Thursday, May 19, 2016

Upcoming Author Events

Natalie at Cupboard Maker Books

I don't know how I managed it, but I have a SLEW of appearances happening this year. I mean, I already did YAPA Con, an author panel and a meet and greet for the Dauphin County Library System, and a booksigning at Cupboard Maker Books. But wait! There's more! If you're hoping to meet me and get signed copies of my books, I have three opportunities for that! And if you just want to hang with me (and other authors) online and have a chance to get cool prizes, I have three opportunities for that, too! :) So here are they are, in chronological order:

Lady Jane's Salon, Lancaster
May 22, 1–4 p.m., The Cat's Meow, Manheim, PA

I'll be reading from my latest release, The Color of Courage, and will have some giveaways and books for sale. Other authors also featured are Misty Simon, Olivia Night, and Lydia Michaels.

Celebrate Dragons Month
May 23, 9–10:30 p.m. EDT on Facebook

I'll be helping to celebrate the release of Jamie K. Schmidt's new book (and dragons, of course) with a few other guest authors. Come by for chatting about dragons and dragon shifters, books, and probably hunks. That's how these things tend to go. :) And there are always prizes!

Romance Writers Gone Wild
May 26 & 27 on Facebook

This party actually goes on ALL WEEK LONG. Each day will feature authors in different romance genres. I'll be posting on Thursday (as a paranormal romance/urban fantasy author) and Friday (as a romantic suspense author). But stop in every day and see what's going on! Individual authors will be giving away prizes, and there are several "grand" prizes to be won, such as Kindles and gift cards.

YA Book Signing
June 11, 1–3 p.m., Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, PA

For this in-person booksigning, I'll be wearing my YA hat as NJ Damschroder and signing the two books in my Fusion Series, including the new release, Shadow Mission. I'll be joining Gabriella Gill and Tom Tancin. Come on by!

Romance Saturday
June 25, 2 p.m., Aaron's Books, Litiz, PA

Meet 9 local romance authors as they sign and discuss their books.  Authors include NY Times bestselling Megan Hart, Vicky Burkholder, Sara Walter Ellwood, Natalie J. Damschroder, D.R. Grady, Patty Taylor, Gerri Bowen, Allison B. Hanson, and Brandy Ayers. There's quite a mix of subgenres; check out details here.

Hope to see you around!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

"Firsts" in a Long Career

The Color of Courage was released yesterday by Soul Mate Publishing. It's my 22nd published novel, nearly 16 years after the release of Hunter's Song. After so much time and so many books, it's kind of amazing that I can still celebrate firsts with number 22.

1. My First Superhero Book (also the first in the series).
I actually wrote it 10 years ago, before the current boom of superheroes in TV and film. I've always loved superhero romances, but I wanted, as usual, to be different from everyone else. I'm not sure if I managed it, especially now that superheroes are all angsty and stuff. Mine have to deal with everyday problems like bill collectors and a-hole exes and day jobs, because it's not like saving people earns you a living. Of course, that's all on top of battling someone who is determined to take them down, and Daley, the heroine of TCoC, also has her personal insecurities and a complicated love life to deal with.

2. My First Urban Fantasy
Because of the way publishing works, Goddesses Rising was published before The Color of Courage. So to everyone else, it's not my first urban fantasy. But it's the first one I wrote. The first story that strayed from the romantic focus. The romance is strong, of course, it always will be in what I write, but it's not traditional. We're talking more Elemental Assassins (Jennifer Estep) and less Superhero Central (Julie Kenner). There's also more action and external conflict, and more personal internal conflict than there is romantic conflict.

3. My First First Person POV
Again, Full Fusion and Shadow Mission, the books in my YA series, were commercially available before The Color of Courage. But I wrote TCoC first. Why first person? Because that's how the story came to me. Ian, Daley's boyfriend, breaking up with her in scene 1, and Daley not seeing it coming. Her superpower is being an empath, seeing emotions as colors in a person's aura. But she can't see emotions that are about her. So that just had to be written from Daley's point of view. (I have to admit, it's hampering me now, because I'm craving Dev's POV in The Light of Redemption but I'm telling Harmony's story and Dev is just a part of it. A big, powerful, awesome part. :) )

This book is an incredible value, at 92,000 words and only $2.99. You can buy it here or read the opening scene here. But read on for an exclusive excerpt!

