Monday 28 October 2013

Sneak Peek: Broken Moon (Wild Instincts Sequel)

I've been toying with a few different ideas for blog articles this week, but when I got up this morning my brain really didn't feel up to getting in-depth and intellectual about sex or writing or literary critique, so instead I've decided I'm going to gush about my upcoming novel instead!
Very minor spoilers ahead, but since the first chapter isn't even finished yet you don't have to worry too much about me revealing anything beyond the bare-bones of the plot. Heck, even the blurb will probably end up containing more spoilers than this!

Broken Moon, a serialised paranormal romance, is a loose sequel to my previous book Wild Instincts, taking place a couple of years after the original and featuring the original book's antagonist Cyan as the hero.
Yep, Cyan the nasty, domineering, predatory alpha who tried his very best to keep the hero and heroine of the last book apart, culminating is some pretty unforgivable actions on his part.

As the title implies, Cyan is a deeply damaged individual by the time we meet him in Broken Moon. He's undergone some rehabilitation since his days of villainy in Wild Instincts, but he still has a lot to atone for. The story centres around Cyan's discovery of the reclusive Highland Pack, a brand new bunch of werewolves who have their own collection of problems to deal with, both internally and externally.

April, a young Highland Pack werewolf, is caught in an uncertain spot in her life where the pull of her instinct urges her to settle down and conform to the expectations of her peers, while her human side longs for something more than the arranged mating and female responsibilities she is destined for.

When April's sheltered life is viciously torn apart before her eyes, the only source of comfort to be found within her rigorously structured community comes from the wild outsider Cyan.

Forbidden romance, love and loss, guilt, redemption, and a healthy dollop of intrigue will be the main themes of April and Cyan's story, and you can bet there's going to be a whole lot more along the way!

Broken Moon is intended to work as a standalone novel, but a lot of Cyan's development will naturally be linked to the events of Wild Instincts, which should hopefully mean there's plenty for fans of the first book to sink their teeth into without alienating new readers!

This time I'm going for a third person omniscient perspective rather than limiting myself to one character. There will be frequent perspective shifts between April and Cyan as we experience both halves of their romance, and already I'm totally digging the freedom to hop between heads and explore exactly what makes both characters tick!

While Wild Instincts started out as a erotic romance, the way the story developed often had me coming up with excuses for the sex, rather than it occurring as a natural part of the story. With that in mind I've decided to go for a straight up romance theme with Broken Moon so that I don't feel shackled down by the obligation to throw in a gazillion sex scenes. Don't worry, though, I can assure you that this book will still be very steamy from the start, with plenty of sizzling and sensual scenes between the main characters. I still love writing sex, after all, I just want it to feel like a treat rather than a once-per-chapter necessity.

I can't give an exact timeframe for when the first chapter will be out, or on how long the novel will end up being (though you can pencil in nine parts/100k words like the previous book), but chapter one is currently around a third finished and should be out some time in November.

I also have another erotica bundle in the works that should hit the shelves in a week or two, so keep an eye out for that!

Monday 21 October 2013

So Bad It's Good

When it comes to the quality of a piece of media there's usually an inverse bell curve that demonstrates how entertaining it's going to be. The middle-of-the-road is often bland, tedious, and forgettable, but it's the truly great and truly terrible that stick with us and provide hours of genuine entertainment.

I've never been much of a "so bad it's good" aficionado, but I'm still familiar with things like the infamous scene from Troll 2, and the superbly awful Harry Potter fanfic My Immortal. What I want to discuss, however, isn't explicitly to do with these great examples of people trying and failing, but rather the idea of media being able to provoke a positive reaction even when it's bad and terrible.

I'm not even talking about hilariously bad movies or fanfiction here, it extends beyond that to books, articles, and movies that are genuinely offensive to us in some way. I myself am guilty of watching youtube videos and reading publications by certain "news" sites that I know are going to rile me up, purely for the sake of having a good old rant with some of my friends about how dumb and awful these things are.

Of course, I'd generally advise against that sort of media consumption (I don't believe much good comes from pursuing things that you know will aggravate you), but it's still an itch that we sometimes feel compelled to scratch.

So why do we do it?
I think it all comes down to catharsis. We can surround ourselves with lovely and pleasant things all day long, but every now and then part of us craves a little contrast so that we can appreciate quality all the more. I often have boring evenings sitting in front of my computer feeling as though I've got nothing to do with my evening, even with the wealth of entertainment the internet has to offer me, but if I spend a week away from home cut off from the online community you can bet I'll relish every second spent in my desk chair once I get back.

That's not quite the best analogy when it comes to media, but you see where I'm coming from. Even things like awful, deplorable, bigoted news articles can in some small way have a positive impact on us, as they tend to allow for a window through which we can crystallise and vent our opinions on certain issues. Sometimes it's good to watch something that makes you angry, or frustrated, or disillusioned, because it creates a cathartic moment for us to contrast against our everyday lives.

