work for me. Whenever I write out an outline or summary, it feels as if I’ve already written the story. But it’s an abbreviated version, so I feel cheated out of the richness of the entire novel, but at the same time the impetus to write it out diminishes to almost nothing, because it’s “already done.”

It’s kind of like forcing myself into lucid dreaming. I never understood the appeal of that. The best thing about dreams is that they open doors I never would have thought to open. Why would I ever want to limit that to my conscious mind’s comfort zone? When my drift descends toward the water’s surface, why would I steer the dream into flight? The most amazing wonders could await me at the bottom of an ocean, for all I know.

Why would I ever want to give up the amazement of experiencing magic by reminding myself it’s not real?

My stories are daydreams I translate into words so others can enjoy them, too. I give them structure to make them coherent, but I never pull back or steer them in a particular direction. Even when–especially when–they lead somewhere new and potentially uncomfortable. That would be cheating myself and my readers out of its true potential.

I may or may not have been called a cynic and a pessimist in the past (although I prefer the word realist). When it comes to everyday life, I’ve had decades to learn that disappointment is a part of the human existence, and I temper my expectations accordingly. I’m also a control freak who, due to the aforementioned disappointments, has adopted the philosophy that “if you want it done right, do it yourself.”

Books and stories are where I let go of all that. Within the worlds of my imagination, I know that my characters know best. When a new one shows up with an outstretched hand and a twinkle in his eyes, I’m more than happy to follow wherever he decides to lead. No arguments, no complaints.

Some people drink or smoke to “loosen up”, others dance or exercise. I dream.

Hi, my name is Alianne, and I am a shameless dreamaholic. 🙂

Authorly Update

Greetings, friends! I come to you with a State of the Author address to catch you up on what’s happening in Land Donnelly. 🙂

For those who missed it, the Sweetest Kiss eBook is now available world wide. If you’ve already read it, tell others what you thought of it by leaving a rating or review. There’s tons of controversy surrounding reviews of late, but they really do have an impact, so thank you to everyone who’s already rated or reviewed one of my books. Even if you hated it. 🙂

An announcement here: The first three stories in this series are now available for pre-order in print, as well. 🙂 Their official publication date is August 30, 2018. I already got my author copies, and they look even better in print than they do on screen. I plan to do the same with the remaining stories as well. Four more rebels need to tell their tale, and I can’t wait!

Another big thing will be happening on August 30, 2018: The Royal Wizard will officially come out on audio! I finished the proofing yesterday and approved the files for production. The supremely talented Rachel Hine did such an amazing job bringing it to life. The little sample I shared doesn’t even do it justice. I absolutely love it, and that’s saying a lot, since audiobooks aren’t usually my thing. I hope you’ll check it out.

Last but not least, I’ve made a commitment to myself that my next book to be published will be Prince of Deceit, come hell or high water. This book has been a long time coming, and I know there are a lot of people eagerly waiting for its release. I’m sorry it’s taking me so long. All my good intentions went out the window in the last two years because of general life complications. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I got slammed with issues from all fronts: day job, family, and personal health, and all of it combined made it really difficult to focus on a book this complex.

I’m back in the saddle now, making slow but steady progress and I’m hoping to have it finished in time for a 2019 release, if all goes according to plan. Considering my pace so far, and knowing how long the edits will take, that’s an ambitious goal, but it gives me something to aim for.  In the mean time, here’s a little excerpt from my progress so far:

I will have a new post up soon on my Ask Alianne page, continuing the How-To of self-publishing an Audiobook through Findaway Voices for anyone interested to know how it works. But now that I have some time to actually write, I think I’ll do that first. 🙂

Until next time!

In my defense, I was dared…

This is what happens when my friends provoke my juvenile sense of humor. Long story short, since the Rebel Court novellas will now be “official”, they need actual real covers, instead of the poor quality placeholders they had until now. Alas, the books are erotic romance, and there are limits on what I can do on the covers before the book world censors shut me down. My dilemma led to this text message conversation yesterday:

Me: *sigh* I think the covers will end up being man candies. It’s the only way to match so many of them in any sort of theme.

