Sonya Clark's Blog
March 4, 2016
RED HOUSE, the second book in the Roxie Mathis paranormal series, is back on digital shelves.
There’s high water everywhere and she’s about to drown on dry land.
Roxie Mathis lost her home and her livelihood to a devastating flood. The trauma of almost drowning has left both her life and her magical abilities in disarray. The return of sexy sorcerer Blake Harvill has her even more confused.
Hired to evict ghosts from a bed and breakfast, Roxie’s confidence takes another hit when she encounters a violent spirit she’s crossed paths with in the past. When innocent people are trapped in the house, Roxie’s going to have to tap reservoirs of power she’s never touched before. In magic, like physics, everything has an equal and opposite reaction, and Roxie can only hope her desperate spellwork won’t kill her – or conjure up something even more dangerous.
Like MOJO QUEEN, the first Roxie Mathis book, RED HOUSE was written and first published some years ago. The rights have since reverted back to me and I’m finally getting them both back out. There’s another book in the series that was never published, titled HOODOO WOMAN. It’ll be out sometime in June.
Over on Wattpad I’ve got a fun Roxie short story called Goofer Dust Blues. It’s a good way to get a feel for the series, so check it out. :)
October 26, 2015
GOOD TIME BAD BOY is now available in print! And to celebrate that, I’ve put the ebook on sale for .99 through 11/8.
October 8, 2015
This is what happened: I was reading through some short stories and other stuff, looking for things to possibly post on Wattpad. One such short was Goofer Dust Blues, the story that really kicked off the Roxie Mathis urban fantasy series. From there I went to the books, Mojo Queen, Red House, and the never published Hoodoo Woman. And I had a blast reading them. Those were fun books to write. First published by Lyrical Press (MQ in 2011, RH in 2012), I’ve had the rights back for a while now but never did anything with the books. Just about everyone in publishing said paranormal was dead, nobody wanted urban fantasy anymore, no vampires of any kind (even quirky ones like Daniel), and definitely no witches. (I love witches, but apparently I’m in the minority. *shrug*.) So the Roxie books sat on my hard drive, collecting digital dust because I thought the genre was dead and there was no point to self-publishing the series.
But now, after re-reading them, I’ve decided to go ahead. I have no idea if urban fantasy is well and truly dead, or if there are readers like me who still enjoy the genre. I definitely hope for the latter. :) I’ve done some editing and revising on the first two books. Hoodoo Woman will need a bit more work and I’ll be starting on that shortly. Oh and the books have all new covers, of course.
Here’s a little bit about the main characters:
Roxie can see auras and spectral entities. She practices hoodoo folk magic and a smattering of whatever else works, and mostly she is in the business of evicting ghosts. She’s a huge music lover (something she has in common with her creator, ahem.)
Daniel is her bestie. Also her ancestor. And a vampire. (When I first wrote these books, love triangles were all the rage. I didn’t want to do that and didn’t want readers to think that’s where the relationship was going, so I made Daniel her ancestor.) He enjoys helping Roxie with her ghost eviction jobs and is an ardent fan of classic country music, which he can be heard warbling loudly and off-key whenever the mood strikes.
Blake is Roxie’s shady boyfriend. They meet in Mojo Queen. He is a chaos magician/sexy sorcerer/all around trouble. Roxie really should know better, but hey, he’s hot, and has a beautiful starfield aura that hints at greater depths than he’s comfortable showing. Plus he accepts her for who she is, so he can’t be all bad.
Mojo Queen is now available. Red House will be out in December, followed by Hoodoo Woman in February.
Hoodoo and high magic are on a collision course.
Not only can Roxie Mathis mix herbs and roots for spells to do good or ill, she can see auras and spectral entities. Her magical gifts allow her to help people with their supernatural problems, but when she’s hired to exorcise a demon from a young woman, Roxie discovers the limits of her powers.
If that weren’t challenge enough, a handsome sorcerer on the rebound has set his sights on Roxie. All sexy smirk and dark temptation, Blake Harvill is nothing but trouble. But he’s also in danger from the very demon he conjured, and that’s something Roxie can’t turn away from. In way over her head, it’s not going to be enough for her to just be a paranormal investigator and old school root worker – she’s going to have to be the Mojo Queen.
Read the first chapter here.
August 17, 2015
Been a while since I posted so I thought I would write an update.
This past weekend was pretty awesome thanks in large part to this A- Recommended Read review from Dear Author for GOOD TIME BAD BOY. When it was brought to my attention on Twitter, first I was terrified, then I was floored. This is the kind of review you print out and carry around in your back pocket forever. Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of my small town romance.