Mr. Mustache drove us out to about twenty yards from the wreck, then idled in a little closer before cutting the engine and dropping anchor. The closer we got, the more frenzied the dog became. The woman appeared to be unconscious, possibly from a head injury. Her blond hair was matted with blood.

“Can you calm the dog?” Summer asked me in a low voice. I was already trying, building my bubble and projecting it outward. The dog’s fury was too intense, though, and we were too far away.

We studied the scene for a minute, riding the boat up and down in the chop.

“Let me see if I can summon her.” Kirby lifted both hands and concentrated. The woman rose a couple of inches, but then stopped. Kirby shook her head.

“She’s caught. I don’t want to rip a leg off or something.”

“We have to go closer,” I said.

“I know, but—”

“I’ll get in the water.” I’d already moved toward the side of the boat when Trace put his hand on my arm.

“That dog will tear you apart.”

I crouched in the bottom of the boat to avoid tipping it. “I can calm him. Animals are simpler, I’m sure I can do it quickly. Then you come in, go under, and untangle her. We’ll drag her to the boat. The dog will probably follow, swimming. He won’t be much danger in the water.”

Trace didn’t like it. His anxiety and fear were growing, as were all of ours. We shared a bad feeling about this, but had no idea how to prove it was a setup, or prepare for it, or stop it. We could only rescue the woman.

He nodded, once. I stood, adjusted my flexi-shield and double-checked that my boots and gloves were secure to my suit, and dove in.

I’d scuba-dived before, but I’d never gone in the water with my suit. The water moved around me, but didn’t touch my skin. The suit held air and buoyed me immediately to the surface, which was good, because the flexi-shield made me feel like I could breathe, but its filters closed as soon as there was no airflow. Any air trapped in the shield wouldn’t last long. I’d have to surface to breathe.

I gave the others a thumbs-up and started a slow breaststroke toward the dog. He’d stopped barking for a moment when I went in the water, but started up again when I swam toward him. Spittle flew off his jaws. His feet scrabbled at the fiberglass under them, his weight shifting with the force of his anger. I could see his teeth, clean and sharp, and was glad my suit would protect me. From being shredded, anyway.

I treaded water a few feet from his face and wished the flexi-shield had sound-dampening qualities. Kirby wanted to get upgrades, now that we had Auberginois’ money. Maybe that was a feature we should ask for.

“Okay, Charm, stop daydreaming and start working.” I concentrated on calming the dog again. My bubble touched his fury, pushing it back. But it wasn’t diminishing. It was like it sank deep into him, and my bubble bent around his body but would go no further. His behavior didn’t change. If anything he went more wild, the sharpness of his bark becoming shrill, almost panicked.

I concentrated, moving my arms and legs only enough to stay afloat and in one place, trying to force his emotion to change. Sweat trickled down my right temple. My jaw started to ache, and then my frustration began to affect the bubble of calm.

Trace and Summer were calling at me to turn back. I was about to when the dog yelped, did a rearing half-twist, and fell into the water behind the boat. He didn’t resurface.

I wasn’t sure if I had caused that or if something else had, but it didn’t matter. I dove back under the water as best I could, trying to see where he’d gone. There was no thrashing shape, no teeth about to grab my leg. I bobbed back to the surface as a splash sounded behind me. It was heavy, probably Trace. I set out for the woman, and a moment later he passed me, his dark shirt telling me he’d shed his suit.

Adam would kill him.

I saw why he’d done it immediately. The suits were virtually airtight and kept us afloat. Trace dove deep, his hands trailing over the woman’s torso and legs. He could stay down, his endurance allowing him to hold his breath for long periods. I watched him work to untangle some kind of line. The dog was still nowhere in sight. Then an odd movement caught my eye. The woman’s hand had risen out of the water. I lifted my head. She was looking right at me, her malevolence on par with Gino Scarengio’s on the ledge. I froze, my blood far colder than the water around me. She was with CASE.


But he couldn’t hear me. He didn’t have his shield on, so he had no com.

