Category: Books

RISQ Changes

Published / by R. Phoenix / 1 Comment on RISQ Changes

First off, thanks for the interest, comments, questions, and support about the Ripples in the Status Quo (soon to be renamed to The Fate of the Fallen) series. I love playing in the world and tormenting the characters, and it’s a major compliment to hear any of these things. Very much appreciated. <3

I’ve been promising to write a blog post on what the hell I’m doing, because there’s been some back and forth and waffling. I truly apologize for the confusion, and thank you for sticking around while I figure it out. If you want to skip the rambles about the series in general to the changes to the books, I totally don’t blame you. There are some asterisks to mark where I started rambling about that.

When I first started writing this series, it was meant to be two trilogies: Khaz and Noah’s story, and Ashton and Reese’s story. They were going to be in the same world, but their paths weren’t going to cross except for maybe a cameo. Elias and Jace were meant to appear in a single book and that was it. These were the first books I wrote and published, and I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to venture too far out of my comfort zone, so of course I went out in left field.

As I was writing, I realized I had strong ideas for where their stories would collide. I got feedback along the same lines as my thoughts. And I was addicted to writing Elias and Jace, who I knew could be major catalysts along the way.

So Bought, Ravel, and Recoil were now part of the same series. I wrote Owned (which is my favorite of the series, in no small part because my best friend edited for me and helped me make it what I wanted). I switched to self-publishing, revised the first three books, and went about my business. It took me awhile to realize that it wasn’t the best plan in the world, because the three books have vastly different tones, they have different characters, etc.

But it was a little late at that point, unless I wanted to do total rewrites. I had a lot going on, and I wanted to keep moving forward to see what would happen. I wrote Temper, which… is not my favorite for a lot of reasons. I’ll get into that a little later in this post. I got the idea for Puppy and knocked it out in a ridiculously short period of time because it was just fun. I wrote Refraction.

The series has never done particularly well, and I’ve thought about setting it aside several times. Each time, I came back to it because at the end of the day, this is a story I want to tell. I was offered a publishing contract for the French language rights to the series. And that was when I started to mess up. There were some other things going on, but essentially, I considered this a chance to try to fix the problems I knew were there.

I was really excited about it. I had a lot of ideas, and I was sure I could make the series better and potentially more approachable. I started working on it, but I had a lot on my plate. (This is the part where I cackle maniacally, because I have no idea how I was handling it all.) It got pushed back, but I really wanted the re-release out on a certain date.

Then I had a crisis in my personal life, and I’ll admit my heart just wasn’t in it. I knew better, but I released it anyway because I had committed to it and didn’t want to be wishy-washy. I was disappointed in it, feedback was not good, and I just didn’t have the time or energy to put in the work that I’d intended to.

So I made the decision to pull down the rework, which I considered a failed experiment. Instead, I decided to just revise them and put them back up one by one when I was happier with them. Not a perfect solution. Not a solution I really wanted. But it was something. I commissioned new covers for them anyway because of some issues with not having the original files and needing them for the French translation and a few other things, but that’s going to take some time. Eventually, they’ll go into print. They’re short, but hey. I’d like to hold copies of them anyway.

At this current moment, Bought, Ravel, and Recoil are back up on Amazon. Unfortunately, their rules on updates aren’t very friendly, so I can’t get the content pushed out, and I don’t even think you can request it. If you have the originals and you want the new versions, let me know and I’ll get them to you. You can do it now, after I have the new covers, both times — I don’t mind. Just send me an e-mail at raissa(dot)phoenix(at)gmail(dot)com or send me a message on Facebook.

Owned is next up for edits, then Temper and Refraction. The covers are in process. I owe my cover artist some images, and she’s working on one. I’m (slowly) working on getting the paperback versions done. It’s not hard, but it’s time-consuming. I want to work on my outline for the series and take some notes on things I want to make sure I don’t forget to go back to. I have an idea for an Elias/Jace book between Bought and Owned, and I have plans for the 7th book (tentatively titled ‘Sanguine.’). At some point, probably once the covers are done, I’m changing the name of the series to ‘The Fate of the Fallen,’ which I think fits better. So there’s a lot going on there, it’ll take some time, but I’ll be happy at the end of it all. Hopefully. 😉

*****

All of that said, here are the quick (haha, right, like that happened) notes of what has changed and what I expect to change. Note that the expectations may well go out the window when I sit down to actually do the work, because I’m apparently a masochist. I am revising all of them for content, clarity, and overall feel, and I’m correcting typos and errors as I go. (And probably making more.)

