A warm love bytes welcome to author SJ Himes joining us today to talk about her new release “Wolves of Black Pine”. Check out the wonderful guestpost below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.
Welcome SJ 🙂
Title: Wolf of the Northern Star
Author: SJ Himes
Series: The Wolfkin Saga, #2
Release Date: June 15th 2017
Genre: Gay Paranormal Shifter Romance
Ghost, once known as the cub Luca, is finally home. Back among his kind and learning what it means to be both a man and a shaman, Ghost battles the expectations of his people, his family, and the pressures of a society that is both foreign and familiar. His power is greater than any seen before, dwarfing that of even the legendary Shaman Gray Shadow—and his union with Kane places him in the center of a controversy that rattles wolfkin society around the world.
Kane, greater alpha and Heir to Black Pine Clan, has finally defeated the traitor and murderer that destroyed the heart of Black Pine years before. Freed at last from guilt and pain, Kane has a new enemy to face: his own people. Placed on trial for violation of Law and blasphemy, Kane will have to fight to the death to preserve his bond with Ghost and keep his mate and people safe.
The soulbond between Ghost and Kane is forged by the creator and Goddess of the wolfkin. Usually, a sacred and treasured union that honors the pair and their clans, this soulbond is seen not as a gift, but a threat to eons of tradition and Clan Law.
The union of a Shaman and Alpha is anathema—but how to reconcile that belief when it is the wolfkin Goddess who forged it? Can Ghost and Kane save themselves, preserve their bond, and find a new future when the laws of the ancient past threaten to tear them apart?
*This book is part of a series and should not be read as a standalone. Prior books should be read to understand content. 104,000 words*
Find The Wolfkin Saga on Goodreads
Conquering the Sequel by SJ Himes
I have a confession to make. This book, Wolf of the Northern Star, might be the best book I’ve ever written, and the one that nearly destroyed me. I was terrified to write it.
My debut novel as myself, as SJ Himes and not under my pen name of Revella Hawthorne, Wolves of Black Pine was a long, sprawling, epic novel of huge proportions. I poured everything I could into it—the book was my first foray into writing a novel, and I felt that its reception would determine whether I lived or died as an author. I was afraid. I was so terrified that it would be a love affair of one, that I would be the only person to love my book, my characters, and it would languish in obscurity, along with my deepest wish of being an author.
Something happened, though—something I didn’t expect. Wolves of Black Pine, a book I wrote over ten long months, garnered attention. It sold. It got great reviews. (Some not so great, but sometimes the best way to sell a book is to have a few bad reviews, and whatever it was, it worked.) I stared in shock and cried happy, confused tears; I cheered, I danced, I celebrated. I could take the first step forward in becoming a full-time, self-sufficient, self-employed capable adult! I could not just hope for my dreams to come true—hard work was paying off, and readers flocked to the book.
But you see, there was a tiny, itty-bitty little problem. I worked so hard, so incredibly hard on the first book, that I was exhausted. Dealing with failing health, and even homelessness that not even decent sales could hold at bay, I put the sequel off—I had left the first book on something of a cliffhanger (Okay, a HUGE cliffhanger.) A newbie error, and one that would have paid off if I had the next book ready to go, and could release it to capitalize on the buzz generated by the first book. Yet I didn’t have the second book ready. It sat, untouched, at 30k words for months. I focused on my erotica series. I wrote a novella. My health divebombed again. I got sicker. Lost the roof over my head, and had to move again. And again.
I joked I had a case of Sequelitis—that incessant and niggling fear that the sequel will never, ever, live up to the promise and greatness of the first. What began as exhaustion became aversion. I didn’t want to touch it. I hated it. My other series were gaining attention, selling great. Surely, I could slay this beast, and never touch it again—a nasty, and insidious version of Imposter Syndrome set in. My depression ate at me. Destroyed my confidence. The longer the sequel languished, the worse I got. I listened to the doubt and the disappointment, and soon, almost a year and a half passed since I released the first book.
In fact, it was over six months from the release of my last book. I hadn’t written anything of substance in months. My depression was so bad that my friends were worried, my family wondering if I was a failure, and no one hated me more than myself. And the worst wound of all, was the unfinished second act of The Wolfkin Saga. The Wolf of the Northern Star was a story of triumph, redemption, revenge and justice. It was a story full of power and agony, grief and love lost and regained. It was too grand for how I was feeling as a person.
I thought about giving up. My own voice was dead. My characters had stopped speaking to me months before. I nearly crawled into bed and never came out again.
I remembered one thing that kept me from going too far. “Depression lies.” I am a huge advocate for facts, for truth, and regardless of how I was feeling, I knew it was because of depression. The highs of writing a book meant I felt the lows after the pressure was gone during a release. I had to do something to pull me back up. That refrain—depression lies—got me through one day, then the next. Depression lies. Depression lies. Over and over. If I could not trust my own inner voice, I had to trust the voices of those who I loved.
I sent the unfinished manuscript to my friends. Told them what was wrong, why I was struggling. I had to defeat this sequel or I would never write again. They told me I was on the right track—that the first 30k was solid, it was decent, it was good—I don’t know if I believed them, not that early on, but I made myself act as if I believed them. I functioned as if their words were true.
I wrote. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad or crap. I wrote. I knew the story—I knew where it was going—it was just the actual act of putting words on paper that wore me down. Every day I forced myself to do a little bit here, a little bit there. I sat at my computer and fussed about. Laziness was a sight far better than despondency. I would send the words I managed that day to my friends, who would send back encouragement. I wrote some more.
My biggest enemy is myself, and to avoid pitfalls that would come from writing so much again after a long break, I broke out my Dragon software and tried dictation again. There were some stumbles along the way, and it was a steep learning curve, but I figured it out. I ended up dictating around 30k words of Wolf of the Northern Star.
