Author Takeover Provided by Gillian St. Kevern

Happy Wednesday Scribblers.  As promised, this week I step aside and allow fellow author Gillian St. Kevern to take over my Scribble Page and talk about her new novel Morgen Prince and share a little about her gender and sexually ambivalent character Duhywynt.

Without further ado, take it away Gillian.


Thank you, M.D. Neu, for hosting me on your blog! I’m especially glad you invited me to talk about my experiences writing about a character who is ambivalent toward his gender. As you’ll find out, writing Morgen Prince was something of a personal milestone for me. Being able to share that means a lot. 

A little background: Morgen Prince is the fourth book in my Deep Magic series, an urban fantasy set in North Wales and blending the magic of story telling with the world of morgen, Welsh sirens. While the first and third books focus on the relationship between a human witch and a morgen prince, this is the first book narrated by Duhywynt (commonly known as Dewey), the aforementioned prince’s younger brother. 

Dewey prefers hanging out with seals to interacting with people, finds dresses more comfortable to swim in than jeans, has a complicated friendship with Myfanwy, the newest witch on the cliffs and the only human he finds tolerable, and has a deep distrust of romantic relationships due to being starved of affection by his cruel grandfather, an evil King. In the five years since Deep Magic, Duhywynt’s been forced to attend school and received a crash course in human customs and societal expectations--and frankly, he’s having none of it. He would still prefer to be living in the ocean, hanging out with seals. 

I expected writing Morgen Prince to be a lot harder than it was. This story has been coming ever since Duhywynt splashed his way onto the pages of Deep Magic. He is blunt to the point of rudeness, easily outraged, suspicious and dismissive of anything he doesn’t immediately understand, and clings to his erroneous assumptions, but underneath his hard exterior, he retains this wonderful kindness and innocence, and is fiercely protective of his animal friends.

Deep Magic was published in 2015. Morgen Prince written late 2017, and I’m only publishing it now, after a long period of dithering. Why did it take so long? Well, I got a bit hung up on the fact that Duhywynt is ambivalent about his gender and sexuality, and I wasn’t sure where exactly he fit on the spectrum. I wanted to get the experience right so much that fear of messing it up made me procrastinate on the story. When I finally decided I had to write what was right for Duhywynt, everything came together really quickly. There were a few sticking points, a few dead ends, but they had more to do with Duhywynt’s emotional development arc, than his identity. Actually, Duhywynt was incredibly easy to write.

As it turned out, that should have been my first clue. After I tidied up the first draft of Morgen Curse and sent it to an editor, I got caught up in the usual end of year nonsense complicated by a birthday, a lot of dog-sitting, and a chance encounter with a critique group. The woman leading it looked at me, looked at the other person present and said, ‘wow, we’ve inadvertently formed an all-queer critique group.’ The immediate feeling of relief was overwhelming--and really unexpected. I identify as bisexual and asexual, but neither label really feels like it fits me. As I never expected to act on either one, I didn’t feel like I was queer enough to be allowed to call myself queer. Although I’d never shared my sexuality with her, this woman’s comment freed me, unlocking something for me, and set me off on a journey, questioning how well I knew myself. 

The edits on Morgen Prince came back during this period, and I was astonished by how much of my own gender ambivalence and ambiguity about my sexuality was present in the story. In writing Duhywynt’s struggles, I’d been grappling with my own truths. It’s always a little scary when you realize how much of you is in your writing, but I think it’s important to be able to put yourself out there at times. 

It’s also incredibly important that we tell stories and share experiences from all over the LGBTQ spectrum. I didn’t see any experiences like mine in the media, fiction or even social media I consumed, and so I came to the conclusion that my experiences were less valid than other peoples or so not representative of being queer that I wasn’t helping anyone by sharing them. I now hope Morgen Prince will empower and encourage people still exploring their identity.  


Author Bio: 

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Gillian St. Kevern is the author of the Deep Magic series, the Thorns and Fangs series, the For the Love of Christmas series, and standalone novels, The Biggest Scoop and The Wing Commander's Curse. Gillian currently lives in her native New Zealand, but spent eleven years in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries.
 
As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. She's not afraid to let her characters make mistakes or take the story in an unexpected direction. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride. Both Deep Magic and The Biggest Scoop were nominated for Best LOR story in the 2015 M/M Romance Groups Member's Choice awards. Deep Magic also received nominations in Best Cover, Best Main Character and Best Paranormal, while The Biggest Scoop was nominated for Best Coming of Age. 


Morgen Prince Blurb: 

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Duhywynt’s only weapon against the world will cost him everyone he cares about.
 
Duhywynt plans to spend his summer catching the legendary Ceffyl Dŵr and swapping make-up tips with his best friend, Myfanwy—until he discovers his older brother has traded his morgenau heritage for mortality. Worse, Myrhydion is far more concerned with Duhywynt’s lack of social life than his own untimely demise.Duhywynt will do anything to avoid losing him for ever, even if that means faking a friendship with Drew, a tourist.

As Drew’s fascination with Duhywynt grows, the prince discovers the deadly legacy of his morgenau heritage, emperilling his relationship with Myfanwy—a relationship with depths he is just beginning to understand. Can he overcome centuries of pain and embrace the unknown, or will his morgenau heritage claim another victim?

Get your copy by clicking here.


Social Media Links:

website click here.
Blog click here.
Facebook click here.
Twitter click here.

What is the Hardest part about Writing a Book – The Marketing

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Recently I was asked; What is the hardest part about writing a book? Without hesitation, my answer was marketing. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’m not the only one either. Most authors consider marketing in one form or another. Especially after your book has been out for a while. Sales start to drop off and all the excitement of the launch has worn away. So now what?  How do you continue to get your book noticed?

There is no one answer and things can be even more challenging for non-romance gay books.

Here’s the thing. How do you market a non-romance gay book? Gay Romance is a huge market and everything gay seems to be lumped under that umbrella. Last week I found out that my book The Calling is 96th on the Best Gay Vampire Book list (click here), which is part of Best M/M romance featuring gay vampires… um what? I thought my book was a vampire book, not an M/M romance.

Don’t get me wrong, this is exciting and I’m so thankful and grateful especially since I’m a new author with only a few works published. You can find them all here. This free publicity is amazing and I’m hopeful it will be helpful as well, especially with marketing.

However, anyone who has read my book knows it isn’t a gay romance. That’s not what I wrote, yet that is how it is classified. This is a bit of an issue because there is this thing called false advertising and I never want to be criticized for that.

How do I market a non-romance gay book?

I did a Google search asking that question. All that comes up is how to market a gay romance and if straight authors should write gay romance. It definitely defeated the purpose of the question.

So, I went back to the Vampire lists, and I found other lists. Such as Best Vampire Books from “New” Authors, (click here). The Calling is 482nd. Go me! One of the other lists that made me chuckle is Great Vampire Books that Aren’t Twilight (click here). The Calling is 382nd. Also, The Calling is 23rd on the January 2018 MM Releases list (click here).  So, I’m using this news to create a bit of a buzz about my book. I’ve sent out a Facebook post to see if I can get more people to vote for The Calling on those lists. On May 1st I sent out an email blast to my subscribers to see if they would vote for The Calling on these lists.  All to move my book higher on these lists.

Notice, I’m only talking about The Calling and not A Dragon for Christmas or The Reunion. That is because I’m trying to figure out what works so I can duplicate it for these books. This might also be an issue. Should I be marketing all three together?  I’m not sure.

Now back to these Goodreads Lists. Why are they important (or why do I consider them important)? Because to be lumped in with such books as; Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles), Dracula, the Sookie Stackhouse Series, ‘Salem’s Lot, and, even the Twilight Series? Tells potential readers that this book has substance. It also means that The Calling (and soon to be The Calling Two) even though they have a gay main character are of the same caliber as these amazing works and not a vampire sexcapade. This is a difficult stigma to break considering that Gay Romance and Gay Erotica are so popular. It is also what most people imagine when you mention you write LGBTQA Fiction. Ugh... but that whole topic is for another day.

Why these lists, well they are some of the best free marketing, they can help drive sales, and they get my book noticed.

The Calling being number one in any of these categories or being in the top 100 allows me bragging rights and is something I can advertise. Trust me, I will be.  Right now I’m working on ads to capitalize on these lists and this news.

Some additional marketing strategies I’ve been doing: Getting more reviews. Lining up interviews and speaking opportunities. Having fellow Authors on my Scribbles Page. Trying to be more engaging on Social Media (not talking about my books but other topics). Joining Author Groups were we share ideas about marketing and public relations.  

So, yes, the hardest part about writing a book is the marketing. It’s not the writing or the publishing (although both take time and are a lot of work).

Do you have any suggestions on ways to market non-romance gay book? Do you know anyone who loves vampires and witches send them the link to my book (click here)?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Until next week have an amazing week.

April Writing Updates

Scribblers!  I hope you’re all doing well today.  I figured I would provide a few updates today and see where this takes us.

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Update Number One: Last week as some of you may have seen I was a guest on WROTE Podcast.  We had a great conversation about writing, marketing non-gay romance books, and how gay is cross culture, cross race and cross economics.  If you haven’t checked it out click here to go to the show.  It was a lot of fun, so go listen to it you’ll enjoy it.

Update Number Two: This last weekend I finished the first chapter of The Calling – Book Two. What you haven't read The Calling yet (click here to get your copy) As a special treat for you today here are the first four paragraphs for you to sink your fangs into.

I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds and yellows danced around the logs releasing a warmth that barley penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling sound tickled my ears as the scent of burning oak lingered in and out of my conscious.  A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me. Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.

“What are you thinking?”  Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my thoughts.

How long had I been like this? A minute, a day, a year. I wasn’t sure.  I turned from the fire.  Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases. All of Juliet’s tombs and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery.  They were little help last time. I sipped my brandy hoping it would take the chill from my soul.

I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye: patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her eyes there was unease. Despite her worry, in moments like this, she seemed so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.

Keep in mind this might change and, of course, I had to remove spoilers from the last book. You never know know who might be reading. I suggest you keep an eye out because I may share more of the story as I write it.

Update Number Three: Next week (May 1st) I’ll be taping an interview with the guys over at How Authors Work.  Check out their recent podcast here.  It should be a lot of fun. We’ll be talking about the writing process, publishing, and all that. I will keep you posted on when the show airs.

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Update Number Four: I’ve been invited to take part on a panel of LGBTQ authors for Pride Month. The event will be on June 25th. County Supervisor Ken Yeager is slated to kick off the event. It should be a lot of fun and as the event gets closer I’ll be sharing more information.  If you’re in the area I hope you’ll be able to stop by.  Again, more details to follow.

Update Number Five: Over the last several weeks I’ve been working on some marketing materials for The Calling.  I can’t wait to share these with you. I think they are turning out great.  So, again more info to follow.