Bought:
*Removed the Jace/Spencer flashback scene. The information in this scene is still ‘canon’ to the series, and this scene may find its way in at a later date. Either way, I didn’t feel like it benefited the book to have it in. (It’s far more fun to drop in little hints and clues over the course of the books than to tell everything at once!)
*Rewrote the Elias/Spencer scene. The original scene didn’t convey what I wanted it to, and I wasn’t that happy with it. For what it’s worth, I absolutely love the rewritten chapter.
*Adjusted the timing for the rework… and then promptly left it so vague in the edits  that I don’t think it’s obvious how much time passes. We’re going to say this was intentional, ‘kay? (Nah, I’ll answer this when I finish playing with the outline. I’m not a huge detail person, in case you haven’t noticed that, but I know it matters, especially if I work on the book between Bought and Owned with those two lovelies.
*Added more internal conflict for Jace.
*Smoothed out a few things with Elias that were somewhat contradictory.

Ravel:
*Rewrote the first part of the first chapter. This was originally done for the ‘rework’ to account for continuity between the books, but I ended up liking the rewrite a lot better, so I left it in.
*Removed the first sex scene. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve already been fussed at. But for your amusement (or at least mine, but I’m easily amused), I will share the (somewhat spoilery) gist of the conversation I had with a friend about it that led me to make the decision…

“…This doesn’t even make sense. How even? The way Ashton throws himself at Reese? Nope. I mean, okay, hurt/comfort, but it doesn’t work. And because I took out a lot of the ‘insta love’ elements, it doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s like… ohai, obligatory sex scene…! Seriously, wtf? How the hell do I even fix this? AND! He doesn’t shower first! He came from the slums! He’s filthy! WTF Reese! Make him bathe!” And then a lot of whining.

*As said above, I removed a lot of the ‘insta love’ aspects. During the reread, they didn’t feel right, and I think with the changes, it’ll read more organically. The road will be a little longer, but I think the journey will be better and they’ll have a healthier relationship because of it. (And, seriously, we need a healthy relationship in these books.)
*I smoothed out some of Ashton’s back-and-forth in his head. His issues with supes aren’t terrible, but they are there, and I think they were a little too contradictory at times. Hopefully it’s better now.
*The, er, scene. Big spoiler here, so I don’t want to come out and say it. But you know how he does a bad thing? I tried to explain that a little better.
*Holy crap, people. Typos. TYPOS. That’s all I’m saying. Ahem.

Recoil:
*There were several references to things that happened off-screen, and it was a dynamic I loved. But it was almost solely telling, not showing, and I opted to alter the dynamic in the existing scenes some instead of doing a ton of rewriting. (Noah and Khaz getting under each other’s skin. It’s still there, but I don’t think it’s as ‘hey, you didn’t see it, but it totally happened.’)
*Added a Noah scene to smooth out continuity — again, addressing the telling, not showing, thing. I felt like there needed to be a chapter from his POV sooner in the narrative. I had wanted to add another scene with him (right before Khaz’s POV with Mays), but it wasn’t really working so I left it out.
*I felt like Noah’s shift was a little too abrupt, so I moved some things around and reworded, added, etc. I think it makes better sense now.

Owned:
*I don’t anticipate many changes. This is my favorite book of the series, and I’ve been really happy with it. But this is me we’re talking about, so who knows? 

Temper:
*This is where the major changes come in. Some of the things I did in this book were because I felt obligated to for various reasons. I stalled out several times writing this book, and it was because I was trying to write something I didn’t really want.
*I think a certain event was unnecessarily detailed, and while I’m not taking it out, I am going to try to work with it until I’m happier with it. This graphic scene wasn’t meant to be sexy, and a lot of it can be condensed and referenced. I don’t want to back off completely, but I think it’s excessive as written.
*I was actually appalled by the victim-blaming comments on this book. One of my biggest goals is to try to figure out where I went wrong.  I don’t want to spoon feed, but at the same time, I’m doing the series a real disservice if people are coming out of this book feeling that way about this character.
*There’s a Khaz/Noah cameo in here, and while I know exactly where it is in the timeline, I know it’s not super obvious. I’m going to see what I can do here, which may be a grand total of nothing.

