House of Crimson & Clover Redesign

The House of Crimson & Clover turns eight this fall. It’s really much older than that, if we’re tracking from the point of inception, 1999, but September 26th, 2011 was the date of the first publication in the series.

The books have come a long way since then. The last book came out on the series’ 6th anniversary, in 2017. Some of the books have hit the Top 100 (and even Top 20) on Amazon, and rose to the top of the charts on Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo as well. A couple have been reedited. They’ve all been through multiple iterations of cover designs. The decision to introduce readers at The Storm and the Darkness or The Illusions of Eventide has gone back and forth.

I’ve come a long way as well since 2011. I’d like to think I’m a better writer. I’m definitely a better designer, and if you didn’t know, I’ve designed all the covers for this series—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

What I’ll be introducing over the next week or two, slowly as I take the necessary time to change what’s required, is the culmination of all of those designs, and of my skills as a designer (which are still, always, evolving).

Without further ado, here are the new covers for the twelve books of The House of Crimson & Clover:

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In addition to cover changes, I’m taking this opportunity to provide final clarity on the reading order by renumbering the series. Instead of The Storm and the Darkness and Shattered both being listed as prequels, they have been renumbered to Volumes I and II. This puts The Illusions of Eventide, previously Volume I, to Volume III. Labeling the first two books as prequels, I believe, caused confusion in readers who believed they were optional to the reading order. The true first book in The House of Crimson & Clover is The Storm and the Darkness. 

I’m working to get these updated at all the retailers, but in the meantime, if you’re in love with the existing covers, now’s the time to grab them before they change!

Here’s a trip down memory lane, on the design progression of The Storm and the Darkness:

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I’ll end by giving a quick rundown of what’s in flight for me writing-wise:

  • Finishing The Seven Series. 1975 just released, and 1976 is coming July 31. I’m getting ready to start the first draft of
  • The second Midnight Dynasty Series book, A Storm of Revelations, comes out Tuesday! This one’s a wild ride, and I think you’ll love it.
  • I’m working on a somewhat secret project, but I’ll tell you this: it’s bigger and more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done, and it’s a fantasy series. The world-building alone has taken me many hours, and I’ve just started writing in the world. Once The Seven is truly done, this will be my main focus for the time being.

 

Happy Reading!

Sarah

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Fantasy, History, and Inspiration

TLDR: I talk about what I like/don’t like in the fantasy genre, and how that’s motivated me to finally invest in writing my own fantasy cycle.

magic_ball_library_columns_castle_63093_1280x1280If nothing else, the ending to the decade-long epic television masterpiece, Game of Thrones,certainly stirred a lot of discussion. And feelings. And more discussion.

I said my piece on it. Mostly positive (Seasons 1-6), with some criticism over the rushed execution of the final two. Problems that could’ve been solved with more time. But once I released my thoughts into the universe, I realized I’d already moved on. Whatever I loved and didn’t love about the show, it was merely an interpretation of a world I loved long before there was a first season script. A world I’ll return to on the page, again and again and, one day, hopefully, read the ending delivered by the man who created it to begin with. A true fantasy cycle, complete.

More than that, it got me thinking. Anyone who knows me, or has followed this blog since the beginning, knows my love of Tolkien. When I had more time to do it, I wrote a number of essays on the Tolkienverse (posted here on this blog for those so inclined). But, almost equally, although very differently, I love the world of The Song of Ice and Fire. I love it in a similar way I love the Warcraft universe. And while I’ve tried to find other fantasy that fits me the way ASoIaF does, it’s a tough fit.

Much of fantasy deals with the idea of a central hero, and any number of things he must do/not do, discover/not discover. Parallel to that is the of a battle between idea of light and dark, and the underlying conflict that runs through many fantasy worlds. I’ve read a number of really solid fantasy series—well written, exceptional character development and worldbuilding—that nonetheless didn’t leave me satisfied.

What I realized, as I pondered the new void left by the departure of Thrones from television, was that what I love about ASoIaF are those things that cross over into my favorite genre to read: historical fiction (and non-fiction).

b61f15f1c370a3829d13a1feb1b6217d--queen-of-england-rule-britanniaWhat caused me to pick up the series years ago was reading that Martin used the Plantagenets, and more specifically, the Wars of the Roses, as inspiration. Hello! England 1066-1603 is my entire aesthetic! So, of course I picked it up, and of course I loved it. Although a parallel world, it had all the intrigue and web-weaving of the real-life history that, to this day, is better than any fiction (don’t @ me).