Someone asked if I’ve reconsidered writing another contemporary. Short answer: nah. Long answer: I mean, who knows? I may write another at some point. The genre’s not a natural fit for me. I don’t know that I could have written GOOD TIME BAD BOY without the music angle. So it’s a matter of the right story presenting itself. That’s not something I know how to force. Besides, I think the romance genre could use more standalone books. :)
I’ve also been asked about the Bradbury Institute paranormal series. That was something that started out as just for fun ages ago, and it’s going to stay that way. I’ve never had any intention of keeping that on a regular release schedule. I know that’s not how you’re supposed to do self-pub, but, eh, I never was good at playing by the rules. I work on Bradbury stories between longer works, so it’s not abandoned, it’s just not at the top of my priority list.
So what is at the top of my priority list? I had a couple of themes that I wanted to explore – a redemption story, and a story about a female hero. Not a heroine as in the female protagonist, but a woman who is a Big Damn Hero. (This might have something to do with the fact that Marvel won’t give us a damn Black Widow movie, damn it.) (Ahem.) The Magic Born trilogy was a weird hybrid of sci-fi and paranormal, and I’ve wanted to dive deep into sci-fi ever since. So I went through my folders full of story ideas, barely started manuscripts, trunked unfinished manuscripts, and other debris. By combining the threads of seven different story ideas, I found what I was looking for.
So now I’m working on CITY OF SECRETS (title subject to change, because I kind of suck at titles). It’s part crime thriller, contemporary sci-fi, superhero origin story, and romance. The superhero is a woman who escaped from a mysterious lab that performed experiments in human enhancement – gene therapy and cybernetic implants. The love interest/sidekick/dude in distress is a billionaire playboy she saves from a violent attack.
I have no timeline on when I’ll be done with this book, or what I’ll do with it. It’s not the kind of thing I see agents or editors looking for, so I may wind up self-publishing it. Right now I’m not going to worry about what comes after, I’m just going to focus on writing.
That’s all the news I’ve got. I think I’ll go read that awesome review again. :)
June 16, 2015
Wade Sheppard was the king of country for nearly ten years. Now he can’t get Nashville on the phone, much less another record deal. When yet another drunken night onstage gets him fired from a casino gig, Wade is pulled off the road by his manager and sent home. Being back in the small town where he was born and raised, his every screw-up fodder for gossip, isn’t helping any. His family knows him too well, and the pretty, sharp-tongued waitress who catches his eye doesn’t want to know him at all.
Daisy McNeil has more baggage than most her age but she’s finally pulling her life together. College classes will be her ticket out of poverty and instability. She doesn’t mind waiting tables for the time being, but she could do without the rowdy rednecks who sometimes get handsy. When one of them crosses the line, she snaps and gives him and his stupid ten gallon hat the telling off he deserves, but causing a scene gets her fired.
Wade didn’t mean to cost Daisy her job. Chastened, he decides he doesn’t want his train wreck of a life to crash into anybody else. He offers the bar owner a summer of free shows if Daisy can have her job back. Now they’re spending nights together trading barbs and fighting a growing attraction. With a sexy smile and a powerful voice that can make any song his, Wade’s determined to show Daisy that he’s more than just a good time bad boy.
Read the first two chapters here.
Whoo! So this book was a big departure for me – it’s a contemporary romance. I found myself needing a creative detour, so I decided to try a different genre. I loved writing this book, especially the music-related parts. It allowed me to work out some things about writing without actually talking about writing, if that makes sense. Plus, big music nerd here. :)
At first, my intention was to make this book the start of a new series and query agents with it. I did query a few, while trying to write the next book in the series. After two attempts at writing another contemporary, I realized I was ready to go back to speculative fiction. I liked writing a contemporary, but I don’t have another one in me right now. I don’t know, it may be the only contemporary I ever write. So I decided to take this book off the query/submission mill and self-publish it.
In a lot of ways, this is a really personal book. Small town life, family relationships, music and what it can mean to both the creator and the listener – all filtered through the lens of my own experience. Add in an emotional love story that had me crying as I wrote several of the scenes, and I’ve got a book I’m deeply proud of. I hope readers enjoy it, too.
April 18, 2015
As both a music lover and a fan of all things that go bump in the night, some of my favorite stories can be found at the crossroads of music and the supernatural. When you talk about the crossroads, you have to talk about Robert Johnson.
