Interview with Author Andrew Peters

It’s now fully summer, can you believe it. Well, happy Wednesday Scribblers. Today I’m thrilled to bring you fellow NineStar Press Author Andrew J. Peters.  Andy, has a bunch of works out, now only for young adults but for adults as well.  This week I invited Andy over to chat about his newest work Irresistible. I had the pleasure of reading the book before the interview so today we get to dive into the book and, of course, Andy’s work as an author. Let’s dive in shall we:

MN: Andy, I have to tell you I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started reading Irresistible. It’s such a unique tale, especially considering it’s based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, which I had honestly never heard of, so what made you decide to write this type of novel, especially giving it the gay treatment? What drew you to the story?

AP: Few people outside of classical scholars have heard of Callirhoe, so you’re in good company. I included in my Author’s Note what led me to that obscure inspiration point because it definitely warrants some explanation.

I’m better known for writing fantasy, and I was doing research for my novel The City of Seven Gods, which is a near-world historical fantasy with ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Greek touchpoints. I wanted to read translated material written in that era to get a better ear for how people talked about their daily lives. So I stumbled upon Callirhoe, which has the distinction of being the oldest extant romance novel according to literary scholars. Lots of things about that intrigued me, including the fact the author is Chariton of Aphrodisias, which is kind of awesomely on-the-nose for a romance author.

But I was also really curious what a romance novel looked like in the 1st century C.E., and the shocking thing to me was the story reads like a comedy mash-up of Harlequin romance and Shakespeare play. It’s funny because it was panned by “serious” literary critics of the time while still achieving commercial success, so there was something really interesting to me about how ancient sensibilities weren’t so different from modern attitudes about literature.

The story is totally absurd and painfully earnest. Callirhoe is the most beautiful woman in the world, and she falls instantly in love with young, handsome Chaereas when they spot each other on the street. They immediately make plans to marry, but a group of Chaereas’ friends try to sabotage their union because they’re jealous that he gets to marry her. An outlandish comedy of errors ensues involving kidnapping, forced marriage, a military insurgency, and finally a trial to sort out who has the right to Callirhoe during which the judge plots to steal her for himself. All the while, Callirhoe has impassioned soliloquies cursing the gods for making her so beautiful and pining for her true love Chaereas. When they’re reunited, they literally faint from the ecstasy of the moment.

To me, that was winning material for a modern send-up reclaiming the story for rom-com fans. In a sense it took me back to my writing roots. I wrote a lot of absurd humor in high school and college but got on a fantasy kick when I started writing for publication. Callirhoe reminded me of one of my favorite comedy movies There’s Something About Mary, and I felt gay rom-com doesn’t get as much daylight as it should. It was fun to approach the subject of gay relationships from a light, really madcap perspective. 

MN: One of the things that is difficult for me, as a reader to relate to, are physically perfect characters. And, this book had the lead characters as physically perfect. What I love about the story is that you made these guys incredibly flawed, was this your intention from the start so the reader would be able to relate to them? Or, is it just how the characters are? I guess the big question here is how to keep these characters likable and believable, which is a hard line to balance, so what were your goals to that end? In the end I did find the characters likable and I thought you did a good job with it, but how do you think you did? Are you happy with their characterization especially now that the book is out? Do you think it all worked the way you wanted?

AP: My intention was heartwarming parody, and I think you’re right, that requires a well-measured balance. Because on one hand, I wanted to blow things up to point out certain social hypocrisies and superficialities while also saying something true about the world. Partially, I thought a story about a tragic, irresistible beauty in the gay community worked really well because I think we do fall prey to an obsessive search for beauty, which is defined as youthful, physical perfection. We see that in advertising, dating apps, gym culture, the whole cosmetic surgery and beauty industry, and I’ve known so many guys with body image issues as well as those who will only pursue young, conventionally-attractive men like it’s some validation of their worth.

So in developing the story’s tragic beauty Callisthenes (Cal), I did call upon those stereotyped traits. He’s twenty-four, blond-haired, boyishly handsome, slimly built. But it was important to me that he’s naively unaware of how attractive he is. That’s partially for the comedy. At a crowded outdoor theater, everybody makes way for him to have a prime seat on the grass, and he thinks it’s just this friendly thing. He’s come to New York for the summer, and when people shoulder each other aside to give him directions, he’s like: “Everyone in the country has it wrong about New Yorkers. They’re really kind and helpful.” I imagined him as this sweet, earthy, unpretentious guy who’s actually a bit more goofy and nerdy than you might expect. He’s a broke, grad student so he goes to random things like free lectures on writing true crime fiction, and he’s reading Artur Rimbaud’s love letters in the original French for fun. So with that portrayal, I hoped to make him more relatable and endearing.

With his love interest Brendan, I needed to create Cal’s handsome prince, so physical attractiveness was definitely an ingredient, but I also considered that Cal would be drawn to an intellectual type. Part of the parody with Brendan is he’s a trust fund brat who’s kind of rudderless and filled with angst. He definitely suffers from rich guilt, but I didn’t want to make that superficial. He’s trying to be socially conscious, and he’d rather take a guy out on a date for ice cream rather than impressing him with his wealth. But I drew on certain familiar observations about people of privilege in a light-hearted way. He’s got the requisite psychotherapist, has studied Buddhism, is over-educated but lacking the basic work skills to actually handle a job. I wanted to make him kind of a hot mess who finds a sense of grounding and belonging in Cal.

I love the story and the characters, so that hasn’t changed since Irresistible came out; but I also learned the comedy point-of-view isn’t for everyone. Some readers thought it was hilarious and refreshingly different. Some thought it was an eye-rolling train wreck, which in some ways is the point. Humor is really subjective, so it’s definitely a risk, and I don’t have the right perspective or I guess literary sensibility to write a satisfying story for traditional romance fans. I’ve never written stories “to trend,” just more so hoped they’d reach some readers who relate. That approach hasn’t launched me into the stratosphere as an author for sure, but for me, it’s been a risk worth taking.

