ARCs are here for The Rose and the Claw: A Beauty and the Beast Novella

Are you a fairy tale fanatic? Would you like to read a new version of Beauty and the Beast that stars a spit-fire version of Beauty, a kindly Beast, a slow-burn romance, secrets, magic, and maybe a few ghosts? Then why don’t you check out The Rose and the Claw?

A woman on a mission…

Rose Gardner never thought she’d leave the small town of West Ridge. But when her husband dies at war, she must return his arms to his place of birth to set his spirit to rest. After traveling into enemy territory, Rose falls into a trap. Held captive in an enchanted manor, she finds herself face to face with a beast who is equally horrifying and kind. Will she manage to complete her quest or be pulled in by the secrets of the manor?

A man haunted by his past…

Trapped within his own home and in the body of a hideous beast, Kris never wanted to share his prison with another. As much as Rose may draw him in with her beauty and stubborn strength, he knows she must escape before the next full moon. After all, he remembers all too well what happened to the previous caretaker.

The dead won’t let him forget the blood on his hands.

The book will be available to purchase on August 4th, but reviewers can pick up an advanced copy for free! Just leave a comment here with your email, or email me at nancyotoolemeservier@gmail.com and I will send you the ARC. Just remember that when you do post your review, you need to disclose that you received a free book from the author. I’m currently looking for reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and book blogs during the first couple of weeks of publication.

Get ready for The Convention of Heroes!

As you may remember, last year I took part in the Superhero-Fiction Virtual conference. This has since been rebranded as the Convention of Heroes and I will be taking part in three panels (including one that I will be moderating!). If you enjoy superhero fiction or superhero media of any kind, I hope that you’ll stop by. You can check out my personal schedule below, or the entire schedule on the Superhero-Fiction website.

06/21/21- 5 PM EST- How to Craft a Hero
People say they don’t fall in love with a story, they fall in love with the characters. What skills go into crafting a compelling, empathetic, lovable, and memorable hero? It’s not enough to beat the big bad by the end of the story, so what elements should be considered and are there elements to avoid? And what happens when you go from mild-mannered hero to superhero?

06/22/21- 7 PM EST- Anime & Magna Superheroes
How do Anime and Manga break the mold? What are they doing that we want to see more of? The genre of powered heroes has crept into the world of Anime and Manga and it’s providing entirely new stories for fans. From One Punch Man to My Hero Academia to Ultraman, we are seeing Anime and Manga produce compelling stories featuring superheroes.

06/23/21- 5 PM EST- How to Write Superhero Romance
Want to write stories where superheroes kiss? There is nothing more fun than talking about Clark Kent in the streets and Superman in the sheets. But wait, there are rules when writing romance? How does the inclusion of superpowered individuals alter the standards of romance? What should you avoid and what should you exploit? Find out as these authors tell their saucy secrets.

Panel is NSFW

That’s what my week looks like. I hope to see you then!

Focusing on Fairy Tales: May in Review

May Posts

  1. An Overwhelming Month: April in Review
  2. Cover Reveal: The Rose and the Claw: A Beauty and the Beast Novella
  3. An Introduction to the Twin Kingdoms: What’s it All About

Phew. Another month of 2021 in the bag. Much of May was spent delivering the killing blow to the metaphorical dragon I have been fighting since January: refinancing my damn house. After several months of long periods of waiting, broken up with brief yet overwhelming spats with the bank, I have completed what felt like a monumental task. I have no idea if things are usually this difficult or if it’s just because the housing market is so bananas right now. All I know is that after all that, I’m ready for a nice long nap.

But of course, that’s not the only thing I accomplished this May. Let’s get into the writing.

Welcome to The Twin Kingdoms

The most significant announcement in May was the cover reveal and preorder link for The Rose and the Claw: A Beauty and the Beast Novella. As you may have surmised from the title, this is the first book in my upcoming fairy tale series. Much of the month was spent working on that. This included completing beta edits, plotting out future books in the series, and working with Midnight Tide Publishing to schedule things like cover reveals and publication dates. If you’re interested in finding out what this new series is all about, I recently posted some important information. 

