With Kyanite Publishing officially closing its doors at the end of 2020, It Starts With A Kiss will be pulled from bookstore shelves and online catalogues. If you’ve been thinking about getting a copy, now’s the best time to grab one, as I’m not sure when it’ll be available again after New Year’s.
Alternatively, if you fancy some snail mail from Australia (even though international postage is a bit poo), I’ve got a handful of paperbacks from back when I was planning on going to an event 📚 Just drop me an email and we can chat about it 💌
Thank you, everyone who bought, reviewed, talked about, and talked with me about this book 💜 I hope to share more stories with you soon.
These are interesting times we find ourselves in. Though saddened by the losses from turbulent events over the last few months, I’m simultaneously thankful for the shake-up. I’ll refrain from addressing specifics here, because there’s so much more to say than what I can fit into this post.
But generally speaking, something was not right in the life we once called “normal”. I’m optimistic that we can dismantle the rotten parts and build something better, but seeing it all unfold still stokes my nerves. It’s frightening to see how desperately some still cling to the old normal in the face of such overwhelming need for change. I get that change happens slowly, and one can only hope it doesn’t happen so slowly that we as a human family end up needing an even bigger shake-up further down the track.
Well, anyway, here’s what my last couple of months have been like…
Writing, publishing and Camp Nano
Sunset on a Distant World is on a publisher’s slush pile. I’m not expecting to hear back for a couple of months, but all my heads, shoulders, fingers and toes are crossed and hopeful. In late June, I wrote a piece of “weird fiction” to submit to the Kyanite Press journal. Whether or not it gets accepted, I’m thankful for the chance to try a different genre. It came at a serendipitous time, as this type of fiction has some overlap with Project H, which I’m working on this month for Camp Nano.
A Twitter hiatus + my relationship with social media
Recently, I deleted Twitter from my phone. A dear writer/editor friend pointed out that reading so much for work can make spending time on an ephemeral text-heavy platform a bit of a mind-killer. And my experience for the better part of this year so far has lined up with that.
Within 48 hours of deleting the app, it felt as if a fist had unclenched in my brain. Within a week, I found myself more able to focus on tasks in front me, and give more attention back to goals and habits that had fallen by the wayside.
Twitter is like a massively crowded pub—shouty, noisy, and heaps of fun if you’re up for that. But there’s a reason I don’t go to pubs as often these days, and it’s not (just) because pints are now $15 in Perth. I feel more relaxed after my break, and look forward to taking a more laid-back approach to how I spend my time on that site. And on all the other social platforms.
For the time being, Twitter is staying off my phone, and I’m enforcing a “no scroll hole” policy on myself. I’ll still see your mentions and messages, but may not get the opportunity to reply in a timely manner. If you need to reach me, HMU on email or Instagram instead 😊
BLM and activism
In the past, I’ve shied away from anything labelled “activism”, because I’d always understood activism to mean a confrontational big-bang approach to driving change. But in the last few weeks, I’ve learned about quiet/introvert activism and what an activism toolkit might look like if overt protest isn’t something you can sustain. It includes the kind of stuff that could slot easily enough into everyday life, and helps keep the movement going between heated moments.
I haven’t been writing as much as I’d hoped. A week-long trip to Japan in the middle of February waylaid a lot of plans. In the days before flying out, I had my first major bout of pre-travel anxiety. Seriously my first since… say, childhood? Not even last year’s longer, less familiar UK trip did that.
It’s all this mania over COVID-19. I wasn’t scared of catching it, though. The WHO Situation Reports—just facts, nothing more—did a great job of curbing that stress. My fear was that I’d get caught up in some sort of racist panic on the way home and get sent to off-shore quarantine.
I mentioned this to a few of my friends, but I don’t know if many of them understood what that feeling is like. Heck, I never understood what that’s like until now. If I’ve ever had real actual racism levelled at me before, I sure wasn’t savvy enough to pick it. Live and learn, hey?
