June 2019 Writing Updates

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Happy Wednesday Scribblers, this week I wanted to shine the spotlight on some things I’ve been up to. As you know I’ve been focusing a lot on other authors, so today I wanted to share my updates.

It’s been a busy six months. As you all know, I’ve released two new novels. Books 1 and 2 of my A New World series. Contact (book 1) and Conviction (book 2) have done amazingly well and have gotten some outstanding reviews. Both books can be found on Goodreads lists of Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books and Best Science Fiction Books (click here), which is exciting as this is the same list with such incredible works as Dune, 1984, and Brave New World. I’m honored that my novels are even on the same list as these amazing works.

Also, within the past six months I’ve launch a store here on my website (click here) where, for now, if you live here in the United States you can get signed copies of my novels currently out in print (The Calling, Contact, and Conviction). And, until the end of the month you can get 25% off my books by using the promo code: PRIDE19 at check out. It’s a wonderful way for you to support me and to get a signed copy of my books especially if you can’t make it to one of the events I’m attending.

Speaking of events, two weeks ago I was at SacPride. It was a very windy, but fun event and I got to meet a lot of folks and connect with readers and fans. I had a blast.  A big thanks to QSAC for the invite. Check out the photos here.

Not only have I been attending events, but I’ve been featured in the media; Outlook Video, Wrote Podcast, Divine Magazine, and The Writescast Network and that’s only since January 2019. To see all my media interviews click here.

Coming up next on the engagement front, me and three other area authors will be at the Billy DeFrank Center (click here) on August 16th talking about LGBTQIA writing and what our experiences have been in the writing community. It should be a great conversation so if you’re in the area I hope you can come by. Also, we will sell our books, with a portion of the proceeds going to the DeFrank Center to support their mission and their work in the LGBTQIA Community. You can find more info here.

On the writing front, I’ve finally finished all my edits for book 3 (Conspiracy) of my A New World series and the book is off to the publishers for them to pick up (keep your fingers crossed).

Also, in my writing world. I’m wrapping up the edits for T.A.D.-The Angel of Death so you can look for that novel coming out in the Fall 2019. To find out more about my newest novel click here.

One final writing update is that The Called (book 2 of my The Calling series) is finally getting wrapped up. I should finish the first draft in the next few weeks, which means from there it goes into the editing process. I know a lot of you have been patiently waiting, so I’m looking forward to getting this book out to you hopefully in 2020 or early 2021.

Well Scribblers that is all I have for you this week. Remember, if you have questions for me leave them in the comments below or you can email me at info@mdneu.com Don’t forget to show your love by liking and sharing this blog post with other readers. In the meantime have a great week and see you next time.

Interview with Author Casey Wolfe

Another week and another exciting author chit-chat. Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m thrilled to bring you fellow NineStar Press Author Casey Wolfe. When Casey isn’t writing they describe themselves as a history nerd, film buff, avid gamer, and full-time geek. Casey is the author of One Bullet (a Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention – congratulations) and the Inquisition Trilogy A Mage’s Power and A Vampire’s Redemption, with book three yet to be named. Let’s get into the conversation.

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

I’m a space nerd, on top of my other geeky interests - as though there aren’t enough.  I love all things space - whether it’s studying the science of it, admiring the infinite beauty, or pondering that age-old question of “where does alien life exist out there?”  I pretty much stalk NASA’s Facebook page (and mission pages) and watch their live streams whenever I can.  I may also talk to Curiosity as though it’s actually the one answering posts - so sue me! - and cried when they had to call off the search for a signal from Oppy.  I cheer for JPL like they’re rock stars.  Basically, if NASA asked for volunteers to go to Mars tomorrow, I’d be the first to sign up.

That is great. I’m a total NASA nerd myself. Space really is amazing and I that we get up and start exploring sooner rather than later.

Okay, enough geeking out, so, when I was reviewing your books and bio I see that you write contemporary drama and contemporary fantasy, both are amazing genres to write in, what excites you about these genres?

Honestly, One Bullet was my first ever take on straight-up contemporary.  I typically stick with paranormal and fantasy, so that was very different for me.  It was fun, but I’m not sure I’ll be taking a trip back there any time soon.  I’m much too happy playing with the supernatural and fantastical.  If anything, I’ll go historical before that - which is another love of mine.

Anyway, what excites me about the fantasy genre?  I guess it’s just the mythic, the unseen.  It’s that idea that anything could be possible.  Sure, I have this desire to make that thing believable in the sense that it follows some kind of “rules” for the world I created, but it still leaves a whole slew of possibilities.  It’s intoxicating just thinking about it.

For your Inquisition Trilogy you had to create your own world tell us about that. What is different? What is familiar? What can we expect to read?

Because of the political elements involved, I didn’t want to just take fantasy/supernatural races, plop them into our world, and then weave their history in with ours.  Besides, that would have been the easy way out.  No, I wanted something I could make my own, alter the timelines as I needed, make my own borders, my own cultures, write my own history, and everything that came along with that.  Sound daunting?  It was.  And most of what I have in my head about this world, which I named Eiocha, won’t ever make the page.

That said, it’s still taking place in a modern time period instead of being some atypical fantasy questing story.  You’ll have people using cars, cell phones, the internet…  One of my favorite things was figuring out all the different ways having magic impacted technology and how technology would impact magic.  It’s a super fun balancing act and nothing is more fun than seeing the two combined in some really neat ways that advance society - particularly in the medical field.

And that’s the thing.  I wanted it all to just feel so easy and natural.  Society has had hundreds of years at this point to integrate magicae and mundanes (magical and non-magical races, respectively), and it shows.  It’s like someone pulling out a smartphone.  No one would look twice because technology is so ingrained in our daily lives.  In Eiocha, it’s the same way with magic, which is just as common and integral to society as their tech is.

Without spoilers why don’t you tell us about The Inquisition Trilogy.

Well, the trilogy’s conflict centers around our titular bad guys, the Inquisition.  They’re an organization that has risen to power, found in multiple countries around the world.  Once famed dragon killers - thanks for making them extinct, jerks - they’ve become experts in all things magicae and weaseled their way into politics by becoming the policing force for magicae in their respective countries.  And, like any power-hungry entity with no real government oversight, well, things have gone...bad.

In each book, the POV gets passed between couples but we stay within the same group of friends that are fighting back against the Inquisition.  While there’s an overarching plot that carries out over the course of all three books, each has their own individual subplots happening within them as well.  So, there’s plenty going on.

We’ve talked quite a bit about your contemporary fantasy series, let’s switch gears and talk about your other novel, One Bullet. Tell us about it? What inspired you to write this story? What was it like to get the Honorable Mention from the Rainbow Awards? That had to feel good.

One Bullet follows the story of former police officer, Ethan Brant, and Detective Shawn Greyson, who met the night Ethan was shot.  Shawn not only saved Ethan that night, but continues to help him in his recovery.  During that time, the pair inevitably become close friends...and then something more.

It was really exciting to get an Honorable Mention on my debut novel.  It was an unexpected surprise, to be sure!

As far as the inspiration goes...I remember being inspired by the amazing artist known as Yuumei, and a particular illustration they had done for their Fisheye Placebo webcomic entitled “Rise.”  For some reason, it percolated in my head and formed into this idea of a first meeting between two characters - one being shot and the other that saved their life.  Funny enough, as the plot of the novel actually took form, the reason behind the shooting and way it takes place is completely different to how it was originally envisioned - which involved a protest.  But, that art is still the source for the entire project, despite the changes.

