Interview with Author Mike Galloway

I want to welcome author Mike Galloway to my Scribbles Page today. Mike is the author of TCS: The Studio (Tribal Culture Studio Book 1) and Before the Game: Drake.


Mike thank you for stopping by today for a chat. Before we dive in why don’t you introduce yourself and your writing.

Well, my name’s Mike, and I’m working on a coming-of-age erotic LGBT novel series (wow that’s a handful). It’s about a young college dropout named Jason who wants to pursue his dream of having his own modeling agency while getting a boyfriend along the way. TCS: The Studio is the first book in the series, and Before the Game: Drake is a spin-off involving Drake and Gage, two water polo players Jason interacts with during the first book.

Excellent. Let’s jump in.

First, I want to compliment you on your website I checked it out and it’s really cool that you set it up from the characters’ point of view. Considering all the work that goes into creating a website, how many books do you plan on having in the series? Is this going to be an ongoing series with books for each of the models?

There will be at least three books in the main series, more likely four, with each one building on the events of the previous book. In addition, there will be some spin-offs that can be much more erotic in nature or focus on events that don’t fit in the main series. The main series mostly focuses on Jason, while the spin-offs would focus on the others. Ryker, Noel, and Tyler are also heavily featured in the main books.

Tell us what inspired you to write this series.

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I was heavily interested in photography while I was in high school, taking pictures of friends and sporting events. Several friends of mine were water polo players as well, so I decided to combine the two interests to make the core of the series. Jason is based off me when I was in high school, except a little bit more eccentric.

As for why it’s in San Diego, I wanted to set TCS aside from the numerous stories that take place in LA and San Francisco and breathe life into a fresher setting. I am also more familiar with that city as I have family down there. The last couple of years, I’ve made a few trips down there to visit family, scout out settings, and watch a whole lot of water polo.

Clearly you enjoy water polo, did you play? Or were you just a spectator?

I wasn’t able to play myself, since my parents didn’t want me hurt. I was on the yearbook staff in my senior year of high school, so I got to go to a lot of the games to take pictures.

Well, I guess if you couldn’t play then being a supporter is the way to go. Moving on from water polo, what can you share with us about the book and the series?

The first seeds of the series were planted around six years ago, with three of the main characters living in a dorm room in San Diego while attending college. While a lot of the original work for that is lost (About three computers ago), the setting and the characters marched on. As time went by, I decided to age the characters up a bit to further reflect the new story ideas I had. Other characters came and went, and a few that didn’t make the cut in Studio might appear in other books.

Sounds like a long journey. It always amazes me how the writing process works like that. You may have one idea and by the time you finish it’s completely transformed into something you never expected.

I guess I’d say so. On the other hand, I don’t consider myself a pure pantser, since I have to know where the story is going to go before writing it. This is especially true when writing a series, since every book has to be intertwined with the others to make one whole arc composed of several smaller ones.

Nicely said. So, I have to ask, who is your favorite character right now?

That’s a tough one. Everyone’s got their quirks, and it’s hard for me to pick just one. In some ways, I kind of like Tyler because of how brutally honest he can be. Tyler’s also the easiest character for me to write as he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

I have a few characters like that, and I would have to agree. The free speakers are always the easiest to write for. If you don’t mind I want to jump back to your website, if you decide to write something different are you going to create a special website for that as well?

Depends on its size. I’ve written some short stories, and those can be found in the archives section of TCS’s website. That section is not “in character” so that I can showcase my other work. If I plan out an unrelated series or standalone book, then there may be a site for that.

Cool. Well considering how much work you put into this website I can’t imagine wanting to waste it.

Of course not. TCS is my passion.

From your bio I see you were raised in Central California, what was that like? Everyone thinks that California is either San Francisco or Los Angeles, so what was it like where you lived?

I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, which is the closest place California has to a Bible Belt. Until the 1990’s, members of the Ku Klux Klan ran Visalia where I’m from specifically. Growing up, my brother claimed he had seen a cross burning a few blocks south of our house.

It’s hard to believe that people are like that, but sadly they are, and things like that happen everywhere.

Many of the people were homophobic, and in high school, the school district had one of the schools make a “bullying” documentary targeting LGBT people. In short, the message was, “If a straight person gets bullied, it’s the bully’s fault. If an LGBT person gets bullied, it’s their own fault.” Keep in mind this was in the 2000’s, and there were several people in the valley who have been killed due to their sexuality, even to this day.

I’m glad I got out of there and into a more accepting environment.

I can’t imagine growing up like that. We forget how lucky we are. Especially when you hear stories like that. I’m glad you made it out of all that.

You mention you’ve been writing since you were fourteen, care to share a little about what you wrote early on? For me, when I was younger, writing was a way for me to process my emotions, what did writing mean to you at that time? Does it still mean the same thing now?

Writing’s been a form of therapy. I’d rather not go into specific details regarding the stories I wrote as a teenager, but when I was a senior in high school, I had written a script for a full-length RPG that will never see the light of day. The plot might return, but the script itself is long lost and wasn’t very good.

Fair enough. Still a full-length Role-Paying-Game sounds pretty amazing. I hope you are able to use it again.

I see that you now live in Las Vegas, that has to be quite a change from where you grew up. Obliviously you must like it there, care to tell us about it?

Vegas has given me a lot of opportunities that I could not get before moving here. There are things to do every single day. Just about every weekend, people can go to different fairs, open mic nights, and on the first Friday of every month, we have the aptly-named First Friday, a block party south of Downtown where people sell their goods/art/local food. I’ve gone a couple of times, and it was great to see all the different performers and people having fun.

That sounds amazing. Tell me, when you aren’t writing what do you like to do, other than going to street fairs?

I like to travel around. I’ve been all over Europe, been to the east coast a few times, and a few other spots. I’ve got plenty of stories of different experiences I’ve encountered. In fact, the hotel in Before the Game: Drake is based off the hotel I stayed at in New Jersey. I’m also a bit of a gamer, playing Final Fantasy XIV in the few spare hours I get whenever I’m not working on something.

Is part of that ‘something’ creating the characters you have on the website? Did you create them or did you hire someone to create them?

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I hired an artist on Patreon to do the base artwork. I’ve worked with Finch for around two years. He drew all the guys, while I did all the typography, editing, and formatting for the website and for the novel. His page (NSFW) can be found here.

Very cool. I’ll have to check it out at some point. What’s next for you? What can we expect to see in the near future?

I am working on the second book, TCS: Into Summer as we speak. It focuses more on Tyler, who’s (mostly) on the back burner in the first book. I am also writing some non-TCS related stories that I hope to share soon.

Sounds like you have a lot going on. Is there anything else you want to share with us today?

First, I’d like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be interviewed here. It means a lot.

It’s my pleasure.

Second, please look forward to the next free promo weekend on Amazon, which will be in either November or early December.

Oh, free promos. Cool. Where can people find that information?

Facebook’s the easiest way to get into contact with me (as myself). There and Instagram are where I will provide info for the free promo weekends or other events that will be happening in the future. Twitter’s “in character” just like the site, so the guys won’t be advertising as much.

Excellent. Well thank you for stopping by and spending time with me and my Scribblers.

Find the books on Amazon here.

That’s it for this week Scribblers. I hope you check out Mike’s books and go find him and his boys on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram and on their website. Until next time have a great week. Remember you can share and like this below. If you have questions for Mike, leave them in the Comments section and I’ll ensure he pops on over and answers them.


About Mike E. Galloway

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Raised in Central California, Mike E. Galloway grew up in a world filled with the expectations of heteronormativity and homophobia. He overcame these expectations by writing LGBT stories and vignettes ever since the age of 14 and has never turned back since.

Mike lives in Las Vegas, NV and is currently working on a 3 to 4-book series featuring a young gay photographer who is on a journey to find love and his way in the world. The first of the series, TCS: The Studio, was released in September of 2018. Find out more or join the community by clicking here.

Social Media Links:

Find Mike on Facebook here.

Find TCS Studios on Instagram here.

Find Jason’s Twitter Page here.

Find Ryker’s Twitter Page here.

Find Noel’s Twitter Page here.

Find Tyler’s Twitter Page here.

October Updates and Special Announcement

Wow, can you believe we are already in October? Crazy right? This week I wanted to provide a personal and writing update. Also, I have an exciting special announcement so stay tuned (this is a Scribbler Exclusive). Let’s get to it shall we.

The last few months a lot has been going on with my writing and me. If you’ve been following along then you know we have been amid a bathroom remodel. We can now see light at the end of the tunnel. Thank goodness! It hasn’t been that bad, but it’s exhausting. I’ll be thrilled when construction is over and we have, not only, our bathroom back, but also our house (if you want to see the images from the construction check them out here and here). Once everything is complete, I’ll provide a final update with photos for you to check out.

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When it comes to my writing, I’m working on The Calling – Book 2, which I’m toying with naming… The Called. There are a couple of reasons for this name, which I can’t get into now, no spoilers and all, but the name is significant within the story. Also, it was one of the names suggested by a reader over on my Facebook Page (check it out here). What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Overall, the writing is going well and my goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of the year, which is ambitious, but we’ll see. Should be a piece of cake, right?

Oh, did you see the character interviews I have with two popular characters from The Calling? If you want to know more about Victor Rey (click here) and Juliet de Exter (click here). You need to check them out, they were a ton of fun and you might get hints into what may be coming in The Called - Book 2 in The Calling Series.

This month I will be getting the edits from my Editor for A New World – Contact Part One (learn more by clicking here) which is slated for release on January 21, 2019. As with The Calling there will be a launch party here in San Jose. If you’re in the area or can make it out this way stay tuned for more details in the early part of January 2019. I hope to see you there, last year it was a lot of fun… just saying.

Believe it or not, I have a second book coming out next year T.A.D – The Angel of Death (learn more by clicking here) it be released on March 11, 2019. As with A New World – Contact there will be many more details as we approach launch day.

I’m looking forward to sharing these new characters and new universes I’ve created with you.

Now for my Special Announcement. This is a Scribbler’s Exclusive… drum roll, please…

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I have a limited number of copies of The Calling, which I will personalize, autograph, and send out to folks in the US for $20. This is a print book, and the cost covers the physical book and shipping (standard USPS mail nothing fancy). To be part of this limited exclusive offer of The Calling First Edition please email me at info@mdneu.com and we can work out the details (name, mailing address, and payment). If you are outside the US and would like to take advantage of this amazing deal, please email me and let’s see what we can work out. I will keep this offer open for a limited time (I’m not saying when it will end). And remember for right now this is a Scribbler Exclusive, so take advantage of it now before time runs out and I open it up.

Well gang, that’s all I have this week. Coming up later this month, I have a couple of amazing interviews so keep an eye open. Remember to like and share below. See you all next week.

A Knight in Distress – Book Announcement

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Today I’m excited to share a new book with you. The book comes from fellow author and writing buddy Barbara Russell. I’ve had the pleasure and reading several of Barabar’s books and could not recommend A Knight in Distress more highly. I plan on having Barbara over for a chat, but I wanted to provide you with this announcement today. Even though I’m not including a review at this time I’ve read the novel and A knight in Distress is amazing and is a total must buy.


Blurb:

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Blurb:

Knights are supposed to rescue damsels. That’s the natural order. So when seventeen-year-old Nathair, a Briton knight in training, finds himself rescued by the princess he should have saved, he’s annoyed.

By saving Princess Bryhannon from the warlord Torgall, Nathair hoped that his dreams of becoming a knight, paying off his family’s debts, and overcoming the stigma of his russet skin would come true. Now that he’s failed, he must find another way to fulfil his desires.

Bryhannon is a Morrigan: a witch blessed with the power of the raven goddesses of war. To Bryhannon, it feels more like a curse. With magic this strong, she has a difficult time hiding her abilities. If the wizards discover who she is, they’ll kill her for women are forbidden to use magic or weapons, and she is good at both. Her only hope is to find the Rache: a magical artefact, which will gain her the protection of the infamous Raven Coven of Tintagel.

While in Torgall’s land, Nathair and Bryhannon discover his plan. Torgall wants to steal the animax—the fuel powering the automatons that have replaced the round table knights of New Camelot—and sell it to the enemy.

Before Bryhannon can seek safety in the Raven Coven, and Nathair can prove he deserves to be a knight, they must prevent Torgall from stealing the animax, or the enemy will use the animax to fuel an army of clockwork knights ready to invade the land of the Britons.

Where to Buy:

Amazon – Click here

Champagne Book Group – Click here


Excerpt

One

Nathair hadn’t planned to end his last day at Sir Lancelot’s Academy for Knights getting caught cheating on his final examination. Especially since the cheating had been a misunderstanding. The incriminating piece of parchment was still in his best friend’s extended hand. General Baldwin loomed over Nathair in his emerald uniform, one eyebrow arched in disappointment.

“Sir, I wasn’t—” Nathair started, standing at his desk.

“Don’t even try, Locksbay.” General Baldwin held up a hand to silence him. “The situation is clear enough. I’ve caught your friend Tristan red-handed passing you that piece of paper with the correct Numeracy answers. Cheating is not only against the academy rules, but the Knights’ Honor Code as well.”

Ouch. That hurts. Nathair wasn’t a cheater. He was an average student maybe, but never a cheater. He bit down the remark and ignored his fellow cadets whispering and giggling behind his back. They leaned forward on their wooden desks, heads turning from him to the general like in a game of stool-ball. Many cadets would enjoy seeing the only russet-skinned boy at the academy being publicly scolded.

