Top ten inspirations for Taking the Plunge by J.B. Reynolds

This week I’m pleased to have J.B. Reynolds over on my Scribbles Page to do a Top Ten list about his new novel Taking the Plunge. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know J.B. over the last several years and I’m happy to call him one my friends.

  1. I’d been dreaming about writing a novel for more than twenty years and decided it was time to stop dreaming and start doing. I wanted to finally be able to say, “I’ve written a novel.” It’s not the novel I would have thought I would write twenty years ago, or even three years ago (when I started getting serious about my writing), but that leads me to inspiration number two…

  2. The characters came from a story I’d already written. The main characters had already appeared in my short story, What Friends Are For. In that story, (spoiler alert), a woman confesses to her acquaintance that her husband has been cheating on her. The acquaintance’s advice is to make a pile of his belongings in her back yard and set fire to it. I thought, what would happen if she followed through with that advice? I’d begun writing an entirely different novel but I set that aside when the story for Taking the Plunge grew wholly and organically out of that question.

  3. Location, location, location. Taking the Plunge is set in the mountains of Central Otago in the South Island of New Zealand in the early 2000s. While I grew up in and now live at the opposite end of the country, I too lived in Central Otago in the early 2000s. The landscape there is beautiful, but also wild and unforgiving. I figured that for my first novel, with so much to learn in the writing process anyway, it would be much simpler to set it in a place that I had first-hand experience of. While it’s been many years since I’ve been back to Central Otago, the landscape is so imposing that it stamps itself on your soul, and my memories of it are still vivid.

  4. Small Towns. The heroine of Taking the Plunge, Kate Hensley, lives in Cromwell. Cromwell is a forty-five minute drive from the alpine resort town of Queenstown, and is kind of like a lesser known and much less interesting little cousin. I like the idea that in small towns, everybody knows your business whether you like it or not, and that there’s only one of two degrees of separation between any two people. Because the services available are so minimal, you can’t afford to be picky about using them. You can’t hide in a small town. Whether you’re rich or poor, everybody shops in the same supermarket; everybody’s kids go to the same school. Small towns are great melting pots for characterization.

  5. Gossip. I write in the novel that gossip is as good as firewood for keeping people warm on cold winter nights. Since the entertainment options are so limited in small towns, gossip becomes a primary form of entertainment. Small towns are fueled by gossip. I find this idea fascinating – that in a small town you can go about your life, minding your own business, doing what you do, and yet down the street you can be sure that your neighbors are gleefully discussing your business over a nice, hot cup of tea.

  6. Snowboarding. The climate in Northland, where I currently live, is subtropical. There was a dusting of snow on the very top of Mt Tutamoe on a particularly icy winter’s day a couple of years ago but apart from that, it doesn’t snow. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve been to the mountains. However, I did quite a bit of snowboarding in my teens and twenties, in NZ and Canada and Washington State, and there really are few things in life that compare to the hysterical joy of a fresh powder run, whether you’re skiing or snowboarding. The snowboarding elements in Taking the Plunge are not just a plot device, but an attempt to capture a little of that joy on the page, in lieu of actually being there. My kids have never seen the snow, and so next winter my goal is to take a family snow holiday and hopefully experience that joy in real life again.

  7. Jane Austen. I used the StoryGrid method, by Shaun Coyne, to outline the novel. If you’re a writer and haven’t heard of it, it’s well worth checking out. I found it immensely helpful. The StoryGrid method is based around genre, and the conventions and obligatory scenes of specific genres. While outlining Taking the Plunge I read an annotated StoryGrid version of Pride and Prejudice, where Jane Austen’s take on the conventions and obligatory scenes of ‘the love story’ are explained. I don’t want to compare Taking the Plunge to a masterwork like Pride and Prejudice, but it was certainly an inspiration.

  8. Sir Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett is probably my favorite writer. I love his stories because they are so wise, yet the wisdom is dispensed in such a fun way that it doesn’t even seem like wisdom. Again, I don’t want to compare my writing to a master craftsman like Sir Terry, but I think whatever I might write in whichever genre, from now into the future, his writing will serve as the aspiration.

  9. Smiles. I like books that make me smile (I say smile rather than laugh because laughing is a social behavior but reading isn’t, so getting someone to laugh while reading is an incredibly difficult thing to do). There’s tragedy in Taking the Plunge, but there’s comedy too, and that’s the aspect that’s most important to me. If I can elicit a laugh from readers of Taking the Plunge then that would be my absolute greatest reward, but eliciting a few smiles would be almost as good.