Refraction:
*This one’s still pretty new, and I was very pleased by how it turned out. I like the tone, the style, the feel, the story, the characters… I had a lot of help with the more fast-paced actiony scenes, and I think it paid off.
*I plan on adding 1-2 Elias/Jace scenes. I had one written in the original draft, but I took it out based on some very good feedback that basically amounted to, why the hell are you condensing all of this into one chapter? This could easily be 3-5 chapters of the next book and deserves that attention! And since I love those two… I didn’t replace it at the time, because I didn’t want to add in something rote just because. Based on the changes to Bought, I have a few ideas.
*There’s something that happens at the very end that I questioned a lot when writing the original draft, then again when editing.  It was pointed out to me that it was too soon, and I went back and forth and decided to ultimately go with it.  Now, I realize I shouldn’t have. So chances are, Khaz’s confession is coming out.

…Phew. Okay, if you read this far, I commend you. I swear, I’m going to be keeping this just as notes to myself so I don’t forget things. So. Er. Yeah! I look forward to sharing all of this with you.

With all my heart, I thank you for reading the books and reading this.

<3

R.

Refraction

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Coming Soon…14114659_10153694832546750_2121602117_o

“I am afraid, Julian,” she whimpered, and in her mind’s eye, she saw the stars winking out, one by one, as the world began to destroy itself from the inside out. “I am afraid. You call me insane; you all see me as a madwoman, but I know enough to be afraid. I am afraid.”

Julian was silent. The confession was something new; she had never dared admit it. For a vampire of her years to be afraid… She could only imagine what he might be thinking, and she clutched harder at him.

“You know not what you’ve done,” she whispered, pleaded, somehow. “Tell your brother… Tell him, Julian. You must tell him.”

“What do you want me to tell him, Desideria?” he inquired, smoothing his fingers through her tangled hair.

“Tell him…” She hesitated, because these words would be the most important she had ever spoken. “Tell him — I don’t know. Julian, I do not know. There’s so much blood, the slaughter of innocents and not-innocents, and I want it. I want it so badly, but it’s… It’s all wrong now, somehow. The world is awash with blood, and we’ll glut ourselves into extinction.”

She laughed, high and wild.

“Perhaps it’s too late,” she said, not knowing if she was laughing or crying as Julian’s lips brushed her brow. “Perhaps we’re already there.”

 

Coming soon…

Weapon of Mass Destruction [Ashton & Reese]

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This is an unedited short set in the RISQ world, approximately after Temper in timeline but without spoilers. 

Ashton glowered at the four-legged master of mass destruction in front of him, watching as it wagged its tail–and then promptly hopped behind Reese. The little furball yipped happily and darted forward, running between his lover’s legs–which was his territory, thank you very much–and then going straight for Ashton’s ankles. This time, Ashton was the one to yelp as he nearly fell over, trying to get away from the creature.

“What is that?” Ashton demanded, jumping up onto a chair instead and staring down at the beast on the floor.

Reese, who had spun around to watch Ashton leap away from the animal like a gymnast playing leapfrog, was trying to hide a smile, but Ashton knew him well enough to where he wasn’t keeping any secrets.

“It’s not funny, Reese!”

From behind him, he heard his best friend’s voice remark, “Actually, I think it’s pretty fucking hilarious.”

Ashton would have turned to look at Leo, but then he would have had to take his attention off of the miniature monstrosity that was now yipping away in front of his chair, small claws on huge paws scrabbling for purchase on one of the bottom rungs of it. “You. Hush,” he chided, flinging his hand in Leo’s general direction.

“Me. Leo.” Leo mocked him, and Ashton could hear his friend’s footsteps as he walked into the kitchen. They were so heavy in comparison to Reese’s, but then, he didn’t know a single human who could out-stealth a werewolf.

Even a former thief like him couldn’t pull that off.

“This is a dog, and I thought you’d like him as a pet,” Reese admitted, stepping up behind the thing and picking it up.

Ashton shuddered as the creature’s tongue ran along his lover’s neck. “I am never kissing you there again,” he announced when Reese made no move to avoid the molestation. “Not even if you scrub it with bleach. And that’s not a pet. What you have there is a ball of noisy fluff. That licks. And pisses. And destroys things.”

“So basically, you’re afraid your role in this household is going to be usurped,” Leo said, stopping just within Ashton’s peripheral vision as he hopped down–warily–from the chair.

“His name,” Reese said, his pale blue-grey eyes sparkling, “is Thor. Can you hate Thor?”

Ashton glowered at him. With the amount of times he’d compared Reese to a Viking or some sort of Norse god, he couldn’t exactly claim to hate Thor, even if he wanted to.

Badly.