The woman grimaced and lifted her hand higher out of the water. Then I realized that was supposed to be a grin, and she was holding some kind of trigger. I screamed Trace’s name again and dove, but the stupid floating suit kept me from getting to him. She hung in the water, drifting as he untangled the line, and he had no clue anything was wrong.

I bobbed. Her thumb started to clench on the button. I dove again. Trace had stopped trying to untangle her and stared at the line stretched across his hands. He turned to me, his eyes wide, and I realized what he held. Some kind of waterproof primer cord.

She was going to blow us up.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun with Quarterly Reporting, or, Yay, Spring!

It's Sweet Home Alabama meets
National Treasure. Who will Zoe pick?
 How's everyone's 2016 going so far?

I have to say, mine has started SO much more satisfyingly than 2015 in its entirety.

In 2015, I only had one new book release, plus a short story. Okay, sure, I also re-issued three books and a short story or two. And I wrote 150,000 new words and edited over 2,000 pages. But for the entire year, I felt as if I wasn't getting anywhere.

This year has been so different! I have TWO new books out already, Aftershocks and Shadow Mission. And a third should be coming out next month, my first Superhero book. It's all very exciting!

I have a book on submission. So far, it's getting praise but the publishers don't know "how to position it" in their list. Story of my career! LOL

A new series is in development, a romantic suspense I'm enjoying writing. In fact, all the writing I've been tackling (the next Soul book, the next Superhero book, the third Fusion book) has been fun, even the parts that I ended up discarding. I just wish I had more time to tackle all of them!

The world Roxie's part of is so much more
complicated than she knew.
The winter has eased up faster than normal, too. We had 70-degree days in early March, and I have to admit, I like daylight savings starting so early and giving me more sunshine in the evening. It shines into my office window, and the difference in my energy levels and mood are incredible.

And now stuff I look forward to is looming close enough to matter. Writing retreat in May. Family reunion in July. Vacation in August. Nephew's wedding in September—the first wedding in the next generation. It's enough to make me feel old. LOL

Outside my window, mini daffodils I planted last year have sprouted, and my dwarf lilac bush has budding leaves.

This is the second-best part of the TV season, when the "drought" hiatus—when EVERYTHING is in reruns—is over and we're about to hit the final stretch when every show pulls out all the stops. Plus, some shows return (12 Monkeys and Orphan Black, yay!) and the fun movies are coming to town. (Though I confess nothing is making me super-excited this year. Which could be good. They might exceed my expectations.)

So what's making you happy on the cusp of the vernal equinox?

(If you'd like to read excerpts of my new releases, you'll find Aftershocks here and Shadow Mission here. Thanks!)

Friday, January 01, 2016

Ending the Year With...A Little Bit of Desperation (Plus a Cover Reveal!)

This was the first New Year's Eve that we had no kids in the house. It was anticlimactic. We didn't do anything differently, really. We made party pizzas (tradition) and watched some TV. Talked to the girls, who were together up in Boston, cuddling on the couch while they watched Friends and waited for the ball to drop. (My heart squeezes.)

I did some work after dinner, then tried to write enough to make my goal for the year. Which didn't exist until this month, and then became something I was both determined to achieve and almost incapable of, for no good reason. What I mean is that reaching the goal was certainly doable, but I kept letting other things get in the way.

My local writing chapter holds a 50/50 challenge twice a year. We write 50 words a day for 50 days. I always try to keep that going through the end of the year, and I almost succeeded. October 12 through December 24, I didn't miss a day. And then Christmas. Which wouldn't have derailed me except for the side trip to urgent care for Number One (she's fine) at the end of the evening, and then it was 10:00 and I had to watch Doctor Who and I...forgot.

So I skipped a few days. And then ennui. BUT I am stubborn and competitive, even against myself, so for two days I wrote 500 words or more on five different projects, finishing on the couch as the ball dropped. (Okay. Just after the ball dropped. Those last 200 words, and of course they counted, they always count if I write them before I go to bed.)

It was difficult and a bit desperate for no good reason, but I'm thrilled to be able to say I wrote 150,046 words in 2015. And it gives me a target for 2016, because I only finished two novels in 2015 (plus a novella and a short story, and I did finish revising a few things, and published 7 books, but still) and I want to do more this year.

