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Announcements Author's Notes (Potential Spoilers Ahead)

Author’s Note for My Primal Mate

Guess what’s now live?

Cover image of My Primal Mate

Ariyah

My new next-door neighbor looks like a demon—and acts like one too!

Most of the Akrellians now living on Earth after saving humanity from an alien invasion are super polite. The red-scaled, black-quilled behemoth living next door is a notable exception, and he doesn’t bother to return my enthusiastic greeting with anything more than an impatient growl.

But I know the secret to making friends, and that secret is a dozen red velvet cupcakes with cute monster faces on them, just in time for Halloween. The grumpy, smoldering volcano of a male might pretend he’s not interested in my offering, but he can’t resist my sweet treats for long.

Of course, he might just be too hot to handle, because this Akrellian serves a darker Dancer, and the drumbeats from his primal song draw me to the domineering and demanding male while his wild howl thrills my blood—even as it sends me fleeing. When he gives chase, I try not to reveal how eager I am to be caught.

It’s just too bad that he believes I’m an assassin who tried to poison him.

***

This Halloween holiday romance features a grumpy hero and a sunshine heroine discovering that opposites not only attract, but can complement each other and find harmony together in a fun, speedy read (approximately 66K words) that is set in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe but has a lighter and more comedic tone. You don’t need to have read the Iriduan Test Subjects series to read this series, though there are occasional references to events and characters from that series.

The books in this series are standalone and can be read out of order, though they do take place chronologically:

Book 1: My Chameleon Mate

Book 2: My Foxy Mate

Book 3: My Primal Mate

All content warnings can be found here.


The following portion of this blog is the extended Author’s Note for My Primal Mate and will include spoilers for that book. It is best read after reading the book. 😀

My Primal Mate is my thirtieth published novel!!

I have to keep reminding myself of that, because it’s still so shocking that I made it this far with my books! I know that some authors have easily double that number published, and I’m in awe of their productivity, but I can honestly say that I never imagined that I would ever have a backlist this size when I set out to write my first novel.

(One that has not been, and will never be, published, lol. Trust me, it’s a disaster!)

I wrote two full novels before writing and then publishing The Princess’s Dragon, both of which will never be published (even though one was a goblin romance that was well ahead of its time, XD. It’s a disaster, and would have to be rewritten from scratch anyway.)

Cover Image of The Princess Dragon
My first published novel!

My first published book was written out of frustration at the lack of romance novels featuring actual dragons as romance heroes, (rather than dragon shifters or dragon riders or dragon masters). I still love that book and it holds a very special place in my heart, and some day, I plan to revisit it and remaster the entire series into an omnibus, possibly with some sequels that are closer to the heat level of the romances I’m writing now. When I wrote The Princess’s Dragon, I hadn’t decided what I wanted it to be, even though the story and characters knew it was a romance all along.

I love dragons!

I don’t know what originally fascinated me about them when I was young, but I have loved them for as long as I can remember. It was dragons that brought me into the fantasy genre as a little girl, not unicorns or fairies. I have dragon tattoos, I have a collection of dragons of all shapes and sizes in my home, and I daydream of dragons and thrill whenever I see them rendered in movies and animated films.

Why am I talking about dragons, when this note is supposed to be about My Primal Mate?

The Akrellian species to which Zernogal belongs was inspired by dragons (and porcupines XD). Many of my reptilian species are a reflection of my love for dragons, but the Akrellians are directly based on the mythical beasts. (As are the Ajda Yan, from my Rampion universe).

licensed digital painting of red dragon head
Inspiration for Zernogal. Licensed from Adobe Stock.

Because Akrellians are based on dragons, they have always had very aggressive natures, which is something I show in Tirel’s book, The Warrior’s Mate, but I also show how their natures have been restrained by thousands of years of civilized cooperation.

However, even in the earliest book in the Iriduan Test Subjects series, The Scorpion’s Mate, I mention (briefly) the darker side of Akrellian nature, when Ilyan points out that Claire shouldn’t have sympathy for the Akrellians Thrax fought. The Iriduans only know the aggressive side of the Akrellians, because the two species are enemies, and they’ve come to rightly fear their enemy’s brutality.

Those Akrellians who must go to war with the Iriduans are filled with the “Dark Partner’s” spirit and energy, and it is a vital force for their survival against a powerful opponent, while the “Dancer” they worship as their one true goddess fills them with a philosophical appreciation for beauty and cooperation.

Neither force is meant to be wholly good or wholly evil, anymore than nature’s whims can be classified as “good” or “evil.” Both have their positives and their negatives, and the point of their existence is that those strengths and flaws balance each other out when they are in harmony. If you’ve read My Primal Mate, but not The Warrior’s Mate, then you already know the small spoiler that those energies are now in harmony.

In Ilyan’s speech in The Scorpion’s Mate, he mentions how the Akrellians danced upon the entrails of Iriduan soldiers. This was said to imply that it happens all the time in the name of the “Dancer” the Akrellians worship, but Ilyan is ignorant of what really took place, knowing only what he’s been told by the empire.

The one incident that is held up by the Iriduans as proof of Akrellian savagery is what forms the backdrop for Zernogal’s story. Iriduan soldiers invaded his colony, tried to kill the members of his tribe, were hunted and captured by him and his fellow warriors, and then were sacrificed on their altar to the Dark Dancer.

It’s a grim tale, and not one I wanted to be super focused on during the much more lighthearted story of My Primal Mate, however, I felt like it was an important starting point for the misunderstood hero.

I like to switch perspectives in my books, and I always try to view things from every character’s perspective, free of the bias from the opposing characters. Obviously, I have my own opinions about which character is “the good guy” and which is “the bad guy,” but I often surprise even myself when I get inside the heads of the antagonists. I love nuance, and I try to include it in every story. In many ways, the truth turns out to be only a matter of perspective.

Sometimes, all I have to ask myself is how most humans would feel about alien invaders bent on wiping out our towns or cities. Then I ask myself how humans with the power to travel to alien worlds would react to a dangerous extraterrestrial threat on that world, and whether they would invade it to wipe out that threat before it spreads to their own colonies.