MN: As I read the novel, I kept shaking my head at the wacky circumstances you got your characters into. This is a rom-com and of course there is a lot of misdirection (I think that is the correct way to say it) was this true of Callirhoe, or did you take liberty with the story?

AP: Yes, misdirection would be right. I actually had to tone down the ridiculous plot devices from the source material. Callirhoe may also be the oldest extant example of the “they’re not really dead” trope. When Chaereas is manipulated into believing Callirhoe cheated on him, he kicks her in the precise spot on her diaphragm that induces a death-like coma, and they go through a funeral and she wakes up to be kidnapped by grave robbers.

Most of the circumstances that thwart Cal and Brendan are loosely based on characters and plot points from the original, and I had to give them some tweaks for modern times. Cal’s pursuers like the Romanian mobster, the old hermit widower, his horny adolescent naval prison guard Faraj, and the despotic Arabian king are re-imagined. The one thing I somewhat kept is the journey, which goes through the Greek isles and ends up in the Middle East. I of course invented the Sultanate of Maritime Kindah as Cal and Brendan’s final destination.

MN: As I mentioned above I’m not at all familiar with the source material you wrote this story off of, did you have issues adapting this story for modern times? I thought you dealt with the whole social media aspect of it quite well, given the nature of the characters, especially Cal, how he didn’t end up a Social Media star or internet celebrity still has me curious, what were your writing strategies for this and how do you think it all worked out?

AP: Yeah, besides being a heterosexual love story, the original has the heroine being trafficked by sail boat through the Greek isles in a time when women were property. Beyond figuring out what a tragically beautiful gay man would look like in the modern world, I did have to consider technologies and political and law enforcement aspects to bring a story of obsession and abduction into a contemporary setting.

A guy who turns heads wherever he goes would face some creepy situations for example, and probably my biggest challenge was balancing a responsible portrayal of that while keeping the tone light. Part of Cal’s history involves stalkers and guys who send him dick pics, and then of course, he has a host of men who he thinks are going to help him get back to Brendan but are covertly plotting to keep him for themselves. As a contemporary story, it could easily have turned out feeling more like horror or crime drama than rom-com.

It helped a lot to have those sections vetted by beta readers and editorial staff to get the tone and balance right. For example, I tried to make one of Cal’s stalkers more comical by having him drive his Smart car into his house and ending up jammed in the car with local news crews filming him being sawed out by welders and carried out in a stretcher. I think the key was placing creepy situations in a world which feels silly and safe enough to readers to trust nothing too dark could possibly happen.

I think that’s why outrageous rom-coms by the Farrelly Brothers work like my fave There’s Something About Mary. Things could go to a dark place given the circumstances, but the danger and violence is given an absurd treatment. Like when Ben Stiller’s character picks up a hitchhiker who turns out to be a serial killer, and the guy runs off on him at a late-night rest stop. Then Ben is caught up in a police raid because it’s a gay cruising area, and the police find one of the hitchhiker’s victims in the rucksack he left in Ben’s car. They’re all really serious issues, but you don’t take them truly seriously because you feel safe in the storyteller’s hands. My early readers and editor helped a lot with finetuning that tone. I actually had a supporting character die in the first draft, and they helped me realize it was too off-putting to go there.

MN: You give this story a solid ending, but do you have any more planned adventures for Cal and Brendan or is their story done?

AP: I don’t think so. Writing the story has plucked up some interest in doing more rom-com, but the projects I’m working on have new inspiration points.

MN: You have quite a collection of books out there, and they cross several genres (which I love), so between us guys, what is your favorite genre to write in?

AP: That’s tough. I’ve truly enjoyed everything from paranormal to young adult to epic fantasy and rom-com. I’ll say this: I find contemporary a lot easier to write, whether it was my Werecat series or Irresistible. There’s so much research with epic and historical fantasy. So much internal logic to figure out.

MN: What do you currently have in the works? What will we be seeing in the future?

AP: I have a short story collection based on retold fairy tales and legends coming out from NineStar later this year. Besides that I’m working on a young adult comedy adventure based on The Odyssey, and I’m shopping around the follow-up to The City of Seven Gods.

MN: As with many of us, writing is either a hobby or a part time gig. You don’t appear to be any different in that regard. In general, we write because we love to tell stories. What motivates you to keep writing? Do you have stories in your head that need to be told? Or, is it something else? Do you feel the need to have LGBTQ+ content available for generations to be able to read and learn from?

AP: It’s important to me that I call my writing a job rather than a hobby, though it wasn’t always that way. Getting my work published was the dividing line, and thereafter I started building the confidence to take my writing more seriously; though not too seriously! It’s also been a journey of humility since rejections are an inevitable part of it, and there’s always more to learn about improving your craft.

I write because it’s intrinsically rewarding for me, from the creative process when I’m all amped up about a new idea, to accomplishing a story from start to finish, to the little bits of acknowledgement here and there, and seeing my work in print. I am a big advocate of increasing queer portrayals and #OwnVoices in particular, and equally, I just love stories with queer characters. I don’t know if you remember this t-shirt that used to be pretty popular at Pride events: “I can’t even walk straight.” Well, mine would be: “I can’t even write straight.” So the queer part is both purposeful and inevitable for me.

MN: Was there anything else you wanted to share with us today?

AP: I think that’s all. Thanks so much for having me over Marvin!

Andrew thank you for stopping by today and chatting about your latest title Irresistible. If you have questions for Andrew leave them below and I’ll ensure he swings by to answer, or you can find him on Social Media, see the links below. Until next time have a great week.


About Andrew J. Peters:

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Author Andrew J. Peters is the third most famous Andrew J. Peters on the Internet after the disgraced former mayor of Boston and the very honorable concert organist of the same name.

