Conversation with Author R.R. Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click the image for the book trailer.

Click the image for the book trailer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click the image for the book trailer.

Click the image for the book trailer.

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

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

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

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

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

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


About R. R. Campbell:

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

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

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

Contact R.R. Campbell:

Websites:

www.rrcampbellwrites.com

www.writescast.net

www.empathyseries.com

www.accountingforitall.com

Twitter and Instagram: @iamrrcampbell

Facebook: facebook.com/iamrrcampbell

Goodreads: goodreads.com/iamrrcampbell

Get your copy of Imminent Dawn here:

Amazon click here.

Barnes & Novel click here.

NineStar Press click here.

Kobo click here.

Smashwords click here.

Preorder Mourning Dove here:

NineStar Press click here.

Book Announcement and Interview for J.S. Strange

Happy Wednesday Scribblers, this week I’m welcoming J.S. Strange to share details about his newest book Murder on Rocks and to share details about himself. I’m so happy to J.S. a great friend of this Blog introduced me to J.S. and even though I haven’t read his book yet, I’ve got a tone of questions and have added the novel to my must read list.


Welcome to my Scribbles Page J.S. I promise this won’t be too painful of a process.

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

Well, I’m a massive Britney fan. I’m a self confessed Britney enthusiast. I suppose it’s because I grew up with her music, but also I really admired her for getting through the bad times and coming back better than ever. I could go on all day about how successful she is, how hard she works, and what she means to me, but I know a lot of people would just roll their eyes and think I’m being weird.

It’s not weird at all, we all have people we admire.

You are from Wales and after reading about you and Murder on the Rocks you very much want to spot light your home in this novel, it is something I can relate to as I do the same thing in my books. So, I want to ask you a question I get asked a lot, why Cardiff? Why Wales? What makes these places so interesting that you want to write about them?

I wanted to write a novel that had some realism to it. To do that, I wrote about places I knew about, or had been to. Some parts of the novel feature where I live, or where I work. Others are memories, or from when I’ve passed through the area. Welsh crime fiction needs to be taken seriously. I’ve read before that publishers won’t take it because ‘nobody wants to read Welsh crime fiction’, which I think isn’t true, because they’re out there. Yet compare Welsh fiction to the likes of Scottish fiction, or London fiction, and it barely compares. I wanted a city, and knew the importance of a location featuring as another character in your story, and Cardiff is a place of beauty, creativity, development – and yet it has another side, too. A darker side. I wanted to explore both, and write about both. Cardiff was a natural choice, because it’s up there with crime fiction settings such as Edinburgh. Wales, because I was born there and live there, and I think I wanted to help put it on the map, in whatever way I could!

I totally agree with that. I love books that don’t use the ‘traditional’ locations.

I also find it fantastic that you want to bring LGBT characters to the mystery genre. I especially love the point you bring up about Jordan being gay, “There is no tragic coming out story, and no internal sexuality struggle. His sexuality is not a plot device – it is his character. It is him.” I think it’s important in writing to go beyond the ‘gay’, you’re gay. GREAT! Now what else are you? What’s next? It sounds like this is your thought as well. Am I right? Care to expand on that?

Yes, that’s exactly right. I know sexuality is a big part of people’s lives. Living with the knowledge that you’re gay, and having to come out for the first time is scary. You have to constantly come out every time you meet someone new, or you start somewhere new. It’s not just a one time thing. Being gay, or being part of the LGBTQ community is not without it’s torments and struggles. But there are lots of stories about that, and it isn’t everybody’s experience. Lots of people come out and they live happy lives, even happier because they’re being their true selves. Also, I don’t think it defines who you are. You might be gay, but you offer a lot more. It’s not solely what you’re about or who you are. So Jordan Jenner is that type of man. He’s gay, but so what? He does the same job as straight male detectives, or straight female detectives, or even gay female detectives. He lives the same life, albeit he dates men. The story is simply there to say that gay men exist, that they do the same jobs as everybody else. He’s also there to serve a purpose of being in the crime and mystery genre, and hopefully holding his own with the likes of straight male manly leads, like Strike and Rebus. It’s important for me to write a gay character, to explore that side of him as the series progresses, but never detract from what the series is mainly about: a murder, and Jordan has to solve it.