But that’s just the dark backstory, and My Primal Mate isn’t meant to be grim and dark, despite being set during Halloween. Zern’s story is about redemption, but more than that, it’s about him finding balance after a lifetime of rejecting all the pleasant aspects of life in pursuit of his focus on ambition and aggression.

He learns that it’s okay to enjoy sweet treats once in a while, and that it’s okay to have a soft heart and like cute things. He learns that vulnerability isn’t the same as weakness, and that even weakness isn’t something that must always be rejected and despised.

And Ariyah learns to be bold and go after what her heart most desires instead of waiting for it to come to her. She learns that timidity and patience don’t always get you what you want, and that sometimes, you have to be persistent and pursue your goal with determination and ambition.

I love this story so much because it takes two opposite natures and blends them to bring out the best in both characters. Ariyah grows bolder and stronger in her pursuit of Zern, and Zern becomes more yielding and playful in his relationship with Ariyah. And most importantly, they both open their hearts when both of them were so guarded before meeting each other that they would never have connected on such a deep level with anyone else.

I love a grumpy hero, and Zernogal definitely fit the bill for me. He was guarded, aggressive, antisocial, introverted, and perfect for a sunshine bright heroine who loves to spread sweetness to catch him off guard.

Some of my metaphors are on the nose, I know, but I chose them to be that way. For example, how Ariyah delivered sweetness into Zern’s life with the cupcakes, only for him to overindulge in the unfamiliar experience, then become convinced it’s bad for him, and that he must avoid it (and her), while at the same time, craving a repeat of the pleasure he gained in the consumption of the cupcakes before too many of them made him so sick.

He wants that sweetness in his life, but the only way he knows how to get it is to take it by strength and prowess, because that’s all he’s ever known. So he “hunts” her, but Ariyah isn’t acting like his usual prey. She’s not afraid of him. She wants him to chase her, but more importantly, she wants him to catch her. Her yielding to him and giving him her love and desire without demanding anything in return catches him off guard again.

The “howling” is a replay of a similar chase scene from The Warrior’s Mate, only this time, I got to add even more to the horror movie element with a familiar (and at times terrifying XD) cornfield. I so wish I could show visually how that chase scene looked in my head.

I am definitely pro monster when I watch monster movies, is all I’m saying. 😀

Zern coming to Ariyah in spirit, choosing her over communing with the Dark Dancer, was another metaphor I got to play with, in a delicious way that I hope my readers really enjoyed.

Was it only due to heightened telepathic and telekinetic synergy between the two of them caused by the Akrellian psychic adaptations, or was it really a supernatural event?

I’ll let you decide. 😉

One thing I love to do in my books is flesh out the worlds they’re set in. I know some readers grow impatient with too much worldbuilding, so as I develop my storytelling skills, I work to make my worldbuilding information leaner and always pertinent to the story, but still, there’s often opportunities to advance understanding about how my alien cultures and societies function, and the Akrellian society is a fascinating one for me, especially in regards to their interactions with humans, not to mention with the more dangerous side of their own natures.

I really got to examine these things in this story, plus show how Zernogal not only changes himself, but changes those around him. (Also telepathy? Or is it supernatural? ;))

And then there’s Cupid and crew. They are changing too. In mysterious ways. 😉 (Unless you’ve read Key to the Dead Fall, in which case, you probably know a bit more about what’s going on with Cupid and crew.)

Cover image for Key to the Dead Fall
In this book, a gray alien undergoes a transformation as he falls in love with the heroine. MFM alien romance.

I hope that you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I really hope you look forward to more from this series. If this is the first book you’ve read in this series and you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll check out the other two. They are also standalones that can be read out of order, however they do take place in chronological order, so there are sometimes references and Easter eggs from previous books (the programmable hover vacs, for example).

My Chameleon Mate

A heartbroken human newlywed accidentally launches herself into space and crash-lands on a primitive planet, where she’s rescued by a reptilian alien with very chameleon-like features, including a prehensile tail and other intriguing attributes, who helps her forget all about her philandering husband.

My Foxy Mate

A successful human saleswoman in search of adventure meets a seductive, foxlike extraterrestrial called an Okihan with plenty of interesting gold piercings and a pirate past that comes back to haunt them both.

***

This series has been a lot of fun for me to write so far, and I have many concepts and even some outlines already done for the series. Here’s some of them:

—an Iriduan rebel named Urbarra who was introduced in The Iriduan’s Mate. (He’s more than he seems, but he juuussstt might be forgetting that for a bit during his story and believes he’s an arrogant Iriduan official.)

—a Thokost, a plant/fungi/reptile/amphibian alien with some really different anatomy, which was a species I introduced in The Iriduan’s Mate. (Fierce warriors who are very aloof, leak toxin from their skin, go through multiple forms during their life stages, and have sensory filaments. Oh, and they can choose the number of body parts they grow. And that means any body parts. ;D)

—an Urasol (bear-like behemoth of an alien) named Arkto. If you’ve read My Foxy Mate, then you’ve met him. 😀 (I love this huggable teddy bear who’s a sucker for the ladies XD)

 —Anubis (of course!) as well as Inpu and Anpu, the jackal-headed Inu’As introduced in The Hunter’s Mate. (As of now, this won’t be a “why choose” romance. They each have stories planned in the concept stage, not the outline yet, with Anubis being the first of the three to get his story. This could change because I’m still debating, since I initially planned the trio to share a single heroine, but that story plan was backburnered years ago.)

*This is a tough one for me, especially since it is probably the most requested book so far, because I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to Anubis. I want all the stories and all the beautiful jackal-men! XD—on a related note, the Dead Fall might just be getting a new species from Tak and Iyaren’s world that might just be four-armed jackal-men. 😉

—a true Thida Naf, like what Sha Zaska from The Iriduan’s Mate is supposed to be, and this species has lots of very big, bioluminescent tentacles. 😀 (This one’s gonna be so wild! Cosmic horror meets romantic comedy—at least, that’s the plan.)

—a Menops male, the ant-like species mentioned from the very beginning of the series (and the hero from The Hunter’s Mate), in full insectoid form. (I’m very excited about this one, because I’m keeping him in his ant-form, and it’s going to be very different!)

—An olem, the three-eyed, scaled aliens inspired by dragons and the tuatara lizard. (There are some very cool mating details for the olems that I can’t wait to share! How they find each other, how they bond, and how they live are just a part of that.)