He’s an award-winning author, an educator and an activist. His novel The City of Seven Gods won the 2017 Silver Falchion award for Best Horror/Fantasy and was a finalist for 2016 Sci Fi/Fantasy Book of the Year at the Foreword INDIES. His Werecat series was a 2016 Readers’ Choice finalist at The Romance Reviews. He has written two books for young adults (The Seventh Pleaide and Banished Sons of Poseidon), and he is the author of the adult novel Poseidon and Cleito. His latest title Irresistible is a gay rom-com based on the oldest extant romance novel in the world.

Andrew grew up in Buffalo, New York, studied psychology at Cornell University, and spent the early part of his career as a social worker and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. He has been a contributing writer at Queer Sci Fi, The New York Journal of Books, The Good Men Project, Gay YA, YA Highway, La Bloga, and All Romance e-Books (ARe) Café.

While writing, Andrew works as an administrator and an adjunct faculty at Adelphi University. He lives in New York City with his husband Genaro and their cat Chloë.

Where to find Andrew J. Peters:

Find his website here.

Find him on Facebook here.

Find him on Twitter here.

Find him on Goodreads here.


About his latest title Irresistible:

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Brendan Thackeray-Prentiss is an Ivy League-educated trust-funder who Gotham Magazine named the most eligible gay bachelor in New York City. He lives for finding his soulmate, but after walking in on his boyfriend of three transcendent months soaping up in the shower with an older female publicist, he’s on a steady diet of scotch, benzodiazepines, and compulsive yoga. Men are completely off the menu.

Callisthenes Panagopoulos has a problem most guys dream of. With the body and face of a European soccer heartthrob, the vigorous blond hair of a Mormon missionary, and a smile that makes traffic cops stuff their ticket books back in their utility belts, he’s irresistible to everyone. But being a constant guy-magnet comes with its discontents, like an ex-boyfriend who tried to drive his Smart car through Cal’s front door. It makes him wonder if he’s been cursed when it comes to love.

When Brendan and Cal meet, the attraction is meteoric, and they go from date to mates at the speed of time-lapse photography. But to stay together, they’ll have to overcome Cal’s jealous BFF, Romanian mobsters, hermit widowers, and a dictatorship on the brink of revolution during a dream wedding in the Greek isles that becomes a madcap odyssey.

A gay romantic comedy of errors based on Chariton’s Callirhoe, the world’s oldest extant romance novel.

Buy his novel here.

Interview with Author KD Fisher

Can you believe it’s the first week of June already? I’m really looking forward to the Summer and I’m hoping that all the rain is done for a while, but I’m not going to complain especially with this weeks guest around. To start off June, I have this great interview with romance writer KD Fisher. KD is a queer author who lives in New England. Let’s get into shall we.

Thank you for agreeing to be here today for the interview KD, now before we get started why don’t you tell us something about yourself. Something not in your bio.

Let’s see…my other favorite thing to do (aside from writing) is cooking. I even thought about going to culinary school! Spending a day shopping for food, trying new ingredients, and cooking a big meal for my friends and family is my idea of heaven. I also love reading cookbooks and own far too many of them.

That is so cool. I enjoy cooking as well. It’s a great way to be creative and get something delicious in the end.  Of course I’m not a fan of cleaning up, so there is that too.

I love that you are a romance writer, what got you interested in writing romance? Within romance what is your favorite to write about? What makes your romance work so unique and different?

I was very into reading romance growing up. Because, as a reader, I care about character development more than plot, I enjoyed getting to know two people and watching them fall in love. Then, as an adult when I discovered queer romance, I knew I’d found my absolute favorite thing to read. Knowing queer characters will get their happily ever after feels both comforting and radical to me. A lot of LGBTQ+ media has been dominated by stories of suffering, so happy stories about queer folks finding love and joy have power.

I love writing contemporary romance because, at least for me, I feel it gives the most opportunity to dig into character development and all of the nuance of what it really means to enter into a new relationship.  And since I’m in my late twenties, I like writing about characters my age trying to juggle careers, friendships, and finding their happily ever after. 

While I’m not sure it makes my romance work unique, one thing I care a lot about is including politics in my stories. Writers are frequently told to keep politics out of their work, but everything we do is political! 

Nicely said. I think politics, if done well, can only add to the richness of any story, including romance. Romance has a stigma that it’s basicially erotica, where the lines can blur a bit. We know this isn’t the case, so what are your thoughts on the whole line blur between romance and erotica?

Hm. I think a lot of the stigma around romance stems from intrenched cultural misogyny and discomfort with women enjoying themselves. But that’s a rant for another time!

Romance comes in all heat levels for sure, ranging from clean or sweet romance (terms I don’t love but, again, that’s a rant for another day) all the way to erotic romance. I think the biggest distinctions between romance and erotica are the goal of the work and why the reader seeks it out. When choosing a romance novel, a reader is going to expect character development, rich worldbuilding, and a traditional arc ending with the characters finding love. Emotional satisfaction is a hugely important aspect of romance. Erotica is more focused on sensuality and sex scenes.

I do include on the page sex in my novels and stories. One, because I like writing it, and two because I think, particularly for stories about queer women, it’s important that positive, consensual, and satisfying depictions of queer sexuality by queer creators exist in the world. In romance, however, sex scenes have to do the same work as any other scene. They should further the plot and develop character, otherwise they feel gratuitous.

Nicely said. I agree that there is a lot to unpack on this topic, however, I think you did a great job with the question. I love seeing positive pretrains of consensual adults being romantically involved.  Now, without spoilers why don’t you tell us about A Little Rebellion.