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Update Number Six: On a personal note I wanted to share with you all that I’ve picked up two new books to read. I can’t wait to dig into them.  One is 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson and the others is Bones and Bourbon by fellow NineStar Press author Dorian Graves. This is Dorian’s debut novel so go check it out (here is the link) we’ve been chatting about her book and I’m excited to read it.  Once I finish her novel, I’ll be giving it a full review here. In addition, I want to see if I can get Dorian over to do an interview. Here is where you can find Dorian, go show her some love, she’s amazing find her here

Well Scribblers, that’s all for this week.  Have a great week.  Did I miss something?  Is there something you wanted me to mention but didn’t?  Let me know down in the comments below.  Also, I was thinking about doing another ‘Five Things About Me’ blog.  Lastly, give me a heads up if that is something you want me to do again (here is the last one) and if you have any personal questions for me.

My Review and Thoughts on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Love Simon

Hey Scribblers, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry about that.  I got hit by the flu that is going around and between dragging my butt to work and trying to get better I didn’t have the time or the energy.

And of course I pick Tax week (well if you’re in the US) to return. Maybe, I should have stayed away a few more days? Ah well.

Just a quick announcement before we dive in.  This week I will be a guest on WROTE Podcast (check them out here), we are going to talk about marketing a LGBTQ book when it’s not romance or erotica, reminding people that gay is cross-cultural, gender, and economics, and I’ll share some of my own journey as a writer.  It comes out this Friday. I will keep you posted.  

Now let’s jump into this week’s topic. One of the things I did manage to do while I was under the weather was read the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I also went to see the movie Love Simon before it leaves theaters.  It was nice to read the book first then see the movie and see what was changed.  

Below is my review of the book and after that I’ll talk about the movie.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The book is an LGBTQ Young Adults story.  It’s about Simon a ‘straight’ teen who is struggling with coming out and facing his gayness.  Simon is surrounded by an amazing family, school, and friends.  His struggle is more internal than external.  The book starts with Simon being blackmailed by another student, Martin, who read and took photos of Simon’s email exchange with another gay student only known as Blue.  The story focuses on how Simon deals with the blackmail while trying to navigate his own emotions and his developing online relationship with Blue.

This was a well written story.  It flowed nicely and was a quick read. However, in my opinion, there were many ignored opportunities in the story and I found it missing the mark in many places (his relationship with his family, his standing in school, his relationship with his friends, and even his relationship with his teachers). When the book ended I was left with neither a positive feel for the book nor a negative feel for the book. Maybe, I’m jaded. I don’t know, but what I do know is, this book reflected nothing of what life is like. There was an opportunity here for the writer to dive in deeper to the issues of coming out, what it means to Simon and Blue and what it means to their families, but we got none of that (in a way that is nice, but still not realistic). Perhaps, this lack of realism is what people want when it comes to the LGBTQ community and its youth. I’m not sure. Still, considering how much everyone loves this book I’m probably in the minority with my thoughts.

Basically, this story reads to me like an old ABC After School Special.  Where everything is perfect and by the end the world is changed but life is still great for the characters and everyone could have a nice hug afterwards.

I wanted to fall in love with the characters and I wanted to feel for them, but they all lived in this ideal world were even the drama that was created fell flat for me. I had to ask myself what kind of life did the author live? Did she even know any gay teens, gay men, or gay women? Not even the Blackmailer was very nasty. Did she really live in this wonderful world where everyone reacted the way they should and no one was trying to be mean or hurtful? 

Because I want to live there too.

Regarding the main character Simon. Ugh, here we go again. Simon is this perfect jock type (even though he’s not a jock) who doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer through the underbelly of High School. His friends all adore him as does his family. I loved seeing a well adjusted gay teen character, but he like the rest of this world that Becky Albertalli created was unbelievable. Honestly, I swear, I didn’t want an emo character filled with self-loathing who was being tortured, but it would have been nice to see him based in a little more reality. Ah well.

Overall, I couldn’t believe in the characters or the story.  It was just too impeccable for me and nothing about it struck home.  All this said. I didn’t hate the book I gave it:

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Now, let’s talk about the movie Love Simon.  The writers of the movie took this lack luster book and amped up the drama and tension.  Simon was still this perfect character with the perfect family but when it came to his suffering and drama (even the Blackmail) the reactions seemed so much more real to me.  The characters were kind of what I pictured them to be and the seemly perfect world they all lived in was somehow I little more believable. I enjoyed the character interactions and I even enjoyed how the characters reacted to all the events that unfolded in the story.  The movie, to my surprise, felt more real and honest than the book.  I even enjoyed the ending of the movie more than the book and that really surprised me.

In this rare case, the movie was far better than the book.

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With all this said.  I want to add, that my husband both loved the book and the movie. He didn’t understand why I was just meh on the book.  So, even in my own home I’m on the outside. I will say this for both the book and the movie I’m happy to see that both did so well and became popular, making a big splash in the main stream media. That says a lot. It is something that we should all celebrate.

I would love to hear what you all think of the book and the movie.  Leave your comments below and tell me how far off I am. I don’t mind, I’ve been on the outside a lot when it comes to movies and books.

Until next week have a great week.

Happy Good Friday, Passover, Caesar Chavez Day, Easter and April Fool’s Day… did I miss anything?

It’s Good Friday, the start of Passover and Caesar Chavez Day. What an amazing trifecta.  Also, this Sunday is not only Easter but it’s also April Fool’s Day.  In the span of three short days we are cramming together five holidays.  It’s nuts, but what that means for me is I’m going to be busy. So, I’m posting this special Blog post on my Scribbles page today.

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Firstly, I want to wish everyone a wonderful Good Friday and Easter. I hope you all get to spend some time with your family and enjoy the break if you get one.

Secondly, to my wonderful Jewish friends out there.  Happy Passover. May this week-long celebration bring you joy and time with family.

Thirdly, don’t forget to remember Caesar Chavez and reflect on all the wonderful work he did. Especially when it comes to improving the health and safety of our agricultural industry works today.

Lastly, with April Fool’s Day right around the corner beware.  You never know what ‘friends’ are planning. 

As a special treat today, an author friend of mine CH Clepitt (check her out here) asked if she could jump over and do a mini blog takeover today to announce a couple of fun items she has coming up and to share some amazing books.

Take it away CH


Thanks, MD here goes:

My Fantasy Bookshop

People have fantasy sports teams, fantasy movie casts etc., well, I have a fantasy bookstore. If I had unlimited money I would set up a bookstore to feature all of my favorite indies.  So many writers I have discovered through writing groups and social media are just brilliant, and it is a constant battle to get the word out for them.  The market is saturated by so much utter trash, how do you sort the good stuff from the just plain terrible?  Hopefully my fantasy bookstore has done a bit of the work for you.  There are so many brilliant indie books to choose from, and Marvin did tell me not to go crazy on words, so I’m just gunna do my front display table of books I’ve particularly enjoyed.

On display I would have:

  • Jade by Rose Montague (click here).  Awesome urban fantasy, strong MC, funny and fun.
  • Darkly Dreaming by Chloe Hammond (click here).  Brilliant take on Vampires, not young and sexy. Well written, smart and funny, check it out.
  • The Rose Thief by Claire Buss (click here). If you like Terry Pratchett you’ll love this. Very British humor, fab story, very funny.
  • Fracture: Divergence by Erik Schubach (click here). In an interview I said that this was the best thing I’d read this year, and whilst it’s only March, it’s still an endorsement.  It’s not great literature in any way shape or form, but it’s fun, fast paced and very entertaining. No matter what genre Erik turns his hand do he does it well, and he writes women very well. I enjoy his books much more than I thought I would!
  • My Name is Not Alice by Angelika Rust (click here). Young Adult fantasy which makes you think.  Also, there’s magic.
  • The Werewolf Whisperer Series by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez (click here) - strong female characters, humor and werewolves, what’s not to like?

Obviously, I would also include my book, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse (click here), which is fun, funny and has badgers.  It’s also free this Easter Weekend on Kindle, if you fancy grabbing it!

People who say authors are competition for each other have no clue how the indie community works.  The community of indie authors that I am a part of are so kind and supportive. Just check me out, doing a guest post, cos I asked and stuff… Really no clue what else I’m going to say… other than… oh… yes… I’m taking part in an Easter Egg hunt this Easter weekend! Eggciting. A group of fellow authors and moi (that’s me in French - didn’t know I was multilingual, did you? What do you mean, you’ve never heard of me?) will be hiding a series of clues across our websites.  Each egg will contain a letter, and the first person to unjumble the letters, and tell us what the word is, will win a real Easter Egg, and a bundle of eBooks from some fantastic authors! And that’s not all. Everyone who takes part gets the eBook of their choice, just for turning up.  Everyone’s a winner! The hunt starts here!


About CH Clepitt

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C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen.

Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010. In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers’ expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.


I won’t be posting anything this upcoming week, well maybe some poetry, but I will be back the week of April 9th. Remember if you want to help both Claire and I out, please like and share this post. Let me know how you celebrated all these holidays.  I would love to hear from you

Blog Takeover - SA "Baz" Collins

This week I’m pleased to welcome Author and co-Host of WROTE Podcast SA "Baz" Collins to my Blog. Let’s not waste any time and jump right in.

The Quagmire of Passing: When A Person of Color Eschews Heritage to Succeed

With the recent brouhaha over Persons of Color (PoC) being underrepresented across LGBT fiction (with a primary focus on the MM community of writers and publishers) and as a writer who is a person of color I decided now might be a good time to discuss this issue from a person of color point of view. I apologize for the length of this post, but this is a complicated issue and one that bears hearing out.

A little background before I really dig into it: I was born in the early sixties (at the height of segregation issues in society) to a Native American/White father and a deeply religious Latina mother. It was a different time. While my mother was second generation US citizen, she grew up seeing (if not wholly understanding) the differences that came to Mexican girls like herself when compared to her white girlfriends that attended her Catholic high school. My father moved to San Diego in his late teens with his older brother who enlisted with the Navy. Dad traded a life on the rez for an adventure in a big city with his brother. My uncle rented one end of a duplex owned by my mother’s family – that’s the setup of how my mother’s and father’s worlds collided.

To this point my mother led a very sheltered religious life. School, homework and chores made up her days. She had very few friends she saw outside of school. She just didn’t have the time – her parents worked very hard (her father during the day at the Naval base of North Island and her mother at night as a cleaning woman of a prominent bank). 