May involved a fair amount of juggling, which is a reminder that making the leap from hobbyist writer to published author is always a balancing act. There were indeed times when I found myself frustrated over simply having not enough hours to work on the next book due to my “writing time” being hijacked by administrative/promotional duties. I frequently hear about writers having “no time to write,” and this month, I totally understand how you can fall down the rabbit hole of spending all of your time working on writing-related tasks but never actually putting words down on paper. Both sides of the coin are vital for being an author, but life doesn’t always provide you with adequate time to do so.

Frustrations aside, I think I have more or less settled into a good pattern. For the most part, weekdays are still all about writing, while weekends are more about the extras. This is something I’ll probably need to shift in May as I change from prep work to drafting a future novella in The Twin Kingdoms. When it comes to that first drat, momentum is key, so I might have to get a little creative.

A Wild Superhero Conference appears!

But wait a minute, you might say, fairy tales are nice and all, but aren’t you a superhero fiction author? And to that, I say, of course, I still am!

Past and Future has now been on sale for a little over a month, and Red and Black 5 is currently in the hands of my beta readers. It still has a long journey before the book will be ready to be released, but even though May’s balancing act was very fairy tale focused, that doesn’t mean that my life is devoid of superheroes.

For example, next month, I will be taking part in Superhero Fiction’s Convention of Heroes. I have signed up for several panels and will even be (le gasp!) running one, which has me all kinds of anxious. But being an indie author is all about taking on challenges you never thought you would. This just happens to be the latest one. If you’d like to know my schedule for the con, just keep an eye on this blog. I hope to get a post up within a week.

Time for self-care

With so much to juggle and some not-so-insignificant mental health struggles, I have prioritized scheduling wind-down time at the end of each day. This has mostly taken the form of reading (currently making my way through the 250,000-word behemoth that is Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War) as well as gaming (Super Mario Galaxy). At the same, time I’ve also shifted my house around a bit. With the trials of this global pandemic, as well as my ongoing divorce (which is amicable but emotionally taxing nevertheless), I’ve found it more important than ever to have an open, relaxing space. Over the past several months, this led me to buy some new furniture, move the existing pieces around, and adopt a few plant babies.

With my stimulus money running dry (which unfortunately had to also be taken up by things like fixing a leaking furnace, trimming branches overhanging my service line, and groceries), it looks like these changes might be coming to an end. Still, it’s certainly made me think a lot about the importance of having a space that encourages a calm or productive state. I’ve shared some pictures over on my Instagram if you’re curious how things look.

Well, that’s it for May! Keep an eye on the blog for things like that superhero conference schedule and a chance to get ARCs for The Rose and the Claw. There’s tons of exciting stuff just around the corner.

An Introduction to the Twin Kingdoms: What’s it All About

In case you missed it, last Wednesday, I posted the cover reveal and preorder for The Rose and the Claw, the first book in my Twin Kingdoms series. But given that The Twin Kingdoms is a little different from my Red and Black series, I’d thought I’d write up a quick introduction.

Let’s go over the basics.

What is The Twin Kingdoms? Is it superhero fiction, like the Red and Black series?

The Twin Kingdoms is a series of fairy tale retellings. Superheroes are not my only love and (like many!) I’ve been a fan of fairy tales since before I could even read. Having previously enjoyed book series that used fairy tales as a way to build out an original fantasy world (such as Jim Hines’s Princess books), I’ve always known that it’s something I wanted to try out.

The Twin Kingdoms also fall under the umbrella of fantasy romance. Each book focuses on the experiences of one couple coming together, but in a full-fledged fantasy setting. It’s also worth mentioning that The Twin Kingdoms is an adult fantasy series. And when I say adult fantasy, I don’t mean that they’re filled with graphic content. I have nothing against (and often read) books like that, but I’ve kept things pretty PG-13. I mention the fact that they’re adult fantasy because most fairy tale retellings focus on fresh-faced teenagers, and all of my characters are adults who have already experienced quite a lot of life, and the scars that come with it.

For example, the heroine of The Rose and the Claw is a practically minded tough-as-nails war widow who’s currently on a quest to set her late husband’s spirit to rest. This will send her straight into enemy territory, and more than a little magical peril.