A Little Rebellion is a f/f romance novella that came out in May in theRogue Ever Afteranthology. I used to teach high school English and always wanted to write a story about two queer teachers falling in love. The plot centers around Ruth Chan, a veteran teacher and union representative, and Mia Davis, a brand-new educator. The two women develop a close friendship and commiserate over terrible new school policies. There’s plenty of awkward banter, progressive politics, and queerness!

Sounds like a must read. Okay, given the above do you have a favorite character in the story?  I know that’s like asking you to pick your favorite arm, however, sometimes there is a character that we have an easier time writing, so if you don’t have a favorite, then what about a character that was easy to write for?

I really loved writing Mia’s character because she’s so different from me! She’s bubbly and athletic and isn’t afraid of a challenge. The novella is dual point of view and I always looked forward to getting into Mia’s head. But I also really love Ruth in all of her awkward butch glory.

From your bio, I see you want to one day move to a cabin in the desert, that isn’t something you hear a lot from people, so I’m curious what is it about the desert you love so much?

It’s kind of a silly line because I’m pretty sure I never want to leave Maine (where I live now.) But I do love the desert. I’m a sucker for a beautiful but harsh landscape. And the American Southwest is one of my favorite places to hike because I love to geek out over desert plants and birds. 

LOL, plus I’m sure it’s quite a contrast from Maine, which I love by the way and got a chance to visit there a million years ago… I’m hoping to go back.  Anyway, moving on, what are you currently working on? What will be seeing from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a f/f foodie romance about a baker and a chef. It has been a lot of fun to write!

This fall I have a queer romance coming out with NineStar Press, followed by a holiday romance coming out with Dreamspinner Press. So stay tuned!

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Thank you so much for having me! You are always welcome. Hit me up when you have a new book out and we can do this again.

Thank you KD for stopping by today and telling us about yourself and your writing.  If you have questions for KD leave them below and I’ll ensure she swings by to answer, or you can find her on Social Media, see the links below. Until next time have a great week.


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About A Little Rebellion:

Veteran public school teacher and union rep Ruth Chan is always ready for the curveballs life throws at her--an updated curriculum, a new principal, a replacement superintendent… But she’s not ready for a cute woman at the dog park to divert her attention the day before a new school year. Ruth can't afford to pursue love when her students need her.

The last thing Mia Davis needs is a distraction. It’s her first year teaching and she’s going to do things right, dang it! No matter how much she wants to fantasize about a certain colleague she met at the dog park, Mia has to stand up to the intolerant jerk of a principal and help her students learn despite the horrible new test-prep curriculum.

As a close friendship develops between Mia and Ruth, the women must fight to save the school they both love and decide if their friendship can turn into something more.

Where to Buy KD Fisher’s books:

For A Little Rebellion in Rogue Ever After

Buy it on Amazon here.

But it on Barnes & Noble here.  

Find it on Apple Books here.

Buy it on Kobo here.

For Nature's Heart in Rogue Passion

Find it on Amazon here.

Buy it on Barnes & Noble here.

Find it on Apple Books here.

Buy it on Kobo here.


About KD Fisher:

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KD Fisher is a queer New England-based writer of authentic, heartfelt LGBTQ+ narratives. 

KD grew up all over the United States: bouncing from North Carolina, to Hawai'i, to Illinois, and finally settling in Maine where she spends far too much time at the beach. As much as she loves the Northeast, she daydreams about one day moving to a cabin in the desert.

When KD isn’t writing she can usually be found hiking with her overly enthusiastic dog, obsessing over plants, or cooking elaborate meals. She loves classic country, perfectly ripe tomatoes, and falling asleep in the sun.

Where to find KD Fisher:

For Twitter click here.

For Facebook click here

For Instagram click here.

For Goodreads click here.

Interview with Author Damian Serbu

Happy Wednesday Scribblers it’s not very often I get to chat with another author of vampire books, so this week I’m thrilled to have fellow Ninestar Press author Damian Serbu here on my Scribbles’ Page for a nice sit down and chat. So grab a glass of redand sink your teeth into this interview.

Welcome Damian, before we get started why don’t you tell us something about yourself. Something not in your standard bio.

I fell in love with vampires in high school! I had no idea at the time, but it seems pretty clear in retrospect that their double nature and secretive lives appealed to my closeted self.  When I was introduced to Anne Rice a few years later, I became even more enthralled with vampires than ever before. The Louis/Lestat relationship mesmerized me. What else to tell you? I love to travel! Paul (my husband) and I go all over the place. This summer, we’re heading to England for a week, and next year to Paris for a week to celebrate our 25thwedding anniversary. Almost all the places where I’ve been end up in my writing at some point or another. It’s a fun way to relive a favorite destination and share it with other people. Plus, having been there helps make it come alive when I write about it.

Yes, I would totally agree. I do that as well.  I pull in places I’ve traveled too, it makes the story all the more real. After reviewing your works and reading your bio and all that good stuff. I see that you are a fellow writer of vampire tales, what is it that has drawn you to not only writing about vampires, but also what has drawn you to writing in general?

I was drawn to writing because stories filled my head that demanded to get out. Honestly, I resisted it for a long time. I am a historian by training, which is so opposite fiction it’s like night and day. But I always read fiction for fun – to rest my mind from the scrutinizing of primary documents and facts, of what the past teaches us. In the midst of that relaxation, I started to imagine stories and eventually felt compelled to dabble in writing novels. Which led to publishing, and away I went! As for vampires – I just find them sexy! I enjoy all sorts of horror, but to charge it with a different kind of physical allure fascinates me. Plus, you can delve into something deeper with vampires by altering their fear of mortality, as opposed to humans. And finally, I know they play into a fantasy of mine that strips away fear. Growing up and coming out came with a fear to it; of rejection, of physical assault, of uncertain futures. Vampires overpower people and seldom experience that fear, so it’s fun to jump into their lives.

I agree. Let’s talk vampires, what mythology did you use? Did you create your own from start to finish or did you pull from various sources enhancing where you needed to?

