Liberation’s Passion – Chapter 1

coverPreorder Liberation’s Passion now: Liberation’s Passion at Amazon. Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Purchase or borrow by January 27 and receive a limited edition with a heartwarming bonus epilogue.

CHAPTER ONE

“Come to me, my love.”

Valorious stared into the holographic recorder. Her sultry tone was flat as a board.

“Sweep me away with your passionate kiss.”

Her hunky costar cupped her face. His lips nibbled hers and his tongue plunged into her mouth, wet and hot. He tasted minty-fresh.

She kept her eyes open and focused on the recorder. Her reflection stared back from the flat glass. Her gorgeous face was empty. Perfect.

Emotionless acting was her signature style. Her “blank slate” allowed the audience to put their own feelings onto her. It was like she wasn’t even here. Valorious was a pro.

Besides, only one man had ever made her lose control from a kiss.

Thinking of him made her frozen heart thump. She flinched.

“Cut!” the director screamed.

Her costar stepped back.

She sucked in a breath as the director of Her Torrid Love Lies, the highest-rated daytime soap opera on the planet, stalked to them.

Damn her momentary distraction. Was she going to have to redo the scene? And today was the last day of filming, too.

“That… was…” The director cupped her cold cheeks and his expression lifted into a radiant smile. “Magnificent!”

Whew.

The studio erupted in cheers. Confetti fluttered down on them. The director grabbed her hands and waltzed her around the set.

“Another award-winning performance,” he crowed, as they danced past the over-filled trophy cabinets. “This season, we’ll hit a new record for ratings! Let’s enchant the press.”

They exited into the front of the studio, where a season-finale conference had been set up. Reporters shouted questions.

“Valorious, Valorious! How do you feel now you’ve wrapped your one-hundredth season?”

She had been filming for seventeen hours. Her head hurt. All she wanted to do was go home.

“I feel fabulous,” she said. Still expressionless, and monotone.

“Valorious, how do you feel about the scriptwriters who plan for you to murder your husband in the next season? Are they targeting you because of your continuing decades of success?”

“My real life husband will be happy to say goodbye to his handsome rival.”

Everyone laughed.

“I might come back,” her costar said, cheeks flushed and eyes snapping. “I can always be resurrected.”

“Valorious!” one reporter shouted from the back, over the rest. “Your ex-lover, Domingo, dumped your cousin and is back on the market. How does that make you feel?”

It felt like blue fire burning in her gut. An ember long ago encased in ice.

Ever since she heard the news two weeks ago, the ember had begun to kindle heat, distracting her during filming, and shaking her to the core.

She drew a long, controlled breath. On the screen above, a shadow crossed her perfect face. “Um….”

Her mother’s voice spoke in her ear via an invisible earpiece. “You are very happy for him and wish him nothing but the best.”

Valorious located her mother on the edge of the crowd. Sisstine Antiata Chen. Her hair twisted up into a business coif with every strand neatly in place. A slate green business suit fit her well, and the wide collar accented her slender neck. Half a millennium separated their ages, but thanks to modern aging technology, they could be sisters.

“I am very happy and wish him nothing but the best,” Valorious repeated blandly.

The reporter paused as though waiting for her to break down and scream her real feelings.

But, long ago, she had learned how to operate the muscles of her face separate from any feelings. She bestowed a graceful smile on the reporter.

The reporter dug harder for dirt. “He just became the richest man in the solar system. Any plans to snatch him back?”

“That will never happen,” Valorious snapped.

“I would love to speak more about this when I have more details to share,” her mother’s voice was saying.

Shit. She’d spoken off the cuff and missed her cue.

Her mother paled with fury.

“I’ll share more details later,” Valorious said smoothly.

The press conference continued. Her mother’s icy wrath blew like the air off a frozen wasteland at the side of the press area. After the conference finally ended, Valorious excused herself from the rest of the cast and reached her mother. “I’m very sorry—”

“Go to the jet, Valorious.”

She obeyed, climbing to the massive studio rooftop. In their private hover jet, they flew across the starry cityscape of the small planet. Valorious sat in the luxurious back. Her mother stared out the window, every muscle tensed.

“Please don’t be mad,” Valorious said. Her throat, too dry, cracked. “I’ll make it up to you.”

Her mother relented and handed her a bottle of refined water. “You should be over him.”

They both knew she meant Domingo.

Thinking of the hard, passionate, dark-eyed man made Valorious sweat.

Valorious drank. It chilled her all the way to the center of her body, soothing her. She held the empty bottle in her cold hands. “I am.”

“Good. You will have no objections to accepting the next contract.” Her mother pulled a screen out of her business jacket.

Valorious couldn’t stop her sigh.

The end of the season was always a time of uncertainty. Her old obligation was over, at least for a few weeks.