She met my father as she walked home from school one afternoon. As she passed his part of the duplex yard my father and his brother burst through the screen door (nearly sheering it off its hinges in the process) wrestling in mid-air. They hit the ground and continued to wrestle one another without missing a beat. My mom turned up her nose and thought, “Show-offs …”. She continued on but my father stopped for a moment in wrestling with his brother and thought, “That’s the girl I’m gonna marry.” He just knew. She never saw him coming, but when my father set his mind to something it usually happened. My mom never stood a chance. They eventually dated and my mom relayed to us years later that when he first kissed her it was like fireworks. He proposed and they remained engaged for eight years before marrying – because my father wanted to show her that commitment was important to him as it should be for her. Every time he kissed her she said the fireworks were still there; it was a fourth of July that continued during their thirty-six years of marriage when my father suddenly passed on the very same day as the Columbine massacre. During those years my father taught my mother many things. He opened her isolated world; he showed her the meaning of patience and temperance – Dad was solidly Indian in that way. He led by example, treated everyone fairly (even when he was not). Being Northeastern Woodland Natives (the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois)), our skin tones are much lighter than the more rustic tones of our plains or Southwestern brothers and sisters. In short, Dad could pass (being perceived as white) if he wanted to. My mother, whose parents were mestizo (her father darker complected and her mother lighter) also had the benefit of passing. This is important in how my world was shaped by them both and how the oppression and prejudice of white privileged peoples perceived my immediate family.

From the time I was born (the first, with a brother and sister who followed), I was all about talking. My mom had a low children’s table that had the alphabet with an animal or item that was representational for each letter, where I would sit at to eat my meals. From the time I made the attempt to speak we played the game of “What’s That” where she’d point to a letter and say “What’s that?” and I was to learn to say what the animal or thing was painted there. I learned so quickly that I began to turn the table around, as it were, and started asking her. Sometimes, to test me, she’d purposely answer wrong and I would correct her. But in every case she made sure I enunciated every word as clearly as I could. This is important. My Mexican mother, who grew up speaking Spanish fluently in her home, quashed from a young age any knowledge of her native tongue to ensure that I spoke clearly. She relayed it to the three of us years later that it was important that none of her children had any perceived accent native to our heritage. She didn’t want us growing up being perceived as anything but white. This was a hard call. You see my brother took on the darker skin tone of her father’s side of the family. My younger sister and I didn’t. We, my sister and I, could easily pass. My brother simply did not have that option. His skin prevented it. 

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My mother ensured as we grew up that we were exposed to things white people did. We went to symphonies, ballet and live performance theater. We were well behaved children in these scenarios and my parents were often complimented on how well we acted at such events during intermissions and such. My mother also made sure that while we could watch television, every weekend, without fail, we were front and center never to miss the latest Masterpiece Theater offering. 

We grew up as anglophiles. Let that sink in for a moment: a Native/Latino family immersed in British culture.

Oddly enough, the mainstay of our family diet was predominantly Mexican with a few of my father’s family recipes thrown in. We ate our collective culture even if we didn’t give it voice. I learned to cook all the family recipes from my abuelita but kept that knowledge solely within our family, rarely sharing it with close friends.

While we attended family functions on my mother’s side of the family which were deeply entrenched in Mexican customs and flavors, we visited that part of our heritage. We, as a family, dipped our toes in those waters but never really swam in them. That’s not to say we led a life where we weren’t loved by my mother’s relatives and included, we were just the odd three kids out. While my many cousins did things traditionally we generally kept to ourselves. All of this was done with the hope of my mother (and father) that we could escape the prejudice my cousins and their families often faced and we’d hear about during those family get togethers. And there were plenty of stories about how they were passed up for promotions at work, slighted for being a “beaner” at school, etc. The list went on and on. The sole exception to this upbringing – my sister did have a traditional Quinceañera. It was the lone cultural standout as we grew up, the one time we did something deeply traditional from my mother’s side of the family.  

Yet, as a young boy, I grew to have this cultural schism forming within me. Something was growing inside that I constantly grappled with but couldn’t for the life of me put to voice (and by the third grade I had a college reading level comprehension under my belt so, words weren’t usually a problem for me). I lived in words. I knew they had power. Something I observed that added to that schism forming within was born out of how my cousins, aunts and uncles talked. They often blended Spanish and English in a way that hurt my ears. Literally, if I heard them talk too long I’d sneak away to where I could find someplace peaceful so I didn’t have to hear it. 

We’d often go across the border to Tijuana (it was easy since we lived in a suburb of San Diego) and while I always liked looking and absorbing my Latino culture – especially the indigenous aspects, it never failed that by the time we left I was quiet, sullen and angry as we crossed back into the US. I hated that part of me, my heritage, was mired in filth, pandering to sell goods, with shabby looking shops and the kids I understood to be like me running up to sell us “chicle” (gum) in these little packages that were often as dirty as the kids who sold them. In essence, I grew up in despair of my Latino heritage. So I did everything I could to hide it from friends and acquaintances whenever I could. I purposely passed. So did my sister. It was just easier not to talk about it. Sometimes we’d get crap for it from other Latino kids who knew what we were. But generally we avoided them. We had to take Spanish in high school and struggled to master it while our Latino friends took the class as an easy A. It was a very frustrating time.

My brother, with his darker skin, couldn’t partake in passing. It made for a very screwed up childhood for him. He became bitter and often used humor in a passive-aggressive way to dig at people who slighted him. 

My father’s family lived on the rez and we would take trips there and I grew up to love the culture but to me it was like visiting Disneyland. Even though rez life was hardly filled with proper middle class homes, my excursions to that side of the family kept me from wandering around too much so it had that theme park feel to it. 

But still, I passed whenever I could. None of this is to say that my family life was horrid or emotionally damaging (on the surface) – I got along with everyone. I was well-liked, had many friends, and generally was happy growing up. The only stumbling block? Culture. 

I don’t blame my parents for any of this. I understand that they were doing what they thought best so their children could succeed in whatever we wanted to do without the trouble of being perceived as less, as being other. My sister and I got away with it. My brother became more bitter – to the point now where he has a drinking problem that probably stems from this imbalance we had growing up. The biting humor he spewed in our teen years escalated and started to affect the friends we had. I used to become angry with him for it, now I understand it. 

When I began to write stories, without question or pause, I created characters and worlds that were inherently all white. I did this without question. I never once stopped to ask myself, why not make him/her Mexican or African-American or Asian? No, I ran to white culture and mined my characters and their worlds from those Euro-centric nations. When I did include a Latina character in my current series (Angels of Mercy), she was the hired help – a cook. While many of my culture are in the service industry this was how I decided to include someone of my own culture: a side character that cooked for the affluent Italian family I’d created in Angels. Through one of my edits I stopped when I came to her character hitting the page and just sat there thinking to myself: WTBloodyF? I knew better. I thought I had grown up understanding the political and social economic constraints both sides of my family faced (on the rez for my dad’s side, and in Mexico on my mother’s). I went to college; I took world history. I got it. Or so I thought. Yet, there on the page was my own form of oppression and segregation. I became incensed with myself. I raged at my husband about how could I do such a thing. 

His response? “You’re a writer, fix it. You know what to do. Do it.”

So I did. I added characters as the series grew to become more reflective of the world I grew up in which had a solid mix of friends across all cultural boundaries. But I gotta tell you, all of this led to one serious inner debate of what passing had afforded me and took from me. It was a solid round of mental ass whooping I gave myself. Even my own pen name – SA Collins – I took from a character in a book I’ve yet to publish because I thought it might be a cute gimmick to have the character in the book tell his own story. That grew to letting “him” tell all my stories. He’s a white character. Can I write under another nom de plume? Sure. Can he be Latinx? Absolutely. And I probably will. But watching this whole debate going on in the queer publishing world right now over persons of color being under represented I knew I had contributed to it unknowingly. I just let it happen because on some level I still wanted my works to pass. 

Around the same time I started a podcast, The Wrote Podcast (check it out here), with two other authors. We discuss and celebrate authors who are trying to establish themselves in queer literary fiction (across all genres). From the beginning I did what I could to say in my own voice that I was an author of color (this was during that time when I’d discovered just how “white” Angels of Mercy had become). We often discuss things that aren’t easy topics. The purpose of the podcast is to allow an author in their own voice talk about their journey. I’ve learned so much from these discussions and these brilliant writers and content creators we’ve had on the show. I am hoping since this is the hot topic for the moment that we’ll get to discuss this topic with others. I even want to have these discussions with other non-PoC authors who are struggling with incorporating PoC characters within their works going forward. I want to encourage them to do so, to include us, front and center if the story will support it, so that over time we can dispel this underrepresentation that is going on. 

One amazing thing I’ve learned from being queer? That it reaches across all cultures and races. I’ve learned to embrace them all. I welcome their voices in my head and heart. I’ve learned just how entrenched the concept of passing can have on a person of color. I lived it. I allowed it to thrive. I know better now. But even with the best of intentions, in this case by my parents, the consequences of cultural oppression and casting of PoCs as other cannot be underestimated or denied. It is a complex problem that has to be worked through. The tough discussions have to be made. 

I’ve evolved and am doing my best to be better at it each time I consume or create media. I watch movies and TV shows told from a solid PoC point of view. I vote with my dollars for stories if I see they have PoC on the cover or in the blurb. I want to be the change I want to see in the world. I get excited when I come upon new works or new voices from that perspective. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up watching Euro-centric stories. I just pepper them in among the other stories I find myself enamored with. Not every author will “get it right” – do we ever despite how hard we try to research and ask for input? But I love when an author makes that choice. It’s a choice I’ve had to make, too. 

I’d like to thank M.D. Neu for allowing me to post on his site. I highly recommend his current novel The Calling (check it out here and buy it here) as it is a ripping good read. Keep an ear out in April for his appearance on our podcast which promises to be a great conversation!


Author Bio

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SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband and their cat, Zorro. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it. 

Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins' work.

You can find his works at sacollins.com, violetquillredux.com and as a co-host of the wrotepodcast.com series.


Current Release - Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback Boxed Set (Part 1: King of Imperfections and Part 2: Prince of Mistakes)

A BOXED SET OF MARCO SFORZA'S PREQUEL SERIES TO ANGELS OF MERCY (also sold separately)

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Diary of a Quarterback – Part One: King of Imperfections

Born in America but reared in their father’s home of Torino, Italy, Marco Sforza has led a fairly idyllic life. The Sforzas are an ancient and powerful family with a strong ducal past. They run a vast global empire that allows Marco to enter halls of power that most men only dream of. Yet, Marco is a boy who lives in a bubble of his family’s making.
 
When Marco returns to America to attend high school he grooms himself to become a rising star quarterback of the Mercy High Avenging Angels. He thinks his focus is his burgeoning football career. He is all to aware he is a boy made of pure light that is meant to be seen and noticed. He is comfortable there. Until he meets a boy who shines brighter than him. Elliot Donahey is that boy. But Elliot is a boy who craves shadow and darkness to keep himself safe through another hellish day of high school.
 
Before he realizes it, Marco’s world becomes undone by this boy. Trapped in a script all jocks are meant to follow, Marco does his best to fit in and play along so he can play the game he loves, but this boy who hides in the shadows begins to consume his every thought and emotion.
 
Despite the script he’s been given to date girls, have sex, and hang with his teammates and follow along, Marco finds himself on an emotional pendulum where following that jock script only brings him further away from that world to circle the boy hiding in the shadows. Can Marco find it within himself to push against what others expect of him to find his way into Elliot’s arms? Even with all the fame, money and prestige his family brings to the table, will it be enough to gain the interest of a boy who only wants to hide from everyone?