As I read your bio you have quite a few different hobbies, tell us about them. Why do you call yourself a full-time geek? And since you are a gamer what is your favorite game to play?

Oh, I am happy to call myself a geek.  The “full-time” part comes from the fact that basically all my hobbies can be considered geeky/nerdy.  I’m always happy - and never more content - to talk about anything and everything geek with someone, even when that thing isn’t something I’m personally into or knowledgeable about.  It’s just nice to share that kind of love over something that really only fellow geeks and fandom nerds share.

I play mostly video games, though I’ve been getting more into tabletop and board games these days.  But, pass me a controller and give me an open-world RPG and I’m the happiest person ever.  I also love a good shooter or a choice-based narrative game like Life is Strange and Detroit: Become Human.  Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to survive until Cyberpunk 2077 releases.

Is there something special you and your partner like to do together?

Well, he’s a geek, too.  I mean, we met at a Halo LAN party (no joke).  HAHA.  So, obviously we enjoy playing video games together.  We’re co-op people.  We don’t like playing against each other.  Typically.  We’ve just never been competitive that way.

We also have started playing board games that have story elements to them.  Fallout the Board Game and Dead of Winter are our personal favorites at the moment.  The latter has been good at testing my resolve of whether or not I would use him as bait in an actual zombie apocalypse.

LOL.  Bait for an actual zombie apocalypse… that is a tough question to ponder.  Sadly I have no doubt I would be one of the first victims, so I’m off the hook on having to think about survival.

So, what are you currently working on? What will be seeing from you in the future?

Book 3 of the trilogy, naturally.  But, I’ve also been mapping out a new-ish project, because my muse hates me.  It’s a prequel story to the trilogy, which can be read as a separate entity, although fans of the trilogy will get dropped some great Easter Eggs and background.  It’s about Arthur, Merlin, and their Knights of the Round Table.  Yes, I went there.  I mention them briefly in A Vampire’s Redemption, and again in Book 3, so when I was creating the backstory for all of that in my head, I ended up with more and more ideas until I went: Why don’t I just write the thing?  And here we are.

I’ve also been playing around with a couple historical novels, both in different plotting stages.  One is a Western, which I always said I would do one day.  The other is a magical realism WW2 novel.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Honestly, I’m just really excited to get more content out to everyone.  I mean, I’ve got the audiobook for A Mage’s Power out now.  Both books in the trilogy are on the list to be translated into Spanish.  So many awesome things I’d never thought would ever happen, and I just can’t wait for more of it.

So, thank you so much for having me, my friend.  Hopefully, the next time we talk, I have a lot more fun and exciting things to share with you.

You are welcome anytime.

I want to thank Casey for taking the time to swing by. It was magnificent learning more about you and your writing. Remember Scribblers if you love Contemporary Fantasy or Contemporary Drama check out Casey’s books and don’t forget to share this post with family and friends who may enjoy their works as well. If you have questions for Casey leave them below and I’ll ensure they swing by to answer, or you can find them on Social Media, see the links below. Until next time have a great week.


About One Bullet, A Mage’s Power, and A Vampire’s Redemption:

One Bullet:

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When Ethan Brant was shot, he found himself dealing with severe PTSD and unable to do his job as a police officer any longer. With the aid of Detective Shawn Greyson, the man who saved his life, Ethan not only finds himself again but discovers love as well.

Shawn’s life growing up was less than ideal, however, he overcame that to become who he is today. That doesn’t mean he isn’t missing something in his life. What Shawn hadn’t realized, upon first meeting, was that Ethan could give him all that and more.

One bullet changed both their lives.


A Mage’s Power (The Inquisition Trilogy, Book 2):

Built on the bones of an ancient city, modern-day Everstrand is where master mage, Rowan, has set up his enchantment shop. When not hanging out with his werewolf best friend, Caleb, or studying, he dabbles in herbology and the controversial practice of blood magic. A prodigy who has already earned two masters, Rowan’s bound and determined to reach the distinction of grandmaster, a mage who obtains a masters in all five Schools of Magic.

Shaw works for the Inquisition, the organization charged with policing the magical races collectively known as magicae. Recently, it has come under scrutiny as magicae begin to disappear and reports of violence increase. With secrets of his own on the line, Shaw is willing to risk everything to find out just what is going on behind all the locked doors.

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When Rowan and Shaw are entangled in each other’s worlds, it becomes evident that their hearts are as much at risk as their lives. They must find the truth and stop a conspiracy before it’s too late.

A Vampire’s Redemption (The Inquisition Trilogy, Book 2):

Marcus was likely dead, killed by the Inquisition, or so it was believed. Then the vampire was found, broken beyond words, in an isolated prison fortress. Marcus had never expected to see daylight again, let alone be rescued by his mate. Now he worries he’ll drag Caleb into his darkness.

Caleb was the one who pulled Marcus out of his prison cell, and he’s determined to drag him from the nightmares of his mind as well. After all, that’s what mates are for, and Caleb had lost hope at finding his. And if he can help destroy the entire Inquisition? Well, all the better.

Dealing with Marcus’s physical and mental healing from his trauma is difficult enough, but Inquisition holdouts are causing chaos everywhere, and sinister plots are rampant. Marcus and Caleb have no choice but to fight back. It’s a good thing they are not alone.

Where to Buy Casey Wolfe’s books:

Buy their books on NineStar Press here.

Buy their books on Amazon here.

Find the audible novels here.

Buy their books on Barnes & Noble here.

Also available on Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and other major retailers.  Check your local library, or make a request!


About Casey Wolfe:

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History nerd, film buff, avid gamer, and full-time geek; all of these things describe Casey Wolfe.  They prefer being lost in the world of fiction—wandering through fantasy realms, traveling the outer reaches of space, or delving into historical time periods.  Casey is non-binary and ace, living with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, all of which informs their writing in various ways. Happily married, Casey and their partner live in the middle-of-nowhere, Ohio with their furry, four-legged children.

Where to find Casey Wolfe:

Find Casey’s Website here.

Find Casey on Facebook here.

You can check out Casey here on Tumblr.

Find their author page on Goodreads 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.

Question and Answers with Lori Blantin CEO of IndiGo Marketing

Happy Thursday everyone. This week I’ve had the honor of having two wonderful guests here on my Scribbles Page the first was fellow Ninestar Press author Sarah Elkin, you can read her Guest Blog here. And today I’m excited to shake things up and bring you this great chat with Lori Blantin, Lori is the CEO and Creative Director of IndiGo Marketing. I have had the pleasure of working with Lori in the past and I’m thrilled to bring her here today.

Welcome Lori, instead of me giving a summary of your background and your experience why don’t you tell us about yourself and your company in your own words.

I’ve been an avid reader my entire life.  My happy place is curled up in a cozy spot with a great book.   In 2008 I discovered Goodreads and soon after joined several groups where I could talk books with other avid readers. A year later I read my first M/M romance and I was hooked! Eager to find other M/M readers, I joined the Goodreads M/M Romance group and was so excited until I realized that there were only 7 members and no discussion happening.  Not to be deterred, I reached out to the author who had stated the group and asked her if she would make me a moderator.  She did, and with the help of a few friends, we grew the membership to over 20,000 members.  That caught the attention of a small boutique publisher who approached me about helping them with their social media marketing.  That was the beginning of my passion for helping authors market their books.

What attracted you to marketing and PR and why did you decide to break out on your own?

