Interview with author J. P. Jackson

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m thrilled to have fellow author and all around amazing guy J. P. Jackson back on my Scribbles page to talk with us about his newest novel Magic of Die. I finished reading Magic or Die over the holiday and I have to say, it was amazing. I loved it and I can’t wait for the next novel in the series to come out. If you want to read my review you can find it here.


Welcome back J.P. It’s great to have you back.

Thank you for having me.

Of course, now why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your writing? Since you’ve been here before why don’t you tell us something not in your bio.

I’m claustrophobic. I actually never knew until a few years ago. I ended up in the last row of a minivan getting a ride from the Car Dealership to work, and within a few minutes there was this overwhelming sense that the metal around me was squeezing in. I started to imagine all sorts of horrid things, and I was convinced the van was going to end up in some sort of collision, where I would be stuck, compressed by steel on all sides, slowly suffocating, and help wouldn’t arrive on time.

Worst 20 minutes of my life.

Update: That feeling has returned now several times, whenever I’m in small tight spaces. So I avoid them like the plague.

I like to try and channel some of that emotion into my writing!

I can’t imagine, at least you found a way to channel those feelings. What got you involved in writing? Why did you pick demons and all things dark as your vehicle for story telling?

I think I’ve always had stories running around in my head…and I love to read. Eventually I thought, “Why can’t I write the stories?” It was also a bucket list item for me to be published, so I set out to achieve that.

As for my demons…how could you not love them? They’re just misunderstood monsters waiting for the right person to love them and care for them. LOL. I don’t know why I went ‘dark’, but I’ve always had a little evil streak in me, and that naturally fell out onto the pages of my tales (or should I say tails?). It’s funny, I don’t think my writing is all that dark, and yet I keep getting told, “wow, that was creepy.” So, hey, I say go with it. Plus I find some measure of beauty in the darkness…

I can see that in your writing you do an amazing job painting a beautiful picture with your words. It’s very impressive. Okay, now tell us about Magic or Die.

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Magic or Die started out as a short story that my editor wanted me to write for another project. Before I knew it, I had a full-fledged novel on my hands.

The story revolves around James Martin – an extremely powerful empath who is forced into completing the last year of his contract with a facility called the CMRD. James is broken, on many levels, and although he’s a good guy, he doesn’t always make the best decisions.

James’s job is to help five people, all in their early twenties, find a degree of control over their lethal supernatural abilities.

Problem is, if they can’t get their talents under control, the CMRD will euthanize them.

It’s a story about survival, and learning how to work as part of a team.

I know you had to do a lot of research. Did you find any of it creeping you out to the point where you said, “Okay that is too much and goes to far even for me?”

To be honest – I didn’t do that much research.

Seriously? Wow. Care to share?

Magic comes naturally to me, I see it everywhere, and I might be a fairly well-versed pagan (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So understanding elements, colours and their meaning, herbology, minerology, affinities etc., is second nature. There’s definitely a few things I had to flip through my books to remind myself on, or get some unusual correlations put together, and there’s a few websites I like and trust for their content…but did any one thing lead me to the darkest realms of the internet?

No – not really. I’ll tell you a secret though…

I can’t watch horror movies.

They’ll keep me awake for weeks. I’m too sensitive and impressionable. My mind takes things I’ve seen and twists them even further.

I’ll let you in on another secret…

I’ve had people tell me, “OMG, thank you for scaring the crap out of me! What is wrong with you and your brain?” And, I’ve had others say, “Well, that’s not that scary!”

So, one person’s eternal nightmare is another’s stroll through the garden of souls. It’s really subjective.

That is certainly one way to put it. I’ve got to ask, who is your favorite character? I know there are so many to pick from but do you have one? If so can you share?

In Magic or Die? Oooh, tough choice. That’s like asking a parent which one of their children is the favorite!

I suppose Annabelle holds a little place in my heart. She’s so small and tiny, but has not yet come to terms with how powerful and capable she really is. She lacks the confidence to master the demons within her. She’ll find her way, but it might take a little bit of a journey to get there.

But I wrote the entire book with Isaiah in mind. I wanted a little bit more of a romance than my first book, Daimonion, and so for me, Isaiah is my fantasy hunk. I find it interesting that different people have pictured Isaiah differently than me – and he is often people’s favorite – but not always. I like the fact that Isaiah is capable of doing any kind of magic possible, but he’s going to have problems when his demon starts making demands of him that will test his comfort zones.

Definitely something to look forward in the next novel. I know I was surprised at the request of Isaiah’s demon. I’m very curious at how that is going to get worked out. So no spoilers lets move on. I know you’re working on a sequel, but I’m curious how many books do you plan for the series?

I’d like to write five books in this series. One for each of the students and their journey. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge though because at different points in time, the characters will be pulled away from each other.

Five books from each students POV that would be cool to read and I can see how you set it up based on what the first book. I wish you luck. That is going to be a lot of work.

You’re telling me.

I want to ask about a rather difficult topic. You wrote a Dark Urban Fantasy book in the MM genre and there is next to no sex, which I think is excellent, LGBTQIA+ don’t and should not have to contain sex in them to sell, however are you worried that there is an expectation in the market for MM books to have explicit sex? And are you worried that it will affect your sales? In your opinion what can we as authors do to change this stereo type? Also, do you think there is a role that the publishers should be taking to address this issue?

The expectation that any LGBTQ+ fiction must contain romance or sex is sickeningly prevalent, and I’m so tired of it. Honestly. My characters might have sex, but nine times out of ten I’m not going to write about it. If that’s what you want, then I’ll suggest some really good M/M Romance authors. I write fiction. Paranormal and Urban Fantasy fiction. It. Does. Not. Have. To. Contain. Sex.

Period.

100% Agree. Nicely said. I wish more people would understand this and talk about it.

Am I worried about sales? Sure I am. I’ve already seen where the expectation for that kind of a story has deterred folks from purchasing my books. But, in all honesty, if that’s the kind of read they were looking for, they would have ended up disappointed in my work – so, I prefer to market my stuff to anyone who’s interested in a really good dark story.

I think authors who write queer fiction should market their books in the realms where they fit. Did you write a western about a gay cowboy who inherited land and has to ‘settle the west’? Great! Market that to folks who like reading Westerns. Did you write an epic alien saga that features invading non-binary humanoids from another planet? Then sell it to Sci-Fi fans.

Get my point?

Absolutely.

I don’t think that queer literature has to be marketed to Romance readers just because they might be more accepting of the queer content. It’s almost as if we’re closeting ourselves by only focusing in on an audience that is looking for gay content. The problem is – that’s not our market.

Half of my beta readers do not identify as part of the Rainbow Tribe. And, in fact, a lot of the readers I’ve connected with do not either. The people who are reading my books are folks who like Paranormal/Urban Fantasy stories.

We need to be brave and force our marketing companies and publishers to flog our works into more mainstream areas. More and more, queer content isn’t an issue for non-queer folk. Anyone will read it.

Now having said that, we don’t want to forget about our communities either – one of the reasons I started writing was to put creepy queer stories on the shelves in hopes that someone from the Rainbow Tribe would pick up one of my books and say, “Yes! That’s me! I’m in this book!”

So we can’t forget about where we came from, or who we represent, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to that either.

Thank you. I’m so glad you shared that. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Okay, let’s change subjects here. When you’re not writing and reading what do you enjoy doing?

I read a lot. Anywhere from 30 – 50 books a year. I’m also learning to enjoy exercise. LOL. I’m in my last year of my forties and keeping the weight off and getting in better shape has really become a focus. I’d like to be more muscle bear than bear. Beyond that, I love watching movies with my husband, and finding new restaurants to enjoy. We both love to travel, and when I have time, I also like horticulture and gaming (my PS4 is sadly neglected). My spare time is really limited.

Oh, I’m sure. Time always seems to be at a premium these days. So then, what’s coming up next? What other books do you have out that we need to check out?

This year I’m really putting an emphasis on creating content instead of watching other people’s works. I hope to be able to bang out two books, both sequels – one to Magic or Die, and I already have about 10 chapters of that written. It’s tentatively called Blood Rites and Sacrifice. And then I need to get book two of the apocalypse written as well. It will be called Nephalem. I’d definitely suggest people read Daimonion. One reader described it as the TV show Supernatural, but from the demon’s perspective…if the demon was gay. I love this. A lot.

I’m toying with writing a Paranormal Romance as well – but again, darkly interwoven into the shadows – hexes and demonic contracts and unearthly creatures…but instead of a waifish pasty near-dead main character (as is often the case), I want to write it from the perspective of a gruff guy. A bear, like me, but really tough around the edges who ends up being a witch. Sounds like fun, right?

I think I might also try out sketching some of my characters. I used to be able to draw, but I haven’t used those skills in years.

I might also have to get my profile pictures updated…hmmm….

There is nothing like a good well taken photo and I’m sure whatever you come up with will be amazing. Anything else you want to share with us?

You know I love it when I hear from my readers. Make sure you hit me up on my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads profiles. I’d love to hear who your favorite characters are, and why, and what you think might happen next!

I want to thank author J. P. Jackson for stopping by my Scribble page and chatting with us for a while. Until next time have a great week everyone. Happy New Year!


Where to find Magic or Die:

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it on Kobo here.

Buy it on Barnes and Noble here.

But it on NineStar Press here.


About J.P. Jackson

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.


Contact J.P. Jackson

Twitter find him here.

Facebook find him here.

Goodreads find him here.

Instagram find him here.

Interview with Fellow NineStar Author Riina Y.T.

This week I’m thrilled to have fellow NineStar Author Riina Y.T. here on my Scribbles Page to have a sit down about her new novella Paradise Lodge.

Before we jump into that, I want to remind you all that I’m participating in an event on Facebook called 12 Days of Christmas Book Buying Event. It’s a great way for you to learn about new authors and new books. It’s like having a Personal Book Shopper. You go onto the event page. Post what kind of books you like and how much you want to pay and authors pitch you their books. It’s easy and there is no pressure to buy anything. It’s a great way to find new books you may have never heard of or found otherwise. So check it out here.


Before we jump into learning more about your new novella, tell us a little about yourself, something not in the bio:

If this would be a real life interview, you would have gotten to meet Yuuko, my seven-year-old toy poodle. We’re together 24/7.

Ah, I love dogs. I miss having them in my life.

She’s the best part of my life. I’m a management assistant for an electronic engineering company. Snacks are only real snacks if they’re sweet. I’m not a fan of pasta but I wish I could have authentic Ramen (karai yasai!) with Gyouza or Kitsune Udon every day!

I see you live in Germany. I had the pleasure of living there as an Exchange Student and I’ve gotten to return on business. How did you end up living there?

Student exchanges are such a fantastic way to get to know a different country and grow as a person! I was actually born and raised in Germany. When I turned twenty-one I spent one year in the US, one in London, England and then nearly two years in Tokyo, Japan. I’m back home in Germany with my family now.

I have to ask, how, and to whom, did you lose your heart in Tokyo? (It so happens to be one of my favorite cities as well so I’m curious).

Isn’t Tokyo just breathtaking?

It really is and the people are amazing. I can’t wait to go back.

I’ve been fascinated by Japan since I did a presentation about it in high school. I’ve been listening to J-pop/rock and V-kei since my teenage years as well. In 2010 I moved to Tokyo for nearly two years and they were the most incredible months of my life! There is a guy, too, of course there is, ha! He’s unreachable and I could only admire from afar but deep down I know there’ll never be anyone like him for me. That’s the dreamer in me talking, but hey, it’s been ten years since my first trip to Tokyo and I’ve yet to meet someone more amazing.

That is so cool. Now moving on, what got you into the writing world?

Back in 2009 my closest internet friend and I started writing (MM) fan fiction. Over the course of three years we've collected nearly three hundred drabbles and short stories as well as a few novellas, most of them starring our favorite Japanese pop band. When I discovered the fantastic MM romance community, and all the original fiction focusing on LGBTQ+, I was in awe. It was like finding a piece of your life you didn’t know was missing. I took a break from writing but eventually went back to it, only this time I'm creating my own characters.

That is amazing. I also see you offer book reviews as well, so I have to ask, which do you find easier; writing or reviewing?

Writing, because I can do whatever I want with my guys. I like the freedom it gives me. Reviewing feels a lot like schoolwork. There is a lot of pressure behind it for me.