  10. Stephanie Plum. I’ve read three or four of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels now and I think she’s a great character, feisty and funny but vulnerable too. I’m not sure Kate Hensley is quite is likable as Stephanie (at least not currently) but once I’d outlined Taking the Plunge I realized Kate’s story was bigger than one book. I doubt it’s as big as the twenty-something novels featuring Stephanie Plum, but I’ve now outlined two sequels, and depending on how the writing for those goes, there could be room for more.

Wow. Thank you so much J.B. Reynolds for stopping by. Congratulations on your new book Taking the Plunge. If you want to learn more about J.B. check out his details below. If you have a question for J.B. leave it in the comments and I’ll have him swing by and respond. As always don’t forget to share and like this post. Until next time have a great week.


Author Bio

J.B. Reynolds lives in rural Northland, New Zealand, where he raises children and chickens. He writes humorous fiction in which tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. His first short story was published while he was a university student, and in between that and a return to serious writing in 2016 he has worked as a graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, film critic, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes. Taking the Plunge is his first novel.

Nowadays, when not writing, he’s a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). He enjoys sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when his wife and kids aren’t at home. He has a big garden where he likes to get his fingernails dirty, and he loves to eat the things that grow in it.

Book Blurb

Sometimes all you need is a leap of faith...

When her husband's recent infidelities are exposed, Kate Hensley does what any sensible woman would; she kicks him out of the house and pursues a younger man. Could her snowboarding instructor, Evan Randall — blue-eyed, blonde, and gorgeous — be the solution to her problems?

If only love lust were that simple.

Gossip travels fast in the high-country, and while Kate’s new BFF supports her romantic endeavours, it seems no one else does. With opposition to her amorous adventure mounting, Kate learns that Newton’s third law applies to love as it does to motion, and she must decide whether the price of being true to herself is one she’s prepared to pay...


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Top Ten List with Jacqueline Church Simonds

It’s a new month, can you believe it. We are well on our way to Fall and Winter.  This week I have another fun Top Ten list with fellow author Jacqueline Church Simonds, her Top Ten is all about why she decided to write her Heirs of Camelot series. Let’s get to it shall we:

10. I am a King Arthur fangirl. I have been ever since I saw Disney’s “The Sword and the Stone” when I was 4 and it first came out (yes, I’m old).

9.  I have read books like “The Once and Future King,” Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, and “The Mists of Avalon” so often, the pages now come out of the books. Did I mention I like King Arthur stories?

8. So naturally, when I returned to writing, I decided to play with my favorite story. I originally meant to write a “mouse’s eye view” of the Round Table and all the characters and doings. Yes, Anya interacts with Merlin, King Arthur, and Morgaine (OK, more than “interacts.” Ahem), but she knows she isn’t the focus of the story; she is the chronicler—how we know this epic tale at all. The book that became “The Priestess of Camelot” (prequel to the series) is Anya’s own story, which her daughter demands be written.

7. In my first draft, I thought it would be fun to make a frame tale (a story that starts and finishes, and sometimes interrupts, of what happens with the heirs of King Arthur, Merlin, and Anya as a result of Anya’s work in the novel. (This is a common enough story-telling technique. Think “Princess Bride,” etc). But beta readers said, “What the heck is going on with the characters in the frame tale? I want to hear more of that!” (I took out the frame tale, and “Priestess” stands alone.)

6.  I have long been interested in the concept of reincarnation, both personally and as a writing topic. David Mitchell attempted something with it in “Cloud Atlas” (one of the few times the movie was better than the book). What do we owe each other in next lives? Can we feel the ties across time to those we have loved and hated? Is there such a thing as timeless love? And so, “The Midsummer Wife” was published by Strange Fictions Press/Vagabondage Press on Midsummer Day, 2018.

5. The minute I wrote the end of “The Midsummer Wife,” I knew it was a series. The air turned blue with my swear words. I am not a big fan of series. I had no interest in writing one. Yet, here we are.

4. I decided that if I was stuck writing a series, I’d approach it more like C.S. Lewis did in the Narnia and Out of the Silent Planet series; each book is different in tone, few of the original characters are present throughout—and those who are, are vastly changed. So, “The Priestess of Camelot” is a Historical Fantasy; “The Midsummer Wife” is an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance.

3. I’m sort of veering off on this point, but I should advise readers I write sex-positive love scenes. I know many folks don’t like reading about it, or call the sexual bits “racy,” or whatever. But adults have sex. Consensual, loving sex is in my personal top ten list of being an adult. However, I try to give folks a heads up on this. One of my beta-reads was on a New York subway train and read one of the “juicier” scenes in “Midsummer.” I got a text from her exclaiming that it might have been nice to know she should read it in the privacy of her own home (LOL).

