Friday, February 26, 2010

Mythos 1: Bride of Death Now Published!

The first book of my new Greco-Roman mythology series, Mythos 1: Bride of Death has just been released!  The series is fantasy, but with a healthy dose of sensual content--after all, the Greco-Roman gods were a randy lot. Although I remain faithful to--and cite--the original classical sources, these books are most definitely for adults.

Bride of Death is available now at and will soon be available from major online retailers as well.


When the mischievous god of love targets Hades, the god of death falls hopelessly in love with the spring maiden Persephone, the one immortal most ill-suited for his dark domain. Her mother Demeter will never allow the Lord of the Underworld to court her beloved daughter. The king of the gods proposes an unconventional solution: Hades may kidnap Persephone and take her to the Underworld to woo her. If Persephone agrees to marry hades, Zeus will support the match.

But neither god has reckoned on Demeter's inconsolable grief at the loss of her daughter. If Persephone is not returned to her, the goddess has vowed to destroy all life. Can Hades win Persephone's heart before her mother discovers who has taken her? Or will Persephone make her own wishes known as the intended bride of death? Even in the world of immortals, time is not on Hades' side.

Go check it out today!  And get ready--there's a lot more Mythos coming out this year!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When the Perfect Writing Relationship Founders

Hopefully, this is a blog topic that doesn't apply to any other writer but me.  It's not a pleasant topic to write about; it's not a great situation to be in.  But, it does present its own particular challenges that a writer needs to know how to meet.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my crit group was bit by the fire-eating ant of all crit groups everywhere--let's write a shared world anthology! 

*If your crit group does this to you, back out gracefully as quickly as you can. Fair warning. I, on the other hand, was not so smart*

While I don't doubt there are groups of writers that can and do write succesfully in a shared world, I don't think creativity is the problem. I think professionalism is the problem. You have your beat every deadline by two weeks types of writers (like, um, me) and you have the deadlines don't really mean DEADLINES, do they? types of writers.  Ne'er shall the twain meet.  No matter how much you try to accomodate the 'other' type of writer, someone is going to get pissed off.  I'll even go further--it's usually the people who understand the concept of deadlines who lose their cool with people who don't.  So, when all is said and done, I learned a valuable lesson, right?


Brilliant.  Fast forward three years.

A writing partnership can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  You find someone that you like planning things out with, whose writing style gels with yours.  You write in first person POVs as your two main characters.  You build a world, negotiating all the teensy little bits of information that make up a successful fictional landscape and, armed with all of that information and the inspiration you've derived from each other, you launch into your project.  You get lucky at first--you're trading a scene a day.  The manuscript is getting bigger.  The characters are jumping off the stage.  Together you've created something new and wonderful and fantastic.  It all should be cake, right? Right?

And then...the deal-breaker.

It doesn't matter what breaks the deal in the end.  The relationship is irrevocably shattered from the moment the deal-breaker is introduced into the project.  You may try to regain that magic you shared at the beginning, but it's never quite the same.  And then you're left with a huge world built and the story only half done.  So what do you do?

Hopefully, you and your writing partner are mature enough to decide together how to dispose of the shared intellectual property.  Maybe your writing partner is done with it, but doesn't have a problem with you continuing the story on your own.  Or vice versa. It doesn't really matter.No one likes to feel like they've wasted a year or two of their life. So perhaps, you can at least salvage a story out of the deal.  Or, if you're in the middle of a series that is uncompleted, you can finish off the series in such a manner as to satisfy your readership.  After all, the readership is and should be the most important thing to a writer in the end.  All that artistic integrity stuff?  Well, it's nice but it's hard to scrape onto toast in the mornings.

So what do you do?

First thing I recommend: cover all your bases from the beginning. Save all the professional interactions between you and your partner--preliminary scenes, world building materials, research, emails and chat transcripts.  All of these things have time stamps on them if--and the gods hope it never would!--it comes down to a legal issue.

The second thing? If you're working on a series, already have an idea of how the series will resolve. If you find yourself in the horrible position of having to finish out a story, you're in a heck of a lot of a better place if you know where that story needs to go. That way, if you suddenly have to double your word output, you have a guide to help you complete the entire plot arc--and check for those continuity issues!

Third? Don't waste time being bitter.  Sure--find a photo of your former writing partner and tape it up on your dartboard in the den.  Throw darts at her picture as long as you want to--but keep it there.  Leave the details of your parting of the ways off the internet.  If you don't, the focus of your story could quickly become lost behind the real life drama of the bitchy little spat being played out in front of a live audience online.  And, for that matter, don't go out of your way to encounter your former writing partner.  If she hangs out on a particular forum and has for a long time, don't shimmy your little tail down to that chatroom every day and then play all innocent when your butt gets burned for the spiteful little 'neener neener neener' act you're pulling.  If you're old enough to write a novel, you're old enough to know better.

