Writing process

Hunter, Dark Assassins book 5, by Valerie Ullmer

Today Valerie Ullmer returns with Hunter, book five in her Dark Assassins series.

Blurb:

The one definitive belief panther-shifter Hunter and the other immortals understood about shifters and vampires; vampire venom is deadly to shifters and vice versa.  But Hunter never worried about testing the theory because he never wondered if he had a mate, even after a few of his family had found their own.  As he and two others stumble upon and eliminate several rogue shifters, part of a larger group determined to kill each of the assassins, Hunter also stumbles upon the one woman destined to be his.  There’s only one problem.  She’s part vampire.
All alone in the world.
Despite everything, Neri made a life for herself after she escaped from a facility using her as a test subject.  She has no past, no family, and no connections to the world as far as she can remember.  She stays to herself and finds a routine, telling herself she isn’t lonely.  But everything changes when she spots Hunter and her first true memory revealed.  He was there the day someone injected her with an experimental drug and changed into this cold being.
As Neri and Hunter navigate their newfound relationship, their journey becomes even more complicated when they learn Neri’s venom is deadly to shifters.  But with help from the other immortals, Hunter and Neri reveal her past and realize the extent of the threat Dark Company has been dealing with for years.
But can their relationship survive with so much stacked against them?
Disclaimer: Hunter is intended for mature readers. 18 and over only! Scenes include power exchanges, and explicitly sexual situations. These scenes are fantasies only, suitable for discerning readers. If such content may offend, please do not buy this book.

Buy link: Amazon

Excerpt:

“You don’t have to fear me.  You’re safe.”  Hunter reiterated his promise and cupped her face.

Hunter’s vision blackened around the edges and a second later, he plunged into a darkness.  He didn’t understand when he heard her quiet voice.
“I’m not so sure about that.”
The next minute, Hunter sensed his surroundings changed.  He blinked his eyes, getting used to the darkness after the bright, blinding light of the snow.  He still found himself on his knees and as he moved his fingers searching for the woman who had been right in front of him, he found she wasn’t there any longer.
Hunter closed his eyes and listened to his surroundings.
There was a low hum from a computer fan somewhere in the room and there was breathing, deep, as if the person was asleep.  Before he could investigate further, a desk lamp clicked on and his eyes moved toward the arrogant looking man seated, cross-legged, on an uncomfortable metal chair.  He had a smug look on his face and Hunter wanted to break his face.
Hunter pulled his gaze from the man and took a quick glance around and to him, something about it seemed familiar.  The sterile coldness, the clear glass that looked out into the hall, the white formica tiles on the floor.  Sterile and clean.  The place gave him the creeps.
When he turned his gaze to the man in the lab coat, his gaze wasn’t on Hunter but on a woman laying on the exam table he hadn’t seen until that moment.
Hunter took a deep breath, trying to examine the scents in the room and looking for a familiar one, but there was nothing.  He should have scented the sterile environment, the blue liquid on the counter along with wooden sticks and cotton balls, but there was nothing.
He growled in frustration but neither the older gray-haired doctor, nor the woman strapped down with her mouth covered to muffle sound, reacted to the sound escaping from his throat.
Without another thought, he lunged for the doctor but he passed through the figure.
Okay, I’m not here.  Can’t scent, can’t touch.
Hunter turned toward the table and sucked in a deep breath as the familiar features of the woman in the mountains came into focus.  Her face looked gaunt, but it was the dark brown hair and matching eyes that took him by surprise because she looked familiar.  Her body looked starved and despite the bruising on her limbs and the dark circles under her eyes; she looked back at the doctor in defiance.
Hunter jolted when the man spoke.
“So, Nerissa… it appears you’re an utter failure as a shifter.”  His eyes glanced down as if he were ashamed by her lack of abilities.  “But you are a prime candidate for an experimental drug my colleagues and I have been working on.”
Her gaze narrowed as he continued to speak and he noted her body shook with the continuous growl that emitted from her throat.
“You had such promise.  Oh, well.”
As if waiting for that statement, a nurse walked in and handed a syringe to the man.  “Here you go, Dr. Stevens.”