Before becoming involved in the M/M Romance group, I didn’t know anything about marketing. My career as a Data Aggregation Specialist was dull and dry and aside from my passion for spreadsheets, not very creative.  When Silver Publishing hired me, I finally got the chance to grow my creative side and fell in love with book promotion.  After working part-time for several publishers, I decided to branch out on my own and IndiGo Marketing & Design was born.  IndiGo has always been a side hustle but it’s my biggest passion and I hope to grow the business into something I can do full time.

PR and Marketing are two areas that, not only authors, but others who want to create a brand for themselves aren’t always experienced with and have trouble with. I know I’m still learning and I have a background in marketing and events. Can you share with us five basic marketing strategies anyone can take to improve their brand?

Even as a “marketing professional”, I find marketing my own business much harder than marketing for someone else.  I think that’s a challenge that most entrepreneurs face and as an author, you must think of yourself as an entrepreneur.  Once you do that, you’ll discover that your marketing strategies are not that different from any other small business.

  1. Create your brand.  Before you do anything else, you must have a clear vision of who your target audience is, what your “author voice” will be and what “look and feel” will most adequately reflect who you are and the story you’re telling.

  2. Once you know what your brand is, then you need to start applying that brand everywhere.  You do that by creating a website and developing social media sites that consistently reinforce the message that you’re delivering about your persona, your books and your readers.

  3. Develop a social media strategy.  Now that you know what your brand is, you have a website and social media accounts, it’s time to develop a marketing plan that will put those to the best use.  Be consistent and follow the rule of thirds.  1/3 of your content promotes your books, 1/3 of your content consists of sharing content that others post and that is relevant to your followers and the final 1/3 should be posts in which you engage with your followers on a more personal level.

  4. Take advantage of unexpected opportunities to promote your books.  Develop your “elevator pitch” so you have something prepared whenever you get the chance to talk about your book.  Always have some free swag with you to hand out or leave behind.  Hand out cards with a promo code or have a few autographed copies of your book with you that you can offer up for charity auctions or gift baskets.

  5. Don’t try and go it alone.  Take advantage of the marketing assistance offered by your publisher.  Work with other authors in your genre and cross-promote.  Develop relationships with bloggers, readers and “influencers” to help you get the word out.  Consider hiring someone to help you with your marketing.  Consistent, effective marketing takes a lot of time and you may find that your time is better spent writing and letting someone else do the heavy lifting. 

When it comes to authors what would you say are the three mistakes that writers make when it comes to marketing their work? How can they avoid these mistakes or fix them?

  1. Don’t be a passive bystander.  I see so many authors that don’t do anything to market themselves.  You must play an active role in the promotion of your book.  If you’re relying on your publisher or think that just having a book on Amazon will generate sales, you’re not going to be successful.  

  2. Don’t wait until your book is in the editing process to start thinking about your marketing strategy.  You should start formulating your plan before you even start writing your book.  Have a checklist that includes marketing your book throughout the entire process.  Promo shouldn’t be an afterthought.

  3. Don’t be “that” author.  Even the most popular, bestselling authors get negative reviews or find themselves criticized in social media posts.  While it’s tempting to defend your work or yourself, it’s never a good idea.  I’ve seen too many promising careers implode because the author ended up on the “authors behaving badly” list.  Yes, there is such a list and you don’t want to end up on it.

Visuals, like book trailers, teaser sheets, sell sheets, or other videos are exceedingly important for marketing, what are the three or five things that all of these visual colleterial pieces must contain in order to be the most impactful?

  1. Well designed, professional looking visuals are imperative for being noticed.  It all starts with a great cover.  A bad cover can be the death knell to what may otherwise be a great book. Invest in a high-quality cover and the rest of your visuals will be much more effective.

  2. Make sure that all your visuals reflect your brand and fit the theme of the book or books they represent.  Someone scrolling though a crowded timeline or Facebook group should be able to instantly associate that image with the book and author. 

  3. Sometimes less is more.  Focus more on why the reader should want to read your book rather than where they can purchase it.  If you’re sharing graphics on social media, it’s better to include purchase links in the body of the post rather than crowding the graphics with logos.  The only exception to this rule is if the book is available from Kindle Unlimited since this is something that many readers look for. 

  4. Entice readers by including snippets from reviews or testimonials from other authors.  Quote a line or two from your book that is provocative and will leave the reader wanting more. 

  5. Include a call to action.  Announce a price reduction, offer a prize for signing up for your newsletter, create a sense of urgency with a limited time offer or announcing a new book in a series.   

Can you tell us why having a proper media kit is so important? And what is the best way to make use of your media kit once you have it?

Having a media kit that includes all the basic information about our book, the book cover, purchase links, your author bio and contact links is something every author should have as soon as that information is available.  You can’t market your book without one.  Your media kit should also be in different formats; text only, Wordpress HTML and Blogspot HTML.  One you have a good media kit, you’ll use it for cover reveals, blitzes and tours, review sites and other promotional opportunities.  Your media kit should also include printed materials like a sell sheet that you can leave at events, book signings, libraries, etc…

A question that stumps so many creative types is how to build their mailing list, given the rules with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that the EU has enacted and California will be adopting next year, what are some ways to increase those names on our lists?

Giveaways using a platform like Rafflecopter are probably the most effective way of growing your email list.  You should also have a subscription form on your website and Facebook page that asks your visitors to leave their email address.  Having gated content, like a short story or serialized content, on your site is another way to collect email addresses.  This is content that is hidden until your visitor enters their email address.

No matter what method you use, be sure that you make it clear that by leaving their email address, they’ll be receiving emails from you and make it very easy for them to opt-out.   If you have a checkbox, make sure the default setting is that the checkbox is empty. Of course, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws so you stay compliant and they may vary depending on your location. 

Now that we have those names on our mailing list or subscribers to our blogs, what do we need to do to keep them? What suggestions do you have for us keeping these friends engaged?

My best suggestion is to be realistic about how much time you’ll have to devote to email campaigns.  Unless you’re an author who cranks out a book every 3 months, coming up with content on a regular basis can be daunting.  Before you send that first newsletter, really think about what your content is going to be, where it’s going to come from and how often you’re going to send out a newsletter.  If you write cozy mysteries and feature a lot of food in your books then chances are good that your fans would be interested in recipes, food blog reviews, that awesome new sauce you just discovered, etc…  But if you struggle to identify what your target audience would be interested in, then a monthly newsletter is probably going to be overwhelming to create and not very effective.  And again, remember the rule of thirds that I mentioned above.  Don’t make your content just about your books.  Engage your fans by appealing to what their interests are and if you’re not sure, ask them!

Okay, what have I missed?  Is there anything you want to talk about that I missed?

You had such great questions I don’t think we’ve missed anything!  I would like to reiterate what I said earlier about making marketing a priority as opposed to an afterthought.  Start the process early and don’t be afraid to ask your publisher what they plan on doing to market your book.  If you don’t feel like you’re going to get what you need from your publisher, then consider hiring a professional.  There are lots of great companies out there.  Just take your time and make sure you find one that is a good fit for you and the types of books you publish.  You’re hiring them so ask lots of questions, let them know what’s important to you and make sure you understand what their expectations of you are.

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About IndiGo Marketing:

IndiGo was founded out of a passion for books and the authors who write them.  As the mom of a gay son, it’s so important to me that authors who write LGBTQI+ books have every opportunity to find their audience.  I’m so honored to be a part of that process and I know its cliché to say that what I do is a “labor of love” but it really is.   

Where to find IndiGo Marekting:

Check out the website here.

Find their Facebook Page here.

Find Lori’s Facebook Profile here.