For a writer I believe this is especially important.
I've spent long stretches of time thinking about things that are unpleasant, unsavoury, and sometimes deeply depressing, because I want to understand how to better incorporate these ideas into my work. It's through some of the most morally unwholesome opinions I've heard, and some of the most difficult periods of my life, that I've crystallised not just how I feel about certain topics, but how I might go about illustrating that in writing.

It's hard to qualify that kind of stuff as "entertainment" in a direct sense, but if nothing else it's still important and intellectually stimulating.

I may be looking too far into the appeal of things like Troll 2 and My Immortal when I go off on a tangent about the creative importance of works like this, but My Immortal was, and has always been, by far the greatest reminder to me about the dangers of using too many adverbs in my writing. Even though it's first and foremost a hilarious read, it's still been a pretty significant educational tool in highlighting to me a lot of the things someone can do wrong in writing.
It's not always necessarily about catharsis or seeking out the educational value in things like this, but I still think terrible media holds an important place beyond just being "so bad its good".

Sometimes a little dose of what's bad can be exactly what you need.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Creatures of the Night Bundle Released!

Since Halloween's coming up I figured now was a perfect time to re-edit and repackage three of my old erotic shorts into a nifty bundle involving all sorts of beastly and paranormal sexytimes!
Creatures of the Night is available now for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords!

* * *

Mysterious, frightening, and furiously passionate -- the creatures that lurk in the night embody our darkest and most erotic of fantasies.
From beautiful vampires to lustful beasts, Claudia King presents three erotic shorts themed around the monstrous and the paranormal.
Not for the faint of heart!


Taste Me, Take Me (MMF, Vampire)
Mated by the Minotaur (M/F, Monster)
Ravaged in the Stables (M/F, Paranormal)

Taste Me, Take Me:

Two beautiful strangers have been watching Rachel from the crowd whenever her band performs. Tempted by the pair, when Lane and Stefan finally introduce themselves she finds herself accompanying them back to their apartment that very night, only to discover that her handsome admirers are not just hungry for her body, but her blood as well.

Mated by the Minotaur:

Princess Cilissa's cruel father has had enough of his wayward daughter's disobedience. Sentencing her to be thrown into the Minotaur's labyrinth, Cilissa has no choice but to accept her punishment.
The maze is dark and endless, and her only hope is to find a way out.
Somewhere in the darkness the beast stalks her, ravenous to claim the beautiful young princess and make her body his.

Ravaged in the Stables:

A wild girl living by her own wits, Kay is both fascinated and intimidated by the exotic wolf men living in the woods nearby. When one of the beasts comes to her aid, however, she soon finds herself alone with him in the stables, and Kylar the Wolf is intent on making Kay his mate in a night of furious passion.

* * *

So! That means there's only one more bundle (containing three more shorts) to go and I'll be all caught up on redoing my back catalogue, at which point I can get on with the full novelisation of Wild Instincts and begin my other new projects in earnest.

Also as another update, it seems as though some ebook retailers, Amazon included, are cracking down once more on certain erotic titles (predominantly from self-published authors) that feature various "taboo" themes. Fortunately this has only hit two of my titles, my M/M bundle and one of the stories it contains, but I've managed to tweak the title and description of His Girlfriend's Daddy to make the implied-pseudo-incest-but-not-really less obvious. The bundle is back up, but I'll have to redo the cover of His Girlfriend's Fantasy (to use the new title) in order to get it back on Amazon's shelves as a standalone.

I considered writing another blog post detailing my thoughts on this latest absurd wave of censorship (and the horribly inconsistent and frustrating way Amazon is handling it), but really I wouldn't be saying much that I hadn't already outlined in my post on The UK Porn Block. I feel very strongly on issues of media censorship, and the stifling of sexual outlets and fantasies is never something that I've considered to be healthy for society as a whole.
The good folks over on kboards are involved in a lengthy discussion on the subject that you can check out for more details and accounts from various authors who are having their whole livelihoods messed up by this Victorian attitude to porn and sex-based media.

I should have some more regular releases appearing in my schedule now that my last novel is out of the way, so keep your eyes peeled for more updates coming soon!

Tuesday 8 October 2013

"Good Writing"

Today's topic might be a bit of an argument of semantics, but the term "good writing" has always been a bothersome one for me. In its strictest sense this generally refers to the words on the page; the clarity, pace, voice, and structure of the sentences an author strings together. The issue, for me, comes in the distinction between good writing and a good writer, along with the way many people use the phrase "good writing" to describe a book they enjoyed in the most general sense.

Funnily enough, you don't have to have very good writing to be a good writer. Your prose can be as basic and utilitarian as it comes, but if it's used to create a compelling story with engaging characters and a gripping plot, readers are still going to be glued to the pages from start to finish.
I recall Stephen King mentioning in his book On Writing that he doesn't consider himself a good "writer", merely a good storyteller.
I'd very much say the same of myself.
I don't try to be poetic or sublime in my writing (I've been trying my best over the past year to simplify my prose as much as possible, if anything), I just try to convey the point as clearly as possible to facilitate the scene at hand. When I sit down at my keyboard I'm not generally thinking about what I'm doing in terms of individual sentences, but the scene they construct as a whole, and the place that scene has in the greater narrative.