Diary of a Quarterback – Part Two: Prince of Mistakes

In Diary of a Quarterback – Part Two: Prince of Mistakes, Marco has decided to put all of the jock laden toys away. He knows what he wants: Elliot Donahey and nothing – not his family, not his friends or the townspeople of Mercy – will get in his way. But others are watching and taking notice and not liking what they see. Darkness begins to circle the boys as they find their way to each other.

Will Marco find happiness in the arms of Elliot? Or will those around them who seek to tear them apart stop Marco from finding true love? Set against the rugged coastline located just outside of Big Sur, these boys and their friends lead surprisingly dramatic lives. Mercy is a town full of secrets. Some of them have the ability to destroy lives. Will Marco and Elliot have the strength to find a way to happiness and true love? Or will a meddlesome cheerleader and Marco’s teammate, Beau, find a way to tear them apart?

Total Boxed Set Page Count: 1,322

SA Collins Webstore (click here) Special offer on SA Collins webstore only: Personalized autographed ebooks! See site for details.

Amazon click here.

As well as other points of presence (iBooks, StreetLib, etc).

Authors and Books to Check Out

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Last week I took the week off from blogging so I could finish working on the edits of my manuscript A New World – Conspiracy it is book two of my A New World series.  A New World – Contact (the first book in the series click here) will come out at the end of the year or start of next year.  My publisher will release the book in two parts with a short break in between releases.  I will have more details on that when I get them.

This week I wanted to take time and focus on some amazing authors who I know and who’s books I think you should check out.  I love sharing authors whom I adore so I hope you’ll take the time to check out each of them and see which of their works jump out at you.  Let’s get started shall we.


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First up, J.P. Jackson.  J.P. has a love of demons, witches and shape shifters and it’s reflected in his work.  His debut novel Daimonion is a dark urban fantasy I suggest you read with the lights on.  The story isn’t a slaughter fest, but it is dark and a little intense in spots. Overall it’s well written and enjoyable. I liked the story quite a bit even if it did creep me out. This novel is brilliantly written and is not a romance novel (which I love).

When J.P. isn’t trying to scare you with his writing, he hybridizes African Violets, travels with his husband and likes to knit.  I can only imagine what the patterns on his knitting are.

Find out more about J.P. Jackson here and here.

You can buy his books here.


Next up is Jeanne Marcella.  Jeanne writes in the world of dark and light fantasy that explores fantastic quests and the grit of living.  Her stories can be eccentric, but they are beautifully written and enjoyable.  Her story Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs is an underrated and under-appreciated work of fiction.  She takes everything you thought you knew about elves, humans, magic and minotaus and tosses them on their heels.  Sadly, this book is unavailable right now, but I hope it comes back soon (hint hint Jeanne if you’re reading this).  In the meantime she has another book The Phoenix Embryo (Seasons of the Phoenix Book1) which is out and I can assure it’s an amazing story cause I got to read parts of it when she was working on it.

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Jeanne loves music, a wide mix of Classical and top 50s and 60s.  She’s also into black and white movies when people knew how to tell a story without special effects.

Find out more about Jeanne Marcella here and here.

You can buy her books here.


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Sebastian Carter is a new author I’ve got to know (his pen name is Seb L. Carter) he is the writer of The Stone (Lockstone #1) the book is a paranormal, urban fantasy adventure. Even though I haven’t read it yet (it’s on my list) the reviews have been amazing. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Sebastian more as he’s an amazing person. Who knows I might convince him to stop by and do a guest blog for my Scribble Pages.

You find out more about Sebastian Carter here.

You can buy his books here.


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The next author I would like to highlight is Christian Baines another new author but getting to know him a bit more has been a joy.  Christian describes himself as an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author. His book The Beast Without is high on my list of things to read mostly because it deals with werewolves and I think that’s pretty cool.  This is an older book of his (it came out in 2013) but still I can’t wait to read it.

You can find out more about Christian here.

You can buy his books here.


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SA Collins is the author of the Angle of Mercy Series.  These books are not your typical story, they are high drama and high character driven stories.  SA’s style of writing is to focus deep on his characters, which is every enjoyable.  I’ve read Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback Part 1: King of Imperfections and it was an amazing story.  I love ‘mother’ she is so much fun to read about, even if she’s slightly awful. I got to know the main character in such incredible way. I feel like he is a real person whom I’ve known my whole life.  You need to read this story and series for yourself.  Be warned it’s a long hall and there is a Part 2, but the ride is worth it.

When SA isn’t writing he runs WROTE PodCast with Jayne Lockwood and Vance Bastian

Find out more about SA Collins here.

Buy his books here.

Learn more about WROTE here.

Also, next week SA will be my Guest Blogger here on my Scribble Pages so be sure to check it out. I already know the topic and I can’t wait to read it.


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To round out my merry band of authors this week I have fellow NineStar Press author Gillian St. Kevern. Gillian is also a vampire lover (although we write about them differently) and has her own series, Thorns and Fangs with the latest novel just released, Life After Humanity.  Gillian is the only dedicated romance writer in this group (although I wouldn’t lump her in that category), because her writing is so much more than your typical romance.  It’s definitely worth checking out.  

A fun fact about Gillian is that she, like most of us, on this list, is an avid traveler which accounts for her rich writing. Another fun tidbit is Gillian is from New Zealand and I love everyone from New Zealand, well everyone I’ve met.  I’m sure there is that one person.  

Find out more about Gillian here.

Buy here books here.


Well that’s it for this week. I hope you check out each of these authors because they are talented and amazing people.  We all write so differently, which is why I picked them, so you have a chance to find a new favorite author who tells different stories then I do.

Be sure leave a comment below and let me know what you think of these writers.  If you’ve already read some of their works let me know what you think and what your favorite book of theirs is so I can add it to my reading list.

Until next time have a great week

Random Wednesday

I want to try something new.  If you guys like it, I’ll do it every so often.  Today, I thought I would share five personal facts about myself. Let’s get going shall we.

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Fact Number One:
When I was in High School, back in the mid to late eighties, I had the opportunity to become a foreign exchange student.  I was in my Spanish class and my instructor mentioned being an exchange student to the class.  I made a few notes thinking it might be a fun experience.  Fast forward a few months, and I was selected to be an exchange student to West Germany.  I spent over three months in West Germany living in a small town southeast of Frankfurt.  This was the year before East and West Germany reunited. And it was also the summer between my junior and senior year.

My time in West Germany was amazing.  I learned the language (somewhat) and I went on a weeklong bicycle trip with my host-brother we rode our bikes from our small town of Mainhausen to the Starnberger See. The trip was long and parts of it were grueling, but I managed it and I have great memories from that trip. 

While I was there, I started a journal, and that is where the seeds for my writing were planted.

Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to return to Germany, but never back to Mainhausen or to Starnberger See, I hope to get back there again. Who knows, maybe one of my future books will have a shout out to that beautiful part of the world.

Fact Number Two:
I’ve hinted at this several times, but I want to mention here, loud and proud, because I do enjoy it.  I love cooking.  It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy trying new and different recipes.  On the weekends if I’m not writing or if we’re not out and about I cook. I’ll make a big Sunday meal.  I’ve done everything from homemade Lobster Risotto to Lasagna with homemade focaccia bread.  It’s a lot of fun and everything tastes better when it’s homemade.

Along with cooking, once a year, at Christmas, I spend a full day baking (well me and a few friends and family).  We will make anywhere from six to eight different Christmas Cookies.  We end up with hundreds of cookies, almost all I give out as gifts.  It’s fun and people actually make requests as soon as August.

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Fact Number Three:
All Things Disney. I love Disney.  My favorite characters (and I will limit my list here) are Chip & Dale, Jack Skellington, and the Hitchhiking ghosts. There are others, but I’m keeping the list short.  Eric and I try to go to Disneyland or DisneyWorld once a year. If we don’t make it to a Disney park we aim for a Disney Cruise.

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When you walk onto a Disney property, it’s like the world outside vanishes and it’s wonderful.  We’ve met so many great people on our Disney vacations, it’s always hard to leave. My goal is to get to all the Disney parks at least once and experience their differences.

At the parks, my favorite attractions are the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. There is something about both dark rides that brings a smile to my face; it takes me back to being a kid with my Donald Duck hat.

If you have a sharp eye, a reference to Disney is made in all my books.  It’s a fun little Easter Egg I add in to see if folks pick up on it. 

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Fact Number Four:
Next up, my amazing family.  I grew up with wonderful parents and quite possibly the best older sister in the world.  There are eight years between my sister and I so when I was a kid my sister spoiled me. The deal was; First, if I didn’t cause trouble I got to go with her to do fun stuff. And, second If I didn’t tattle to mom and dad then I would get to go out with her and friends (keep in mind we did nothing bad, but that was the caveat for everything we did). Oh, the college parties I went to… what fun.

My luck with my family didn’t stop at my parents and sister, my extended family is pretty freaking great.  My Grandmother had a huge family (16 brothers and sisters) so we had family coming out of the woodwork.  Like all families as time goes on people pass and people move, but I’m lucky because I’m still in contact with a lot of my family, even if we don’t get to see each other that often.

Some of my best memories from being a kid was when my family would go on trips with my grandparents.  It was always a lot of fun and something I’m lucky to have experienced.

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Fact Number Five:
Dragons. I love them. The mythology that surrounds them is incredible.  Part of why I wrote A Dragon for Christmas (haven't read it click here) was because of my love of dragons.  They are freaking cool. It would be amazing to ride one, of course they don’t exist but still I would love to have one.

Several people, over the years, have brought me different items with dragons on them.  In my office, there are several dragons out and about.  They are my protectors and guardians.

There you have it.  Five ‘fun’ facts about me.  Honestly, I thought this would be a lot harder to write, but it wasn’t and I found it kind of fun.  If you have questions about anything above ask in the comments below.  I hope you enjoyed this Random Wednesday.  Don’t forget to like and share it does indeed help.

Announcements

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Today I wanted to share some exciting announcements. First, I want to let you know (and you’re the first to hear the news) that NineStar Press will publish my Science Fiction novel A New World–Contact.  To keep the purchase price of the book reasonable they will release A New World–Contact in two parts. The book is hovering around 170,000 words (about 652 pages).  We are aiming to release Part One around the end of the year with Part Two coming out a few months later.  There won’t be a long delay between release dates.  Both parts of the book will be available in eBook format and paperback. So, keep an eye open for more news as we get closer to the launch date. If you want to learn more about A New World–Contact check it out here.

Second, on March 8th I’ll be interviewed on Outlook Video. Outlook Video is a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender monthly public access cable program and is associated with the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center. Once I know when the show is to air, I’ll share it.