Find them on Twitter here.

Find them on Instagram here.

Why I Write and How the Stories Come to me?

It’s kind of funny, to think about these two questions. Why do I find it funny you may wonder? Because I get asked this by people who’ve known me a long time. Friends I’ve known for years and family members who have been around my whole life. So, I get a chuckle out of the question right before I freeze and can’t come up with an answer.

Today, I figured I would try to answer these questions here in an honest and intelligent manner.

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When I was a kid I didn’t read very much. I’m dyslexic and reading was, and still is, a challenge for me. I hated reading and writing, but I loved telling stories and talking. I could make up crazy stories off the top of my head and people would listen–which was cool. It distracted folks from the dyslexia and helped me not feel like I was stupid or ‘retarded’ like some kids called me. Plus, I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the attention.

As I got older and had to read and write more for school, I forced myself to find books I liked. I needed the practice and to improve my reading speed if I would survive in school. In High School I got lucky, I had amazing teachers who introduced me to literature works, some good and others not so good. They also took the time to help me with my reading and encouraged my writing.

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for some of my amazing English teachers. To them I say thank you.

During this time, I slowly (very slowly) realized I was attracted to boys. Not girls like all my guy friends. This was in the 70s and 80s when there were no openly gay men or women even when I found Stephen King and Star Trek, I loved the worlds they created, but still no people like me. When I found, Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice it was the first time I saw two men together raising a child. Are they a gay couple? If you believe the subtext they sure are. A messed up gay couple, but there it was in writing for the first time in my life. It was amazing.

Then AIDS hit and I remember hearing how gay equaled AIDS, and AIDS equaled death. What does ‘gay’ stand for? Got AIDS Yet. This ‘joke’ bothered me then and bothers me now. However, what AIDS did, after hundreds of thousands of gay men died, was, for good and for bad, it gave us the tragic gay character. I wanted to change this. I needed to change this. So now, I create strong characters that anyone can relate to, that happen to be gay. My characters needed to be so much more than gay! Gay would not be the focus. Which leads me to the second thing I noticed especially in gay fiction. Almost everything I found and still find is gay romance or gay erotica novels. There is nothing wrong with that, but, for me, I wanted more out of my characters. I needed to create something different that would appeal to everyone.

I wanted to see a gay character attack the Death Star and blow it up, be an Officer on the bridge of the Enterprise who had a partner on ship, be the married couple that have to deal with a paranormal attack on their family, and have to flee in the night with their kids, as coffins blew up out of the ground around them. I wanted to see heroic gay characters save the realm and have the audience cheer for them in the theater. No one would bat an eye at the fact that the person the characters were saving weren’t someone of the opposite sex. I wanted to see real gay people living in all these fantastic worlds. That’s why I write.

How do I get these gay people to live in exciting worlds? Well the ideas for my stories come from all around me. They come from family and friends. I see something that will happen and it will spark an idea, a ‘what if’. Most of the time my ideas start off as the characters talking to me in my dreams. They will come introduce themselves and tell me who they are and what happened to them. When I wake up, I make notes and start from there.

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I know it sounds bizarre to speak about characters talking to you, but for me that’s how it works. It’s not always just the main characters either. I’ll get background characters or secondary characters who will come forward and tell me about themselves. That happens if they’re not happy with how I’m handling them in the story. I remember I had one secondary character furious with me and wouldn’t quiet down until I heard what she had to say. What I ended up discovering about her made me fall in love with her and now she’s one of my favorite characters to write about.

Okay, so that is a bit about why and how storied come to me. As always if you have questions leave them below in the comments section. Don’t forget if you know someone who might enjoy my novels or my writing you can share this post by clicking the ‘share’ button below. Until next time have a great week.

Interview with Author Jeremy Martin

Happy Wednesday Scribblers, I hope you’ve been having a good week and for those of you affected by the Polar Vortex I hope you have stayed safe and warm. As promised I want to bring you more authors this year, so please welcome fellow NineStar Press Author Jeremy Martin. We will be chatting about his debut novel Foreign To You.


Welcome Jeremy.

Hello! (waves)

Before we dive into the interview why don’t you tell us something that isn’t in your bio and what you do for a day job.

Something that isn’t in my bio…is that I’m taking Japanese lessons? Been taking it for a year now. I don’t know a lot, but it’s pretty fun. Japanese culture, language, history, all of it, is so enthralling to me. A dream of mine would be to live in Japan for a little while and potentially write a novel there.

Japan is amazing. Years ago I had the opportunity to go there for work. The people and the country are amazing. I hope you get the opportunity to check it out. What about a day job?

I have a full-time job as an estimator at a masonry company. I measure blueprints for residential and commercial projects. Sounds fancy, but I just highlight lines with colored pens.

(Chuckles) Hey. I know that is a lot of work, my dad was a contactor so I’m sure that it is more than highlighting and coloring.

Care to share what you enjoy reading with us?

In the realm of books, I can read anything! If the book has great characters, it could have any plot, honestly. I joke about it with my friends that if Maggie Stiefvater (the goddess of all writing) wrote a book that takes place all in one room, I’d still read it because her characters are always thriving beasts.

Sounds like she has a fan for life.

Oh. yes.

Thank you for those tidbits. I love getting to learn more about people than what’s in their bio. Now, congratulations on your debut novel, I can’t wait to read it. Let me ask, what inspired you to write this young adults fantasy novel? Why did you pick this genre?

Thank you! I started writing Foreign To You because I love shifters. But! I wanted a more gruesome and realistic (hah) view of them. It had always been a desire of mine to have a story with shapeshifters, but I didn’t want to do wolves or hawks or more of the common types of animals.

When I started writing Foreign To You, the plot kind of developed on its own, honestly. The first draft was rough, but as I started polishing it, I found that there was this plot that really spoke to me and my issues with certain social topics.

Excellent. Can you tell us, without spoilers, what social issues and topics you address in the novel?

The title, Foreign To You, explains a lot of what the book is about. It deals with the fear and anxiety that comes from failing to understand another person or culture, or whatever! I also try to tackle some religious aspects, but I’m not sure I executed them too well.

Well, you have me intrigued for sure. Since this is your debut novel how does it feel? I remember my debut novel and for me it didn’t feel real; it was like a crazy dream. What about you? What was it like to get that email from NineStar that said, ‘yes we want to publish your book’?

I think I cried? I cried and kept saying “Do I want this? DO I WANT THIS?” and ran around my apartment for a few hours. After querying so much, it was nice for a “YES”. Since then, it has been an amazing trip.

I got to contact an artist, Rozenn Grosjean (lean more here), to make a cover for my novel…and I mean…just look at it. You aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover…but please, do so with mine. Rozenn is so kind and talented and she painted everything my words are on paper.

Your cover certainly is beautiful. If you don’t mind me asking how did that work using a cover artist that wasn’t provided by Ninestar?

I actually confirmed with Ninestar before signing my contract that I wanted to find an artist on my own to bring my story to life. It was actually a big reason why I considered small publishing so heavily. The ability to control most of the aspects of my novel was very appealing. I was in contact with a couple artists and talking numbers and ideas, and Rozenn was the first to ask if she could read my novel to get a better idea of what to draw. After that I knew she was the artist I had to go with. Thankfully, we are probably going to work together for the cover art on the sequel. So more beauty to come!

It’s a breathtaking cover and I’m glad you are enjoying being published.

It has been wild reading some of the reviews coming back from the ARCs and just getting hit with emotions and the realization that some people are reading my book RIGHT NOW and either loving it or hating it. It’s too much some days.