—An Ultimen hero, of course! We neeeed a Bigfoot romance! (I have a couple of concepts for these guys!)

—A giant, alien, man-eating amoeba, you say? Yep, I have a plan for a Dream Weaver too (A Dream Weaver was one of the antagonists from The Serpent’s Mate, though I don’t know if I’d call it a villain so much as a survivor). This one is going to be SO cool! Very dreamy and VERY alien. 😀

—An AI, because of course we need an AI romance! I’ve only gotten the chance to write one so far with Rampion (different series altogether), so I definitely need to play with another AI story.

—And…Cupid? I’ll just wait on divulging the details for this one, because this is a story that won’t be written for a little bit yet, but let’s just say, the “god” of love doesn’t escape his own arrows, and his own love story is one he can’t predict.

***

I want to do all these stories, and it’s difficult to choose between them, because I love all the characters, concepts, and plots. Let me know in the comments which books you’d like to see first. I’m not promising those will be the next books I write, but I do take that kind of feedback into consideration when making a decision about which manuscript to work on next.

Thank you so much for reading my blog, and if you’ve read the book, thank you for that too! And if you liked it so much you left a rating or review, I want to give you an extra helping of thanks! Those make a huge difference in visibility for these books.

I appreciate the support and encouragement all my readers have given me! You inspire me!

Categories
Announcements Author's Notes (Potential Spoilers Ahead)

My Foxy Mate Author’s Note

Guess what eBook finally went live on Amazon!!

My Foxy Mate cover image

I’m so excited to bring Suda Eran’s story to you (read FREE with Kindle Unlimited, paperbacks are also available on Amazon), and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Here’s the description:


Davinia

Sell over a million dollars of programmable hover vacs in a month, get a hefty commission check, and win an all-expenses paid trip to Ubaid Space Station.

That’s the promise, and I deliver on my end of the bargain. What I get for my trouble is a “supervised” guided tour of the station, surrounded by other humans.

I came for the extraterrestrial experience, not the poorly cooked chicken parmesan in the Earth-centric resort restaurant. So, who can blame me if I slip my leash by bribing the tour guide to let me escape yet another mind-numbingly boring museum trip?

After an encounter with a gray alien lands me a hot tip on the best place to find excitement on this station, I end up in a bar in the most dangerous sector of the Leisure Ring. I also meet the extraterrestrial of my dreams—at least, he can be for the remainder of my vacation.

Yes, he’s an Okihan, known as a “fox-man” to us humans, and yes, he looks very roguish, even with that super fluffy tail of his, but he reassures me that he’s not a pirate. He works for the Cosmic Syndicate, all official-like.

He’s charming, rakish, and probably more than a little disreputable, and I might be playing in a much larger sandbox than I’m accustomed to, but I just can’t resist giving in to his flirtation.

I came to Ubaid Space Station searching for adventure, and Suda Eran promises to take me on one, but I probably shouldn’t trust him, because the more time I spend with him, the more I realize that he’s already stealing my heart.

***

This 70k word flirty science-fiction romance takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe, but is part of a lighter series where each book can be read as a standalone, even though some characters may overlap between the two series. This story does feature characters that appeared in the Iriduan Test Subjects series, however, it isn’t necessary to have read those books to follow along with this book.

The first book in the Iriduan Universe Love Stories series is only loosely connected to this book, and both can be read out of order without much confusion, although they do take place in chronological order:

My Chameleon Mate

My Foxy Mate

Content warnings can be found HERE.


As usual, I have written a long Author’s Note for my book, and though I love to share all these details with my readers, I know that not all of them will want this note to take up pages and pages of the actual book, so I’ve migrated them here to my blog for those who are interested in reading them.

This Author’s Note may contain spoilers for My Foxy Mate, so if you’re planning on reading the book, you might want to wait until after you finish it to read this note.

Let me just say that I’ve wanted to write this book since I introduced the character of Suda Eran in The Fractured Mate. I fell in love with him then, but the story of him finding his “huntress” just didn’t fit into my Iriduan Test Subjects series (much like some of my other side characters introduced in that series—I definitely have plans for Anubis, for those who are wondering).

The Fractured Mate cover image
The book where Suda Eran is first introduced.

So, I kept promising myself that I would someday get to the point in the ITS series where I could write Suda’s story, but given how that series is shaping up, it didn’t look like it would be any time soon. (Ava’s story is the next one planned for my ITS series).

Then, the concept of the Iriduan Universe Love Stories came to me, and I thought that it would be fun to take popular and much-loved romance tropes and use them to create fun, exciting, and hopefully funny love stories for the gray alien character of Cupid to collect.

Cupid is intended to represent my own love for the romance genre, and my own desire to give every good character (and even some evil ones that are redeemed) a happily-ever-after.

If you didn’t guess by what Cupid is reading in the epilogue, My Foxy Mate is primarily the ‘pirate hero with a heart of gold” romance trope, with a bit of “billionaire bad-boy” thrown in for good measure. 😀 There are definitely intentional meta moments in these stories, particularly with Cupid’s scenes.

I love a wicked but good-hearted character, especially one who must make a conscious choice to change, which is how I see Suda’s evolution from merciless pirate born into the life of crime to a hero living with regrets and trying to right wrongs he’s committed.

Even back in The Fractured Mate, I tried to show that Suda not only has compassion, but has it in spades, despite being unfazed by violence because of the life he’s lived. I also tried to show in that book that the friendship between Suda and Halian (as Kotesri, from what Suda knows about him) is genuine, and he’s one of the few people in the galaxy that “Killer” ever trusted (as far as Killer can trust anyone other than Paisley).

If you’re unfamiliar with that book, everything in that line above probably confused you, lol. The quick summary is that Halian has three aspects: Halian himself (a mild-mannered scientist), Killer (aka the assassin and mercenary Kotesri that is Suda’s friend), and the ancient Iriduan high lord Enki, reborn.

Halian (right side, middl), Enki (top left), Killer aka Kotesri (bottom left) (art by me)

It was fun to bring Halian/Kotesri back for a brief scene to show Suda how he’s mellowed and now has a family of his own, reflecting what Suda wants for his own future. After all, if his highly aggressive, violent, and unpredictable bestie can find love and peace, then so too can Suda.

