The Country Alpha is out!

It’s official – both versions of The Country Alpha are available for purchase on Amazon Kindle! Each are priced at $2.99, or if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read them both for free!

I couldn’t be more pleased with the early reviews already coming in:

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“I love this book!…  I got trapped by the story, felt in love with the protagonists and I actually devoured the book. because I simply couldn’t. Put. It. Down.” (Five stars on Amazon!)

 

“[The] storyline keeps the reader turning page after page to see what happens next.” (Five stars on Amazon!)

 

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“Veronica and Jake are both well thought out characters, and we spend enough time with each that neither feels like a plot device in the other’s story. Their journey was engaging enough that I had intended to only read over breakfast and kept going until I finished it.” (Five stars on Goodreads!)

 

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It’s been such an interesting journey getting these books ready for release – and I’m so glad to finally share them with you. I especially can’t wait to hear what the folks who read both of them think!

 

 

The Country Alpha Cover Reveal!

Out of all the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about self-publishing, I think the hardest curve has been with covers. I am not a graphic designer, by any stretch of the imagination. I love photography and in the past, I’ve enjoyed playing around with digital photography to achieve certain effects… but I can’t claim to know what I’m doing. I mean – when I took photography in school, we were still using film. The entire degree program had exactly two weeks of digital manipulation. I didn’t even own a digital camera until about five years after I graduated.

Graphic design? Way harder. It’s my ineptitude with Photoshop times twenty.

Which is why I’m so pleased to reveal the covers for the upcoming duo of books The Country Alpha: Ned’s Story and The Country Alpha: Veronica’s Story. I knew designing these covers would be a challenge – after all, they’re both the sequel to The Country Omega, but they each have their own storyline that takes the main character, Jake, in different (though complementary) directions. I wanted the covers to reflect each book individually – but still echo the other.

And I think I got that.

What surprises me is that they’re from two different cover artists. Ned’s cover was designed by R.A. Steffan, who also designed the covers for The Country Omega and The Omega Nanny. I loved the way that R.A. turned the black-bordered theme on its ear, and went with the snowy background of Jake’s cabin as inspiration.

Veronica’s story, however, was designed by Suze Howe, a long-time friend who asked for the chance to flex her designing muscles, and turned out something I fell in love with at first glance. I feel like every time I look at her cover, I see some new detail, like the heart pointing at Veronica, or the way the hockey diagram blends with the wine rack.

But especially, I love how well the two different covers complement and reflect each other, too – which is good, because I like to think the books complement and reflect each other, despite being two very different stories. And while my intention is that a reader should be able to read either one of them and not feel as though they’re missing anything – readers who read both are going to get a much better picture of Jake than they would by reading only one story.

I’m nearly done with formatting the stories – and some last-minute tweaks. I still haven’t picked my release date for the books, but I do know it’ll be sometime in November, and I suspect it’ll be simultaneous, unless someone can give me a good reason why that’s a bad idea.

In the meantime, though, I have to tear myself away from staring longingly at Veronica and Ned’s covers, and actually finish the formatting. (Details, yo.)

Have a lovely day, everyone!

 

 

 

The Country Omega is FREE this weekend!

It’s my birthday, but you get the treat – The Country Omega is free to own this weekend on Amazon Kindle! That’s right – totally, 100% free now through September 18. I haven’t run a price promotion on any of my books yet – and strangely enough, I think I’m more excited for this than I was for the actual publication!

 

(Okay, maybe not. But it has been exciting, getting it all set up.)

 

And in case you’re saying, “But Pen, I’ve already read it!” — don’t worry, there’s a treat in store for you, too. I’ve added a special sneak peek at the sequel, The Country Alpha, so even if you read it on Kindle Unlimited before, you’ll want to download the book to look at that! Those of you who already purchased a copy should find that Amazon has already updated your version, too – so you should be able to see the sneak peek as well. (If not, let me know – everyone gets to be happy on my birthday!)

 

One text is all it takes to spin a life into a different direction.

After a devastating accident, alpha Jake Downing has set aside his dream of hockey stardom, and narrowed his choices down to one—life as a hermit on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, with no city, no strictures of society, and especially no omega. He just needs to take one trip into the city – and then he’s free.

This is how the story begins.

Within hours of his arrival, however, a single text message will twist the course his life takes, spinning his life in two alternate realities – determining not only the ownership of Jake’s mountain, but also the person with whom he might end up sharing it.

This is how the story might go.

In one reality, Jake gets his mountain, but he also gets Ned Reilly, an omega whose secrets have been ripped away one by one. The whole city knows why Ned’s first alpha broke their bond—or thinks it does. The whole city is wrong. No one’s ever taken Ned seriously before—except the one man Ned can’t afford to ignore. Now Ned’s life is at stake… and Jake’s mountain might just save them both.

This is how the story might go.

The other reality leads Jake back to the ice, and with it, omega Veronica Aletta. Veronica’s broken bond is a matter of gossip on the omega circuit – so it’s just as well she has no intention of bonding again, despite her father’s persistence. But now she’s about to lose everything that’s precious to her, and it will take more than determination and her strange link with Jake Downing to save it.