I have two images in my head of Robert Johnson. One is the stuff of myth. Born in Mississippi, steeped in the Delta blues, Robert made a name for himself as an itinerant bluesman during the Depression. The earliest stories of him playing guitar in public say that he was terrible, and was essentially run out of juke joints for being so bad. Then he left the Delta for a time, anywhere from one to two years, no one is sure. By the time he returned, he’d become an extraordinary guitarist. No less than the legendary Son House himself remarked that Robert must have sold his soul to the devil to be able to play like that.
Over the course of two separate sessions, Robert recorded twenty-nine songs. Several became blues classics, dark, existential nightmares that decades later inspired an entire generation of young British rockers. The tale of his Faustian deal excited imaginations as much as his music. Then there was the mystery surrounding his death. Was he poisoned by a jealous husband, or did the devil come to collect his due? The fact that Robert died at the age of 27, making him a member of the infamous 27 Club, only adds to the mystery around him. In the mythos of American music, the legend of Robert Johnson looms large.
I’ve visited all three of Robert Johnson’s grave sites – these photos were taken on my honeymoon ten years ago.
But the legend is only one image. Robert Johnson, the man, was a complex and fascinating individual. Before becoming a musician, he tried his hand at sharecropping, during which his wife and baby died during childbirth. After that there are no known attempts by him to keep a steady job or apply himself to anything but music. Born illegitimate, Robert called himself by many names, frequently going by R.L. (his middle name was Leroy). He traveled all across the US and even into Canada. Sometimes he traveled with another musician. Frequently his only companion was his guitar. He was known for turning his back to audiences so that other players couldn’t discern his techniques. He had no trouble finding women to put him up for a night or even longer, but never stayed anywhere long. Many of the songs he recorded had the self-awareness of an artist struggling with both his art and the world around him, but he was also known to be a consummate entertainer. On street corners and in juke joints and house parties, he could play all the latest hits and keep the dance floor full.
And as for that crossroads story? It makes for great fiction, but if you ask me, the truth behind his vast improvement is even better. After being told he was a lousy guitarist and leaving the Delta, Robert returned to the town of his birth, Hazlehurst, Mississippi, supposedly to search for his biological father. Whether he found Noah Johnson is unknown, but he did find Ike Zimmerman, who mentored him in the blues. Ike would take Robert to a country cemetery at night where he’d have privacy to practice on the guitar. Can you imagine spending every night for a year, maybe two, your only company the departed in their graves and anything creeping through the surrounding woods in the dark, as you practiced chords and songs until your fingertips bled and the sun rose in a ball of fire to break the spell cast by you and your guitar? How badly would you have to want something to do that?
After his death, Robert became known as the quintessential journeyman blues musician, the lone guitar-slinger who made his home nowhere and everywhere, who made his way through the world alone. But he left behind friends and family who remembered him, a surviving child who never knew him, and countless obsessed musicians, musicologists, and fans. And rumors that he was playing with a band toward the end of his brief life. He is considered one of the grandfathers of rock and roll, but we don’t know where he would have wound up, musically speaking. Perhaps rhythm and blues, perhaps jazz. Another mystery.
It’s no mystery why the crossroads myth is still so popular. It adds to the legend, turns Robert into a dark, tortured figure who tried to take the easy way out and paid for it with his life. But if there was a crossroads it was only within his own heart, and he by no means took the easy way. Robert worked hard at his craft, hour after hour, night after night. He understood the blues, musically and symbolically. He knew how to make people dance, make them laugh, make them drop their hard-earned coins into a cup, brings tears to women’s eyes and fan the flames of desire. There’s beauty in even the darkest songs he recorded, the ones where he’s having conversations with the angels and devils that lived inside him.
That, even more than the crossroads myth itself, is the real reason Robert lingers in the imaginations of musicians nearly eighty years after his death. He is a symbol of the question, how far are you willing to go for your art? How deep within yourself, how far outside of your comfort zone? Are you willing to work at it until you bleed? Are you willing to find yourself alone in the dark, surrounded by shadows, old nightmares and faded dreams? Are you willing to give up pieces of yourself in songs and stories?
Of course, it’s not just musicians who wrestle with those questions. Writers do too. Robert has been something of a spirit guide for me for twenty-five years now, since I first heard the opening notes of Kindhearted Woman, the first song on The Complete Recordings. I was a kid who knew music, all kinds of music, but this was like stepping into another world. I’ve studied his music, read books about him, visited all three of his grave sites. Been enthralled with the crossroads story but ultimately discarded it because it feels like it cheapens the work he put into his craft as a guitarist and songwriter. From Robert I learned to never stop working on your craft, because there is no easy path to being good at something. Bleed on the strings, and don’t be afraid to put your heart and soul in the stories you have to tell. Those are useful lessons for every kind of storyteller.