Suda’s story is one that could have gotten really dark if I’d taken it in another direction, but I honestly always saw him as this droll character whose story just begged for a more comedic and lighthearted feeling, which is yet another reason his story never seemed like the right fit for the Iriduan Test Subjects series, because it has a more serious tone that can grow dark at times. (That being said, Halian’s story in The Fractured Mate is one of my favorites—even though I know I’m not supposed to have favorites).

Davinia…let me just say that I LOVE this heroine! She’s smart, clever, and quick on her feet, and she seemed like the perfect fit for a fox-man who has dodged death for over half a century. Plus, there’s nothing Davi likes more than to play it cool, and Suda always loved a good “bluff,” like most Okihans, who highly respect that skill. 

The reason Okihans love that ability to pretend to be more confident than they actually are is all about intimidating those who threaten them, and that species is threatened all the time, which is why they’ve become dangerous in their own right, as a way of self-preservation.

Davi’s name was a happy accident, because I picked the letter “D” for her first name via a random number generator from letters I haven’t used for heroine names yet.

Fun side story (or not so fun, maybe XD).

I used to pick names for characters based solely on what popped into my head when I dreamed them up. Unfortunately, sometimes, I was in the mood for certain letters of the alphabet, and inadvertently named too many characters using them, unnecessarily causing confusion for my readers (Theresa, Tarin, and Tirel… agh!) Obviously, by the point that I discovered this, it was already too late in the series to change all those names, but I made sure that I wouldn’t end up doing that again.

Enter the random number generator and a very careful consideration of what letters I haven’t already used. I got the “D” for the My Foxy Mate heroine (pun, I know ;)) and knew exactly what I wanted her name to be for this pirate romance story. The whole Davy Jones’ locker idea was too fun and on-the-nose to not include. (I really lean into the pirate thing with this story, I know. :))

Digital painting by Susan Trombley of Suda Eran in a pirate outfit.
Definitely leaning into the pirate thing. XD (art by me)

The symbolism was clear to me. Suda Eran, the notorious galactic pirate, “dies” and ends up with Davi Jones at the end.

I’m honestly having so much fun with this series, and if you’ve been following my social media in the last month, then you’ve probably heard that I have another story coming in October for this series. It’s a Halloween-themed story, and I’ve been wanting to write another holiday story since I published Vincent’s Resolution for New Year’s Eve. Not to mention that Halloween is my favorite of all holidays, bar none. I love it!

I also really love this Halloween story too, and it features a hero from one of my favorite Iriduan universe species—the Akrellians. (Yes, I also talk a lot on social media about my love for the lizardmen. <3<3<3)

I’ve been keeping details about that story close to my chest so far, though I’ve hinted that it will be the “grumpy versus sunshine” trope. Our heroine is definitely the sunshine side of that equation, and she is so cute!

And the hero… well, he has a dark past, and a demon-like look to him, and I definitely lean into that comparison too, but despite that darkness, this upcoming Halloween story is probably the most “com” of the rom-coms in this series. At least, I hope so. I find it hilarious, but I might be biased. 😀

I’ll be doing something a little different with that book’s cover, so keep an eye out for that, because it’s a departure from my usual sexy book covers, but not because I don’t love sexy covers (and fully intend to keep using them as long as my readers keep reading my books).

This new style of cover is intended to represent the lighter, more rom-com, “beach-read” style of this new series. Fingers crossed you all love it as much as I do, because it’s as cute as the story, in my opinion, and I had a lot of fun designing it with my cover designer, Kasmit Covers.

Image of Halloween background with vector images of Cupid in a ship, ghost, pumpkin, and bat, and text that says "This Halloween, Cupid has his work cut out for him."
This isn’t the cover, but it is a bit of a hint. 😉

I do also intend to share some character art I did of the hero that will more accurately reflect how he looks than the cover, so consider following my social media for that if you don’t already. I won’t be sharing it on my website until after the book is published.

And don’t miss the art I did of Suda Eran, because it’s yummy! (Again, I may be biased, but I’ll say it anyway. XD)

I had great fun with Suda and Davi, and I already miss them now that my part in their story is finished, but I’m so happy to be able to finally share Suda’s story with you, my wonderful readers! Thank you so much for reading my blog, and my stories. Your support and encouragement continue to inspire me!

Let me know in the comments who you’d like to see get their own story in the Iriduan Universe Love Stories series, because Cupid is eager to collect more fun “real life” romances for his bookshelf, and I have many ideas.

Some of them include a “rebel” mate—an Iriduan named Urbarra (his story will be so good! I’m loving the outline, and he is super-gorgeous), and a plant-like Thokost mate who is another delightfully grumpy hero with all kinds of cool and weird biology, as well as Anubis, of course (have I mentioned that I love Anubis? If I haven’t before, I just did. :D).

Picture of statue of Anubis with My Chameleon Mate paperback, and text that says "Have I mentioned that I really love Anubis?"

Then there’s a Bigfoot mate, and naturally, we need an Urasol mate. (You should see my series bible entries on this species! It’s extensive. I love the Urasol and really want to tell an Urasol story.)

As you can see, I’m going to have a tough decision when I get ready to write the next book in the series, since I already have outlines for most of these, plus several more. It’s an “eenie meenie miney mo” situation. 😀

I’ve been working on my series bible for my Iriduan Universe, and discovered as I got my notes and journals organized that I have twenty-two different named species in that Universe, and I have entries with all kinds of notes for all of them, so many possibilities that I’m excited about!

Thank you for reading my long version of an Author’s Note, and if you read the book, thank you for that too! And especially thank you for helping this series do so well that I can continue it!

Categories
Announcements Author's Notes (Potential Spoilers Ahead)

My Chameleon Mate Author’s Note

Look what’s just released!!!

Vera

I accidentally launched an escape pod on my miserable honeymoon—with me on it—and crash-landed in the middle of an alien jungle on a forbidden “emerging civilization” planet, breaking about a hundred Cosmic Syndicate laws.

Oh, and I robbed a hot lizard guy with sexy black eyes, the most colorful scales I’ve ever seen, and a powerful prehensile tail that curls up like a cinnamon roll..