More about Valerie Ullmer

Valerie writes romances: contemporary, paranormal, erotic, and gay.
She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab, Maddie.  Valerie is addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character-driven romances.
As a voracious reader, she’s believes that all writers are rock stars, and she hopes that people enjoy her stories as much as she loves the romance novels she’s devoured over the years!
Connect with Valerie Ullmer:

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Bet you can't pick just one

Today will end like most: me soaking in a deep tub. A small selection of bubble baths will sweeten the ritual. Anyone who has read my books may have picked up on my daily devotion. It starts with me picking one favorite bubble bath.

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Recently I accepted this Facebook challenge: post covers of 7 books that changed your life. One a day for seven days. No explanation. Just upload the cover and nominate a friend.
Normally I might have quoted Neil Gaiman:

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But decided to narrow the list of my loves. Here are the ones I pulled out of my brain that week.

1. Bird by Bird – this encouraged me to try writing fiction. I’m still trying.
2. Madeline – the first book I can remember reading on my own
3. The Story of O – I found this while snooping in my older brother’s room. He had the best records and books. I was fifteen at the time. This probably did change my life. It certainly changed my fantasy life, in ways I kept secret for years.
4. Pride and Prejudice / Bridget Jones’s Diary – Pride and Prejudice is a perennial favourite. I’ve read it at least 6 or 7 times. Even though I’ve only read Bridget Jones once, it is a sister book to P&P.
5. Beyond Heaving Bosoms – this book said: write romance. So I did.
6. The Virginian – Before writing A Time for Will, I read The Virginian. This year my LM and I listened to it as an audiobook as we drove through Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. Magic.
7. The Giver – compelling and frightening. A utopian veneer hiding a dystopian reality seems too close for comfort these days.
This ‘favorite 7’ list is one day’s version. Many adored books were left behind. It’s too hard to choose only 7.

Can you name a single book that changed your life? A top ten? How did those books affect you?
Which bubble bath is the favourite tonight?

The art of submission

No, not that type of submission. But if you’re interested in this beautiful sculpture, here’s the buy link on ebay.

I’m talking about this type of submission:

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Last week I submitted my most recent novel to my publisher Blushing Books. Until they answer, I will check my mail with bated breath.

Finishing the working draft of a book always feels like the completion of a long journey. It’s when I sit back and think: how did I get to "the end" this time? I’ve seen authors discuss their writing process.  I’ve never attempted to. Perhaps because I’ve never written any two books with the identical process.

But all my books have had some common elements:

·       As soon as I get the idea for a story, I sketch out a plot arc. It includes the end of the ordinary world, halfway point, crisis, climax, and resolution.

·       For my last four books, I’ve set up Pinterest boards to collect the images that help me see the story. The board for my latest book, Trusting Ingrid, is here.

·       I make copious notes as my stories reveal themselves to me. I carry a notebook and pen always. Often it looks like it has snowed inside the house because my desk is buried under a blanket of white.

·       As I start each book, I open a new Excel workbook where I track the names and details of each character on one spreadsheet. I use another spreadsheet to track chapters. When a book is finished, a copy of the names sheet is added to the workbook called Book Bible. Then, when new characters come into a subsequent work, I can check this workbook to see if I’ve already used whatever names I want to give them. I started doing this after a workshop with the amazing Cora Seton last year. I wish I’d known the tool earlier and avoided a name duplication in two of my releases.

·       I read my books aloud as I write them. The Leading Man listens patiently. He offers suggestions, catches continuity problems, and takes notes when I wish he wouldn’t.

·       I revise. Many, many times.

·       I plug the entire manuscript into Natural Reader. I started using this with A Time For Will. A typo queen like me needs all the help she can get.

Those are the common points in my writing process as of February 2018.

This week I’m full of post-submission hope as I sketch out my next story.
What do you do after submission? Do you celebrate each step of the writing process: completing a book, submitting it, getting rejected, getting accepted, publication ... etc?

Update: February 28: Trusting Ingrid has now been accepted for publication. Watch this space for more details.