How have the reviews been so far?

I have already had a night where I received a less than enthusiastic review on Goodreads and had to call a friend to keep my head up. I was sprawled on my couch, staring at the ceiling, going ‘I’ve failed. I’ve failed’. But it’s funny because the reviews are all over the place! I will have one that says, ‘The characters are bland’ and the very next review says ‘I loved the characters. So well done’. And there are some authors that say you shouldn’t read your reviews, and part of me really understands that. If I’m not in the right headspace, a bad review can bring me down hard. But I love them just as much as I love the good ones.

I totally understand that. I try to avoid reading the bad reviews, but I can’t help myself. Now please, tell us about the novel, without giving too much away. What can people expect to read in this book?

Well…Foreign To You is very dark. There isn’t a lot of happiness for my characters and a lot of realistic repercussions to their actions. A lot of my journey with writing this book was to gather up all the YA tropes and kick them in the butt. I wanted a story that felt fresh and new. And I think that’s what I’m most proud of. A few reviewers have defined it as “trope-defying” and that makes my cold heart so warm.

But yeah, expect death, crying, blood, angsty boys, and you know…sadness?

That sounds like a lot to put into one book. And it sounds like an emotional roller coaster. So, given what you’ve said about the book who is your favorite character? Is there a character in your work you feel especially connected to? Why?

You aren’t supposed to have a favorite character (Okay, totally Finn)! It’s like having a favorite child (my favorite child is Finn)!

Finn was and is (wink) still a fun character to write. He is very damaged and seeking acceptance and love and a lot of other things that he feels are outside of his reach. And in a lot of ways, that was me a few years ago. In some ways, Finn’s journey is my own in an alternate timeline.

So, when we read about Finn we are reading about you. Cool. So that all said are there any types of scenes you find hard to write (action, love, death, etc.)?

Love is really weird for me. I am not that affectionate of a person and I think it shows in my writing. I try to put in a kiss or a ‘I love you’ but it always comes across as forced or stalkerish. I feel like I write characters that have similar views of what I believe love to truly look like. To me, love is expressed more than said with words. It’s less “I love you!” and more “Hey, how are you doing lately? You okay?”. It makes affection and desire hard to write because I have to really focus on showing that my characters care for the wellbeing of each other and give proof to the reader that there is a connection despite no written confirmation.

I can see how that can be an issue, I’m sure you found your balance just fine.

Well, we are coming to the end and I have just a few more questions for you. So, what do you have coming out next? What’s up next for you?

I am currently working on drafting up the sequel to Foreign To You! To me, I always imagined this story as a Duology, and I feel like I will be able to complete it all in the next installment. There are a lot of things I want to do with the sequel and it is daunting as heck. I don’t want to give too much away…but I’m adding some new POV’s and there is this scene where I have all of these bodies—

Oops…almost gave too much away.

(Laughs) Nice. Last one, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Don’t be afraid to contact me on social media! Message me and tell me how much you loved the book, how much you despised it, whatever! Stalk me on Instagram? I have a lot of pictures of my puppers.

Puppies. Ah, we love puppies. Well Jeremy, thank you so much for taking the time to swing by my Scribbles page and chat with me. I’m looking forward to getting your book and reading it.

Awh, thank YOU! I really enjoyed myself! You are an excellent host, my good sir.

Thanks, I try. Well Scribblers, that’s it for this week. If you have questions for Jeremy leave them in the comments below and I’ll make sure he stops by and answers. Don’t forget to share this with friends and family who may enjoy reading a shifter story with an edge. For now have a great week and we’ll see you next time.


About Foreign To You:

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The harmony between humans and fianna, a species of shapeshifting deer, begins to wither as racial tensions and deeply rooted resentment turns violent.

Ruthless hunter Finn Hail and prophesied liberator Adelaide may be heroes to their own species, but they are enemies to each other. With war on the horizon, the reluctant pair must team up to find the most elusive of prey: the god of the Forest.

As enemies press in from all sides, true intentions begin to show. For Finn to save the boy he cares for most, he might need to aim his gun at the very god he seeks. And Adelaide, with her festering hatred for mankind, will have to determine if peace holds true salvation for her people.

Buy Foreign To You here.


About Jeremy Martin:

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Jeremy Martin, born and raised in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, considers himself to be a part-time writer and a full-time mess. If he isn’t nose-deep in a book, he’s obsessively playing video games, re-watching The Office for the umpteenth time, or lost in nature. Foreign to You is his debut novel.

Contact Jeremy here:

Find him on Twitter here.

Find him on Facebook here.

Find him on Instagram here.

Find him on Goodreads here.

A Knight in Distress – Interview with Barbara Russell

Welcome to another Author Interview this week. One of the things I wanted to do more of this year is bring you amazing writers you might not know about and today I’m pleased to bring you fellow author Barabara Russell she is a fantastic author and a wonderful friend. Let’s get into it shall we.


Welcome Barbara.

Thank you, Marvin for having me. I’m really excited to have a chat with you.

It’s my pleasure. People can read your full bio at the end of this chat, so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your writing? Tell us something not in your bio.

I spend most my time working with a microscope in a lab with air conditioning set too low, haha. Even in summer, it’s freezing. Anyway, I have plenty of time to plot and think about my character while I’m observing ultra magnified soil samples. This speeds up writing. Sort of.

Soil samples speeding up your writing. Really? Okay, sure, so what got you involved in writing? Why did you pick Young Adults as your genre of choice?

I was six when I read a collection of Norwegian fairy tales (I can’t remember how or why it was in my home), but I thought, ‘wow! I want to write story.’ I like YA as genre because I can add funny stuff, more than in adult novels, and I’m a sucker for stories that make me laugh. I prefer funny stories to sad stories.

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And A Knight in Distress has some fantastic fun moments that actually had me laughing out loud, but I won’t give anything away here. Why don’t you tell us about A Knight in Distress.

It’s the story of a young knight in training who’s quested with saving a princess from a bad wizard. Only, he ends up being rescued by the princess.

I love that you mixed things up in this story that you had the Princess be the hero and the Knight needing to be rescued, but you didn’t do it in a cheesy way. You really wove it into the story and it all makes sense. I also, like that they had to work together and you showed what a challenge that was because of the generally believed in norms. All that to ask, how did you manage it all? How did you not get caught in cliché?

Er… ahem, actually, I think there are a lot of clichés in the story, haha. The trick is—at least what I meant to do—to turn them into something funny. Basically, when in doubt, add something funny. That’s my rule.

And it worked and worked well. I thought it was brilliant. Now 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?

Ah, I think it’s Snitch, the bird that can hear and repeat people’s thoughts. It gave me the opportunity to add more funny scenes (see previous answer, lol.)

He was good. I liked him a lot and felt you did a great job using him to lighten some of the books moments. Will there be a sequel to the story or is this going to be a stand alone?

There will be a sequel. I’ve already sent to my publisher. Thanks for asking.

Really! I can’t wait. That is amazing. I’m so happy for you. You’ll have to let me know when it comes out so I can pick up a copy.

Of course.

When you’re not writing and reading what do you enjoy doing?

Walking my dogs, which actually means running along the pavements chasing my neighbour’s cat, or any other cat of the quarter. Oh, cats and possums of course.

That sounds lovely, well not the bring dragged by the dogs, but being out with them and enjoying. What’s coming up next? What other books do you have out that we need to check out?