I agree writing is a lot more fun. I don’t mind doing reviews, but it’s difficult.

Jumping over to your new novella Paradise Lodge where did the idea come from? What excited you about writing this story?

Ky has been on my mind for a couple years now, I've wanted to give him a story for so long. I listen to a lot of British pop, especially boy bands. It puts me in a good mood. When I was brainstorming possible scenarios for a New Years Eve gone wrong, I wondered what would happen if the party Ky and his bandmates had planned didn't go as expected. It felt like the right time to spend some time with him!

I was excited to write both, Ky and Azariah. I have a soft spot for musicians and exploring the possibilities when bandmates develop feelings for each other, which is pretty much what got me into writing all those years ago. Knowing their story would be something sweet, a feel-good romance, I had a lot of fun with it from the start.

That is great. Okay, so what can you tell us about Azariah and Ky?

We learn Ky’s zodiac sign is Leo, which I also happen to be, so I feel like there is a special bond between us. I have some experience with Scorpios (Azariah’s zodiac sign, which we actually don’t learn in the book!) and it made the way they interacted with each other come more naturally.

Azariah is usually quite serious and shy, patient, honest, hard-working, orderly. His judgment is good and he evaluates and weighs things up endlessly, often to the point of indecisiveness. But he also lacks forethought, acts impulsively and sometimes imprudently, which can cause problems. Like so many Scorpios I know…

Hey now, be careful. I’m a Scorpio.

(Chuckles) He’s a bit of a mystery, you never know what they’re thinking! He can be a little unpredictable but has his heart in the right place.

Okay, I can go with that.

I hope people will forgive him his moments of stupidness.

Oh I’m sure they will. They sound like amazing characters. So the story should be a lot of fun to read. What else do you have planned? What’s up next for you?

Having so many characters on my mind makes it difficult for me to decide whose story is the most 'interesting', so I'm working on a handful of projects at the same time. I have a couple of Young Adult ideas and another sweet, friends/lovers reuniting story I'm working on. Then there is one college themed and another with paranormal touches. I also want to tackle something that will ask for a lot of research! Perhaps one day I'll write that 'vampire assassin' story I can't get out of my head.

Oh, vampires. Love that. I say go for it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m grateful I was able to bring some of my characters to life and share it with people. I want to thank everyone who decided to give my boys a chance – thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Nicely said.

Well, Scribblers that it for this week. Can you believe we are already approaching the holidays? Crazy right. I want to thank Riina for being here today. Don’t forget to check out the 12 Days of Christmas Book Buying Event over on Facebook (click here). Remember to like and share by clicking on the links below. If you have a question for Riina leave them in the comments and I’ll make sure she swings back by to answer them. Until next week have a great week.


Book Info:

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Azariah Bell is a nervous wreck. He isn’t prepared to spend the final week of the year with his best friend, Ky O’Sullivan, lead vocalist for their pop rock band, Moving Insignia—especially after the fight he caused before they parted ways two weeks ago.

Afraid of not being taken seriously by Ky, Azariah was concerned about what confessing his feelings would do to their friendship, or the band. He tried to keep his emotions in check, but instead, he exploded in anger over some petty issue, and now he’s potentially lost Ky forever.

Ky is looking forward to the band’s annual writing retreat for a week of songwriting and recording at a secluded mountain resort. Spending Christmas with his family gave Ky time to reflect on how he’d handled Azariah’s epic meltdown. It wasn’t good, and Ky is determined to uncover the true nature of Azariah’s unusual behavior. They didn’t keep secrets from each other, or so he believed.

Expecting to see the rest of the band when they arrive by helicopter, Ky and Azariah are shocked to learn they are alone at a deserted lodge. When they discover they’ve been set up by their bandmates so they can “sort it out,” their choices are few. But it’s critical for them to resolve their problems if they have any hope of enjoying the new year together, let alone make that new album happen.

Buy Links:

Find it on Amazon here

Find it on Kobo here

Find it on Smashword here


Author Info:

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Author of Spring, Bax & Butterflies, Missing Piece & Blame the Fireworks.

Riina currently resides in Germany. She spent countless exciting days in the UK and US and lost her heart in Tokyo.

She would be thrilled if one day her stories could brighten someone’s day in the way those beautiful romances always lighten up her dull everyday life. Riina is looking forward to sharing many more stories with the world.

When she doesn’t daydream about boys in love, and isn’t glued to her Kindle, Riina loves to travel the world and explore the unknown.

Contact:

Check out here web page here

Find her on NineStar Press here

Find her on Facebook here

Find here on Twitter here

Find her on Instagram here

Find her on Goodreads here

Interview with Leslie E. Owen Agent, LLC

In my continuing effort to shed light on the mysterious world of Publishing I couldn’t be more pleased to share my recent interview with Literary Agent, Editor and Author Leslie E. Owen. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Leslie over the last year plus and I’ve finally gotten her on my Scribble Page for a sit down.


Thank you so much for talking the time to stop by.

If you don’t mind please give my Scribblers an introduction of yourself. Something not found in your bio.

What’s not in my bio? My first publishing job was as an editorial assistant/receptionist in Foreign Language Textbooks for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in New York. I got this job because I could type 80 words-per-minute and could type in foreign languages, having been fluent in German and Italian, and familiar with French and Spanish. I was an arrogant little twit, but the editors felt sorry for me, and educated me about living in New York and publishing, so that at least I wasn’t an uneducated arrogant little twit. I went on to work as director of foreign rights for Henry Morrison, international publishing rep with Lynn C. Franklin, children’s book agent for Goodman Associates and Carolyn M. Swayze, and acquisitions editor for Tradewind Books. Along the way I wrote articles for Publishers Weekly and reviewed for them, wrote for The Horn Book, the SCBWI Newsletter, and several newspapers, and was a film scout for Nevelco and a freelance reader for Four Winds Press. So you could say I’ve done a little bit of everything.

Holy Cow! That’s very impressive. You made me chuckle with the ‘arrogant little twit’, I’m sure we’ve all been there… when we were younger, of course. What got you interested in the publishing Industry?

I’ve been a writer all my life. When I got out of university, my mother told me I could live at home for three months but I needed to get a job. I was accepted into the MFA program at Brown, but I didn’t have the money to go to grad school. Publishing seemed like a good choice. I got the job at HBJ, found a dump in Brooklyn, and that was that. My second job – with a considerable raise – was for the major literary agent, Henry Morrison. Henry was a giant of a man and a giant of the industry. I sat on his blue sofa in the parlor of his Stanford White home in the West Village. He asked me who my favorite authors were. I told him James Hanley and Christina Stead, neither of whom he had ever heard of – he represented Robert Ludllum and David Morrell (both of whom would have known Hanley and Stead), amongst others. Henry taught me everything I know. If I know anything at all about books, it’s because Henry and our clients – some of the best writers of the 20th century – taught me.

Wow! So, with working for Henry Morrison and learning from the greats is that part of the reason you became an agent so you could help find new greats?

I think I have, in science fiction & fantasy, anyway. But, not really. I just like working in publishing.

With all your experience and knowledge, can you give us your take on the publishing industry as you’ve been around it since childhood and since, I believe, your Grandmother was involved in the industry as well. What has changed for good or ill? Where do you see it going?

When my grandmother (Helen Hammett Owen) was involved in children’s publishing, it was a gentleman’s business, led by strong women (Anne C Moore, Ursula Nordstrom). When I was involved in the 80s and 90s in traditional publishing, the writing (literally) was on the wall, in terms of American publishing’s survival. There was the great boom of bestselling fiction, especially in thrillers; sci-fy & fiction was booming in mass market and trade paperbacks; romance was branching out beyond the mass-market paperbacks of Harlequin. Children’s books was suddenly becoming big money – advances for children’s writers were improving. You could still make a living writing “mid-list” books. You could make a living writing paperback books. But Henry, and his great friend, the CEO of Bantam Books, Oscar Dystel, saw that the future of American publishing was grim: the weird practice of returns was going to destroy both independent bookstores and publishing. Henry and Oscar came up with a model that could have saved American publishing, but only two of the major NY publishers at that time were willing to listen, both of them known for their eccentricities, Donald I. Fine and George deKay. Their idea went nowhere, and Bertelsmann made their first major purchase of American publishing, followed by Penguin and Hachette and all the rest. When I started out, there were over 25 hardcover American publishing houses and at least 10 mass market publishers; now there are 5 in toto. Did Henry and Oscar foresee the collapse of publishing and the start of Amazon? I like to think they did.

I’m not a fan of Amazon – sorry, M.D. – nor am I a fan of the world that Amazon has created. Amazon has been the cause of two major movements that have devalued the monetary worth of the published writer: they (and their pals at NaNoWrimo) have sold this idea that anyone can write, and they’ve also sold this idea that writing is worth as little as 99 cents. I can remember when I could sell a short story – me, essentially a nobody – for $500. Now you pay magazines to publish you. American writers make less money per year now, when you factor in the worth of the dollar, than they did in the middle of the Great Depression.

No apologies needed. I’m not a huge fan of Amazon either and I agree that authors are greatly undervalued. Authors are selling themselves short when they list their books for 99 cents or even worse free (unless it’s for promotion or a giveway). I honestly don’t know how anyone, short of the Biggies, can make a living. It’s rather depressing.

What’s the future hold? We’re back in the 17th century. Rich oligarchs rule the world and the writer/artist/musician must have a wealthy patron in order to live. (It’s even called Patreon.)

I’m a fan of Robespierre, I’m afraid. Burn it all down, I say. Bring on Madame Defarge.

I hope we don’t have to go that far before things swing the other way, but you never know and none of us have a crystal balls.

Okay, so let’s move on a bit. As an agent, what do you look for when you pick up an author? Why is it important for authors to have an agent and what can authors expect agents to do for them? Basically, how does being an agent work? Oh, and, are you taking on any new clients?

Great writing, an original voice, and a marketable product. It really depends on the genre you’re in. If you want to write adult books in traditional publishing, you really need an agent if you want to go with the Big Five. (Yes, I know you can self-publish and you can indie publish without an agent. That’s not what M.D. asked me.) An agent: can offer beta readers, sensitivity readers, and editing services; an agent will market your work; an agent will schmooze on your behalf so you don’t have to (writers generally suck at schmoozing); an agent will go over the contract with a fine-toothed comb and take out all of the awfulness, like giving you a draconian non-compete clause; an agent will see your project through to publication and then all the publicity and marketing afterwards; an agent will sell your subsidiary rights with a better percentage than a publisher would ever give you; an agent can sue them when they refuse to send you your royalty statements.

Agents are the middlepeople between authors and publishers. They have good relationships with both their authors and editors. They have good relationships with foreign agents, salespeople, marketing people, and the film industry. A good agent is fantastic. No, I am a very small, boutique agency, and am still stuck in a day job. I have five clients. That’s all I can handle right now.

Not only are you an agent but you are also a writer and an editor? I’ve had the opportunity to read one of the books you’ve edited and it was amazing. I’ve also had the chance to read some of your work, also brilliant. Given that you do all three where does your heart lie? What is your passion?

When I started at HBJ, it was mandatory that all new hires complete professional training. I took in-house courses in editing, proofreading, copyediting, and developmental editing. This was standard. Now new hires go to university to learn this stuff, from the programs at NYU, for example. Henry was an old-fashioned agent. He did not have an agency contract. He worked by handshake. He also edited his clients’ manuscripts – and when he discovered I could edit, that went to me. I didn’t edit Bob Ludlum, but I did many of the newer clients. I enjoy editing, of helping the author’s voice unfurl. So many new writers, especially those self-publishing, have bizarre ideas about editors. But there are also a number of people who claim to be editors who simply do not have the professional experience to claim so – just because you’re an English major, it doesn’t mean that you can edit.

As for writing, I’ve been writing all my life. My mother claims I was dictating to her before I could hold a pencil. I can remember writing with a pen (scandalous!) in kindergarten and first grade. I think my first story was about a wild horse and I guess I was about six. My first play was about a ghost and a librarian, and it was performed by my 4th grade class. My grandmother, Helen Hammett Owen, was my first editor. I always ran whatever I was working on by her. She didn’t mince words, ever, whether I was eight or twenty-eight.

