Writer Wednesday: Guest Author Vivian Arend, Excerpt and Giveaway!

From Thea: I’m very excited to have friend and fellow author Vivian Arend on my blog today!  Thank you, Viv, for stopping by to visit!

Vivian’s giveaway will run until 12 noon, MDT, Friday March 23rd.  Details follow at the end of the post:

Building worlds, building the future

When I wrote my first book I threw my characters together then figuratively stepped back to see what would happen next. The setting is real—Granite Lake cabin exists, as do all the other places visited in the Granite Lake and Takhini books. But I pretty much started this writing gig as a pantser, one of the author types who just writes and writes and in the end I find the story. It’s not the right way for some authors to work, but it wasn’t a bad way for me to begin.

And then…IT happened. I had to write the second book. While I could still wing it on parts of the story, I had a few more restrictions to follow. Ie, I had the setting blocked out—same place as book 1, small outside trips allowed, but now I also had a few characters with KNOWN history that had to be kept straight. Anything that had made it to print was locked in.

Simple example—if a character mentions in book 1 they don’t like chocolate, I can’t casually have them sipping hot cocoa by the fire in book 2. Those kind of details I can make a list of at some point—I just want to be consistent. Discovering the heroine had dyed her hair green at one point to annoy her mother—that’s a fun part of pantsing.

More difficult arises when what I like to call the “Holy Moly What Was I Thinking?” throwaway line disaster occurs. These are the things that either seemed like a good idea at the time…(and if I had a penny for every time I’ve done something that seemed like a good thing…sheesh) or the things I didn’t even know would end up being a THING.

Watch this trickle-down effect: That first ever book was WOLF SIGNS. The heroine is deaf, and she’s totally unaware of the existence of werewolves. The hero and his kid brother TJ have surprised her by showing up at the remote cabin where she’s vacationing. It’s a public place, but this isn’t a typical first time meeting, exasperated by their communication problems and the fact the hero has recognized her as a fellow shape-shifter.


Robyn spotted the notepad and pencil she’d left out earlier. She tapped it and motioned for him to sit beside her.

You talk and I’ll write. You need to make sure I see your face.

“I’m Keil and that’s my brother, TJ.”

Robyn Maxwell from Whitehorse.

“I’m sorry we frightened—”

Robyn interrupted him by waving a hand in the air and starting to write. It was an accident. I couldn’t hear you and I wasn’t paying attention. Tell TJ I’m sorry I pulled my knife on him.

Keil rotated around to face his brother. Robyn watched as TJ drew up a chair opposite her and held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Robyn,” he said drawing out his words in an exaggerated manner.

Oh goodie. TJ was an idiot. Robyn glared at him and shook his hand hard enough to make him pull back in surprise. She grabbed the pad.

I’m deaf, not stupid. Don’t talk weird for my sake. She flipped the pad around to let him read it while she took another drink.

This was the hard way to get to know people. It was much easier when her brother Tad was along, because she could talk to him and he’d pass on messages and it would end up feeling natural and not this ridiculous slow process. She sighed and grabbed the pad back. Keil laid a soft hand on her arm to get her attention and a curious sensation raced through her body.

Heat slid from his hand to her arm, tickling, tingling. What was that all about? She looked down at his hand and felt the warmth still radiating, small bursts of electricity racing up her arm and making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. He gave a slight squeeze to get her attention and she glanced up at his face.

“What pack?”

She pulled back in confusion and shrugged.

“Robyn, you said you live in Whitehorse. Are you Takhini or Miles Canyon pack?”

Here it was again. What was he talking about? It was too bad he seemed to be slightly crazy because he was the hottest thing on two legs she’d ever seen.

She hoped he was fun crazy and not kill-people-in-the-middle-of-the-night crazy. Writing a short note she tossed the pad toward him as she got up from the table. Putting on her coat, she took a final quick glance his direction before heading outside for a breath of air.