Tristan of Greystone stood and bowed to the general. His blond hair swished about his shoulders. “General Baldwin, it’s my fault. It was my idea to help Nathair. I knew he needed help with Numeracy, and I thought to pass him the answers. He didn’t ask me anything.”

That was true, and swyve. Tristan excelled at many things—he was the academy’s top cadet—but persuading people was his most honed skill. His confident tone, reassuring smile, and bright blue eyes could soothe the most inveterate criminal into turning himself in.

General Baldwin waved a dismissive hand. “You can sit down, Greystone, and keep going with your examination, but I’ll take fifty points off your final score for breaking the rules.”

Tristan did as told, casting an apologetic glance at Nathair.

General Baldwin took Nathair’s test and scanned it. “Let’s see why you wanted Greystone’s intervention.”

When his gray eyebrows shot up, Nathair smelled trouble. He didn’t need the mind-reading power of the mind-wrens to guess what the general was thinking. The bell echoed in the high-vaulted ceiling of the

Training Hall, and Nathair exhaled. Chairs scraped back against the wooden floor.

Now he was done for.

“Locksbay,” General Baldwin’s voice sounded stern, “…follow me to my office.”

“Of course, sir.” He collected his quill, parchments, and ink bottle and stuffed them in his bag.

“Sorry,” Tristan whispered. “I’ll wait for you here.”

With heavy feet, Nathair followed the man who might expel him. He swallowed hard, thinking about his mentor. What would Ewhen say when he heard about this? Nathair shuffled behind the general along the Champions’ Corridor lined with famous knights’ suits of armor. They headed to the eastern tower of the castle toward the mechanical winch.

Before entering the narrow cabin that would lift him up to the third floor, Nathair hesitated. Traveling suspended by an iron cable wasn’t his idea of a safe trip. In comparison, the clockwork stairs, despite the grinding noise of the steps winding up, seemed safer. Nathair stepped inside the cabin and shoved his hands in his blue cloak pockets, while the winch coiled up with a grinding of metal against stone. From a gap between two metal plates, he caught a glimpse of rotating wheels and pumping pistons.

Once at the landing, Nathair trudged toward General Baldwin’s office. The oak door closed behind them with a thud. The room had four floor-to-ceiling windows, a high-vaulted ceiling, and a fireplace that resembled a dragon’s open jaw. Despite the size of the room, Nathair’s chest constricted. He breathed in the familiar smell. The musty scent of old parchments mingled with that of the armchairs’ worn leather.

“Sit.” General Baldwin sat on his throne-like chair.

Nathair groaned and dropped down onto one of the stuffed chairs. No chance this would be quick.

General Baldwin scanned Nathair’s test, his eyes darting up and down. “You have twenty-five points. It’s not good enough, but it’s not an excuse to cheat either.”

He didn’t reply. He’d rather take the blame than involve Tristan. Besides, telling the truth wouldn’t change his score.

General Baldwin drummed his fingers on the desk. “What happened? You were a good student. Not the finest, but decent. This,” he gestured at the paper, “is not what I’d have expected from you, and I’m not talking about today’s examination.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a leather folder fat with parchments. He unfastened the string and spread them out.

Nathair gripped the armrests.

“I had a look at your tests and assignments, and I’m very disappointed.” General Baldwin flipped through the stack of papers. “In your last Wildlife and Wild-flora test you scored an Insufficient, same thing with Music and Courteous Conversation.”

He shook his head. A sickening lump crawled into his stomach. Please, anything but Poetry.

“For example, Poetry.” As General Baldwin read, his frown deepened. “Dame Puddifoot wrote only one word about your poetic skills: hopeless. What is your obsession with cats? Cats are all over your poems. You must love them.”

Hardly. Cat rhymed with everything: fat, hat, sat, bat, mat—the possibilities were endless.

“And I see no extracurricular skills or activities.” He stared at Nathair.

He wiped his hands on the trousers of his uniform and pulled back a curled strand of his chestnut hair. Call it a hunch but breaking into Lady Guinevere’s Damsels Academy using nothing but two knives probably wasn’t an extracurricular skill the general would be interested in, but then someone had to release those greasy pigs into Lady Guinevere’s dormitory. Last week, the ladies had filled the cadets’ quivers with honey. It was only sensible that the cadets returned the favor, and Tristan needed help to sneak into the rooms of his many girlfriends.


About Barbara Russell:

I’m an entomologist and a soil biologist, which is a fancy way to say that I dig in the dirt, looking for bugs. Nature and books have always been my passion. I was a kid when I read Ivanhoe by Sir W. Scott and fell in love with medieval novels. Then I discovered medieval fantasy, and I fell in love again. In fact, I took it too seriously and believed that my elderly, bearded neighbor was Merlin and his black cat was Morgan le Fey. When I read Harry Potter and learned about Animagi, I knew I was right. Then I grew up and… nah, I’m joking. I didn’t grow up. Don’t grow up, folks! It’s a trap.

PS I hate gardening. There, I said it. Sorry fellow Kiwis.

Where to find Barbara:

Find her on Twitter here.

Find her on Facebook here and here.

Find her website here.

Find her blog here.

Find her on Amazon here.

Interview with Editor and Author Jason Huffman-Black (Professional Editing name: Jason Bradley)

Today on my Scribbles Page I have the honor of welcoming Editor and Author Jason Huffman-Black. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jason for the last year and a half and today I’ve finally pinned him down for a chat.

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To start, I just have to say I’m so happy to have you here. I’ve got a bunch of questions not only about your life as an Editor but as a fellow writer especially now that I finished your novel Snakes Among Sweet Flowers, which by the way was brilliant. However, before we get into that please introduce yourself, your writing, and your editing.

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Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here. My name is Jason Bradley. I’ve been editing for the past ten years, for several publishers and also freelance through Superior Author Services (click here for all the details). I get paid to do my favorite thing—read. Needless to say, I love my job.

I write under the name Jason Huffman-Black, with one novel, Snakes Among Sweet Flowers, published at Dreamspinner Press (click here for more about the book).

How about you tell us something that isn’t in your bio. Something that most people don’t know about you.

I’m 38 years old and live in Fort Worth TX with my partner. We have joint custody of our teenage daughter. I’m a submissive and a masochist. My partner is my dominant and the love of my life.

Thanks for sharing. Now, where to start. First, if you don’t mind, let’s talk about your writing. Tell us about Snakes Among Sweet Flowers.

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Snakes is the story of Cam, an ex-con, who has moved to a small town to start over and hide out from old enemies. His plan isn’t exactly to go the straight and narrow, though. More to find some unsuspecting new victims for his scams. But in small towns, everyone knows everyone else as well as what they’re up to, and Cam soon realizes that makes his life of crime a bit more difficult.

Jackson is a member of the local law enforcement who immediately has his suspicions of what Cam has planned and isn’t going to allow it.

While the two are at odds from the beginning, they also find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other.

I’m not a big romance reader (or writer for that matter) but I have to admit this was wonderfully written and I could tell you put a lot of heart into this story and characters. So what inspired you to write Snakes Among Sweet Flowers? Where did the story come from?

Thank you. I’m glad that the emotion I felt while writing Snakes Among Sweet Flowers came through in my words. I’m prone to getting inspiration from songs. I don’t remember the song on the radio, but I was driving somewhere alone, one of my favorite thinking times, and the first scene of the book came to me as I listened to the radio. I had such a clear vision of Cam and his inner struggles. I went home and wrote that scene, then kept writing. I never planned the book out. In fact, I had no idea where it was going.

Wow, I would have taken you for a planner, especially since you’re an Editor as well.

No. However, I scheduled a time once a week to write and aimed to complete a chapter each week. Most of the time, I started writing without even knowing where my characters would be at the end of the chapter.

This story has many of my own personal struggles embedded within. I’ve struggled to come to terms with religion and parent issues. Since I grew up in Georgia, the characters, while maybe not directly modeled after one person, are familiar personalities to me. I think my grandmother stands out as a major influence to the side characters in Hog Mountain. Those side characters are my love letter to small-town USA.

That is very cool. One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was near the end with the preacher, that was nicely handled and without given any spoilers was that part always intentional? For me it was one of the most emotional parts of the book (which rarely happens to me) did something like that actually happen or was that scene strictly your doing?

I grew up in the Church of Christ and it was not pleasant. Nothing like that scene ever occurred to me. More a fantasy of what could be, I guess.

That’s unfortunate. Nothing wrong with that kind of fantasy. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

Thank you. It’s made me a stronger person, and a more accepting one as well…I hope.

I have to ask, do any of the main characters Jackson, Cameron, or Grant reflect anyone in your life? Maybe you or someone you know? I’m asking because for me I know these guys. I’ve met them all in my life and I felt really connected to them.

You know, all three had some of me in them. And some of others. Jackson has a lot of Mark, one of my dearest friends, the blond good guy, idealistic Superman personality. Then again, some of the things he did, like going with his parents to clean up the church before services, that was direct memories from my life. Cam has a lot of Ethan, my partner, in him, but as I said, many of his struggles are very personal. And Grant! I have known so many Grants. I kinda wish I could write Grant his happily-ever-after because he deserves one.

Grant is definitely unique and given what I’ve read I can see how he could use a happily-ever-after.

Many of my readers didn’t like him and I can understand why. But Grant is a creature of his environment. He’s learned that even though most everyone assumes or knows he’s gay, he will be accepted as long as it’s never actually acknowledged. As long as he wears a thin façade of heterosexuality, everyone can turn a blind eye to anything that might conflict with that image.

He comes across as one of the snakes of the story, but he’s very much a victim, along with his family, and his cattiness derives from being well aware of how hypocritical people can be.

One thing I want to compliment you on in your writing are the ‘adult’ scenes, you handle them so well. You don’t drag them out for pages and pages showing all he mechanics of everything, which is wonderful for me, because I really don’t care about that especially as I read. I don’t need the help, I get the idea and I know how it all works. So was this intentional on your part? Keeping the scenes simple and to the point? Also, I want to commend you for keeping it real often times romance writers go so far to the extreme I have a hard time believing any of the adult scenes are based in reality. Thank you for that.

I’m feeling you on this one. I was actually asked to add more to one of the sex scenes. I only added a few lines, though. I know that some people want the super-long sex scenes that tell every move a guy makes and how many fingers they use to get them there. To each his own, but for me, that usually stops the flow of the story dead in its tracks. I want any sex scene to progress the storyline, not halt it. But I want them to be hot too. And I don’t think things have to be super graphic to be hot.

Definitely not. There is a lot to be said for the ‘fade to black’.

I agree. I have nothing against sex scenes, but I have an active imagination, so fade-to-black works for me too.

I know you have a few other works out there just curious at what you think I (and everyone else) should read next?

I have a free short story called I Am the Highway and then I have what I would call more of a scene for an event on Goodreads called Just Be. If anyone would like either of those, I can provide them. I’ve actually considered adding to I Am the Highway and publishing. Maybe someday. I also have a very short piece in an anthology titled Crack the Darkest Sky Wide Open. Otherwise, I don’t really have anything else out there. I’m hoping to correct that in the near future. I’ve got several half finished manuscripts.

What are you waiting for? Get to it man. (Chuckles)

That’s the plan!

Now let’s move on to your life as an Editor. Tell us a little about that? What’s it like being an editor?

It’s wonderful. Like with any reader, there are definitely some stories I enjoy more than others, but there is a great pleasure in helping an author to make their story the best it can be.

People don’t always understand how much work goes into editing, care to share your thoughts on the subject. If you could wave your magic wand what would be the one thing you want all authors and readers to know about editing?

It’s important. Don’t rush. Don’t skimp. Find an editor who works with your style of writing and listen to them. That doesn’t mean accepting everything they suggest, but remember that rules are there for a reason, so consider the advice given. Argue your case when you disagree, but don’t get mad. Editors are there to help you.

I know it’s hard to hear someone criticize your “baby,” but use that criticism constructively.

That is good advice. You really need to trust your Editor, especially if you’re a new author.

I agree, but don’t be afraid to debate a change or ask why a rule is important to follow.

Do you have any tips or tricks you can share to help in the writing process? We all write every day, so are there general tips that everyone can use? And to that point what about authors what is the one thing you wish all authors would learn to make the editing process go a lot easier?

I think the main thing is to learn from your edits. Sometimes I over-explain the reason for an edit, but it’s so the author can understand and learn why they shouldn’t do a certain thing.

The most time-consuming work on an edit is when an author doesn’t remain firmly in one Point-of-View (POV) during a scene. Everyone has the occasional slip, but I’m talking about constant switches. Head-hopping, as it is called, is a bitch to fix. By choosing the POV character at the beginning of a scene and placing yourself firmly in their head, writing the scene as if looking through their eyes, you will save yourself and your editor a ton of work. Consider that the POV character can’t see their own face and that they only know the underlying emotion and motivation of their actions. Consider the personality of the POV character. Would they notice certain things?

If John is the POV character, he would not comment on the color of his own eyes or know that they sparked with his anger. John wouldn’t know what the person mumbled under their breath so no one could hear them. He can’t report that no one noticed the person peeking in the window, because John would have to notice it in order to report it in the scene.

I remember having to fix all that at one point in my first story. It was a pain in the butt to fix. Now, I think, I don’t have that issue… too often.

Any good writer will tell you that they have learned something new with each release and evolved. Don’t be afraid to change. Otherwise, we stagnate.

Now, as an Editor, what is your favorite type of genre to edit?

That’s a hard one. The most difficult to edit is probably historicals, mainly due to all the names/dates/random points that need to be checked. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them, though. I do have a special place in my heart for LGBTQIA+ manuscripts. The world needs more quality books out there with diverse main characters. If there is a “gay agenda,” I nominate this as one of the primary bullet points. (I would also like to know what the other bullet points are, please?)