And finally, never forget who you are.  You are a writer.  You are not defined by the writing partnership you may once have had. You were a writer before the project and you're still a writer now.  Sure, it's normal to experience a bit of a funk after a traumatic professional event like this one, but shake it off and get right back to the keyboard! Sulking about it won't make things automatically better.

We can all spend a lot of time daydreaming about what might have been.  But, once a writing relationship is in the past, go ahead and bury it.  Complete the story or trunk it--either way leads to a final resolution that will help you move on.  And, regardless of whether your writing partner quits or you do, don't cyberstalk your writing ex, lurking around like a vulture with every intention of sabotaging her every chance you get.  For one thing, that rarely works out well.  For another, it's a waste of time.

Just write.  You'll feel better.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aspen Mountain Press Launches New Aurora Regency Imprint!

Aspen Mountain Press will launch its new Aurora Regency imprint on July 21, 2010!

Aurora Regency at Aspen Mountain Press is a line devoted to Regency romance. Traditional Regency romances, as exemplified by Georgette Heyer’s work, are first and foremost historical fiction about a very specific (and short) era. So what are we looking for? Hopefully, this will answer any questions you might have about Aurora Regency’s guidelines.

1) We expect historical accuracy. This includes language, clothing, customs, etiquette, events and places. Your book should have rich detail, the appropriate language and slang and an understanding of life in Regency England or, if set outside of England, according to the customs of the country. That includes behavior appropriate to a character’s life, position and social situation. (For example: divorce was not an option in Regency England so no new divorcĂ©es gallivanting at Almack’s in competition with the Season’s loveliest debutantes.) Historical accuracy will be a consideration in the acceptance of manuscripts and an integral part of the editing process. If your manuscript has several historical errors, you may be asked to revise and resubmit.

2) We hope for novel plotlines or exciting new twists on old themes. We are open to paranormal or Gothic themes as long as these elements do not compromise the Regency romance genre. So if your impoverished but well-born governess falls in love with the lord of the manor that’s fine. Just make it interesting.

3) We expect romance—oh, loads of it! Every kind of hero is fair game in a Regency romance and our heroines should be head over heels in love with them. But remember—this is a Regency romance. Spice is okay; jalapeno salsa is not. In an era were even the smallest infractions would lead to social ruin, well brought up young heroines were virgins on the wedding night. {However, if your Regency is about a member of the demimonde (a courtesan) and is erotic in nature, please indicate this in your query letter.} And, naturally, a HEA is the conclusion of choice.

4) Great dialogue. In the Regency romance, conversation is well-crafted and engaging. Half of the process of falling in love occurs when the hero and heroine engage in a battle of wits. Repartee is an art form; conversation is seduction. Anachronistic sayings or language are strongly discouraged.

5) Society. Society rules these characters’ lives. The Season is capitalized for a reason. As Jane Austen said in Pride and Prejudice, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Society dictates that universal truth, and in a Regency romance Society is where the bridal hunt is carried out. It can be London or Bath or Brighton or even a simple country parsonage involved in county society—but society (either capitalized or not) is as big a character as any human being.

6) Fun. Above all, Regency romances are fun—both to read and to write. The more adventures your madcap heroine has, the better. Paranormal Regencies are acceptable as are the more intricate Regency murder mysteries. Even the darker side of the Regency world is fun.

So, do you think your Regency romance fits the bill? Then submit to us! The Aurora Regency line is published by Aspen Mountain Press, a royalty-paying e-publishing company. We do not charge fees for set up or charge for editing your story once it has been accepted for publication. Our contracts request rights to the contracted work, including digital and print formats as we will provide some of our titles in print later this year.

Aurora is looking for well-researched Regency romances between 35,000 and 70,000 words, although we will bend on the upper word limit if the story merits it. Please submit exactly and only the following if you wish your manuscript to receive serious consideration:

A query letter in the body of an email with:

Your legal name, pseudonym if applicable and contact email.

Working Title

Manuscript Length

General story description in two paragraphs

Writing Credentials

Include the first chapter (or first twenty pages, whichever is shorter) embedded in the body of the email. We will not open attachments. If we like what we see, we will request the rest of the manuscript. If this is a simultaneous submission, please inform us of this in your query letter. We will consider only COMPLETED manuscripts. Aspen Mountain Press does not accept proposals from writers unknown to us. Aurora Regency at Aspen Mountain Press will open for submissions on February 15, 2010. Please send all questions and submissions to We accept ONLY e-submissions. Initial response times are anticipated to be no longer than 2 weeks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back Into The Swing of Things

The recent deluge of snow over Lancaster has pretty much forced me to stay at home.  After a while, you run out of interesting things to watch on television (although thank God for the Olympics; at least it's something) and the internet starts to get stale.  I don't have any new books to read, my editing desk is clear and until the yard loses a foot and a half of snow we can't get the rest of our things moved into our new house.  So, the combination of all these elements (and a nasty case of bronchitis/pneumonia) have culminated in a huge spate of productivity over the last few weeks and my works in progress are reaping the benefits.