What type of fairy tales will you be covering?

The Rose and the Claw will be covering “Beauty and the Beast.” You’ll be able to find out about the second fairy tale (and read the first chapter) in the back of The Rose and the Claw.

Are these full-length novels like The Red and Black series?

Nope, they’re actually novellas! Each book is 30-35,000 words in length. I actually started the series because I wanted smaller projects to work on in between full-length novels. And since fairy tales are traditionally on the shorter side, the novella format worked really well.

In addition, during the pandemic, I found myself reaching for shorter but still impactful books as a way to escape. Having spoken to many people, I know they feel the same. I’m hoping that these shorter books can be as helpful to others as other shorter works have been to me.

How many books will there be?

Four books total.

When will The Twin Kingdoms series be available?

Book one, The Rose and the Claw, will be published through Midnight Tide Publishing on August 4th, 2021. Book two will come out in the Fall of 2021, book three will come out during the holiday season, and book four in early 2022. So as you can see, this is a rather different release cycle for me.

What types of formats will be available?

All four books in The Twin Kingdoms will have ebook and paperback versions. I will also be launching the series into kindle unlimited, so you’ll be able to read all four books as part of your subscription.

That’s it for today! If you enjoy fairy tale novellas (especially ones that retell “Beauty and the Beast”), I hope you’ll consider preordering The Rose and the Claw!

Cover Reveal: The Rose and the Claw: A Beauty and the Beast Novella

Get ready to enter The Twin Kingdoms.

A woman on a mission…

Rose Gardner never thought she’d leave the small town of West Ridge. But when her husband dies at war, she must return his arms to his place of birth to set his spirit to rest. After traveling into enemy territory, Rose falls into a trap. Held captive in an enchanted manor, she finds herself face to face with a beast who is equally horrifying and kind. Will she manage to complete her quest or be pulled in by the secrets of the manor?

A man haunted by his past…

Trapped within his own home and in the body of a hideous beast, Kris never wanted to share his prison with another. As much as Rose may draw him in with her beauty and stubborn strength, he knows she must escape before the next full moon. After all, he remembers all too well what happened to the previous caretaker.

The dead won’t let him forget the blood on his hands.


I am so happy to reveal the cover art and summary for The Rose and the Claw, the first novella in my upcoming fairy tale retelling series, The Twin Kingdoms. As you can tell, it’s my take on the “Beauty in the Beast” story.  All of the classic elements are here (a man trapped in the form of a beast. The beautiful woman who can help set him free), but I’ve certainly put my own spin on things. For one thing, my Beauty is a bit of a spitfire, and my Beast would never hold someone against their will.

The ebook for The Rose and the Claw is available for preorder starting today and will be published on August 4th, 2021. This novella will also be available in paperback and as part of your kindle unlimited subscription.

If you’d like to learn more about The Rose and the Claw, keep an eye on this blog. As we get closer to the publication date, I’ll be sharing things like sample chapters, a chance to sign up for an advanced reader’s copy, and more information about this brand new series of mine, The Twin Kingdoms!

Let’s just say that the second half of 2021 is going to be quite busy.

An Overwhelming Month: April in Review

April Posts

  1. From Superheroes to Fairy Tales: March in Review
  2. Past and Future Chapter 1
  3. Past and Future is out today!

The last scraps of snow have melted. I’ve packed up my ski parka and sweaters and stashed away my shovel in the garage. Looks like it’s finally spring in Maine!

And what a busy way to enter a new season. And while they’ll be more on that later, let’s start with the positive.

Publishing Past and Future

This month I published my fourth superhero novel, Past and Future. The turning point for the (I hope!) seven-book Red and Black series, Past and Future brings Dawn and Alex to a completely new realm-time travel! If you’re interested in picking up the latest book in the series, it’s currently available in ebook, paperback, and as part of your kindle unlimited subscription.

As for the future beyond Past and Future, Book 5 is currently in the hands of my beta readers. I just checked in with them the other day, and they’re excited to dig in. It’s going to be a while before I can get the book into people’s hands, but it’s good to know that things are moving along smoothly.