I think I would say all of the above! I basically threw out the old stereotypes and fears, stuff about crosses and mirrors and such, moving toward the more contemporary vision of vampires as similar to humans, in terms of good and bad vampires, vampires with tons of emotion. Anne Rice influenced me in terms of how powerfully her vampires feel. But I also wanted a world of my own making, and so made stuff up as I went along.

Anne Rice is definitely the God Mother of vampires and I think we all pull a little something from her writing. Now, something else that caught my eye is your take on Santa that is definitely a much darker telling of Santa, so what is the story behind that series? It almost seems a bit tongue and cheek, is that what you were going for, or am I miss reading it?

Lol – it is totally tongue-in-cheek! (Side note – it is also completely unrelated to my other vampires, with its own legends, stand alone nonsense, etc.) Nothing in those books should be taken seriously, and readers should be warned that the humor is extremely juvenile. Though I also wanted some darkness, some pretty intense horror to scare people. I used to joke around about my theory that Santa was really a vampire, to amuse and annoy people during the holidays. Then I got to thinking that we horror fans need more books to enjoy during the holidays, when everyone else wants to read ‘happily ever after’ stories. Into my head popped Simon, the elf who tells the tale, and away I went. So yes, it’s supposed to be funny and scary and ridiculous.

I figured it had to be something like that.  I’m sure that series will make a fun, dark, holiday read. Also, you have several out of print novels right now, are you looking at editing them and bringing them back? Or have you moved on from them and they are lost to history?

I am definitely working to get the vampires back out there! NineStar has re-published two of them, and I am working on a couple others with the hopes it will publish them, and therefore complete my vampire series. The Vampires Angeland The Vampire’s Questare books I and II of my vampire series (reprints), while The Vampire’s Protégéis book IV (original to NineStar). So, you see, I really want to get book III out there! As for my other stand alone novels that are out of print, I’m not sure what their future holds.

I see that you are a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), how has this affected your writing career?

It’s been fun to engage with other horror writers, for one. And actually, I joined them a long time ago and participated in their mentor program. My mentor helped with my first novel and my writing so much! HWA also provides a publicity platform and information about the publishing world that really helps me. It’s a fun organization that connects readers and writers, too.

Sounds like an organization that all horror writers need to check out. Moving from writing to personal, when you’re not writing what do you and your husband enjoy doing? 

I already mentioned that we travel, so there’s that. We watch movies and hang out with friends a lot, as well as spend as much time as possible with family. We’re wine enthusiasts – he’s especially a wine snob, but because he is I get to drink good wine, too. We’re avid Cleveland sports fans, so watch a lot of the Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians. And hang at home with the dogs. Plus we both like to read.

Speaking of dogs, you have two, one named Chewbacca and the other named Akasha, and you say they control your life how so? Also, I have to ask, Chewbacca, does this mean you are also a Star Wars Fan? If so is Chewbacca one of your favorite characters?

They control life because EVERYTHING revolves around them! They demand attention, for us to maintain their routines, and we comply. Akasha especially needs lots of attention, and expects that we stop everything to adore her whenever she wants. The idea is really about how much we love them and make life about them all the time. And yes – I am a HUGE Star Wars fan! I have loved Chewbacca since episode IV first came out in theaters! He was my very first action figure. Obviously I associated him as being Han Solo’s dog, so I liked him best.

That’s awesome. So, what are you currently working on? What will be seeing from you in the future?

I have two projects getting most of my attention these days. First, speaking of out-of-print books, I am working on a major overhaul and redo of Secrets in the Attic, because the main character becomes a main character in Book III of my vampire books. And I am writing away on my fifth vampire book in the series, tentatively titled The Vampire’s War

Sounds great. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

I want to express my appreciation for your having me stop by today! It’s been fun to chat with a fellow vampire enthusiast and hang out for a while, as well as a fellow NineStar author!

You are welcome anytime.

I want to thank Damian for taking the time to stop by and chat. It was great leaning more about you and your writing. Remembers Scribblers if you love Dark Fantasy or Vampire Stories check out Damian’s books and don’t forget to share this post with family and friends who may enjoy his works as well. If you have questions for Damian leave them below and I’ll ensure he swings by to answer, or you can find him on Social Media, see the links below. Until next time have a great week.


About The Vampire’s Angel and The Vampire’s Quest:

In The Vampire’s Angel, as Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine that will either throw each person into complete chaos or save their very soul from the turmoil swirling around and within them. Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold onto his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbe.  Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces. The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

The Vampire’s Questbrings back the beloved gay vampires, Xavier and Thomas, in the anticipated sequel to The Vampire’s Angel. In 1822, the Archangel St. Michel orders Xavier to go on a quest to America, a quest that violates the Vampire Council’s laws to the point of a possible death sentence. Worse, Xavier must abandon his lover, Thomas. Xavier runs to his aging sister and pleads for Catherine’s help as Thomas races after them. With Thomas and the Vampire Council vying for Xavier’s soul, Xavier and Catherine struggle to obey the former priest’s divine calling before their inevitable capture.

Where to Buy Damian Serbu’s books:

For Vampire’s Angel click here.

For Vampire’s Quest click here.

For Vampire’s Protégé click here.

 For Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon click here.

 For Santa is a Vampire click here.


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About Damian Serbu:

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s AngelThe Vampire’s Quest, andThe Vampire’s Protégé, as well as Santa’s Kinky Elf, SimonandSanta Is a Vampirewith NineStar Press. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.DamianSerbu.com.

Where to find Damian Serbu: 

For Twitter click here.

Find him on Facebook here.

Conversation with Author R.R. Campbell

It’s Wednesday already, where did the week go? Welcome to another in my series of author interviews. This is my continued attempt to bring forward authors you may not already know and introduce them to you. If you do know them, then it is my hope you’ll learn something new. Today, I welcome fellow NineStar Press author R.R. Campbell to the hot seat to talk about his book Imminent Dawn and its highly anticipated sequel Mourning Dove.