I've been delving fiercely into the final book of the Vampire Covenants trilogy, churning out about twenty six thousand words in the last couple of days and a pretty darn gripping battle scene if I do say so myself.  I may have been channeling Victor Hugo, because the thought of vampires battling on the flying buttresses of Notre Dame on Bastille Day has kept me glued to the laptop for hours at a time.  Supplementing the writing, of course, is all of the research that accompanies writing about such an important place and time.  When I was little and my French mother took us to Paris, I remember how enthralled I was by Notre Dame--the architecture, the crypts, the stained glass that was centuries older than my country--all of it made a lasting impression on the ten-year-old kid I was at the time.  That impression has been helpful as I wrote my way through that scene, but it also led to a lot of questions: what is the roof made of? (lead tiles) Were the gargoyles already there? (there were medieval gargoyles, but some of the ones there now are replacements from a nineteenth century renovation) Is this what Notre Dame looked like on July 14, 1789? (No, not really--most notably the spire is different, also added during the nineteeth century renovation)

All these little details add up.  And while I remember Notre Dame very well, I did not remember that the big building in front of it (the Hotel-Dieu) is a massive medieval charity hospital and at the time my story takes place was still in ruins, having burned down a few years before and not rebuilt yet. Occasionally, I'll get distracted and read on past the information I need, which is good.  Knowledge is never wasted.  And then, having pulled up as many photographs of Notre Dame, the roof, the gargoyle and the architectural details of the building, I throw my characters down onto the streets of Paris on the more momentous night of French history and hope they come to life.

It's a crap shoot. I'd be willing to bet that out of the 26k I've written for this climactic scene, less than half will survive in the final draft.  I'm a huge overwriter, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  But hopefully, when my readers dive into that scene, they'll feel like they are actually there--and THAT is when all this hard work really pays off.

At any rate, this blog post has deviated from what I originally intended to talk about.  Many of my blog posts do. I meant to tell you I was back in the swing of things and cranking out words quite nicely.  But, just as my research on Notre Dame diverted my writing, it's also kidnapped and run away with this blog post.

Which, I guess, just goes to show that I really am back into my writing zone.  I'm off now to get through the rest of this scene at Notre Dame and then all the way back through time to an era when Achilles' parents were falling in love and the Trojan War was barely a blip on the mythological radar.

Oh. And it's snowing again. Lovely.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Write...Fantasy Romance? *gulp*

Sometimes, I am not the brightest Crayola in the box.  I was talking to someone the other day about writing, and he said, "So you write romance right?  All the heaving breasts and ripped bodices?"

"No. I write fantasy."

He looked puzzled.  "Isn't romance a fantasy?"

Avoiding the obvious comment I should have made, I replied, "No--think Lord of the Rings."

Yeah, I know.  Although Tolkien probably spins in his grave everytime someone equates his work with fantasy, it is the quickest route to understanding for the genre-impaired.

And then I stopped.  After thinking about it for a minute, I said slowly, "Well, you know--I guess I really do write romance. Fantasy romance."

For some reason, it was hard for my to make that statement.  Why was that?  Every story I've written has a romance woven into it somewhere.  It may not be the focal point of the story--like Tamsen and Brial, for example--but it definitely influences the plot and the character arcs.  I've always thought of my work as straight up, hard core, plain and simple swords and sorcery epic freaking high fantasy.

But it's not. 

I refuse to think it's because I'm a chick; guys write romance too when you get right down to it.  It just feels natural to me.  My characters (and most fantasy characters in my opinion) are in the middle of a high stakes game--for power, for freedom, for humanity...whatever they're fighting for.  In real life, relationships are born and nurtured hand in hand and side by side with stressful situations.  When human emotions (or Elven or trollish, I suppose) are at a high pitch, it just seems natural to me that the door is opened for other, intense emotions.  Emotions like love, for example, which can be wonderful and terrible at the same time.  Love automatically raises the stakes, makes the struggle more intense.  A character has someone else to be concerned with, someone they instinctively want to protect.  Love can divide a character's focus on the battlefield or sharpen it when dealing with Machivellian machinations.  Love can be both a punishment or a reward, depending on how the character sees it.  A character can fight against it nobly, sacrificing her love for the sake of the greater good.  Or she can embrace it wholly, allowing the swift current of love and desperation and determination sweep her up into a maelstrom of emotional turmoil which can mirror the actual plot arc leading to resolution of the conflict or, in some cases, divert that plot arc into some other unforeseen direction.