Finding a Home at Midnight Tide Publishing

With Past and Future out into the world, I’ve turned my attention to my next project, The Twin Kingdoms. This is a quartet of fairy tale novellas that you may have heard me mention. After years in the making, I’m finally ready to start releasing the books later this summer, and I’ll be doing that with Midnight Tide Publishing.

Midnight Time Publishing is a group of awesome independently-minded authors who have written some truly great stuff. I’m so excited that The Twin Kingdoms will be shepherded into the world alongside them. Expect to hear more news about this series soon, including a cover reveal, official publication date, and preorder link.

And now for the negative stuff- fighting overwhelm

Publishing a book is always a bit of a process. Even if you’re like me and five books in, it requires a fair amount of mental energy to accomplish. And unfortunately, mental energy is something that I am in short supply of right now.

It hasn’t been a great year. I know it’s the same for a lot of you. Even people who are fully vaccinated (I’m one shot in, and one left to go!) still have to deal with the fact that the world is not normal right now. And with so many lives lost, I think it’s fair to say that it’s impossible to go back to how things truly were before. Now add in some personal struggles on top of that. I’m currently facing a divorce, which, although amicable is still the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’m trying to refinance my house, which has turned into a giant clusterfuck. On the writing side of things, I’ve finally concluded that Red and Black 6 (which I drafted during last November’s NaNoWriMo) will need to be completely scrapped and re-written.

And as a result of many stressors (including ones which I’ve dealt with for over a year and a half now-don’t worry. I’ve been seeing a therapist), much like the world is not normal, I am not the same person anymore. I used to be relatively calm. Now it just seems to take one or two issues to push me into overwhelm. As a result, one thing I’ve realized over the past month is that I just am not capable of the same level of productivity as I used to be. And that sucks because I feel like I’ve been slowly working up to this level over years of writing, only to be knocked back down again.

So what does that mean as far as publishing goes? Honestly, in the short term, not all that much. I’ve always been a little ahead of the game, and that’s really going to work to my benefit here. Everything that I was planning on releasing this year (the first three Twin Kingdom novellas) will still come out this year, even if the dates will need to be shifted a bit. This is something that I have to remind myself of often, even as I find myself disappointed by my weekly numbers.

In the long term, this might impact my publishing schedule, but Red and Black 5 should be mostly fine. And given that I haven’t announced any official release dates for anything beyond this year, it’s not like I’ll be going back on any promises.

Focusing on the positive used to be easy for me. Unfortunately, now it takes a bit of effort.

Maybe one day I’ll be back where I used to be. Maybe I won’t. But for now, I need to focus on the challenges immediately in front of me, from the ones in my personal life to publishing The Twin Kingdoms, a series, ironically, in many ways about recovering from difficult times and finding the strength to keep on fighting.

Sometimes I think we unknowingly write the books we need the most.

Past and Future is out today!

His name is Forecaster.

With the ability to see the future, Forecaster has carefully guided many. But his news for Dawn is not what she expects. In five years, she will die, and Bailey City will be destroyed in the battle. To prevent this, Forecaster shows her a vision of the resulting wreckage.

But something goes wrong.

Now, trapped in a dark timeline, Dawn will have to rely on new versions of old friends, a handful of underground resisters, and the powers that exist inside of her. All this and more will be required to survive this dystopian future where SynergyCorp hunts empowered people, and every remaining citizen of Bailey City fears one man above all else:

Faultline.


Phew, you’d think that publishing would get less nerve-wracking after five books, yet here we are!

I am so happy to announce that Past and Future, the fourth book in my superhero series, is out today.  This time around, Dawn finds herself thrown into the future of Bailey City and must deal with the consequences she finds here. You can pick up your copy today in ebook, print book, or as part of your kindle unlimited subscription.

If you happen to be new to the Red and Black series, which is all about a nerdy girl who becomes a superhero, then I have something for you as well. The three previous books in the series are currently discounted, making it the perfect time to catch up. 

Whether you’re new to the Red and Black universe or returning for the fourth time, I really hope you enjoy the series!