Welcome to my Scribbles Page, Ryan. I’m thrilled to have you over, especially after I just finished Imminent Dawn. What a great book.

Thanks, M.D. Neu I was happy to know you picked up a copy, and thrilled to learn you liked it.

Before we jump the interview proper, why don’t you tell us something about yourself that’s not in your bio?

As a “buffer activity” in between writing-related work, I normally play Wii Golf or Baseball. Or, if I feel like being slightly more active, I’ll hop on the exercise bike in the basement—especially during these winter months, when it’s way too cold to go outside for a proper walk or jog.

I read in your bio that you run a podcast, The Writescast Network. Care to tell us about it? (include where and how people can listen Links are good too).

Yes! The Writescast Network is a podcast collective for writers, by writers. The idea is that in one single podcast feed, you get access to three distinct shows that focus on different facets of the craft and business of writing.

For example, the longest-running program (the r. r. campbell writescast), features author, agent, and editor interviews in which I ask those guests how they approach or feel about particular aspects of the craft of writing, or what they’ve done to be successful in marketing their work or establishing their brand. There are two new episodes of the r. r. campbell writescast on the first and third Fridays of each month, you can find it here.

Then there’s Novel Approaches. Novel Approaches is a monthly show that’s craft-intensive. For this show, co-host and fellow editor Sione Aeschliman joins me to do a deep dive into a particular aspect of the craft of writing. Previous topics have included goal-oriented storytelling, character development, narrative mode—the list goes on. In these episodes, which can sometimes last up to two hours, we also take listener questions and comments from a #WritescastChat we host on Twitter prior to recording the episode. This gives us an opportunity to work in insight from the broader community to provide listeners with a more holistic perspective.

Last but not least, we have Biblio Breakdown. This show features a host who explores one book (or TV show) in particular, and emphasizes what the writer of that media did well—all with the goal of seeing how that might help us as writers. Over the course of one episode, we might explore a book’s inciting incident, characterization, and how voice is brought to the page in detail.

I’m actively looking for Writescast Network contributors for this program, and anyone who’s interested in this can certainly email me at writescast@gmail.com to learn more.

Otherwise, all things Writescast Network can be found at writescast.net!

You’re an Editor as well, excellent. Do you find that that makes writing your own works easier or harder? What is it about editing that you enjoy so much? Are there works you won’t edit? What are your favorite kinds of novels to edit?

Over the years I’ve gotten better about compartmentalizing my work as an editor and my work as a writer. When I write, I write with my left brain—the goal is to just get the plot down and the basic scene mechanics on the page. When I revise my own work, I do so with my right brain, deepening the emotion of those scenes and shaping the work’s thematic elements based on what I’ve given myself to work with to start.

When I edit—whether for myself or others—I have to do both at the same time, making sure the pages’ contents are on point mechanically and emotionally. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but, like I said, I’ve become more confident in my ability to tackle this over the years, and practice does make for something approximating perfection.

I’m much more of a genre-focused editor than I am focused on editing literary works. With genre, there are more tangible benchmarks for me to work with when it comes to evaluation, whereas in literary works there’s more room for playing fast and loose with structure, characterization, narrative mode, etc. This is fantastic for writers who have a clear vision for the story they want to tell, but as an editor—for me, anyway—it can be tough to assert myself in the same ways since editing literary work (or memoir) can be a bit more personal; I don’t want to trod on anyone’s experience.

In the end, though, editing for others gives me an opportunity to not only help other writers realize the full potential of their concepts. It also helps me see my own work in a different light. I’m often in awe of how other writers confront challenges similar to those that I face in my own work, and it can be really inspiring to see.

Let’s talk about Imminent Dawn. Give us a brief description of the novel and since book two is on its way, the overall series.

Click the image for the book trailer.

Click the image for the book trailer.

Imminent Dawn takes place during the first round of human trials for an internet-access brain implant. Though it follows four perspective characters—including a ruthless tech magnate, a relentless investigative journalist, and an advancement-hungry administrative assistant—Chandra, the art-school dropout, really forms the story’s core.

Chandra enrolls in this research study because she believes the EMPATHY internet-access brain implant can help reunite her with her wife, who’s in a coma Chandra feels responsible for. Ultimately, Chandra’s goal is to have the internet-access brain implant installed in her wife’s mind as well, and she hopes that through the implant, the two of them will be able to communicate with one another in some way.

The majority of book one takes place on the research compound, though we do get to see some of the overworld’s politicking and the state of the North American Union as a whole. If Imminent Dawn is an action, Mourning Dove is the reaction that really lets us see how our characters handle the adversity posed by the fallout from the research study. Mourning Dove also lets us get enmeshed a bit more in the broader world, as it features scenes that take place in Texas, Quebec, and Costa Rica.

What inspired you to write the story? As I recall from your interview over on WROTE Podcast you mentioned that the story started as a short, and grew from there. Is that correct? (To hear the interview click here)

Imminent Dawn did start as a short story meant to be a modern Flowers for Algernon. After having written the short story, however, I realized there was more to the narrative than just what Chandra had at stake. It’s then that I added the journalist on the outside of the study, and from there, the addition of the ruthless tech magnate and the advancement-hungry administrative assistant really helped me see there was series potential here.

In this way, it went from a simple short work of fiction to the sprawling, Game of Thrones meets Black Mirror book series we’re looking at now!

As I mentioned I just finished the novel and it was excellent (for my review of Imminent Dawn click here). I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think what I found so interesting was the idea of following multiple characters, personally I love that kind of story telling as you can really explore the characters. Is that what you wanted to do with the novel from the start or, as you wrote it, did it morph into that kind of story telling?