There's a tendency to think of fantasy romance like some Sleeping Beauty kind of thing, where the hero battles the supernatural to save his endangered beloved--David Eddings' series The Elenium, for example, does this.  Sparhawk has to find a way to free his beloved princess from the gemstone she's been set in to preserve her life.  But that's not all there is to fantasy romance.  Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart series for example (yes, I gush about her a lot) deals with the love between a courtesan and a priest sworn to celibacy.  Their love hinders the resolution of the conflict, distracting them from things they should be paying closer attention to but, at the same time, strengthens them for the conflict ahead.

So, at last, I was able to look at my conversation partner and admit, "Yeah, fantasy romance. That's what I write."  And as far as I can tell, it's true. 

And if that romance occurs over a big pile of elf guts, well, then everyone is happy.  Nothing like a steaming pile of entrails to give you that rush of butterflies to your tummy.  Who needs roses?  Give me carnage anytime.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Voting Now Open for LRC Best of 2009 Awards

Hey, everyone.

I'm just getting my pimp on for The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel's multiple nominations in the Love Romances and More E-Cafe Best of 2009 Awards.  If you want to vote, here's how you do it:

You need to send an email to with "LRC's Best of 2009 Awards" in subject line. Without that subject line, the email will be deleted. Then you vote by writing

Best Cover of 2009--Apostle of Asphodel (cover art by Renee George)

Best Fantasy Novel of 2009 -- Apostle of Asphodel by Celina Summers

Best Novel of 2009 -- Apostle of Asphodel by Celina Summers.

Feel free to copy and paste.

Voting runs from 2/15 to 2/23 and the results will be announced on 2/25. If you want to see the full list of nominees, you can do so at but you have to be a member to access that page. You can join LRC by going to It's a fun place to meet authors of all genres in case you're into that sort of thing.

Stay tuned, too.  I'm getting ready to roll out all kinds of great stuff for the first Mythos book, Bride of Death--which comes out in ten days!  Lots of excerpts and other fun this week, so let's get to it!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More Nominations for Apostle of Asphodel!

Well, awards season travels on apace and The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel has managed to pick up more nominations from Love Romances and More E-Cafe!  In today's announcement from LRC, Apostle was nominated for Best Cover of 2009 (cover art by the lovely Renee George) --

--and also for Best Fantasy Novel of 2009--

--and in a move that completed knocked me right off my couch, Apostle of Asphodel was also nominated for Best Novel of 2009!

To say I'm stunned is completely and irrelevantly inadequate. Over the years, I've had a great relationship both with Love Romances and More's outstanding review site as well as the incredibly fun and friendly denizens of the Love Romances and More E-Cafe.  I've done a lot of book release parties there, made a lot of great friends, gotten a lot of really fantastic reviews and generally have had a hell of a lot of fun.  So anytime, LR&M gives me a nod like this, it's a very special moment for me.  LR&M was the first review site to really believe in my work.  This nomination is the fourth nod LR&M has given to the Asphodel Cycle; every single one of those novels has been nominated for an award either by the E-Cafe or in the LR&M Golden Rose awards.

Thank you, LR&M.  Thank you from the bottom of my overwhelmed heart.

Tamsen Ka’antira has grown into a woman of incredible power as the Virgin Huntress’ player in the game of the gods. After discovering the Hippolytes, a fabled race of women devoted to the arts of combat, she must lead them back to the plains of Ilia to fight the greatest war of antiquity again. The pantheon of gods awaits her in their Hall of Judgment, where the ultimate fate of the Elven Realm will be determined. Not only must she defeat her uncle, Gabril de Spesialle, but she must contend with a renegade goddess whose sole purpose is to overthrow the pantheon and rule over a universe wrapped in chaos. But when Tamsen finds herself standing alone against overwhelming odds, she is forced to make sacrifices that threaten everything she loves. Can she find the strength to complete the game and redeem the Elven people? As the Apostle of Asphodel, Tamsen must transcend from a wielder of magic into part of the magic itself.

Review from Love Romances and More (five out of five stars): "...Ms. Summers creates complex characters that continue to grow as you read this series. All the characters, new and old, will keep your attention as you try to figure out along with Tamsen, what her objective is and if she can overcome the obstacles placed in her path. I highly enjoyed this entire series but am sincerely hoping Ms. Summers continues on with Asphodel and her great cast of characters..."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Guess What????

We have cover art!

The cover for Mythos 1: Bride of Death was created by artist Tuesday Dube.  Ain't it cool???

And, as you may have noticed, the countdown clock is underway too.  Eighteen days?  Wow, that's close.  Might want to stay tuned--I have a feeling that tomorrow I'll have some exciting news to post. *grin* And, as soon as I get settled in after moving into my new house, I'll get back to blogging regularly too.

Eighteen days.  Wow.

Until then, GO COLTS!