From Superheroes to Fairy Tales: March in Review

March Posts

Another month behind us!

Honestly, I don’t know what it was about March. I entered the month with bold ambitions and plenty of things to do, but the next thing I knew, I was at the tail end of it all and only halfway through my list. People were asking me what I was doing for Easter and I found myself thinking “but Easter is weeks away?” when it was only in few days.

But while I may not have been the master of productivity that I had been hoping for, I did manage to get quite a bit done in March. Let’s dive into a few of them!

Preorder Past and Future

The biggest thing to happen in Red and Black world this March was putting the next book up for preorder! Right now, you can preorder the Kindle version. There will be a paperback version as well, but I’m facing a snag in getting it up and ready. Hopefully, everything will be taken care of by the publication date. And if you’re a kindle unlimited reader, don’t worry! I don’t have plans to take the series out of ku any time soon, and that includes the latest installment.

Past and Future represent a turning point for the Red and Black series (hence the slightly different title format). Stakes are raised, and new challenges arrive for both Dawn and Alex. My beta readers seemed to really enjoy this one, and I hope that you do as well!

For more info on the future of the Red and Black series, keep on reading

Beta readers everywhere!

On the writing front, a lot got done during the month of March. First off, I finished the third draft of Red and Black 5 (yes! there will be a fifth book) and sent it off to my beta readers. I also finished the third novella in The Twin Kingdoms, my upcoming series of fairy tale retellings, and sent that off to a second set of beta readers. Then I began plotting out the fourth and final fairy tale novella.

The hope is to have all four novellas published between June of this year and January of 2022. Obviously, that might hit a bit of a snag if the third (or fourth!) novella requires extensive rewrites, but so far, things are on track for a relatively quick release cycle. Which is quite unusual for me! Basically, the only reason it’s been possible is the fact that I’ve been slowly working on these novellas in-between drafts of the Red and Black series for quite a while now, allowing me to bank a certain amount of content.

As you can see, there’s a lot about this series that is very new for me. The fantasy genre isn’t entirely unfamiliar (I did publish a fantasy short story collection last year, after all) but I have yet to publish a fantasy series. Or a novella series for that matter. And, as mentioned above, this represents a very different type of release schedule. I’m curious to see how people react.

One thing that won’t be impacted by this new novella series is my superhero content. You’ll continue to get a new book roughly once a year, including the fifth book mentioned above. Because we’re dealing with full-length novels, they tend to have painfully long beta reading periods, but the feedback is always worth it.

The Wonders of Adulthood

Another thing that took up a lot of my time this month? Just the stuff that comes with being an adult. This includes doing taxes, refinancing my house (still a work in progress), assembling new furniture, getting my dishwasher fixed, and hiring an arborist to trim a bunch of trees on my property. While none of these items were particularly fun, they needed to get done. Let’s hope that April is a little less stressful!

What’s Next?

As you heard me mention above, I’m in the middle of plotting out my fourth and final novella in The Twin Kingdoms. The plan was to complete said novella during Camp NaNoWriMo, and I still intend to do that. But given how April snuck up on me, I’m going to have a bit of a late start.

But the most exciting thing by far that’s going on next month is the publication of Past and Future. The book is all ready to come out on April 26th and I am so ready for you guys to read it.

So many exciting things to come!

Door-Stopper Fantasy and Mind-Bending Superhero Television: My Current Recommendations

With an icy start to 2021 combined with the realities of a pandemic, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time staying in and consuming stories. Some of them have been pretty great, so I’d thought I’d share that love by talking about a few of my favorites. Do you want to know about the most binge-worthy TV shows I’ve stumbled across? Doorstopper novels that have been worth their massive page count? What about some favorite movies that I’ve recently revisited? Read on for more!

Books

The Empire of Gold by S. A Chakraborty– Long books and I don’t always get along. I don’t have anything against them, but my expectations go up the longer the page count is. If I read a 100-page novella, and it’s “just okay,” that’s not really a waste of my time. But when we’re talking about a massive fantasy tome pushing 800 pages? It better be freaking fantastic!