“Not when I’m calling you Thor,” he huffed. “But it’s a dog.” Which he said like he was talking about a nuclear explosion, because as far as he was concerned, he was. It was only a matter of time until the fluffball exploded all over the place. “And I’m not cleaning up after it.”

“Him,” Reese pointed out dryly. “He’s definitely a him.”

“I’m sure the dog is secure enough in his masculinity to where he doesn’t need you to defend his manhood,” Ashton informed the werewolf in the room, scowling at him.

“Ash,” Leo said, his voice sounding strange enough to where Ashton turned his head to look at his friend–who was trying so hard not to laugh that the syllable came out strangled.

“Oh, sure. Just laugh it up,” Ashton replied irritably. “Some friend you are.”

“I’m a fantastic friend. If the little tiny ball of fluff your boyfriend named Thor like he’s a badass goes for you, I’ll have his phone ready to take pictures.” Leo grinned, leaning against the wall. “But don’t mind me. I’m just here to watch.”

“And mock,” Ashton grumbled.

“That, too.”

Ashton looked for something to throw, but his knife-throwing skills weren’t particularly up to par, and he opted to pass on throwing sharp objects at his friend.

There were plenty of other ways to get him back.

Blog Tour, Days 1 & 2

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Here are my first four blog tour spots! I really tried to vary these and break them up, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

7/1: Joyfully Jay: wherein I write about my love for villains + exclusive excerpt

7/2: The Dark Arts Blog: Spotlight post

7/3: Lily G. Blunt’s Blog: Author Interview with some very interesting questions (and hopefully interesting answers) + exclusive excerpts… including a brief one from my contemporary WIP.

7/4: Attention is Arbitrary: nerd words, or why I name my books what I do + exclusive excerpt

My Review of Paper Kisses

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Paper KissesPaper Kisses by R M Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was difficult for me to assign a number value to this book, because it affected me in so many different ways. And that’s why it’s getting a 5: any book that can be so nuanced as to affect me on multiple levels has done its job. It’s a bit difficult to get too deep into it without giving away spoilers, and I’m not big on giving those away. But I do have to say a few things.

First of all, Grace has a way with words. She writes prose beautifully, not going too far into the realm of ‘so poetic I can’t stand it’ but going far enough to where I appreciate the loveliness of her language. From the start, I was captivated by the way she writes. It’s distinctly British rather than being Americanized, and I adored that element of it. Her use of present tense is something I’m not usually fond of, but I barely noticed once I got into the story

I’ve been reading a lot of works out of the genre I prefer, but this brought me right back to where I’m comfortable and happy–and then promptly threw me back out of my comfort zone…which made me happy. Well. This isn’t a happy, humorous book, folks. There were tears. This was a difficult read, but it was a very good read, too.

If I had one criticism, it would be that the beginning is a little difficult to get into. But it’s worth getting past it to get to the rest. Beautiful. Just beautifully terrible and terribly beautiful.

Buy or read on Kindle Unlimited at Amazon.

My Review of Wrong Way

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Wrong Way (The Shenandoah Pack, #2)Wrong Way by Taylor Law
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had the distinct pleasure of getting the chance to read Wrong Way before its release, and I felt incredibly fortunate for it. If I keep reading shifter books that are this good, I’ll have to start including them in my favorites. I didn’t read Wrong Turn first, but I will be going back to read it. I may have a few spoilers from not having read it first, but I don’t feel like I lost anything along the way, so it can be read independently of the other.

There are so many things that are done right here. The writing is great, the pacing is great, the characters are great, and the plot…Well, Law took the concept of shifters being hunted and made it her own with such assurance that I would have thought it had never been done before.

I desperately want to know more about the characters, especially Justice and Owen; I cared (and care!) deeply about them. Law brought me up and down and backwards and forwards and sideways
If I had one complaint, it would be that I felt the book could have benefited from another Owen scene, just to keep things going. As long as the author gives me another book, though, I think I can forgive her… 😉 If you’re considering the read, hit the button.

Pre-Order Wrong Way now!

My Review of Dominus

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DominusDominus by J.P. Kenwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I was skeptical. There you have it. I admit it. Ancient Rome isn’t my thing and historical isn’t my thing. But this book came so highly recommended that I had to check it out. I love dark and gritty, and this fits the bill without going too, too terribly far into it. I bumped it to the top of my to be read list of doom and then stayed up half the night reading it.

