The Week: 2nd – 8th December

It’s nearly Christmas, and I really think I need another month to get organised! The fires here have got worse and worse. The fire has burnt all the way to the sea, and there’s really hot weather on the way in the coming days.

After the strife superstar author Christine Feehan got in, first for filing to trademark common words, and then for defending her actions, she seems to have pulled the application. However, it seems everyone writing vampire fiction could do with reading this:

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

And this Tweet pretty much sums up the situation:

KJ Charles Twitter Christine Feehan Trademark Carpathian

Virgin River Premiere!

Virgin River TV Series

My review of Someone to Honour (Westcott family #6) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

Hey, Christine Feehan! You don’t own the Carpathians!

Ивано-Франковская_область_Горно-лыжный_курорт_Буковель Bukovel Carptahian Mountains Ukraine

Ukraine’s Bukovel ski resort in—you guessed it!—the Carpathian Mountains.

I’ve been too preoccupied with other things to bother posting about this, but now Christine Feehan (as in the NYT-bestselling author credited with inventing the paranormal romance genre back in the 1990s) has now confirmed it: she has personally filed applications to obtain trademarks for all the words associated with her various books series. (#Cockygate, anyone?)

The word everyone has gone mad over (for obvious reasons) is “Dark”—as in, she’s trying to ban anyone from using Dark in their book titles from now on.

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Me on a farm in my grandfather’s village in the foothills of the—you guessed it!—Carpathians. The woman is his cousin, Pani Anna, and that’s her farm.

However, I’m here to rant about the issue of her also filing to appropriate the word “Carpathian”.

The Carpathians are a mountain range in Eastern Europe, covering seven countries: Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia. My family is from the Ukrainian Carpathians, and have a distinct culture and fiercely proud heritage. Now, if I wanted to write a series of any sort with the word Carpathian in it, Feehan can take me to court. (Feehan is estimated to be worth millions.)

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A bear I saw in the Carpathians in September this year. Because—yes—the Carpathians still exist, and they still don’t belong to Christine Feehan.

On Twitter I mentioned that the situation has shades of the American bar owner who obtained the trademark for the Fijian word Bula, forcing the Fijian Government to take him to court to try and get the rights to their own word back.

Huculy_1933,_Verkhovyna_district Hutsuls Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

The Ukrainian Hutsul people of the Carpathian Mountains.

People randomly trademarking stuff is disgusting, selfish, and totally bloody unnecessary. Having some author in California claim ownership of my heritage just because she named her rapey fictional vampires after my family’s homeland makes me sick.

Recently Reread: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

My urban fantasy/paranormal romance revival attempt continues with the third (yes, third, despite this being listed as book #2) instalment in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs.

Focusing on a woman who was forced to become a werewolf against her will, and the mate she finds in one of the world’s most dangerous wolves, it’s a great series with a bit of romance, a lot of action, and a world that involves other creatures such as vampires and the fae.

Begin with introductory novella Alpha and Omega, and then move on to Cry Wolf before reaching this one. Briggs writes a detailed world, and these are books that should be read in order.

I think that Briggs also writes up to my limit of how much fantasy and magic I like in my books. She does some great research into the mythology, but I’m finding that the older I get, the less interested I am in too much fantasy in my – ahem – fantasy reads!

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega #2) by Patricia Briggs

Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either…

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything…

The Week: 7th – 13th October

Back to normal here – crazy cat is still crazy…

So, here I am, back home from Europe. Even though my unpacking still hasn’t been completely successful, I already feel like I’ve been here for a year!

Now the “fun” begins. I’m doing some huge edits on my next book, which at the moment my editor and I are calling “The Landowner’s Secret 2” (because I don’t want to come up with a title, and she hasn’t yet, either!). I plan to add several thousand words into the manuscript to expand on a few things, which is going to be a big task to have done over the next two weeks.

I also have the third book to finish, and I want that done before Christmas (which is frighteningly close now!).

