Keeping Up With Jackie

Just so you know, I only update this blog when I have something special to say – which means hardly ever since I’m usually too busy writing books. 🙂

However, if you want to keep up with me and my writing, feel free to check me out on FB. I also have a special FB group that you can join too! If you want to see covers, excerpts and other cool stuff before everyone else, feel free to join  The House of Ashenden. We’d love to have you!

Jackie xx

Jackie’s Newsletter

So what’s all this newsletter stuff about? And what are you signing up for?

I send out my newsletter every time I have a new release. In the newsletter are details about the new release itself, inspirational type stuff for the book, special excerpts that aren’t available anywhere else (usually of the hot kind hehe), plus I also include shorts featuring characters from other books.  I post these on the blog a few months after the newsletter.

For an example of the shorts see:

Gabriel and Honor Enjoy the View (from Mine To Take)

If you’d like to sign up, just go the top right hand corner of this page and enter your email address into the box that says ‘Subscribe to Jackie’s News’.

I never give out email addresses and you may unsubscribe at any time.

Gabriel and Honor Enjoy the View – A Nine Circles Short

Here’s a short that involves Gabriel and Honor from Mine To Take. This appeared in my newsletter in May. If you’d like to be the first to read more shorts like this one, feel free to sign up (just fill in the box at the top right of this page).

 


 

Honor leaned against the wooden railings that bounded the huge deck she stood on, staring down at the vast drop beneath her, a vista of nothing but forest and mountains, and the faint glitter of the blue lake that lay at the bottom of the valley. The scent of pine and snow was heavy in the air, so different to the exhaust fumes and wet pavement scent of the city she and Gabriel had left behind earlier that day.
At heart she was a city girl, but she could kind of understand the appeal of the wilderness. Especially when it looked like this.
Maybe Gabriel’s insistence on coming to his lodge in the Rockies hadn’t been such a bad idea after all, even though she hadn’t been all that thrilled with the idea. Then again, he’d be impossible to live with if she’d stayed in New York. Her being safe made him happy and God knew, he hadn’t been happy much of his life. Giving him this wasn’t a big deal. She’d be able to work via email anyway and there was the added bonus of having him all to herself.
Kind of selfish thinking considering the mess they’d left behind in New York, with her step-father in a coma in the hospital and her mother at his bedside. With whoever had shot Guy still running around on the loose. With Alex still avoiding her.
Then again, all of those things could wait.
What was important was that she was here with Gabriel. Alone.
As if on cue, footsteps came up behind her, heat at her back, his big hands resting on her hips as he pulled her against him.
“What do you think?” His deep voice rumbled in her ear. “Can you handle a bit of wild nature, city girl?”
Honor relaxed against his hard, muscular body, feeling the last shreds of tension from the trip to Colorado dissipate. “I can handle you, can’t I?”
He laughed, the sound of it as rough and hot as his touch. “Only because I let you.”
“Oh sure. You ‘let’ me.”
His hands tightened on her hips, moving down over the black wool of her skirt, easing it up. “Don’t know if I like you sounding so smug, baby. I might have to remind you of your place.”
Honor shivered, hunger gathering tight inside her. This was still so new, so different. She wasn’t used to the instant leap of desire whenever he touched her, though really, after the past couple of weeks, she should be used to it by now.
“Seriously…” His mouth brushed her neck behind her ear. “You like it?”
She stared out over the amazing view, the white of snow-capped mountains and the deep green of the pine forest, the glitter of blue from the lake. And behind them, the stone and wood and glass of Gabriel’s house. “Your lodge? Yes. I think it’s beautiful.” Because it was. And after everything that had happened, the silence and peace of the valley was balm to her soul. “I wouldn’t have picked you for a man who loved the great outdoors though.”
There was a silence behind her, his hands stroking up her thighs, underneath her skirt. She shifted restlessly, the ache between her legs becoming more acute.There were no neighbors to see them, nothing but the wide open sky and the vast expanse of the forest. He could pull her skirt up, slide his hand inside her panties right here and now and she wouldn’t stop him. Not that she wasn’t sure she’d stop him even if they were in the city and anyone could see. Her boundaries when it came to Gabriel Woolf were, as it turned out, remarkably fluid.
“I had a book at school,” he said unexpectedly, quietly. “With lots of pictures in it of forests and mountains and lakes. I read it over and over, couldn’t get enough of the fucking thing. Those pictures looked…clean. Peaceful. Better than the dirty shithole I lived in.” He paused and Honor held her breath. Even now, his confidences were few and far between. “I used to dream of one day having a cabin in the woods where my mom and I could live. I swore that one day it was gonna happen.”
Her heart curled up tight in her chest at the thought of the small boy Gabriel had once been. A small boy who just wanted the best for the mother who’d ended up rejecting him. “Did you ever take her here?”
“Yeah.” He sighed his breath warm on her skin. “Once before she died.”
“Did she like it?”
Another brief pause. “Actually, she hated it. Said it was too quiet.”
Honor couldn’t help smiling at that. “Parents.”
“Right?” One arm slid around her waist, holding her while his other hand pushed beneath her tights and settled over her sex, cupping her. His thumb brushed back and forth over the front of her panties, providing the perfect amount of friction.
“Why doesn’t what we dream about ever turn out the way it’s supposed to?” she whispered, small electric shocks of pleasure beginning to move through her every time his thumb pressed against her clit.
“Because life never fucking works that way.” His mouth moved to the sensitive place between her shoulder and neck, and then she felt his teeth biting down in a nip that made those electric shocks intensify. “Until it does.” His lips felt so soft, so warm. “Until what you’d never once fucking dreamed about ends up being better than anything you did.”
The tightness in her heart slowly released, to be replaced by something else, the deep, dark feeling encompassed everything she felt for him. A feeling that got bigger and more encompassing by the day.
She’d never dreamed of a man like him or of a love like this, and yet now she had both. And even though what had happened to her had blown her entire world to smithereens, she couldn’t regret it.
He was worth it. What they had between them was worth it.
Gabriel’s hand slipped beneath the waistband of her panties, sliding through her damp curls, lighting her up from the inside out. And she relaxed against him, letting him work his magic on her.
She might still be in danger and her step-father in a coma. Alex might still be refusing to speak to her. But she had Gabriel and he was better than anything she’d ever dreamed about.
“You’re very annoying when you’re right,” she murmured, the words ending on a gasp as he slid his finger deep inside her.
“Yeah and you love it.”
“I’d love it even more if we took this inside.”
“I don’t think so, baby.” He adjusted his hold so she could feel the hard length of his cock at her back. “I think I’m going to make you come right here while you’re enjoying the view.”
The bastard.
Again, he was right.