What I love about the series is that it’s less about a quest, or a single goal, and more about an event that sends an entire kingdom into turmoil. It’s about all the things each of the characters do as a result of that inciting event, who they were, who they become, how they become what they become together, or apart. It’s about family and lineage; a rich, interconnected history. And yes, it has dragons, but those dragons are more interesting to me in light of their link to the family who purportedly shares their blood and history.

I know, I know, Tolkien did the hero/quest thing, and his work is, bar-none, my favorite to ever be written. But Tolkien set the stage, while others iterated and interpreted. That isn’t to say some didn’t do it as well, or better, only that for me that gold only struck once.

For me, a fantasy series that ticks the boxes has an event that, however small, changes everything; that has all the richness of historical fiction; that draws on the complexity of family and lineage in a way that drives the central plot(s).

All that to say, once this realization hit me, the ideas started flowing. I spent the past few days worldbuilding an entirely new parallel world, writing tens of thousands of notes and biographies and histories. Drawing from what fascinates me about the Middle Ages of our own world, mixing it with my favorite fantasy elements. I’ve already built rich genealogies and am starting now on their stories and histories. I have a map! It’s rudimentary, but one day I’ll have one designed professionally; it’s far too early to commit anything to precision. And although I’m not ready to start writing in this world, the very first line of the series popped into my head, practically screaming at me. No, I’m not sharing it… not just yet, anyway.

Of course, worldbuilding was always my favorite part of the creative process. Anyone who has read my House of Crimson & Clover series, love or hate it, knows how much time was spent on genealogy and history. The writing part is decidedly more complicated, but it’s the coloring in that makes the world really real.

What I know for sure is this: I’ve never been so energized by a project.

What does this mean for my other projects? It doesn’t change much. A Storm of Revelations (Midnight Dynasty Book 2) releases June 18th, and 1976 (The Seven Book 6) comes out on my birthday, July 31st. I haven’t set a date for 1980, the final Seven book, but my plan was to finish the series this year. I hadn’t planned another Midnight Dynasty release until 2020 at the earliest, and my Vampires of the Merovingi series (historical fantasy) takes considerable time for proper historical research. I’ll continue to work with Becket on our co-writing projects, which we do in the spaces in between.

With The Seven almost finished, that frees up a lot more of my creative time, and with a vision this clear, and this real, expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming months.

 

 

House of Dusk, House of Dawn is a Kobo Top Cover of 2017!

HouseofDuskDawn_ebookI am absolutely humbled and thrilled to announce that Kobo has named “House of Dusk, House of Dawn” as a Top 10 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Cover of 2017! This is such a tremendous honor. Many of you know that in addition to writing the books in this series (duh), I also designed all the covers.

Voting for this category is open for the next few days. If “House of Dusk, House of Dawn” is also a favorite of yours, please consider taking a moment to vote. The site is mobile-friendly and is a quick as a single click to vote.

You can vote here.

The Top 3 from this round will go on to the next round. I’ll keep everyone posted on how far this one goes!

Sarah

Breaking Down the Playlist: House of Dusk, House of Dawn

HouseofDuskDawn_ebookMany authors create playlists for their books, filled with the songs that inspired scenes, characters, or storylines. Throughout the House of Crimson & Clover series, I’ve shared my playlists for the books on my website. Some of these songs were helpful background noise. Others are at least partly responsible for how a book turned out.

As I wrap up the final House of Crimson & Clover book (I’m still not used to typing those words), I’ve created a playlist filled with songs new to the series, as well as those that played pivotal roles in the creation of earlier books.

Here’s some “behind the curtain” notes behind how I chose a few of the songs that appear on the playlist for the final book in the series. The full playlist is at the bottom if you want to add it to your Spotify.

“House of Dusk, House of Dawn” Playlist Notes

Imagine- A Perfect Circle: Maynard James Keenan is one of my favorite artists, and his songs have appeared throughout the playlists for this series. I thought it only fitting to choose one of my favorite covers of one of my favorite songs for the playlist of the final book. The idealistic hopefulness of this song also resonates as this book begins with every single character part of a fight for a better world and a better life.

The Night We Met- Lord Huron: Both the chords and words of this song have a way of sinking deep into your soul. As soon as I heard  it, I knew it would be the backdrop for a particularly difficult chapter. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you,” is the kind of line I wished I’d written myself. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’ll know when you get there.

White Blank Page- Mumford and Sons: I wrote all of “Asunder” to this song on repeat (much to the chagrin of my long-suffering husband). Asunder primarily tells the story of Jacob and Amelia’s separation, which was layered with so many complexities and complications. The powerhouse of emotion behind the vocals on this song put me in Jacob’s frame of mind, and kept me there, heart clenched tight, stomach in knots, all the way to the finish.