I’m still waiting to find out what the “gay agenda” is it seems to keep changing. Alright, we’ve chatted a bit about your writing and your editing, so when you’re not doing those two things what do you like to do? What do you do in your off hours?

Off hours? What are those? Ha!

Well, I’m an introvert who would rather stay home in most cases. I enjoy cooking and baking. I would say other than reading, that is my hobby. I bake breads and sweets and am always trying new recipes.

Oh, I love baking and cooking, well and eating. What’s your favorite things to bake?

I love breads! All kinds. I made loaves of apple cider bread to give as presents last year for Christmas. I also make small buns stuffed with meat and cheese. They are wonderful for packed lunches or even breakfast (especially my bacon and cheese ones) with a cup of coffee. And then there are cookies and muffins.

Our household is used to trying out new recipes for dinner too. I’m always finding some new recipe to try.

Anything else?

Video games, although I’m a spectator. My reaction times suck, but I adore the games so I watch and help and cheer. We are always playing something. Right now, it’s Metal Gear Solid 5.

And your Favorite game?

Maybe Resident Evil 4 but there are so many… Call of the Wild, the Uncharted series…

Cooking, Baking and Video Games what else you have for us?

I love antique oddities. Of course, since that takes money, and I am not a collector of that, I simply enjoy the ones I own. Not surprisingly, quite a few are books. Connected to this, I also love history. I feel like if there is a heaven, it will be a huge viewing room, where I can hold the remote that will allow me to work my way through the history of the world, learning all the secrets, explaining all the mysteries. And of course, there would be a bottomless bucket of popcorn to go along with it.

Yum…popcorn…I’d be there watching right along with you.

Awesome! What fun would it be to learn all those secrets and not have someone to share it with?

Just because it’s a fun ‘get to know you questions’ I have to ask do you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek Both?

Why choose one? To me, they are so different and each has their merits and flaws but are worthy and definitely treasures!

Now as far as the character I would want to know biblically… it would be the dreadlocked Wookie, Tarfful.

A Wookie. Hmm.

~snicker~

And on that note, any final thoughts for the folks reading this?

Life is so fleeting. Do what you love and make life better for those you come in contact with. Each day is a mission to rise above and be the better person. Keep reading and keep dreaming and keep writing! AND! Be good to yourself.

Nicely said. Thank you so much for joining me here today Jason. It was a real treat.

Thank you so much for inviting me. It has been my pleasure.

Well Scribblers that’s it for this week. Like Jason said go out and read and leave people in a better place than when you found them. Until next week have a great week. And remember you can like and share this Interview below by clicking on the ‘like’ button and ‘share’ button. If you have questions for Jason, leave them below and I’ll ensure he swings by and gives them an answer.


About:

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Jason Huffman-Black could be described as the porn star alter ego of the mild-mannered editor for several LGBT publishers. By day, Jason edits and writes in a cozy chair, while Mr. Huffman-Black travels the globe on such adventurous excursions as wrestling the one-eyed spitting serpent of Tangiers, ass-spelunking into the hidden tomb of King CockTut, and most recently, sharing a prison cell in a small third-world nation with a rather sweaty fur-covered hulk of a man named Javier.

Social media:

For Twitter click here.

For Tumblr click here.

For Facebook click here.

To Email Jason: vslavetopassionv@aol.com

To find him at Superior Author Services click here.

My Life Dealing with a Bathroom Remodel (The Fifth Week)

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. It’s been a busy few weeks and I hope you all have enjoyed the recent series of Interviews I’ve provided. I have another great interview coming up next week. I’m not telling you with whom, but I can’t wait to post it.

This week, I figured I would do an update on our bathroom remodel… oh yes, we are still under construction, and its been painful both financially and emotionally. Both Eric and I are trying hard not to complain and we remain grateful that we can repair all the water damage to the house and get things fixed up. However, it is taking its toll on us.

If you haven’t read about our first week of construction, you can check it out here (see the damage) so you can get caught up with the drama.

As the title says, we are on week five. I’ve attached a bunch of photos for you to look through and see the progress (click the images to scroll right).


The amount of work that has gone into our small bathroom (remember it’s 8-feet by 7-feet) is crazy. The construction team has done a lot of work and we’re pleased with the quality. But, there have been several hiccups along the way all related around communication with the contract and the scope of work. Leading me to my latest lessons learned:

Third lesson, get everything in writing, and I mean everything because communication is sketchy at best. You should make notes of the color of the paint (not the name, but the code), how many shelves you want in your shower niche, the fact that you want a shower niche, any additional work you may want done (like wall sconces instead of a single light), what your current balance is, how much more money you owe them, what does the contract say about payments, who is picking up what material and when, what is included in your contract, etc. Anything and everything you talk about, write it down, make sure they have copies of it, and you have copies. Don’t assume you are all on the same page, EVER.

This leads me to the next few lessons we learned:

Fourth lesson, you are not the only client the contractor and designer have. They are working on several jobs at once, and you are only one. The contractor and designer are human and they forget things. You may live in the construction zone and see it every day, but they don’t, and so it’s important to remember that. Try to not over react (this is difficult… very difficult… trust me).

Fifth lesson, communication can suck. Even if you meet, write things down, email and text them, communication sucks big time. This can be for many reasons. They are busy. They don’t have time to respond to you. What you sent them may not need a response. You may be just as annoying to them as they are to you at the moment. They are human, and might need a break from your craziness. Even though you are paying them an obscene amount of money for the job.

With all I’ve said above, you may think I’m being easy on the contract and designer. Trust me, I’m not. I’ve been pissed at them and irritated as hell with them for not remembering something as simple as; we needed two shelves in the shower niche… you know the freaking niche you showed us in the tile showroom. The same tile showroom we sat and picked the paint colors for the bathroom together in. Yes, that show room. Ugh… how can you not remember… you showed it to us. Okay… breathe… I’m not being easy on them, but I’m desperately trying to remember they are human and we are one of the many clients they have.

One point I quickly made above and wanted to share more about here is, when it comes to the contract and change orders knowing what you actually owe them can be tricky. And annoying as hell. You would think the Invoices would be clear, but they aren’t. The amounts can change, especially if you change the scope of work, which we’ve done. We’ve been working with the office staff, and they have been good about getting back to us and ensuring we are all on the same financial page. Still it’s been annoying to deal with especially when you’re trying to rework your inflated budget and confirm you have enough pennies saved to pay for the project.

There ya go. That is the construction update for now Scribblers. To the best of my knowledge, we still have a couple more weeks to go, but honestly, I’m not sure. What’s left? Well, they still have to finish the stucco on the outside of the house, tile the bathroom floor and shower, put in the fixtures, install the glass shower surround, finish the electrical, touch up the paint, pass inspection, and who knows what else.

Can it please just be over? Please!

Well Scribblers, I hope you have a great week. As I said at the start, I have another interview coming next week. In the meantime ‘like’ and ‘share’ (click on the buttons below) this post with friends and family who you think might be interested in learning what it’s like to live through a real life bathroom remodel (and not an HGTV version). If you have questions about this post or anything going on with my writing let me know in the comments below.

Interview with Reviewer Ryane Chatman

It is an honor to have Book Reviewer and US Air Force Veteran Ryane Chatman here today for a sit down on my Scribbles Page. I’ve gotten the pleasure of getting to know Ryane a bit and I’m above thrilled to have her here today to talk to.


Before we jump in, I want to first thank you for your service to our country.  Our military professionals never get enough credit for all they do to keep us, our families, and our country safe so from the bottom of my heart thank you. If you don’t mind why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us something about you that we’re not going to see in your bio.

 Head shot provided by Susan Bennet at Ooh St. Lou Studios click   here   for more info.

Head shot provided by Susan Bennet at Ooh St. Lou Studios click here for more info.

Hi!!!! Yep, I am always that smiley and am known to be a bit giggly. Things not available in my bio. Hmmmm, a bit of personal trivia? I am a trained Dungeon Master. I have trained Submissives and Dominants. I still do a little online training, but it is more advising these days. 

I work movie quotes into conversation. In my immediate family it is a thing we do. We also play guess the quote. If you guess wrong, you owe a refresher. This also applies to actors and actresses in movies too.  Some of the quotes you may hear if you talk to me in person: “Who dis? Who dis woman Harpo?”, “Holy Rusted Metal Batman!”, “Who’s a baaaaaaad daddy?”, and probably my favorite, “Get off the babysitter, daddy’s home.” I have only used the last one in certain settings.  

First, if you don’t mind what’s it like working for the Department of Defense, being a Technical Writer and Editor for them has got to be a pretty intense job.  What, if anything, can you tell us about it?

I have been working at the same location for eight years now. Most days are great. Supporting the military in such a direct fashion is wonderful. Honestly, I had moments of intensity, but now I spend my workdays technical editing and writing. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can be just as wonderfully trying and challenging as any other author. 

(Chuckles) Good to know it’s not just us authors who can be ‘challenging’.

Definitely not.

Thorns & Ink is your website and you do more than just book reviews (which I want to talk more about a next).  You have a variety of services, which I was delighted to see, what is it about not only reviewing but providing Personal and Executive Assistant services for authors that you enjoy so much?  Because I know how much work that can be and just how challenging it is for just myself, I can’t imagine doing it for others.

I much prefer to be in the background. My professional career and reputation has been built on making sure other shine brightly with my help. Even in my previous job, being front and center was a lot of stress for me. Handling all of the administrative tasks for authors keeps the author focused on what’s important. 

And, I’m sure it’s very much appreciated.  I don’t know anyone with an monochrome of success can handle it all.

That’s why I’m here.

Excellent. Now, moving on to Reviewing. I have to know what got you interested in being a book reviewer?

I started writing reviews in high school. I was on the school paper. I always had an interest on others opinions on the arts. My grandmother worked at the Post-Dispatch, and her best friend (Ms. Hughes) was an entertainment critic. The only way I could pick out of the submission pile after the critics picked their books, was to promise to write a critique. A lot of times Ms. Hughes sent the critique back to the publisher so they would have feedback. 

This is how I learned about and how to review and critique books. 

Wow!  You got to learn the process from a young age and have your critiques taken seriously.  That is very cool.  So, what is your goal when you read and review a book?

Goals when reviewing. That is interesting. My primary goal is to inspire purchase. 
I want to open up the possibilities of new characters to potential readers. I also like to show off the authors talents. Whether or not I like a book, I want a person to be curious to read it to find out for themselves. 

Since I do not use a rating system, I try to choose my wording and phrasing carefully. The challenging part is when authors and readers dismiss my reviews because they have to be read. They do read more like critiques, so I get the frustration at the lack of rating system. Providing a one stop rating system doesn’t work for me. I want the potential reader to see the book, the characters, and the author. Not a bunch of stuff they can find at a myriad of other places.

Are there any genre’s you won’t review?

When it comes to professional or personal reviewing, I will read anything. It really doesn’t matter. The lines that are drawn are pretty clear. I absolutely do not read bestiality or incest. (I feel the need to clarify on both, human step-parent, step-siblings are not blood related.  Royal marriages, and things of that nature in historical fiction are acceptable. For the former, I am not referring to partial shifts, I am straight up referring to sex with animals.)
 
I think that makes sense. Now what are your favorite types of books to review?

I don’t have one. I know that is strange, but I don’t. I keep my personal reading separate for the most part. It is very rare for me to review a book I purchased on my site. In fact, I think the only one is Nervous by SM Johnson. The reason that one ended up on the site is that I was completely blown away. 

After thinking about this some more: I wish I got more science fiction, magical realism, and paranormal. Romance not required. Hell, sex isn’t even a requirement. 

More thoughts: I do love a good romance. I am especially fond of courtship rituals. So even if there is mating, bonding, marriage, etc., I like to see the wooing. 

(Laughs) I know I’m not the only one who is happy to hear that. I wish we had more LGBTQIA books that focused on story and not sex.  So thank you for not make some of us feel so alone. And what would you say is your reviewing style?

Conversational with a bit of formal critique. I try to keep a specific flow going. I try to cover plot, characters, world building, personal feelings/how I relate. That doesn’t always work. While I will use swears, I do not go into any graphic nature about sex. Nor do I add trigger warnings specifically. One of the reasons I review the way I do, is because my nephew has been helping me since the beginning. While I don’t review children’s books, I don’t want to have reviews that are so graphic in nature that he can’t read them.

I don’t know if anyone has ever noticed, but I do always add a specific catchphrase for the review at the end. Those are the single most challenging bits to write. I am a poet at heart, so it can take a few minutes to get the feeling right.

Actually, I did notice.  When I read your review of The Calling, I saw what you put at the end and it made me laugh and brought a smile to my face. Seeing little touches like that, to me, shows just how much you enjoy what you do.

I do enjoy it despite how challenging it can be.

Now that we have a feel for what and how you like to review, what do you do if you just don’t like a book?

Dangerous question this one. If I don’t like a book. Hmmm. I start every book that is submitted with this thought, “Will I be entertained?”  While there are books I have reviewed that I PERSONALLY did not like, I keep in mind over all how well was the story written. This especially comes into play with modern contemporary. (I don’t buy a lot of them for my personal reading pleasure.) I will not pan a book because of personal preferences. I suppose this is a lot of compartmentalizing, but it helps. 

So, than do you simple say ‘Did not Finish’? Do you contact the author/publisher and tell them that you cannot provide a review?