Make You Mine ARC Giveaway

Hey everyone, been a while since I’ve done a blog post but I thought I’d do one in celebration of the fact that I have print ARCS of Make You Mine, Nine Circles #2!!

So….giveaway time!

I have 2 print ARCs of Make You Mine to give away (I’ll sign them too if you like) so if you’d like one, just leave me a comment and I’ll do a draw at the end of the week. If you haven’t read Mine To Take (Nine Circles #1) and would like a signed print copy, mention this in your comment and I’ll give away two copies of this as well.

ALSO….

If I don’t draw your name for the print, you’ll still have a chance to get a free book because I’ll then draw five names to get a free e copy of the book of your choice from my backlist.

Have at, people. Batman and Robin can’t deal with all these on their own… 😉

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Another Happy Ashenden Giveaway

I wasn’t able to go to RT in New Orleans this year and I have to admit, I was bummed about it. So to cheer myself up, I’m going to give away some books to the first ten commenters.

To get a free book you don’t have to leave me a review or sign up to my newsletter or like me on FB or follow me on Twitter. I mean, sure, you can do all those things if you want (like I’m going to stop you) but you don’t have to. All I ask is that you read the book. That’s it. So if you haven’t read one of my Samhain books or tried my Billionaire novellas, or had a glance at my Talking Dirty series, now’s your free chance!

Right, to get your free book just leave me a comment stating which book you want and what format you prefer.

To find a list of my books go here.

If you’ve read all my books, I can put you on the list to receive an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of my next release – Living in Shadow.

Caveat: Most of my books come in all formats but there are a few that I only have kindle copies for. Hope that’s okay!

Okay, first ten punters….GO!

Writing a Damn Fine Proposal #3 – The Partial

Better late than never right? Here’s my last post about creating a killer proposal and yeah, I know, it’s months overdue and I’m a baaaad for not posting sooner but deadlines always come before everything else…

Anyway, my previous posts have dealt with your synopsis and having a couple of sentences to put in your pitch letter.

Now you want to make sure the last and most important part is ready – your partial. The first fifty pages of your manuscript (or first three chapters, depending on where you’re sending it).

Okay so I guess it goes without saying but you want to make sure that your first three chapters are awesome. If your synopsis is the chance to show an editor you have a story worth telling, the partial should showcase that story to its best advantage since it’s those first chapters that will either hook a reader or put them off completely.