Yup, he was hot. Out of his mind, but very easy on the eyes. Smelt yummy too. She ignored the strange throbbing sensation in her limbs and forced herself to walk outside.


As the door closed behind her, Keil pulled the pad nearer and read it out loud to TJ.

Takhini is a hot spring. Miles Canyon is where I canoe. A pack is what I carry my gear in. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m getting ready for bed. The sauna has coals if you want it. I will talk to you tomorrow. Good night.

“You think she really doesn’t know she’s a werewolf?” TJ asked.

“Why would she have any reason to pretend? I don’t understand. She’s full-blood wolf from what I smell.”

“Me too.”

Keil drummed his fingers on the table. She not only smelt like wolf, but another scent flowed from her that tickled the back of his brain and went straight to his cock.

The scent of his mate.


Most of that scene was an attempt by me to set up a cute response from the heroine that would show a little bit about the real world of the Canadian Yukon territory. Whitehorse is the largest city, with Takhini hotsprings just on the north city limits, and Miles Canyon on the south. Keil asking which pack she belonged to means—drum roll, please—there are two packs right on top of each other.

But after WOLF SIGNS went to print I realized that most werewolves are very territorial and there’s no WAY two packs would share a city like that. Not very willingly. One sentence, and suddenly I have a history problem on my hands.

Which means when I start the Takhini Wolves series, which is set in Whitehorse, I have the unification of the two packs as an overall theme. I have past bad blood between the packs to make them split (which shows up in Granite Lake books in characters leaving the city and moving to new locations) plus I have to remember the pack dynamics would be known in the entire north…and every book I write in the series adds more levels of information.

I need a spreadsheet to write down notes so I don’t forget!

If it seems like keeping track of and finding and organizing all those details is a complicated thing, it really isn’t. Because it’s my job to do the work. If I do it right, what you as a reader will notice is that the story flows. That you enjoy the conversations and action. That there’s nothing to jar you from the adventure or from enjoying seeing the characters fall in love happening before you.

So now, whether I write paranormal or contemporary romance, I’m far more aware of how what I say in one book will continue to impact the rest of my world. Good thing I think getting it right is a lot of fun.


Vivian Arend is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with red-hot contemporaries and light-hearted paranormal series. She often takes off gallivanting around the globe for months at a time, but you can track her down a few places—

 Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


If you’d like to try the first book in one of my series, leave a comment with your choice for a chance to win. Do you notice world building details? Especially in series? And the first books you can choose from are:

 Wolf Signs: Granite Lake Wolves #1 (Paranormal, novella)

Black Gold: Takhini Wolves #1 (Paranormal novel)

Rocky Mountain Heat: Six Pack Ranch #1 (Contemporary cowboys novel)


16 Responses

  1. Sheri Moore says:

    This series sounds great! Sign me up Scottie!

  2. Yami says:

    That s interesting facts, and I have noticed that within books! Its always nice to suddenly see this new world your in, and try to pick things out. Its definitely interesting and fun to see things flow and remember you’ve seen/read this before.

    I think I’d like to try Black Gold if I win.. wolves are always a fun read.

  3. Phyllis M says:

    Thanks for your insight, Vivian, into how the storyline/characters in a first book can so affect everything that comes later. Truly helpful. I would love the first book in the Takhini wolves story. As to your questions, yes to both of them. World builing is a necessity to me as that sets up the tapestry in which the story unfolds. Without it, an integral part of the tale is missing. For a series, I like when the world builing continues to show us new things we hadn’t known before in subsequent books. It keeps things fresh and exciting! Thank you for the opportunity and have a great day, ladies!

  4. Hey Viv,

    you already know I’m a huge fan of yours 🙂

    Yes, I think world building is always important, I know JR Ward does an excellent job in the 1st book in the Black Dagger series.

    I always enjoy yours too because you provide enough details that the reader fully understands the background and what’s going on without having to wade through a bunch of useless information. You have a good balance.