2. The next book in the series, “The Solstice Bride” (launching in October, it’s in the publisher’s hands. Click here for the GoodReads placeholder), is an Urban Fantasy/Dystopian. It is DARK—I mean, we bump into an actual Black Mass. The world is in the crapper and the protagonists have to correct what went wrong in “The Midsummer Wife.”

1. I have “completed” the final book of the series, “Mistress of the Rose Moon,” about 8 times. Each time I go back and tear it apart. I’m currently in mid-rubble-rebuild. I’m really hoping we can put it out for Midsummer Day, 2020. We’ll see. In “Mistress of the Rose Moon,” we return to King Arthur-y stuff, with an actual hunt for the Holy Grail, but with aliens, talking cats and dogs, and all the happy endings you can eat. Well, except for the bad folks.

Thank you Jacqueline for that great Top Ten list and I can’t wait to started reading the series. As Always I want to thank Jacqueline Church Simonds for stopping by today and chatting with us. As always don’t forget to share and like this post. Until next time have a great week.

About Jacqueline Church Simonds:


Jacqueline Church Simonds is an author and publishing consultant. Her first published book was “Captain Mary, Buccaneer,” a historical adventure novel loosely based on the real pirate women Ann Bonney and Mary Reade.  Simonds has done the usual authorly wanderings in life: she was a lady’s companion, a sound and lights roadie for a small Southern rock band, and managed an antiques shop. She’s sold everything from computers to 1950s pulp magazines to towels and baby clothes. The one constant in her life is a love of words, books and writing. She sold some short stories and poetry early, but didn’t pursue it until later in life. She has had a life-long love of King Arthur and was always drawn to novels about that great hero. Finally, she sat down and wrote stories from her own point of view. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and beagle.


Where to find Jacqueline:

On Twitter

On Facebook


Check out the Pinterest storyboard for “The Midsummer Wife”:

and “The Priestess of Camelot”:

and “The Solstice Bride”:

Heirs of Camelot series

Priestess of Camelot Final  Cover.jpg


Anya, a pagan priestess of the Nordic Rus tribes, leaves her home country and arrives in Britain. There, she joins the sisterhood of Avalon, headed by the scheming Morgaine.  When Anya runs afoul of the Avalonian high priestess she is sent to Camelot to spy on the court while acting as healer. But there, she falls in love with the High Druid, Merlin, and King Arthur, bearing sons to both of the great men of her time.  After losing both of the men she loves to Morgaine’s treachery, she embarks on a plan that unfolds over the next 1,500 years to return Goddess worship to the island nation and save it from a danger Anya can see but cannot understand.

Midsummer Wife Cover.jpg


After a nuclear attack on London that heralds The Time Foretold, Ava Cerdwin, the high priestess in charge of fulfilling a 1,500-year-old prophecy, must assist the heirs of King Arthur and Merlin in healing the devastated country. The descendants of Britain’s great men of legend have kept the myths and relics for sixty-one generations, but no one is quite clear on what they must do next. Nothing goes as planned: Ava falls for the wrong heir, the panic attacks are getting worse, the complex obligations of reincarnation are straining old relationships, and Morgaine and her henchwomen are trying to kill them. Somehow, some way, Ava has to make the Healing happen, or Britain is finished.

THE SOLSTICE BRIDE  (Due Out in October)

In this second book in the Heirs to Camelot series, it is twenty years after the Healing. Morgaine has taken over Ava’s body, defeated Harper, humiliated Ron, and is the authoritarian leader of dysfunctional Britain. After years of study with the Goddessians, Falke returns to Britain and, with the aid of Ravenna, the queen’s daughter, must go back in time to stop Morgaine from defeating Ava. But first, they must help the resistance discover why all the psychic adepts in Britain are disappearing—and what monstrous plans Morgaine and her son Prince Robert have in service to the Dark Lord, Adramelech. Falke and Ravenna struggle to find a way to accomplish their goals as their love deepens. The Solstice Bride is a dark adventure and love story with implications for the entire universe.

Top Ten List with Kay Doherty

Happy July Scribblers, I hope you all had a safe and joyous 4th of July. This week I welcome fellow NineStar Press author Kay Doherty for a fun Top Ten List about shifterwolves and shifterdragons. Let’s get to it shall we:

What are the top ten reasons you picked shifterwolves and shifterdragons to write around?