Where is my passion? Writing, I guess. It’s like asking you to choose which triplet you like best. I am all three. (And thanks for the compliments on my writing. It means a lot to me that you’ve liked my work.)

Of course. It was a lot of fun to read, and some heavy stuff, so I found it completely enjoyable.

Moving on, can you share with us some of your various projects? Not just the blurb but what inspired you to take it on? Did you feel it was a story that needed to be told? Was it a different voice you wanted to highlight?

I’m working on a literary novel, The Mortal Part, which I have nearly finished. Like my first novel, the psych thriller A Million Sherds, the story was percolating in my head for some time. I read about the hidden ten-year love affair between Danny Kaye (one of my all-time favorite performers and someone I was lucky enough to meet) and Laurence Olivier, and that idea – hidden relationships – planted a seed. Then my son introduced me to symphonic metal (do NOT laugh!) with the music of Tarja, the Finnish singer from Nightwish. On her first solo album she does a cover of a Christmas song which she dedicated to her late mother: You Would Have Loved This. It’s about the first Christmas after you’ve lost someone you adored – and out of that soup came this character, Sir Hugh Ross, actor of stage and film, fully-formed. I wrote the prologue and first three chapters before I even knew what I was doing, even as I was still in the middle of writing A Million Sherds.

In the middle of this story germinating, I came out, after being in the closet my entire life. First I came out as bisexual (which I am), but ultimately declared myself as genderqueer, demisexual. I think, if I were a teenager today, I would probably be trans. (If you’ve read my story Set in Place, that is very much autobiographical.)

Much of the work I’ve done since starting The Mortal Part has been the examination of queer and hidden spaces.

So. The Mortal Part looks at the loss of a spouse through the eyes of an elderly (72) bi actor, Sir Hugh Ross. Many novels have been written about what life and grief looks like for the surviving widow or widower, but The Mortal Part looks at grief through queer eyes.

I remember you letting me read a bit of it a while ago, and it’s beautiful, well what I read of it. I know it’s going to be a heavy book, but I look forward to reading the whole thing when it comes out. Do you have an ETA? Where are you in the writing process of The Mortal Part? Or can you say?

I’m about 25,000 words to the end. No, no ETA. Agent has to go over it first.

Clearly you’ve done quite a bit in the publishing world, so what is some advice you can give authors who want to get their books published? Who are looking for an agent? Who need an Editor?

If you want to get your novel traditionally published, there are multiple ways to get an agent and/or a publisher. Firstly, know your market and your audience. If you are writing genre fiction, read who’s writing in your genre. Not to copy them, but to see what works and what doesn’t, and who is publishing what you’re writing. If you’re writing literary fiction, it’s a good idea to check out university and independent publishers, market some short fiction, and look at where you might win some prizes. Lit fiction is all about prize competitions. (Be careful not to post your WIP on your website. That could be considered your 1st serial rights to a traditional publisher.) Build your platform. Website, blogging, Instagram, Twitter, whatever you enjoy. Don’t do something you don’t enjoy, it shows. Go to writer’s conferences, even local ones. Join a local writer’s group. Find your writing partners and beta readers. Get a list of good, reputable, professional editors. Pitching on Twitter can be a great way to land an agent, so practice writing your loglines. And get someone to look – many times – at your query letter. Please remember that a query letter is a business letter. It should be concise, professional, and free of gimmicks. Do NOT address a female agent by her first name. EVER. (Even if she’s your neighbor.) Don’t get discouraged. It’s hard. Even if you get an agent, it’s still hard. Even if you have a publisher, it’s still hard. It’s never not hard. As Richard Widmark said in Cheyenne Autum: “Endeavor to persevere.”

That is some great advice. You know, I want to ask, what do you have to say to Readers? We all read and given how the industry has changed over the years, what is something you want to ask or say to readers?

To Readers? I dunno, keep reading? I enjoy talking to my readers and I enjoy being a reader. Every now and then I read about readers doing really cruddy things at behest of authors, especially in gaming Kindle and Amazon, and I don’t understand that at all. I mean, I’m totally geeked out that Elly Griffiths follows me on Twitter – hell, I was totally geeked out just sitting next to Robert Barnard on the podium of a panel in NYC. I’ve had conversations with some of my favorite writers, as a reader, not a professional.

But I have to say I don’t get the “I don’t make any money and I can’t afford to buy a book over $5.99.” There’s something called the Library – and writers benefit from it. My local library did a huge gig for me when Pacific Tree Frogs was published – including a hands-on frog event! – so I don’t understand why readers with genuine money concerns don’t use the Library. I buy books when I can – and I still work as teaching as the day job. I will download to read ASAP – the new Louise Penny, for example – but I also buy hardcover books and ask for them as gifts. I recently bought N.K. Jemison’s boxed set of her Hugo Award-winning trilogy. My kids gave me the collected works of Ursula K. LeGuin for Chanukah. I buy Star Trek books. I recently discovered some cool middle grade writers. I always buy Jane Yolen’s latest.

Hell, I even have a signed and framed poster of A Walk Among Tombstones from my friend Larry Block.

I agree. Book are not expensive and there is nothing wrong with Libraries or, as you said, asking for books as a gift. I did the same with some books I wanted.

Stepping away from publishing let’s talk about another passion of yours, and mine, Star Trek. I know you’ve been on Trek panels, been to various conventions, and you know a slew of people inside the Trek Universe. I have to know, who is your favorite person to have met in regards of Trek? What is it like to be part of that world? Do you feel it gives you a greater appreciation for Trek or does it leave you with more questions than answers?

Leslie Star Trek.jpg

My favorite person to have met, or my favorite person I’m friends with? My favorite person I’ve met would have to be Bill Shatner. I first met Bill when I was 12. Growing up in Connecticut, halfway between New York and Boston, meant you had great school trips. In 6th grade, we went to Stratford to see Julius Caesar, with Shatner as Caesar. That was my first live performance of Shakespeare. After the play (which was wonderful), Shatner and the cast came out to talk to us. He was courteous, funny, and treated us as if we mattered. I have been a lover of Shakespeare ever since – I perform in a Shakespeare troupe called First City Shakespeare. The 2nd time I met Bill was at the Chicago 50th anniversary convention. I got his autograph, and thanked him for that long-ago Shakespeare performance. His eyes lit up and he got a huge smile on his face. “You were there? You saw that? That’s fantastic!” and we spent 6 minutes talking Shakespeare. The other people in line hated me but I DID NOT CARE.

I am friends with the Klingons, the Ferengi, and the Andorians. I guess my two favorite Trek actors I know are John (JG) Hertzler and Bob (Robert) O’Reilly. In fact, Bob is now a client. The thing is, if you can talk film, and acting, and Shakespeare, you will find you have so much in common with the wonderful actors who played character roles on Trek. They are all incredible people – from John de Lancie, to Jeffrey Coombs, and Gary Graham, and Armin Shimmerman; René, Max, John, Bob.

I love being a small part of the Trek world. I love that I can talk to many of the production people – Mike Okuda, Doug Drexler, Gabe Koerner, Tobias Richter. I love that I am friends with Rob Burnett and Larry Nemecek and David Gerrold. And I will always be grateful for my friendship with the late Emmy award-winning screenwriter of TAS, Russell Bates. I miss him so much.

Wow! I’m only a little jealous… seriously, that is amazing. I’m not sure I would even be able to get out two words if I were to meet any of these people.

From: Star Trek: The Original Series

From: Star Trek: The Original Series

Now how about something fun. If you could write a series arch (say either 13 or 26 episodes) for any trek series current, future, or past what would it be? Would you use a current property like the Original Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation or would you create your own universe for it?

I have a treatment and a pilot episode of a 13-episode series centered on the Enterprise B and the Treaty of Algeron. While this was dealt with in one novel, it’s never been dealt with in canon. I would love to have this series be part of All Access.

My inner nerd just got all giddy. That would be cool. Way cool.

Personally, I think it would be great to film A Million Sherds or Cochrane Day.

After reading A Million Sherds that would be amazing, and completely different from anything that anyone has ever seen in a Trek series. I’m sure there is a way to do it and keep the integrity of the story but it’s beyond me. Still, it would be incredible to see.

Johnny Frakes would be great as Kyle Riker.

I can see that.

I’m curious at what your opinion is on all the new Trek coming out and the announcement that Sir Patrick Stewart will be returning as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. What do you think? What are your hopes for the show?

I hate all NuTrek. I despise the work of Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman. I can only hope that the new board fires him. Discovery, so far, has been awful. And the new Patrick Stewart series is firmly set in the Disco/NuTrek world. It is NOT in the original universe and has nothing to do with TNG or the Capt Picard that we knew and loved.

Ugh. I was hoping for a ray of light. Cause I loved Captain Picard. Bummer.

Is there anything else that you would like to share or let people know about?

Stop listening to silly internet rules about language and writing. Tell your story the way it needs to be told. Be true to your voice. (And stop fridging characters.)

Nicely said. Well that’s it. We’re at the end. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and swinging by for a chat, Leslie. I know how busy you’ve been, so I really appreciate it.


About Leslie Owen

Leslie Owen.jpg

Leslie E. Owen is an experienced Literary Agent and Copy Editor. She began her publishing career in New York as an editorial assistant with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1981, after graduating with degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Arizona in 1980.

She has held positions as Literary Agent, Director of Foreign Rights, International Publishing Representative, and Acquisitions Editor in New York and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Leslie's extensive and varied career also includes freelance reading for Four Winds Press and working as a Movie Scout for Nevelco.

She has written articles and reviewed for Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, the SCBWI Newsletter, and the Greensboro (NC) News & Record.

Leslie's recent works have been published in Zoetrope and Jewish Monthly, and her children's science book, Pacific Tree Frogs, was published in 2003 by Tradewind Books in Vancouver, London, and Sydney. The book earned a top-ten-pick rating in Canada. In 2004, Pacific Tree Frogs was published in the U.S. by Crocodile Books.

Where to Find Leslie:

Check out her website here.

For her Agent Facebook Page click here.

For her Editing Facebook Page click here.

For her Facebook page click here.

Find her on Twitter here.

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.

TCS Studio Cover.jpg

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?

BTG Cover Drake.jpg

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

Author Pic Edit.JPG

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.

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:

Barbara-Russell-Front-Cover with logo.jpg

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 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.  

***

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.

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

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

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:

For Kindle click here.
For Lulu click here.
Find her at Twitter here.
Find her on Facebook here.

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

Interview with Author A. M. Leibowitz

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

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel is the best.  I highly recommend it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for having me!


About Keeping the Faith (Faithfully Yours #3):

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

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

Click here to buy the book.

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


About A. M. Leibowitz:

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

 

 

 

Where to find A. M. Leibowitz:

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

Interview with J. Scott Coastworth

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

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

Thanks for having me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 Published works that is excellent.  Congratulations.

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

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

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

So I built my own.

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

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

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

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

Ah thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Chuckles) thanks.

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

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

Ahh.  Gotta love supportive spouses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About J. Scott Coastworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review and Interview with Author Ambrose Hall

Happy Wednesday everyone. This week I’m excited to do another author interview and book review.  This week I’m welcoming fellow author Ambrose Hall.  I’ve known Ambrose a few years back now and I’ve finally got him to come over for a quick chat.  So, let’s jump right in and not waste any time. 

Ambrose welcome.  I’m happy you could swing by and do this interview. Please give us a quick introduction to yourself.

I’m a writer based in the UK. I mostly write speculative fiction with queer characters.

That was quick.

Too, quick?

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Nah, it’s all good.  We have a lot to cover so let’s move into the good stuff.  Gods and Insects is the second book in your City of Ash Series.  It’s definitely a dark series but it’s also got a wit about it that I’m loving.  There are even hints of romance to it.  What made you pick this kind of series to write?

I’ve always loved vampires, but I’d never planned to write them, then a friend in one of my writing groups proposed a vampire writing challenge for Hallowe’en. I started with a short story, but it caught my imagination and I ended up with a short novella, told from five different points of view. I think vampires can be a great way to explore all sorts of facets of human nature. I started with the question: if you had eternity, what would get you through? The title of the first book, Love is the Cure, is somewhat ironic, as some of the characters end up on very dark paths believing that love is the thing that will get them through.

But you’re not a cynic about love. So, how did that work?