Getting home, having the customs officers be friendly and nice as I rolled straight through, and then seeing N waiting for me in Arrivals was such a relief. And this is me, a white-collar Australian person, having a smooth and comfy ride all the way back to my white-collar life in a multicultural city. I think about people who have it way worse; realise that no matter how anxious I get, I will never even begin to fathom how much more anxious they must be.
Well, I’ve been home a few weeks now. And despite the low word count, I’ve managed to get a lot done. Here’s what…
This blog looks different…
IT SURE DOES. In preparation for the new website, this blog now has its own home and a new theme that does what I tell it to. In case you fancied it for your blog, it’s called Uncode and was worth every penny.
The new website…
…is coming. The whole process reminded me why I love web and why I changed careers. But it’s coming, friends. jlperidot.com will look different soon.
The Dragon’s Den
After chipping away at this manuscript, I’ve finally hit that scene. Every manuscript has one—the one that’s been over-thought to oblivion and now I just can’t even. Focusing on web stuff has been a good break, but I’ve done my soul searching and am almost ready to come back to it.
April’s camp is only three weeks away. I was tempted to skip this one, because of how much still to do ahead of the big event in July. But I have some things I’d like to write. Short stories, manuscripts, other things… so hey, let’s go camping.
About Her, the follow-up to About Henry, is coming back from my editor this week, with plans to go live on 6 April 2020. Watch this space.
I’m also working on a new short story: “MOAB”. It’s not romantic and not erotic, though the protagonist does get to have a fling. It’s been a long time since I’ve written something that’s not a love story. I have doubts about this draft, but will give it my best shot and see what happens.
Projects (still) on hold
Sunset on a Distant World
As of last week, I started working from home as a precaution, just in time for a minor COVID-19 scare upon finding out that a friend went to get tested.
We were only in our self-imposed lockdown for a day before she forwarded the all-clear, but it did bring to light a few significant concerns to be mindful of if lockdown becomes a thing in Perth. Getting enough sunlight, for one. And exercise. Checking in with friends. And playing games with friends, because it’s important to have fun.
I’ve started writing for no reason again. As in, writing without intent to publish. I may publish them if they turn out all right, but that’s not the goal at this point. Sometimes it’s fun just to see how things go.
We waved at the sky as if each star had jerks like us, waving back from high hills in isolated cities on their worlds. Can’t be alone with your mates around. Even when it was just me, in the end. Billions of stars up there; someone else had to be scattering ashes too. #LoveLines
My relationship with paranormal romance is long and strange. I think it’s because I liked it so much in my teens, that it feels like a chain that tethers me to a tumultuous time in my life.
Well, now in my late thirties, I’ve decided to just embrace it. And Forgotten Storm, by fellow Kyanite author A.R. Vagnetti, seems like the right place to start.
JL: Tell us a bit about yourself and your latest book, Forgotten Storm.
A.R. VAGNETTI: I’ve always been an avid reader, especially in the romance genre. As a teenager, I devoured second, sometimes third hand, Harlequin romances from my family, and then when I started buying my own, I graduated to romantic suspense, loving the intensity. Until I found my passion; paranormal romance. I wrote my first novel in my twenties. It was a romantic suspense. It was so horrible. LOL I threw it in the back of the closet and walked away from writing for a very long time.
It wasn’t until about 3 years ago; I picked up the proverbial pen and wrote Forgotten Storm. The first book in the Storm Series, Forgotten Storm, is about Nicole Giordano. A young woman who struggles to overcome an abusive past until the exotic man from her dreams appears on her doorstep and forces her to battle her fears, accept a destiny foretold in an ancient prophesy, and trust him with her heart, but facing her malevolent father isn’t Nicole’s greatest challenge; suppressing her dark desires for Logan could shatter her one chance with the vampire who claimed her soul.
JL: Where did the idea for the story come from? What elements did you draw from real life?