 Click here for more information

Click here for more information

 Click here for more information

Click here for more information

Third, on the writing front. This week I submitted a new manuscript to NineStar Press for evaluation.  The working title is T.A.D and the story is about an angel and drag queen.  It's a lot of fun. My hope is NineStar Press will pick it up.  So keep your fingers crossed.

One more writing update, this Thursday March 1st. I’ll have a featured Blog Post on NineStar Press.  You’ll be able to check out the post here however, I’ll be sharing the links on my social media pages.

You can see a lot is happening.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to mention how thrilled I am that The Calling is doing so well.  It’s gotten several 5–star reviews on Amazon and as of this writing the book has a 4.4 overall star rating.  Not to forget A Dragon for Christmas or The Reunion they are at a 4.5–star rating and a 4.7–star rating respectively.

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Why am I mentioning this? Because ratings and reviews are very important for books and writers (especially lesser known authors like me). In almost every article written about helping your favorite author, ratings and reviews, are always in the top five, along with buying the book and recommending the book. Don’t take my word for it, here is an article by the Huffington Post with 10 Ways to Help Your Favorite Author. Click here. Here’s another article from Mill City Press that also offers some amazing ideas. Click here. If you want to try any of these out, I’ll happily be your test subject.

Are you ready to help me reach that goal? Have you read all or some of my books? Do you have an Amazon account? Do you want to be a part of my book’s success?

Yes.

GREAT!

You don’t have write a full review, simply click on the 1–5 stars is a great help.

 Click here to go to Amazon to rate my books.

Click here to go to Amazon to rate my books.

Why is this important to me as a new author? Because once I hit twenty-five reviews the book will be eligible to be turned into an audio book.  In addition, another benefit is that once the magic number is reached Amazon will start marketing the book in the ‘if you like this book, than you might also enjoy this book’.

As my thank you, for your review, I will share it on my Facebook Fan Page and my Twitter feed to show the world how awesome you are.

On that note. I hope you all have a great week.  I love hearing from folks so feel free to leave me questions and comments below.

Self-Promotion… Ugh Must I?

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I’m a pretty outgoing person.  I can talk to most people and I don’t tend to sit in a corner and study the house plants at a party.  People tell me I’m interesting and well spoken. For only being an active author for about a year now, I’ve got a pretty good platform on Facebook, Twitter and of course my website. So, why do I dread self-promotion?  Why can’t I pick up the phone (yes, people still do that) and call people and talk to them about my book?  Why can’t I make cold-call?

Back in October I did a post on Self-Promoting When you’re a Writer. Check out the post here if you missed it. The purpose was to give suggestions on ways to promote your book or books.

Now I need to step up my game. This week I needed to do two things I dread. First, I had to craft a query email to be sent out to a list of fifty bloggers and websites to ask them to review my book, The Calling. The book’s been out for almost two months and the buzz has started to wane so it’s time to get going on my second round of marketing and PR. Also, this week I had to make a cold call to a news producer about a potential interview they want to do with me.

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Neither task was complicated and on paper it shouldn’t have taken up much time, but it did.  Especially when I went to make the phone call.  I dreaded having to pick up the phone and talk to them. I tried to be as prepared as I could for the call.  When I finally got around to making the call, I ended up leaving a voicemail. Sadly, the message I left… yeash.  I wanted to delete and redo the whole thing (that wasn’t an option).

Proud that I completed both takes I took a breath.  Luckily, I received some very positive responses to my emails and in the next few weeks I have a planned interview for a local GLBT Magazine Talk Show.  It should be fun.

Now as I sit here, I wonder why self-promotion is so difficult not just for me but for everyone. Is it because we believe we’re bragging and bragging is bad?

I suppose, but there are things that I’m really proud of and I have no problem talking about them. Okay that isn’t a 100% true I’m told I downplay things too much, but I’m getting better.

Is it that we’re afraid of being told no?

That’s a valid fear, but I’m told ‘no’ a lot (you should see my stack of rejection letters). So, why should that make me go into a panic attack when I need to promote myself and my work. Not to mention everyone else who has gone through the creative process we all get told ‘no’ a lot. Yet, from what I’ve read we all freak out about our own promotion.

Then there is the fact that sales is hard. Not to mention we don’t like salespeople and we don’t want to be like them. Perhaps, we hold ourselves back because of that bias?

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Possibly, but I know a bunch of nice salespeople who don’t leave you with the creepy used car salesmen impression. So, I’m not sure about that one.

As you can see, I’m left with more questions than answers.  I did a bunch of digging around on the internet to see if I could find some helpful answers.  I found two articles/blogs.  

One is an open discussion about self-promotion (an article from 2014) the dialog was good (even though the information was geared more towards art and artists) I was relieved to read that others experienced the same issue.  You can read the blog post here.

The second one I found was from FastCompany and they made two suggestion that seemed reasonable (again this one is more geared for the self-employed) and worth a shot.  You can read he full article here.  It’s not a very long read so it’s worth a view.

What I enjoyed about both of these articles is that they offered some solutions that anyone could use. So, if you’re a writer reading this, or just someone who is trying to get noticed at work or by someone special I think you can get some good takeaways from them.

What I’m going to remember for the next time is that I need to work past the ‘yuck’ and make it happen, because no one else is going to bang my drum for me.

Until next week, enjoy your weekend and let me know your thoughts below on self-promotion.  Got tips or tricks for dealing, please share them.  Given what I read online and what I went through I think we can all use the help.

‘Lander’ has landed. Book 2 of J. Scott Coatsworth, Oberon Cycle Series

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone before we get into Scott’s new book. I want to invite you all over to my poetry section (click here) and check out my new poems, they’re free and you won’t see them anywhere else… at least not yet.

Now on to the focus for this week. I’m excited to let you all know that my good friend J. Scott Coatsworth is releasing a new book: Lander. Lander is the second book in his Oberon Cycle series.

Book Blurb:

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Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander's kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

The Oberon Cycle: Book Two

Series Blurb:

Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.

Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.

What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them - and all of Oberon - forever.

Book Excerpt:

Jameson savored the kiss, his arms around Xander, the way they fit together just right. They were finally together, and Titania and Oberon were one again.

Erro, Quince had called this new world. Like the skythane god of the sun, the one Errian and the Erriani were named for.

For the moment, everything was right in his life, and he never wanted it to end.

A cold drop of water on his cheek brought him out of his reverie. He glanced up. Storm clouds were piled high, swiftly overtaking them. Rain began to pour out of the sky like a waterfall, and thunder echoed in the clouds as the valley went dark, sunlight smothered by the onrushing clouds. Nearby trees thrashed about in the wind, their purple leaves fluttering in distress.

“What the hell?” Xander said as the winds picked up and ruffled the feathers of his wings. He stared up at the black tempest.

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“The Split!” Jameson shouted over the howling of the wind. He mimed the two halves of the world, each with their own atmosphere, suddenly being forced together in the middle. “When the Oberon half shifted, all the atmosphere it brought with it along the Split was forced up here!”

A bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, crisping it to ashes and standing Jameson’s hair on end.

“Run!” Xander shouted.

Jameson’s vision swam, and a memory slipped into his conscious mind from that other part of him—a high-ceilinged cavern that was more like a faery palace than a cave—where he’d stolen away with a lover. More than once.

His stomach heaved at the displacement, and he clenched his hands. That wasn’t me. They were someone else’s memories.

“Follow me!” he shouted at his four companions—Xander, Quince, Kadin, and Venin—and ran toward the cliffs that were rapidly fading to invisibility behind the rain. He pushed down the memory-nausea, tasting bile in the back of his mouth.

Alia was missing. He’d last seen her as they had fled the Mountain, when it had begun to collapse. Jameson looked around wildly, but she was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Alia?” he shouted at Kadin as they ran. Thunder shook the valley.

Kadin shook his head, mouthing, “I don’t know.”

Rain swirled all around them, coming down so fast that it pooled on the ground and ran in rivulets downhill toward the lake that was now half filled with the broken remains of the Mountain.

The mud made the footing treacherous. Jameson clambered up the hill, using roots and rocks that offered a firmer surface than the naked ground. The wind tugged at his wings, threatening to flip him over. He pulled them in tightly and glanced back to be sure the others were following him through the tempest.

Jameson reached the cover of the forest, plunging under the protection of the canopy. The trees here were tall and thin with white bark trunks and broad purple leaves that were being shredded by the storm.

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner eBook click here

Dreamspinner paperback click here.

Amazon click here

Barnes & Noble click here.

Kobo click here.

iBooks click here.

QueeRomance Ink click here.


Author Bio:

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Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Author Website click here
Author Facebook (Author Page) click here.
Twitter click here
Goodreads click here
QueeRomance Ink click here.
Author Amazon Page click here.

Interview with Author A. M. Leibowitz

Today I’m excited to welcome fellow author A.M. Leibowitz to my Scribbles Page.  They’ve been published for the last four years and have twelve works to their name.  Today we’re going to talk a little about their most recent work Keeping the Faith (Book #3 in the Faithfully Yours Series.)

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I’m a lifelong New Yorker, married to a former Bostonian. We have the requisite two kids, a cat, and a dog, plus a super cute little house about a fifteen-minute drive from Lake Ontario. I’ve been writing since I was 8 or 9, but only published since 2014. This is my “raised a family, starting over” work; I used to be a public school nurse.

I was looking through your library of works and you have several books that deal with faith (in some form or another) what drives you to talk about faith in your writing? Do you find that people gravitate towards these stories?  What kind of reception have they had?

I was raised interfaith (one Jewish parent and one former evangelical parent). As a teen, I got sucked into a cult-like church and more or less gave up my Jewish identity as well as staying closeted for years. My spouse and I stuck it out for a long time, but when I was finally ready to come out, I couldn’t stay—I wasn’t welcome, and change from the inside proved impossible. We left, and I was angry and feeling so trapped by spending years trying to be the right kind of WifeMommy. Interestingly, it was LGBTQ people of faith who welcomed me first. I write a lot about faith to both channel the hurt and also to hold it in tension with the outpouring of love from those LGBTQ believers who cared for me.

For whatever reason, these stories seem to resonate. I commonly hear, “I don’t read the religious ones, but this one was good.” I think it’s because I allow characters to express both deep faith and deep pain at the hands of religion, and I don’t offer simple answers.

In your bio you mention you are a ‘feminine-leaning genderqueer bisexual person’ and you prefer the pronouns they/them considering that some in our society are still at odds with such designations are you finding it easier now to be your true self or do you still have a hard time especially with people’s lack of understanding?

Well, I’m publicly out, and my friends are pretty cool with things. But I’m not too open about it when I’m volunteering at my kids’ school. It’s less a lack of acceptance and more that it’s tiring to constantly have to explain. My kids themselves are awesome and have no trouble with this, and the same is true for most of my relatives. I’m lucky enough to come from a family of hippies and artists, and I live in a bit of a liberal bubble.

That is great.  It’s nice to see that you have so much support.  So, I want to switch gears here.  Please, tell us about your latest story.  What are you currently writing?

