27 November 2007

Incarnations of Immortality live ON!

The Long Wait Is Over: Incarnations of Immortality Series Continues

UNDER A VELVET CLOAK, Piers Anthony's newest Incarnations book, has been released from Mundania Press, LLC. The long-awaited sequel about the enigmatic Nox is here, and delivery on pre-orders is promised in time for Christmas.

It's been more than 17 years since the release of AND ETERNITY. Readers of the wildly-popular Incarnations of Immortality series might have thought Piers Anthony meant for it to end with the first seven books. Yet again, Anthony surprises his readers with new books from beloved worlds.

The master wordsmith Anthony is known for nine series worlds he's written solo and several others in collaboration, as well as a slew of stand-alone titles. Best loved among those series are Xanth and Incarnations.

This eighth book in the Incarnations series follows the woman destined to take the office of Nox, the incarnation of the Night. Kerena is a beautiful young girl, living and learning magic in the shadow of King Arthur's Camelot. In service to Morgan le Fey, Kerena seduces Sir Gawain and conceives his child, a child that is fated to die an early death. Rebuffed by all seven major Incarnations in her bid to remove the taint from her baby, Kerena vows revenge on the Incarnations, but revenge that massive carries a cost equal to the gain.

In a change from earlier Incarnations books, but in keeping with Anthony's love of indie press, UNDER A VELVET CLOAK came not from Del Rey, Morrow or Avon. Nox's book has released from Mundania Press, LLC., the five-year-old indie publisher of choice for bestsellers like Piers Anthony, Gary K. Wolfe, Robert Adams, Don Callander, Anne Logston and Louise Cooper. Mundania is home to eighteen of Piers Anthony's books alone, including his ChroMagic series and his joint work with Robert E. Margroff on the Kelvin of Rud saga.

But, UNDER A VELVET CLOAK holds a special place in publisher Daniel Reitz Sr.'s heart. An avid fan of Incarnations personally, he prides himself on being one of the first to see the completed manuscript. He offers the information that Nox's story ties up a lot of loose ends and fills in much of the background material for the series that readers will surely soak up. At the same time, he refuses to acknowledge UNDER A VELVET CLOAK as "the final chapter in the series," leading readers to wonder what else Anthony might have brewing for their favorite immortal offices.

When asked what working with Anthony is like, Reitz responds: "It's been a dream to be able to get to know and work with Piers Anthony. The man's imagination surely knows no boundaries and as the consummate storyteller, no one weaves a better tale. Piers is also easy to work with as a writer, having so much knowledge of what makes a good story and how best to present it, so editing is a breeze."

Piers Anthony states that he originally planned ON A PALE HORSE, book one of the series, to be a stand-alone novel, touching on the various aspects of death. Once he came up with the concept of "Death" as an office rather than merely a role or fact of life, an office that any person might manage to step into, under the right circumstances, he realized that he could do the same with some of the other key aspects of existence: Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil and Good.

"Originally, I planned to stop at five novels, because I thought readers would consider it unacceptable to address Satan and God fictively. But as reader responses came in, I found no such concern, so I decided to complete the roster." Further, Anthony reports that he did think the series complete at seven books, but the readers had other ideas.

Though the readers wanted more books, especially Nox's story, Anthony originally declined, believing that anything after tackling God as a subject would be "anticlimactic." He continued to demure for more than a decade and a half.

What changed?

Piers Anthony admits to being daunted by rereading material so old and creating a "series Bible" of the facts, dates and other particulars that would be necessary to start a new book in the series. Then Jean Prior, a reader that runs a fan site with the nickname "Phoenix," created a chronology for the series and posted it at http://www.spundreams.net/~phoenix/IoIChron.html With the facts and dates already amassed for Anthony, the author saw continuing a long-dormant series as feasible.

The second change was a letter from Stephen Smith, who not only suggested Nox as the next core character again but also included the skeleton outline of a story for Nox. His three pages of suggested summary set Anthony on the path to completing this novel. It's the first time Piers Anthony has ever taken direction from a summary idea sent by a reader, and ultimately the story "as written" left the summary suggested far behind, moving in its own direction. While the early chapters were conceived by Smith, the rest of the book is from Piers Anthony's wondrous imagination.

After querying his readers via his bimonthly column at http://www.hipiers.com, Anthony found an overwhelmingly favorable response to the idea of a new Incarnations book, centering around Nox. Coupled with the option of ON A PALE HORSE by Disney, the opportunities for a new Incarnations of Immortality book were prime, so Anthony started writing early in 2004.

Jean Prior and Stephen Smith weren't the only readers Anthony hails as being instrumental in his writing process. Tim Bruening, a reader with a phenomenal memory for detail, asked so many questions about seeming departures, most chalked up to multiple timelines and the human condition, that Anthony engaged him in helping to check UNDER A VELVET CLOAK for continuity.

Based on the reader response to the project, Mundania Press has pulled out all the stops for this release. In addition to the e-book and trade paperback releases all Mundania books enjoy, an expanded edition, containing bonus material not in the trade release, will be available in 250 numbered and signed hard-bound and dust-jacketed copies and 26 similarly-enhanced lettered and signed copies.

Though Anthony describes fantasy as "generally low-research type of writing," he admits he did a lot of research for Nox's book. Borrowing from the fringes of Arthurian legend and researching magic from sources such as Patricia "Trish" Telesco's FOLKWAYS: RECLAIMING THE MAGIC & WISDOM, Anthony shares: "It really pays to have the right reference at the right time."

It might surprise readers to learn that Piers Anthony harbored concerns about his ability to sign this book to a publisher. He commented: "Many readers think that a successful author can sell anything he writes; that's not the case. The market is highly competitive." Thankfully, there was no such difficulty in finding a publisher for UNDER A VELVET CLOAK.