In theory, she could escape. Slip away to a little cabin, tuck her feet under a fuzzy blanket, savor a good book and endless cups of tea… and not think about the man whose existence worried her like an itch she couldn’t scratch.

Her mother noted her sigh. “Something wrong?”

“Can we skip the public appearances? Just this once? It is my hundred-year anniversary on the show.”

Her mother lowered the screen. “I thought you liked showing off your husband’s luxury goods. You get to go out to the best restaurants and be seen with the right people. Their sales make your life possible.”

“I know, but I’m just… I’m a little tired.”

Her mother lifted the screen again. “Fine. Because you asked me, Valorious, and because I live to make you happy, you will be pleased to know there are no planned public appearances during this break.”

Thank goodness.

“I’ve already agreed to review a personal contract.” Her mother began to read aloud the summary of Valorious’s next contract.

Ugh.

Valorious studied her perfectly blank face in the reflection of the glass bottle. Phrases about “requested presence” and “compensation” and “full body privileges” floated in the private jet on her mother’s calm drone.

Personal contracts weren’t bad. Mostly. She lived in someone else’s house, obeyed their every whim, and got plenty of free time to herself. Maybe she could slip in a book and a pot of tea.

“In summary,” her mother finished, as the jet landed imperceptibly in their reserved spot, “for the next few months, you will live with, sleep with, and cater to every whim of Domingo Chen.”


Preorder Liberation’s Passion now: Liberation’s Passion at Amazon. Read FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Purchase or borrow by January 27 and receive a limited edition with a heartwarming bonus epilogue.

Posted in Excerpts, robotics faction, science fiction romance

Annual Review 2016

Every year the journey begins anew. Although you may not know your destination, looking back allows you to see where you’ve been.

A couple years ago I started doing an annual review according to the Chris Guillebeau method. For people who are so anxious to get on to the next exciting new thing, this is an excellent way to slow down, celebrate the wins*, learn from the losses, and focus.

I invite you to adapt this model to your own situation. Chris changes his up every year (and he changed it this year completely) so it’s just a starting point.

Here we go!

What Worked

So many things worked this year. I reviewed my list of New Years 2016 goals and discovered I had accomplished 80% of them, including all of the really important ones. This is unprecedented. I think it illustrates the power of setting goals — if you are the kind of person who can then put your shoulder in the yoke and push, like me.

For example, I:

  • ran my first half-marathon since giving birth and received my best time (Cinco de Mayo half)
  • visited the dentist for the first time in 4 years
  • took 3 fun trips this year with friends and family, including the lifelong goal of traveling in Mexico
  • saved beyond my goal of $15k and actually hit $20k in liquid savings (highest savings of my life)

In publishing, I achieved my goal of treating my writing hobby more like a business by taking marketing and production classes, publishing 4 new books in 6 months, putting 4 more into the final stages to be published in 2017, and experimenting with a variety of sales strategies. One of these strategies launched Liberation’s Kiss into the top 10 of the Amazon free store (top 1 in Australia and Canada) and Resurrection Heart into the top 100 paid store. Hitting these best-selling lists with my first and fourth novels blew my mind and set a new bar for what seems possible.

In writing, I had 11 totally new ideas this year, bringing the Excel spreadsheet up to a total of 207 completely unique story ideas. People ask where I get my ideas and if I’ll ever run out. Ha! Now that I’ve actually started publishing , the total is starting to go down, which is exciting in its own way. I still have a long way to go before I run out of ideas. Some of this year’s 11 ideas are for series, meaning that it’s not just a single book, but a 5-book or 7-book series in “one” idea with potentials for spinoffs and more.

What Didn’t Work

Despite my incredible wins, I feel like I didn’t accomplish the spirit of the resolutions. Some unexpected health and occupation setbacks allowed me to check the box and accomplish the letter of the resolution, while missing the point of why I had resolved it.

The point of finishing another half marathon was to recapture my pre-pregnancy fitness levels. That included regular jogging, hiking, half-marathoning, and devotion to a healthy, calorie-controlled diet that slimmed me down to 137lb and let me buy super cute new clothes. While I definitely closed in on the cardio goal this May, my calorie app stopped working with my phone (Windows!!!!) and I let my weight slide. Those cute, almost new clothes are still gathering dust in the back of my closet! Then, an unexpected dental surgery the week after the half marathon laid me low for a month, and inertia killed my progress. Now at the close of the year, I’m going to have to start over for all of my health goals. And I’m in worse shape than last January. Argh.