  1. When I first started writing I joined Out in Colorado Fiction. There was talk about doing an anthology centered around dragons. The short story I started for that soon became a novel and by the time I reached the end, I realized there was potential for a series. Thankfully, my editor at NineStar, BJ, agreed and the Chevalier Series was born.

  2. I’ve always been drawn to characters with special abilities. When I was teen, my youngest brother and I were fascinated with the X-men and the things they could do. I would make up stories in my head where I was the one who could control the weather or start fires in the palm of my hand. Such a cool idea.

  3. I love dragons. Always have. They embody strength, fearlessness, loyalty, and danger.

  4. My husband loves wolves and volunteers monthly at a wolf sanctuary in southern Colorado called Mission: Wolf. They give tours, educate visitors about wolves to help dispel rumor and myth, and allow you to meet them. You can go into the enclosure and touch them. It seemed natural to me that when Luca stumbled on his mate, that mate would be a wolf.

  5. I wanted to explore the paranormal genre as a writer because I love it as a reader. I probably have hundreds of MM romances with shifters, vampires, witches, you name it.

  6. Luca, Tanner, and the rest of the pack give me the opportunity to explore racism, hate, and discrimination, and find a way to live in a world thick with it. I’d not experienced any of those things until I came out as omni and polysexual. These guys give me a chance to work through it all with them. Tanner really embodies a lot of my struggles with my day job and learning to accept that people will hate me simply because I’m in a committed bisexual poly-family.

  7. Writing shifters and other paranormals freed my writing. I love the two contemporary MM romances I’ve written, but I felt like my creativity could really fly when I didn’t have to follow the “real world” rules. I could make my characters whatever I wanted and give them all these sweet-ass abilities. It’s been so much fun to write.

  8. Having wolf-shifters and dragon-shifters opened the door to have other paranormal beings. As the series progresses there are vampires, phoenix, sorcerers, lion-shifters, hawk-shifters, and whatever other creatures I can imagine. Pretty sure I threw a gryphon in there just for the hell of it.

  9. Writing shifters gave me the opportunity to write complex characters. It’s one thing to write a human with human thoughts and emotions. Add in a supernatural half and you create a whole new level of problems. Animal behavior is so different from human behavior and its fun trying to weave those together in a way that’s cohesive and believable.

  10. It’s sexy!

I love these quick top ten lists, they are so much fun and I believe you get a real feel for the author and the stories they create. I want to thank Kay Doherty for stopping by today and chatting with us. What do you think about dragons and wolves? What about shifters? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to have Kay stop by and respond. As always don’t forget to share and like this post. Until next time have a great week.

Kay Doherty.JPG

About Kay Doherty

Kay Doherty is an omnisexual/polysexual who lives in Colorado with her poly-family, Mike, Keri, and Tigz. Her house is overrun with cats and dogs. Family is important to her so there are daily texts, frequent visits to her parents, and constant banter with her brothers. She happily suffers a severe addiction to coffee and Mexican food. She loves to read and write and can easily become consumed by it for hours, much to the dismay of Mike and Keri (Tigz is an enabler). On occasion she can be convinced to venture out into world of the living despite being annoyed by the sun shining in her face.

Where to Find Kay

Email address:


Fine her on Facebook: @kaydohertyauthor

Find here on Twitter: @kdohertyauthor

About Hearts of Fire (Chevalier Book One)

Luca Duray has been quite happy living a solitary existence for decades. But when a steel trap around his leg catches him when he’s weak and hungry, his life is irrevocably changed. He knows the wolf shifter who offers him assistance is more than he appears and immediately makes plans to keep the pup close.

Disowned by his pack for being gay, Tanner McBane is forced to become a lone wolf. While on a hunt, he stumbles upon an injured dragon shifter and provides aid. It’s not easy surviving on his own and when money gets tight, he finds himself face-to-face with the dragon shifter once again during an interview. Tanner isn’t sure a wolf should be working for a dragon, but he accepts the job and unknowingly creates a bond to his new boss. Soon, Tanner learns Luca isn’t just his boss—he’s his mate.

The mating of a wolf and dragon shifter is uncharted territory for both Luca and Tanner, but they are determined to make it work despite widespread prejudice, death threats, and the untraditional pack Tanner finds himself leading. Tanner only hopes that the bond he forms with Luca will prove to be unbreakable.

Where to buy Hearts of Fire

Find it on NineStar Press here.

Find it through GoodReads here.