I’m working on the last part of my Notes from Boston series, and I’m writing a road trip novel. Because everyone has to do that at least once, right? Anyway, it’s loosely based on the story of Joseph (of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame, not Mary’s husband).

That sounds like it a lot of fun.  And yes, I think a ‘road trip’ novel is a requirement. One I haven’t filled yet.  So what is something you wish people would understand about your writing and your writing style?

That I don’t write romance! Okay, yes, there’s often a relationship. But I like to put that in the midst of other things happening. The one time I actually wrote a romance, it was terrible. Or I think it was, anyway.

(Chuckles) Oh I hear that.  Romance that scares the heck out of me to write I always worry I’m making it sound to perfect and fake. So when your’e not writing or spending time with your family what do you enjoy doing?

I’m a classically-trained violinist with a local community orchestra. 

Stop! Okay that is so cool.  I love music and the idea that you can play the violin is amazing.  Congratulations on that. 

(Laughs) Thanks it’s pretty cool. Also, this year, I also started taking an Irish step dance class. My son’s a dancer, and he’s been after me to try it out for years. I finally took the plunge.

Wow. Nice. You mentioned that most of your stories take place in the New York area (which I think is cool I do the same thing with my writing, placing in my neck of the words) when you do need or choose to use another location how much research do you do on the area you’re writing about?  Or do you just wing it?

For my Boston-based series, I just asked my spouse. He grew up there. Though I will admit to researching train routes and times. For a couple of stories, I didn’t specify a place, which was hard. The road trip novel I mentioned above takes place all along I-90, and that’s required the most research. I’ve only traveled about halfway myself. Hm, maybe I should go on a trip myself.

Travel is the best.  I highly recommend it.

I’m curious what is your favorite genre to write?

Contemporary general fiction, with just a splash of other genres. I’m looking to get back to my original love, which is literary fiction.

Very cool.  Like all authors harsh reviews suck.  How do you deal with negative reviews?

I figure they’re not for me. Reviews are for other readers. Who knows? Maybe a bad review will convince someone to try it anyway. The only times a review made me mad were when one reader had important details of the story wrong and when another reader inserted her personal opinion of bisexuals. I bit my tongue both times; it’s not my place to comment. Fortunately, other readers stepped in.

That is always tough.  I find it’s best to just leave it be, as you’ve said. Still I want to reach out and smack them… but I don’t. 

Moving on let’s talk about your latest book.  If you could which character would you like to sit down with and have a cup of coffee with? And why?

Oh, goodness. From the book I’m writing, I’d love to hang out with Amelia. She’s briefly appeared in the other Boston books, and she kicks butt. From my last published book, I want to sit down with Micah. He and I are kindred spirits, and I mostly just want to tell him it’ll all be okay.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Maybe a little life advice: It’s never too late to start something new or figure things out about yourself. I may not have understood myself or known I wanted to write when I was in my teens or twenties, but I know those things now. In some ways, I envy my kids’ having the freedom to develop organically. But in other ways, I think it’s okay that it took me so long. It’s good to learn and grow at every stage of life.

Nicely said.  I agree 100%. I’m so glad you were able to stop by.

Thank you for having me!


About Keeping the Faith (Faithfully Yours #3):

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It’s been three years since Micah’s young spouse, Cat, passed away. In the process of cleaning his house, Micah discovers a series of letters Cat hid before he died, in which he made one request: that Micah empty his life of Cat as a way of moving on. Micah has been able to work through his sorrow, but he’s unable to fulfill Cat’s last wish. He can’t see a way past his loneliness despite all the caring people around him.

Enter two new friendships. Jude, Micah’s vivacious new coworker, brings joy back into his life. Chris, the new minister at Cat’s former church, intrigues Micah, from his musings on theology to his work as a trans advocate and activist. Through them, Micah becomes involved in teaching creative writing at the town’s new community center. Using Cat’s detailed letters, he fictionalizes their love story. In doing so, he at last begins to sort through his complicated grief. With a little help from family and friends, Micah will need to open his heart to love completely again.

Click here to buy the book.

Check out the rest of the series here click on the image to buy:


About A. M. Leibowitz:

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A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.

 

 

 

Where to find A. M. Leibowitz:

Website click here
Facebook click here
Twitter click here
Instagram click here
Amazon Author Page click here.  
Goodreads click here

Five Money Saving Tips for the New Year and a Writing Update

Since it’s the New Year I thought we could all use some money saving tips. So here are ten of my favorites:

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1. Cook instead of eating out.  Considering how expensive it is to eat out, try cooking at home more.  It’s cheaper and you are eating more healthful especially since you know what you are cooking and what you are putting into it.

2. If you have direct deposit with your job have them take a hundred dollars from your paycheck and have it sent to a Credit Union or your savings account.  If you don’t have direct deposit have your bank do an automatic withdrawal from your checking account and putting it in your savings account on the same day you are paid. And if you want to be really old school put twenty dollars a week in an envelope and keep it put away.  Regardless of how you do it the money is gone so you won’t miss it and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up.

3. If you like movies go on cheap nights.  Most theaters note only offer matinee pricing but usually once a week, typically a Monday or Tuesday the tickets will be about half the cost of what they would be on a Friday or Saturday. 

4. Along with cooking at home, double your recipe so you have leftovers to take for lunch.  If you can save the $10 for lunch each day that is about $200 a month you are saving. Even if you don’t like, or have leftovers, make a sandwich and take a piece of your favorite fruit, it’s a lot cheaper than eating out everyday.

5. This is a big one.  Make your coffee at home before you go to work and take it in a travel mug.  You can still go out of your Starbucks once in a while but at $5 (on average) for one Starbuck’s coffee the cost adds up.  It’ll surprise you how much you can save even if you just cut out one or two Starbucks a week.

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Bonus. Buy what you can in bulk; laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, meat, cheese, cereal, milk, coffee, etc. These are things you’re going to use and when you buy them in small amounts can cost you a lot, but in bulk it will save you money.

These are all tips that Eric and I use (with the exception of the coffee we don’t drink coffee) and we’ve saved a lot of money.  It won’t make you rich, but it will sure help keep the money in the wallet. If you have any tips, share them below.

Writing Update:

What a busy start of the year I’ve had.  As you all know I had my book launch for The Calling this month and had an amazing write up in the San Jose Mercury News (click here for the article).  I also, had my first ever Blog Tour thank you to IndiGo Marketing.  If you want to check out each days stop, click on the day below:

Day One: The Blogger Girls
Day Two: Love Byters Reviews
Day Three: Queer Sci Fi
Day Four: Divine Magazine
Day Five: The Novel Approach

I also took some much-needed time off.  Eric and I went down to Disneyland for a week.  We hung out with some family and some amazing friends. It was a great break. Here are a couple fun pictures from our trip if you want to suffer through and check them out.

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While I was on vacation, I got to finish The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth.  Its a wonderful story and such a joy to read.  If you want to check out my review of the novel click here.  This is a must read if you love Science Fiction.  It has something for everyone. Buy it here.

For a quick writing update I wanted to share that, at this moment my publisher is evaluating A New World – Contact and I’m hoping to have more information on that soon.  I’m also working on book two of my New World Series and I’m over a three-quarters of the way through.

Which means, I’ll be working on the sequel to The Calling in the coming months. I have the second book outlined and I’m working on the finer points of the plot, but that doesn’t mean everything is set in stone.  So if there something special you would like to see in book two of The Calling now’s your chance to weigh in.  You can make your suggestions below in the comments section.  Please try to avoid spoilers. Let’s have a little fun with this.

Until next week have a great week.

2018 New Year Update

First Off.  Happy 2018.  I hope you all have a wonderful new year.

What a difference a year makes.  So much happened last year, and this year promises to be just as busy.  Last year I released two short stories (The Reunion and A Dragon for Christmas) through my publisher NineStar Press. Both short stories have been well reviewed, and they have seemed to resonate with people.  So if you haven’t checked them out yet you can buy them on Amazon here or on Barnes & Noble here

Some of you know, I was a judge for the Rainbow Awards (which was an absolute blast) I got to read some amazing books.  I’m hoping to get to do that again this year.

 Author M.D. Neu signing books.

Author M.D. Neu signing books.

Also, last year I finalized by debut novel The Calling, for release on January 1, 2018.  There was a lot to get ready (editing, more editing and pre-launch marketing) it was a lot of work but I couldn’t be happier. On January 1, 2018 The Calling was released to wonderful reviews. Then on January 11, 2018 I had the official book launch and signing. Which absolutely would not have happened without my amazing friends and family.  It was an incredible experience.  We had about 70 people show up.  For the event we had food, wine, Champaign, a wonderful introduction provided by Jean Blomquist renowned editor and writer for over 25 years, and of course a reading of The Calling by me.  I’m so blessed to have had such an amazing night.  I was doubly blessed when fellow NineStar Press author K. S. Trenten showed up to join in the celebration; she’s so cool I’m hoping to get her on my Scribbles Page until than check her our here and find her books here

 M. D. Neu with fellow Author K. S. Trenten

M. D. Neu with fellow Author K. S. Trenten

With all this happening I managed to eek out time to read several wonderful stories, most of which I’ve already spoken about.  However, the latest is this wonderful story by author SA Collins (find out more about SA Colins here), Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback – Part 1: Kind of Imperfections. If you want to check out my review, you can find it here. You should add it to your reading list buy his novel here.

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What’s coming in 2018? Well, in the short term I’m going to be on a blog tour next week promoting The Calling so stay tuned for that.  Also, I’m going to be looking at doing a more in person events this year.  To that affect in April I will be a guest on WROTE Pod Cast (check them out here), which I’m excited about so I’ll keep you posted on that.  As for writing, well, I’ll be working on the second book of The Calling and hopefully in the next few weeks I’m going to have an announcement about my Sci-Fi book series A New World.  I’ve also got a few more short stories I’m hoping will get released.

On the Blog front I will to continue to bring you fellow authors who have amazing works, I hope you take the time to pick up their books, because these folks are so talented that it would be a shame if you missed them.  I’m also, going to be much better about posting new poetry at the very least once a month, so if you don’t see any new poetry bug me about it, cause I love sharing that part of my writing with you.

Well I think that is all for this week.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to be adding an events section to the website where I plan on sharing photos and the video from the launch party of The Calling as well as other in person events I do. Oh and keep an eye out for “Who’s reading The Calling” this should be fun, if you want a little hint of what’s coming check out my Facebook Page.

Anyway, if there is something you want me to share or something you have questions about, please feel free to let me know.  I love hearing from you.

Interview with J. Scott Coastworth

My first Author Interview of 2018.  I’m pleased to welcome J. Scott Coastworth to my Scribble page.

Welcome Scott.  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Thanks for having me.

If you don’t mind, please give us a quick introduction of yourself?

Well, I live in Sacramento, California, with my husband Mark of 26 years. We live in a small yellow bungalow in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood about ten minutes outside of downtown.