Even though I can’t understand anything he’s saying, my new reptilian friend turns out to be as sweet as honey and spicier than the seasoning he used on the meat I stole from his camp, and after he risks his own life to save mine, he decides he wants to keep me.

I’m perfectly okay with that, but I have a feeling my philandering husband will object.

Author’s Note:

This sweet story takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe, but doesn’t feature any of the characters from that series. It is also a shorter, lighter read than the books in that series. You don’t need to have read that series to follow along with this story.

Content Warning can be found here.

Spoilers Ahead!!!

This blog is the Author’s Note for my book, My Chameleon Mate, book one of my Iriduan Universe Love Stories series. I used to include long author’s notes like this in the backs of my books, but realized that not all readers would want to read them, so I decided to make them available on my blog instead for those who are interested.

Please note that this blog does contain spoilers for My Chameleon’s Mate and is best read after reading the book.

My Chameleon Mate was a very special project for me, because it was a much-needed vacation from the more complex, intense, high-pressure work I’ve been writing lately.

After writing Uriale’s Redemption, which had been a long time in the making, had many expectations behind it, and had a villain I needed to redeem (one who was a truly bad guy at times in previous books), I felt wiped out creatively. I had poured so much of myself into that book (and still believe it’s probably the best one I’ve ever written) that I fell into a bit of an after-WIP slump where I was very bummed out and really struggled for about a week just to find my spark again.

I still have two major projects on my schedule for this year, but both of them will be very mentally and emotionally labor-intensive because they deal with existing series and existing characters with fairly complex backgrounds, so I felt like I couldn’t even begin to tackle either project after finishing my last WIP and being left in such a state.

To refocus my creativity, I began to sketch out ideas for a new alien species, and my mind kept latching onto the chameleon because it was a reptile inspiration I hadn’t really explored to its fullest, though I’d used the scale color shifting for Tak from my Into the Dead Fall series. To further inspire myself, I searched for images of chameleons, and found so many incredible ones, including an absolutely gorgeous color photo of the panther chameleon that I found breathtaking in its colors and patterns.

Licensed from Adobe Stock

And that’s how Khamai (KAH-my) was born. (His name is derived from the Greek root words for Chameleon :))

I expanded on Khamai and the Prdayu (Prah-DAY-ewe) as I further researched chameleons and discovered how fascinating they truly are, although I must note that I took many liberties with the details. My Prdayu are not actually intended to be accurate representations of terrestrial chameleons. I know this should be obvious because they are fictional, sapient, bipedal aliens, but every once in a while, I get a comment that I got some detail of biology wrong on my aliens and I need to “do research.” XD

I had so much fun building out Khamai’s biology, culture, and world, and I even had to add a “slurry” from which “nutrients” (in the form of dendrobs this time) were harvested, which was inspired by Abigail from Kingdom of Thirst and her podcast, especially episode 88 about The Scorpion’s Mate, which I found highly entertaining and definitely recommend. (You’ll know the reference if you listen to the podcast. XD)

Khamai’s character design made me realize that I have a thing for quills on lizardmen XD. The Prdayu is the third species I’ve created with spines or “quills” on their heads. The Akrellians and yan-kanat are the other two, but even Tak, who is Histri’i, has a ridge of spiny points on his head.

This is what an Akrellian looks like–this is Tirel from The Warrior’s Mate, done by Sam Griffin.

Also, I really like reptilians. Did I mention that? XD

Of course, Khamai is the first lizard-inspired alien of mine that has two… other assets. 😉 (I had to go back over my reference sketches—oh yes, I have sketches—to double check that, no pun intended) Nahash, my naga hero, is the only other character with that feature. 😀

I know! I’m surprised too! XD

What’s with the fins, you might be wondering? Lemme just say, the SFR genre has been so creative with…ahem, assets, that it’s a real bee-otch to come up with something I don’t think has been done before. My concept sketches get stranger and stranger as I struggle to come up with something new and different. XD So, I added some fins—I’m not gonna get too deep into the inspiration for those (puns! Puns everywhere!!)—and I thought, hey, I haven’t seen this before, let’s do it.

Maybe someday I’ll show that final sketch somewhere. 😀  My newsletter subscribers would be the ones to see it if I did. (I did show it…somewhere. Subscribers to my newsletter can find out where and get a peek.)

And of course, a chameleon-inspired alien species had to have the curly tail. I love the tail. It’s so darned cute!

Khamai’s understanding of his world and his place in it was refreshingly simple, and I loved being inside his head and just enjoying that perspective. To Khamai, magic exists in those things he can’t explain, and because of that, he still can find wonder in what Vera (and those of us who use computers and smartphones every day) finds commonplace and mundane.

Sometimes, I need a reminder that the things I take for granted are truly wondrous.

Vera was a return to writing a younger, less cynical heroine for me, though she’d been no less hurt in her relationships than many of my older characters. I loved her naivety, even as my heart broke for how she was taken advantage of because of it. I also really loved her character arc, and how she grew throughout this story to find confidence in herself. Khamai’s unconditional love and support gave her the right conditions to develop into the self-assured woman she would become by the epilogue.

Vera got herself a haircut. 😀 Art by me.

Again, I needed her uplifting arc, and I felt cheered by her development as I wrote her story. I also needed her little emotional outbursts and all the little flaws and vulnerabilities she displayed. My previous heroine was by no means perfect, but Ellana was much savvier and more competent in survival than Vera is, so I found Vera’s “softness”—I guess would be the most flattering description—to be as refreshing as Khamai’s primitive perspective on life.

I love these two together. They compliment each other, and their love isn’t complicated by any past histories or dark secrets. Their romance was delightful to write, and relaxing, like enjoying a light dessert after a rich, full-course meal.

Cupid was another chance to show emotional development in a species that was intended to be completely emotionless. If you follow me on social media, then you may have learned by now that the grays are my favorite alien “type,” though I love my reptilians too. (It’s a very slim margin between them.)

I love putting the grays into my stories, and I love to explore the idea of them changing over time because of exposure to the many different species they were designed to observe and study, transforming into something their creators never intended. The fact that they are enigmatic is one of the biggest appeals for me, so it’s always intriguing to get inside the head of one of my gray characters.

