Yes, the latest release is a Wild Rites short story and not the next full-length book you’ve been waiting so patiently for. Before you curse my name, the next book is still coming. I don’t do release dates in advance, for my own sanity, but it IS coming. (I waited as long as I could to release this story so there wouldn’t be as long a wait between this and the next full book.)

So, why write a short story at all, if I know you’re all going to curse my name for it?

As I mention in the foreword that probably nobody will read, at the end of book 5, there were a few threads left hanging. One of those threads really begged to be tied up, so much that it didn’t feel right just glossing over it in book 6. What I did not mention in the foreword is that I wouldn’t have been able to make progress on book 6 without giving Emma and Red Sun the space they needed to really work things out between them. Red, in particular, has some issues I hadn’t anticipated back when I finished book 5 and thought everything would be roses and happy threesomes, but Red has always been the hardest of the men to get a handle on. He seems so easygoing on the surface, but dude, he’s over three thousand years old. He’s been a respected warrior, he’s been a thief and a social pariah — he’s been cursed. He’s complicated.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me lay it down for you: I am one of “those” writers, for whom the characters and the world are totally real. This isn’t a game of make-believe where I pretend they’re real, ok? It’s my process. The game of make-believe, for me, is when I try to pretend it’s not real, like if I have this idea for a direction the story should go or something really cool to happen, and I try to figure out how to get there, but it doesn’t actually make any sense for the characters to do that.

And then nothing works and I am not safe to be around unless you have chocolate. But back to the topic at hand, what I’m saying, is that The Bear’s Surrender is a part of the story that had to be written, but was never destined to fit into either book 5 or book 6, because the conflict is all internal. Although it’s short compared to a novel (I know, I know — TOO short) it’s also too long to spend, within a novel, on just a few characters while there are other, bigger concerns. But these events were important to these characters, and so I had to write it.

Which leads me to the next Big Question: why are there sexy times in the books now?

(Some of you are scratching your heads and wondering, “why wouldn’t there be sex in the books?” Others don’t understand why book 5 featured on-page sex scenes at all. Yet others take vocal objection to whom those sex scenes involved, to which I can only say that when I try to make Emma and the gang do stuff that goes against the story, bad things happen and the writing slows down to nothing and you don’t get any new books. I actually, honestly thought the bacchanalia was going to go another way, ok? But it wasn’t meant to be.)

The books have always had adult content in them. Sex has always been a huge part of the story, right from the beginning. Book 1: Emma finds out she’s destined to get down and dirty with the jaguar king so he can own her magical powers. Sex is part of the prophecy. Magic is transferred and activated through touching, kissing, and biting, as well as more intimate emotional ties. This is a major theme of the series, and it’s touched upon in each and every book – maybe a little less in book 4, because everyone’s so busy trying not to die, but even then, Emma’s feelings and her relationships, and all the ties that bind her, are integral to the story.

Let me bold that for you: Emma’s feelings and her relationships are integral to the story. They always have been. They always will be.

That includes sex. Not ALL THE SEX, but there have been and will continue to be moments when a sex scene is an essential part of the story. Of course, just like in real life, not every intimate moment is life-changing or revelatory, and so the characters get to keep those moments to themselves, off-page. But when the sex scene is important to the characters in some way that goes beyond “whee happy fun times,” then the sex scene will happen on the page. There are and will continue to be sex scenes that represent a turning point in the characters’ emotional lives, or reveal something we didn’t know about them before, or something they didn’t know about themselves. And there are sex scenes so important that they change the course of the series (there was one in the last book, and there’s another one coming in the next book.)

Long story short, there were always going to be sex scenes in the Wild Rites Saga, and the only reason they aren’t in it from book 1 is because it wasn’t the right time, and I didn’t want to write sex scenes just for the sake of it.

So, I can promise there will never be sex scenes that don’t need to be there. I don’t write sex scenes because of commercial demand (I don’t need to, because I’m independently published) or to please certain readers or piss off other readers. I don’t write sex scenes to provide “filler” or titillation. I write what needs to be there on the page, and sometimes, my pretties, that’s a sex scene.