I have been writing since I was in fifth grade, when I won a University of Arizona writing contest that included my first sci fi story, illustrated in crayon.

I didn’t get anything published until I hit my mid-forties, but since then I’ve had 19 stories published with two more under contract for 2018.

Wow, winning a writing contest at such an early had to be exciting, is that what cemented your love of writing?

LOL… no. It was more the things I read, the worlds they opened up. I always had a gift for stringing words together. But hey, it didn’t hurt!

19 Published works that is excellent.  Congratulations.

Thank you. It’s been quite a ride since Dreamspinner picked up my first story three years ago.

Not only do you write but you oversee several Facebook Groups (Queer SciFi & Queer SciFi Writer among others and a popular website www.queerscifi.com) How did you get started with that?

When I came back to writing in 2014, I started making contacts on Facebook in the queer romance and queer sci fi markets. I found a couple groups devoted to queer sci fi, but none of them were quite what I was looking for – sort of an Algonquin Round Table for the modern age. 

So I built my own.

I like that, and I think it’s a great way to approach problems.  You didn’t complain, you went out and did something to affect change.

Thanks, well building what I wanted. I ran into Angel, one of my co-admins, on one of those groups. She wasn’t available at first, but I pursued her relentlessly, and when her commitment to the other group was done, she came to help with Queer SciFi (QSF).

I ran into Ben early on too, and eventually talked him into becoming an admin and taking the helm of the reviews part of QSF. We work well together, and that synergy helps to make QSF the great forum that it is today.

And it really is.  I’m so happy I found it.

Ah thanks.

So, not only are you overseeing a busy social media empire, but you have a very extensive list of novels, so what inspired you to start writing?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be either an astronaut, a rock star, or a writer.

The rock star thing never quite panned out. And astronomy turned out to be a whole lot about math. So writing it was.

My mom got me started on sci fi when I was in elementary school, and by third grade I had read all three of the Lord of the Rings books. I was enchanted by Lothlorien, and soon by Pern and Rama and the Foundation worlds, and I knew that I wanted to write those kinds of worlds. My novel list isn’t quite “extensive” yet – two out and two contracted – but I do have nineteen stories published in all.

Extensive or not it’s still impressive.  So well done and I love that your mom helped push into writing.  That is a great story.

Now, tell us about your latest novel and what inspired you to write it?

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The Stark Divide” has a long and (forgive the pun) storied history. My first finished novel, “On the Shoreless Sea,” took place in a fantasy world in the middle of the void – a world where plants glowed and you could walk around its girth in a day.

It was roundly rejected by the sci fi publishers of the time, but when I came back to writing, it was one of the first things I picked up again, and I decided to go back and tell the backstory of the world. And so “The Stark Divide” was born. It’s the tale of a generation ship that takes mankind to the stars, and an evolution no one foresaw.

That is so freaking cool.  I’ve actually just started it and so far it’s great.  I know I should have read it first, but I working on it now.

(Chuckles) thanks.

Let’s talk a little about who has inspired you the most as a writer?

On a personal level, my husband Mark, who gave me a kick in the pants when I needed it, and who is always supportive of my writing.

Ahh.  Gotta love supportive spouses.

For fellow writers – Sheri Tepper, who told tales that left me thinking for weeks; Anne McCaffrey, who made a world filled with dragons and fire lizards and wonderful harpers; and Peter Hamilton, who writes about the future in such an amazing and exciting way. I mean, trains that connect planets – who knew?

Closer to home, my friend Angel Martinez, who has been writing for longer than she cares to admit, and who is always a class act in addition to being crazy silly.

Sounds like a good mix of writers.  Okay, when you’re not writing and running your social media platforms what do you like to do?

Spend time with my husband Mark – playing games, walking, seeing movies, going out for coffee or dinner. After almost twenty-six years, he’s still my most favorite person in the world.

That sounds lovely.  I gotta ask, what’s your favorite movie?

Hmmm… it’s a toss-up. Strictly Ballroom is way up there, as is Moulin Rouge – really, anything directed by Baz Luhrmann. Also, Romy and Michelle is one of my all-time faves. Oh and did I mention Edward Scissorhands?

As you’ve been around the writing world for a while now, I’m wondering if there are topics or issues you wish were more common in books?

Yes, I’d like to see us move past the focus on MM books (and even FF ones) and include more characters from other parts of the queer spectrum. I think it’s happening slowly – it takes time, but even in this difficult environment, we are moving toward justice and representation.

Nicely said.  So, as a gay man what are your thoughts about writing to an audience that is sometimes more interested in reading MM Romance. Do you find this to be an issue?

I truly think there’s something for everyone, and I think we paint with too broad a brush when we talk about the “difference” between MM and gay fiction. There are so many great authors writing all kinds of queer works, some of which have a lot of romance and some just a little. I think discerning readers of all stripes find the authors they like, and it doesn’t really matter whether or not their books have the “MM” label.

That is a fair point, however, don’t you think it can be difficult for LGBTQA writers who just want to tell good stories to be lumped into a romance category even though that wasn’t what they were going for? Then in turn being judged poorly for not having a romance story.

I think it’s difficult getting any book into the “right” category. Sure, it’s an issue when a book gets placed in “romance” when it’s really something else with a bit of a romance thrown in. But the same can be said of sci fi stories with queer relationships that get shunned by the “mainstream” market – see “Sad Puppies.”

Last questions and I promise it’s an easy one.  Do you have any final thoughts for us?

I feel truly blessed to be connected to so many great authors like you. I enjoy being a part of such a wide and diverse community. Thanks so much for having me on your blog – I hope to return the favor.

That was kind of you to say.  Thank you for all the work you do with QSF and thank you for taking the time to be here today.  I would love to have you stop by again.  Maybe once I finished with your current books I can have you back to talk about them.

Well that is all for this week.  Thank you Scott.


About J. Scott Coastworth

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Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Where to find Scott:
Check out his website here.
Check out his QueerRomance Link here.
Find him on Facebook here.
Find his author Facebook Page here.
Find him on Twitter here.

Where to buy his books and check out his reviews:
Dreamspinner Press click here.
Amazon click here.
Goodreads click here.

Merry Christmas!

 Have a wonderful and blessed Holiday Season.

Have a wonderful and blessed Holiday Season.

I wanted to take this moment to wish you a very merry Christmas and thank you for being so supportive of me and my writing.  If you’ve been following along this whole year, you understand it’s been filled with amazing highs (three books picked up by my publisher, NineStar Press) and painful lows (Illness and deaths of several close family members). Still, I’m so blessed to share not only my thoughts with you all here, on my Scribbles page, but also, I’m able to share three wonderful stories with you. Click here for Amazon and here for NineStar Press where you can buy my books.

This year Eric and I are hosting a holiday party.  We haven’t done one of these in quite a few years, so I’m sure there will be pictures which I’ll share either here or on my FB page.  Also, during this holiday season I plan to finish reading, Diary of a Quarterback–Part 1: King of Imperfections, by S.A. Collins.  I, also hope to get more writing done. Even though I get just over a week off, I’m gonna be busy.

Feel free to share what you are doing for the holiday.  I love to hear from you.  So drop me a note and let me know.

Have a great holiday everyone.

All about San Jose, California

In anticipation of my two upcoming stories, A Dragon for Christmas (my holiday short story) coming out next week on December 18th (click here to learn more) and my debut novel, The Calling coming out January 1st (click here to learn more) I wanted to share some locations that will appear in both these stories.  Actually, a friend of mine asked me to do this blog post, and I thought it might be fun.  So, here we go…

Let’s start with, A Dragon for Christmas.  There are several places in this holiday short but let’s focus on some key locations.

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First, the Dragon Training Facility.  This is the location were Carmen trains for her dragon. The training is difficult and only those that are special are considered for training.  Because of the health risks involved, I wanted a location near a medical facility and I could think of no better location than Stanford Medical Center. Here is a picture of the Center as it is in real life.  However, it’s much different in the story.

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The next location that I thought would be fun to share is Plaza de Cesar Chavez where every year San Jose hosts Christmas in the Park. When not hosting Christmas in the Park the park sees a variety of other events throughout the year.  It’s located in the heart of downtown San Jose and worth checking out any time of year.

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The last location I want to share is Carmen’s neighborhood. This is where she grew up.  Much like me Carmen grew up in East San Jose.  Not as popular, or as expensive, as Willow Glen or the Rose Garden. East San Jose is a mix of different cultures and has a rich vibrant atmosphere, which is why I had Carmen grow up here.


The Calling, much like A Dragon for Christmas is set in and around San Jose.  I include locations as far North as Los Altos Hills and as far South as Morgan Hill.  The main character Duncan comes to the area on vacation and never leaves.  Here are some key locations I used in, The Calling.  I hope you get a chance to explore them someday.

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Santana Row.  This is where we are introduced to Duncan.  He is sitting and enjoying his lunch when our story begins.  Santana Row is a large shopping, dining, entertainment and living space in San Jose.  It’s more than a shopping center it’s a destination and given its popularity and beauty I couldn’t think of a better location to start.

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The Winchester Mystery House. Even though only briefly mentioned at the start of the story its worth a mention here.  Duncan had spent an afternoon here before the story started.  After he toured the site, he crossed over to Santana Row for lunch.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe his visit to the Winchester Mystery House had anything to do with the future events in the book.

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The 88. The luxury condo high-rise in downtown San Jose The 88 seemed only fitting for one of my characters, Victor, to call home.  In the book I changed the name to, The Heights, so I could experiment with the building a little more and giving Victor and the building more of a presence in downtown.  Nevertheless, make no mistake, The 88 didn’t need much of a tweak.  It’s an amazing building with fantastic views of San Jose and the rest of the valley.

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Westfield Valley Fair. Somehow, shopping and shopping centers played heavily in this story. Westfield Valley Fair, much like Santana Row, was a necessary location for the story.  This is the largest mall in the area and they keep expanding it.  This mall also has a few shops there were required for the story.  I won’t say much more, but if you get a chance to check it out do it.

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Los Altos/Los Altos Hills. Not technically part of San Jose, however, I needed a location for Juliet to live that would suit her.  I worked in Los Altos for three years and it really left a mark on me.  When I started to put the story together I was going to have Juliet live in Willow Glen. However, when I fleshed out her character I realized she wouldn’t live in San Jose. Instead she needed to live just outside of the San Jose and I couldn’t think of a better location for her than Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.  Her home needed to be kept close to San Jose, and having her outside of San Jose kept the city as the perfect backdrop for her and the story.

I hope you got a little taste for each of my stories and the locations they are set.  Clearly, there are many more locations, to many for me to go into here.  However, you’ll get to read about them when you pick up your copies of both, A Dragon for Christmas and, The Calling.

Until next week, have a wonder week.  For my wonderful Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah.

Review of, Disease by Hans M. Hirschi and a Book Announcement

This week I want to share my review of, Disease by Hans M. Hirschi.