On the other end of the spectrum you have writers who are incredibly eloquent and poetic, but who don't do a very good job of putting together a story that holds the reader's interest. A while back I tried to read Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, and I took two things away from my experience; firstly, that Peake's prose was amongst the most eloquent and poetic I'd ever read, and secondly, that his work was massively inaccessible to a modern audience.
I don't like to say that authors from his generation are "bad writers", because the standards of storytelling from fifty years ago were very different to what we understand today, but Gormenghast, for all of its delicious turns of phrase, is not a story that will suck many people in.
It is not, by our standards, a well-told story.
A piece of art? Certainly. But not a well-told story.

So where am I going with all of this?
Well, the other day I read a comment on a forum from someone who had taken a brief glance at a fellow author's novel, and returned within a few minutes to reassure them that they were a "good writer".
I had to pause and scratch my head at that. Of course, I'm sure they author in question was a wonderful writer, but it made me think about how a lot of people are liable to read short passages of prose, assess how "well written" it is, and then go on to classify the author as either a good or bad writer based purely on the way they construct a paragraph.

I'm guilty of this too! I often find myself dipping into successful novels on Amazon, casting my eyes over the excerpt, and reassuring myself that "I could've written this. Being a good writer isn't so hard!"
Of course that's silly, because the success of a book has very little to do with the "writing" in its most literal sense. J. K. Rowling isn't successful because she can turn a phrase like Shakespeare, but because she can construct scenes and storylines that lend themselves perfectly to a thoroughly gripping page-turner.
It's not so much about the words we use, but the world we build out of them, and that's something that can never be assessed at a quick glance.

The phrase "good writing" is mentioned so often in book reviews that it's often hard to discern exactly what someone means when they use it. Was the book really made great by the author's mastery of prose? Or was it more to do with the scenes and characters they created, the plot and pacing, or any one of a dozen other things?

Don't get me wrong, good writing is still an important part of any novel, but in my eyes it's relatively low on the scale of things that make most readers fall in love with a book. And yet, because it's the most immediately and visually apparent quality of a novel, many readers (myself included) tend to attribute a lot of their superficial impressions to "good writing", when really they should be talking about something else.

Now I feel like a massive nerd for fixating for so long on how people use a single phrase.

Friday 4 October 2013

Wild Fates Released!

Here it is at last, and hopefully well worth the wait! Around twice the usual length of most of my chapters, the dramatic conclusion to Wild Instincts is finally done and available to purchase on Amazon and Smashwords!

The Wood Pack and the Mine Pack have finally come head to head, and as both werewolf clans struggle for dominance Lyssa is caught in the middle, pursued by her old alpha and racing to save those she cares about most from the devastation of the conflict.
Cyan's presence brings back dark memories of her instinct and the past she shared with him, and only one other wolf can save her, both mentally and physically, from his relentless obsession.

So that's it! My second novel is done! In the coming months I'll be doing another big editing pass as I attach all the chapters together for publication as a standalone title, but it'll be a while before that's done.

It's a nice reflective moment to look back on everything I've done this year, and Wild Instincts has very much been my big writing project of 2013. I'll be starting work on new novels before the end of the year, but unless I can somehow squeeze them out within three months alongside all my other projects they're not likely to top my werewolf eRom's place as my largest time investment.

I feel like I learned a lot more about myself as a writer (just as I did with my first novel) working through Wild Instincts. It started out as a pretty standard eRom initially, with short(er) chapters crammed with sizzling sex, but as early as part three I realised that the erotic element wasn't necessarily going to drive this story in the same way it did in His Darkest Desire.

Looking at it overall, Wild Instincts is really more of a steamy romance that verges into New Adult territory than it is an eRom. Had I known exactly how it was going to turn out from the start I'd likely have rebranded it a little and altered the sex scenes to match. It was first and foremost a story I wanted to tell, rather than an erotic fantasy I wanted to explore.

Having said that, I tried my very best to make every sex scene sizzle all the same, and there are plenty of them to enjoy within the novel's ~96,000 word length! Given that the story wasn't explicitly about sex and kink, however, I often found myself spending a long time thinking up reasons for each sex scene, and wracking my brains for ways to vary them up without every chapter having a routine "...and then Thorne and Lyssa had sex, because they felt like it" moment.

It was a tough project to get through at times!
I'm still proud of the end result, but it's taught me a lot about planning out the tone and erotic content of my future projects. If I write another Wild Instincts (which I just might be!) it'll likely be branded as a steamy romance from the start rather than erotica, and when I get to work on my next eRom title I'll make sure to tie the sex into the ongoing story much more firmly.

Sorry for the slowness of blog posts again, but it's been all hands on deck to finish up this last chapter! Once the final kinks with Amazon are sorted out I should be back on a much more regular schedule, starting with releasing a spooky paranormal erotica bundle just in time for Halloween!