Like I mentioned above, it really morphed into that over time. What I love about this kind of storytelling is that it gives us an opportunity to see how individuals of different backgrounds handle these momentous events in human history, even if the “history” is forward-looking and inherently speculative.

We have the four perspective characters in book one, but we’ll have nine in book two. Books three and four—whose events will be concurrent—will have a total of at least a dozen perspectives across both installments, though book three will have about half of those perspectives, and book four will have the others.

That is a lot of perspectives to keep track of, I can’t wait to see how you handle it. I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun to read.

Also I enjoyed that you didn’t put this story too far off from our time, meaning we can still recognize the world you are writing about. You did manage a few changes in your world building which I found fascinating, namely the North American Union or NAU as it’s referred to in the book. I would love to hear more about the world building you did for the story. What did you change? Why did you change it? And how did this affect your story telling?

I wanted this story to feel like it’s something that could happen in our world at any time. The actual lore behind it all (not present in book one) is that the EMPATHY series takes place on a divergent timeline, where subtle changes near the end of the twentieth century (and particularly in the twenty-first) led to serious advancements in telecom and vast, tectonic-level political changes both in the United States and abroad.

This not only allowed me to create an eerie distant-but-not-too-distant feel, but it also freed me up to do what I wanted regarding some of the laws that govern research studies and the world as a whole. It also gave me more freedom to shape how the characters view the world and the news taking place in it to a greater extent. In other words, it let me divorce myself from actual events in our world and replace them with similar moments and movements that might better serve the planned longer arc I have for the series.

Without giving anything away, I want to compliment you on the ending of Imminent Dawn, you could have chosen many endings for the book that would have allowed you to continue on with the series, but the road you chose was… well, nicely done. Was the ending always planned the way it was, or did that change as you wrote the novel and the more you dug into your characters?

I always knew the ending had to be bittersweet. For me, there’s something poetic to giving everyone what they want, but not quite how they would have wanted it. This irony really sets us up to see how people react to getting what they wish for in ways they never would have wished for it.

Writing an ending like the one we have in Imminent Dawn also allowed me to feel as though I was resolving the central question of the book while still providing a sense of direction for what might come in Mourning Dove and the later books in the series. Some reviewers have mentioned they didn’t like the threads I left dangling for the non-perspective characters, but—good news! Some of those people will, in fact, be perspective characters in books two through however many we end up with here.

Now, what can we except to see in Mourning Dove (by the way love the title)?

Click the image for the book trailer.

Click the image for the book trailer.

Mourning Dove, per its back cover, is an evocative, sweeping symphony of love, revenge, and desperation in cacophonous times. At its core is the struggle to balance how we view the past while still embracing the present and looking toward the future.

More tangibly, readers can expect a sweeping investigation into the goings-on from book one, while other characters will be left grappling with how their lives are forever changed by what they witnessed and experienced on the research compound. Where will they go from here? How will they move forward when the past truly has them in its grips? How do they reclaim what once was while also adjusting to a new, immutable reality? These are the questions with which the primary cast must concern itself over the course of the book.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Strap in. I’m proud of Imminent Dawn, but perhaps even more excited to see how readers feel about Mourning Dove. My recent decision to split book three into two installments (Event Horizon and Rubicon) has only invigorated me further; it’s letting me see the series in ways I’d never considered before.

Though I know what happens in every book in the series (including the final scene of the last book, Nightshade), I’ve got plenty of wiggle room to address the how. There are so many new, exciting characters that are begging for me to bring them into the fore a bit more, and as I evaluate which ones really merit that kind of treatment, I grow even more enthusiastic about getting Event Horizon ready for publication in late 2019, along with the subsequent episodes in the series.

That is impressive. Good luck and I can’t wait to read what you having in store for us. I want to thank fellow NineStar Author R. R. Campbell for stopping by today. If you want to check out all the books and authors over at NineStar Press click here.
Don’t forget to share this post with friends and family who love Sci Fi books. If you have any questions for R.R. Campbell leave them in the comments section below and I’ll have him pop back over and answer them. Until next time have a great week.


About R. R. Campbell:

r. r. campbell is an author, editor, and the founder of the Writescast Network, a podcast collective for writers, by writers. His published novels include Accounting for It All and Imminent Dawn, which debuted as the number one new release in LGBT science fiction on Amazon. Its sequel, Mourning Dove, is slated for release in April 2019 with NineStar Press.

His work has also been featured in Five:2:One Magazine’s #thesideshow, Erotic Review, and with National Journal Writing Month.

r. r. lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.

Contact R.R. Campbell:

Websites:

www.rrcampbellwrites.com

www.writescast.net

www.empathyseries.com

www.accountingforitall.com

Twitter and Instagram: @iamrrcampbell

Facebook: facebook.com/iamrrcampbell

Goodreads: goodreads.com/iamrrcampbell

Get your copy of Imminent Dawn here:

Amazon click here.

Barnes & Novel click here.

NineStar Press click here.

Kobo click here.

Smashwords click here.

Preorder Mourning Dove here:

NineStar Press click here.

Q&A with Author CJ Bedell

Happy Wednesday Scribblers, this week I’m welcoming Chris Bedell to my Scribbles Page for a Q&A about their upcoming Young Adult LGBTQ thriller I Know Where the Bodies are Buried, which comes out latter this year.

Welcome to my Scribbles Page.

Before we jump into the Q&A why don’t you tell me and my Scribblers something about yourself and your writing that they won’t find in your bio?

One thing that fascinates me about writing is ambiguity. As humans, we like things to be in simple terms. However, that often isn’t the case—sometimes the truth can be somewhere in the middle. And when that theme manifests itself in writing, it is quite interesting.

Let’s talk about your upcoming Young Adult thriller I Know where the Bodies are Buried. When does it hit the stores?

The release date is still set fir 2019. However, I’ll post on my twitter (@ChrisBedell) when I know something more specific.