Cupid and his crew, and his mission to bring Happily-Ever-Afters to humans and extraterrestrials in the Iriduan Universe, will be providing the framework for this series if it continues, allowing me to tell stories that are completely standalone, while still maintaining a strong thread between them.

I have so many ideas for the series, and so many characters I’ve wanted to expand upon that would be a perfect fit for a series like this. I have no idea how this book will be received, and whether there is interest in the series will really be the deciding factor for if I continue to publish it, although I might write stories for it once in a while regardless, just for my own sake, because it did help me sort of “recover” from the more involved storytelling I did in Uriale’s Redemption. I’m sure I’ll be writing more intense projects like that in the future too and will need little breaks.

I’m currently in the process of rereading my Iriduan Test Subjects series to refresh all the details in preparation for The Director’s Mate, which is one of those two projects I mentioned that is still on my schedule for this year. I got especially inspired by Cupid and crew and realized I needed another romance featuring grays in my life. They often play villain or facilitator in Science Fiction Romance, and rarely play hero, so it’s ground that isn’t already well-tread.

I like to wander off the beaten path. 😀

Roz and crew are the perfect group to really explore the worldbuilding I did for the Lusians (think “illusion”, then take off the “I” for pronunciation). Though I touched on the cohorts and how they operate with Gray’s stories (from my Into the Dead Fall series), this will be the first time I’m working with multiple grays in the same cohort, and they are all different, despite being clones. I’m practically rubbing my hands together in anticipation of some interesting reveals with this upcoming book.

That being said, I have no idea when it will be done. It’s important to me to get the details right, so I need to update my series bible and refresh my memory by reading the first eight books before diving in, and my reading speed isn’t what it used to be, especially when I’m also taking notes the whole time.

Kevos’s book from my Children of the Ajda series (which is still only one book, lol) is also up for this year, though I have moved it to after The Director’s Mate. Other projects may slip in between them, or I might write one concurrently, as I have done in the past. It really all just depends on my energy level and motivation. The more excitement my readers and fans have for a series or a book, the more motivation I feel to work on it.

I love to know what my readers want to see next, so tell me in the comments what characters you’d like to see get their own books, because I have ideas for all of them, so knowing which ones fans want helps me to focus my energy. Thank you so much for checking out my author’s note, and (I hope) the book, My Chameleon Mate. As always, I greatly appreciate your encouragement and support!

Categories
Author's Notes (Potential Spoilers Ahead)

Author’s Note for The Scorpion’s Mate

This note was originally published in the back of my book, The Scorpion’s Mate, but I have decided to move all of my longer, more involved author’s notes to my blog instead, so they don’t take up pages in my books that would be better served for a teaser chapter :D.

Still, if you’re a fan of the story, characters, and/or series, you might enjoy reading these notes, so check it out below. Please be aware that some of these notes may include spoilers for the book.

When I decided to break up The Scorpion’s Mate and Into the Dead Fall into separate books instead of offering them as one collection, I wanted to add a little more to each for my readers, and with Into the Dead Fall, I ended up adding significantly more to the story.

However, when I sat down to go through The Scorpion’s Mate, I realized that there wasn’t all that much to add that wouldn’t end up spoiling events in future books of the series.

I know there were some readers who felt frustrated by how little was revealed about the state of the universe and other characters at the end of The Scorpion’s Mate, and I’m sorry about that. Believe me, I would love to share all the secrets! It kills me to dole them out slowly over time, instead of talking about them all at once. On the other hand, I know the best stories are the ones you anticipate, with mysteries yet to discover.

I did add a little more to this book to help explain certain events from Claire’s perspective that will happen in the next book, and I hope you enjoy that small addition.

Other than that, know that The Scorpion’s Mate ended up for the most part unchanged from the original published version, and I think the reason for that is that I told the story as it was meant to be the first time around, and even in writing the sequels, I didn’t see anything I needed to add to the first book except for a few small areas.

For Into the Dead Fall, I’d discovered while writing the sequel that there was part of the story that would’ve fit better into the first book, and I went ahead and added it.

I hope you enjoyed reading The Scorpion’s Mate as much as I did writing it. I love to challenge expectations, and I absolutely adore heroes who fall outside the “norm” for the romance genre. This series pushes boundaries, and I’m aware it won’t be for everyone. I knew the market would be smaller for alien heroes like mine, but I went ahead and shared these stories anyway, because I wanted everyone who was craving something different and unusual to find what they were looking for. I hope—even though these stories are about the kind of creepy crawlies that haunt some people’s nightmares—you might find something to love in these heroes, just as I have.

Because sometimes, monsters really are more fun! 😉

Nemon and Thrax have existed in some form or another for many years in my head now, but always together, working in a partnership—usually as mercenaries. This final version of them pleases me the most, because it captures them in a far more primitive state than I initially intended when I first dreamed them up, but it really worked for their character designs.

Their “friendship” has always been somewhat contentious, but also always a strong one, and in every iteration of their stories, they had each other’s back, despite their personal issues. I loved being able to write their initial meeting as two predators eyeing each other suspiciously who end up having to work together.

In Sammi Griffin’s brilliant art, Nemon is right there lurking. I wonder how many people noticed. ;D

Someday, I’d like to share with my readers excerpts from conversations they had in other versions of their stories, just because I always got a kick out of their attitudes towards each other. Until then, I hope you’ll check out The Kraken’s Mate to learn more about Nemon, and find out if the lonely male finally gets his mate.

 The first eight books in the series are now available exclusively on Amazon, with the ninth book hopefully coming this year (2022), but I can’t make any firm promises yet.

There’s a wider story going on in this series outside of the individual romances, and the sixth book contains a finale that I hope will blow your mind in the best way possible. On the journey to that finale, you’ll discover a new, unique couple with each book in the series and they get their HEA at the end of their book. I hope you’ll join me for this adventure!

And if you loved Thrax and his…unique attributes, you should definitely check out The Clone’s Mate, book eight in the series, because those evil Iriduans are up to no good again, and when they realized they couldn’t recapture Thrax, they decided to clone him.