What else did I do in 2015?

Edited/revised 2,236 pages of my own work. Which is a modest number, since some of those were single spaced.

Edited 856 pages of fiction in a professional capacity.

Critiqued 1,199 pages of fiction for friends.

Read 118 books (Goodreads calls it 100, but boxed sets throw everything off.)

DNF (did not finish) 42 books. Wow! That seems like a lot. Let me check... Yep, previous years were 17, 21, 25, and 27, with one other outlier at 44. There were a couple that just weren't up to scratch, with poor editing or writing, but most were a matter of taste. There are things I don't like to read about, no matter how well done. So that isn't a reflection on anything except that maybe I tried a bunch of stuff outside of my normal comfort zone, and that's a good thing, right?

Saw 30 movies. 15 at the theater, two that I DVR'd when we had free pay cable, and 12 on DVD/Blu-Ray. I also binged 11 TV shows.

So that was a pretty good year. Okay, want a cover reveal? I just got this cover a couple of days ago, and now I'm really excited to release the book, which is good because my goal for January is to get through revisions, edits, and publication. Ready? Here we go!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Those Birthday Numbers

This is how old I am today.
I have never been bothered by my birthday. Ever. Thirty and forty were kind of awesome, actually. Being bothered by progression of the calendar is so pointless. And everyone does it, and I always have been one who doesn't like to do what everyone does. I hate generalizations. All of them. ;)

So I don't know why today's number strikes so hard. Not in a bad way, really, except that it's an odd number. I realized I hate odd-number ages four years ago. I was interviewed as part of an article in the local newspaper's Sunday magazine. When I read "Natalie J. Damschroder, age 41," something squirmed hard inside me. I did NOT like seeing that number in print.

But it wasn't because OMG I was getting old. It was because it was an odd number. I freaking LOVED being 42. (Also, it amused me that the magazine, NEXT, was for retired readers.)

But I don't like 45.

I get super-annoyed whenever my body betrays my sense of uniqueness and makes me cliché. Like when everyone told me your body starts to fall apart after you turn 30. I scoffed, of course. Like my body knows our arbitrary numbering system and has any clue what date it is. And then of course things started going wrong. Slip on ice and slam my knee to the pavement...and still can't kneel six months later. Tear a labrum in my shoulder that gives me horrendous headaches for two years until I figure out what's wrong and avoid things like carrying diaper bags on that shoulder.

So what does 45 mean? When I look at it this way, it's pretty neutral. I'm the age my mother was when my daughter was born. I'm 10 years away from a senior citizen discount. It would be really hard to get pregnant right now, unless I desperately did not want to, and then it would probably happen in a snap. (It can't, but I did know a woman who got pregnant at 48.) I'm a very analytical person, and I can't analyze this feeling.

OH! I just figured it out. I am no longer "in the demo." You know, the most important people in the world to those who measure consumption. Mostly of entertainment, but also of other products. The upper number is a little fluid. In fact, for TV ratings I think it's 49 now. But you know how when you take a survey and they do an age breakdown at the end to measure demographic data? One of them typically ends in 44.

THAT'S why 45 bothers me. That and it's odd. So no one be surprised if I start accidentally saying I'm 46. (I did that when I was 43, so that made me 44 for two years, but in the opposite of the way people usually do it.)

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 04, 2015

I Don't Know Why They Would Steal the Scanner

Dreams are weird. We all know this. Sometimes they're weird in a make-sense kind of way, or we at least know their influences. Like, Wednesday night I dreamed I was part of the Flarrow team (you know, from this week's The Flash/Arrow crossover). Dreaming about Oliver Queen requires no analysis.

This morning, right before I woke up, I had a head-scratcher.

I was shopping in Kmart. (I never shop in Kmart.)

I was at the checkout, using the self-checkout. (I do always use the self-checkout.)

The scanner unit had a small flatbed scanner as part of it. You know, the kind for home use. That's a little weird, right? I didn't need to use that, though. I was just scanning and bagging stuff. But I'd set a folder and something else, maybe a pad or something, on top of the flatbed scanner part because it was convenient.

