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

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

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

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

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


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

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

This leads me to the next few lessons we learned:

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

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

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

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

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

Can it please just be over? Please!

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

Interview with Reviewer Ryane Chatman

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely not.

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

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

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

That’s why I’m here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do enjoy it despite how challenging it can be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, is Batman one you would recommend?

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

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

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

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

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

Any final thoughts for the folks reading this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Ryane Chatman

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

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

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

For her website click here.

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

Interview with Author Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starship Apple of Discord©2016-2018 Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, All rights reserved - Copy.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope to get there soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much Andrew for stopping by today.

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

I certainly can’t wait to read them.


About Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi: 

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

Contact Andrew by clicking here.

Find his websites by clicking here and here.

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

Bullying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with Fellow NineStar Author K.S. Trenten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About K.S. Trenten:

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

 

Find K.S. Trenten here:

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

Blogs, Otherwise Known as the Cauldrons of Eternal Inspiration:

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

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Here where to buy her works:

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

Eating Food. Sexy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Myth of LGBTQIA+ Books

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

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

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

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

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

A closing point I have for everyone to think about.

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

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

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

Edit:

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

Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings by Todd Smith

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

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

It’s my pleasure.

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

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

Wait!  You were shot twice?  Two different times?

Yes. I was shot on two different occasions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are some of your favorite places to go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. I think we will.

That is one project what is the other?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the Author:

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

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

Where to find Todd Allen Smith:

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

Writing Update – June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves a Review

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

It was good.  

There ya go.  Have a great week…

No…

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

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

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

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

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

You need to check out this book!


About the Book:

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

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

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

Buy the book here.


About the Author:

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

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

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

Author Shout Outs

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

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

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

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Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

Buy it here.


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

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Here is the blurb:

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

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

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

Pre-order it here

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

Discrimination and Hate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, who’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Interview with CH Clepitt

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

Welcome CH to my Scribble page. 

Hello, and thank you for having me.

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

Ah Thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow! Three months?

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

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

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

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

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

Really, you come up with the title first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, yes it is.  And unnecessary!

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

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

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

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

Well, that was my last question.

Whew! We made it! Thanks!

Yep, that’s it. Not too bad I hope?

No, this was fun. Thanks for having me!

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

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Bio:

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

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


Social Media Links:

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.

Random Wednesday (Continuation)

Back in May, I tried something a little different on my Scribble Page.  I shared five random facts about myself (here is the link if you missed it). All you Scribblers seemed to enjoy it.  Today, I thought I would share five more personal facts. Things you may, or may not know.

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Fact Number One:
As some of you may have figured out, or guessed, or even know, when I’m not writing I work for a non-profit here in San Jose.  The non-profit is one of the largest multi-service agencies in the county and we serve upwards of 40,000 clients a year.  The work our agency does is life changing for many people and I enjoy my ‘day job’ even though it can be difficult.

Even though my passion is writing. Working for this organization is an amazing experience and has allowed me to meet some compassionate people.

The best part about my job is that even with as challenging as it is (and trust me it can be challenging) when I leave for the day, I’m done.  Which allows me to focus on my writing in the evenings and on the weekends when me and my hubby aren’t busy.  
 
Fact Number Two:
Continuing with the ‘work’ theme.  In the late 90s and the early 2000s, I worked in International Marketing for two different start-ups (not at the same time).  It was an amazing time, however, 75% of my time was travel and there were months were I wasn’t home for weeks.  This got exhausting over the years. However, the experience was priceless and if you haven’t guessed most, if not all, of the locations in my books are places I have been.

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During this time I traveled to Asia and Europe, all over the US, and parts of Canada. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, but I’m glad it’s behind me.  If I had continued that path, I would not have had time to write and bring the stories in my head to life.

Fact Number Three:
Something I’m not proud of is I have a rather large addiction to potato chips.  I love them.  The salty and the crunch. Yum.  An open bag, around me, is an empty bag.  I try not to keep them in the house, but that doesn’t always happen. Eric, calls me I’m a chipaholic.  I have to agree. I suppose it’s better than smoking or alcohol.

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Fact Number Four:
Back in the day, some friends and I used to play AD&D.  I loved it.  We had so much fun.  Yes, that makes me a nerd, but I don’t care.  We had the best time. We played well into our early twenties.

My character was an Elf. He was a mage/assassin and could kick some serious butt when he needed to. I got lucky. He never died, which says more about our Dungeon Master than my playing skills.

Along with AD&D, we played a Star Trek RPG and Masquerade the Gathering. Like I said we had a blast and I miss it.  However, I still play card and dice games with family and friends. It’s not the same thing, but we still have a good time.  

Fact Number Five:
Last, for this week.  I mentioned last time my love of Disney. Well, not only do I love all things Disney but also I love Halloween.  It’s the most amazing time of year.  I have a huge Halloween Village I put up for the season and for Halloween we decorate the entire front of the house as a graveyard. We don’t go as crazy as some people, but we do our house proud.  Typically, I will get dressed up and sit on the front porch and pass out candy.  It’s a blast.

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Also, during the Halloween season we’ll host a Halloween Party or a Masquerade Ball. It doesn’t happen every year, but we try to have one when we can.  They are a ton or fun and everyone seems to get into the spirit.

Well, there you go. Five more facts about what makes me tick.  I hope you enjoyed.  As a reminder if you know anyone who you think might enjoy my writing send them the links to my books (click here)?  Let me know what questions you may have in the comments below.  Until next week have an amazing week.

Author Takeover Provided by Gillian St. Kevern

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

Without further ado, take it away Gillian.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author Bio: 

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


Morgen Prince Blurb: 

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

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

Get your copy by clicking here.


Social Media Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I market a non-romance gay book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April Writing Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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