    If I win, I need Black Gold – already have the other 2.

  5. Melissa B says:

    Hey, Viv!
    Please don’t enter me, I have all these, but this is a fav subject of mine, so HAVE to comment!

    World building can make all the difference to me with a series…it can take a series that I might have felt luke warm about and grab me by the throat and pull me in…case in point, JR Ward’s Angel series. I was so meh about it, but she’ so damn good at pulling you in…and Larissa Ione. There are so many great world builders out there, but the world Larissa has built in her Demonica series stands out…it’s so vivid and REAL when I’m reading her books that as soon as I open the page to the next book I’m sucked right back in…I smell it, taste it, FEEL it…on the other hand, if your world is so complex and overwhelming you’re loosing me in a miasma of details and I’m having to flip back pages (or scroll back) and loosing track of the hero/heroine because my brain is about to explode from info overload, yeah, I’m probably not going to go w/ book 2. Ooh, and I have to also say that Karen Marie Moning ~ of course everybody loves Baron ~ BUT I didn’t at first. I was SO pissed because she went 1st person ~ I am so not a 1st person reader, and I’ve followed her romances since day 1…but she got me with her superb world building. It’s so freakin’ great, you don’t get even notice the story is all told from Mac’s POV…I mean you do, but it’s not distracting…lol, if that makes sense!

  6. Julie says:

    I usually don’t notice too many world building details the first time I read a book, but that’s probably because it’s drawn me in so well! The second read-through is usually a closer one, so that’s when I notice all the tiny little details that make a book real to me.

  7. Laurie says:

    Great post, these sound awesome, I will be checking them out! I do notice world building and love to see what authors create. I’m always amazed at the imagination authors have and how it pulls you into their world. Thanks for the giveway too!

  8. Katherine says:

    I would love to try either Wolf Signs or Black Gold (I’m a PRN fan). I love fining new authors and stories, and knowing something about the voice behind the story. Thank you for taking the time to share.
    World building is very important to me as a reader. It is a large part of what allows me to be transported into the story, to a different place and state of mind. When done well, not only is there a suspension of disbelief but a rebuilding of reality. For the duration of your reading, that world is a real place. And if expanding the world isn’t a worthy achievement, than I don’t know what is. 🙂

  9. Viki S. says:

    The Granite Lake Wolves sound wonderful. How do I pronounce Keil? It’s stupid but if I don’t get it write while reading it tends to drive me crazy ;).

  10. Myranda says:

    I’ve read Wolf Signs and loved it so I would love a copy of Black Gold. Thank you so much!

  11. Vivian Arend says:

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone.

    Phylilis–that’s an awesome point, about continued reveals in subsequent books. I love that as well.

    Viki: I pronounce it like Neil with a K. Hmm, it also sounds like the keel of a boat–lol–not that Keil is ANYthing like that!

  12. Lisa B says:

    Vivian, I am a big fan of your work. I’ve read quite a few of your books but there are always more to catch up on it seems. I really admire authors who can build up a world for their character and keep track of everything and bring it all to life.

    I would love to try Granite Lake Wolves #1

    Thanks Vivian!

    Lisa B

  13. Hannah says:

    Sounds fascinating! I shall have to put you on my authors to read pile! :p

  14. Vanessa N. says:

    World building is important because it is what helps me to get more connected to the characters. I’d like Rocky Mountain Heat: Six Pack Ranch #1.


  15. Alaina says:

    for me it depends.. if its set in our world then i dont need every little thing explained… but if theyre set in an alternate, then i like to know more details..
    (i would like either one of the wolf ones – especially the Black Gold one… they both look great!!)

  16. Good worldbuilding can make or break a book in my opinion. I’ve fallen in love with books with a so-so plot but outstanding worldbuilding. I just love the way an author can put together all these little pieces and make it into something cohesive.

    Since I’ve already read Wolf Signs (*thumbs up*), I’d love to get my hands on Black Gold.