A.R.: I wanted to write a story that had all the elements of a paranormal romance, but I also needed it to convey a deeper meaning. How to let go of whatever crap life has thrown at you and take a risk; to trust.
Trust is something I’ve struggled to deal with since I was 12 years old because it was stolen from me. Forgotten Storm is about a courages woman who never gave up, continued to fight and deal with her issues in whatever way she could; combat, pain, coffee. LOL. But most importantly, Nicole learns to take the leap of faith and trust a vampire with her battered and bruised heart. I relate to Nicole, and I’ve always maintained she is me times 10. She’s everything I’ve been and hope to become.
JL: What were the easiest and the hardest parts about writing Forgotten Storm?
A.R.: I guess I would have to say the easiest parts were the times I was “in the zone” and the words just flowed like a waterfall. A whole day would pass before I would finally come up for air. Those were the times I enjoyed the most.The hardest parts, besides the dreaded marketing, were capturing Nicole’s most vulnerable moments. The way she uses sarcasm to keep people at arms length, the paralyzing fear of emotions, hers and others.
But I think the most difficult scenes were when she remembered her past. Those were powerful and heartbreaking. I remember at one point, tears streaming down my checks as my fingers flew across the keyboard. After, I was so drained, I just sat there in my office staring at nothing for long moments.
JL: They say one of the great things about fiction is that it gives us a safe space to figure out how we might deal with the things we encounter in everyday life. What are your thoughts on the role of romance fiction in this context?
A.R.: The great thing about romance fiction is in every book you get a little education on what not to do in a relationship. *smirk* You learn that communication is key and burying your head in the sand, overreacting, or jumping to conclusions only escalates the problem. I think most romance novels touch on these elements. Relationships would probably run a lot smoother if more men read romance. Hahaha
JL: Is there much similarity between what you like to read and what you like to write? What are some of your favourite books that have influenced your style?
A.R.: Oh absolutely! Paranormal Romance is my go-to genre to read. The very first one I read was “Dark Lover” by J.R. Ward. It was the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series and I fell in love with vampires. After that is was Kresley Cole’s Immortal’s After Dark Series. I must confess, I did read the Twilight books and there were numerous things I loved about them and several things I hated. (No fangs and sparkles to name a couple), and last, but certainly not least, since it’s one of my favorite non-vampire paranormal romances is Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson Series. (Little secret, I’ve read the series twice.)
JL: Finally, what’s your all-time favourite love story, and why?
A.R.: Funnily enough, my favorite love story isn’t even a paranormal romance. LOL Hands down, it’s The Stark Trilogy by J. Kenner. The intense passion between Damian and Nikki captivates you from the very beginning. The personal demons they must overcome reminds me of Nicole and Logan in Forgotten Storm.
I’ve been terrible with falling into rabbit holes this year. When my mind fixates on things—projects, drafts, games, etc.—I tend to shut myself off and not post as much as I’d like to. Left unchecked, the habit can fall away entirely, and then I’m just an unshowered recluse in a suburban study.
Well, I promised myself I’d try to be a real actual professional writer this year, so here I am, attempting a somewhat structured blogging schedule 👍
Book 2 of The Basilica Conspiracy, The Dragon’s Den, is in the second-draft planning stages, following a thorough review of the first draft (read: crying and eating chocolate). I don’t fancy the chances of completing this manuscript before new year, but the story, the characters and the underlying conspiracy are coming together quite nicely. Would you like a sneaky peek? It’s rough, it’s first drafty and may change, but here it is:
I’ve also been working on a story I can’t talk much about yet, as it’s still in the primordial stage. I’m about 70% through an early outline, and I promise I’ll tell you more about “Project H” as soon as I can.
This website has a redesign on the way. Yes, another one. A good friend asked me why I don’t use some of my old skills to try and do more than what WordPress can give me. I haven’t been able to get the thought out of my head since she said it. She’s one of the most highly respected web developers in my city and an internationally recognised industry face. If she believes in me, I feel like I can believe in me too. So, yeah, some webby things may be on the horizon.