So what do you need in your partial?

Main characters: Your hero and heroine. Obviously.These are the most important people in your book so make it clear who they are. What they want. And what they’re afraid of.

Secondary Characters: If you’re writing a series and have books planned for other characters, then it’s a good idea to have glimpses of these other characters in the partial too. This will hopefully generate editor/reader curiosity about them and their future books. For my Nine Circles books, I had all the characters for the other books appear in the first chapter. And I thought about each character a lot before I wrote it so that I knew them really well. That’s important when you’re juggling five characters in one scene – they need to be distinct and different from one another so that the reader knows who is who and is curious about their different stories etc. But also don’t let them overwhelm your main story and your main characters.

Conflict: This is very important because this is what’s going to carry your whole story. Conflict really deserves a whole post on its own but suffice to say that if you’re writing single title, the internal conflict should be deep and the external conflict that arises should be a reflection of the internal. I might do a post separately on this….*notes down*

And there’s also a couple of other things that are overlooked IMHO but I reckon are major parts of a good proposal.

Atmosphere: All the books I’ve really enjoyed have been ones that have a very distinct atmosphere. Whether it’s dark and gritty, light and flirty, urban and sexy, atmosphere makes a reader want to immerse themselves in the world you’ve created and gives your book a distinct feel. Atmosphere comes out in description, in the choice of language you use, the dialogue of the characters, and setting. So when you’re planning a series or even just one book, think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create. For example, with the Nine Circles, I wanted dark, gritty, sexy and yet luxurious. Think tattooed rockstars trashing a five star hotel. Or scuffed motorcycle boots trekking mud over a silk Persian rug.

Tone: That’s what your book reads like and is mostly to do with your voice. It’s quite important in my view that your tone reflects the atmosphere of your book. For example, if the atmosphere you’re trying to create is dark and sexy, but the tone of your book is light and flirty, there’s going to be a mismatch and the reader (or editor) may not be sure what’s wrong but there will be something ‘off’ about it. Readers in particular have a certain expectation when they pick up a book and quite often, if that expectation isn’t met, they can get quite annoyed about it (I know I do!). For example, Nalini Singh’s books have a dark and sexy atmosphere. But what if she wrote them with a light and flirty tone? Would they work as well? Or perhaps if Susan Mallery’s was all dark and threatening… See what I mean?

Okay, so that’s a most basic outline of what you need in your proposal.

I’ve got a post on synopses here.

I’ve got a post on pitches here.

If you have any questions or want to add anything, just make a note in comments.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another proposal to write… 🙂

 

Writing a Damn Fine Proposal #1: The Synopsis AKA Too Many Things!

I’ve been meaning to do a post on synopses and pitches for a while now, but as I was writing this post, I realized that writing a synopsis was different to writing a pitch. And then I thought it might be cool to do a post on what to do when you’re pitching a series, cos that’s what I’m doing right now and it’s been a very interesting process. Long story short, I thought I’d keep synopsis writing to one post, then do another on  pitch writing, and a third on how to put together a proposal for a series.

Alrighty, so here’s my first post on how to write a damn fine proposal – the synopsis edition!

First up, I fully admit that my synopsis writing skills may leave something to be desired. But hey, I’ve had a crap-ton of practice writing these things and since my first book was accepted, I haven’t had a rejection so I figured I must be doing something right (or it could be luck but we’re not going to go there).

So, I don’t know anyone who likes writing synopses. Okay so there may be a few weirdoes who do (apologies if you’re one of those weirdoes) but I’m not one of them. Which makes it sad because, unfortunately for us all, synopses are an inescapable part of a writer’s life (unless you’re indie published of course in which case, you’re off the hook you lucky bastards!).

I think the main thing to remember when you’re writing a synopsis is that you’re writing a romance. So what absolutely has to go into it? The romance of course! I know that sounds kind of obvious, but when I’m writing a synopsis, I tend to get bogged down by all the OTHER things in the story. Like different characters, or the hero having problems with his father, or the heroine’s ex being a dickhead, then she loses her job and has to find another place to live etc. And then it’s like I HAVE TOO MANY THINGS!

Hate to say it, but for the purposes of a synopsis, pretty much everything in your story is superfluous except the romance. What I try and do when I write mine is to ignore all the external things (the heroine losing her job, the ex being a dickhead) and concentrate on writing what I like to think of as an emotional synopsis. Which is what goes on with the characters feelings rather than what happens to them externally. This helps to keep the synopsis to the romance and you don’t get bogged down with things.