The Clone’s Mate isn’t directly related to the overarching story of the other books, save for The Scorpion’s Mate, so it could be read out of order without causing too much confusion. It’s RH, unlike The Scorpion’s Mate, and two of those dastardly Iriduans end up ensnared by their own hubris—and another unconventional romance heroine, as does a very intriguing Thrax clone, who is significantly different from his predecessor—except where it counts…his heart. I’m talking about his heart! What were you thinking? XD

Also, although Into the Dead Fall is no longer included with The Scorpion’s Mate as a “bonus” book, I hope you’ll check it out. I’ve added additional story that I felt would explain some things that weren’t in the original version that I included with the initial release version of The Scorpion’s Mate.

Into the Dead Fall is the start of another alien romance series that features plucky human heroines meeting their mates after being sucked into a dimensional portal and transported to a post-apocalyptic alien world. There are five books in that series and the overarching story is complete, though there is a spin-off featuring their offspring called Children of the Dead Fall. 

I have a new book in the works that is nearly ready to publish, and the good news is that it takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe! This new book is the first in a planned series that takes a lighter tone than the ITS series, but still features all the different alien species—and the humans who have now found themselves on a galactic stage after believing they were alone in the universe for so long.

This series will be titled “Iriduan Universe Love Stories” and is very romance-focused, featuring shorter stories (still novel length, around 70k words versus 100k +) with plenty of heat. I’ll be sharing more about book 1, “My Chameleon Mate”, very soon, but I can say that not only is there a whole new species in this series, but also another Lusian cohort getting their three-fingered hands into everything. XD

 After that book is published, I’m looking at jumping back into The Director’s Mate, although first, I am doing a reread of the entire series to make sure everything is fresh in my mind. Roz and crew are so much fun for me to write, and Ava is a true romantic optimist, which is exactly what I feel like I need right now.

The Scorpion’s Mate is the first of my books to reach 1,000 reviews and ratings on Amazon! I’m over the moon with excitement about that! If you’ve ever left any review or rating on this or any of my other books, I thank you so much. It makes a huge difference in visibility for my books, and the positive reviews and ratings really make my day!

For a limited time, I’m celebrating with a giveaway that is Scorpion’s Mate-themed that you can sign up for if you’re a U.S. resident over 18 (I’m sorry I couldn’t do International this time, but I’m exploring options for future giveaways.)

The giveaway ends on July 26th, 2022 at 12AM EST, and if you read this before then, you can sign up here. Full official entry rules can be found here.

I love to hear from my readers! You all are so incredibly awesome with your support and encouragement, and I can’t thank you enough. Your excitement for the worlds and characters I create truly motivates me!

I try to spend a little time on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok each week, but I’m not as active on social media as I probably should be. If I ever miss a post or comment from you to me, I apologize profusely, as it is never intentional, but rather just due to the sometimes overwhelming task of keeping up with social media that caused me to miss it. You can also send me an email at susantrombleyauthor@gmail.com.

I also like to add exclusive content to my newsletters as a thank you to those who sign up. That content could be anything from sneak peeks, to excerpts from unpublished work, to character art (including links to the spicy kind I can’t share on social media ;)), character interviews, or whatever else I think my readers would like to see. I also occasionally add giveaways that are exclusive to my newsletter subscribers.

If you’re interested in receiving these newsletters (one a month, plus any announcements), sign up on my homepage at www.susan-trombley.com.

Thank you so much for checking out this Author’s Note on my blog, and if you’ve read the book, thank you for your support. Let me know in the comments below what characters you’d like to see in future books (for this series or any of my others), since I take fan excitement into consideration when shuffling around my many projects to work on the next one.

Categories
Author's Notes (Potential Spoilers Ahead)

Author’s Note for Uriale’s Redemption

Available now on Amazon in both ebook and print!

Ever since I published The Scorpion’s Mate, I’ve included long, perhaps somewhat rambling, Author’s Notes at the end of each book, in the hopes of giving my readers a little more insight into the inspiration behind the book they just read, some of the themes and intentions, my writing process for that book, and what I might have planned for current characters and future books.

I know that some of my readers and fans will read these notes because they often reply to questions I will ask in them, however, I’m never quite sure whether readers in general are interested in these increasingly longer and more detailed Author’s Notes, and I realized that when I said all that I intended to about a book, I would often end up with pages for an Author’s Note that I’m not even certain the majority of my readers are interested in.

I don’t want to take up pages upon pages of a book with content that doesn’t interest the readers who purchased it, so ultimately, I chose to keep my Author’s Notes much shorter and to the point, basically giving thanks (because seriously, thank you to everyone who reads my books!), and then giving an update on current and future projects in regards to that series, which are all things I would want to know as a reader.

However, I still want to share so much with my fans who are interested in all those things I used to put into my Author’s Notes.

Since I revived my blog with the intention to blog more frequently, I realized I had a perfect solution at hand. I could share those extended Author’s Notes with my fans by posting them as a blog, which will not only go out to my blog subscribers, but will also be available on my website, and indeed, I plan to post the ones I’ve written in the past as well as any new ones for future books, including the Author’s Note that I would have included with my latest book, Uriale’s Redemption, which you’ll find below.

For those who are unfamiliar with my usual Author’s Note rambling, I basically talk about all that I said above, in varying degrees, and sometimes add some more personal details. I am generally a private person, so I don’t share a lot on social media about myself and my life, however, these Author’s Notes sometimes explain a bit more about me in regards to my inspiration and life experiences, as well as my writing process (which sometimes changes, depending on the book), so even if you’re not interested in the book in question, you might find something interesting in these notes.

However, please be aware that there might be spoilers ahead for the associated books.

Author’s Note for Uriale’s Redemption

Sneaky peeky at some incredible artwork I commissioned from Zakuga. 😀

For those who are new to the Shadows in Sanctuary series, you may not be aware that I promised Uriale’s book five years ago…and then failed to deliver, much to my own chagrin.

In fact, it was because of this broken promise, boldly proclaimed in all my Author’s Notes for the previous books in the series, that I stopped giving myself firm deadlines for future books. Now, I will only give a potential release date when the first draft is either finished or nearly there.

In every other case, I keep my release plans very vague. I really hate going back on my promises, because my word is important to me. My fans have given me their time and their trust, and I deeply respect and appreciate that and seek to be worthy of it at every opportunity.