(But just to be safe – never make deals in the dark with anyone but yourself.)
Note: This was originally posted at Here Be Magic.
April 13, 2015
When it comes to writing, I can’t do anything right.
When I first wrote Good Time Bad Boy, my plan was for it to be the first of a small town romance trilogy focused on three brothers. When it came time to try writing the second book, I had a big problem. I didn’t care about the story. Like, at all. I know that sibling books are really popular, and I’ve enjoyed reading a number of them myself. But writing my own…I just didn’t care.
What I did care about was the music in Good Time Bad Boy. I asked myself, if I could write anything, what would it be? Forget about trends, forget about expectations within publishing. What would be a passion project?
It didn’t take long to come up with an answer.
So instead of the sibling series thing, Good Time Bad Boy will be the first book in a series I’m calling Music Highway. I’m going to write about the musical genres and archetypes and myths that I love. Some of the stories will be contemporary, some will be paranormal. The first two will be full length novels (and contemporary). After that, the length of stories may vary. It’s highly likely that all will be romance, except for one, and that one will depend on how I decide to tell it. But the common thread will be music. Not wealth and celebrity, but music.
I started writing the second book yesterday. Recently I tried reading a few rock star romances and, I don’t know, they just really didn’t work for me. I’m still searching for one that does. I thought I might try writing my own, but I wound up with a different idea instead. This second Music Highway novel will be about a young pop diva shedding the image forced on her by others and it’s called My Own Girl.
So, I don’t know if agents and publishers will be interested in a series like this. Publishing is a business and it’s to be expected (and it’s fair) that commercial projects with a marketing hook be the ones to get the contracts. I’m prepared for the possibility – the likelihood – of going it alone with this. That’s one of the nice things about self-publishing: if an author has something that doesn’t quite fit with what publishers are looking for, it doesn’t have to languish on your hard drive. So if it looks like I’m right about this and Music Highway isn’t the kind of series that a publisher would want, then I’ll self-pub it. But I am going to give Good Time Bad Boy some more time on the query mill first.
Looking at this from a business perspective, I know it’s probably not the best decision. Writing commercial fiction, especially romance, means giving readers what they want. I know readers like the sibling series books. I don’t know if anyone will want to read this Music Highway series. Readers like rock star romances, but a pop diva? I don’t know. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I can’t do anything right, LOL.
I do know this much: I’m excited about writing again. Excited about storytelling again. I loved writing Good Time Bad Boy and I’m proud of how it turned out. Music Highway will definitely be a passion project, and I hope that the stories are able to find readers who love music as much as I do.
April 8, 2015
I am ridiculously excited for this.
The history of American music is the history of America. Immigration, geography, economics, race and class and religion – it’s all tied together in our music. Even something as seemingly simple as the Sears Roebuck catalog was hugely important to rural America because it allowed people to buy cheap guitars which was probably the most important ingredient thrown into the cauldron of American music. Preserving this part of our history is so important and I really think that studying it can shed some light on the technological upheaval we’re going through now. Amazon is the current version of the old Sears catalog and the internet is surely the wildest thing since border radio and I need to stop now because I am seriously nerding out, LOL.
One of the reasons I decided to start blogging again was so I could finally untangle some of my long-held thoughts about music. It’s kind of a mish-mash in my head and I’ve never really given myself the chance to make it all coherent. Plus I figured since I’ll never get that musicology degree of my dreams, I might as well blog about music, heh. Some of the posts will be short, some will be a rush of emotion (like this one), and some will eventually be longer reads as I have the time. For instance, there’s several ideas in my initial thoughts about American Epic that I’d like to unpack further.
Music won’t be the only topic on the blog but it will be the main one. I’m thisclose to starting a new book, so occasionally I’ll post excerpts, too.
April 5, 2015
I keep thinking about the teaser trailer for this documentary about Amy Winehouse.
I don’t think I’m going to be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it. I would probably go mad.