Nicely said. I couldn’t agree more.

Something else that caught my eye as I read your information is that you wrote this after you hit a wall on your last story, a series you say you may not go back too. Why is that?

I was writing a zombie series. The first novel was my debut, and it didn’t do too badly, but could have done better. The second novel completely flopped. I had it all planned out, but one bad review came through and I was incredibly disappointed, with myself and with the story. I think second book syndrome existed, and I didn’t know how to move past this, even though the idea was there. I was going back and forth trying to write and third, and it wasn’t happening. But I still wanted to write. I read crime and thriller and mystery often, so I wanted to try it myself. I was terrified of that. I’d always told myself I couldn’t write a mystery, that you had to be clever to do so, but I gave it a go. I’m glad I did, because it brought me something new, something exciting.

I’m glad you found working on something new exciting. Bad reviews are never easy, I hope you’ll be able to go to your first series and finish it up.

As a follow up, what is it about Murder on the Rocks that excites you so much?

The possibility of writing this new series excites me. I really like Jordan Jenner as a character. I think he’s a great lead, and there is a lot more to explore with him. He strikes me as quite a complex character. I’m thinking of new ideas, and new stories to tell, and at the moment it all feels fresh and new. I think more people are interested in the series as well, which is exciting, and I think the idea of growing that series will be a great thing to do.

Okay we’ve danced around the topic a little so let’s dig in, tell us about Murder on the Rocks. What can you share without giving too much away?

Murder on the Rocks begins with Jordan Jenner at the crime scene. He has just returned to work following the seemingly natural death of his mother. His first case back involves the murder of a writer in a prestigious writing group. As Jordan investigates, he learns that his mother’s death may be involved with the murder of the writer. A sub-plot in the novel is Jordan’s developing attraction to Lloyd, a colleague (Buy the book here).

Sounds fun. I will be sure to add it to my TBR list.

Now, if you don’t mind, let’s chat a little about you. You mention that you enjoy travel. Where have you been and where are your top five dream locations to visit?

I love travel. I’d actually love to travel more, and depending on what happens with my job next year, I might look at taking a little break and going away to different places for a bit, but that’s easier said than done! I’ve been to America – California, Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona, New York and Flordia, and would love to go back. I’ve been to Turkey too many times, Spain, Paris and Amsterdam. I’m going to Edinburgh soon, and then Ireland. I’d love to go to Venice, Sweden, Austria and other parts of America when I can. Recently I’ve liked the idea of going to somewhere like Bulgaria, or Cyprus.

Sounds like you have quite a few places to go. Several of the locations you mention are places I want to go to as well, especially Ireland and Paris.

Staying on the subject of travel, what are your top five must dos in Wales?

There is plenty to do in Wales. I’d say you have to go and visit St Fagans, a Welsh life museum. It’s like a right of passage for Welsh people, and it’s a good day out. Other places would probably include The Skirrid Inn, the oldest pub in Wales. You should definitely visit places like Cardiff Castle, and other castles that are around the area. Wales has a lot of history. I’ve never done Snowdonia or Pen-Y-Fan, but lots of people see that as a great tradition.

Don’t mind me while I take notes here. I may need to hit you up for travel tips, because, yes Wales in on my list of places to see as is London.

When you’re not writing or traveling what do you like to do?

I work in television, so when I’m not writing or travelling, I’m normally in work, editing for the Welsh news. I edit news items that get broadcast. It can be a stressful and scary job, especially when you’re editing minutes before air. Other than that, I like to relax with a new book, and I love discovering new authors.

At one point, I worked on our agency TV Show and was heavily involved in the editing process. It’s crazy how much more goes into it, so you have my complete respect on that. You’ll have to check out Recommendation section on my website I have a tone of great authors I enjoy, you may even recognize one.

We are to our last question, is there anything else that you would like to share with you us today?

Murder on the Rocks is the first in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. I have just finished writing the second, and now I need to edit it and redraft, but I’m hoping to have it published later this year, with Panther Publishing.

Wow! That is great news, I know how people don’t like to wait long for sequels so good luck.