Coming in August 2019 Hearts of Blood (Chevalier Book Two)


Top Ten List with Schuyler L'Roux

Wow! It’s Wednesday again Scribblers. This week I’m pleased to have fellow NineStar Author Schuyler L’Roux on my Scribbles Page to do a Top Ten List for his debut series There’s Always Something. This should be a lot of fun, so let’s get started.

The Top 10 Reasons I Wrote the “There’s Always Something” series

  1. I answered an open call that Ninestar Press ran on in 2015. The day I found the ad, I had started writing a sex scene that I thought was nothing more than a fun diversion. Ninestar had just opened, and I thought it’d be a perfect place for a new writer to learn the ropes of writing and publishing. So I fleshed out my random hookup and hoped for the best when I submitted the first story, “There’s Something about a Kilt.”

  2.  In 2015, I was living in Germany in a glorious year off that was dedicated to writing and publishing my first book. I couldn’t get so much as a nibble for that book and, like any proper writer, proceeded to get drunk and depressed. Finding Ninestar and starting “There’s Always Something” reminded me that there can always be another project and that my goal shouldn’t be success, but rather the joy in creating and completing a project.

  3. I’d always toyed with sex scenes, but as nothing more than short exercises to test my writing or because I was hot and bothered. “There’s Always Something” gave me a chance fully incorporate sex into a living, breathing story. Sex became not just an exclamation point, but a way to propel the story forward or perhaps, as was the case in “There’s Something about Pain,” jerking the story to a complete halt.

  4. I love wearing kilts. They’re functional, flirty, and oh, so breathable. I had a ton of fun writing about Gerry’s kilt and using it in sex scenes in fun ways.

  5. I published the first short story in the series, “There’s Something about a Kilt,” early in 2016. I heard good things from reviewers, readers, and the team at Ninestar who published the story. But I didn’t give much thought to continuing the story. It was only after moving back to the United States (B’more!) and spinning my wheels with another novel that I came back to Thom & Gerry. Raevyn, Ninestar’s owner, was so encouraging about my return to the series, I jumped all in.

  6. Continuing the series with “There’s Something about Pain” was a great challenge. I had to bridge all of the emotional consequences about the broken promise that ends “There’s Something about a Kilt.” Then I doubled down on the emotional trauma with the sequel, “There’s Something about Pain,” just upped the ante in the conclusion, “There Something about Flying.” Writing Thom & Gerry’s journey from a hot hookup to an emotional confrontation about acceptance, forgiveness meant so much to me.

  7. If I had published “There’s Something about a Kilt” with another publisher, I’m not sure if I would have ever come back to write “Pain” or “Flying.” Ninestar Press is an incredible company. Raevyn is ethical, thoughtful, and driven for impassioned inclusivity. And the editors I’ve been fortunate to work with on “There’s Always Something” have in equal parts complemented my writing and challenged me to be a better writer and artist. 

  8. Gerry is absolutely my idealized version of self. Tall. Beefy. Redhead. Confident. I’m just missing the tall and beefy part, so I had a lot of fun creating fantasies for him. The physical scenes were enjoyable, but I also enjoyed challenging him emotionally.

  9. Thom holds a part of my heart as a fellow writer. I had initially written him as an innocent angel, but Thom definitely evolves into much more than the bookworm blossoming under Gerry’s indulgent care as I originally envisioned. I liked reversing the roles Thom & Gerry initially played in the first story and then watching the consequences unfold in the second and third stories.

  10. And for #10, I’ll give you the number one reason I did NOT write “There’s Always Something”—the Tom & Jerry cartoons. I never once thought about Tom & Jerry while writing Thom & Gerry. It was only after my partner mentioned it that I had any idea. I then laughed for five minutes straight.

Book Blurb - There’s Something about a Kilt


The first in the series: It’s a hellaciously hot day in Minneapolis and all Thom wants to do is enjoy his ice cream and forget about the stacks of essays waiting for him back in his stifling apartment. Until he meets Gerry, a kilted, tattooed Welshman. The conversation is smooth and the attraction immediate, but Gerry is only in town for the night and isn’t down for anything quick and forgettable. When they meet again, hours later, Gerry knows there’s something in the air and all bets are off. Including his kilt.

Where to Buy:

For There’s Something about a Kilt click here.

For There’s Something about Pain click here.

For There’s Something about Flying click here.

About Schuyler L’Roux:


I passionately believe in the power of sex—funny, world-changing, scratch-the-hell-out-of-your-back sex. I'm Southern and Welsh. But most of all, I'm optimistic. I write about thoughtful characters engaged in meaningful interactions and entertaining situations. With lots and lots of sex, of course. 

Where to Find him:

On Instagram here.

On Twitter here.