I tend to be silent about it. I have seen many authors behaving badly, and I don’t like confrontation. I know this doesn’t help the author or publisher in anyway. The one time I did, I saw a bunch vaguebooking about me. I was pissed because I provided a detailed outline (something I generally only do for pay) as to what was wrong. I mark it as DNF on Goodreads, and leave it as that. If a friend asks, I will discuss privately. If the author/publisher ask, I have a canned email/message response. 

For me it’s a tough call.  I’m not sure if I want a bad review but a DNF is a tough pill to swallow.  I got one of those, and it was not a good day for me.  But at least the reviewer didn’t blow up my book. So there is that.

I know the dreaded DNF is hard to swallow. When I see those, I wonder why, and then buy the book to see. Most of the time I don’t agree. I created a shelf on Goodreads for books that, while I would have wanted to DNF, I went ahead and finished them. The shelf is called “Just No”. These are the one and done, would not recommend books. My philosophy: If I don’t shelf the book there, the author has a better than average chance of me buying their other books. The other shelf I use is called “WTF am I Reading”, and if you land here, I will recommend you. 

Okay, enough of the scary talk about DNFs let’s move on. If you could wave your magic wand what would be the perfect book to read?

I like this question. I would love to read something that has a woman of color Dominant and she has, or comes to have a male Submissive or 3. (Actually, I tried writing this myself. 3500 words later and I am not a novelist. I am a poet. No doubt about that.) She would not be rich or anything like that. Middleclass. No traumatic or dramatic upbringing either. Just something that is a slice of life, but with LOTS of kink. Add a little science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal and I will love it. I would also like it to have courtship. Wooing, if you will. She would have to show that she is worthy of the gift of submission. (This so very often left out. Even in kink books that I really enjoy, this is over looked.)

Well, now that you’ve throw it out to the universe who knows someone may write it.

That would be cool. I would BUY THAT!!!

As a writer, reviews are so important to what we do and they are never easy to get especially if they are less than flattering. What do you tell people about reviews?

Reviews are trifold. First, they are promoting a book. Regardless to whether the reviewer liked it or not, the review itself serves as marketing. Secondly, they can* provide insight for the author. A well thought out and well written review can give an author tools to improve a series, see something they missed, or even see the pure reaction to the words they have written. Whether the review is positive or negative, if it is thoughtful and well written, it can sway another reader into checking the book out.

Okay, but, let’s say I came crying on your shoulder about an awful review I just got, what would you say?

I first ask to read the review. The first thing I look for in a review is quality. Was this thoughtful and well written. (I don’t mean random typos and syntax either. I mean are the thoughts coherent and easy to follow.) I look to see if the review attacks the author personally. By that, I mean is the reviewer attacking the author’s person versus attacking the story itself. 

It is a danger for any artist to read critiques of their work. I do remind them of that. 

All of that being said, if it is a review of a book that I have read, and the interpretation is different, I can’t fault the other reviewer for that. I also can’t fault a fellow reviewer for applying personal bias, likes, and dislikes. Where I do tend to find fault, is when a negative review that an author has brought to me reeks of personal attacks. This is where I draw the line. A good reviewer can leave the author’s person out of it. 

After I go through my checklist of things that I look for in a review, I get back to the author with my assessment. If I think it is fair (even if I don’t agree), I tell them to let it go. You can’t win all of the time. I also remind them that a good negative review will beat out a voiceless 5-star review. Negative reviews inspire curiosity. 

I get that ultimately, reviews will be taken personally. As authors you have the right to express your thoughts on those reviews, however you wish. I do take into account how you handle things publically with regards reviews you or your publisher have solicited. 

Unfortunately, I have seen blog posts written in a manner that evokes talking down to readers/reviewers who are trying to learn, or understand a new to them concept, or another’s way of living. Sometimes people just simply ignorant on a subject. It happens. This is often a conundrum for me. If I am unfamiliar with the authors work, I often make a determination based on the tone of the blog post to determine whether or not I would buy their books for personal enjoyment. 

Fortunately, I don’t run into the above often enough that it hampers my reading habits. Most times, I just don’t follow those authors on any social media. It allows me to enjoy their books without reading their thoughts on other things. (I am aware this is shitty. But hey, if an author wants to submit a book for review, and they spend time ragging on reviewers, it’s best I don’t see that. By not being involved in that aspect, it keeps me from applying a haughtily written blog post to the book they submitted.)

I never think it’s helpful to engage. We all have different points of view and different takes.  I guess for me I would have agree, if the review as well written and if I could find a gain of ‘insight’ then I put it from my mind an move on, but it can be difficult. But I won’t ever attack a reviewer or a reader.  There is no point.

The only time I see that it is justified, is when the review takes a personal attack on the author. 

From negative reviews to glowing reviews.  Tell us as a reviewer what are some tips you can give authors, or any writers really, about what it is you look for in a 5-star book?

In my personal reading, the ratings are based on the following: Was I entertained? Was the book technically sound (minimal typos, syntax errors, and decent editing)? Am I talking about the book to others? Was there anything that caused a physical reaction? Do I want to write the author and tell them personally, that I was moved and why? And finally, even if I disliked the story, was the book well written? Since I ask for recommendations, I may not like the story, but I can always appreciate a well written book. 

The funny thing, I will give a 5-star to a book that is B-movie bad. I mean plot holes, questionable plot development, and even random character disappearance if the overall story is fun (think Showgirls). I will ding a book if all the afore mentioned things are sound, and the authors spends 300 pages telling me things. That pisses me off to no end. Especially with character descriptions. Show me the character is lovely. I should not have to rely on seven side characters to figure that shit out. 

That makes sense to me and it’s good to know. I think I have some editing to work on. (Laughs) Let’s be more specific here, what does it take to get a 5-start from Thorns & Ink?

To get an absolutely glowing review? You have got to move me poetically. Not to stroke your ego love, but I will use you as an example.

You sent me your synopsis, and I was in the middle of another book. I literally wanted to set that aside and start yours. That was clue one. The next thing was that you inspired me. It wasn’t in the plot really, it was the side things that were in the story. It was the little details that really spoke to my soul. 

That is so kind of you. Thank you. I feel all warm and fuzzy now.

There are a few other authors that have moved me. It’s not a long list mind you. 

The other part of getting an absolutely glowing review is tackling big topics with grace, civility, respect, and research. There are so few authors that really take the risk. Especially, ones with smaller publishing houses. I respect their tenacity and skill. These are the authors that sing to me. They are automatic instant purchases. 

I will give one more example of this. Last year I proofed holiday stories for a small publisher. While all the stories were fabulous, two in particular touched me deeply. I was so moved that I really only pushed those two stories. I was relentless about it actually. I loved both stories so much, I cleaned up the Word copies and had my mum read them. I very rarely do that as well. 

That is very cool. Can you share the names of the works?

Absolutely!!!! Safety Protocols for Human Holidays by Angel Martinez (for more info click here). The other, while I didn’t write a review for it last year, it is on my list to do this year is Watermelon Kisses by Freddy McKay (for more info click here).  As a veteran with PTSD, and a veteran foodie, this book touches so close to home. 

Since I am giving a few shout outs, I want to say that if you want to read an author who tackles big topics, MA Church is wonderful. Specifically, The Harvest Series, Enemy Hands, and the Fur, Fangs, and Claws series. 

I’ve checked your list of favorite authors and that is an impressive list.  You really do read a lot.  However, I don’t want to ask about that. I’m curious about what kind of crafting you like to do when you’re not reading?  Care so share?

I loom knit, cross-stitch, color, and attempt to crochet mostly. As far as the loom knitting goes, I am making scarves for Dominants to have their submissive wear in public and no one is none the wiser. I also make a lot of hats. 

Sounds like a bit of work there.  How about just for fun, you mentioned you love comics, sadly I never got into them, however, what is your favorite comic book right now?

EEK, I don’t know. Right now I am in absolute love with Ten Count, Loveless, The Ancient Magus’ Bride…. Batman will always be my first love. 

So, is Batman one you would recommend?

The Killing Joke and Knightfall. They are stunning. While I don’t reread The Killing Joke often (it’s heavy), Knightfall gets a reread every year or so.
 
What is one you would recommend to everyone?

EEK!!!!!!!! It depends on the person asking. For you, I would recommend checking out titles by Sakira. (Some people, including my mum, know how much I love Sakira’s work.) I think you’d appreciate them. Actually, so would a few of the people we both know. (I don’t know if it is okay to mention names, but Jeff, and Baz for sure.)

Oh my gosh! We love J.P Jackson (click here) and S.A. Baz Collins (click here) you can mention them all day long here.

For others, I would start a newbie off with some a little gentler. *Looks around bedroom. *Gets up and looks at bookshelves.

I don’t know what would be gentler out of my reading. I think I would pick LoveStage, Ouran High School Host Club, and The Ancient Magus’ Bride. For those who are a little gun shy about manga, I would suggest The Study in Emerald, Sandman, Batman: Knightfall. (No, not all of them are sunshine and light, but these are the ones I find myself recommending frequently.)

Any final thoughts for the folks reading this?

I’d like people to know that I am my business. I have a day job that allows me charge minimally, or not charge at all for my services. This is why I don’t post rates or even ranges. I have a wide variety of clients, and everyone’s finances are different. 

I don’t have additional readers to do reviews. It’s literally just me. 

I would also like to remind readers that the only thing an author owes is a properly finished book. They are only beholding to their (publisher’s) schedule and are often at the mercy of outside forces (editors, for one). Please don’t harass about the next book. It is stressful for all parties involved in getting you a great product. I know pricing is a sticking point for many, but please obtain your books legally. If money is really tight, and libraries are not cooperative, ask the publisher, author, or even a reviewer may be able to help you obtain the book legally. 

That is so nicely said and it’s really amazing of you to bring this up.  Thank you. And yes there is always a way a to get books legally even at little or no cost.

I’d like to remind authors that reviewers in most cases are not against you personally. They are talking about your words. Not you as a person. I have often talked about my unique perspective as I have become established in my own right. Sometimes we are late, we have something personal that happens, and we can’t make your schedule. We are sorry. We really are. I am especially sorry. 

On a more personal note: I do take the time to get to know some of the authors I work with on a more personal basis. We have bonded over things that are not related to their books. This doesn’t factor in when you submit a book for review, beta reading, proofing, or any other professional service. 

Thank you Ryane, for your thoughtfulness.  Thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with me today.  You are welcome on my Scribbles Page anytime you like.

Well Scribbles, that it for this week. I know this interview was a bit longer than normal, but as you can see Ryane is so wonderful there was no way I was going to cut her off.  If you want to learn more about Ryane Chatman check out her Contact and Social Media links below. If you enjoyed this interview, remember to like and share it below with people who you think would enjoy it. Until next week please be kind to each other and go read a book or know and let your favorite author know how much you enjoy their work.  Have a great week gang. 


About Ryane Chatman

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Professional Bio: I am an avid reader with 18 years of experience in technical writing, editing and administrative services. I am an Air Force veteran. I have provided valuable research, writing, and fact checking to numerous military officers as well as private sector business owners. I am currently a Technical Writer and Editor within the Department of Defense.

Personal Bio: I read a variety of different genres. Lately, when I am not reading for review, I have been delving deep into the world of manga and comics. Some of my favorite titles are The Killing Joke, The Ancient Magus' Bride, Black Butler, Wotakoi: Love is Hard For Otaku, Loveless, and literally anything by Sakira. As for novels and poetry, I adore Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, Neil Gaiman, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, MA Church, Angel Martinez, Kari Trenton, JP Jackson, Wulf Francu Godgluck, Haruki Murakami, Christopher Marlowe, and the list goes on. 

I am an Air Force Veteran serving both in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. I spend a lot of time crafting when I am not reading. Music is an integral part of my existence as well.

For her website click here.

Social Media Links:
Twitter click here.
Goodreads click here.
Facebook click here and here.

Interview with Author Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi

This week I’m happy to bring to my Scribbles Page author Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi. Andrew is an author with one current work out The Restoration. He is currently working on his second and third novel Starship “Apple of Discord” and SS Vagabond.  

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Andrew welcome to my Scribbles Page.  I appreciate you taking the time to swing by and answer a few questions.  If you don’t mind please introduce yourself and your writing.

Hello and thanks for having me.  To begin, my name is Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, friends call me Andrew. I was born in August '77 therefore I chose my nickname ACE977. I do NOT use a pen name as I want to be known for my work.  I live in the European Union, Romania –you know the country of Dracula and the World Tennis Associations number 1 ranked, Simona Halep. When I’m not working on my writing I work as IT Engineer. I started writing in August 2016 because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre and I wanted to share my stories with people. My goal is to become a professional writer and my dream is to have one of my books turned into a movie.

I think we all share the same dream of having one of our books turned into a movie.  That really would be amazing. When I was reviewing your bio and your websites I saw that you and I both love Science Fiction and Fantasy.  What is it about the genre you love so much?  Why did you pick this genre to writer in?

I began reading comics when I was six years old and then I continued reading and moved into books. I like to read many other genres too, but I love mostly science fiction and fantasy.

My favorite Sci-Fi books are: 
Roadside picnic by Arkadi& Boris Strugatsky
The Men in the Jungle by Norman Spinrad
Dune by Frank Herbert

My favorite Fantasy books are:
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Rune Swords by Clayton Emery and multiple authors

That is a great list. I totally approve. Now, before we start talking about your current book in progress Starship “Apple of Discord” you have a current novel out called, The Restoration. What can you tell us about this book?

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The Restoration is my first published book.  Although I was working on Starship "Apple of Discord", in the spring of 2017 I decided to take a break and learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Therefore, I created this Sci-Fi story. The initial impression was favorable and The Restoration received 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, later, Amazon decided to change the rules in the middle of the game and removed all reviews posted by people who received free books on promotions. This happened to The Restoration. Now it has 3.5 stars, because the person who posted this review said that this is a great book but complained about my English skills. My English was rough when I started to write, but the more I’ve writing the more my writing style has evolved.