Harlequin’s Free Reads

Recently Reread: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Book Feature: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

silver silence (psy-changeling trinity, #1; psy-changeling, #16) by nalini singh

Book Feature: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Note: I am featuring some of the review books I’ve had for a while, but run out of time to do a review for. That’s not to say I’m not going to read them; it’s just that I’ve fallen behind, and think the authors deserve an appearance here!

silver silence (psy-changeling trinity, #1; psy-changeling, #16) by nalini singh

Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity, #1; Psy-Changeling, #16) by Nalini Singh

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

The Week: 10th – 16th June

We’re getting scarily close to being halfway through the year! I have so much to do, and no time to do it.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

I handed in my manuscript on Friday, after a few rounds of edits. I think I’m owed some champagne! Yesterday I had another read through my contract to see what I’m actually allowed to do when it comes to sharing excerpts etc., so hopefully I’ll be able to do some of that soon.

Book Feature: Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Lies Jane Austen Told Me (Proper Romance) by Julie Wright

Recently Reread: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Recently Reread: Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Recently Reread: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs

My attempts to get back into urban fantasy and paranormal romance this year have so far been to reread old favourites.

Patricia Briggs is amazing. Her Mercy Thompson series is a little more in the urban fantasy realm, and Alpha and Omega is a little more paranormal romance (but the romance is still subtle).

These are still my favourite werewolf books; Briggs knows her world inside-out.

Despite the listing, I thinking nobody – NOBODY – should read this one without reading the introductory novella first, where main characters Charles and Anna meet and become mates.

I have a slight problem with the “nasty blonde” secondary character, but Briggs also gives her some complexity, so she gets away with my #1 pet hate – just.

If I’m going to be reintroduced to all things paranormal, this is a good way to start.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs

Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.

It is recommended you read the prequel “Alpha & Omega” before reading Cry Wolf.

Recently Reread: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs is an author who can draw me back to the paranormal subgenres in a way most others can’t. It has been years since I went near a Mercy Thompson book, and I remembered just enough for this first instalment in the series for it to feel both like an old friend and a new adventure.

The Mercy series is urban fantasy, with a relationship that develops in the background as the series goes on. It’s told in the first person, which I don’t usually love in adult fiction, but really enjoy here.

Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter who was raised by werewolves, but is never quite included in their society. She lives a working-class existence as a mechanic (but running her own garage), and she lives in a trailer that overlooks a mansion. The mansion is owned by the city’s Alpha werewolf, Adam Hauptman.

What’s so solid about this series is that Briggs knows her world inside-out. It’s fantastical, but also believable, and all of her characters are very distinctive. There are a few sad parts in this book, but it’s not a downer.

One thing urban fantasy has going for it over paranormal romance is how many risks an author can take without upsetting their readership.

We meet quite a lot of characters in quick succession in this book, and there is plenty of world building to be done, so in some ways Moon Called suffers from “first book syndrome”. However, Briggs has a very engaging writing style, and is really great at creating fascinating situations in the complex supernatural world most (but not all) of the characters inhabit – in an otherwise typical suburban American existence.

My only issue with this series (and Briggs’ writing in general) is that it – like the work of so many others writing with paranormal themes – has some really misogynistic themes. It’s a curse of all paranormal subgenres: authors seem to insist on making their heroines “special” by making the other women awful. All the women in this series – bar Adam’s teenaged daughter – hate Mercy. It’s too much.

Urban fantasy is not usually my thing, but Patricia Briggs made it my thing years ago. I’m happy to say I enjoy the books just as much now.

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbour is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

The Week: 20th – 26th May

My book is up for preorder, complete with new title and blurb. See it on Kobo.

A note: I am spreading the posts I already have scheduled out over the coming months, rather than posting pretty much every day as I have been for ages. One of the main reasons for this is that this blog now feeds into my Goodreads author page, and it’s starting to seem like spam!

How is it only a few days until winter – we’re still having t-shirt weather! (It’s due to change in the coming week, however.)

R.I.P. to Niki Lauda. The Formula One paddock won’t be the same. I used to sit near pit lane at every Australian Grand Prix, and he was always, always there.

Here are some pictures from last weekend. The first is Victorian architecture in Goulburn, New South Wales, where we stopped for lunch on the way home from Sydney (Goulburn features in my books). The second is the approach to the Sydney Opera House the night before:

Happy 20th Birthday to Notting Hill!

NottingHillRobertsGrant Movie Poster

Book Feature: Leopard’s Blood (Leopard People #10) by Christine Feehan