The point of treating my writing hobby as a business was to successfully change over my income from a full time day job to a full time writing career. Unfortunately, the work to do this was largely composed of unsuccessful and costly learning experiences! On top of the $4k dental surgery, the Mexico trip, and nearly $10k of editing + cover costs alone (for 10+ stories) I will be closing 2016 with the lowest savings ever. It’s crazy that I hit both my highest savings point AND my lowest since graduating college in a single year. Sure, I have ideas of where I went wrong now, and I have a bunch of strategies for reversing it in 2017, but until the plan meets the enemy and triumphs, writing will remain my 30 hour side job (on top of my 40 hour paid one).

Plan for 2017

My main goal is to change over my income entirely to the writing business so I can stop working 70-hour weeks and spend that extra time relaxing with my family.

I will take a pen name. I will experiment with genres to find the best fit for my storytelling. I will take more classes to increase my skills. I will double down on the things I can do for myself and reduce my expenses so that profit is more easily attainable.

I will stop scattering my focus on contests, accolades, reviews, bestseller lists, and books that don’t sell. I will honestly and decisively focus only on the story ideas that others are excited to read. I will abandon any series, no matter how many ideas I have or how much I love it, if it drains my income rather than increasing my ability to change jobs.

This is a huge shift. We’ll see if I’ve guessed correctly on the genres, stories, and sales activities by this time next year.

My secondary goal is to focus on calories ONLY this year, because often the exercise springs naturally from a desire to eat.

Want to eat Snickers-Mudslide Cheesecake? Shrimp Pad Thai? An entire loaf of garlic bread with rich, meaty spaghetti? Time to go for a jog! Go twice as far and have a second serving!

Honestly, I think food tastes better when I eat less of it. But eating whatever my mouth wants is so easy and lazy. It takes a hell of an effort to purchase, weigh, calculate calories, and prepackage healthy foods, then stick to eating only them. Of course it does. Because if it were easy to just eat healthy, then I’d do that all the time instead.

Related, I do have a minor tertiary goal to get more sleep. It improves performance overall, but that’s difficult to remember when it’s a choice between accomplishing a specific goal now and going to bed before 3 AM during the week.

Other goals are to continue the progress from 2016 in terms of taking fun trips, visiting regularly with family and friends, keeping up with the dentist (first visit is already scheduled!) and building up my savings again.

That’s my 2017!

How about you?

* I’m the kind of person who celebrates the day BEFORE a project finishes, because the instant I type “the end,” I will close that document with a satisfied sigh, open up a new document, and FINALLY allow myself to start frolicking in the next project that I’ve just been dying to crack open. Starting the exciting new project is my reward for finishing up the old (formerly exciting) project, and it’s the way I get anything done. If I had to stop right when I finished a project and go celebrate it, I’d pout and be miserable and itch to get working on the new thing instead. Since celebration IS important, I compromise by celebrating early, when I really need that last push. And since I published 4 all new stories last year, I think it’s working!

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Posted in awesome, writing life

Super Awesome Gift Guide for Readers and Writers

Xmas tree fire sceneHappy Holidays! ‘Tis the season gift giving. I’ve gotten 90% of my holiday shopping done … except for my husband’s birthday present, due this week. (Urk.)

Are you struggling for gift inspiration? Here are some quick ideas for the readers and writers in your life!

Super Awesome Gifts for Readers

There’s nothing better than relaxing on a comfy couch, pulling up a blanket, sipping that delicious cup of tea, and digging into the newest highly readable book. With that in mind, here are some wonderful gifts to make a reader’s fantasies come true.

Kindle Unlimited subscription

For the voracious reader, there is nothing better than having access to the Amazon catalog. Yes, you can also download books (free!) from your local library, but Amazon has newer, hotter books by the authors you crave to read. I resisted until August and now I’m so very glad I’m in. [Gift Kindle Unlimited]

eReader device

You don’t know how many books you aren’t reading until you get an ereader and fit a thousand into the palm of your hand. It will change your life. The Kindle is slightly lighter and easier to use than most multi-purpose tablets, and the pages load faster.

Delicious tea. Or coffee. Or chai.

I am a tea and hot cocoa drinker myself. The best tea (Tetley’s British Blend? Downton Abbey’s pink raspberry-rose tea? Japanese sencha or matcha?) and cocoa are up for grabs, but the best chai is absolutely Tipu’s Tiger. Originally an Indian restaurant run by Buddhists in Missoula, MT, they now sell only the most delicious product: their spicy chai.

Fuzzy blanket

It gets cold in the Pacific Northwest! Any comforter is good, but what’s on my Christmas list is an adorable mermaid tail knit blanket. In the southern hemisphere, you might prefer less fuzz and more beach blanket. These are beautiful and affordable!

A cat. Or dog. Or hedgehog.

Nothing says “reading on the couch” like a pet shoving your book out of the way so they can take over your lap. But those warm purrs and happy, contented huffs fill the hours with a little extra goodness. If you’re not a pet person, consider these amazing Japanese moss balls, the marimo. It can sit on a shelf and look pretty.