Spelling and grammar are kickers for all of us, but I’m glad to hear you’ve stuck with it and continue to improve.  Please share a little about The Restoration with us.

Short synopsis of The Restoration
A reptilian species uses time travel as a weapon to enslave other civilizations. An android is not content with the present, so she's trying to alter the past.

That sounds fun. I’ve already added it to my reading list. I know after I wrote my first book I learned so much about writing, what did you learn from writing The Restoration that was able to help you create Starship “Apple of Discord”?

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As I wrote above, I started to working on my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” long before The Restoration. Actually, I had the idea for this book from when I was a student. One day I had a stomachache and I decided to skip class. It was a cloudy day and nobody was walking down the street. There were no cars either. I remember the appeasing silence and the dim light - the same happened during a solar eclipse that I observed long before that. An idea crossed my mind, "What if..." 

When I got home, I started to write in my notebook the story that later became Starship “Apple of Discord”. Unfortunately, I was busy with my studies, then I needed to search for a job, and then I started a family. I kept postponing the writing of this book. In the spring of 2016, I went to the hospital, because I had peritonitis. After the intervention, I was in coma because of the anesthetist. When I woke up, it was the middle of August. I was thinking a lot of what happened to me and I decided to write again. Of course, technology has evolved a lot therefore I adapted the original story and I expanded it to accommodate these advancements. 

Wow. That is quite a story. I’m glad it all worked out for you. Starship “Apple of Discord” is an interesting name for a novel. I know it has some meaning, based on what I read on your site, so tell us where did you come up with that title?

I was inspired by Greek Mythology to choose this title. I like the ancient legends of the golden apple. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to a party. So, she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).They brought the matter before Zeus, but he was cunning and declined this responsibility. Zeus assigned a man named Paris to solve this conflict. He made his choice and the aftermath was that the Trojan War started. You will find an unusual interpretation of this legend in my space opera. 

You have our attention so tell us about Starship “Apple of Discord”.

I wanted to avenge Paris, so I created another hero: Adam.  Adam was born in the 20th century and he will encounter alien civilizations and technology. During his journey, he will be helped by a redheaded android named AI Cassiopeia.  I paid a young artist from my country to paint this android and many more characters that I own.

In Starship “Apple of Discord”, I created interesting alien species and cultures, and I describe alien worlds and alien technology. I depict space and ground battles in my action scenes. I used my knowledge of physics, mathematics, biology, genetics, history, geography, computer science, chemistry, astronomy and xenology, because I wanted to write a hard Sci-Fi space opera. Also, I invented genuine names for everything: planets, animals, plants, items, ships, characters etc. I made a database with all this information in order to keep track of them. The readers will not be bored with science facts and this huge dictionary, because the story line will flow easy and naturally. Also, I created some bits of alien languages.

Since Starship “Apple of Discord” is a space opera, I populated it with villains and benevolent characters: aliens, warlords, dictators, traders, scientists, artisans, space pirates, colonists, travelers, soldiers, kings and princesses. I carefully carved out this Sci-Fi universe. 

I dare to say that Starship “Apple of Discord” has all the ingredients for becoming a successful book and later a movie / movie series: love, war, mystery, fun and hope.

It really sounds like you poured your heart and soul into this work.  I love when authors spend a lot of time creating their worlds and universe. I think it goes a long way to creating a beautifully crafted story.  

I hope so. That is what I was going for.

Now, going over your bio I see that you have a lot of interests.  Two that jumped out a me were that you like cooking and travel.  What is your favorite dish to cook and where have you traveled?

You are very kind but I am no master chef. I learned to cook when I was young. My favorite dish is champignons with cream sauce. I love to travel and I believe that everyone should do this at least once during their lifetime. Somebody said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I traveled across of Europe, and I was in US and Mexico too. I would love to visit South East Asia and South America, because I want to meet new people and gather some material for my books. 

I haven’t traveled as much as I like but I try. I think you will love the people in both Korea and Japan, they are amazing.  

I hope to get there soon.

Moving on a bit, after you find a publisher for Starship “Apple of Discord” and get it released what’s next?  What else are you working on?

I finished the first three volumes of Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017.Between the three they cover more than 1300 pages and 350k words. Now I am waiting for an answer from several publishing houses from the US, UK, Canada and European Union. It will take a while and I am not sure that those publishers will agree to publish my space opera, since am a debutant author.  So, if you know any agents or publishers send them my way.

In the mean time I continue to write more volumes, because this saga isn't finished yet.  However, I plan to write other Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. This summer I finished another Sci-Fi novel called SS Vagabond and I started to write a Fantasy novel.

Sounds like you’ve been busy and aren’t letting anything stand in the way of your dreams.  One last question, who created your book covers?

I don't like to buy pre-made covers. There is high chance that these wouldn't fit with my story line. All my book covers are designed from my ideas. Sometimes I create the covers myself or I ask for professional help to bring my vision to life. I tend to use GIMP and other free sties and images.  I am aware that I am only an amateur designer, but this doesn't stop me from trying and it will give future publishes and idea of what I have in mind for the designs. 

Excellent.  Do you have any final thoughts for the folks reading this?

Once I was a consumer of books. I watched movies and I played video games, but one day I decided to create my own Sci-Fi universe. I began to write books having in mind this consumer experience. Maybe I am not the best or the most skilled writer, but I guarantee you that my books will offer you interesting stories. They will be something new and unexpected. 

Thank you so much Andrew for stopping by today.

Thank for your time! I hope you enjoy my books!

I certainly can’t wait to read them.


About Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi: 

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You can find The restoration by Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi here on Amazon by clicking here.

Contact Andrew by clicking here.

Find his websites by clicking here and here.

Find Andrew's Facebook pages by clicking here, here and here.
Find Andrew on Twitter by clicking here.
You can support Andrew and his writing at Patreon by clicking here.

Bullying

Welcome Scribblers, these last few days I’ve had a lot on my mind, which is why my post is late.  If you’ll allow me I wanted to get it all out here. A few weeks ago there was a big hubbub about a straight male actor playing an upcoming gay role. A few weeks before that there was concern over a straight woman playing a transgender role. I don’t want to underscore the importance of these issues to the people they affect nor do I want to offer my opinion on the subject because truthfully I believe we have more important issues to concern ourselves with. The issue I’m talking about is what I call out in the title; Bullying.

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Some of you who follow me on Twitter and on Facebook saw my post about Jamel Myles, he was a nine-year-old child who was bullied for four days at school about being gay (how he knew he was gay is unimportant) then killed himself. I need to say this again because it’s important that you hear it.  HE WAS NINE YEARS OLD!!!  

Here is the link if you want to read the story.

Over the past several days I’ve kept coming back to this event. It break my heart the more I think about it.  What is wrong with our society that this continues to happen? The saddest part this is that none of this is new. Bullying has been around forever.  I know this because Eric, my father, and I talked about several times over dinner.

What I found out is in school someone bullied all three of us. All for a different reason, which don’t matter now and I’m sure it was no were near as bad as what is happening today, but we all went through it.

I never thought my father who at one point was studying to join the FBI before life took him in a different direction would be a victim of bullying. But he was. We all were. Why?

Dammit Why? Why do we allow this to happen? Why do we let our children do this? Why do we do this? Why do we burry our heads in the sand and not do anything to fix this? What is wrong with us?  All of us. Is it because someone looks different? Because someone is poor? Because someone talks different? Because someone acts different? What the holy hell is wrong with us?

Yes, I’m including all of us… because you know what, when I was a kid, there was a little girl in my class who had cancer. We were in grade school and I wasn’t very nice to her. If I remember correctly, I made fun of her wig or something like that. One day the teacher pulled several of us aside and told us we needed to stop it and be nice to her because she was sick and that was why she wore the wig. I’m not sure my parents were ever told, but I remember that moment. It wasn’t a good feeling. Anyway, I talked to her and played with her when she was well enough to attend school.

At the start of the next school year, on the first day, we found out she had died because of complication from cancer. I remember her mother coming in to tell us. She cried and had to leave the classroom. It was awful. We were all upset. It still sticks with me to this day. I can see it all so vividly. How much worse would I have felt if I continued to tease her and heard this news? I think I would have been devastated because I caused her so much pain at the end of her life. That is a guilt I don’t think I would have wanted to carry.

My point. I was a bully, there was someone I was cruel to. Someone who didn’t deserve it. I picked on her because she differed from me and had to wear a wig.

We’re all bullies to someone. Maybe if someone around Jamel tried to do something, the school, the parents, classmates or someone, pulled these kids aside and told them to stop it Jamel wouldn’t have killed himself.

I want to know why we do this? Why we have to put other people down to feel better about ourselves. When will each of us stand up and say enough? This isn’t a new problem and I don’t think there are easy answers or solutions, but no child should every be bullied to the point where they take their own life. Ever. At times like this I often wonder if we are the monsters and everything around us are our victims. It seems like all we do is kill, destroy, or cause to be killed.

Again I ask, what is wrong with us?  Why are we so broken?

Honestly, Scribblers I don’t know if I’m making any sense here. I feel so broken since I read the news about Jamel. He’s not the first and I know he won’t be the last which makes it even more heartbreaking.

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I want to ask something of everyone who reads this. First, I want you to think about who in your life you were the bully to, cause you were. There is someone.  Second, I want you all to take a minutes and just write a tweet, Facebook post or comment below and address bullying. Share your story about how you were bullied and how you bullied someone else. It’s important for us to not only admit we are the victim and also the perpetrator, maybe then we can affect some kind of change. Third, if you see someone being miss treated or being bullied please step in. Please stop it and say something. You know better. We all know better. Prove we are not the monsters under the bed or hiding in the darkness.

My New life Dealing with a Bathroom Remodel (The First Week)

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Here we are again.  Another week into August (can you believe it’s almost September?).

This week I thought I would share with you my current journey of having my bathroom (and only shower) remodeled.  The process has only just begun (week one) and we’ve run into snags, cost overruns, and increased timeline.

Let me start at the beginning. Our house was built in 1938 and we moved in on September 2000. The first thing we did was turn our home, formerly the neighborhood crack-house, into something livable, which included a full bathroom remodel. We did a lot of the work ourselves (my father at the time was a general contractor) so we were confident in our skills and his ability. After a month of ongoing cleaning and household updates, we moved in. The bathroom was shiny, new, and we loved it (see the photos above. Nice. Right?).  That was eighteen years ago.

A few years back we noticed that not only was the bathroom getting a little dated, but some tile cracked and we were having issues with leaking (it happens).  We started planning for a bathroom remodel. Since we had done this before we knew what we were in for, and we also planned for what we knew would be water damage (broken tiles and water stains).  We created a budget and went to work trying to find a contactor (we couldn’t do the work ourselves and my father had retired).  After finding the top three Kitchen and Bathroom companies in our area (based on the BBB, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.) we called them all in to view the space (which is only 8-feet by 7-feet) and give us an estimate. The process took about two weeks.

First lesson, the cost of the bathroom remodel would be $10k more than our budget (I wanted to throw up).

Second lesson, the timeline would be about two weeks longer then we planned for. (I didn’t throw up, but I came close).

See, when we had done the remodel ourselves it took a little over a week (and we weren’t living in the house). The cost, well we didn’t have to pay much labor because we did a big chunk of the work ourselves (except for the plumbing, which if we would have done we wouldn’t have had the leaking… ugh) so those costs were low. We didn’t go into this blind; we had done our research so we felt we had planned on a healthy budget (overly generous if you would have asked me when we started the process, did I mention the size of the bathroom 8-feet by 7-feet. It’s small).

Not happy with the budget news and the timeline we picked the contractor we felt would do the best job and seemed to get our style. They weren’t the most expensive, and they weren’t the cheapest. None of them were cheap… oh well I’ll get over it. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I’m not. I understand how lucky we are to be in a position to fix all this. And I also realize that labor isn’t cheap and I believe people should be paid for their knowledge and their expertise… but does it have to be so much?  Ugh.

Documents signed, first and second design meeting finished. The big day arrived. Demo…

Oh, before I get ahead of myself, we decided to continue to live in our house. We managed to set up an outdoor shower (in the backyard). Stop laughing. We have it tented with sidewalls, a propane insta-hot water heater, rack for our soaps and shampoos, etc. So, it works.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

Okay, back to the Demo.  We left our bathroom in the morning and came home to what can only be described as the gateway to hell.  Dry rot on the exterior wall, decaying floor joists, 2x4’s that crumble in your hands, etc. You can see the damage in the photos.  Is it as bad as it could be? Probably not. Was it worse than any of us thought?  Yes. Yes, it was.

The Contractor and the Designer came to meet us, last Friday, to talk about what we needed to do. More demo was needed to tear out all the old rotted wood before they could repair it.  This would include knocking out the back exterior wall. As you can guess this changes the scope of work, adds more time to the timeline, and more dollars to our already inflated, ridiculous, outrageous, budget.  This has happened all within the first week of construction. Oh, joy. Oh, bliss. According to our Contractor we have about another four or five weeks to go.

Just shoot me now. I don’t think I’ll make it.

Now of the best part. A co-worked asked me, when I started talking about a bathroom remodel, what we were having done, what our budget was, and about contractors. He as looking at doing the same thing as us. Well, a few days ago we were talking, and he informed me that he was getting his bathroom done for $6k (new floors, new fixtures, new tile, new everything, and the guy was a licensed contractor) this time I really did almost throw up. I have no idea how either bathroom is going to turn out, but at this point I can’t help but feel like one of us is going to be getting screwed… and not in the good way.  Ugh.