When I realised fellow Kyanite author Crystal L. Kirkham had a semi-romantic book coming out soon after this giveaway closes, I had to add it to the prize pack. Her book, Feathers and Fae, comes out 11th October and, knowing what the publisher looks for when signing authors, I’m looking forward to an exciting read.
Crystal did me the honour of an interview. Here’s a bit about her, her book, and what reading and writing look like for her today…
JL: Tell us a bit about yourself.
CRYSTAL L. KIRKHAM: There isn’t too much to know about me. I’ve lived in western Canada my entire life and have travelled extensively throughout North America. I’m a big outdoors person, I love cooking (and eating!)—which are things that often show through in my writing. I also breed standard poodles and I compete with my dogs in show and obedience rings. Since I work full time on top of my hobbies and writing, I tend to be a little on the busy side.
JL: Tell us a bit about your upcoming book, Feathers and Fae. What inspired it?
CRYSTAL: Feathers and Fae was a story I didn’t know I was going to write. I have a whole blog post about this, but it started as a challenge. I was given three random, unrelated prompts 12 hrs before we had to start writing and I had to incorporate all three things into my story. After that, the story developed on its own with no idea what I was writing most of the time until it was written.
What I ended up writing was a story I didn’t know I needed to read. One that was not only a fantastic adventure through a beautiful world, but a story about loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice—and what that means to each of the characters involved.
JL: Tell us a bit about the friendship vs romantic chemistry between the main characters, Emmett and Kami.
CRYSTAL: These are two people who have a long, complicated history which really colours everything in their relationship—whether interpreted as friendship or romance. It’s hard to get in-depth on this topic without giving spoilers, but this is one of those things in that the chemistry between them sits at a very delicate balance throughout the entire book. Something that is only slowly revealed as you read.
This is also a relationship that I leave up to the interpretation of the reader for many reasons. One of the reasons is that not every intimate relationship is romantic in the traditional sense. So, I think it would be safe to say, that in this case there is no way to define the difference between romantic chemistry and friendship as I kept the lines intentionally blurry.
JL: Obviously, the friendship dynamic plays a big part in this story. How big a role do you feel friendships play in romantic relationships? (or any relationship for that matter)
CRYSTAL: For me, friendship is a huge part of almost any type of relationship. I think it’s important to not only love but to like the person you’re with because at the end of the day, sometimes what you need the most is a good friend who loves and respects you as much as you love and respect them.
JL: You’ve been putting work out in the wild for a long time. What are your other books like? Are there certain themes or topics you particularly enjoy writing about?
CRYSTAL: My other work is generally darker than Feathers and Fae. In my Saints and Sinners series, none of the current or planned stories have a ‘happy ever after’ or even a ‘happy for now’ ending. While the endings aren’t tragedies, they do not always end happily for the characters involved. Hints of this style do come through on Feathers and Fae, but I tried to keep it a little lighter.
One thing that I do love exploring—whether friendship, love or reluctant allies—is the relationship dynamic between people. I love exploring the different ways that people can relate to each other. I also tend to explore the consequences of the decisions and choices that people make in their lives.
JL: Do you feel bound to any particular responsibilities as a writer in this age of chaotic media?
CRYSTAL: It’s a fine line to walk being a writer in modern times. As an author, I am officially a public figure. People can look me up, see the things that I’ve been saying—things for years ago can suddenly become an issue. I feel a strong responsibility to set a good example, not only of how to be professional but of how to be a decent and kind person.
I also feel as though I need to be accessible to my readers. I’m not the kind of person who wants to be put on a pedestal of any sort. I try really hard to be not only real with those that I have interactions with, but to be encouraging and supportive of others as well. Not sure I always get that right, but I try.
JL: What sort of stuff do you like to read?