There are tons more — tasty chocolates, oversized mugs, anything with a book quote — but hopefully this list will spark your imagination.

Now for the writers in your life.

Super Awesome Gifts for Writers

Most writers are also readers, so you can’t go wrong with the previous list. Here are a few extras that writers especially will love.

Pens. Notepads. Office supplies.

Seriously, even if a writer has a hundred pens, a thousand notepads, and only writes on the computer, we all have a secret addiction to these things. I’m starting to draft everything onto computer, but I still like the Lamy Safari pen (I’ve got two!) and a variety of notebooks. No spirals for me! Writers are particular, and have our “must have” preferences, but we’re usually also open to experimenting.

Art glove

Also good for students who must write essays by hand and digital artists. I used to wrap my pinkie and ring finger in Band-Aids and then wear through the Band-Aids when I was on a writing kick. Although now I mostly write on computers, I’ve still worn holes in three art gloves.

Mac Mini

If your writer is a techie, Mac is the way to go. The writing software Scrivener is optimized for Mac (the PC version is lacking multiple key features). Elegant book formatting software Vellum is only available for Mac. And if your writer is self-publishing, the Apple iBooks retailer will only accept files uploaded from a Mac. There are ways around this limitation, but it’s something to consider.

Celebratory chocolate. Or wine.

When your writer hits their goals – page count, word count, finish the book, hit the bestseller list – they need to celebrate. And nothing is more motivating than salivating over that special treat and dreaming about how it will taste after the goal is accomplished. I am a big fan of chocolate turtles, but a planned handful of M&Ms or a glass of blackberry wine can be just as motivating.

Treadmill desk

For when a writer has celebrated a bit too much, consider helping them accomplish their New Year’s resolutions to take the extra pounds off. It doesn’t have to be a bajillion dollars, especially if you are crafty. I constructed an elliptical desk using two thick, work-out grade rubber bands + my 2009 sized netbook.

 

I hope that gives you some great ideas! There’s nothing better than watching the joy of a recipient opening their gift and lighting up with happiness. Well, maybe what’s better is simply being together with your loved ones, no matter the season. I wish you many sweet cookies and sparkling lights this wonderful holiday season!

P.S. These use my affiliate links.

Xmas image:(c) Can Stock Photo / 2mmedia

Posted in happy-making, how-I-write, seasons, writing life

Pretty castle

This is a page of images I will update occasionally with photos that may be used in the Wattpad version of Kingdom of Madness, publishing right now with new chapters on Tuesday and Friday.

I like this image! I could be the citadel in my Kingdom of Monsters fantasy novel.

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It’s actually really hard to find fantasy men, for some reason.

abstract-772508 man-979980 portrait-1287421 vintage-1722329coat-1245857 english-civil-war-928948 eyes-933320 human-1215160 knights-811800 middle-ages-1679816 night-913046 night-1245875 soldier-1640915 star-clusters-67616 volcano-1545299 wall-984479 warrior-1463459man-489744 rosette-1568629 village-1510797 women-486826

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Posted in fantasy, WL Clark

Robotics Faction Series Antiata Family Tree

I made this family tree to illustrate the relationships between the characters in the Robotics Faction sub-series. You can see the three original stories of the siblings (Aris, Cressida, and Mercury) and the two Origins series coming soon, as well as the Cyborg Mercenaries series. I will have even more in the Cyborg Mercenaries series, and I will eventually have a “first responder” series (Firefighters in SPACE!!!) that I can’t wait to write. So many ideas! Anyway, more covers will be added (and revealed!) in the next years. I hope this is a handy reference!

The only person I don’t have on here is the mysterious Rogue character. In many ways, she is the key to the whole series…

antiata-family-tree

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Posted in Uncategorized

New Release Schedule September 2016 – February 2017

I sent this out to my newsletter already! Here is my planned release schedule:

September 2016: Liberation’s Mystery (RF 3.1 short story)
October 2016: Liberation Origins (RF 0.1 prequel novella)
November 2016: Resurrection Heart (RF 4 novel)
December 2016: epilogues (RF 1-3 bonus stories)
January 2017: Liberation’s Passion (RF 0.2 prequel novella)
February 2017: Kingdom of Monsters (epic fantasy by W. L. Clark pen name)

I may take a few months from March – May to build up new stories – or I may have some ready to go when I hit March! I expect to release the fifth book in the Robotics Faction (RF) series by May, and the sixth by the following November. I will publish them sooner if I get them done early.

You may note that I have included a pen name. The epic fantasy novel is very different! It’s darker, longer, and doesn’t have much sex. On account of that, I have written about a manifesto of what I do and do not write under both names. I also talk about my philosophy as a writer. I hope you find it interesting!

Posted in Uncategorized
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