Well Scribblers, I thought I would share this journey with you. Again, I don’t want to seem ungrateful or unappreciative because I’m not. For me it’s all about shock at this point. I know we are going to have an amazing bathroom when it’s all done. So, do you have construction nightmare stories?  Do you feel like venting about it?  Feel free in the comments below.  I would love to hear that I’m not the only one.  Until next week, I hope you have a great week. If you want to share this blog post with someone who is going through a remodel of their own, you can do so by clicking on the share button just below.

Interview with Fellow NineStar Author K.S. Trenten

This week I’m please to introduce you all to a fellow NineStar Author, K.S. Trenten.  K.S. has three short stories currently out and is a fellow San Joseian.  K.S. Thank you for joining me here today.

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Hello! K.S. Trenten here, minion of mad felines, oh, yes, and I also write. :)  Free samples emerge from the Cauldrons on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday if you would like to see what my work is like…

What got you interested in writing? Why do you write in the genre you have chosen?

I love stories. Always have. The idea of being able to create stories thrilled me. Science fiction and fantasy appealed to me the most since they appeared to have the most potential, offering the opportunity to create entire worlds and different forms of magic. The genre doesn’t always apply to me, so I’ve been trying to promote a subgenre…ambient fantasy/science fiction. It’s more emotionally driven than action driven, using imagery that’s not always applied to the mainstream genre, appealing to fans of say, shoujo manga as well as fantasy. 

What is it you want people to get from your writing?

Inspired. Creativity. To feel like they’ve entered a magical world which filled them with wonder. I want to do to other readers what my favorite writers have done to me. 

What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

Description and action. I struggle with repetition and passive speech. Have for years. I’m getting better, but this shortcoming still looms its ungainly head in the middle of my drafts. 

When you’re not writing and reading what do you like to do? I know you take some amazing photos I’ve seen them online, is that something that you’ve thought about incorporating into your writing, maybe doing a photo type book?

Aww, thank you! Reading and writing are big parts of my life. Taking photos is something I started doing while traveling…I’ve been lucky enough to visit places I could never afford to go on my own, thanks to friends and family. I’ve come to realize I love beauty, locations both urban and natural which involve flowers, water, greenery, and striking architecture. I’ve been trying to take photographs to use in my blog and fiction posts when I don’t have any cover art to use for them. I’m hoping to get across something of what ambient fantasy is via my pictures. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet you and your husband, who is an amazing guy by the way. So, tell me what does he think of your writing career, is he supportive?

Due to my, ah, immature reactions to his feedback on my writing, Don refuses to read anymore of it. (laughs) At the same time, he supports me in a very concrete, financial way in being the main breadwinner in our household, freeing up a lot of time for me to write. He also buys me a lot of the tools I use to write with. 

Writing isn’t easy and it’s even more challenging writing LGBTQIA+ books, what challenges have you found in the writing process?

Finding my own unique voice and the courage to express it in a world which tries to put writers and their works into boxes in order to market them. My published stories aren’t all that explicit, nor do they always feel comfortable labeled as specific things. I have a passion as a reader and a writer for what I call genre cocktails, stories which are a blend of things of different genres. I’m also trying to create a subgenre and find a voice for my stories. Due to being married to someone of the opposite gender, my right to write LGBTQIA+ books is often questioned. I myself question a lot of what’s taken for granted in heterosexual relationships, shuddering at a past of one gender dominating another in a way that’s scarred the world. By exploring alternatives to that, characters beyond gender and presumed gender roles, I’m hoping to heal some of those scars. Not to mention channel some of my anger and sorrow into art. 

I don’t often ask, but this question feels right today.  When you write do you plan things out (outline, draft, scenes, etc.) or do you wing it and see where the story takes you?

Something of both. I often write key scenes ahead of time, only to find myself putting the story together like a jiggsaw puzzle. At other times, I begin at the beginning, only to find it flowing toward the end in a direct progression of scenes. 

Lastly, what do you have upcoming? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I’m proud to say an extended version of A Symposium in Space has been accepted by NineStar Press. A release date has not been announced yet, but you’ll be seeing that in the future. I’m working on several projects, including two I’m struggling to finish by the end of this month. I offer free samples at here and here weekly, so feel free to stop by and have a look! 

K.S. Thank you so much for stopping by. This was a long overdue conversation.  I look forward to reading more of your works.

Well Scribblers, that all for this week.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know K.S. Trenten a bit more and you’ll check out her works.

About K.S. Trenten:

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K.S. Trenten lives in the South Bay of California with her husband, two cats, and a host of characters whom live in her imagination, all shouting for attention at the same time. 

 

Find K.S. Trenten here:

Facebook here.
Twitter here.
Tumblr here.
Goodreads here.
Amazon Author Page here.
Nine Star Press Author Page here.

Blogs, Otherwise Known as the Cauldrons of Eternal Inspiration:

Wordpress here
Blogspot here.
Live Journal here.
Dreamwidth here.

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Here where to buy her works:

Nine Star Press here
Amazon here.
Barnes & Noble here.
Kobo here

Eating Food. Sexy?

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Happy Wednesday Scribblers. I hope you’re all having a great week. Over the last few days some coworkers and I were talking about food and how some guys are uncomfortable eating things like; hotdogs, or corn dogs, or pickles, or bananas, or anything that has a phallic look to it.  We all had a good laugh about it, but then we talked about commercials, other ads, movies, and school.  It’s amazing when you ponder how sexual charged food and what we use it for can be.

Oh, as an aside, I’m not going to be talking about people who have a food fetish.  This is not the place for that conversation.

Back on point. Even though I think the idea of being worried about how you look while eating is silly and says more about a guy’s insecurity than anything.  Once I thought about it, I could see how given the right circumstances and in the right setting one could be teased about how they eat a corn dog or carrot.

Remember the Hannah Ferguson and Paris Hilton Carl’s Jr. commercial?  What about learning how to put a condom on in Sex Ed (banana or carrot anyone)? Then there are movies, the first one that comes to mind is Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the oral sex lesson (another carrot).  And these are just the first examples that popped into my mind.

Okay, so what do you guys think? Is it pretty much ridiculous, or do you worry about how you eat a corn dog in public?  As a buddy of mine says, “I just don’t care. I’m eating food, there ain’t nothing sexy about that.”

Have a great week gang.  Let me know what you think down in the comments. Remember if you know anyone who might enjoy my blog posts (even this one) or be interested in my novels share my link (also below) and my website.  And if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and sign up for my mailing list, so you are always in the know

Book Announcement - Magic of Die

Happy Wednesday Scribblers.  This week I’m thrilled to share with you a new book, Magic or Die.  Fellow Author J.P. Jackson has launched his new paranormal novel, Magic or Die. If you read his first novel Daimonion you know the type of story teller J.P. is and what wonderful rich worlds he’s able to create.  Check out the details below, then grab yourself a copy and cozy up and prepare yourself for an adventure into the dark mind of J.P. Jackson.

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The Novel:

Title:  Magic or Die
Series: Inner Demons, Book One
Author: JP Jackson
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: July 02, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: M/M
Length: 81000+
Genre: Paranormal, Gay, Magic, Demons, Psychics, Teacher, Covens, Incarceration

Synopsis

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James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can't control their supernatural abilities. He left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. Problem is, he still has one year left on his contract.

It's not common knowledge, but the CMRD holds final exams for each of its residents and if they don't pass, they're euthanized. So when James returns to the CMRD to fulfill the rest of his contract, he finds himself assisting five young adults, confronting the demons of his past, and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence.

James discovers that his class isn't bringing in enough sponsors; the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. Now, James and his students face impossible odds. Measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

At the CMRD, you have to be able to control your Magic or Die.


Excerpt

Magic Or Die
J.P. Jackson © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Call Back

“YES, MIRIAM. YES, I know. I know it’s been over a year. I’m not sure I’m ready.”

The knuckles on my hand cramped from clasping my cell phone in a death grip. I glanced at my watch. This conversation had gone on too long. In the span of two minutes Miriam had managed to exhume memories and history I wanted buried and forgotten. I sucked in a short breath as nausea surged like a tsunami of fear. Its behemoth wave washed bile up against the back of my throat.

I slumped down the stained and weathered wall of the coffin-sized studio apartment I reluctantly called a home. It wasn’t that bad a place to live, except for the cockroaches I found on a daily basis. I’m sure they considered it a veritable paradise. Absentmindedly, I toed an old pizza box near my foot while listening to Miriam. One of the insects scampered across the matted Berber carpet.

Gross.

Cody. A pale ghostlike face flashed before me. His hair, the exact colour of fall fallowed fields, hung listlessly over one eye, as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. His chapped lips parting, asking me, “Why?”

I ignored the vision. Well, ignored wasn’t the right word, more like boxed it up with a heavy rock and pitched it into the abyss of my mind with all the other terrifying nightmares.

“I know. I owe you, yes. I’m just not sure—” I crawled over to the upended crate being used as a coffee table, reaching for my last pack of smokes. I lit one, enjoyed the soothing crackle of the tobacco as it ignited, and then inhaled deeply.

Ah, yes. Hello, nicotine, my demon friend.

Miriam continued blithering while I halfheartedly listened to her soul-sucking voice. She was demanding my presence.

“What? You mean, tomorrow? Miriam, I really don’t think it’s a good idea.” I drew in another steady stream of the toxic smoke. It burned my lungs as the addictive chemicals flooded through my body. I really need to quit. Scraping together the smallest ounce of courage, I attempted to defy her. “No, really I can’t.”

A wraithlike hand, desiccated and fragile, inched its way across my shoulder and gripped my tense neck muscle. Its sharp nails dug into my flesh. Its bite, a warning.

Cody’s lifeless lips brushed my ear, sending cold shivers skittering across my back. Eruptions of goose flesh covered my neck and shoulders. His voice, a memory and a sound I would never forget, was long gone.

“Don’t do this. You’ll kill me again.” His icy breath whispered to me.

Another box, a bigger rock, another addition to the pit of despair in my head.

“No,” I replied to one of Miriam’s inane questions. “There’s an Arcane too? I’ve never been good with them. They creep me out. No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Shit, really?” Miriam had just described a scene for me. My flesh turned buggy, as if I had chiggers nesting and burrowing deep into my skin. “Oh god that’s gross. That’s also not good.” I pointed uselessly at the wall, waving my finger, trying to make a point to the caller. “I never took the exam for the third class, you know that.” Miriam had asked if I’d kept up my licensing. I instantly felt guilty. I should have done that years ago. One thing was becoming evident from the conversation—she needed my help. Help only I could give.

“Alright, maybe, I think I can. Consult only. Do you hear me, Miriam? Just a consult.” I had tried desperately to stay the hell out of this. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do this. “What time? Yes. I’m pretty sure. Miriam—” A thousand reservations ran through my mind, a wild stampede, unbridled, laced with dread and fear. “How many? How many in this class?”

The question sat on me like the world perched on my shoulders. The higher the number, the bigger the world, the more responsibility, an undeniable possibility of…

“Five! Are you kidding me? I can’t do five. No. No! It’s not possible.”

She was out of her mind.

“Yes, my sister is still on the streets. You know that’s close to blackmail, right?” I stamped out the cigarette. The lacquer of smoke in my mouth tasted like I had just licked the bottom of an ashtray. Why do I smoke again? It was suddenly very hard to breathe.

“Fine. Tomorrow. Yes. Ten a.m. Yes, I’ll be there. What do you mean dress appropriately?”

I looked at my cell, disgusted as the call ended.

I flipped the device onto the floor as if it had burst into flame and branded the conversation into my hand. I snorted.

Like, I’ll forget.

Reaching around to the other side of the crate, I grabbed blindly for a bottle I hoped was there. By all the gods’ great divine gifts, it was. And it still had liquid in it. In fact, it was surprisingly half-full.

Bonus.

I tipped the vodka bottle back, allowing its burn to strip away the cancer stick’s carcinogenic treatment in my mouth.

Swaying back and forth with my eyes closed, I tried to drown out the endless voices in my head. The words inundated my impending thoughts of doom and failure, and I could feel the chaos and panic mounting. Steadying myself and regaining my mental capacities, I gazed out the window. It was dark already and only six, early evening at best. Yeah for daylight-savings time and late fall in Canada. Lights from the downtown cityscape lazily twinkled and danced before me. It should have been a pretty sight, but the darkness always seemed too oppressive, like a shroud. And I knew better. Things lived in the shadows.

I took another swig from the clear glass bottle. The burn hit the back of my throat and disintegrated the bile that had crept up there.

Five very gifted students.

I rubbed the stubble covering my face and took yet another nip. Except it wasn’t a quick sip, it was a good one. A long one.

The window suddenly acted like a mirror, and my own image reflected against the backdrop of the city skyline. I looked like shit. My short brown hair had cowlicks; thank god I kept it close. But the rest? No wonder Miriam instructed me to clean it up. The shirt I was sort of wearing was only half buttoned and stained in several spots. I had no pants on, but the pair of tighty-whities, which weren’t exactly white anymore, or tight, were ripped and showed more flesh than they were supposed to. Jesus.

How did my life get here?

Five young people had no control of their gifts.

And I had a sister who was lost out in the sparkle-light of downtown’s darkness, up to who knew what, and doing it with god only knew who, mired in her own addictions.

I glanced around my shit-hole apartment.

What the fuck am I going to do?

Purchase Links

NineStar Press buy here
Amazon buy here
Smashwords buy here.
Barnes & Noble buy here.
Kobo buy here.
 