I have a book coming out at the end of January with Black Rose Writing—Mummy Dearest, A Pharaonic Adventure—a middle grade fantasy set in Auckland. And another novel coming out on February—The Heart Collector, my first adult novel. It’s a romantic suspense with a steampunk setting.

Even though it’s not out yet. I can you all Mummy Dearest, A Pharaonic Adventure is fantastic. I loved it. And the Heart Collector will be added to my list the minute it’s out. I can’t wait.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Yes, since you’re asking. To those people who don’t read books for whatever reason, please, don’t say “I don’t like reading” out loud. Every time you say that, somewhere in the world, a writer gets writer’s block.

So, that’s how it works. I’ve often wondered about that. Thank you for clearing that up for me and thank you for being here.

Thanks for having me!

Of course, you are always welcome to swing by and chat. Well Scribblers that is all for this week. I have you have a great week and we’ll see you next time. If you’d like to read my review of A Knight in Distress you can find it here.


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About A Knight in Distress:

Knights are supposed to rescue damsels. That’s the natural order. So when Nathair, a knight in training, finds himself rescued by the princess he’s supposed to save, he’s annoyed. And when the princess proves she can fight like a knight? Well, that’s enough for a boy to think about a career change.

Buy it on Amazon UK here.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it on Barnes & Noble here.


About Barbara Russell:

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

Contact Barbara Russell:

Find her on Twitter here.

Find her on Facebook here.

Check out her website here.

See her Amazon Author Page here.

Interview with author J. P. Jackson

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


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

Thank you for having me.

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

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

Worst 20 minutes of my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously? Wow. Care to share?

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

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

I can’t watch horror movies.

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

I’ll let you in on another secret…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re telling me.

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

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

Period.

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

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

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

Get my point?

Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Where to find Magic or Die:

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it on Kobo here.

Buy it on Barnes and Noble here.

But it on NineStar Press here.


About J.P. Jackson

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

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

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


Contact J.P. Jackson

Twitter find him here.

Facebook find him here.

Goodreads find him here.

Instagram find him here.

October Updates and Special Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Writing Update – June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing & Personal Update

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It’s time for another Writing Update and given all that has happened over the last several weeks there is no better time than now.  Things for me have been a mixed bag full of blessing and sadness. It’s never easy talking about the not-so-happy events going on in our lives, well not for me, but I figured I would share as talking it through is supposed to help.

Recently, my husband and I had to go to Utah to take care of my husband’s father. He has terminal cancer and dementia.  It’s not been easy, and my husband is an only child, so there is a lot for him to deal with. All I can do is support him and the decisions he makes. Luckily we’ve had some wonderful support from his aunt and uncle so we weren’t totally alone in dealing with all of this. 

A few weeks back we all spent a week in Utah taking care of his father’s house (getting it ready to sell). We also spent time seeing his dad and making sure he is settled in the care facility, which is amazing. The staff are wonderful and so is his father’s hospice worker.  As I’m sure you can imagine it was a stressful week, but we got everything we needed accomplished. By the end of the week we were all exhausted but we still had out humor. Eric’s uncle summed up the week like this, “It’s amazing we’re all still talking to each other.” We all got a good chuckle out of that.

Amidst that, my short story, The Reunion was being finalized and getting ready for its launch. The launch was October 23rd and went off swimmingly.  I’m so thrilled that I had the support of great friends, family, and the wonderful folks at NineStar Press (check them out here).  They really helped and made the process seem less.

Unfortunately, because this has been a mixed bag of emotions. Last week I got news that one of my only living great-aunts passed away (she was 99 years old).  This sad news brought up the memories of my grandmother (my aunt’s older sister) and the realization that that generation has all moved on. We have a close family so that has made it all the more difficult.

Also, on October 23rd it was the fifth anniversary of Eric’s mother’s passing in a tragic accident.  So, the day my debut short story launched there was an air of both joy and sorrow. Eric and I agreed that his mother would’ve been proud and excited and we’re sure that the launch date was no coincidence.

I’m a firm believer that our family never leaves our side and that they are always there with us. The launch day was one way for her and my mom (also passed away) to show their collective support.

There you have it an emotional roller-coaster.

I don’t want to end this on a sad note because as I said at the start these last few weeks have been a mixed bag of both good and bad. To that point, I still have two more books coming out over the next few months, A Dragon for Christmas (December 18th) and The Calling (Jan 1st) I’ve also, been writing/editing three different stories so there is much more to come. And lastly, I want to share some quotes from a few of the reviews I’ve received for, The Reunion (buy it here):

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“…cleverly written and I couldn’t put it down because I just needed to know what had happened in this town!” – Lulu Forth (Alpha Book Club) full review here.

“I thought I knew where the author was going with the story and time after time, they proved me wrong.  And that ending….” – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (full review here).

“A fantastic story full of good times and bad, The Reunion is one of those tales that you're going to want to read over and over again.” – Amazon Review by Wordsmith full review here.

Until next week, have a great week gang.  Remember I love hearing from you, so leave me a comment and don’t forget to like and share.
 

Managing Multiple Writing Projects

First, let me start by saying, “Ugh!” This weeks blog is gonna be short, which I hope is cool with everyone.

Did you know there are literally hundreds of resources for managing multiple writing projects?  There are software programs, books, blogs, webinars, seminars, etc. It’s crazy.  I get people need help to focus; we all need that kind of help…

Oh look, squirrel.

Where was I? Oh right, staying focused.  Right now I have three projects I’m working on.  I’m writing A New World–Conspiracy, I’m writing TAD (my new writing project), and I want to edit/rework ‘The Reunion’ which was just published on Tall Tale TV, click here to check it out.

So, how do I keep it all under control?  I’m very basic.  I use outlines, notes, research, and character sheets. That’s all I use and for me that’s all I need.  I’m familiar with writers who use Scriverner and love it, which is great.  For me it’s one more item to manage.  It’s like using Microsoft Projects at the office, sure it works but you’ve got to manage it and populate it.  Ugh.  That’s way too much work for me. I like to keep it simple.

I understand that what works for me may not work for everyone and that’s great. What I’m really curious about today is what other writers think and use.  How do you keep everything you’re working on straight and organized?  Heck, you don’t even need to be a writer, just a busy person with a lot of balls in the air.  If you’ve got some great tips and tricks tell me.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time, have a great week.

Writing Update?

Over the last few Blogs I’ve talked about various topics, the most recent was about Slow Burn Books if you haven’t read it check it out here.  Anyway, I thought today I would provide an update on all my writing endeavors and surprisingly there are quite a few.

To start, I was recently asked to work on a training video project ‘Know Your Rights’ for the nonprofit I work for. It was a series of vignettes about what to do when ICE confronts you.  Each video would be a different scenario.  First, ICE comes to your home. Second, ICE comes to your work. Third, a police stop. And, fourth, how an agency is to respond when ICE comes to investigate clients.  We did an English and Spanish version.

Know Your Rights!

We spent a few weeks working on the script and in rehearsals.  The thing to point out here is none of the people were professionals.  So, they were relying on my limited experience.  Regardless, I spent whatever time I had with them running lines, rewriting and changing the script and working on blocking and preparing them for taping day.

The day of the video shoot came, and we spent a full day in studio with a crew of five.  I had designed the sets and costuming as well as handled make-up (I was wearing a lot of hats that day including directing).  With the shoot finished the next week I worked with the editor to pull it all together.  The finished product is something I’m exceedingly proud of, and the videos already hit over 600 views (in just a week).  Click here to go to their channel.

I’ve been asked to work with the Editor and take the vignettes and turn them into an actual DVD that other agencies can purchase.  So, that will be cool.