So now, I’m so addicted that I feel like a klepto, stealing pages here and there. It’s been ridiculously hard to put down. Kenwood has pacing down for what I enjoy. I don’t feel like it’s too fast or too slow; it’s a steady progression. The sex is well-written without being overdone. The characters are believable, with their strengths and flaws. There’s enough grit and darkness to keep my attention. There’s intrigue, the politics are extremely interesting to read without becoming tiresome as they can be in some books, and I found myself surprised more than once. It’s well done historically in terms of the setting from what I know.

There’s one plot angle I’m eyeing a little closely, but I trust the author. I’m not going to give spoilers, but it seems a little dodgy. However, the first thing I thought was a little dodgy was explained, so pretty sure it’s intentional.

All in all, this is what I love in a book. Even if you’re not a fan of historicals, if you like books that flirt with the darker side of writing and manage to captivate you completely, check it out. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say it’s been a wonderful read.

Keep in mind this is a five part series, folks. However, there is some heartache in here. All the feels.

Mosey on over to Amazon to get your copy!

My Review of The Journey of Jimini Renn

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The Journey of Jimini RennThe Journey of Jimini Renn by April Kelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me put it this way… I don’t read desert stories. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about sand and thirst that doesn’t usually appeal to me. I don’t enjoy them, so I avoid them. However, I ended up reading The Journey of Jimini Renn, and I was drawn into the book almost immediately. There are subtle nuances of Kelley’s writing that are easy to miss unless you’re paying close attention; I didn’t notice until another character was introduced, for instance, how deliberate her choice of character speech was. You can tell who’s speaking based on only the speech without any tags at all, and that’s impressive to me. Good story, good flow of plot, and an extremely intriguing back story that leaves you wanting to know more without leaving you left feeling like you missed out on anything. Overall, I highly recommend the read.

View The Journey of Jimini Renn on Amazon.

 

My Review of Second Alpha

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Second Alpha (River Wolf Pack, #2)Second Alpha by Rebecca James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest, most shifter books read the same to me. They don’t stand out, and they’re neither good nor bad. But James manages to take me out of the same tired old tropes and give me something new, and that’s one of the things I respect most about her as a writer. Second Alpha is another example of her skill in deftly turning the familiar tropes on their heel, leaving them recognizable and yet at the same time lending her own unique touch. I enjoyed what she did with the shifter community, and their interactions with humans are intriguing as well. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but there are some unique and neat things she explores. Very good read all around.

Buy it here: Second Alpha!

Promo Spots

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Okay, so! Rambling post about promo … things. Keep in mind I’m brand new at all this, so it might be good, and it might not. 
The short version: a) Authors: there’s a sale and here are two sites for paranormal-related books. b) Readers: there are two sites that offer 2 free reads EACH a day. THESE ARE NOT M/M SPECIFIC.
 
I Love Vampire Novels is having a sale for Mother’s Day on ad spots, so I went and checked it out… They have this newish affiliated site (I think), Reign of Reads, and their newsletter spots were only $10 (Free Read) and $15 (Featured Read). ILVN’s spots are $14 off if you go through their newsletter links.
 
So I whipped out my handy-dandy credit card (*cough*) and requested slots for Bought (Free) and Ravel (Featured/Regular Price of 2.99). Figured hell, I’ll try closer upcoming dates just to see what happens. If they don’t have ’em, they don’t have ’em. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
 
Submitted RoR requests at 9:18 and 9:24, requesting spots for Bought and Ravel for the weeks of 5/9 (Bought) and 5/23 (Ravel).
 
Received a response at 9:48, confirming bookings on 5/11 and 5/23. Really freaking fast. I’m crossing my fingers and toes; they say they distribute to over 16k readers. (2 Free/2 Featured in each newsletter.)
 
…Oh, and while I was at it, I also bought a discounted Featured Ad spot for ILVN for Recoil, which my credit card also provided the funds for. They distribute to… a lot of people. A LOT. (2 Free/6 Featured in each newsletter.) Yeah. I have so much restraint.
 
I opted not to discount either Ravel or Recoil for the simple reason that I do giveaways all. the. time. I can’t even tell you how many copies of them I’ve given away. (Plus I feel guilty when people buy things at full price and then I offer them for next to nothing later, because it’s frustrating as a reader sometimes. I bought a book for like $6 a while back to support an author and it was maybe a few hours later or the next day, and it was on sale for 99c. On my limited budget, that stung a little.) So it might hurt, but it might not. We’ll see. They recommend a price point between 99c-2.99 anyway.
 
If any authors take advantage of these deals, might want to split the payments up so you get the redirect pages. I didn’t get one for ILVN. I sent them an e-mail, though, so we’ll see.