Meet the Author

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J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.
At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.
J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

Where to Find J.P. Jackson

NineStar Press click here.
For his Blog, click here.
Facebook click here.
Twitter click here.

The Myth of LGBTQIA+ Books

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Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the myth of LGBTQIA+ books. You see gay themed books (that aren’t romance or erotica) are being lumped together in romance and erotica categories where they absolutely do not belong. This myth that all LGBTQIA+ books are romance is how we are all being judged, and it doesn’t work. As a buddy of mine mentioned, “wouldn’t it be nice to type into Google; Fantasy, Rogue, Gay Books and what comes up is a Fantasy story about a Rogue character who, oh by the way, is gay.” The book wouldn’t be a romance or erotica novel but an adventure book with a gay Rogue main character.  How amazing would that be?  Right now if you ran that search you'd find a lot of romance/erotica books with half naked (or completely naked) men (and some women) on the cover reflecting a romance and erotica feel.

This shouldn’t be the norm. Yet, sadly it is.

How do we break out of this paradigm? How do we destroy that myth? One way is how our books are categorized either on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, our Publishers, etc. We the authors need to insist that our stories are marketed as LGBTQIA > Fiction > Paranormal >Vampires or Gay & Lesbian > Fiction > Urban Fantasy or whatever works for our category.

Second, and this is a much harder step, we have to educate our readers and our reviewers. We need to stand up and stand out from romance and erotica. Make sure our potential readers and reviewers understand what we write isn’t fetishized gay romance. That yes our books may have elements of romance but our stories are not romance. Our works are Sci-Fi. They are Urban Fantasy. They are Paranormal Vampires. They are Drama.

If we, the authors, can do these two things, then we, the creators of these works can invoke the change in our genre and maybe get readers both gay and straight to see us.

A closing point I have for everyone to think about.

Let’s flip the script. What if all books where lumped together under the category of romance?  What if to find ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King you had to find it under that category “Best Straight Romance Vampire Books” would it have been as popular and successful as it has been? Same with any other books like the Red Mars Series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Or, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Is it fair to these amazing authors or these incredible books? I don’t think so.

So, why do we have this ‘myth’ for LGBTQIA+ authors and their books?

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Let’s lump Sci-Fi with Sci-Fi, Drama with Drama, Urban Fantasy with Urban Fantasy, and yes, Romance with Romance. Let’s break this myth of LGBTQIA+ books and show the reading world that all these books can stand together and be great. If you’re an author what do you think about this myth of LGBTQIA+ works?  If you’re a reader how would you think books should be categorized?  Tell me in the comments below. Until next week have an amazing week.

Edit:

The point I was trying to make with this Blog, is that with LGBTQIA+ books they all tend to be lumped under some form of romance and that is all you tend to find when you do a search for LGBTQIA+ books which makes it very challenging to market a non-romance book. There are hundreds if not thousands of LGBTQIA+ books that are in no way related to romance and should not be categorized in that manner. Not only can this mislead the reader who is looking for romance or erotica but it has and can sway reviewers who go into a book expecting romance or erotica and end up reading a story with no romance in it.

Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings by Todd Smith

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m pleased to welcome Todd Smith, fellow NineStar Press Writer, and author of the recently released novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings.  The novel is not your typical story it’s a memoir, which I’ll let Todd talk more about.

Welcome Todd, I’m really fascinated by your story and your life. So, thank you for taking the time to join me here today.

It’s my pleasure.

To begin I spent some time reviewing your bio and your personal story. Oh my gosh I can’t imagine going through any of that. If you don’t mind can you tell us a little about yourself and tell us about your writing.

Sure thing.  You're in good company. People generally want to know more when they hear I survived a mass shooting, but then their jaws drop when they learn that was the second time I was shot.

Wait!  You were shot twice?  Two different times?

Yes. I was shot on two different occasions.

Dear God, let’s hold off on that for the moment. What about your writing?

As for my life as a writer, I have over 20 years of experience. I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

In Murder, Romance and Two Shootings, I share for the first time the complete story of being shot twice in two separate incidents and a death of close friend in a gay bashing.
 
I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I’m guessing you share all this in your new book Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings.

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Yes. The book is memoir. The first time I was shot was during a robbery attempt outside of Wilmington, DE. in the summer of 1997, just after I graduated college with a degree in journalism.
 
In 2008, I survived a mass shooting, when a disgruntled citizen in Kirkwood, MO, came into a city council meeting.  That night he killed six people, injuring me and the mayor who later died.  
 
Also, between these events, my best friend was murdered in Kansas City, MO, in a still unsolved gay bashing in 2001.

My book tells the personal account of these shootings, murders and my path to recovery.  It details these grisly events, the downward spiral that it caused in my life and finding true love. It is also an inspirational guide for those who have survived and triumphed. With gun violence now a major part of the national conversation, I provide my own viewpoint on how it has changed my life.

I’m sure you have opinions on the whole gun debate that I would love to ask you about if that is okay?  Or, is that something that is part of your novel?

The book tells my personal journey and doesn’t enter the gun control debate.  Having said that, I support commonsense gun control. Millions of guns are sold today “with no questions asked” transactions. Only 60 percent of all US gun sales are conducted with background checks. I would like to see expanded background checks and also think that there should be limitations on people being able to obtain high-firepower assault weapons like UZIs and AK-47s.

Considering all that you went through what was it like to write this novel?

I spent a lot of time remembering how I felt at each of the pivotal moments in my life. Even on a regular day I can feel an ache in my hand and leg where I was shot.  Writing just made it harder to ignore.  Plus, you can't write about the smell of your own blood, without recalling that scent.

No. I suppose you can’t.  What inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to share what happened to me, surviving two shootings was a lot, physically and mentally, especially the last one where I saw people killed. I found that writing helped me to understand what happened and how it has changed my life.

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around all this myself so I can only imagine how this helped your healing process. Considering the nature of your book now as an author is there a subject that you would never write about?

After writing this book, I don't think there is anything in my life I couldn't talk about.  As part of the romance in my book, I came "out" to my parents.  As you will read in the book, that was a difficult time with my parents.  And I will be honest, even surviving being shot twice; I was nervous to how my parents would respond.

Now that you’re out and have written Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings how do the people in your life support you in your writing? Or, do they?  Do they know you've written a story?

Actually, my friends and family have been very supportive and all know about the book. Many of them have bought the book to learn more about what happened to me.  I’ve talked about it, but not in the detail that the book provides. My best friend, who is the major character Kevin in the book, has helped market the book and talked about the book at his drag performances. In the book as well as in real life his drag name is Jade Sinclair.

That is awesome.  Some of the most wonderful people I know are drag performers. I hope he’s happy with his portrayal in the book.

Yes, he has plugged the book from stage and Jade came to my first book reading/signing.  One funny thing is at first he didn’t think his family would want copies and now I keep mailing them books.

I want to change things up here. Tell us, when you’re not writing what do you like to do?

On the average weekday, I love spending time with my three old son and my husband.  But whenever we can, my family loves to travel.

Where are some of your favorite places to go?

Prior to meeting my husband, I had been to the 48 states. Together we finished seeing the last two, Hawaii and Alaska, beautiful and amazing places. Our last true vacation was Italy where we strolled through Venice and then saw the David, but I think my David is cuter.  As I write this, we are heading off for a Mexican cruise and we will visit Tulum and Chichen-Itza which are both Mayan ruins that we have been wanting to visit.

When you’re not writing, traveling or spending time with the family what do you like to read?

I love reading travel books, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoirs and newspapers. I have a wide variety of interests when it comes to reading.
 
Of all those what is your favorite genre? 

Memoirs along with travelogues.
 
Cool. What do you have in the works?  What's coming up next?  

I have two different projects.  The first involves a travelogue in Europe.  Next year I will be accompanying my husband on sabbatical in Munich and will use the experience and our adventures with our son as the basis.

I just have to say here.  Munich is an amazing city.  I hope you and your family have a great time there.  I had I blast when I was there.

Thanks. I think we will.

That is one project what is the other?

The other book I am planning on writing focuses on my friend and fabulous drag queen Jade Sinclair.

Excellent.  Drag performers are such an important aspect of our Rainbow Community and one I personally feel are severely under represented in LGBTQAI Literature.

Is there anything that we missed?  Is there anything else you'd like to share with folks about your novel?

All the important things that I write in the book happened.  I did change a few names, and unfortunately I couldn't write about everyone who played a role in my recovery and life.  Also, having a supportive family and network really made a difference in helping me finish this book.

Todd, Thank you for joining me here today and not only sharing the news about your new novel Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings but also sharing more about yourself.  I’m looking forward to reading the book and have it on my ‘To Be Read’ list.

Get your copy of Murder, Romance and Two Shootings here:

Buy it here at NineStar Press
Buy it here at Amazon
Buy it here at Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

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My credentials include 20 years of experience as a writer. 
 
I have worked professionally as a reporter and editor for both newspapers and websites. I have a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

I have shared my viewpoints of the Kirkwood Missouri City Council shooting with the New York Times, Newsweek, MSN and local media outlets in St. Louis. I am still sought out from national media for my viewpoints when it comes to mass shootings and violence (e.g., Ferguson).
 
In "Murder, Romance and Three Shootings," I share for the first time the complete story of my survival and recovery from the robbery attempt in which I was shot in the leg, the Kirkwood shooting and the gay bashing death of my close friend.

Where to find Todd Allen Smith:

Website click here
Facebook click here
Twitter click here
Tumblr click here
WordPress click here

Writing Update – June 2018

Happy Wednesday Scribblers.  I hope you are all having an amazing Summer. This week I thought I would provide my writing updates and share my cool media spotlights. Let’s jump in, shall we?

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I’m excited to share I’ve been moving forward with The Calling–Book Two. The outline is complete, and the writing has started.  I’m four chapters in and I’m digging how things are going. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will share this. Now that the threat from the witches has been neutralized in Book One (have you read The Calling-Book One? If not click here) we are left with magic seeping into our world. Which could lead to a big shift in our reality. Will we see more mystical beings?  And what was Chris’s vision?  Are we heading for a supernatural war?  You must wait to find out.

Do you have some amazing names floating around in your head? If you do, I need three background character names (two men and one woman) they are the new house staff on Juliet’s estate.  If you can think of some good names and want a chance to win a free eBook copy of either; A Dragon for Christmas or The Reunion, check out my Facebook Fan Page for more details (click here). The new characters will appear in The Calling-Book Two

Finally, I want to share my media spots for the last month. Yep, I’ve been making the rounds on both blogs and podcasts:

Frist, I was featured on Nicola Markus Edits; we talked about writing and the editing process.  It was fun and I hope folks take a minute to check it out (click here).

Second, How Author’s Work had me on their podcast. It was a great conversation. We chatted about writing, publishing, workflow secrets, tips and tricks, and we talked about my books.  Andrew and Paul were amazing hosts and I hope to join them again. To listen to the interview click here.

That is all for you this week. Short and sweet. Don’t forget sharing is caring. If you know anyone who loves paranormal and fantasy books share my books and my website with them. You can also share this Scribbles Page with friends by clicking the share button below. Until next week have a great week.

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves a Review

Hello Scribblers, I hope you’re all having a great week. Today I’m thrilled to let you know I’ve finished reading Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves.  If you recall a few weeks ago I mentioned I had picked up the book. If you missed that set of scribbles (it was an update) check it out here .Okay, now we’re all caught up it’s time for my review.

It was good.  

There ya go.  Have a great week…

No…

Okay, I’m sure you want more than that.  As I mentioned this was a great book and a wonderful story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when read the story. Well, that’s not true, I had an idea from the blurb and from chatting with the author, but still I didn’t know what kind of writing or story telling I would get. I ended up pleased. The story focuses on the Gallows brothers (Retz and Jarrod) who have not seen each other for at least ten years. Their paths are different until one day their two very different circumstances force them together. All kinds of hell breaks loose from that point forward and we get to learn more about the brothers. Their lives. Their Families. And who or what is pulling the strings. It’s clever and a lot of fun to read.

Graves introduces characters that are fresh and new. Her take on familiar beasts is exciting and new. Unicorns will forever change after you read this story. Regarding her characters what I enjoyed about them were how well developed they were. Graves introduces a Trans character in the story and in the scope of the story it’s no big deal (which I love) this part of the character just is and no one seems to care, which is how it should be. Even the villains in, Bones and Bourbon, were more than mustache twirling generic archetypes (which you all know I love and adore), but for this story it was refreshing.

I would call this a dark fantasy, not horror, but there are some gruesome parts in the book. These scenes are nothing that will cause nightmares, but they offer enough to make you cringe. This is also a story that anyone (by anyone I mean tweens to sassy seniors) can read and enjoy. There is nothing in this story that will set off any reader or enjoyer of Dark Fantasy. 

There was one thing about the story I wish Graves had done a better job with. At one point, the characters are in San Francisco and given how colorful a city San Francisco is I would have liked more time spent on describing the city and showing that unique flare. Graves, and by extension the characters, refer to the Tenderloin and Golden Gate Park but otherwise this location could have been Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, San Diego, or any other city on the waterfront. So that was a little disappointing especially with how grounded the rest of the story was, especially in the settings.

In all fairness, I wish I could give this story a 4.5 but I cannot. So, I’m going to round up and give it 5 stars. This this was a brilliant story by an amazing author.

You need to check out this book!


About the Book:

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Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It's probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he's got a new job--except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day's going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they'll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they'll make it out alive...or sober.

Buy the book here.