Easy eh?

Uh, not really. But anyway, mine tend to run as follows:

  1. Introduction – the setup of your story, including the conflict, i.e. the reasons your characters can’t fall in love.
  2. The developing attraction – why they’re attracted to each other. I concentrate on their emotional reasons for the attraction not the physical. This is always character dependent so if you need to figure out your characters, now would be a good time to start.
  3. The main turning point of the romance – this can be the first time they make love or when there’s a big change in their emotional state. This is usually as a consequence of some action the other character makes.
  4. The black moment – what triggers them realizing there’s no way they can be together. And why.
  5. The resolution – what makes them overcome their blocks to a relationship and why.

That’s pretty much it. I don’t tend to include anything else. This ensures the synopsis is short and deals only with the romance. It’s also heavily character dependent so you kind of need to know your characters pretty well before you start, or think about them while you’re writing it.

My synopses tend to be around one and a half pages, single spaced.  I can get them down to a page if pushed. The synopsis for my single title was one and a half pages and I’m still proud of that. 😉

Tips and tricks:  If you’re finding it hard to pin down the emotional turning points or what is superfluous and what isn’t, just write out your synopsis with everything. Ignore how long it is. I’ve done this before and ended up with a five page document. Once you’ve done that, read back over it and delete everything that doesn’t immediately deal with the romance. This technique can be useful because sometimes you have to see the whole thing written down before you can decide what’s needed and what isn’t.

When winnowing out all the superfluous stuff, phrases like ‘circumstances occur’  ‘events happen that result in…’ ‘It all comes to a head when’  ‘a series of events occur that leave…’ are your friends. 😉  Example: ‘through a series of events, Fanny ends up homeless. Luckily, Clive steps in and offers her  a place to stay.’

Feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments!

The Writing Process Blog Chain

This is part of a blog chain that the lovely Rachael Johns tagged me on. I’m slack and posting late and also lazy because I’m supposed to tag three people  and I can only think of two people!

What am I working on?

I have a number of things in the works. Firstly I’m editing my first single title with St Martin’s Press – Mine To Take. The edits have to be with my editor by March 1st. Secondly I have the first of a new series with Samhain to write – Living in Shadow AKA #darksoldier.  This one is going to be a difficult book to write for a number reasons, mainly because the hero’s conflict is very, very dark (hence the hashtag). He’s a part African ex-child soldier who has been repatriated to New Zealand and is studying Law at university. The heroine is a professor (yes, yes, I know) and thirteen years his senior.  The book will be full of delicious, angsty forbiddeness and no doubt be a complete bitch to write.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Okay, straight up, I don’t know any other people writing about African child soldiers in New Zealand. Hehe. Broadly speaking (and this includes my billionaire books) I think my work differs in that I tend to write quite psychological romances. I’m far more interested in character than plot and how a person’s past has shaped them in the people they are in the present. I like exploring the layers of a personality and how damaged people come to terms with what happened to them and eventually find strength and healing in love.  You won’t find stalkers or jealous exes in my books – the difficulties the characters face come from themselves not outside forces. Also in place of therapy my characters have a lot of plot forwarding sex. 😉

Why do I write what I do?

Well, basically see above. I like exploring relationships between people and digging down into all the elements that make a person think and feel and speak and act the way they do. However, sometimes I like to write a lighter, more flirty book and these turn into my Entangled books. My Samhain books are all set in New Zealand and tend to be much darker and grittier – I can write whatever I want basically so I do. The stories I write for St Martin’s Press are my fantasy books but with my own personal stamp on it; they’re billionaires but they’re very, very screwed up billionaires. Misfits  and loners and outlaws, both the heroes and the heroines.

 How does my writing process work?

Okay, so I used to be a total pantster – which means starting with an idea and just sitting down and writing it. This lead to lots of rewriting and much angst, and over the years, I’ve had to change it for the good of my sanity. 😉  What I do these days is when I get a story idea – usually in the form of a character but it can be a plot – is think about it. A LOT. Then I’ll Skpye my CP Maisey and we’ll talk it through.  Since my stories are character driven, I have to have a good idea of my characters BEFORE I start the book, so Maisey and I will discuss the characters and their backgrounds etc. I find talking really helps me ‘set’ the character in my head. Once I’ve done that, I usually start writing. I don’t do a synopsis first (unless I have to for a proposal) and often I’ve only got a vague idea about what will happen in the book, but plot points happen as I write. I used to have to do multiple sets of drafts but these days I only do one and then edit it up.  When I run into problems during the writing – which is inevitable – I usually have to call Maisey again for help. Either that or I’ll go for a walk, which usually ends up solving the problem for some reason.