God. That is a punch to the gut. I loved Amy from the first time I heard her. Much was made of her throwback style but to me she always seemed both timeless and very much of the now. What I found most remarkable was that she was just such a mess. We’re not allowed the luxury of being a mess – women. We have to pull it together and take care of everybody but ourselves and never step a toe out of line and meet everyone’s expectations and if a woman is in the public eye, she’d better by God be a good role model whatever that means. Amy was just Amy, an addict and a mess and lovestruck and a dozen other things and most of all, to the public at least, she was this blazing, incandescent talent with an amazing voice made of sharp angles and raw vulnerability. Her music felt boldly honest to the point of being subversive, full of things nice girls aren’t supposed to admit to feeling. I loved the honesty and vulnerability and attitude of her songs and I hate it that we’ll never know how she might have grown.
March 16, 2015
At the Bradbury Institute, a private organization dedicated to the study of magic and the occult, adventure and romance are the best benefits – and danger is inescapable.
The Gateway Forest is the home of the institute’s greatest secrets and most important mission. For the Yule festivities, two visitors will arrive through the most active of the Gates, one welcome, one bringing a secret message.
Eve Kane, Bradbury’s newest member, is thrilled to finally learn the truth about the mysterious forest surrounding the institute. Soon she finds herself on the other side of a Gate, a pawn caught in a family feud between two powerful spellcasters.
For the past three years, Bradbury has been a refuge for Pete Cadkin. Now his attraction to Eve offers him a glimpse of a possible future. When his horrific past catches up with him and puts Eve in the crosshairs, he’s forced to confront his worst nightmares and she will make a snap decision with far-reaching consequences.
Under the Never Never’s Long Night Moon, everything will change.
One of the nice things about self-publishing is that everything happens on my schedule. So when stuff happens and I don’t have time to post about a new release for a little bit, the only person to get upset is me. And since Bradbury is something I write for fun, I’m just not going to stress too much over the business side of things on this series. What all this means is: I got the second Bradbury uploaded to retailers but am just now getting my site updated. Oops. Here’s the page for Long Night Moon, with the first chapter and buy links and all that good stuff.
If that seems like my attitude about publishing Bradbury is a bit too casual, you’re probably right. Bradbury started out as something I wrote for fun, that didn’t have to conform to any genre rules or publishing conventions. The series has been through some twists and turns, including being under contract by a publisher that went out of business before Bradbury could be published. That was not the most fun experience to go through and after I got my rights reversion I decided to take Bradbury back to its original purpose – a place for me to have fun. A big part of that fun is not stressing over the publishing aspect, so I just write and publish the novellas as I feel like it. It’s nice to enjoy the creative aspect of writing without the stress and anxiety of how the publishing side of things is supposed to work.
I’ve already started the third Bradbury novella, though I have no projection for how long it will take to write and prep for publication. I’m going to look into using Createspace to bundle two novellas into one paperback. It would be nice to have these in print, if I can figure out the formatting.
The first chapter of Long Night Moon is on the book’s page. Here’s an excerpt from later in the story that sets up subsequent events nicely –
“You should come over and watch it with me sometime.”
Nothing in his voice made it sound like anything but a casual invitation. His demeanor was still relaxed, almost open. Eve would have thought nothing of it except for the flush of warm energy that wrapped around her head to toe, a tease that matched the upticked corner of his mouth. It fanned across her nerve endings, spreading a feather-light pleasure through her.
Oh. Em. Gee. “Uh, sure.”
In addition to learning more about reading objects Eve had also begun to study projecting energy. She’d done this quietly, finding books read on the subject in the Archive and working with Jean-Pierre. Still in the early stages of exploring what she could do, Eve hadn’t discussed it openly yet. Pete had no idea. He would surely be surprised if she was able to send some of that warm sensual energy back to him. Letting her eyes unfocus, she concentrated on the sensation, willing it to expand and reach back to him in a slow languid stroke.
Pete gasped, eyes widening. He lurched forward and grabbed his coat from the back of the chair, covering his lap with it. “Stop it! Oh god.”
Horrified, Eve used a quick grounding technique to stop the energy. “I’m sorry! Are you…uh, are you okay?”
Half-crouched over the table, Pete ran a hand through his hair, covering his face for a long moment. When he finally removed his hand Cranky Pete was back, scowling and stone-faced. “Don’t ever do that again! Shit, especially not in public.”
“I’m sorry! I thought you were flirting with me and I wanted to flirt back.” Finding a rock to crawl under seemed like a great idea.
“I was flirting with you. But what you did – you need to learn to control that before you go whipping it out.”
Now it was Eve’s turn to cover her face. Embarrassment boiled a scalding path straight back to horrific memories of the awkward teenager she’d been years ago. She couldn’t stand to look at Pete, or even be at the table with him. Mumbling about the ladies room, she fled like a pathetic coward.
Hopefully she’d find a gateway to another world in a bathroom stall.