At first, the checkout area was quiet, and no one was waiting for me, so I wasn't rushed. (I'm always rushing, though. I don't like to do things slowly.)

This family comes up, and then the lines all fill up around us. The wife shoves my stuff off the scanner. Sends it flying. I'm like, "What the hell are you doing? I'm using this." She gets all belligerent.

So then the father and mother start scanning their stuff while I'm trying to finish scanning mine. The kid is like 10, just hanging around. The guy was short (my height, which is very short) and balding and the wife is dumpy with a bad haircut and a screechy voice. I'm trying to get them to stop and yelling for security. They're all up in my face and aggressive. Finally, I find the help button on the checkout and a manager comes over.

So I tell her what's happening, a couple of women in line say they were witnesses and what I was saying is absolutely true. A couple of other employees come over. They take my stuff and the receipt unit and tell the witnesses to come back to the office with them. They don't say anything to me, the person being robbed or whatever you'd call it.

When I'm like, "why her?" I realize the witness-woman is woozy and they want to let her sit down. I collect other stuff and realize the family is not only gone, they took the flatbed scanner.


We're all back in the office, and the manager is praising me for not laying down and taking it, and I'm  saying how I hate confrontation but sometimes you just have to do it—and thinking about how the situation will make a topic to blog about later—when I wake up.

WTH was that?!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

An Interview with Madeline from Chasing the Painted Skies by Ryan Jo Summers

Welcome to today's guest, Ryan Jo Summers! She's giving away a free pdf copy of her book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave your name!

by Ryan Jo Summers
Buy Link

Raven Koynes is a woman in hiding. Years ago she escaped to remote Gull Island Light Station, nestled far away in Lake Superior. She has carved out a life of peace and solitude for herself. Until famed nature photographer Sebastian Knight arrives--in the height of a nor'easter storm--to document the beauty of Gull Island. Unsavory treasure hunters also blow in with the storm, determined to find missing cargo from a sunken ship. And they are positive Raven knows where it's stashed. A power outage from the storm traps everyone at her keeper's cottage, fellow prisoners of the storm.

Between her attraction to handsome Sebastian and the unwelcome advances and threats of the hunters, Raven is pushed to her limit. Help arrives in the form of a stray German Shepherd Dog, who takes an immediate protective interest in Raven. He becomes her constant shadow and listening ear as she sorts out her growing--and conflicting--feelings for Sebastian.

Meanwhile, Sebastian came to the island looking for treasure as well, in the form of photographs. While he isn't so sure about missing cargo, he only needs to look at Raven Koynes to know he's found his own valuable treasure. One he hopes he can hang on to if she learns about his mysterious secret.

Now that Madeline the resident ghost has found out, it's probably just a matter of time until Raven does too. And with the storm and power outage, no one is going anywhere any time soon.

Interview with Madeline Jane Bissette

What is your full name? And what can you tell us about yourself?

Madeline Jane Bissette. I am seventeen years old, born August 1854 and died February 1871.

Did you just say you died in 1871?

Yes, my youngster sister, Constance, and I were playing up in the light tower. Papa used to get angry with us, but sometimes we didn't care. It was a beautiful day to be up there. Mama had wanted me to milk the cow as my brother, Jacob, who usually handled that, had gone off with Papa and my other brothers to gather more wood. It had been an especially hard winter. It must have been getting late as we heard Mama come out calling for us. Constance raced for the stairs, slipping on the ice on the widow's walk. I grabbed her, but slipped too. She did manage to grab the railing, but I hit an icy section and fell over the edge. (dusts off hem of gown) And that was that.

Yes, suppose it would be. How tragic. So what have you done since then? Since 1871? It has been a while.

Mainly I just stay out of the way. The people who have come and gone at the house don't interest me much. Not anymore. I like the one who calls herself Raven. She reminds me a lot of Mama. I tried to be her friend and tell her about my mama and sisters, but I don't think she really understood.

What are your thoughts on Sebastian?