I wanted to explore all sorts of relationships, not all of them healthy. It’s a gothic story, so I wanted to show the heights and depths of emotion. And I’m a bit of a goth, so I can’t help falling to the dark side.

So, the idea of a dark vampire story fits you like a glove?

Ha, pretty much.

Asher, the main protagonist, has changed quite a bit from the first book in the series to this one.  Honestly, he wasn’t so likable in the first book. So, what can you tell us about his character growth between, Love is the Cure, and, Gods and Insects?

He’d led a very ordinary, sheltered existence in a comfortable middle class suburb and been good at sport. The only thing that had ever conflicted him was his sexuality and he’d kept that in the closet and pretended to himself it was just a phase. When he was faced with vampiric life, particularly the violence of his creator, Kerrick, it really traumatized him and he was completely overwhelmed.

He was a bit of a mess in the first book. Understandably so, given what happen to him.

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Yes, so by Gods and Insects, he’s trying to find his own way, but he’s lost and lonely and still following mortal patterns of behavior. When two more experienced vampires come along and offer him a home and protection, it seems like a good deal. The hardest thing for Asher is, even though he’s quite naive, he has a strong sense of right and wrong. In Gods and Insects, I wanted to explore what it would look like for someone like Asher to fall from grace. I also wanted to explore identity and how that’s shaped by our experiences, including the more traumatic ones.

Well he certainly was a new man by book two and I really liked how he grew between books.  I think it served him and the story well.

Thank you.

Now, I can see at least one more book in the series with how you ended this book (and thank you for giving it a proper ending and not having it end on a cliffhanger).  How many books are planned for this series?

It’s going to be a trilogy. The third book will be from Nico’s point of view. He’s a character who appears halfway through Gods and Insects. He’s trans and I wanted to tell a story with a trans main character, as I am. He’s also quite different from most of the other characters as he’s very much of the modern world, he’s much more in touch with his emotions than any of the others, and he has quite a different outlook. Unlike Kerrick and Asher, he’s also not a fighter.

Nico, was very different from all the other characters and I really like the contrast.  Honestly, he surprised, in a good way. It was this breath of fresh air and kind of highlighted everything that is ‘wrong’ with the other characters.  If that makes sense.  He’s also one of my favorite characters in this story.

He was, also, one of the favorite characters from the second book, from feedback I received, so he seemed like a good choice. The third book will follow his story, with the vampiric war continuing in the background and his growing relationship with Asher. All the books have looked at power dynamics, in and out of relationships, and the nature of power is going to be a big theme in this final story.

Without giving much away, I enjoyed the ending of this book.  You could have gone very dark, but you didn’t.  You kind of ended the book as I thought you would a middle ground was reached.  Was that your intention?  Not to have an overly dark ‘end of the world’ feel to the ending.

Gods and Insects is a tragedy for Asher, but in the sense that he embraces more of his vampiric nature. But he’s only at the start of that path. But there are still others in Asher’s life, particularly Kerrick and Nico, who have their own way of doing things. Nico is still very young and very human and he connected to the good in Asher. Kerrick is more violent, because he was raised in a violent time and had a traumatic start to life, but he’s also very caring and protective of Asher, as his child. Inevitably, there will be some conflict between those different paths. 

You and I both love vampire stories and we have a totally different take on vamps.  What made you pick the darker more sinister type of vampire?

I’m a bit of an irredeemable goth, really. I’ve always liked things dark. I grew up in a crumbling old Victorian mill town in the north of England, which may be partly to blame for my aesthetic tendencies. I wanted my vampires to be monsters – not mindless monsters, because that’s not the type of monsters vampires are, but still monstrous in some sense. I find the idea of human monsters fascinating. I suppose growing up as an outsider makes me more aware of the hypocrisy of mainstream society and the way that power is exploited. Violence and abuse of power are often not far from the surface, even in modern times. My own trauma tends to leak into my work. I often write quite dark, brutal dynamics between my characters and I like to push them to the edge. But I also want to honor the gothic tradition of exploring all the taboo things that lurk under the surface, so my vampires are dark but also sexually charged. I think the intersection between sex and horror is a challenging one and keeps readers on their toes. 

I know you have other stories in the works, however, I want to know about your City of Ash Series. When can we expect to see the next book?  Also, what else do you have in the works?  What can we look forward to seeing in the future?

My working title for the third book is Kill Your Kings. Hopefully that gives you a flavor of what it will be about. All the characters from the first two books will have some continuation of their story, though it will all be from Nico’s point of view, who is a seer from a very unusual bloodline. I’m writing it at the moment, so I hope to have it finished in the first half of next year.

And other works?

I’ve also been working on a 1920s horror story in the Lovecraftian tradition, which needs a final edit before I try to find a home for it.

I’ve recently been experimenting with sharing shorter fiction on Medium, so you can read some of my flash fiction on there. Click here.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community how important is it for you to represent our community in your work?  And as an author what is your responsibility to show all communities not just the LGBTQ+ community?

I tend to have LGBTQ+ characters in all my longer work. Like you, I want to write genre stories with LGBTQ+ character. Not just coming out stories, or romance, but also horror and science fiction and fantasy. I think being able to see ourselves in the stories around us is a really healing, self-affirming experience. For me, growing up in the 80s, there were a few indie films with gay characters, but in speculative fiction and film it was more often the bad guys who looked more like me. Being bi is often associated with evil and deviance in popular media, and obviously all villains are British. (Maybe that’s where I got my taste for black clothing from.) From quite a young age, I picked up the idea that I couldn’t be the hero in a story. Whilst I’m now always going to be cheering for the supervillains, I hope that younger generations get to grow up with a different message.

Nicely said. 

Thank you. Also, I’ve been working on my first romance, with a trans man as the main character. Trans representation is really important for me, and there’s not a huge variety of stories out there right now. I want to show that trans people don’t have to fit gender stereotypes, any more than anyone else, and have a little fun with a sex positive story. I’m playing around with Robin Hood folklore, which I loved as a child. Probably the last time I identified with a hero. I’m also experimenting with happiness and healthy relationships. Strange territory for me. The main character has a disability, so I guess I am conscious of wanting to include people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Although I’m also conscious that I’m not always the best qualified person to tell a particular story.

Well, I think your stories are amazing and I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten a sneak peek at both your 1920s story and your Robin Hood story.  I can’t wait to read them once they are finished.  Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’ve had fun answering your questions.


About Ambrose Hall

Ambrose Hall is a speculative and literary fiction writer who currently lives in the South East of England. Ambrose originally comes from Bradford, in West Yorkshire, where he was infected with gothic decay and went mad on a moor. You can find his blog here  You can buy, Love is the Cure and Gods and Insects here


Review, Gods and Insects:

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Ambrose Hall, has written the second book in his, City of Ash Series. It’s a dark gritty vampire story, but these vamps aren’t your typical vampires they are dark and monstrous, but not mindless killing machines.  They have desires and dreams.  The second story follows Asher a newly turned vampire who is coming to grips with his new reality.  When we meat Asher in the first book, to describe him as a mess would be an understatement, but in book 2, Gods and Insects, he’s come into his own. Well, somewhat.  This story is about his growth and him finding his way.  I think it’s something that everyone can relate to.  Where do we fit in and we make a place for ourselves?

Even with the proper ending to Book 2, I’m looking forward to the next book so we can see how everything that has been set up in both books will play out.

Gods and Insects, is a dark novel with a bit of a goth feel to it.  It’s a great read and the characters are wonderful. Great care has been taken to give each character their own voice.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth checking out.

Interview with Writer Alex Schuler

Wow, here we are in mid-September, this year is just zooming by.  Today I’m happy to introduce you all to author Alex Shuler.

Welcome to my Scribbles page Alex.

Thank you for the invite.

Of course, I love having authors stop by.  Let’s jump in shall we.

Excellent.

When it comes to writing there are so many choices an author can make, the setting, the time period, what the characters do, the style of book. Keeping in that train of thought, what tense do you prefer to write in? Is there a reason behind your choice?

I like to write in third person past tense because I feel it’s the most neutral, but I try to choose the best tense for each story and I’ve written in first person a few times. A lot of my projects require second person present tense, so I’m pretty comfortable with that as well.

I like to write in first person and third person myself.

For more information about writing tense click here for a really helpful article.

Not only do authors need to figure out tense of their story, but now, with all the advances in self-publishing they have choices on how to get their stories out there.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being traditionally published or the other way around?

Self-publishing requires more investment on the part of the author. Money, sure, a lot of times although some self-published authors are really good at cutting down costs, but also the time to find editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. or to do all that themselves. Traditional publishers will take care of all that for you, and may even do some marketing. Being published traditionally can also give an author the reassurance that a professional in the industry thought their book has potential.

But self-publishers also don’t share their royalties, giving the potential to make more money for their effort even at lower prices, and they have more control over when their books are released. They can also take chances on books that there’s a niche market for, but that traditional publishers wouldn’t touch.

It really just depends on an author’s goals.

As we’ve talked about the nuts and bolts of writing let me ask you, cause I’m curious, how much research do you do for your stories?

Urgh. I don’t much like research. Except when I do, at which point I start neglecting my writing for it. So I try not to do too much research until it becomes necessary. It really varies by project.

(Laughs) I think that is a similar problem all authors share.

One more question about writing and the writing process for you.  Tell me what are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I like constructive reviews, both good and bad. I don’t want people to waste their time with my book if they aren’t the right audience for it, and I think reviews play a vital role in that process.

That’s a good way to look at it.  Well said.

Thank you.

Last question, and this is a fun one. Do you have other hobbies?

I’m trying to focus most of my time on writing and painting, but I also play the ocarina and enjoy studying different languages and learning about different cultures.

Sounds like you have a very full and creative plate.  Thank you so much for stopping by today and chatting with me.  I look forward to hearing/seeing more from you.


More about Alex Schuler

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Alex lives in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She loves learning new things and meeting new people. These days she spends most of her time working on her writing and visual art, and spends the rest dreaming about and planning her big trip bicycling around the world. You can find her blabbering about her writing and visual art at here, travel (as Rebecca Jones) here, or follow her artist or travel twitter accounts here.

Book Review and Interview with Author F.E. Feeley, Jr.

This is something new.  I’m doing a two for one combo today.  I will be discussing ‘When Heaven Strikes’ with the author of the story F.E. Feeley, Jr. 

Please give us a quick introduction to yourself?

My name is F.E. Feeley Jr I’m the author of the Memoirs of the Human Wraiths Series, as well as the author of several short stories, Indigent, The Scarecrow, Between Us, My Final Blog featured in Gothika 5, and poet. 

‘When Heaven Strikes’ is your newest book. It’s not your typical romance piece (even one of the character’s mention how not all relationships are like a romance novel, which I loved by the way.). What made you pick this kind of romance to write about?

I like to write about things that scare me. I usually write about ghosts and spooky things. Yet, when confronted with the idea of writing a contemporary romance, I realized just how scary love really is. I mean, think about it, we go through our entire life with this narrative of who we are in our heads. Then we meet someone and for the first time in our lives, or the fifth time depending on how you handle the situation, we see ourselves through the lens of someone else. Then we realize how imperfect we really are.

That’s scary on a whole other level and learning to navigate all of it and strip away the things about you—that’s intimidating.

Ted, the main protagonist, has a lot of issues, but that didn’t get in the way of the story (you didn’t make him whiny and tragic) and he still ended up being likable.  Is he based on anyone in the real world?

I was inspired by an artist friend of mine for the work he does. Having zero knowledge of how an artist, or at least someone who draws and paints, actually goes about their craft I winged it. The rest I drew from my own experiences. They say write what you know. Well, I know Ted. I’ve been him. I know Anderson and Josiah and I know Jeff. I’ve been him, too. 

Going back to your artist friend, does he know he was, at least a little, the model for Ted?

Yes, I told him. I haven’t heard back however. I hope he likes it.

I’m sure he will.

Now, I thought the ending of the story was amazing.  You could have gone very dark, but you chose not to (which I’m happy about), was this always the plan from the start? 

Actually no. I was going to go extremely dark to represent the generational gap between Jeff and Gary and Ted and Anderson as figureheads of literature regarding gay men. Yet, when it came time to do it, I just couldn’t. One reviewer complained about Jeff and Gary’s Happy Ever After because of who he was as a person and what he’d done. First of all, I don’t believe in Happy Ever Afters. It’s a false thing we sell people in hopes of profiting off their desire for it.