About the Author:

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Dorian is the author of the urban fantasy novel Bones and Bourbon, first book in the “Deadly Drinks” series. Are you looking for a novel with body-hopping necromancers, gay relationships and transgender protagonists, otherworldly realms, families of supernatural beings, and the occasional carnivorous unicorn? You’ve found the right book!

Dorian Graves has also written a number of short stories, including “A Taste of Empty” and “The Ragabash Foxtrot,” the two parts of Dorian’s senior thesis, which earned Dorian a BA in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from Mills College in 2014. When not writing and calculating the perfect humor/horror ration in any given story, Dorian can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest, devising increasingly ridiculous World of Darkness campaigns, and listening to more Blue Oyster Cult than is probably sane.

Find her here:
Click here for her website.
Click here for Twitter.
Click here for Facebook.
Click here for Goodreads.

Author Shout Outs

Happy Wednesday fellow Scribblers. This week I wanted to do some shout outs to follow Author:  J. Scott Coatsworth and J.P. Jackson, both books deal with magic in unique ways. 

J. Scott Coatsworth has just released of his new book The River City Chronicles.  There are three things that excite me about this new novel.  First, it has magic in it. Second, it takes place in Sacramento, CA, which is just two hours from where I live.  I’m very familiar with the area and I can’t wait to see how Scott weaves the story in and around our state capital. Third, it was the number one Gay Book for it's release week. You know it’s gonna be amazing and it should be a lot of fun to read.

I love Scott’s writing and I can’t wait to get my copy.

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Here is the blurb:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other's lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Buy it here.


Up next and because there is never too much good news to share. I have another shout out to mention.  Coming out on July 2, 2018 fellow NineStar Press Author J.P. Jackson will be releasing his new book Magic or Die.  I had the pleasure of reading several chapters of the story while J.P. was working on it and I can’t wait.  I know it’ll be amazing.  Just check out this great cover art:

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Here is the blurb:

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James returns to the CMRD to fulfill the rest of his contract, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

Pre-order it here

As always it’s easy to share the love with others who you think might enjoy these wonderful novels that deal with magic or just want something amazing to read.  Click the share button below.  Until next week, have a great week.

Discrimination and Hate

Happy Pride Month Scribblers.  This month I wanted to focus on all thing Pride, including the wonderful #PrideReads we have going on over at Twitter (you need to check it out, click here), but with the decision from the US Supreme Court I wanted to address discrimination and hate.  I want to talk about this because it’s ugly and not who we should be.  As I tried to have a level head about the ruling, I found I was getting increasingly angrier.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about click here this is disturbing because I like to believe we, as a people, we are better than this.  That somehow in my Pollyanna world, we don’t treat others this way. But we do! It’s disgusting! And I’m getting tired of it.

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Before this ruling came down, I was talking to a Blogger whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over these last few months.  She’s a wonderful person and I find that I respect her. I love seeing her notes and so forth pop up on my news feed.  Anyway, she mentioned that a few days ago she and her Relator were looking at a home when someone called the police on them.  The officer showed up and sat in the cop car until this Blogger and Relator left.

How many times have we heard stories about this happening?  Too many. It seems to be happening more.

Then we got this ruling from the US ‘Freaken’ Supreme Court that it’s okay for a Baker in Colorado to refuse a wedding cake to a gay couple.  Yes, I read the ruling. Yes, I understand all the circumstances. And yes, I understand that there are more cases in the pipeline and with luck the Supreme Court will fix this. Is that real issue?

The problem is you can’t legislate what’s in a person’s heart.  You can’t keep people from hating you.  It’s impossible. And that is at the bottom of all discrimination; hate.

Not surprised, well duh, I’m not saying anything that any rational person doesn’t already know.  But here’s the thing these people claim to be ‘rational’, ‘good Christians’, ‘good Muslims’ ‘good Jews’ ‘good Citizens’, ‘good People’, guess what? You’re not.  You’re a Hate Monger.  Plain and simple.

Typically, when I get home, Eric greats me with a kiss, or I stalk after him till I get a kiss. When the ruling came down I walked in and the first thing we said to each other was, “have you heard the news?”

Why is this important? Because, Eric, doesn’t pay attention to the news and rarely gets phased by it.  He’s my rock. I’m the one who gets a little dramatic about the news.  But not then because we were both shaken by what happen with the court ruling.

Not only did we talk about the ruling but we talked about discrimination. Seth MacFarlane summed it up when this hit the news. He said, “It’s a shorter walk than we think, particularly today, from ‘I won’t bake them a cake because they’re gay’ to ‘I won’t seat him here because he’s black.’…” for the whole article click here he got called out for his remarks but I think he responded perfectly. When asked if he would bake a cake for a Trump supporter. His response was, “yes, you bake a cake for one. You bake a cake for all.” How long until we see other minorities refused services?  I bet it will be sooner than you think. 

And that is part of my point. How we treat one person is how we should treat everyone. “Equal under the law.” But we’re not. Are we getting there? Slowly, but even than you can’t legislate the hate in someone’s heart. My Blogger friend had the police called on her because they are black, and Eric and I can’t buy a wedding cake because we’re gay. Like Mr. MacFarlane suggests where does it stop?

Another friend of mine, she is Jewish (possibly the most discriminated group in human history), she reminds people about the Holocaust.  It didn’t start with gas chambers. It started with small things and the inaction of people.  Are we heading that way again?  Are Eric and I going to be rounded up and taken away. Is my Blogger friend going to be pulled out of her home in the middle of the night never to be seen again? Is my Jewish friend going to one day vanish?

I hear you shaking your heads and rolling your eyes. “That could never happen, we’re in America.” Well…

What about all the undocumented Immigrants, they are already being rounded up? Children pulled from their parents. Families separated. That’s happening right now. (Okay, before you go off on a tangent, yes the argument can be made that they are breaking the law and are criminals, but to separate children from the parents um… no.  That is a little to Germany 1940 for me.) 

So, who’s next?

Am I sounding like a Paranoid Alarmist.  Perhaps. But, I don’t know?  What I want everyone to think about is how much farther is this discrimination going to go?  How much longer is all the hate in people’s heart going to last? When do we stop hating each other?

Oh, and just to be clear this isn’t a liberal vs. conservative thing, because I’ve seen hate from both groups that should make everyone ashamed.  I come from a family of conservatives and you will never know a nicer more giving tolerant group of people in your life, so don’t for a minute think I’m pitting one side against the other.  Because I’m not. Both Democrats and Republicans caused what we are seeing now. They feed off it, and hold on to power by putting us against one another. 

My point. Hate hides behind many faces: Religion, Nationalism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Racism, Sexism, and any other ‘ism’ you can come up with.

The worst thing, for me, is that I think hate is part of who we are. We’ll never be rid of it, which means we’ll always have discrimination which is heartbreaking.

All I can ask is for you to think about what I’m saying, even if you don’t agree. Also, when you’re out and about please be kind to one another. Please respect each other. Help each other. Be there for one another.  When you see hate, confront it.  Don’t stand for me.  Don’t let hate (in any form) win. We might not control what happens everywhere, but we can control what we say and do. Where we spend our money.  Don’t propagate hate by spending your money in places that discriminate. We can control how we treat each other. If we treat one person like second-class citizens then we’re all second-class citizens, because someone will find a way of discriminating against you. Trust me.  Hate will find a way.

What do you think?  Do you think I'm over reaching here?  Let me know in the comments below.

Don't forget it you know people who might be interested in this Blog post or any of my posts, books, or poetry, share this it in the link below.

Author Interview with CH Clepitt

A few months back I invited CH Clepitt to my Scribble page to share her Fantasy Bookshop with you (click here to see more about her Fantasy Bookshop).  Today, I’ve invited CH back for an interview to share more about her writing, her life and her new book Curtain Call.  Let’s get going shall we:

Welcome CH to my Scribble page. 

Hello, and thank you for having me.

Of course.  Before we get started congratulations on the new book.

Ah Thanks.

Now, if you don’t mind how about you refresh folks on who you are and your writing.

Well, I'm C H Clepitt and I write across multiple genres in a variety of story lengths.  I don't like labels, and therefore find it really hard to label my books!  I will say that if you like one of my books, you will likely enjoy the rest.  The thing they have in common is realistic characters that you can relate to, humor and a serious message.  I also write a mean action scene, even if I do say so myself!

Does this mean you enjoy writing action scenes?  Personally, I find them really difficult to write.

I love writing action scenes. I used to do Judo (before I became old and broken) and I played a lot of sports, so I have a good understanding of movement and meles, and can write a pretty good action scene.  I know what works and what doesn’t, although most of my characters are fitter and more bendy than I ever was!

(Laughs) I can relate. My 'bendy' days are far behind me too. You mentioned that you don’t like labels but we all have genres we fall into so how and why did you chose your genre?

I don't really have a genre.  I write what I like, and label it because I have to!! I have written SciFi, Fantasy, Comedy and everything in between!  My stories tend to genre hop, though, so don't get too comfortable, or bogged down in the label, just appreciate them for what they are.  I write the kind of stories and characters that I would want to read, and hopefully, other people will want to read them too!

Considering how talented you are I'm sure finding readers isn't too hard. Like you, I cross genres’, so getting pigeonholed into one genre can be tough. So, let’s keep them guessing.

If people spent less time worrying about the labels and just looked for things they might enjoy, everything would be much easier! Ah well, we don’t rule the world, do we?!

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Sadly we don't. Now, let’s talk about Curtain Call its your latest book, tell us about it.  Where did you get the idea for the book?  What excited you about this story?

Curtain Call is interesting.  It's not at all the usual sort of story I would write.  There isn't a single vampire or monster in it!  A friend and colleague, A. M. Leibowitz was doing an anthology call.  The brief was "women who love women within the theatre".  I know, pretty specific, right?  Anyway, I wanted to support their project, so I set about writing a short story.  It turned out my short story was four times longer than all the other short stories... yeah... awkward... and I still felt it had more to say, so I withdrew it from the anthology selection process and turned it into a novella.  All in all the process took me about three months.

Wow! Three months?

I know, it is the quickest I have ever written a book!  Once I started writing it, the characters completely took over, and I couldn't stop writing.  I really enjoyed rereading, editing and improving it, too.  That was exciting. 

That is so cool.  I love when the words and the characters jive.  It makes for a great story and a fun writing experience.

This was almost like an addiction. I had to spend every spare minute on it until it was done.

Considering how easy Curtain Call was to write. I’m not even going to ask what was the hardest part. However, for you, what is the hardest part about writing in general?

The hardest part is finding a concept I like.  I'll sit and stew on it for a while before I come up with the right idea.  Then I need to come up with a title.  I can't start writing without a title, and this rarely changes.  I don't know if anyone else comes up with the title first... 

Really, you come up with the title first.

I didn’t with my first book, A Reason to Stay. I wrote that the traditional way, plotted it, edited it, redrafted it and agonised over the title. Ever since that I have come up with the title first, and I find it much easier.

Wow.  I don’t think I ever know what the title of my book is going to be until after I write the thing and even then I’m never totally sure.

I think that’s because titles are tough.  Like blurbs. Selling your own stuff is hard.

Boy tell me about it, but that is a topic for a different day. Okay, moving on. Including Curtain Call how many novels/books/short stories do you have out there?

Er... good question... *counts on fingers*... 15... yeah, that's more than I have fingers... is that a lot?

Fifteen. That’s great.  I think it’s a lot, but I only have three out there so far.  So, compared to me that is a lot.  How long have you been writing?  When were you first published?

I think I’ve always been writing. I published A Reason to Stay in 2011, though.  Before that I’d written articles, done some community and music journalism.

Community and Music Journalism that pretty cool. Okay, I’ve got to ask which author(s) have inspired your writing? In what ways?

I think everyone you read inspires you in some ways.  I read a lot of fantasy, because I like the escapism.  I love Phillip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  I really like the classics, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, The Bronte Sisters. I think everyone who wants to be a writer should get a good grounding in the classics.  Also, modern classics like Virginia Woolf and Silvia Townsend Warner.  I like to read a voice I can relate to.   I also love Sarah Waters writing, she makes me want to be a better writer, although I've had to stop reading The Little Stranger because I have a horrible feeling that the dog dies.  Who does that? A dog will never die in any of my books.  People, sure, but never a dog...

Yep, I agree.  I don’t think I could ever kill off a dog, or any pets.  That’s just mean.

Yes, yes it is.  And unnecessary!

Well on that happy thought tell us what do you have in the works?  What's new?  What's exciting? What are you currently reading? 

In the works?  Well, I'm working on a new story.  It's Urban Fantasy and it's called My Dream Woman. I'm quite excited by it because it's completely different from most everything else I've written.  It's first person present tense.  I usually hate present tense, but it just seems to fit the style somehow. I am also in the process of turning all my books into audio.  If you visit Amazon you will see a few of them are already there.  I have a great team of narrators, some of whom are working on series with me, so we are getting the audio done almost as soon as the book is released.

I would love to get my books turned into an audio book.  I think that would be amazing.  I’m going to have to work with my publisher on that. Anything else?

I have an enormous to be read pile. I will choose a new book this weekend... eeek, decisions!  You can follow the reviews section on Newsnibbles (click here) if you want to see my most recent reads and what I've made of them.

Well, that was my last question.

Whew! We made it! Thanks!

Yep, that’s it. Not too bad I hope?

No, this was fun. Thanks for having me!

Of course.  Well Scribblers, I hope you got to learn a little more about the amazing CH Clepitt, the Grumpy Badger herself, and her new book Curtain Call.  You can find it here.

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Bio:

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 (click here). 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.


Social Media Links:

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Click here for her website and learn about all her amazing works and everything else she is up to.