Sometimes love is just a matter of circumstance.

One night in the city, one inexplicable bond formed in a moment of passion, will bind Jake to the person destined to be his mate. Only their growing faith in each other will keep them from being torn apart.

A Country Alpha is a story told two different ways. A Country Alpha: Ned is m/m non-shifter paranormal mpreg romance. A Country Alpha: Veronica is m/f non-shifter paranormal romance. Available separately from Amazon Kindle starting November 2016.

 

I’m still working on finishing up the edits on The Country Alpha, and there’s some GORGEOUS covers in the works that hopefully will be ready to show off in a few weeks. But in the meantime, enjoy the sneak peek and have a fantastic, cake-filled day!

 

Omegaverse Q&A (Or Pen answers reviews without answering reviews)

One of the trickiest things about being a professional author is reviews. Not that getting them is necessarily tricky – there’s no trick other than sheer luck and a whole lot of prayers – but sometimes you want to reach through your computer screen and either hug or throttle whoever wrote them.

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All reviewers are my sweet baboos.

(If you’re lucky, it’s more hugging than throttling, though I suspect even J.K. Rowling has wanted to throttle a reviewer or two.)

Most of the time, I land firmly on the hugging side. With a side of chocolate cake, because everything is better with chocolate cake, positive and negative reviews both. (You can consider the chocolate cake either reward or apology, depending on the review.)

The general rule of thumb, though, is not to respond. Ever. Which makes some sense… I mean, the reviews you find on Amazon or Goodreads or any of the review sites aren’t really meant for the author. They’re meant for other readers, to help them determine whether or not they want to read the book in question. Sure, I love to read them… but reviewers aren’t thinking about me when they write them.

And that’s cool. I get it. I’ve been on the other side of the fence, reading reviews to get a better sense of how people (and therefore, I) will like a story. I still do that, though it’s not the end-all-be-all of my decision-making process when it comes to what to read.

Sometimes, though, there’s a review I’m just dying to respond to, general rule of thumb be damned. Mostly it’s because the reviewer asked a question, and I… I’m just enough of a Ravenclaw that I’m desperate to answer it.

ravenclaw-ravenclaw-31471212-200-200Such is the case with a review received last week. The funny thing is… the questions this reviewer posed are actually questions I’d been discussing with one of my ARC readers, based on her recent review of The Omega Nanny. And I think she makes a very valid point (I have yet to have a single review, positive or negative, which didn’t raise at least one) that I don’t really do much explaining of the Omegaverse in my books.

Part of that is because I’m very used to not having to explain. And part of that is because – well, to put it bluntly, I didn’t really want to have a long explanatory thing in the book, because that can really disrupt the flow. We’ve all read books where the author stops the action to explain some cultural tidbit. It’s interesting, maybe, but how many of us actually sit and read them, and how many of us start skipping paragraphs until we’re back at the story?

(Okay, I read them. 90% of the time. But, again, Ravenclaw.)

I’ve also never much cared for a world so detailed that the author felt the need to have to explain it via webpages and diagrams and graphs and charts. If you can’t write the world well enough to make me understand enough of it simply by reading your book – you are not doing your job thoroughly.

It would seem that I’m not doing my job thoroughly. And that’s on me to fix. It’s not that the Omegaverse is complicated – I don’t really think it is – but it is different from our own world, and that of other paranormal books which incorporate alphas and omegas.  I’m beginning to think that some additional explanation/expository is necessary, more than what I’ve been doing.

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The Omegaverse world was not built in a single book, as it turns out.

So I’m going to work on that. The Country Alpha is already going to incorporate more world-building in it – the story is demanding it, actually, as I advance Ethan and Antonio’s life together, as well as the obstacles faced by Jake, Veronica, and Ned – but I’ll strive to explain things a little more than I have previously.

But back to the review I’d like to answer. Amazon won’t let me answer as Penelope – which is majorly annoying, and I’m not sure the reviewer knows that you can ask authors questions on Goodreads. So I’m going to post it here, and hope someone will let her know to look here.

Penelope, how do male omegas feed their babies?

Yep! It seems strange, but it’s true – men can lactate. Okay, it wouldn’t be easy to turn that into full breastfeeding capability, and apart from Dustin Hoffman, I don’t think most men are into trying, but it’s possible. I mean, think about it – they have all the right parts (nipples, mammory glands, etc), they just don’t generally lactate or grow breasts like women do. (For what it’s worth – I don’t think omega males in the Omegaverse grow breasts, either, though I do think their chests probably swell after giving birth. But this is my own headcanon and may not apply to other authors’ visions of the Omegaverse.)

And yes – I think a male omega would be able to supply all the milk a baby needs. A person’s breast size doesn’t actually indicate how much milk they’re producing – small-breasted women can certainly breastfeed their babies without supplementing with formula, and large-breasted women can require formula supplements sometimes, too. So really, there’s no reason why in the Omegaverse, a man could give birth and then be able to nourish his baby, too.

(Ain’t science grand?)

Why is Connie being able to get married such a big deal? Why couldn’t she get married before?