Disease by Hans M. Hirschi is as beautifully written, as it is heartbreaking.  This is not a lite fun read that you pick up on vacation to relax.  This is a story to make you think and feel.

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Disease is about one man Hunter MacIntyre who has recently been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He decides to keep a journal of his disease as a means to hang on to his memories. But the story isn’t only about Hunter it’s about Ethan and Amy (Hunter’s husband and daughter) Ethan, Hunter’s partner, also tells the other side of the story addressing sections of the journal that Hunter has written.  At first this is more about context to explain how he found the journal. However, as you move through the story and Hunter’s disjointed thoughts and memories Ethan’s interjections becomes more about telling the reader what is really going on as Hunter get’s worse.

As I mention this is heartbreaking story, but so powerful and wonderfully written that anyone who has a loved one who is suffering with Alzheimer should read it. The author paints a real picture of how this awful disease not only affects the individual with the disease but their entire family.

I love that Hans, took this painful topic and showed it to us through the eyes of a LGBT family, especially since this story takes place prior to Marriage Equality becomes legal in the United States.  This is important part to the story, as the couple has to consider all the legal ramifications that could affect their family. It’s painful to think about, and read, just how terrifying this reality has been for many people.

If you’re looking for a break from fantasy, romance, Science Fiction, or whatever definitely check out this story. Be warned you’re going to need a lot of Kleenex and you may want to take a few breaks to hug your kids and call your parents.

Get your copy of, Disease here.


About Hans:

Hans is an author who writes about things that are important to him: family, parenting, children, the environment, the world. Contemporary, fresh fiction with unconventional, hopeful or happy endings.  He’s married to his husband Alex and together they have a beautiful four-year-old son, Sascha. He considers himself a citizen of the world, having lived on two continents and traveled extensively. When he’s not writing, he likes to do public speaking or training (where he has his professional background).

You can find more about Hans here


This week I would also like to share the news that my new short story, A Dragon for Christmas will be released on Dec 18th. It’s already getting some great reviews so check it out.

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On Amazon find it here
On NineStar Press find it here
See some of the early reviews on Goodreads here


I'm hoping at some point to have Hans here for an interview.  So keep your eyes open.  Otherwise, have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be kind to one another. 

My Characters Made Me Do It - By Morticia Knight

First off, I’d like to give a big thanks to M.D. Neu for inviting me to be a guest at his blog. It’s great to be here! When we were first going back and forth over what might be a good topic for today’s post, he mentioned that he doesn’t write romance, and also wondered what my feelings were regarding my journey as a published author over the past six years. Those might seem like separate topics, but they really aren’t.

I’ve been living in an imaginary world since I was twelve with an eye toward becoming a published career author. It wasn’t a ‘someday when I grow up’ sort of plan, it was more like a ‘next week after gym class’ one. When you’re twelve and make such a grand pronouncement, parents tend to roll their eyes, pat you on the head and say ‘sure you are’. Writer’s Digest magazine subscriptions, Annual Publishing and Literary Agent Guides notwithstanding, I caved at fourteen after my first rejection. I told myself that whoever that William Morrow guy was, he didn’t know what he was talking about, so who needs him anyway? I then promptly changed my career aspirations to Rock Star—which made so much more sense. As I was saying, fourteen.

Fast forward a zillion years later. Spoiler alert: The rock star thing didn’t work out. Off and on while I was going through the hassles of pursuing a music career (ugh, not for me), a brilliant story idea would jump into my head and demand I tend to it at once. Thankfully, one of my earlier computers destroyed all evidence of those little disasters by crashing. Saved by bad technology. Who knew?

I do need to stop right here, though, and point something out to those of you who hold yourself back from writing over your fear of those little disasters. They’re mandatory in the process of growing as a writer. Can’t be avoided. The only way to get good at something, is to keep doing it over and over and over. You never get it right, but you get better at it.

Okay, back to my eventual decision to pursue writing again. It began gradually, sort of dipping my toes in. I wrote bios for other musicians, or the CD liner notes. Reviews in entertainment mags, press releases, that sort of thing. Then I graduated to ghostwriting the memoir for a Hunter S. Thompson era journalist and co-writing with a rising guitar some of his early career anecdotes. No, it wasn’t fiction, but it was storytelling. Bios and press releases are like blurbs and taglines—they’re needed, and help train your mind to break things down to the bare bones. Beginning, middle and end. A complete story arc.

But the plot bunnies that were destroyed in the great computer crash of 2006 refused to die. The rambling, disjointed and cliché ridden drivel I’d twisted them into had, but the seeds were still there and hadn’t been poisoned. Now, is this the point I determined, why yes, I shall now write MM Romance and nothing else forever more? Nope. I started writing literary short stories, and dusted off those bunnies which all centered around various sci-fi and dystopian themes. One was very dark and twisted, others were more along the lines of Starman. Eventually, the Starman-esque ones took prevalence, and I was bored senseless with my so-called literary shorts (I had all of two of them published in a teensy community college lit mag), and didn’t feel I was doing the darker stuff justice. So, I stayed with what felt right, what I was being pulled toward more.

A couple things happened to me within a few months of each other during 2010 that changed everything. I had to have some minor surgery, so was bedridden at home for a few weeks, and during that time, I discovered an open submission call from a writer’s newsletter I subscribed to. My job was as a salary-exempt manager, so the sudden downtime had me antsy. I also figured I’d never have the opportunity to spend endless hours researching the latest in the publishing industry as I would while I was laid up, so I really made the most of it.

I clicked on the link for the open submission call, and discovered it was for an erotic romance publisher looking for short stories to include in an anthology featuring threesomes. Whoa. What is this sorcery? Obviously, I was a bit behind the times—salary exempt jobs will do that to you—because this was a hallelujah moment. It occurred to me that all the hand-wringing I’d been doing over how much sex to include or not include in my sci-fi stories, and whether they should have any romantic elements at all, would be non-issues if I wrote for an erotic romance publisher. Or, if I wrote romance.

My characters had been pulling me in that direction for years, but I’d been digging in my heels, resisting it because I’d never viewed myself as a romance writer. I decided to randomly order the top-selling romances from several erotic romance sites, and I included all pairings: MF, MM, MFM, MMF, FF and so on. I paid particular attention to the threesomes because of the call I wanted to submit a story for. What I discovered once I let myself read and enjoy those stories, was that I should quit fighting my characters and embrace the romance, make it a part of the character’s journey instead of an aside. 

I didn’t get accepted to that call, but the editor from it recommended my story to another editor at the same publisher, and I was accepted for an anthology that she was working on. The moment I received my first acceptance, everything changed for me. My attitude about my writing and what I wanted to do with it and how I was going to keep it going took over my life. The next story I sent in was also a threesome (MMF), since I’d already had positive results from that combo and because I had a really cool idea.

That’s the kicker. You have to have a cool idea, right? While driving to work one day—which is when I used to get a lot of my ideas— a scene popped into my head that had the ‘what would happen if?’ thought bubble attached to it. Those thought bubbles are essential to all writers. This one involved a gay firefighter recruit walking in on the straight fire chief—only to discover he’s not all that straight. What would happen? Is the fire chief angry, embarrassed, freaked out because he’s closeted? Is the firefighter recruit intrigued, shocked, thrilled, also embarrassed or all of the above? What would be the result of the actions they take after that night? 

I came up with a synopsis for that story and two others, then pitched it to my publisher as a three-book series. They said yes, it morphed into a six-book bestseller and Morticia Knight, Author of MM Romance was born. I should probably add something to all this. I didn’t arrive in the world of MM Romance via fanfic the way many have, haven’t been around as long, and I wasn’t aware until I’d been publishing for a while, that there was some backlash over women writing gay romance. I was instantly perplexed.

Tennessee Williams is one of the best playwrights of all time, and has written two of the most beautifully tragic and heartfelt female characters in modern theater. Stephen King has written some incredibly strong female characters—Dolores Claiborne and Fran from The Stand are two who come to mind—and he wrote them from the women’s POV. Got into their heads and hearts, and it never occurred to me to question his right to create those characters or to tell their difficult stories. I met Christopher Rice at a book convention a couple years ago, and we sort of joked about him writing MF romance and me writing MM romance, and it was a shoulder-shrug, laugh about it moment. No big deal.

I do believe in ‘own voices’, I believe it’s vital that people of color, those with disabilities, and everyone on the LGBTQ spectrum write, write and write. That as readers, we take the time to read their words and learn their truths. But, my own voice friends and family members also want their stories told as much as possible, by whoever wants to write from an informed stance. (I’ve already rambled on as it is, so the research aspect of ‘getting it right’ would have to be a whole other post!) Once I began writing again, I didn’t tell my muse to discriminate and I let my characters lead me where they wanted to go. The result has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me as an artist.

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Oh, before I leave, I should mention that I did finally get a sci-fi series published! Yay! It’s not exactly Starman, no intergalactic babies or Dutch apple pie, but there’s lots of BDSM sex, gummy bears and it’s MMM (one human, two aliens *grin*). Also, it has a plot. No really, an actual plot with intrigue and uprisings and mysterious evil forces and lots of other cool sci-fi/dystopian stuff. It’s the Soul Match series, and Book Four, Surrendering For Two, was just released. If any of the above sounds interesting to you, please check it out!


Surrendering For Two (Soul Match 4)

Strength is found when surrendering to destiny.

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Graham has suffered way too much at the hands of the Nall. Ever since he was enslaved after the invasion, he’s been raped and tortured by the Alasharian Supreme Commander and his cohorts. Condemned to die by hanging for his part in the human rebellion, Graham gives in to the inevitable, no longer caring if he lives or dies. But an unexpected event occurs and, at the last moment, Graham is saved.

Balor is a guard to the Nall, but he’s also a part of the growing rebellion among the Alasharians. When one of the Nall’s advisors enlists his help in getting a human prisoner to safety, Balor comes to his aid. Startled by the soul match hum that sparks to life when he touches Graham, but unable to do anything about it, Balor is determined to protect his human match at all costs. When Advisor Oman arrives on the scene to rescue Balor as he helps Graham to escape, it becomes clear that yet another alien/human triad is forming—even if Graham may never accept being bonded to two aliens after the trauma he’s endured at the hands of Alasharians.

The time has come to depart to the secret military complex where the human and Alasharian allies will stage their final assault against the Nall and the Void. Families are reunited and others torn apart as they prepare for battle. The allies fear what will become of them all if Chris, the special human Sha Sha Ar has chosen as their spiritual leader, is no longer there to guide them.

Where you can buy the book:

Amazon US 
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Pride Publishing
First For Romance


About Morticia Knight:

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Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little hearts desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share—her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Since then, she’s been fortunate enough to have several books on bestseller lists along with three series’ titles receiving recognition in the Rainbow Book Awards.

Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the North Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men, she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons. 

Morticia’s Social links:
Website/blog click here
Amazon Author Page click here
Twitter click here
Facebook Author page click here
Instagram click here
Pinterest click here
Wattpad click here