He is a handsome man. (smiles wistfully) Chester Douglas—he used come over sometimes from the mainland to help Papa—was handsome like that. When I was younger, he'd bring me penny candy. Then one summer he brought me flowers. Papa wasn't too happy about that, but Mama said it was all right. Then Chester started finding all sorts of reasons to come over that had nothing to do with Papa. (giggles) He'd make my tummy feel like it had butterflies all inside of it. Mama said that was all right for a boy to do. We'd go off into the woods or behind the barn and kiss. After Sebastian arrived, I could tell Raven wanted to kiss him just as I used to like kissing Chester. Sebastian made my tummy feel like it had butterflies in it, even though he was older than Chester, and I could tell Raven felt the same way. And he protected her from those bad people. He tried to at least, doing the best he could.

Yes, Madeline, tell us about the bad people.

Well, they were not the first people to come to Gull Island with bad intentions. Mama had a word for people like that: miscreant malefactors. Mama always liked to use two names for describing people. It was sad and lonely when she and Papa and my sisters and brothers all left our home and Gull Island later in 1871.

However, when these three showed up looking for the ship's cargo by tearing up my island home and getting nasty with Raven, I knew I had to get involved. Sebastian had his own ideas on keeping Raven safe, so I was just helping him actually. Letting him know I was in his corner. (gives big sigh) But I'm not sure he understood that. As much as I liked Raven and Sebastian, I never felt they really understood me. Not until later on, when I really had to work to get their understanding. (gives another wistful sigh) Sometimes adults can be so...dim at times.

Okay, Madeline, our time is closing out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just this—it's lonely being what I am; ghost, spook or any of the other names I've been called. I would have liked to spend more time with Chester and maybe take a picnic or boat ride off the island one day. But I never had that chance. (pauses, with somber, faraway expression) I imagine being with someone all the time that made those butterflies in your tummy would be a lovely experience. That is my wish now, for everyone to find that special person, like my Chester, who puts those tickly feelings there and makes you want to smile all the time, and spend their life with them.

Well said, Madeline, and thank you.

About the Author:

Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina author who specializes in writing romances with a twist. Love stories blended with inspirational, paranormal, suspense or time travel—or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Ryan's dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so she claims she came by her writing skill honestly. Apparently it's in the genes.

Her hobbies include bird-watching, houseplants, poetry and yard work. She loves to gather with friends, hike in the forest with her dog, paint ceramics and canvas, and work on wiggly word find puzzles. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. Living in the mountains, she dreams of the shore and frequently uses the water as scenes for her stories. More about Ryan Jo can be discovered at her website or her blog.


What inspired you to write this story?

In 1989 I found a photo in a calendar that resonated with me. It was just a rocky outcropping with an old tree and lots of fog. It was probably taken in the fall, around Minnesota or someplace on the Great Lakes. I still have that photo, matted and framed. Eleven years ago I moved from the Great Lakes to the mountains and yearn for the water. Inspired by that photo, this book was written, over years, in stages, with new parts added with each rewrite. The treasure hunt was added last, about 2 or 3 years ago after I spotted a van at a stop light reading Coynes Plumbing on the side. Koynes=treasure. So the heroine's last name was changed to incorporate the treasure idea.

What are you working on now?

My problem child that I've been working on steadily for two years. It's a whole lot of things, or as I refer to it, a hot mess, Romance, quantum fiction, women's lit. The other thing I am itching to start is a short novella about meeting and falling in love at a dog park. It's going to be a humorous short story.

Typical day?

Up early (I have pets, there is no sleeping in with hungry beasties), work on writing stuff/marketing stuff until early afternoon, then go to "day job," which is a second shift thing. Come home, catch up on emails from the day and things that require immediate attention. Repeat next day. Not a lot of variety in my life, which is okay. For a change of pace, I take my dog to the dog park or go see friends.

Personal question—favorite music?

Lots of stuff. Country, old stuff and traditional mostly, Christian. Orchestra. Jazz is okay too. Old rock on occasion. I don't care for rap or head-banging screaming stuff.

Favorite drink?

Coffee. Herbal tea when it's cold out. Milk, especially chocolate.

Favorite flower and color?

Lilacs and blue. Three of the rooms in my house are painted shades of blue. And I have several lilacs planted about the place.

Thanks again, Ryan Jo, for being my guest today! Remember, one lucky commenter will win a pdf copy of the book. So don't forget to say hi!