Fortunately, S.A. Chakraborty’s The Empire of Gold absolutely succeeds in that area. Just like the two previous books in The Daevabad Trilogy, The Empire of Gold is an exciting Middle-Eastern inspired fantasy novel that features a large cast of morally complicated characters from a wide variety of backgrounds. The Daevabad Trilogy has never been one to provide its characters with easy ways out, and this book is no exception, making its cast earn all of its wins. It’s been really exciting to see these characters grow and change over the years, and I find myself quite pleased with how everything ended up.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia- Don’t you love it when a book actually lives up to the hype?

Mexican Gothic is just what it promises in its title—a gothic horror novel set in a Mexican setting. In the beginning, our protagonist, Noemí, travels to the rural countryside to visit her recently married cousin, who has been sending her troubling letters. Only when Noemí gets there, she finds herself plunged into a troubling, restrictive house filled with secrets. But the further she digs in, the more horrifying the results are. Will she be able to save her cousin, or will she too be pulled into the darkness of the manor?

I’m not going to give away any more, because it’s best to go in a little blind. But if you enjoy intriguing puzzles and creeping horror that’s not afraid to explore some pretty crazy places, then Mexican Gothic is for you.

What Cats Want by Yuki Hattori- And now for something completely different! What Cats Want is a book about cat care, but what sets it apart from others is its adorable illustrations, also done by the author, Japan’s leading cat doctor. The information presented here is all good. I got this from the library, but I’m considering buying a copy myself in preparation for when my kitty gets a little older. Having that information presented side by side with the book’s cheerful infographic-esque illustrations makes for a very pleasant reading experience. A great selection for cat owners.

TV

Bridgerton– I enjoy a good Regency romance, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the experience so clearly translated to TV. The show focuses on the story of Daphne Bridgerton, a young woman on the lookout for a match during her first season. Between Bridgerton‘s sweeping melodrama, gorgeous (and gleefully anachronistic) costumes, and its passionate romance, the results are super addictive. I know they’ve just started casting season two, and I’m already looking forward to it.

The Queen’s Gambit– After Bridgerton, I found myself in the mood for another period piece, and while The Queen’s Gambit is tonally different, the results are just as binge-able. This story about a chess prodigy and her rise from orphan to the most celebrated player in the world is drama at its best. Lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy just won a Golden Globe for her performance here, and she very much deserved it. You don’t have to be a chess fan to be swept away by Beth Harmon’s tale, but you’ll certainly come out of the series with a greater appreciation for it.

WandaVision- And now for the show that everyone was watching. When I originally saw the traielrs for the first three Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ shows, I could already tell that WandaVision was going to be fantastic, And the results actually exceeded my expectations. As someone who grew up watching sitcoms, getting to see so many of my old favorites combined with superhero action and an intriguing mystery plot, it often felt like WandaVision was made just for me. Seriously. If Kevin Feige sat down with Jac Shaeffer and said, “Nancy’s had a rough year. How can we make her a TV show,” it would look a lot like this. Each new episode was often the highlight of my week.

I know that some people found the conclusion disappointing, but I was incredibly pleased. Wanda’s story about struggling with her grief was compelling from beginning to end, and I am excited to see how the MCU builds on these developments.

Movies

Millennium Actress– If you enjoy unique story structures, Satoshi Kon’s story about the career of a fictional Japanese actress will be catnip for you. Framed by an interview process, Milennimun Actress interweaves Chiyoko’s real-life experiences with her most famous roles, bending reality by jumping back and forth between both. The result is a film that covers both the history of Japanese cinema and one woman’s lifelong efforts to reconnect with her true love. Millennium Actress is a movie that I’ve seen several times now and look forward to watching again.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness– Hayao Miyazaki is my favorite director, but it wasn’t until I watched The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness that I felt like I really understood him as a creator. The documentary, which covers the production of the film, The Wind Rises, dives deep into the mind of Miyazaki, covering everything from his filmmaking process to his personal history and thoughts about the wider world. The result is both honest and enchanting, much like the work of Miyazaki himself.

So those are my current favorites. Any thoughts on the selections above? What about recommendations for me?