CRYSTAL: My bookshelf is extremely eclectic. What I enjoy the most is a strong, character-driven plotline. I have a lot of contemporary and historical fiction that I absolutely adore. Science fiction has long been a favourite, but I am a little pickier about my fantasy. There are not many genres that I give an absolute hard pass on. Good writing, strong plot, great characters? Yeah, I’ll read that.
JL: What are you currently reading?
CRYSTAL: Next on my reading list is Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti. Followed by several advanced reading copies that I have to review. I seriously wish I had more time for reading than I do.
JL: Any parting words for readers?
CRYSTAL: I really do love connecting with readers, so don’t hesitate to say hello to me or ask me questions about my books through any of my social media accounts. I promise I don’t usually bite.
Sure, she could play it cool when they talked about work, but anything else got her skittish inside and paranoid as hell, which he could tell by looking at her. Him and everyone else.
So she always made sure she was the first to look away when they made eye contact; the first to break stride when they fell in step; the first to change positions when she saw their arms folded the same way.
Thank you to everyone who preordered—you’ve made this day extra, extra exciting. Thank you to my lovely beta readers, who patiently and forgivingly answered all my fussy questions. Thank you to the friends who kept me going, kept me caffeinated, adequately sugared, and unquestioningly supported. Thank you to the readers, reviewers and everyone who’s ever replied to my mailouts for a chat.
Thank you to Kyanite Publishing for taking a chance on me, and for giving me my first legit paperback with a colourful cover and paper smell.
Thank you, most of all, to my partner N, who’s stood behind me and beside me from day one.
To celebrate the release of my upcoming sci-fi office romance, It Starts With A Kiss, I’m running a very special giveaway draw 💝
Two lucky winners will receive a signed paperback copy of the novel, along with a bundle of lovely treats featuring the work of local crafters Renée Botman, More Sundays Please and Handmade Gems; a digital download of Skye McDonald’s latest novel; and this year’s sweet ebook releases by fellow Kyanite authors Sophia LeRoux, A. R. Vagnetti and Crystal Kirkham.
Oops, I’m a little late with this! If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll have already seen this gorgeous Sophia LeRoux cover for my upcoming book, It Starts With A Kiss.
I love it. The colours, the vibe, the mesh heart, which—sorry for being a tech tragic—I’m picturing made of copper wires embedded in a pile of clunky space station hardware.
An excerpt from the yet-to-be-edited manuscript:
Sure enough, Tahnee turned to her with a devil’s grin. “Heard about you and wonderboy this morning.”
“Of course you did.” Celeste kept on working.
“Laks said he had his face right in your tits!”
“Of course she did.”
“Oh, come on, Celly! I’m so sodding bored. Next dispatch isn’t for another few hours. Give me something!”
If this had been about anyone else—Martin or, heaven forbid, that temp from a few months back, who stood too close and spat when he talked—Celeste would have gladly taken a ribbing from anyone. Especially Tahnee.
But it was different with Owen. Sure, she could play it cool when they talked about work, but anything else got her skittish inside and paranoid as hell he could tell by looking at her. He and everyone. So she always made sure she was the first to look away when they made eye contact; the first to break stride when they fell in step; the first to change positions when she saw their arms folded the same way. She had hiding it down to an art, and maybe it bordered on obsessive over-thinking, but what was the alternative? Getting caught and outed? Ruining a perfectly good working relationship? No way.
But Tahnee was waiting for an answer. Taking any more time to respond would give away plenty.
“All right, all right!” Celeste threw her hands up, a diversion while her mind raced for something to satisfy the expectant dispatch officer. “Um, he does have a very firm body. You can tell he sticks to HR’s fitness plan.”
“Uh huh.” Tahnee nodded. “Thought he might. As disgusted as I am about saying her name right now, it’s clear Eleanor has good taste.”
“Oh, come on.” Celeste glanced towards the break room. ”Owen’s just office hot.” The words tasted like fat, juicy lies on her tongue.