Where is my Mind?- Maxence Cyrin: I wrote a majority of Nicolas’ scenes in “The Illusions of Eventide” to the Pixies version of this song. Nicolas has always been the character in the series most vivid to me. The most loud. Which is interesting, because in many ways he’s the least grounded. He floated through most of the books, lost, confused, and on the verge either a total meltdown or complete enlightenment. Frank Black’s warbling vocals captured Nicolas’ frame of mind quite well, but I love this calmer version as a way to bring things full circle for the character.

I Go to the Barn Because I Like the- Band of Horses: Finn is not an innocent character, but I have always felt from him, and written into him, a sense of innocence. He is most vulnerable in life when he finds himself standing before Ana, heart in hand. This song perfectly captures that sense in Finn that he is out his element in the face of something he has never wanted more, or needed more, in his life. I wrote most of his scenes in “Bound” to this song, and many in the books that followed.

Everlong- Foo Fighters: This is, of course, the song that brought Jacob and Amelia together, in a scene that happens prior to the start of the series, but is revisited several times on the page (for the first time in “Midnight Dynasty”). I chose this song because I loved it, but also because I have had this recurring dream for years that I’m pulled onstage at a FF concert for a drum solo on this song. I air drum this song in the car more than I should. Writers give their characters little gifts all the time. I thought, who better than to give this to than Jacob?

Dreams- Cranberries: Since this song came out, when I was in middle school, it has always represented happiness even in dark times. A sense of joy after a long storm. As if saying, with a smile, “ahh… at last.” I always knew this would appear somewhere at the end of the series.

A Praise Chorus- Jimmy Eat World: Simply, this song is what gave me the title for the series. I knew what I wanted to convey- the sense of two powerful families, two powerful dynasties- but struggled for months with the right title. This song was on my playlist and one day the words “clicked.” I know Jimmy Eat World borrowed “crimson and clover, over and over,” but I still owe them credit for the moment everything came together.

A few other notes. Alt-J has played a huge part in setting the stage for the second half of this series, and “Intro” is one of my favorites of theirs. It feels fitting as a start to the book. Pendulum is one of my favorite electronic groups, and “Witchcraft” has the right amount of energy to jump us straight into the biggest battle of the series. But every single one of these songs was chosen strategically, and their placement in the list is equally intentional.

You can find the playlist below on Spotify:

Pre-order House of Dusk, House of Dawn now:

In the end is our beginning.
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ueOkxx

Introducing: The Saga of Crimson & Clover, a World of Southern Gothic Fantasy

I have an exciting announcement, one which will enhance and re-shape the world of Crimson & Clover going forward, allowing me to leverage the potential of the vast world I’ve built while continuing to produce stories with crisp, new ideas.

I would like to introduce to you The Saga of Crimson & Clover, an overarching universe that will contain multiple, perhaps many, series within.

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But first, let’s back up a bit.

If you are a reader of The House of Crimson & Clover Series, I imagine one of the draws for you to be the fully fleshed and developed world. If so, we have something in common. I have, for many years as a reader, sought out series with a sense of universe behind them, becasue I find it easier to lose myself into the escape reading creates. There’s a saying somewhere about how readers choose to live in many worlds, not just one. And as a reader, I would be perfectly happy with a series that never ends, if it was within a world I love and there was still compelling stories to be told.

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The Saga of Crimson & Clover, a world of Southern Gothic Fantasy containing multiple or many series.

As an author, I’m not so very different. I’ve spent as many hours developing this world, and its characters, as I have writing them. I could throw together an encyclopedia, there’s so much material. Think of it like the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I’ve only been able to share a sliver so far.

 

As I near the end of the current arc of major storylines in The House of Crimson & Clover Series (Prophecy, Curse, Empyrean War, etc.), which will be wrapped up in Volume 10 (fall of 2017), I look forward to exploring the ideas I have for the C&C universe overall. I see a lot of our main characters continuing on as the story is pulled in closer to New Orleans, and other branches of the family (The LaViolettes, the powerful female-led line, for one, and far more on the Sullivan side) coming further into play. I also want to explore other potential storylines, such as returning to mysterious Summer Island, or maybe even some Empyrean tales set in Farjhem. When I do, I want them to be contained within their own series, so new readers don’t have to read 40 books to catch up, while existing readers can continue to enjoy all this universe has to offer.

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The House of Crimson & Clover, a 10 Volume Paranormal Southern Gothic series within the broader Saga of Crimson & Clover world.