For the same reason that gay and lesbian couples have been barred from marriage until the last few years in much of the world (and still are banned from marriage in parts of it). Discrimination, pure and simple.

One of the things I like about the Omegaverse – about any science fiction or paranormal story, really – is the opportunity to comment on various facets of the world as we know it. SciFi has done this for years, ever since Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein. The right to marry in the United States might be settled now – but that’s not the case in other parts of the world, and the parallels with Connie and Brent’s right to marry in The Omega Nanny are intentional.

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It ain’t a real world unless it involves red tape somewhere.

So all an alpha and omega have to do is bite, and they’re bonded?

Biologically speaking, yes. Legally speaking, there’s a few other things Thomas and Kieran would need to do – signatures and whatnot, but nothing too major. Can’t have a society without paperwork of some kind!

(The Country Omega goes into the whole contract/arranged marriage concept a bit more thoroughly – maybe a little more thoroughly than some would like – but it’s a good place to start if you’re keen to read about that sort of detail.)

 You had Kieran pushing in the labor scene. Um… where’s that baby coming out?

Same place it went in. 🙂 Well, that’s my theory, anyway, feel free to ignore that bit if it disturbs you, I don’t mind!

I’ve seen multiple methods of baby removal in mpreg fics. Sometimes there’s a spontaneous hole that appears when the baby’s ready to be born. Sometimes operations are required. I’ve even seen one book where the pregnant father’s skin turned to jelly, allowing the doctor to reach in and pull the baby out. The possibilities are endless and increasingly creative.

Because people are amazing, there are folks out there who have not only written thousands of words of meta about the political and social ramifications of the Omegaverse, there’s people who have written thousands of words about the biology too – and included diagrams. If you are at all interested in biology, you could be occupied for days. It’s kind of fabulous.

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s totally fabulous.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Meep! I don’t have one planned, actually – well, not exactly. Certainly Cameron and Desmond have a story to tell – but they haven’t been inclined to tell it to me just yet. And I admit, I’d love to stick Vera in the interrogation chair – but she didn’t ever show up to storyboards so I honestly don’t quite know what was going through her head most of the time. (Hence why she never appeared in the book, either.)

But there is more Omegaverse coming – I’m working as hard and fast as I can on The Country Alpha, which is the second part of the Downing Cycle, and it’s on track to be released this fall.  And I think it’ll be more than worth the wait… mostly because it’s a whole lot more than I bargained for when I began!

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While I’m here… if you haven’t already read Aiden Bates’ wonderful take on the Omegaverse, Country Passions, you really need to read it! I just finished it, and I loved his version of the Omegaverse. It’s not the same as my own – omegas and alphas are more of a hidden society than in my headcanon, and there are aspects of his world that are much, much darker and scarier – but I love the characters Bates has created and the story that revolves around them. If you enjoy the Omegaverse – you’re gonna love Country Passions, so please take a few moments to give it a look!

Have a wonderful day!

Busy Week(s) Ahead

It’s the week before The Omega Nanny comes out… but if you think I’m sitting back on my laurels, you’d be wrong.

The big news is that I had the best idea for The Country Alpha. Those of you who have been reading between the lines know that I’ve been having a little trouble with the characters and the storyline – half the reason I went ahead and wrote The Omega Nanny was because I kept running into roadblocks with TCA.

And then over the weekend, I had the best idea for how to fix it. Well… not fix it, exactly. But make it really, really interesting, and give it a twist that I’m not sure any other author has tried. Not in the way I’m going to write it, anyway.

The only drawback is that it’s going to take a lot more time to finish, because – without giving it away, because even I’m not sure this is going to work – I’m essentially writing two complete books.

If I can pull it off… it’ll be awesome, and you’re going to love it.

If I can’t… ah well. At least the negative reviews should be hysterical!

What that means, though, is that I have got to set down to work, and work hard, over the next few weeks. My older son wraps up Kindergarten in mid-June, and then we’re packing up and moving at the end of June, and won’t arrive in our new locale until mid-August. Two kids and a cat and me in a hotel room for at least six weeks… probably won’t leave a lot of time for writing or editing. So I need to get as much done as I can get done now.

So I’m taking the drastic measure (*gulp*) of blocking myself from Twitter and Tumblr and most other do-nothing sites for the rest of the month. I have no will-power about those sites at all. Most of the time, I allow myself to go on in 5-minute increments, and that tends to work pretty well.

Last night? I spent two hours reading headcanons on Check Please! characters and watching “Where Are They Now?” videos from the Oprah Winfrey show. I have updates on the pregnant man, the Barbie-doll woman, and the Octomom, as well as plenty of happily-ever-after endings for Jack and Eric… and nothing new written for Country Alpha.

So we’ll see how it goes. I’m going to allow myself an hour a day to be on those places, so I won’t completely disappear (and they do provide a nice break from time to time, which is good for your brain). And hopefully, by the time May rolls through, I’ll be well on my way to having two very complete first and maybe second drafts of Country Alpha.

Wish me luck!


 

Have you pre-ordered The Omega Nanny yet?

Yes? FABULOUS, thank you!

No? That’s okay, I still love you. (But here, have some links anyway.)

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