I want to thank J.S. Strange for stopping by today and chatting with us. If you enjoy mystery novels and are looking for one that isn’t your typical run of the mill book check out Murder on the Rocks. Remember to share this post with friends and family who love mystery books. If you have any questions for J.S. Strange leave them below and we’ll have him pop back over and answer them. Until next time have a great week.


About J.S. Strange:

Author Photo.jpg

J.S. Strange is a Welsh author, living and writing in Wales. His new novel, Murder on the Rocks, published with Panther Publishing. When he’s not writing, Strange works for a leading broadcast television channel as an editor. He lives with his two cats, Miley and Dolly.

To buy Murder on the Rocks click here.

Contact J.S. Strange:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JackSamStrange

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JackSamuelStrange

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jsstrange

Website: www.jacksamstrange.com

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.

Reading.jpg

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.

How Stories.jpg

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.

Q&A with Author CJ Bedell

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

Welcome to my Scribbles Page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to write this story?

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

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

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

Buy it on Amazon here.

Buy it from NineStar Press here.

Buy it on Barnes and Noble here.

Buy it on Smashed Words here.

Buy is from Indiebound here.

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

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

Excellent. Thank you for stopping by today.

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

About I Know Where the Bodies are Buried:

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

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

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

About CJ Bedell:

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

Contact CJ Bedell:

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

My Twitter handle is: @ChrisBedell

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.

A New World-Contact has Arrived

Happy 2019. I hope you are all having a wonderful new year. Can you believe we are already almost to the end of January? Wow!

This week A New World-Contact has arrived, and it’s already gotten some amazing reviews. Check them out here on Goodreads and here on Amazon. It’s incredible and I couldn’t be more thrilled. As I mentioned last week, I have a lot of virtual and personal engagements planned for the next several months. You can click here for all the details I shared last week.

I wanted to share what is coming up next. Well, A New World-Conviction will be released on March 11, 2019 so you won’t have to wait long for the next book. Find our more about it here. Also, coming out on June 24, 2019 I have my urban fantasy T.A.D.-The Angel of Death. Learn more about TAD here. It will be a busy few months, but I’m excited and it is my hope you will enjoy what I have in store.

I haven’t forgotten about The Calling-Book Two, which has the working title of The Called. I’m getting the first draft finished and as promised this will be the last book of the series, but you never know what other stories will come out of this universe.

Also, regarding my A New World series book three Conspiracy is finished and working through Beta reads right now.

Those are all the current updates I have right now. Next week I’m honored to bring to my Scribble Page author Barbara Russell (find out more about Barbara here), she will talk to us about her current and upcoming books which I can assure you are great reads.

If you have questions please share them in the comments section below. If you want to help me out, please share my website with your friends and family especially if you know anyone who loves Paranormal writing or Sci Fi books remember to recommend me. The other way you can help me out is to leave a review of my books. Reviews really make a difference. Check out Amazon reviews here.

Until next time have a great week.

Countdown to Contact

Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Can you believe that there are only five days until my aliens (the Nentraee) land in their debut novel A New World-Contact. Do you want to learn about their clans? What about getting a handle on their language? Click here for the nentraee clan info and here for the nentraee language info. I have been working on this novel and this series for more years then I care to admit. The idea for A New World-Contact started as a family drama back when I was twenty-five and has morphed into what will be release on January 21, 2019. It should be epic.

As part of my launch festivities over the next several weeks I will be doing various blog tours, interviews, and appearances. Here is a schedule of what has been confirmed as of this posting:

On Saturday January 26, 2019 I will take over QueerRomance Ink’s Facebook page (find it here) come hang out from 10am – noon (PST). So, if you’re around please check in, say hello, and stay for a while. I’ll answer questions about the novel, the series, and the characters. I’m looking forward to chatting with folks and, of course, there will be giveaways to be won.

Beginning Monday January 28, 2019 and ending on Friday February 1, 2019 I will stop by a new Blog each day and share info about A New World-Contact and the characters that live in that universe. Here is the schedule and where to find blogs and me:

January 21, 2019 – MM Good Book Reviews find them here.

January 29, 2019 – Love Bytes Reviews find them here.

January 30, 2019 – The Blogger Girls find them here.

January 31, 2019 – Queer Sci Fi find them here.

February 1, 2019 – Bayou Book Junkie find them here.

