Archive for June 2nd, 2010

Archeologist Emma Zale sees the past when she touches ancient relics. It’s how she uncovered evidence of an ancient order of assassins—the Sicari. When a sinfully dark stranger shows up on her Chicago doorstep demanding an ancient artifact she doesn’t have, he drags her into a world where telekinesis and empaths are the norm. Now someone wants her dead, and her only hope of survival is an assassin who’s every bit as dangerous to her body as he is to her heart.

Ares DeLuca comes from an ancient Roman bloodline of telekinetic assassins. A Sicari, he’s honor bound to kill only in the name of justice. But when the woman he loved was murdered, Ares broke the Sicari code and used his sword for revenge. Love cost him dearly once before, and he’s not willing to pay the price again. At least not until hot, sweet, delectable Emma walked into his life. Not only does she hold the key to a valuable Sicari relic, she might just hold the key to his heart.



First, thank you Fatin for inviting me. It’s always a pleasure to be here at RR@H Novel Thoughts and Book Talk. What author doesn’t love a forum to talk about their books? For the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked everything Roman. While I love talking about my Sicari, I thought I’d try a little something different today. I thought I’d talk about the process of writing a book through the final outcome of its hitting the shelf.

            All of this is my process and may be different for other writers, although in generalities it’s pretty close. Still, no one author’s process is the same. First, I work a full-time job in addition to writing full-time, having a family, and just living. Essentially, I have no life. LOL Actually it’s not quite that bad, I’m doing something I love, but I won’t deny that come release time or deadline time, it can be stressful. I have been known to have moments of being overwhelmed and my meltdowns are not pretty. My family is amazing in that they take my artistic rants, rages and Van Goghish behavior in stride. Although it’s not yet come to the point where I feel the need to cut off my ear. *grin*

            One of the first things I do when I’m getting ready to write a book is to come up with the inner conflicts of the characters (what sort of baggage they’re carrying around) as well as an idea or a hook. I look for something that feels like the tried and true, but has a bit of a twist to make it unique. When I first started developing my Order of the Sicari series, I chose Atlantis as the background. That’s not too far a cry from ancient Rome, but far enough. Additionally, the heroes were not the Sicari. I called them by another name. I thought it was a cool idea, but I think it must have been too much history because my agent panned the Atlantis idea. So I went back to the drawing board and looked at the basic world I’d been building. It took me almost another three years to come up with my vision of the Order of Sicari. And it was done watching HBO’s mini-series ROME, and the remote control that was across the room on my desk. My heroes were suddenly telekinetic.

            The next thing I had to do was intertwine plot elements with a romance in the initial stages of development. Depending on the author, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve never built a paranormal world. I cut my teeth on historicals (and a couple of contemporaries that won’t see the light of day), but the only paranormal I’d ever written was Dangerous, which was a medium/ghost/murder story. Readers are familiar with ghosts and psychics. It’s a world already built and something readers are already familiar with so I didn’t have to build the world for that book. The Order of the Sicari was different. I was creating something not seen before.

            Now world building and characterization are two different animals, and I found myself struggling not to overpower the romance between Ares and Emma with the Sicari world. I LOVE the Sicari culture and seeing it develop in front of me was totally awesome, but I had to keep my eye on the romance. Once I’d completed the manuscript, I went back and reread. As I was on a deadline, time didn’t permit me to do any major rewrites, but I was able to addresses issues that my beta reader had pointed out to me. So I shipped the still untitled book off and started the second book in the series.

            Somewhere in that time, my editor and I discussed book titles. I knew the title had to have the word honor in it because Ares is so honorable although he stumbles a lot with Emma. So after batting some ideas back and forth my editor and I were really happy with Assassin’s Honor. We also discussed covers, and what I wanted to see, but ultimately the cover was what it is. I gave the art department a vision, but they created the cover and what they came up with was final. I am so grateful to have such wonderful covers from Berkley. They’re just awesome.