I plan to restructure the world of Crimson & Clover to accommodate more stories and additional series within that world. The overarching world will be The Saga of Crimson & Clover, and within that saga will be different series, each of which can be enjoyed on their own (self-contained), or to enhance their enjoyment of the saga overall.The series you are all reading now (Volumes 1-10), is, of course, The House of Crimson & Clover series. When I continue the story, this will begin another series, The Midnight Dynasty series. Although it will be a continuation of the lives of the characters from The House of Crimson & Clover Series, it will also begin new storylines that don’t require the former series as a prerequisite. The main thing I want you to take away is that all of these individual series can be read on their own. You can read The Midnight Dynasty series without having read The House of Crimson & Clover series, as I’ll provide just enough backstory for new readers to track. The number of books per series will vary, depending on the story I need to tell.

This is a visual representation of how the Crimson & Clover universe will be structured:

The Crimson & Clover Saga 

The House of Crimson & Clover Series

Prequels
Volumes 1-10 (Final book fall 2017)

Vampires of the Merovingi Series

Volumes 1-? (First book planned summer 2017)

The Midnight Dynasty Series

Volumes 1- ? (First book spring 2018)

Example” Series*

Volumes 1-X

Crimson & Clover Lagniappes

Bonus Stories

 

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Vampires of the Merovingi, a brand new series within the Saga of Crimson & Clover, coming Summer 2017

What’s not changing? The House of Crimson & Clover Series, and the books within, haven’t changed. The Crimson & Clover Lagniappes (Bonus Stories) can still be read as standalones, at any point in the series. 

The main change to be aware of is that now The House of Crimson & Clover will be part of a broader universe, with more stories and series on the horizon.

*Example Series, to me, means endless possibilities. As I mentioned above, I have endless ideas, and the more nuanced this world gets, the more possibilities open up. I could honestly see myself writing in this universe the rest of my life, and that’s why breaking out additional series, to me, is the right move. It helps give readers different entry points, and lots of options.

 

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Midnight Dynasty, a new series within the Saga of Crimson & Clover, coming 2018

 

Q&A

 

Q: What does this change about the existing House of Crimson & Clover Series?

A: Nothing specifically. The House of Crimson & Clover series, and all titles within, will remain the same, and all the Lagniappes (bonus stories) can continue to be read as standalone stories. What IS changing is that this series will now roll up to a broader Saga of Crimson & Clover universe.

Q: What about the Lagniappe (bonus) stories? Are those tied to a single series, or all?

A: Since all titles within the Crimson & Clover Saga, no matter what series they belong to, all sit in the same universe, I see the Lagniappes in the same way. These stories tend to revolve around specific characters or occurrences that are not tied to the progression of the stories, but shed more light on a person’s past or experiences. Lagniappes, then, are tied more to the saga then the individual series within.

Q: What will the additional series’ be about?

A: The possibilities are endless here, and I have so many ideas brewing. I can tell you The Midnight Dynasty series will be more centered around the Deschanels and Sullivans at home in New Orleans, and more family-centric drama. This includes introducing and exploring other branches of the family, such as the LaViolettes. I also have a series, Vampires of the Merovingi, in production, which will be more of a historical fantasy bend, covering the de Blancheforts and how they stepped into their live as dhampir (vampires). Those are the two series I will focus on in the near (next 1-2 years) future. Beyond that, I have lots of ideas, and it’s a matter of prioritizing them.

Q: How many books will be in each series?

A: The answer depends on how the story arcs progress for each individual series. I can say The House of Crimson & Clover Series is definitely a 10 book series. At this point, I can’t predict how long the others will be.

Q: When will the last House of Crimson & Clover series book be published?

A: Fall of 2017.

Q: What are the next series’ coming after The House of Crimson & Clover?

A: Vampires of the Merovingi, a historical fantasy series about how the de Blancheforts came into their powers as vampires, and Midnight Dynasty, which centers around the Deschanels and Sullivans with matters closer to home (a continuation of where the story in The House of Crimson & Clover left off, but can also be read on its own. The first series will be out in summer of 2017, and the next series in early 2018.

Q: Do I have to read The House of Crimson & Clover before I read the other series?

A: Not unless you want to. I’m intentionally structuring each series to be read on their own. Undoubtedly, there will be those who preferred to read the different series in a specific order, but it won’t be required.

Q: What can we expect from you in 2017?

A: In the spring, Volume 9 of The House of Crimson & Clover, Within the Garden of Twilight, is releasing. Closer to Halloween, expect the final volume of the series to be released. Also, this summer, the first title in Vampires of the Merovingi will be available.