I wanted this story to reflect life. Jeff and his wife were a twisted pair. The kids suffered because of it. They all did. Jeff, despite the way the story ended, has a long hard road ahead of him.

You aren’t kidding about Jeff and his wife, they are a mess.

But real.

Agreed, with regards to Jeff I was a little surprised with his ending. Do you have any intentions of doing a follow up novel with these characters to maybe explore what happens next?

I may if a story develops. It would mostly depend on the success of this book and if the readers want more.

The underlying tones of this story are abuse and religion, as I read this it felt very personal to me. Is this the case? Do you mind sharing a little about your motivation for writing about such a topic?

Yeah, it’s personal. People have stories. I don’t care who you are, you’ve got something inside of you that holds you hostage on occasion. It was Viola Davis who said, “There is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. The graveyard.” She went on to say, “…exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of people who loved and lost, who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition…,”.

I have this desire to connect to people through my art mostly out of a deep need to be understood. You know, through all the literature and the lore of ghosts etc. there is one thing that is almost cliché about it all. Unfinished business. Something or someone that causes that spirit to linger. While I am in no way suicidal, there are things that I’ve known that I fear – would prevent me from moving on if I didn’t find a way to work it out.

Religion is supposed to be, and often is, a force for good in people’s lives. Unfortunately, like everything else, it can be manipulated and twisted into a terrible evil – the effects of which are incredibly long lasting. All this current talk about ‘evil Islam’ and ‘radicalization’ from the talking heads and the current administration in the White House – ought to take a closer look in their own neighborhoods. They ought to not worry about the brown skinned folks and take a good long hard look at the conversations we’re having today about race in this country. Find out its origins and find out WHY almost 150 years later – we’re still having this same stupid conversation about rights and equality. Here I’ll give you a clue, Bob Jones Sr. vs The United States. 

You paid a lot of attention to your secondary characters such as Anderson (although he felt more like a second main character to me) Eleanor, Josiah and James. Was that the goal from the start? To have strong well-rounded characters or is that just how it worked out?

I wanted people to experience Ted from multiple points of view. Ted was Anderson’s great love. Eleanor saw him as a gifted artist. To Jeff, Ted and his ‘lifestyle’ was a threat to the tenuous grasp he had on his own reality. Ted was a savior to Josiah. That initial knock on the door was the stone cast into the pond and the ripples that go outward displacing things for better and for worse.

What I loved about this book is that these character felt real to me. Even the setting helped to ground them. They were not the typical ‘perfect’ characters found in gay romance novels was that your goal to make a more ‘every person’ type of character?

There’s an old Rolling Stone song that goes, “You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need.”  I think a lot of the screwed up things that happen in life is when we actually get what we want and find out it isn’t even in the same zip code of what we need. Those things often clash and when they do – it can be a honey. Ted wanted to be left alone. Jeff wanted his life as it was. Yet, their need to experience a connection drove them. Josiah needed his father. He needed to figure out how to deal with the fallout. I think we find ways to simply deal with those parts of us that we’re not necessarily proud of. That is what drove me to write the characters the way I did. People are people and people can be a mess of contradictions.

Now that you’ve released ‘When Heaven Strikes’, what’s next?

That’s the million-dollar question. I have no clue. I have a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera story in limbo, I thought about a Christmas Novella, another ghost story. Who knows. Whichever one jumps up and shouts at me the loudest will be the one that gets my attention.

Personal I think a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera would be amazing. Just saying…no seriously do this.

As I understand it this book was self-published, how was the experience after being traditionally published, any advice or wisdom you can pass on?

This experience was a rough one. Without divulging too much background it was slotted to be published traditionally but at the last moment they decided that I should change some stuff to make it more palatable to the ‘romance reader’. Entire scenes. I said no. So, we withdrew from the agreement and I sought out editors and everyone else. 

My advice to those who want to self-publish who’ve traditionally gone the other way. Buckle up and show up. It’s work. It’s harder than you can imagine. Yet, I think there’s virtue in it. You’ll respect the process more. You’ll respect the work that goes into it, more. And perhaps that’ll keep you from posting your work for 99-cents. 

I’m guessing you’re not a fan of not underselling your work.  What do you think about how authors are willing to sell their work so cheaply and others who give it away? Do you think some of it fits in the realm of marketing and PR?

There is no window to another man’s conscience (or woman’s). I do think it’s a bad practice, however, and I think it hurts just about everyone inside of the writing world.

Think about it, 99-cents for months possibly years’ worth of work. The money put in to create the novel if you’re traditionally published. The inability of smaller presses to compete. The worst part is that then it stops being something that is done once in a while to boost a sale prior to a new release, it becomes expected. People complain over the cost of an eBook at $6.99. That’s a Starbucks coffee, something you’ll enjoy for an hour. A book last’s forever. I don’t see this as a consumer hurting the industry – I see it as other authors hurting their own. Sure - you’ll be an amazon best seller. Yay, you. However, you’ve killed some poor soul out there working just as hard as you are who maybe can’t afford to compete with that. 

Add in Kindle Unlimited (KU) where someone is paid $0.0046 cents per page read IF the book is read in its entirety? Come on. That’s a complete rip off. 

I saw people sharing a blog someone wrote about why she decided to leave KU. It was something a lot of people read and shared and are considering. However, I peeked in at other authors who shared it around and read some of the comments and found some surprising stuff.

First of all, I think a lot of people were shocked.  The Netflix binge mentality is diluted a little bit because of proximity of writers to their readers via social media. It’s hard to look forward to a favorite author’s new release when she/he has to give up and go back to their 9-5. I saw a lot of comments in that frame of mind.

Then I saw comments like, “Yeah, I know KU rips off authors but I wouldn’t be able to feed my reading binge if I didn’t have it.” 

There’s virtue in having to wait for something.

While it’s great authors have this advantage now to publish their own work – I think there needs to be an agreement reached between the writers and the readers saying, “We recognize this work as art and we value art so we’re not going to let you fall victim to the whole ‘starving artist’ cliché.”

As a gay man how important it is to see the full LGBTQ+ community represented in all forms of fiction and media? And as an author what is your responsibility to show this diverse community?

I think it’s important for people to tell their stories regardless of who they are. I think, however, that if a publishing company is in the business of producing a minority group’s stories they damn well better let those people speak their truth.  

Right now there is a monopoly on LGBTQ fiction in the m/m romance genre – and these stories are all being viewed through the lens of romance readers and that’s unfortunate. 

One of the motivations of writing this book the way I did was to show people a reality of modern gay life. There was no antagonistic split, no fallout argument, I met my husband on December first, we went out on a date three days later, and have been together for seven years this December. We broke up for six hours one day. That’s it. 

Together, we have weathered our life with dignity and with determination. 

When I see statements like, “that’s not how people really act” when it comes to these reviews – I can’t help by shake my head. 

That may not be how people in romance novels work- but romance novels aren’t supposed to be reality. I think too often those lines blur and people get confused. 

In your bio you mention you love to cook, what types of foods do you cook?

Yeah, I love to cook. I will cook just about anything. From stuff, I remember my parents making, to things I invented myself, to recipes from friends. I just discovered the joy of Rachel Ray as a matter of fact and so has my waistline.

I love cooking. It’s nourishing, it’s social, it’s sometimes sexy, but cooking and eating and talking over dinner always brings me back to earth. It’s really kind of funny. When someone asks me why I am such a stickler of race and racism – I tell them because I’m hungry. 

If I don’t like you – I won’t eat your food. I won’t break bread with you.

That’s why I think food can help resolve a lot of old anger and disputes.

I want to eat with you. I want to spend time with you. I can experience you through what you make. It’s intimate.

What is your favorite type of food?

Chinese will make me love you.

That being said, I’ll eat just about anything.

You mention you write poetry and I’ve read some on your blog. What is it about poetry (writing it) that you enjoy so much?

I think poetry is beautiful. It’s not something I’ve always enjoyed. As a matter of fact, it seems to be a dying art. I mean, sure, you have angst filled poetry written by teenagers and young adults, rhyming schemes you find on twitter, but real poetry. Real honest to goodness brilliance out there such as The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Gorgeous. I am nowhere near that level of brilliance but writing it is an exercise to one-day writing something worth publishing. 

Do you have any final messages for readers?

Yes. In these times – art is incredibly important. Art reflects life. Support the arts whatever the medium. It saves us all.

For more about author F.E. Feely, Jr. check him out on his website here.


My review for When Heaven Strikes:

when-heaven-strikes-high-resolution-1.jpg

Hearing about this novel from a friend of mine and after reading the blurb I knew I wanted to read When Heaven Strikes.  It did not disappoint.  What we got was a romance novel that didn’t have perfect characters.  These men felt like people I know and have seen around.  F.E. Feeley Jr. does an amazing job creating the perfect setting for these characters to inhabit.

The main character Ted, an artist, has some real life issues that affects how he sees the world without making him whinny or unlikable.  Anderson, a surgeon, despite appearing to have it all is alone and lives in an isolated world he’s created. So when they meet and come together you can see how they actually complement each other.

Given this is a romance the author could have taken the easy road and had them characters have some epic fight or misunderstand and then come back together by the end of the story, but Feeley decided to go in a different direction and to his credit it works amazing.

This is an amazing book with some heavy underlying tones which Feeley doesn’t mince words on.  Definitely worth the read. To bye 'When Heaven Strikes' click here.

Interview with Author CD Gallant-King

Is it August already?  Wow.  Where as the time gone? It’s time for another author interview and this week I welcome CD Gallant-King.

Welcome CD.

Glad to be here.

First, I have to say after going through your bio and checking out your website you are one of the most interesting people I’ve done an author interview for.

Um… thanks I think.

(Laughs) trust me, that’s a good thing.

If you say so. I’ll try not to be a spectacular letdown.

I love the quirky whit and the humor it’s a lot of fun.  Anyway, let’s get going shall we.

Sounds good.

First tell me, what are you currently working on?

I’ve got a few projects I’m working on, but off the top of my head I would say my Werebear vs. Landopus series. It’s a grotesque comic fantasy about terrible people doing horrible things trying to be heroic. 

So, it’s about politics?

(chuckles) No, but now that you mention it… (chuckles again).

Okay, so it’s not about politics, what is it about?

Each book features a group of “heroes” trying to destroy some hideous monster, but each time they only make things worse. It’s not for everyone and definitely recommended for mature audiences - not just because of the violence but because of the endless stream of dirty jokes and the casual discussion of the genitalia of various fantasy races.

And you’re sure it’s not about politics?

I’m sure.

All right enough of me trying to be funny, the series sounds interesting and I can see that it might not be for everyone. I’m curious what is the easiest thing about writing?

Coming up with an idea and sitting down to start a new story is the easiest thing in the world. That’s why I have literally hundreds of unfinished manuscripts on my computer. I have so many ideas, some good, some really, really terrible. Sometimes I write a few lines, sometimes a few pages and sometimes even a few chapters before I get bored and/or realize the idea isn’t as good as I thought it was.

I’ve been there before. I think that is something everyone can relate to in some form or another.

I think so. Still, sometimes I can reuse these ideas in other places, other times they just sit in The Closet collecting dust. I hope that one day I’ll be able to come back and finish all those crazy ideas. Or maybe someone will eventually write a computer program where I can just pump in my character sketches and plot outlines and it will spit out a finished novel.

Who knows?

Oh come on, you know it’s coming. The AI will need something to read after it takes over the world.

Probably, with collecting all these thoughts and ideas do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I usually write on the bus during my commute to work with my tiny old beat-up laptop balanced on my knees. Sometimes I write longhand, though.

Seriously? Longhand?

Yep. I actually wrote the first draft of Hell Comes to Hogtown completely longhand because I thought it would be easier to do on my commute. Except then I had to transcribe the manuscript, also on the bus, balancing both my laptop and my notebook on my lap. It was maddening, but at the same time helpful because I got to do a lot of editing and revising as I went between the first and second draft. In different circumstances I might do it again, but as long as I’m writing on the bus I think I will keep to putting the words directly into the computer.