            With the title and cover addressed, I continued writing the second Sicari book. When I finished the second book in the Sicari series, I moved ahead to write the historical I’d contracted with Berkley. So I was deep in the mindset of 19th century London when Assassin’s Honor came back to me with changes my editor wanted. The shock of jumping tracks from historical to paranormal mode is not an easy thing to do if you’re bipolar. Change is majorly disruptive. LOL

            There were extensive changes to Assassin’s Honor and based on my editors comments, I saw flaws that I hadn’t seen before. It made me heartsick because I always want to give my best in every story I tell. It took me almost two solid weeks to make changes and to address issues that I’d failed to see because I’d been too close to the book.

            When I turned the book in with the edits, I knew it was a stronger book, but I also believe it’s possible to improve any book—even ones that are turned it and ready to be printed. With the major edits for Assassin’s Honor done, I send it off to my editor. With that off my plate, I flip back into historical mode. A few weeks later I jumped the track again back into the Sicari world when the final edits for Assassin’s Honor came back to me.

            Final edits are where you read the manuscript and make MINOR corrections (typos, add/delete a word for clarity, etc.). There are no major changes allowed such as adding paragraphs or other adjustments. I read the book in its entirety one more time, and it was agonizing because I saw things I desperately wanted to change to make the book even better than what it is, but time didn’t permit. With the book flying back through cyberspace to my editor I went back to the historical while the countdown to Assassin’s Honor’s release date began.

            In the meantime, the same process of edits began for the second Sicari novel (Assassin’s Heart), all while I was still writing the historical, which I turned in late due to the flare up of a back injury and a death of a close friend. Life has a way of being incredibly annoying and interfering with the best-laid plans. As the date for Assassin’s Honor got closer, I started setting up blogging dates for a blog tour. On top of that, I was organizing other advertising and promo for the book, doing mailings, getting brochures and bookmarks created.

            Now days, authors are pretty much on their own for getting the word out about their books. Publishers deal with booksellers and work to generate interest through their direct channels and certain promotional efforts with the chains. Generally, an author doesn’t know about these promo efforts, we just stumble upon them in the stores. But the rest of the advertising is up to us, unless of course you’re a big name author and the publisher has invested a substantial advance in you, then they’re more apt to pay for advertising in different publications. But not always.

            Then the big day is here, the book is released. All that’s left is the reception by the readers. Some readers will hate the book, some will go meh, others will like it, and still others will rave and say it’s the best thing evah. It’s all subjective and writers have to develop a thick skin to keep from getting depressed about the negative comments a book might receive. We also need to keep our feet on the ground when readers rave about a book. What an author really has to do is move on to the next book, and take note of things that worked and things that didn’t to improve and continue to give readers the best book possible.

            And that’s what it’s all about for me. Continuing to grow as a writer so that every book I put out is better than the last. Telling a story that entertains is my first and most important goal. So to help you figure out whether you might like the book, here are some of the elements that all the Order of the Sicari books have:

Hot Romance Factor – Ares and Emma in Assassin’s Honor. Sexual tension that has you going, ok, it’s getting hot in here. Lysander and Phaedra in Assassin’s Heart are just as hot together 

HBO mini-series ROME – swords, honor, treachery, battle between an old religion (pagans) and a new religion (Christianity) The Order of the Sicari are honorable warriors although there are traitors. Hey, they’re human. Brutal culture, yet still noble.

 DaVinci Code Factor – Ancient artifact out there that the Sicari and their enemy the Praetorians BOTH want. No one’s really sure what it is, but myth says it’s powerful and can change the balance of power between the two factions. Also see above with the new/old religion piece.

National Treasure /Indiana Jones Factor – Archeology hunt for treasure with great romance

And if you’re still not sure about the book, you can read the first three chapters on my website.

So did you already know how the writing/publication process worked? Did anything about the process stand out to you? Is there something about paranormals that you like or don’t like to see?



Many thanks to Monica for being our guest today. For more infomation on Monica and her books, visit her website here, follow her on Twitter here, find her at Facebook here and see her blog here. Don’t forget to leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of Assassin’s Honor. Good Luck!

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