So, since Uriale’s Redemption changed how I do things, why then, didn’t I write it when I promised I would? Or the next year? Or the next? You get the idea, lol.

The truth is that I tried. Multiple times!

I even wrote half the book, then scrapped the entire manuscript, around fifty thousand words, which represents weeks of work for me. Though this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this (I tell my Scorpion’s Mate saga in that Author’s Note), this time was particularly frustrating, because I had felt confident in the story and had even commissioned a cover in a sadly unrealistically optimistic belief that this would get done in time.

This is the old cover I never got to use. As you can see, it was supposed to be book 4 XD

Alas (I love that word and rarely get to use it, lol), I not only didn’t meet my own self-imposed deadline, I grew skittish at even trying to write Uriale’s book again, and quite frankly, pretty much gave up on my villain-to-hero story, even though it has to be my all-time favorite romance trope. (I did do it in two other series, though, so there’s that :D)

The thing was, I loved Uriale as a character and still wanted him to have his own book. His arrogance made him fascinatingly flawed, and there was a certain degree of tragedy to his back story that I wanted to share, because I like to show motivation in a villain, or at least go into why they declined from what they no doubt saw as a heroic position. Uriale was a perfect chance to do that, and ultimately, I hope that I succeeded in his book. I didn’t want either him or Anata to be written as cardboard-cutout villains, but rather as broken souls, giving in to corruption and hedonism to deal with past pain and trauma.

But back then, I was truly struggling with getting Uriale to cooperate with my plots. He has a strong will and a mind of his own, and he knew exactly what he wanted, but I wasn’t in on the plan. XD

Something just wasn’t working in his story, and it wasn’t until I wrote Carnifex’s story, in Executioner’s Grace, which ended up becoming book 4 instead, that I finally figured out what that was.

Micah.

Uriale’s genetically engineered progeny simply wasn’t old enough prior to Carnifex’s book to be much of a character in his own right, and he and Uriale had to have some kind of reckoning before Uriale could embrace his son and claim him as his own. The fact that Ellana, (whom I had planned for Uriale from book one, but had changed that plan a couple times), was raising Micah now made it possible to bring them all together once and for all. (And oh, how I love the way it turned out!)

While writing Executioner’s Grace, Uriale’s story simply unfolded for me, all of it laid bare for me to get my act together and write the book already. Coupled with fans of the series eagerly begging for Uriale’s book, I knew I needed to buckle down and get it done.

And whew! It was a ride! Writing Uriale’s Redemption hollowed me out, I’m not gonna lie. I was so wrapped up, so fully consumed by the story that when it was done, I crashed like I was coming down from a high, and ended up feeling depressed for about a week after I typed “The End” on the first draft of the manuscript.

I finally came out of my after-finishing slump (I’ve had them before, just not as intense) and dived in to tackle the revisions and edits. Again, I was consumed by the story, getting so wrapped up in it at times that I struggled to pay attention to the task at hand.

I love this story, even though I can admit that I hated writing it! It was such a struggle, such an all-consuming challenge to tell Uriale’s story after all these years, that I wanted to throw my hands up and quit so many times, but I also couldn’t walk away from the story and characters, feeling compelled to return to my manuscript day after day, for nearly two months.

I knew this particular series had a much smaller fanbase than my Iriduan Test Subjects series, so I wasn’t expecting huge returns on those two months of effort, but it was worth it anyway to give my loyal fans, those who love this series, the story they’ve been waiting for all this time.

I seriously appreciate all of you who have contacted me through social media or email to beg for more from this series. I had let it die after Jessabelle’s Beast years ago, and resurrected it only after getting so much encouragement to continue, and given the two books that followed and how proud I am of both of them, I am very grateful that I did so, and I have my fans to thank!

I think Uriale’s Redemption is some of my best work, writing-wise. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as it is fairly complex and gets a little dark in places, but I could picture this story so clearly, and I felt like waiting five years to write it meant that it got the best of my skills put towards creating it.

I’m still learning and growing as a writer, so I’m not trying to say it’s the most amazing book ever…but, yeah, I am. It’s the most amazing book ever! (At least to me. You gotta love what you create 😉 )

I hope you agree that the book was at least good. In fact, I’m greedy enough to hope that you loved it!

The future of this series is uncertain at the moment. It honestly doesn’t get much attention, though when readers do discover it, they often contact me to tell me how much they love it and how they want more, and for that, I am deeply appreciative! That kind of feedback really inspires me and makes me eager to work on the next book in a series. Though I’m a professional writer, indie as I am, who makes money with these books, they’re still creative works that take a lot out of me, and I’m also emotionally connected to them (I’m only human, I can’t treat a story that took heart and soul to write like a widget from an assembly line), so when I receive awesome messages or emails that praise the series and beg for more, it has a huge impact on me.

I have many more ideas and even outlines for stories in this series, and I would love to write all of them, though realistically speaking, I couldn’t do it in my lifetime, especially since the possibilities only grow with each new book, so I have to focus on what my fans want next.

That being said, let me know in the comments which characters from the series you’d like to get their story! Fan feedback helps me decide what I’ll work on next for a series.

As for what I’m working on at the moment, I was supposed to take a break from writing for a while, because this book wiped me out so much that I felt overwhelmed. However, I started playing around with some concept art sketching of character ideas, and came up with a chameleon hero that I decided should have a story of his own. (I have a TikTok now, and I posted a video of painting this guy there :D)

Loving this character, but he’s so challenging to paint with all those colors!

Since I wanted to make it a lighter read with less complexity than a book like Uriale’s Redemption, it’s been a much more relaxed experience writing this new book, which will also be much shorter. I’m aiming for a light, steamy read that incorporates a ton of romance tropes, particularly SFR, and hopefully puts them all together in a fun, very entertaining way that my fans will enjoy. I’m really leaning in to the tropey-ness on this one. 😀 I love the romance genre, and I love all the associated tropes of it, as well as the science fiction tropes that also occur frequently in this book.

After I finish this WIP, I plan on actually taking that break, XD before I dive into one of the other two books I’ve been planning for this year, Ava’s book, and Kevos’s book.

Thank you so much for reading my Author’s Note for Uriale’s Redemption, and if you read the book, thank you for taking the time to check it out!