Given you do your writing while you commute do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I just try to get as much as I can. If I can’t get a seat on the bus, or if I’m tired and I doze off, I don’t get a whole lot of words in. So I try to be flexible and work where and when I can. If I’m focused, I can get 1000-2000 words on a good day (including the commute both ways). But it’s not at all unusual for extenuating circumstances (like forgetting to charge my laptop) results in exactly 0 words written.

With everything you put into your books what are your thoughts on giving books away for free?

What do you hope to accomplish by giving the book away? If you want that person to read your book and now they can, well, then it worked. If you want that book to cure cancer or teach a dog to do backflips, you’ve probably failed.

(Unless the book is literally about curing cancer or teaching a dog to do backflips, of course).

If you mean, will giving books away help increase your sales, then I think it probably will help, at least in the long run.

I agree.

The absolute hardest part about marketing a book is just getting it into people’s hands. There are so many books out there (not to mention movies, TV shows, etc) vying for everyone’s attention, being heard through the noise is a monumental feat. Being heard loud and being convincing enough to actually get someone to pick up your book is another level harder. But if you’ve literally placed the book into a potential reader’s hands, then you have skipped all that. Sure, you’re out the cost of the book (that’s the cost of marketing), but if they like it they might buy another book, or write a positive review, or tell a friend about it. At the very least they might mention to someone about the nice author person who gave them the free book, and your name will pass into infamy. And sure, they may just chuck it in the garbage, but once again: price of marketing. How much money have you spent on ads that amounted to the same thing?

I think people forget that and need to factor free books as part of their marketing plan. Of course you don’t want to give all your books away for free.

The trick of course is giving the book to the right person who will actually read it and may enjoy it. Giving a book about back-flipping dogs to someone who is looking for paranormal Christian YA erotica, for example, may not be the best choice.

Paranormal Christian YA Erotica… that… well I’ve never heard of that.

It’s a thing. Google it. Just not when you’re at work.

That is all we have time for today.  I hope this wasn’t too painful a process?

Excruciating.

Excellent, then my work here is done.  Anyway, I’m glad you were able to stop by for a chat. 

Thanks for having me.

Of course, keep us posted on your books and feel free to stop by anytime for a chat.  I enjoyed having you here today.


More about CD Gallant-King

C.D. Gallant-King wrote his first story when he was five years old.  He had to make his baby-sitter look up how to spell "extra-terrestrial" in the dictionary. He now writes stories about un-heroic people doing generally hilarious things in horrifying worlds.

He's a loving husband and proud father of two wonderful little kids.  He was born and raised in Newfoundland and currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario. There was also a ten-year period in between where he tried to make a go of a career in Theatre in Toronto, but that didn't work out so well.

C.D. has written eight novels you haven't read, because they're still locked in The Closet. The Closet is both a figurative and literal location - it is the space in his head where the stories are kept, but it's also an actual closet under the stairs in his basement where the stories are also kept. It's very meta.

He has published two novels you can read, Ten Thousand Days in 2015 and Hell Comes to Hogtown in 2016. He has an ongoing series of dark comic fantasy stories called Werebear vs. Landopus, which is available on Kindle Unlimited. His work also appears in Mystery and Horror’s supernatural humour anthology, Strangely Funny IV.

To reach out to CD find him at any of the below:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Goodreads

Find CD's books at any of the below:
Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords
B&N

Interview with Poet & Photographer Cendrine Marrouat

I’m very lucky this week to have Poet and Photographer Cendrine Marrouat (pronounced as “san-drEEn mar-wah”. The “t” at the end is optional) joining me on my Scribbles Page.  Cendrine has just released her tenth book “Life’s Little Things: The Quotes” an amazing book with inspirational quotes and beautiful photos (more about that later).   

Congratulations on the new book Cendrine and welcome to my Scribble Page.

Thank you for the feature. I am honored.

Of course.  I love having folks stop by, it’s honestly one of my favorite things. Shall we jump into the questions.

Absolutely.

Let’s start with the basics. Tell me about yourself.

Well, to start I’m originally from Toulouse, a beautiful city in southern France, I moved to Winnipeg, Canada, in 2003. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English-to-French translation.

In my career, I have done many things, including teaching, translation, photography, reviews, blogging, content curation, and journalism. I have released five collections of poetry, three photography books, two social media ebooks, and a spoken word CD. Finally, I am a dabbling playwright with two plays under my belt. I tried writing in other genres like short stories, but I am not very good… 

Really, with all you’ve done.  I find that hard to believe.

Thank you, but right now, my main focus is on nature photography, social media coaching, and French instruction. I work with older adults, and they are among the nicest people I have ever met.

You’ve definitely done a lot.  I love the fact that you work with older adults, that’s really impressive.

They are amazing and wonderful to instruct.

I bet. So, what got you interested in photography and writing poetry?

I always say that poetry and photography stalked me until the day I finally fell in love with them.

(Laughs) that an interesting way to put it.

I suppose it is, but it’s how I’ve felt.  So, I started writing poems all of a sudden in January 2005. However, it took quite a few people to persuade me that I was good enough to share my photos with the world, and even sell them. It was three years ago.

Really?  Well I’m glad they did.  The photos I’ve seen and the few poems I’ve read are fantastic.

Thanks.

I have no experience with publishing photos or poetry so what was the hardest thing about writing your current book and, more importantly what can we look forward to seeing in it?

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes is a book of quotes and images. Last year, I asked my blog’s visitors to help me select the photos. I would then write a saying for each of those choices.

It was a fun experiment, albeit challenging. But I loved every minute of it because I had to delve deep inside myself to find the words that would fit the photos. It just took me longer than expected to complete the project.

It’s like revealing your soul to the world.

Exactly, but I don't have any issues with that.

I suppose that's important for us writers.  Anyway, moving on, tell me, which famous person (living or dead) would you like to sit down with and have lunch with?  Why?

Khalil Gibran, for sure.

I’m sorry I don’t know that name.  Who is he?

The author of The Prophet and Jesus, the Son of Man he had an incredible way with words. He also was a feminist and a man with incredible artistic talent. I have goosebumps just writing about him.

I’ll have to check him out.

Definitely.

If I may, I’m curious did you come across any specific challenges when writing?  What would you do differently the next time?

I am an incredibly slow writer. So slow, actually that it’s not even funny. And my inspiration also comes in fits and spurts. So, I have learnt to go with the flow.

As far as my new book is concerned, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am not the type of person who regrets her decisions. That’s because I take them after careful planning and consideration.

Slow and steady wins the race right?

(Chuckles) I suppose. Something like that.
  
If you don’t mind me asking, what are your ambitions as a writer/artist?

I’ll tell you a little story. When my mom committed suicide in 2005…

Oh, my.  I’m so sorry.  I can’t imagine.

It wasn’t a surprise and we were expecting it. So, I decided to write a book on death. I wanted to help those who were left behind to grieve the passing of a loved one. Short Poetry for Those Who Fear Death, click here, was the result.

Months after the release, I received an email from a stranger. Before opening the book, she had contemplated killing herself. But then, she came across my book, read it, and underwent a complete transformation. Now, she saw life in a totally new light and wanted to enjoy it to the fullest!

Wow! Amazing.

It was. As a writer, this is one of my proudest moments. Knowing that my work helped someone is the greatest testimony of the healing power of art.

That is exactly why I do what I do. Whether I write poetry, take and share photos, or release a book, my goal is always the same: Open people’s minds to the beauty of the world around them. I don’t care how many copies or prints I sell, or even if I’ll ever be famous. 

I see too many people plagued with stress, depression, and negativity. They need to treat themselves better. So, I use my skills as an artist to try and change that status quo.

I have no words.

(After a short break I continue the interview, not because Cendrine needed the break, I did.)

Cendrine, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? What's your next project?

I have just released book number ten. Marketing it is going to take time, energy and a lot of work. So, I’ll be busy for weeks and maybe months.

Isn’t that the truth.

With that said, I am always full of ideas. I love the Life’s Little Things series that I started last year. The third book may feature haiku, my favorite poetic form. The natural element that it must include makes it the perfect partner for my photography.

That sounds like fun.

It should be.  Well, I hope it is.

This brings me to my last question and I hope it’s a good one to end on. Your portfolio of photos is huge, what is your favorite thing to take pictures of?

(Chuckles) That is a good way to end.  Anything related to nature -- animals, flowers, forests, water, etc. I am passionate about the little things that make this planet such a beautiful place to inhabit. So, there is a lot of material available out there!

Excellent.  Thank you so much for joining me today.

It was an honor to be here.  Thank you for hosting me.

Of course.


More about Cendrine Marrouart:

Cendrine Marrouat is a photographer, social media blogger and trainer, French instructor, and author living in Canada. She is the founder of two blogs: Photography website and Social media website. In 2015, Cendrine was recognized a Top 100 Business Blogger by BuzzHUMM. Social Media Slant also made Fit Small Business' Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 & 2016 lists.  You can also find Cendrine on Twitter here, Instagram here and YouTube here.

You can find her many works (poetry, social media, photography) here.


About Life’s Little Things: The Quotes

Quotes have been part of the human fabric for a very long time. No matter how old we are, we like to keep our favorites with us. We often have them safely tucked in our wallets or framed on the walls of our homes.

Quotes bring us a sense of comfort and keep us grounded. They force us to think and question our preconceived notions of our surroundings. But most importantly, they inspire us to become better people, especially when they are paired with photography that tells multi-layered stories. 

It is the idea behind Life’s Little Things: The Quotes. Cendrine Marrouat’s second book in her Life’s Little Things series pays homage to the world in a way that you may never have seen before. Each page is an invitation to reflect on the human condition and our never-ending connection to nature. 

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes will not just brighten your day. It will also open your mind to what is possible and what truly matters. In a world where negativity seems to be winning, the 25 high-quality photos and quotes in the book are intended as a balancing act. They will encourage you to reconnect with yourself, think more positively, slow down your physical pace, and find your inner rhythm. 

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes is a little book with a twist and a big heart. Don’t wait and pick up your copy today!

“A real treat for the senses.” – Janette Speyer, HotIceMedia.com

“Cendrine Marrouat’s play between imagery and prose is simple, sweet, succinct and good food for the mind and soul.” – Kelly Hungerford, CommunityWorks

“Cendrine Marrouat’s work is not just good but excellent. The pictures all tell a story, capture a moment in time and they speak to your emotions.” – Anthony Carranza, B2B News Network

Get Life's Little Things; The Quotes here.

Interview with Author Francisco Cordoba

This week I have the honor of welcoming Francisco Cordoba to my Scribbles page. I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome Francisco.

Thanks for having me.

Of course. I just hope I’m not to all over the place with my questions today.

I’m sure it’ll be fine.

You say that now, but we shall see soon enough.  Let’s start with a get to know you question.  Tell me, what are some of the day jobs you have held?

Let’s see if I can remember them all.  I’ve been an Accountant’s clerk, store clerk, telephone sales, dishwasher, zookeeper, care home worker, horse trainer, riding instructor, and English language instructor.

Wow.  That is an interesting mix.  How would you say these jobs have influenced your writing?

I think everything influences my writing because they were all life experience’s which put me in touch with different people and different situations.

I’ve heard that a lot from a variety of authors and I personal agree.  Everything we do is just another life experience to pull from.  That said, do you get a chance to do a lot of reading outside your genre, so you have difference experience’s to pull from?

Well, first, I don’t really have a genre. My series, The Horsemen of Golegã, doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. I really like books that are mixed-genre like that. However, I do read romance, erotica, science fiction, thriller, biography, suspense, mystery, literary and general fiction. I read everything, and I think that comes through in my writing.

Like your work history you have a very rich taste in reading.  That’s cool.

I like the variety.

I can see that.  Okay, so here is a tough question.

Oh man.

Are you ready?

Oh man.

Have you ever intentionally tried to make your readers cry?

(Chuckles) All the time. If I can make my reader cry, then I made my reader feel. I want my readers to feel. I want to leave them wrung out and gasping.

I agree.  I think writing is all about making the reader feel something and if they cry then I did my job.

Does that make us evil?

(Laughs) Probably.

Writing all these different scenes and trying to pull out emotion do you have a favorite scene or line you’ve written?

I think we all do.  Don’t you?

Yes, but I asked you first.

Fair enough, I do have many favorite scenes and lines. In Bosanquet: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 1, the final intimate scene where the FMC loses her virginity is close to my heart. It was one of the first sex scenes I’d written, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about it.