Channel trailer for Tall Tale TV.

My second update is if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter (which I hope you do), you should’ve seen my interactions with Chris over at Tall Tale TV. Chris takes short stories and converts them to audiobooks that you can listen to on his channel.  It's a great way to hear about new and upcoming authors. The channel is new so there isn’t a lot of content yet, but he’s growing it.  Anyway, he had a call for short story submissions and he selected one of mine.  I recently, the last few days, got word that my story ‘The Reunion’ will be airing in the next couple of weeks.  Once, I’m given the date you can be sure I’ll be letting you know.

My next major announcement is that I have a new work in progress underway, ‘T.A.D.’  This new story is set to be a novella and much shorter than my other works.  I don’t want to give away too much because things may change, but this story has elements of time travel and focuses on angles.  I’ve gotten some positive feedback from the first chapter so I’m excited to bring the outline to life. 

My final update is about my other works in progress.  ‘A New World – Contact’ is back with a couple of Beta Readers.  ‘A New World – Conspiracy’ is still in the writing process however, I’m happy to report that Act Two is now complete, which means I’m on to the final act; Act Three.  Yay!

This leaves me with an update for ‘The Calling’ it is complete and has gone through edits.  The rest I’m going to be a little cagey about because I’m hoping to have a big announcement about ‘The Calling’ in the next few months.

Those are my updates for now.  I'd love to hear what questions you have for me ask them in the comments and I'll answer.  Feel free to share this blog with others who will find it interesting.

See you next time.

Are Slow Burn Books Dead?

I’ve been wondering lately what people think of slow burn (slow paced) novels.  I don’t mean novels that go on-and-on about a rope unwinding, or describe every single item in a room to a reader.  What I’m talking about are stories that start off slow, allow readers to become familiar with the characters and their surrounding situations.  The reader actually gets to care about these people and their lives before all holy hell breaks loose.

This was a big topic of discussion on the writers group I belong to.  Most people agree there should be an inciting incident happening pretty quick (as soon as the first couple of paragraphs and no later than chapter five for all books). If you don’t know what an ‘inciting incident’ is it’s an episode, plot point or event that hooks the reader into the story. This particular moment is when an event thrusts the protagonist into the main action of the story.

Anyway, I agree with the need for an inciting incident I don’t see the need to be so fast.  I find in a lot of books/novels these days’ authors drop the reader right into the action, normally within the first few paragraphs. If not, the first paragraph.

So people love this.  It reminds them of movies and it gets their heart beating and, for them, it’s the best way for a novel to begin.

For me, I’ve hardly gotten to learn anything about these people, so why do I care if some monster, explosion or whatever is chasing them.

It’s only chapter two and their mother died in their arms.  The house they lived in blew up and aliens (or vampires or zombies or whatever) are rounding up the survivors.  Well lovely, but hey, could I maybe get the characters last name first.  Perhaps, find out that they have brown hair and green eyes.  I need to connect with these people.  I need to relate to them.

Is that too much to ask? 

Am I expecting too much?

Or worse yet, I’m I the only one who cares about this stuff? Clearly I’m not, because there are tons of books out there that move at a slower pace.

Still, is fast passed action, action, action all that people want?  Look at our movies and TV shows, you barely get any character information before you’re thrust into the action sequence.

Ugh, it gives me whiplash.

So, I continue to wonder are slow burn books dead? I hope not. Because if that’s the case, as a wannabe author, I’m screwed.  Two of my works in progress are what I would consider longish stories.  One ‘The Calling’ hovers around 100k words.  The other ‘A New World – Contact’ is around 169k words.  Currently, I’ve been trimming them both down, trying to cut the fat and leave the flavor.  It’s a slow process.

So, I’m asking, what do you all think? Do you care about these things or do you want a good story that you can sink your teeth in and enjoy?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Remember, you can always like and share this blog post.  It lets me know what you all want to talk about.  What are your thoughts on this topic?

See ya soon.

Religion in non-Religious Books

To begin, in general I love religion. Belief in God plays such a strong role in our society that to ignore it as a writer is a mistake.  You’re doing a disservice to the reader and the story.  Now, I’m not saying to go in and make fun of religion (unless that is the point of your novel, article or short), or bash people over the head with your religious view.  Writers need to treat faith like they would treat any other topic.

It’s important so why ignore it.

The reason I bring this up is that as a writer all my stories hold some link to faith and a belief system of some kind.  I try to be fair with how I present the subject, and I don’t get preachy with beliefs in a Higher Power, and I steer clear of making fun of it. That said, I will point out hypocrisy because all faiths have it.

Regardless, I truly love religion (at one point I wanted to study World Religions) and I love how it affect us, who we are as a people and what we believe as a collective human culture.  Not to mention how we consider our fellow man.  Its saddens me when we attack each other for our religious beliefs. Because when you boil all beliefs in a High Power down to the basic ideal they are all pretty much the same.  There is so much that is wrong in the world today. Do we have to bring out the religious drums and beat them and attack each other over it?

I don’t think so.

Back to my point about religion in stories and as a fact in the lives of the character’s.  For me the subject of belief adds another layer to the character and their development.  When I create a character, I make a point to know what faith they are.  Even if it never comes up, because it will affect the decisions they make, for good and for bad.  Having that character knowledge helps with the details in the story.  Example:

A Jewish or Muslim character won’t typically eat pork;
A Mormon character won’t drink alcohol, caffeine (well some do) or curse;
A Catholic character may tend to be lax about some Catholic teachings; (divorce, contraception, fish on Fridays, church on Sundays, etc.) while being anti-abortion;
A Baptist character can be extremely religious (church every Sunday, bible study, heavy church involvement, etc.).

These are some general examples. How religion affects our characters, how they choose to believe, and how they practice their faith can be different for each one.  Faith in a Higher Power is different for each person. So, as writers we need to know this about our characters.

You may not want to have your Jewish main character eating a BLT on the Sabbath, or your Muslim main character having a huge meal at lunch during Ramadan, or your Mormon main character having a double espresso with a shot of bourbon at a party, or your Catholic main character having a fat juice steak on a Friday night during Lent, or your Baptist main character watching the big game on Sunday.

Again, these are just examples and I’m not saying it’s a rule (there are no rules in crafting your characters).

Once you know your character’s faith, you can play with it in the stories.  It can be a little flavor or spice thrown into the mix.

In ‘A New World - Contact’ I have a Catholic main character married to a Mormon secondary character, and I play with that dynamic.  I also, have a Baptist character who is good friends with a Russian Orthodox character, again you don’t know this as a reader because I don’t tell you in the story but it affects all the character motivations.

In ‘A Calling’ the main character was born Catholic, but his family wasn’t religious so he wasn’t religious. This was kind of fun to play with during the story.  It eventually becomes a major plot point in the work.

The other thing about religion in stories is faith helps with character motivations especially when those beliefs are called into question.  It allows the writer to add another layer of drama to why the character acts the way they do.  Imagine having all your beliefs suddenly called into question.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  How would you react?  How would that affect your life?  What would you have to change?  Would you be able to change, or would it be too much for you to cope with?

Interesting thought. Right? 

Faith in non-religious books, what do you think?  Yay, or Nay?  Feel free to share your thoughts below.  Remember you can always ‘like’ and ‘share’ this blog post.  It lets me know what you want to talk about. What you find interesting. What you would rather not see.  I’d love to hear from folks on this topic. 

See ya soon.

Writing Ideas. Where do they come from, and how do I process them?