What can you tell us about the cast of characters? Do you have a favorite character?

The story is about teenagers. Carson, and his friends Chelsea, Freddie, and Amanda attend a New England boarding school. Carson’s “boyfriend,” Billy, allegedly died of suicide but Carson doesn’t believe it. So, Carson dates another student—Dean—who was close to Billy under the guise of trying to prove Billy was murdered. Except Carson doesn’t count on falling for Dean in addition to uncovering unpleasant things about Billy. Finally, the book rotates between the present (NOW) and the past (THEN) with the Billy mystery unraveling in the present and the past providing insight into Billy/Billy’s relationship with Carson.

That sounds intriguing. So, what makes this book different than what is already on the market, what is going to excite readers of young adult books?

My book is a twist on the Gone Girl narrative that inspired a lot of Adult Mysteries/Thrillers. I thought it’d be interesting to bring that to a Young Adult book. Particularly if the villain is male. Although overlooked, men can be as cunning and manipulative as Amy in Gone Gril.

What inspired you to write this story?

I’ve always wanted to write a Young Adult book about hazing, but didn’t just want it to be a “morality play.” Hazing is only a minor component of this book, but the implications from a hazing event reveal something major about one of the characters in I Know where the Bodies are Buried. Also, as I previously mentioned, I love Gone Girl and wanted to write a twisted Young Adult Thriller. Adam Silvera’s History is all you Left Me is also a comp title for the book—it inspired my book’s dual timeline.

We’ve talked a little about your upcoming book, would you like to share anything about your current books?

Sure. Just recently, I signed a contract for a Young Adult Paranormal novel—Deathly Desires—which is coming out September 19th of this year. The pitch for Deathly Desires is Tara Sim’s Timekeeper meets Pretty Little Liars when 17-year-old Cody enters a relationship of convenience with a grim reaper to get over a past unrequited crush. Plus, a I Know What you did Last Summer situation, which guarantees death if not solved. Also, my Young Adult Fantasy novel In the Name of Magic is currently out now and can be bought here:

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it from NineStar Press here.

Buy it on Barnes and Noble here.

Buy it on Smashed Words here.

Buy is from Indiebound here.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

That nothing is as it seems in my Young Adult LGBTQ Thriller I Know where the Bodies are Buried, in addition I hope readers enjoy the twists and turns. Furthermore, I Know where the Bodies are Buried has series potential, and I’ll release more information on my Twitter as it becomes available.

Excellent. Thank you for stopping by today.

I want to thank Chris for hanging out and sharing all about their upcoming book as they mentioned it will be released sometime this year, but Chris will announce the actual date on Twitter as soon as more information is learned. So keep your eyes and ears opened for more about this new young adult thriller. In the mean time if you know anyone who loves young adult books share this blog post and help get the word out. Have a great week and we’ll see you next time.

About I Know Where the Bodies are Buried:

History is all you Left Me meets Gone Girl: 17-year-old Carson befriends, and dates a classmate (Dean) to prove his ex-boyfriend's (Billy's) death was murder; not suicide. Except sleuthing unravels Billy's secret depravity and Carson actually falls for Dean. The novel rotates between the present (NOW) and the past (THEN). Here is the more detailed blurb:

NOW: 17-year-old Carson believes his former “boyfriend” Billy didn’t commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, and into the ocean. Billy’s sweater and suicide note might’ve been found, yet a body was never discovered. So, Carson befriends, and “dates” his classmate, Dean, on the possibility that Dean knows something about Billy’s death. Dean and Billy both belonged to the same community service club—where Billy devoted a lot of time to. Clues unravel like: an eyewitness seeing members of Charity Now in the woods near the cliff before Billy’s suicide, a diary entry, proving Billy lied about his father being homophobic, and a hazing incident involving a student’s death—that Billy might or might not have been responsible for. Carson doesn’t only have to grapple with Billy’s duplicity, though. Genuine romantic feelings for Dean emerge. Except Carson will have to finish his sleuthing if he wants closure about Billy’s death. Even if that means finding out facts about Billy that he wished he never knew or choosing between stringing Dean along or being honest.

THEN: Billy makes Carson feel special when he flirts with him at a party in addition to helping Carson deal with a past trauma. However, Billy refuses to go public with their relationship, and Carson must decide whether he can handle a secret relationship or if they should breakup.

About CJ Bedell:

Chris’s previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and Entropy Magazine among others. Additionally, his debut Young Adult Fantasy novel In the Name of Magic was published by NineStar Press (a small press) in 2018. Furthermore, his 2019 publishing credits include: his Young Adult Thriller novel I Know where the Bodies are Buried by Magnolia Press, and his Young Adult Paranormal Romance novel Deathly Desires from Deep Desires Press.

Contact CJ Bedell:

Twitter is the best way to get in touch with me.

My Twitter handle is: @ChrisBedell

Interview with author J. P. Jackson

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


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

Thank you for having me.

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

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

Worst 20 minutes of my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MagicorDie-f500.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously? Wow. Care to share?

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

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

I can’t watch horror movies.

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

I’ll let you in on another secret…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re telling me.

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

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

Period.

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

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

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

Get my point?

Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Where to find Magic or Die:

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it on Kobo here.

Buy it on Barnes and Noble here.

But it on NineStar Press here.


About J.P. Jackson

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.


Contact J.P. Jackson

Twitter find him here.

Facebook find him here.

Goodreads find him here.

Instagram find him here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the plan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off hours? What are those? Ha!

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

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

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

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

Anything else?

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

And your Favorite game?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wookie. Hmm.

~snicker~

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

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

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

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

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


About:

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

Social media:

For Twitter click here.

For Tumblr click here.

For Facebook click here.

To Email Jason: vslavetopassionv@aol.com

To find him at Superior Author Services click here.

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.