The scene in Loving North: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 3, where Candice and Bosanquet are preparing to go camping, is another favorite. It’s the first time Candice really takes charge of her man, so it heralds her growth as a person, and his as he allows someone else to the lead.

With your diverse taste is books, I’m curious. Who was your favorite author as a child? Do they influence your storytelling now?

I loved, and still do, Dr. Seuss, who in my mind was nothing less than brilliant. I could read The Sneetches and marvel at their stupidity and gullibility over and over again, and get totally lost in the ridiculous stubbornness of the North-going and South-going Zax. The pathos of the lonely pale green pants with nobody inside them made me long to befriend someone less fortunate, and the zany futility of the Tweetle Beetles still make me giggle like a kid.

I have no doubt that Dr. Seuss influences my writing now. Through him, and others, I learned to appreciate the rhythm and swing of language. His stories, simply and amusingly told, illustrate his astute observations about the human condition, and human foibles and inconsistencies, in ways even small children can understand.

And as they say, the child is father to the man.

And that, as they say, was my last question.

Really?

Yes, Sir.  Thank you so much for stopping by.  I look forward to hearing more from you and checking out your books.

Thanks.

More about Francisco Cordoba

A passionate romantic and obsessive equestrian, Francisco Cordoba has been writing for as long as he can remember. However, it’s only in the last few years, since completing his Master’s Degree in Linguistics, and suffering regular chastisement from his wife, that he has dared to fully unleash his muse. He loves writing about romance, relationships, adventures and sex.
 
Francisco lives a largely reclusive life tucked away in an old farmhouse, somewhere, with his wife, teenage son, four cats, two dogs, horse, ducks and chickens. He freely admits to loving them all, although he refuses to allow more than three bodies to occupy his bed at any one time. His six-book slightly erotic, paranormally romantic, mysteriously suspenseful, thrillingly adventurous, and possibly fictional debut series, The Horsemen of Golegã, will be self-published soon.

You can find Francisco at his website here, his Facebook page here, on Twitter here, or via email at contact@franciscocordoba.com

Interview with Author Jeanne Marcella

This week I’m thrilled to welcome a fellow Northern Californian Jeanne (pronounced like Barbara Eden’s old 70s TV show “I Dream of Jeannie.” Except there is no “I”) Marcella to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to her and her amazing writing.  I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome to my Scribbles Page Jeanne.

Thanks for having me.

You know people are not going to have to Google the TV Show reference right?

Probably, maybe you should include a link for them.

(Laughs) Nah, they’re a smart group they can figure it out. First things first, tell me about your writing.
  
Dark fantasy is my main genre to play in, with urban fantasy quickly gaining favor. I write about the human condition and its struggles, even if most of my characters are not human. To me, that’s not only great drama and character development, it’s the great foundation for action and tension.

I agree.  I love using non-human character to explore human nature.  It’s fun.

Sure is.  
 
So, how did you get started?  What drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?
 
Even before I learned to write, I was drawing.  And as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been telling stories and demanding to hear them.
 
The children’s author, Richard Scarry, really sent my imagination into overdrive when I was small. I was completely obsessed with his books back then, and I’m still thoroughly fascinated by his ability to tell stories within stories within stories. Another early influence that probably shaped my writing into the dramatic was watching soap operas back in the 80s with my grandmother.

Stop!  I have to know what soaps did you watch?

(Laughs.) Now that I think about it, my first exposure to soaps was with my mom. She watched “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”, and another one later simply called “Soap”.  Although I do recall both shows being really bizarre--I think “Soap” did a Rosemary’s baby scenario. It was confusing back then.
 
With my grandmother it was “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World.” I still remember the DooL opening…. “Like sands through the hourglass….these are the days of our lives!” It was all very dramatic.  

Okay, sorry didn’t mean to sidetrack I just had to know, please continue. 
 
No problem. Anyway, it’s the characters that live in my head that drive me to write. Their relationships and hardships, their agony. I can’t shut them up, even when I sleep.
 
While we’re talking about characters please give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?
 
Acanthus Breese is a twelve and a half year old boy, but this is definitely not a YA series. This is a gritty dark fantasy that lets the reader discover most of the plot as the main character does.

Oh, I like that.  I hate when you know everything at the start.
 
Yep, that’s why I did it this way.  So, Acanthus and his peers have been imprisoned and abandoned by the adults; they’ve raised themselves since they were five. Acanthus is the smallest boy in the Regrets grid and is often picked on. He draws, carves toy animals, and prays to the goddess to help him retain his sanity. He and the other boys endure while waiting for forgiveness, even though they aren’t exactly sure what they did wrong.

Wow, that is dark.  Should be a great read.

I hope so.  I hope readers enjoy it.
 
Let’s change topic a bit, if you don’t mind. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
 
Ambitions? Well, just to tell a good story and have people enjoy the characters as much as I do. 
 
I love it.  For me that is the best answer possible.

Ah, thanks.

I have to know, where do your ideas come from?
 
That’s a really loaded question. (chuckles). I consider myself a chaotic thinker.
 
My ideas come from everything and everywhere. I can’t turn it off. I see multiple and completely different stories within movies, TV shows, and even just looking out the window. My head is so crowded with ideas and input it’s often a trial to juggle them into submission. Again, it could be that Richard Scarry influence.
 
I think a lot of writers are the same.  I know I have similar issues.  I think it’s part of the creative process.  Or, a sign of madness.  Not sure which.

Could be both.

(Laughs) You may be on to something there. What is the hardest thing about writing your book?
 
The hardest thing about writing ‘The Phoenix Embryo’ was wading through all his trials that had piled up as I wrote, and ironing out the order they fell in. It was a very frustrating process that took about a decade. 
 
Wow.  That had to be tough, but you did it.  Congratulations.

Thank you.
 
Can you tell me, what are the challenges/benefits to being a self-published author?
 
Finding a readership and getting noticed is certainly a major hurdle, and I’m still floundering on that particular challenge. I’ve done my research, and know the avenue I need to go, it’s just taking that deep breath and navigating it. 
 
The benefits are the best. Complete creative control, and having it in the reader’s hands not long after the editors and formatters finish with it. 

I love the idea of complete creative control, but I get that has its challenges too?

It can, but it’s so much fun. I love it.

Awesome. Now back to the writing process. Did you come across any specific challenges when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?
 
There are a few. Realizing that I’ve written two, sometimes even three books as one. It’s happened a few times, and in more than one series/genre. 
 
Discovering that I wrote my ‘Infinity 8’ series backwards--starting in modern day when it needed to begin in the early 1900s.
 
Creating an outline and a synopsis has really saved me time, and a lot of headaches. I push the ideas as far out as they’ll go, and examine them in detail as that particular idea grows closer.  (Laughs) It’s less chaotic that way, and I get things done quicker. 
 
Organization and outlines are definitely the way to go.  I agree.
 
As a self-published author, I’m curious, where do you see publishing going in the future?
 
Ebook distribution is going to change somehow, of course. The question is just when. The tech industry doesn’t stand still. And with Amazon being such a powerhouse, the publishing industry may finally wake up and start competing. Perhaps the remaining Big 5--is it still the Big 5? Will ban together and open their own bookstores and online platform. That would be really neat.

Now that would be an interesting idea.  I think someone needs to compete with Amazon or they will end up controlling the industry.

Possibly. 
 
Sadly, I have one last question for you.

Only one more?

I’m afraid so.

Wow, that went fast.

It always goes fast. Maybe, we could do another interview at some point.

Anything is possible.

Okay, so final question, what do your fans mean to you?
 
Fans provide the mental energy that keep characters, and even a series alive. When they contact you to say how much they enjoy a book, it’s a treasure, and an honor.

Nicely put.

Well it’s true.

And on that finale note, I want to thank you for stopping by and agreeing to do this.  You were a joy to chat with.

Thank you.
 


More about Jeanne Marcella

Stories came to me from a very young age. And I loved books. I would stare at Richard Scarry’s art for hours. Days. And was mesmerized at the infinite mini universes and stories within stories presented.
 
The music I grew up with truly varied. A few examples: Mexican, Hawaiian, and big band. Classical and top 50s and 60s. In the mid-80s I encountered the new age genre: Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast. Stevie Nicks was my all time favorite for her unique fantasy-like allure.
 
Today I gravitate toward Apocalyptica, Adam Hurst, and E.S. Posthumus. I’m also into old black and white movies. People knew how to tell a complete story back then with only body language and a look.

I often muse why centaurs are categorized as non-people or stupid animals, instead of treated like the other sentient mythical beings of vampires, werewolves, and demons.

Conspiracy theories are my soap operas. Paranormal realms and ancient astronauts. Is the moon really hollow? Is Bigfoot from another dimension or merely a shy, near-extinct descendant of Giganthropithicus Blacki? All this drives the imagination and creativity. And it certainly opens up new realms to play in.

You can find Jeanne here and on Twitter here.  She also, has a Facebook Page here.
 


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Click the image to shop for the book.

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

More about The Phoenix Embryo

Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Acanthus Breese and his yellow-robed peers have survived without an adult presence for seven years. They’ve scavenged. Endured madness, starvation, and murder after the adults imprisoned and abandoned them without a backward glance. They’ve clawed their way to civilization and questionable sanity at the guidance of one of their own.

Thirteen-year-old Edward Dasheel is a direct descendant of the goddess Staritti and the red phoenix god, Dasheel. Because of Edward’s love and leadership, Acanthus and the other boys know that despite their regretful crime of harming Staritti and driving her away, hope for redemption remains.

Acanthus knows Edward better than anyone; he knows Edward hides dark secrets about their exile, the adults, and specifically about him. So it is terrifying when suddenly the adults return, pushing themselves back into their lives. What do they want after all these years? And why?

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Interview with Writer Amir Lane

This month I’ve been so blessed to be able to do two Author Interviews.  I’m excited to welcome Amir Lane to my Scribbles Page.  Let’s get started.

Amir I’m thrilled to have you here this month.  Thanks for stopping by.

Always a joy to chat with folks.

I have so many questions, but so little time.  So let’s jump right in.  I’m curious about how you model your characters, are they based on real life?

I really try not to. It’s impossible not to let parts of people I know into my characters because there are only so many traits in the world. There’ve been times when I’ve been talking about a character and realized, ‘Holy crap, this is so-and-so.’ (chuckles)

Sometimes I’ll put real people in passing, like if I need a background character for two lines.

I think we’ve all done that.

Probably.  The other thing I do is when I have a character from another country - ie, not Canada - I’ll pick usually a musician who’s voice I dig and I’ll listen to interviews until I get a handle on it. Like, I have Matt Tuck for my Welsh guy, Til Lindemann for German, Max Cavalera for Brazilian… Sometimes I hear something that totally works. Sometimes it’s, like, a cultural thing, or a generic sort of - Like Max Cavalera learning English from dictionary translations. It’s exactly how my parents learned English, but it totally works here too. Again, generally not deliberate but it happens.

We’re going to be all over the map today with questions.  I hope you don’t mind?

Nope. Not at all.

Great, I wanted to ask if you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

I'm honestly awful at marketing so I'm probably the last person who should be giving advice.

I don’t know you have some amazing cover art for your books and your Urban Fantasy Short is on Tall Tale TV, so you must be doing something right.

Thanks.

Okay, how about you tell me what you don’t like.

Well, as a reader, it really bothers me when authors leave me copy/pasted messages to buy their book, especially when it's for a genre I don't even like. I get that it's the fastest way to spread the word but honestly, it makes me hate the book on principle before I even know the title. People don't like being constantly advertised to, especially when everything is an advertisement. If you want to recommend me your book because you know that, based on the books I talk about, it lines up with what I like to read, then by all means, recommend it but don't make it too obvious that you're only interested in my wallet.

Well said.  I agree.

So, marketing isn’t your thing, but you must do some, so what part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Marketing time is marketing time. I don't take from my writing time, which is probably why I'm lacking in that department. I do most of my marketing when I'm between projects, or parts of projects. For example, I'll give myself a week between when I finish a draft and start editing, and I'll take that time to market. It's a system.

Cool, so keeping on the whole marketing theme, what do you thing about good/bad reviews?

I think the important thing to remember is that everything is subjective. Not everybody is going to like your book. Like, with Shadow Maker, someone said that my main character wasn't relatable at all, whereas other people found that he totally was. So, all that meant was that this person isn't the person that character was meant to be relatable to.