I found tools to manage my bad habits, and I got in the good habit of listening to outside opinions when it came to counteracting my own poisonous thoughts. I began to feel again. I was interested in what I was writing again. I cried when the story dragged my heart through the mud, and I raged when the Bag Guys looked like they might be winning. I eventually blew past my self-imposed word cap of 80k words, and the final draft came out at 104k words.
I gave everything I could to this book. It nearly killed my writing career. It almost destroyed me. And out of the misery and pain and deadening apathy, a book was born that did what I once thought was impossible—it was better than the first. And it might just be the best book I’ve ever written.
Wolf of the Northern Star, Book #2 of The Wolfkin Saga, was a long time in coming. It released two weeks shy of the two-year anniversary of Book #1’s release. Even now, after it’s been done for over a month and out in the world for two weeks, it doesn’t feel like it is done. I still feel the weight of expectation and pending doom sometimes. I’m waiting for the relief. For my mind and soul to accept that I am free at last, and the series can progress now. I have no limits anymore on what I can do next.
Yet every single time a fan reaches out, and tells me thank you for finishing it, I feel a spark of life and hope. The clouds part. Things feel brighter. I think sometimes now that the weight of the book still feels like it is waiting for me because I ended up giving so much of my life over to it. I agonized over it for so long that I may never feel separated from the book.
That might be okay, thinking about it as I write this. It might be a good thing that I still feel like I am breathing and living that world. It came from me after all, and instead of seeing it as a curse, a bad case of Sequelitis, I can see it as proof that I survived, and came out the other side. Wolf of the Northern Star is a saga. Love and loss, grief and joy. Writing this book almost killed me, but finishing it saved my life.
“Where have you been? With your mate?” Glen asked, and Ghost grumbled.
“Been running around the mountain all night long, thinking. Being a man is hard. How do you do it?”
Glen snorted out a laugh. “Practice.” He nodded at the blanket, and Ghost sighed loudly.
Ghost sat up, wrapping the quilt about his hips. He threw himself back down almost immediately, and Glen found himself unable to resist the plaintive whine that came from his pretty lips. Glen was as straight as they came, but even he could acknowledge the sheer beauty of the human form of his wayward wolf. Ghost was beautiful, inside and out, and yet he had a shade of sadness hovering about his expressive silver eyes. He walked around the couch and paused as Ghost scrambled out of the way long enough for him to sit down. A bare second later he had an armful of lean youth and wiggling limbs.
Ghost curled up in his lap like he used to as a pup, though it was different now, as Ghost was not a wolf anymore. Glen heaved out a groan in complaint, but let Ghost hide under his chin and snuggle. He hugged the boy to his chest, and they both relaxed, adjusting easily enough to the new dynamic.
“What’s wrong?” Glen asked, and Ghost responded in a tiny voice.
“They put Kane in a cell in the woods yesterday. And they want to destroy our mate bond.”
Glen could recall only two times in his entire life he ever got angry enough to kill. Once was back in college when he tore a drunk frat boy off a cussing and furious redhead who then proceeded to wallop her attacker. The other time was when he rescued a malnourished wolf-hybrid from a careless and ignorant suburban family in the outskirts of Toronto, the poor thing starved near to death and skeletal thin. As he did then, he ran his hands over the back of a young wolf’s head, and said, “Everything is going to be okay.”
Glen managed to hold onto his temper, but it was a battle. The youngling needed a shoulder to cry on, a place to relax his guarded emotions, and Glen would be that safe place for him.
“I wanted to come home more than anything,” Ghost whispered, pressing his face into Glen’s chest. “But nothing good has come of it. They think me damaged, weak. Vulnerable.”
“We both know you are not damaged or weak. I don’t think I would have survived fifteen years locked away in the body of a wolf, deprived of any sense of self or family. You’re strong. And what do you mean nothing good has come from returning to your people? You have your man now, Kane. He’s your mate, no matter what those fools may say or think.”
“He’s in a cage, Glen. In the woods, alone, surrounded by alphas who wouldn’t hesitate to hurt him. I can feel him through our bond. He’s frustrated, and misses me. I haven’t seen him since they took him away yesterday We can’t talk because the alphas might be able to overhear us, but I can still feel him. It hurts not being with him.”
The Wolfkin Saga #1
Title: Wolves of Black Pine
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Genre: Paranormal, Shifters, MM Romance
An ancient civilization long hidden from humanity is on the brink of chaos and war.
Peaceful for thousands of years, the wolfkin clans are mysteriously losing packmates, kidnapped and killed by unknown foes. Among the dead is Luca, youngest grandson of the two most powerful wolves in the Northern Clans, but he is forced into a half-life, hidden in the far northern wilds of Canada and cut off from his kind. Those who raised him have no idea the creature they harbor in their midst, and name him Ghost. He begins to lose himself over the long years, and though he barely recalls his true name, the one wolf he never forgets is Kane.
Heir to the wolfkin clan Black Pine, Kane is charged with hunting down the traitors who them to the humans. Years fly by, and more wolves are dying. He refuses to give up, and he vows to never again fail another of their kind, as he failed young Luca years before. His heart tells him Luca lives, but his mind tells him that it’s foolish hope, his guilt eating him alive.
Fate and magic change the course of their lives, and the two wolves long separated by the years find their paths intertwining, though the reunion does not come without cost…
150,000+ words, contains graphic sex between men, dubious consent, mentions of abuse. Contains gore and violence. Mature readers only.
Purchase: Amazon **On SALE $2.99 until 5th July**
GIVEAWAY: Win $10 Amazon gift card and Wolves of Black Pine & Wolf of the Northern Star ebooks
I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with ocasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), and The Wolfkin Saga. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.