I have to tag 3 people to do this now but I can only think of two so I’m tagging Maisey Yates and Nicole Helm.  Your posts should go up the week starting 10th of Feb. 🙂

Writing What You Love – AKA Why Billionaires??

Yeah, so I’ve been thinking a lot about sales and markets and all the stuff you do when you have books being released immanently. And about how some things sell better than others and how lame it is when you don’t write what’s supposedly ‘popular’. It also hasn’t escaped my notice that yes, I have some billionaire novels and novellas coming up and yes, the world is presently swimming in billionaires and I’m kind of adding to the pile.

Alrighty, so why billionaires?  Well, I’ve actually been writing billionaires since I first starting trying to be published by Mills and Boon  six years ago. Way before 50 Shades hit.  All the M&B heroes had to be rich therefore my heroes were rich. I didn’t mind that. I like Cinderella fantasies. The rich, powerful man who has everything except what he most desperately needs – the heroine – is a dynamic I enjoy. I also like playing with the power dynamic in a relationship and money is a great way of representing power.

But when it all comes down to it, the billionaire stuff is just window dressing for what I love to write most of all: dark, sexy angst.  At the time, no single title publisher wanted dark, sexy angst. They wanted light, flirty small town contemporaries, the very opposite of what I liked to write. So M&B Presents it was and unfortuntely, my take on billionaires kept missing the mark with them.

And then 50 Shades hit. And not only were billionaires in, but angsty feels were in as well. So I adjusted my M&B billionaires for single title instead of Presents and the end result was my contract with St Martin’s Press.

Where am I going with this? I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s SO important to write what YOU want to write.  For years I was bummed with the direction of single title because it wasn’t what I personally enjoyed writing and I had resigned myself to sticking with either category or epublishers who seemed to be the only people interested. Because I know from personal experience what it’s like to write something you don’t enjoy. The writing suffers. You suffer. It becomes a chore. And once that happens, you can bet readers will notice becuase if you don’t connect with it, neither will they.

It’s very, very important to write what you love. What you enjoy writing about. Yes, it’s hard when what you write isn’t ‘on trend’ and the temptation to write something that fits with what’s selling is huge. But before you do, you have to ask yourself these this very important question: What are you writing for? Is it for the money or the passion, or both?

I think if you want a lasting career, you need to do both.  Money is great but if you’re only writing what sells then that’s going to get old real quick. Especially if you happen to be successful because then you’ll be tempted to write more of it. Writing for passion I think makes for a better book and if your passion communicates to readers, then that’s going to keep them coming back to you. I reckon that’s part of why fanfic is so popular because the writers are passionate about the stories they write and that really comes across to readers.

So what do you do if what you’re passionate about isn’t what’s hot?  Well, you could be stubborn like me and figure out who IS publishing what you want to write and target them exclusively. Or you could self publish. You may have to accept low sales for a while but no trend lasts forever. If you keep plugging away then you might just find yourself riding the upswing when the trends come round again.

The other thing you could do is figure out if you can translate what you love to write about into a different genre. For example, I could and did think about translating my angsty feels books into paranormal.  Dark, powerful heroes? Check. Intense and gritty conflicts? Check. Difficult heroines? Check. The conflicts themselves stay the same because it doesn’t matter what genre you write in, you’re still writing friends to lovers or enermies to lovers, or bad girl/good boy etc.

However you play it, I think for longevity’s sake you need to write books you’re passionate about. Because if you’re not, every step of the process is going to be a pain in the butt and a giant chore. And that will show in your writing. It’s a creative process and creativity requires passion.

Go with your joy, people. That’s the way to do it. 🙂

 

Another Happy Website Release 2014 Giveaway!

Duuuuudes!  I’m feeling fine and fancy today – I have a fabulous website and my next Entangled release comes out on the 13th of this month! What could be better?

What’s that you say? Another giveaway? Okay, well, sure. You twisted my arm. I could do another one!

So what do you get?  A  copy of any one of my backlist books or a pre-order of one of my new ones.

How do you get it? Just leave me a comment telling my which book you would like and what format you’d like.  THAT’S IT.

The contest is open to the first 30 commenters.

Some books I only have in PDF or Kindle.

Took see which books you might like go HERE!