Good point.

Any review should be taken with a grain of salt but there is a point where, if it's a lot of people who are saying the same thing, then maybe that's something to pay attention to. I don't know, I try not to read reviews or respond to anything about my books unless someone is talking to me directly.

That is great advice.

Sadly, this is my last question and I hope it’s an easy one.  Do you have any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Do: Write.
Don't: Get distracted and watch that episode of Duck Dodgers where Dave Mustain saves Earth with the power of heavy metal and awesome hair.

(Laughs) That is probably the best advice ever. What a great way to end the interview.  That you so much for joining me today.

Always a pleasure


More about Amir Lane

Amir Lane (pronounced Ah-meer) is a supernatural and urban fantasy writer from Sudbury, Ontario and the author of the Morrighan House Witches series that debuted in October 2016. The series opens with Shadow Maker, and follows physics major Dieter Lindemann as he's dragged down against his will into Necromancy and blood magic.

Engineer by trade, Amir spends most of their writing time in a small home office on the cargo pants of desks, at a back table at their favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, or in front of the TV watching every cop procedural or cooking competition on Netflix. They live in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper. Their short story, Scrap Metal and Circuitry, was published by Indestructible magazine in April 2016.

When not trying to figure out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a Necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, absorbing the contents of comic books, and freaking out over how fluffy the neighbour's dog is.

Amir loves to connect with readers online. They can be found in their Facebook group here, on their Facebook page here, and at their website here, and on Twitter here where you can find out more about their work.

Interview with Author JP Jackson

This week I’m very excited to welcome my buddy JP Jackson, to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to him and his amazing writing.  I was lucky to have him for an extended interview so I hope you enjoy.  Don't forget to like, share and leave a comment below.  There was a lot to cover in a short time so let’s boogie on down the road.

JP has his first book premiering next month (July 2017).  Congratulations JP and welcome.

Boogie?  Really?

My interview my silliness.

All right well thanks for the invite, I think.

To kick things off tell me about your writing, how did you get started?  

I’ve always been creative in some way. Whether it was drawing, painting, and even acting, I generally find that I have to be doing something, or have a project somewhere that allows me to unleash that creative energy.  

But, I’ve always had ‘write a book and get it published’ on my bucket list.

About three years ago, I finally said to myself – let’s do this. So I hauled out the laptop and started. It really was that simple. I just sat down and put words on the screen. Now, I didn’t say they were good words, but it was a start.

I’ve read some of your writing and I can tell everyone, they are in fact ‘good’ words.

Hey, thanks.

Of course, so you started writing three years ago, was getting the book finished what drove you?  What drives you what drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?

Once I start something I generally have to see it through. I say generally because my husband will tell you that I have so many projects all going on at once it’s impossible to believe that they all get completed.

Do they?

They don’t.

But, if something catches me…you know that feeling? It’s where your mind continually drifts back to thoughts about (in this case) the storyline, a plot problem, the way a character is dressed, and what he says…If my brain starts doing that, then I become obsessed and I will absolutely finish the project. And right now, that obsession for me is writing. I also am finding the writing process to be a ridiculous amount of fun. All of it – from writing my way through a plot problem – to creating new creatures and characters – to receiving edits and making the story even better. And let me just say, thank all the gods for editors.

Yes, editors are our friends.  

They really are, they see things we miss and would never see otherwise.

Very true, now changing gears a bit, which writers inspire you?

There’s quite a few. Stephen King, but his earlier works like Carrie, Christine, The Shining. Anne Rice – all of them, oh my goodness. Yes. I’ve also recently stumbled upon Patricia Briggs and I’ve read several of the Mercy Thompson books and quite enjoyed them. J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series, Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse books, and many, many years ago Piers Anthony with the Xanth books and the Incarnations of Immortality. Who could forget the never ending Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan? Truly, the list is endless. I’m a voracious reader and have always been. I think my favorite horror story of all time was The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. I don’t think I slept the rest of that year.

(Chuckles) That is an impressive list.

I have read a little bit of everything, but if the book has horns, tails, wings, or magic, chances are I’m going to love it. If I’m a little scared while reading it, that’s a good thing too.

I’m currently looking though for that kind of an author who write LGBTQA+ stories. I’ve read so many excellent books lately by authors who identify in the queer spectrum, but I haven’t yet stumbled upon that one author that I know – regardless of what book or work I pick up of theirs, I’m just absolutely going to love it. So, I keep looking…

You have any suggestions?

Hey now, who’s interviewing who? Anyway a book my boss recommended that I recently read was ‘The Swarm’ by Frank Schatzing it’s freaky and well crafted.  And if you like Zombies (I’m personally mixed about them) but ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks is excellent.  Otherwise, you and I have a similar list of books.

(Laughter).

Okay, this isn’t a book club. So, give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?

Dati Amon is my leading man. He’s totally dreamy.  Oh wait…yeah okay so, he’s also a demon from hell. What can I tell you about Dati? He’s pretty old – although he doesn’t look it, that’s because of his great genetic makeup. And when I say old, I mean like three hundred and forty-six years old.

So, about my dating age?  Kidding.

Um… sure. Dati only looks like maybe late thirties, early forties.

Dati is a specific kind of demon. He belongs to the D’Alae species – meaning he has wings, and a tail, but he has ways of hiding these things when he’s out and about. I think that’s what makes my demons a tad more interesting – they look just like any other human – but then, when the guise comes off, or they reveal their true selves, it’s terrifying.

Creepy, but I like the idea. Please continue.

Dati is also enslaved – all of the D’Alae are, and his master is particularly violent and one hell of a masochist. Dati’s job is to find human children who are the result of a demon-human mating, and then ensure that they are ‘turned’.  He hates his job. 

Dati’s master keeps him on a short leash. Because of that, he’s sometimes naïve, but Dati has been around a long time, and so he’s developed a certain amount of elegance and maturity. He’s smart, careful, thoughtful, yet has the propensity for incredible brutality.

And he loves to watch humans. In fact, he really has grown quite soft and kind. He likes humans. He’s quite jealous of them, and their freedom.

When Dati meets Alyx, he is instantly attracted to him (and honestly, Alyx is a redhead, who wouldn’t be instantly turned on by that?) and for the first time ever, Dati has feelings for a human. 

Now that sounds like a set up for a romance story, right? Yeah…I know, but Dati’s story is unfortunately filled with setbacks and turmoil, and as much as he’d like to get to know Alyx, he can’t, and despite a promise Dati has made to keep Alyx out of his hellish world, the exact opposite happens.

In fact, Dati’s actions of trying to keep Alyx out of his life end up setting off a chain of events that leads to the end of the world.

This is no romance novel. This is a story about the end of times.

That sounds really heavy.  It must be one hell (sorry I had to) of a ride?

I hope so.

Wow, so what drew you to write in this genre?

I see magic in everything. There are fairies in my garden, there is a monster in my closet and the boogeyman lives in the basement – and the bastard takes great delight in scaring the shit out of me on a regular basis.  I hate him.

But really, I’m drawn to the fantastical. I thrive best in worlds where magic is possible, but also potentially deadly. I need creatures with wings and horns, beasts that will help you, cuddle with you, or maybe even eat you.

Oddly enough, I want to be enchanted and then scared at the same time. It’s funny though, I can’t watch a horror movie. I keep trying, but then I don’t sleep for days.

Do you mind if we keep going?  Normally I wrap up about now, but this is good stuff.  So, I’d like to keep going.

Sure, I don’t mind.

Great. Where do your ideas come from?

My head. The shadows are long and very deep in there. It’s a creepy place, but beautiful too. There’s something fun about flirting with the darkness, straddling that line between light and dark. I’m quite comfortable there.

I find that music, certain TV shows, movies and pictures will spur my creative juices and make me want to write about mystical beings and terrible curses. I love mythology too. I think we’ve lost a lot of wonder and magic in our lives. Everything is cold and technical and can be explained by modern medicine and science.

To that I say – Bah Humbug.  Let there be a Santa Claus, a tooth fairy, dragons and trolls. I love them all.

I agree.  By the way I love dragons, so you know.  There ya go. Anyway, now for a serious question, what was the hardest thing about writing your book?

A couple of things.

The voice of each character and ensuring I stayed true to them when they were speaking. 

Stories are rich and detailed and they shift in their perception depending on which character’s eyes you’re watching the world unfold through. And so, in Daimonion, the majority of the story is seen through the eyes of Dati.  As I said above, he’s sophisticated, in his own way, and yet, somewhat naive. But part of the story is also told from Jenae’s perspective – she’s a soulless witch, she’s young, broken and a little off. She’s also a teenager. And part of the story is told through Alyx. Alyx is a young man, confident and sexy, mischievous and yet, always optimistic and positive. While writing the book and ensuring as each chapter came to life, the person who was telling the story kept true to their character – that was hard.

I also struggled with keeping all the ties and strings laced together in such a way that the story came to life in a realistic way. I wanted to make sure that events that happened, occurred naturally. I wanted relationships to be developed and be realistic.

It’s one thing to see a person and be instantly attracted to someone. I don’t believe that people look at someone and fall instantly in love. I think love blossoms after you get to know a person. You have to be able to resonate to who someone is, what they believe in before you invest in such an expensive emotion as ‘love’. Same thing for friendship, or trust. Does that make sense?

I think it does and you’re right ‘love’ is a very expensive emotion and I don’t think people are always willing to pay that cost.  Please, though, back to the story.

This story is fantastical, but even though there are demon, beasts, and magic, I wanted it to feel like it all could be real.

Excellent.  I want to shift gears again and talk about something a little lighter. So tell me JP, which famous person (living or dead) would you like to sit down with and lunch?  Why?

Hugh Jackman, because Wolverine. Straight up – he’s my total boy crush. But I’ve also always wanted to have lunch with Whoopi Goldberg. I think we’d laugh ourselves stupid, but she’d also have amazing words of wisdom to impart as well. But regardless of who I have lunch with, if anyone orders beets of any kind, served up in any way, I’m out.

Beets?

I hate beets. Always have. Like from the time I was a baby. Beets went in, and were immediately spit back out.

Note to self, no beets, got it.

It’s silly, and I know this. I’ve tried many times as an adult to eat them. I just can’t.

My belief is that in a former past life I was a victim in a beet famine. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Laughs)

Okay, so no beets.  Are there any other specific challenges you’ve come across when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?

This was my first book. I learned so many things. The way we write differs greatly from communications at work, to a technical manual, a love letter or a literary work. You can’t write in the same way for all of these. They have differences, and they have rules. I’m still learning the rules. 

You can’t describe your own eyes unless you’re looking in a mirror. Period. So stop doing it, and yet, I continue to do so. 

Sigh.

I repeat words often. Editing saves me every time from that mistake.

I have a thing for Tautology – saying the same thing but in a different way. That’s hard to stop, I even speak like that.  You know the expression…”Beat a dead horse?” Yeah. I’m like that.

Commas. I hate commas.

Editors are akin to gods and should be treated as such.

What would I do differently next time? Oh boy. Try and learn from my mistakes? I’m a slow learner though.

I think we all share some similar problems.  I know I’m guilty of a lot what you mention.  One last question and it should be easy.  How would you sum up your book in five words?

The Beginning of The End

What a way to end the interview.  JP, thank you so much for being here and indulging in all my questions and some of my silliness.

It was a lot of fun.


More about JP Jackson:

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.

You can find JP here and on Twitter here.  He also has a Goodreads Page here.


More about Book One of the Apocalypse Daimonion (Pre Order here): 

Dati Amon wants to be free from his satyr master and he hates his job—hunting human children who display demon balefire. Every hunt has been successful, except one. A thwarted attempt ended up as a promise to spare the child of a white witch, an indiscretion Dati hopes Master never discovers.

But Master has devilish machinations of his own. He needs human-demon hybrids, the Daimonion, to raise the Dark Lord to the earthly realm. If Master succeeds, he will be immortal and far more powerful.

The child who was spared is now a man, and for the first time in three hundred years, Dati has a reason to escape Master’s chains. To do that, Dati makes some unlikely alliances with an untrained soulless witch, a self-destructive shape shifter, and a deceitful clairvoyant. However, deals with demons rarely go as planned, and the cost is always higher than the original bargain.