Q: So you have three series listed here. What comes beyond those?

A: It’s hard to say. I have so many ideas, so many notes, that I could write within this universe for years and years to come. Once I have The House of Crimson & Clover wrapped up, and both Midnight Dynasty and Vampires of the Merovingi well on their way, that will be the time for me to prioritize those ideas into next steps.

Q: What about projects outside of the Saga of Crimson & Clover?

A: In all honesty, for me writing has always been about following the passion, and the vast majority of my passion lies within the world of Crimson & Clover. But I do occasionally dabble elsewhere. From time to time, you’ll find original work from me in projects designed to raise money for charity. These are usually very short reads, but they fall outside the world of Crimson & Clover. I also have a title available in the shared sci-fi world of The Complex, titled The Last Dryad. Beyond that, Becket and I are still writing our mystery series, The Text Message Serials, and are currently exploring our options for publication.

 

The Hinterland Veil (C&C Volume VII)| Cover Reveal + Pre-Order Available!

TheHinterlandVeilCover_ebook.jpgI hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their loved ones! Many of you have asked me about release information for Volume VII, and so I’ve been busy with a holiday surprise of my own.
THE HINTERLAND VEIL will be released on March 22, 2016! Volume VII picks up the story threads of Finn, Aleksandr, Anasofiya, Agripin, Nicolas, and Mercy, bringing each of their adventures to a climax. From Ireland to Scotland, from Finland to Russia, the Deschanels are back to fight for what matters most.

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

The campaign begins. Bravery conquers fear. Fate races time.
Amazon | BN* | iTunes | Kobo*| Google Play 

*BN and Kobo are on holiday hiatus from publisher updates. Pre-order will likely become available around the new year.

Don’t forget, The House of Crimson & Clover Volumes I-IV is still on sale for $.99 (90% off list price!) until 12/31. A perfect time to catch up on the series, or send the gift to a friend!

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Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads

Season’s Greetings!
Sarah

Myths of Midwinter is HERE!

MYTHS OF MIDWINTER, the sixth volume in the bestselling Paranormal Southern Gothic series, The House of Crimson & Clover, is now available on all major online retailers.

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Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads 

Quillan Sullivan lost his twin brother two decades ago, a tragedy he never fully experienced due to his unusual ability to see and talk to Riley when no one else can. He believes this “gift” is a fluke, until the haughty, vainglorious love of his life, Estella, returns after several years abroad, and rips his world apart.

Estella Broussard loathes Quillan. He’s the last person on Earth she’d ever bless with her presence. To her great dismay, he alone holds the key to achieving her deepest desire. She will do anything to reach her aims, no matter the warnings… no matter the cost to Quillan.

Nerys guides Finn and Aleksandr on their mission to find Anasofiya and bring her home. Finn accepts her help, on the condition she keep no secrets. She relays what she knows… all except the visions her old companion has sent her, regarding a terrifying menace to the Deschanels back home: A necromancer has emerged, and this ominous knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

The threads of fate weave the Deschanels and Sullivans down perilous paths, as a centuries-old warning emerges: Seduction to sinners. A legacy in splinters. Beware, the myths of midwinter.

________

Need to catch up on the series first? The series prequel THE STORM AND THE DARKNESS, is on sale for $.99. This is a fantastic chance to start this bestselling paranormal series by picking up the book New York Times Bestselling author Christopher Rice calls, “modern gothic with fierce smarts.” **SALE ENDS TODAY!**

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Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads 

Ana Deschanel made a terrible mistake. The only chance of protecting the other people involved is to flee New Orleans, the only home she has ever known, for the quiet solitude of Summer Island.

Summer Island, Maine (population 202) is not the tranquil escape Ana imagined. The locals are distant and cold, especially her neighbor, the reclusive veterinarian Jonathan St. Andrews. Her only lifeline is the kind but odd caretaker, Alex Whitman. Showing up at all the right moments, he warns her she is completely unprepared for a Maine winter. As the first seasonal storm approaches to whispers of an island shutdown, Ana realizes she may soon be cut off from the rest of the world.

After a surprising encounter with Jonathan’s brother, Finn, Ana finds herself braving the storm to return something to him. Unprepared for the Maine storm, she slips and falls onto the jagged rocks along the shore. The St. Andrews brothers find her in the nick of time, but she remains unconscious. As the storm worsens, the St. Andrews brothers learn there are other, more sinister forces at work closer than they ever imagined.

With no help from the outside world, they must find a way to protect themselves from both the storm, and the growing darkness that looms across the island.  

Sale ends 10/20.