What is Piers Anthony's life like these days? "My wife and I live in a house on our tree farm, celebrating five decades together in reasonable health, considering our retirement age. It's really a pretty dull life, aside from my writing career."

Like Reitz, Anthony teases readers with future possibilities for Incarnations. "I think this novel does conclude the series, though perhaps only Nox knows for sure, and she's not telling."

12 November 2007


Good things come in threes, I suppose. Many of you already know that I had WE SHALL LIVE AGAIN release at the end of October from Phaze.

On the heels of that, and both on the same day, I've had two more releases this week. The first is THE COLOR OF LOVE from
Phaze. This is a re-edited reprint of my EPPIE finalist novelette from the anthology ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, available in e-book.

The second is "The Master's Lover" in FORBIDDEN LOVE: SACRED BANDS from Under The Moon/Final Sword Productions. This one is available in the 8.5X11" illustrated collector's edition, and she's gorgeous, as always. The book will be available on Amazon right around the end of November and before Christmas on Barnes and Noble.

"The Master's Lover" is a novelette from the STAR MAGES universe and is my first M/M sensual romance. Not that I have many M/M stories in mind, but it's a first, and that's always noteworthy.

03 November 2007

Isn't erotica porn?

In recent list discussions, it's become apparent again that many people who don't read the many genres of sensual and erotic romance and erotica have no clue what the terms mean. Some still believe that erotica IS porn. Some are screaming for the rating scales that the indie publishers have already been using for the last several years. It's a mess. So, I'm off on explanations again.

To someone who's read erotica and sensual romance, since I was a young woman...half my life, now..."erotica" does not have a negative connotation, as those calling for a new term without the negativity seem to feel it does.

Porn does. I fully see the negative connotations of the word "porn," though I don't deny that there is a use for porn. It fills a want some people have, and having seen some of it, even I admit that some porn is higher end work that appeals to a cross-over audience of erotica lovers.

IMO, the main problem some people face is the fact that there are readers who think porn and erotica are the same thing. They aren't and never have been. There are authors/publishers who mislabel porn as erotica. I can't stop that, but that's been happening since the beginning of time (bait and switch in publishing). The best advice I can give readers new to the genres is to find a company that actually sells erotica or erotic romance and not porn and start there, with books you know are labeled correctly.

At the same time, "erotic" itself means (definitions from the dictionary): relating to expressive love, especially sexual love, and desire; tending to arouse sexual desire. Now, the DEFINITION of erotic contains the word "love" twice. The root of the word "erotic" is eros, an ancient Greek word that specifically means "sexual love." Eros is one of the major types of Greek love, also including storge (familial love, affection as one feels for a brother or child), philia (brotherly love--not for a blood brother but others you deem your close confidants, neighbor to neighbor, loyalty, friendship) and agape (love, the abiding love of marriage, content in a relationship...some people tie this to divine love, as well). It's in good company.

OTOH, the definitions of "pornography" include: sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal; lurid or sensational material; prurient and possessing of no redeeming qualities. Hmmm... No mention of love in there. No mention of anything beyond sexual stimulation, at its basest level, to boot. "Porn/pornography" takes it's roots from LATE Greek (later than eros, by far...after contact with Europeans), meaning "writing about prostitutes." No, I'm not kidding. That was what the word translated as, according to the dictionary I'm using.

Now, this is not me saying the readers new to the genre's ideas are "wrong." Opinions are admittedly of those who hold them and not necessarily going to match anyone else's. This is me saying that someone who reads the genre and knows what the words mean has no reason to see a negative connotation to them.

As I said earlier, the term erotica does not have a negative connotation for me. Even its definition is positive. It's roots are positive. The only negative connotations I see are in the minds of people who HAVE confused the two terms (erotica and porn).

02 November 2007

New release...

What's new from me? WE SHALL LIVE AGAIN is out from Phaze!

Amunmaruku visits her in her dreams, a long-dead Egyptian prince, whose tomb Anna is excavating. He haunts her in her waking moments, making her question her sanity. Is it her psychometry or something more sinister? When the past, present and future collide, it's up to Anna to close the door connecting them.

Of censorship and idiots...

You might notice, if you pay attention to such things, and you're on lists with me, that I've changed sig/tag lines. Want to know the story behind this? I'm sure you do, now that I've engaged your interest.

A list owner of a list I will not name, because I generally respect both him and his list, demanded I remove a line from my old sig line. In the interest of fairness, the "offending" line was a snip of a review I got for my work in FORBIDDEN LOVE, BAD BOYS issue. It said that I was "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world...not for the weak." That quote, BTW, was from Rachelle at Fallen Angels Reviews.

Apparently, SOMEONE found that quote offensive, and the list owner (in a fit of some sort of madness I cannot fathom) decided that I shouldn't be allowed to use it anymore. I'm not list owner there, so I don't really have a choice in the matter, save leaving the list, and since it's one of my best resource lists, I am not willing to leave the list over something so ridiculous, though it goes against my grain to let something like this slide.

This is what I find amusing. Read that quote again. There's not a single swear word in it, not even an erotic term. Not even really a blue word that's not one of the big 7.

What is there to find offensive in the quote? Deviant? Erotic? Not for the weak? They are words, and they are all words I've explained in my blog long ago.

The combination threatens someone? Again, why? I'd love to know. Is someone out there THAT insecure in their world that the comment, about me...not them, is that shattering? Amusing. I'd like to say interesting, but unless there's a really good story behind this, I don't think I'd find it interesting.

I was gracious about it, and I did change the tag line, because I don't want to lose the list, but this is a clear case of censorship, in my opinion. There's no other term that covers it.