Happi Anarky (the best friend ever): Awww. Well, man candies do sell.

Me: Or… I could do dick pic covers.

HA: LMAO Won’t be on a shelf, though.

Me: But it’ll be in inboxes. 😉 Get it? Ha! Double pun!

HA: OMG LMAO Stop that madness right now.

Me: Dude, come on! Super close-up of an erection… no one would know! It would look like a veiny arm. With a tattoo.

*pause as inspiration strikes*

Me: OMG! OMG!!! What if I did mushroom pics? With tats…

HA: I dare you.

And that’s how this happened:

Yes, these are the official new covers, and they’ve already been updated at my distributor sites. Might take a day or two to update in some stores, but it’ll happen. I can tell you they’re already getting some great reactions LOL

For those of you on the Rebel Court mailing list, the first chapter went out this morning, which means the sign-ups are officially closed. If you missed the deadline, don’t despair! Sweetest Kiss the complete eBook is now available for pre-order at Smashwords.com, and will soon show up at all eBook sellers worldwide. 🙂

Missed the first two installments? Find them at your favorite eBook store (hint: you might find them discounted at Smashwords for the month of July 😉 )

1. catch me
How does a shameless skirt chaser like Haig Cavanaugh catch a legendary Huntress? Simple: he makes her want to chase him—and then lets her catch him.

CatchMe2

Smashwords
Amazon
Barnes &Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Other

2. dearest love
How does a Rebel hold out against the temptation of his childhood love? He doesn’t…

DearestLove

Smashwords
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Other

Snow White’s Rebels Rebel

Dear readers,

The most frustratingly rewarding thing to happen to a writer is when a story gets away from them. It’s frustrating, because nothing goes according to plan and, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get it to behave the way we planned. But it’s also rewarding, because we get to discover the story as it evolves, the same way our readers do when they pick up our books for the first time.

The Rebel Court series is a poster child for this phenomenon. Originally, I’d planned for seven erotica stories to span roughly 20,000-25,000 words each. Quick little novellas I could churn out one after the other and send out to readers by chapters as they were written.

Obviously, that’s not how it happened…

What should have been a little side project now has a rich and complicated life of its own. Erotica turned into erotic romance, and my 25,000 word goal (ha…) became 35,000 for book 1, and 50,000 for books 2 and 3 respectively. I don’t regret a single one of those words. But I also have to acknowledge that they’ve become too cumbersome to send out on the fly as I’d planned to do.

The feedback I’ve gotten seems to support this. With the first book, the chapters were sent out once a week, and the wait was far too long. With the second, the chapters were sent out once a day, but my stats tell me that most of the recipients didn’t open the individual chapters until the very end. Clearly, a by-the-chapter format doesn’t work for stories of this size.

Here’s where I do the good news, bad news thing.

The good news is that Sweetest Kiss is ready for its debut and the first chapter will go out on July 1, 2018. If you still want to read it by chapters in your inbox, and haven’t signed up for the mailing list yet (or haven’t received the start date announcement email), click here to get in before that date.

The bad news is that this will be the last Rebel story to be shared this way and, once the sign-up closes, it won’t reopen. The Rebel Court mailing list will remain active to the existing members who will continue to receive exclusive VIP excerpts, teasers, coupons, and giveaways for this series as it grows, but the rest of these books will go straight to publication and distribution, just like all my other books.

Thank you to those who have stuck around with the series this long. You helped me try an experiment and, while it didn’t work the way I’d hoped it would, it turned into something bigger and better than I’d anticipated. 🙂 My commitment to Snow White’s Rebels hasn’t changed. I still plan to do an additional four stories, and possibly more after that, depending on how things develop, and I hope you’ll continue to follow the series to its conclusion.

Sincerely,

Alianne

PS: If you missed the first two installments of The Rebel Court Series, you can find them at your favorite eBook store:

1. catch me

How does a shameless skirt chaser like Haig Cavanaugh catch a legendary Huntress? Simple: he makes her want to chase him—and then lets her catch him.

Smashwords
Amazon
Barnes &Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Other

2. dearest love

How does a Rebel hold out against the temptation of his childhood love? He doesn’t…

Smashwords
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Other