Sometimes I wonder if, while looking and dreaming about a kick asses heroines, we lost something along the road. Grace, patience, manners. I found that some (I don’t want to say often) Heroines are an alpha males (I’m thinking all the more aggressive and negative traits of them) with boobs. Well, it’s nice and refreshing finding an author who sees Heroines like I do: strong, capable, nobody’s fool, but feminine at the same time. You know, one does not exclude the other. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean being a man just as being caring and polite doesn’t make a guy any less of a man. So I’m particularly happy to have my friend Holly Bargo here with me again, and she’ll talk about another one of her series. As always when she’s here, she’ll lead the post.
The Series is Tree of Life by Holly Bargo, a Paranormal series.
The Tree of Life trilogy wasn’t meant to be a series. Coming off a decade’s hiatus from writing, I began to dabble once again with creative writing. I began with a still-unfinished novel based on a favorite story: The Phantom of the Opera. It satisfied something in me to be writing again.
Acute depression and stress kill creativity.
However, that story wasn’t enough. I wanted magic. I wanted a heroine who wasn’t always a victim. I wanted a heroine who could kick ass. I wanted a heroine who could be what I’d like to be. So, I created Rowan Nemed.
There’s a lot of me in Rowan, too much for my mother’s comfort. Rowan, however, is nobody’s fool, nobody’s chump, and nobody’s wilting violet. Neither is she brassy, rude, or promiscuous. I have a “thing” against promiscuity in my heroes and my heroines. What Rowan does have is a whole lot of self-respect and reserved, sardonic humor.
Because I wallow in paranormal and fantasy stories, I made Rowan one of faerie kind, a.k.a. the fae. A quick Google search of Nemed will take you to Irish folklore of an eldritch race who populated Ireland before the better known Tuatha de Danann.
So, yeah, I like Celtic folklore, too, for all my ignorance of it.
Rowan was my first self-published book. In my teens and twenties, I received rejection after rejection submitting manuscripts to publishers. Some editors were kind enough to reply with personal notes of encouragement, but mostly I suffered the same fate as other aspiring authors: form letters. When ebooks gained traction around 2010, I resisted. I preferred the feel of a printed book. Then I got a Kindle for Christmas and jumped on the ebook bandwagon. At the same time, a friend of mine had begun publishing her books.
When I finished Rowan, I self-edited once, twice, three times. I recruited a couple of beta readers and addressed the issues they found with the manuscript. Then I embarked upon a new era of digital self-publishing in February 2014.
Rowan isn’t my best book, but it will always remain my favorite.
Nearly a century ago, Rowan Nemed died by lightning strike. The divine bolt ignited something magic and she was transformed into something rare, powerful, and fey: sidhe. Sidhe survival depends much upon one’s ability to remain hidden from other supernatural creatures and magic users who would exploit them. Rowan has lived for several years in the pressure cooker of Hollywood as a set designer, carefully staying away from the camera. However, a spontaneous act of recognition for her work brings Rowan to the notice of Los Angeles’ supernatural community and her freedom is threatened. Lion shifter Adrian and vampire Simon are best friends and business partners. When they discover Rowan, each wants her for his own. Rowan does her best to dissuade them, for a supernatural matebond means the end of her freedom. Then demons begin hunting sidhe and Rowan is a prime target. She agrees to exchange her freedom for survival. But which male will Rowan accept? And can she survive when one of them dies in a battle to keep her?
While writing Rowan, the characters of Cassia and Willow called out for their own books. That had never happened before. Regardless, finishing the first book opened the floodgates and the creative juices flowed. I cranked out a couple more before tackling Cassia. Cassia is my longest published book to date. This book isn’t my best either and the plot incorporates everything, including the kitchen sink. However, those few people who have read it seem to like it. The pace advances like a steamroller and, again, my heroine matures with strength, savvy, and dignity. A thread of humor runs through that story, too.
Google Cassia’s last name, Firbolg, and you’ll get results for more Celtic folklore.
Stuck in steamy Bangkok managing a client’s convention, sidhe Cassia Firbolg meets mercenary soldier Vladislav Ruzcik. Vlad’s heart recognizes her as his mate and he immediately sets out to claim her as such, bonding their souls together. Cassia doesn’t realize that he’s a werewolf and that he’s claimed her until it’s too damned late.
But there are others who want Cassia, too. A crime lord wants to add a lovely blonde to his collection of captives. Demons hunger and hunt for sidhe flesh and side magic. Even Ares, the Greek god of war, is smitten with her.
Vlad does his utmost to protect his wife and raise a family. But even a mighty werewolf must succumb to time. Cassia must find the strength to survive the dissolution of one matebond to accept the saving force of another.
After finishing Cassia, I began Willow, the last “branch” of the Tree of Life. Unlike Rowan and Cassia, Willow is young—in her early twenties—and naïve, a true innocent. As you can see, I stuck with the tree-based theme. Unlike Rowan and Cassia, Willow’s immortality doesn’t confer more than one true love: she gets one big badass of a shifter-fae hybrid, the only one of his kind. Willow’s inexperience doesn’t hinder her ingenuity or intelligence, even when she has to take a back seat to her mate’s greater skill, knowledge, and experience. I rather like Willow. She and her mate form more of a partnership than the other two heroines with theirs.
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Willow should have taken heed of that familiar warning, because she wanted Dane’s attention and then got it. She wasn’t ready.
On assignment protecting a paranoid client at a convention, Dane Karl has finally found his mate, a very young sidhe ill-equipped to deal with a legendary mercenary warrior, fierce weretiger, and powerful sidhe all wrapped up in one big, badass package.
His plan for a slow courtship ruined by the catastrophe that destroys the conference hotel, he claims Willow as his mate to keep her safe from the demons hunting sidhe flesh and sidhe magic. Willow must find her strength to stand up to her legendary husband’s overbearing ways, deal with the shade of his long dead, sidhe wife, and survive the demons after them.
Can an ancient warrior learn to love? Can a young, untried sidhe find her strength?
This is the third and final book of the Tree of Life trilogy.
I’d like to think that my writing improves and strengthens with each book in the trilogy. I didn’t really hit my stride until the Russian Love series. That’s where I found my groove as a storyteller, learning better to keep a plot on track and my writing taut. I continue to build on that and other lessons learned to hone my skill as a storyteller.
The covers of each book differ. Rowan’s cover designer, a graphic artist, is the daughter of the aforementioned self-published friend. She did a lovely job, but some time after delivery I went back to her with a question. She responded in a less than polite manner—and copied her mother rather than conduct business as one professional to another. I didn’t go back to her for the covers of the second and third books of the trilogy.
I found the cover designers for the second and third books on Fiverr. The design for Cassia is otherworldly: it enchants me. I should have gone back to him for the cover for Willow, but didn’t. The design for the second book went through several iterations because the designer didn’t bother to collect information from me first as to what I had in mind.
I should have stuck with graphic designer number two.
Lessons learned and all that. I published all three “branches” of the Tree of Life through CreateSpace, which no longer functions. The books, however, remain available in both print and ebook formats through Amazon
About Holly Bargo
Holly Bargo is the author’s pseudonym and really did exist. The name was the registered name of a temperamental Appaloosa mare with an interesting pedigree. The mare no longer lives except in memory. Holly continues to keep horses in her life, currently an ancient Morgan mare, a young Morgan monster … er … mare, and a mature, sassy Halflinger cross pony mare that really needs a home with children who will ride her and pay her lots and lots of attention. Holly and her husband live on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with a clowder of cats, one llama, and one big sissy of a Great Dane. They have two children, both grown.