About a month or so ago I sat down and began editing ‘A New World - Conspiracy’. There was nothing special about editing that day. I was using the time to rework a couple of chapters.  Anyway, as I sat at my computer I started thinking about recent world events, fate and that sort of stuff.  As I edited, I heard a voice in the back of my mind.

I’ve been told hearing voices is normal for writers - it’s also a sign of madness so, you know, both could apply in my case.

Moving on. Voices and all.

This voice started telling me about himself and started telling me his story.

Me trying to listen to the Voice in my head.

Me trying to listen to the Voice in my head.

I stopped what I was doing and began taking notes because what he was telling me was pretty interesting.  Once he finished his introduction and telling me a bit of his story, he was gone.  I was left with a page of notes and several questions.

Over the next few weeks I started putting together an outline and a basic prologue.  Then I opened my trunk of characters (I keep about fifty or so various stock characters sitting around for development in my novels should one of them fit). I found a character I’ve always loved and thought would be appropriate for this new story.

So, now with some notes, a very basic outline, and a few characters I started putting things together.  I came up with a premise for the story and I started tossing the idea around my writers group.  I received some constructive feedback and a few suggestions.  These notes and remarks helped me to focus on what I wanted to say. Also, I got a feel for what would be important to the tale. Now the story is starting to come together and I’m putting together a plan for it.

Oh, and I’ve gotten the buy in by my new main character.  He seems happy with the ideas so far.

But how does this affect the other stories that are waiting in the cue to be written?  That’s an interesting question. I suppose, I work in the way of the ‘squeaky wheel’ this particular story idea is one that keeps coming up.  So, I know that I really want to work on this new idea, which means a few of my other stories are left on the stove to simmer.

What brings this story to the forefront of my writing list is how different it is from anything else I have planned out.  And different is good. The other way I realize my new story needs attention is right now my new tale is geared to be a short story, which excites me. I want to see if I can write a short.

Also, the other interesting bit I’ve noticed about this new idea and new main character is that all my other main characters have stepped out of the way.  They’ve kind of cleared the decks to make way for the new kid, which is nice of them.  

I love when all my characters play nice with each other.

Anyway, that is how I work with my writing ideas and that is one example of how a new story idea comes to me.  If you have specific questions, feel free to ask.  I love hearing from folks.  I normally get back to questions within a few hours

Main Character Portraits

This was some character concept art that was started but never finished.  The drawings are rough and the characters changed, but the artist did a nice job, just wish he could have finished the project.

This was some character concept art that was started but never finished.  The drawings are rough and the characters changed, but the artist did a nice job, just wish he could have finished the project.

Over the past few months I’ve been considering, again, having characters portraits created for several of my characters in my different WIPs. I’ve tried this before, but the projects never got completed and I’ve shared some of the drafts on my Facebook page, which people seemed to like.

For me the purpose of this would be two-fold.  If I decide to self-publish, I’m going to need amazing book covers. So, character portraits would be a good way to try out some artists and see how well we work together. I would also be able to get feedback from you on how you like the style and quality of work.

Style wise, I prefer things a little darker and more moody.  Keeping a nice balance of lights and darks.  With character portraits I would be able to gage reaction and see if that works. I, also, thought they would be a fun way for people to visualize the characters.  I’ve heard of different writers doing the same thing.  So, I’m curious at what you all think?  Would you be interesting in portraits of the main characters?  Or, is that something you don’t think is necessary? Or, worse, is that something that you think would take away from the story?

Anyway, please let me know and if you’re another author please feel free to share your experience with me if you’ve done character portraits or any other visual type representation of your stories.  I’d love to learn about your experiences.

Have a great week and drop me a line I love hearing from folks

To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

Twitter is the question.

I just don’t know Twitter.  I’ve spoken with a bunch of folks (writers and bloggers) and they all say the same thing.  Open a Twitter account, it’s easy, fun and a great way to get connected with your fans and followers.  Not to mention a good way to get out there.  All of that sounds good, but I believe in connect. I’m not saying I have great connect, or that it will change the world, but I do have things to share with my Blog.  It’s only once a week to not bombard people, and to date the feedback has been positive.

The idea of a Twitter feed.  Do I have enough to say?  Am I that interesting (I don’t think I am)? Would people really fallow me?

I don’t know.  It all sounds so “me, me, me” and there is so much noise out there already.  Do I really need to add my voice to the masses? Granted I all have, with the Blog, but somehow that feels different to me.

There are pros and cons to everything, including tweeting.  It does seem like the next logical step in connecting with people, building a brand and creating a following.  The purpose of the Blog, the Facebook page, the website, and a potential Twitter account is so that I can show publishers that people are interested in my writing.  So, that eventually, one lucky publishers will pick up my manuscripts and help me get my novels out there.

Another purpose of the Blog, the Facebook page, the website, and a potential Twitter account is that it will make things much easier if I self-publish, because I will be published one way or the other.

Look how happy you all are that I get to interact with you.

Look how happy you all are that I get to interact with you.

The big bonus for me is reaching out to my followers and fans.  I would get to interact more with you, but is that something you really want?  You poor things.  You must have more interesting things to do then listen to me, don’t you?  Isn’t Dancing with the Stars starting up soon?  

All teasing aside, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.  So, Twitter or no Twitter? Let me know in the comments below.

Edit Down or Break the Book into Two?

That is the question.

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I’m to the editing point on both my stories (well more editing and trimming down) and I’m running into an authorly dilemma with one of my novels. Do I edit down my novel, or do I break the story into two books?

I’m really not a fan of breaking the book into two.  The story was written as a single novel and I want to keep it that way. Call it pride or being stubborn. I’ll admit to both. That said, if all I do is edit the story down, the book will be between 150k and165k words which is a long novel. I know this, I’ve always pictured it as an epic story. Still, it’s a size agents and publishers tend to bock at (for a variety of reason and I’m not devaluing their valuable advice). If I cut the book into two, I would need to write an ending for the first book and write a new beginning for the second book. I could do it as painful as may be for my ego, it could be done and I’m pretty sure I have a place that I can make it work. 

But, this, to me, seems like a cheat.  I’ve read books that do this, and I can tell.  It’s like the author saw 80k words as the stopping point and rushed to give the reader a half assed ending.  Then they pick up the story at a false beginning and continue on for another 80k–100k words and end the story.  When what they should’ve done, in my mind, is offer one book at 160k–180k words and given the reader something wonderful.

Now, I’m not saying cutting the book in two is wrong.  I’m saying I don’t personally like the idea.  Does this mean it hasn’t been done well? Of course it has.  I’m sure you can find a great editor, or story doctor, to help you accomplish a perfect cut that no one will ever notice. Expect for the author. Which is fine. After all a book is a product, you need to be able to market and sell.

I’m intentionally taking out the ‘art’ and ‘creative’ nature of the book/story so as not to involve emotion.

Some of you may be saying, “You’re too close to the work.  You’re not seeing all the fat to be trimmed. There is plenty to cut.”

You would be 100% correct. I am too close to the work.  But I’m still editing the beast down now.  I’m also going to put the book through another round of beta reads for feedback. Find out what people think and ask them to mark up where they believe the story can either be trimmed or cut.  With luck this will help me remove enough bits from the book to make it palatable for an agent and publisher.

If that still doesn’t work there is the idea of self-publishing. And it has appeal, because I can keep all the emotional connection to the book and treat it the way I want it treated.  Like a fine glass of wine enjoyed slowly on a quiet night in front of a warm fire.

Too much?