Early February I will, again, be a guest on OutLook Video. I’m thrilled to have been invited back and I’m looking forward to sharing more about A New World-Contact with them and you. Find OutLook Video here and the backlog of episodes here on CreaTV.

On February 8, 2019 I will be over with Vance and Baz on the WROTE Podcast. Those guys are amazing and you never know what we’ll be talking about, so don’t miss it. Here is where you can find WROTE Podcast.

February 21, 2019 will be the official launch party for A New World-Contact. As with last years launch of The Calling this event will be held in downtown San Jose at the Axis Building, Lobby Lounge (38 N. Almaden Blvd., San Jose CA) from 6pm – 9pm. If you will be in the area drop by, it should be a lot of fun. I will have books for sale and I’ll be signing them of course. Who knows maybe there will be a few special announcements. For more information on the launch party please check out my Facebook Page here.

You can still preorder A New World-Contact from my publisher NineStar Press here and you will get it three days early (January 18, 2019).

Well Scribblers there is a lot happening over the next month and beyond. Until next time have a great week. If you have questions or would like more info about any of the events I have planned please let me know in the comments below.

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year Scribblers, I want to wish each of you a wonderful and joyful new year.

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As a reminder coming out on January 21, 2019 my Sci Fi novel A New World-Contact will be released by NineStar Press (want to see what other great books are offered by NineStar Press check them out here). To learn more about my new Sci Fi series click here. To learn more about Contact (Book 1) click here.

Also, as part of my cover art reveal you still have time to sign up for the drawing to win a NineStar Press Gift Card, click here.

Here’s to a great new year for us all.

Interview with Fellow NineStar Author Riina Y.T.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t Tokyo just breathtaking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey now, be careful. I’m a Scorpio.

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

Okay, I can go with that.

I hope people will forgive him his moments of stupidness.

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

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

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

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

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

Nicely said.

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


Book Info:

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

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

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

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

Buy Links:

Find it on Amazon here

Find it on Kobo here

Find it on Smashword here


Author Info:

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

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

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

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

Contact:

Check out here web page here

Find her on NineStar Press here

Find her on Facebook here

Find here on Twitter here

Find her on Instagram here

Find her on Goodreads here

Word Police and Word Censorship

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Happy Wednesday Scribblers. If you are here in the U.S. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re checking in from elsewhere around the world I hope you had a great week. Now we march on to Christmas and to the New Years, I thought I would talk about something I have mixed feelings about. Word Police and Word Censorship.

As a writer, words are important and words have power. With a few strokes of the keyboard excellent writers can make you laugh, they can make you cry, and they can even make you angry. With that kind of power, authors have a responsibility. For me, I appreciate when my Editor or my Beta Readers question my word choice. When they highlight something and say, “You may want to change this.” or “Wow! That is harsh, are you sure you want to say that?” When they do this, I stop and check what I’ve written to see if it fits with the character or with the emotion I’m trying to invoke. Sometimes I change it and sometimes I don’t.

How we say and use words is just as important. As a Human Being, I never want to intentionally hurt someone with something I’ve said and if do. I expect the person to politely correct me if I miss speak. It is a moment of learning and a moment of decency we can share and grow from. Where I take issues, and I don’t believe I’m the only one, is when people try to censor words. Or, censor someone from expressing themselves because you don’t agree with the words they are using. Not everyone has the same vocabulary. Not everyone has the same upbringing. Not everyone has the words to express themselves professionally or politely. To come after these people because you don’t like their word choice is wrong.

Words, in general, only have the power we allow them to have. If you get offended by the use of a word, you give that word, and by extension, that individual power over you. Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you letting someone hurt you because of a word they use. Yes, words hurts. I understand that. I’ve been on the receiving end of some very hateful words, did it make me happy to hear those words? Of course not. But, I didn’t allow that moment, those few seconds, to ruin my day or my life. Again, I understand that words can hurt people and we need to think before we speak.

Where I want to make the distension here is when people take offence to the use of a particular word.

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Recently, I was in a meeting where the word ‘picnic’ was discussed. There was a conversation about how we can’t use that word because of where it came from, the argument was that ‘picnic’ came from when people would gather for a lynching by caught slaves. After a quick search online this was debunked (here is the link). However, by now the damage was done and people were upset. It’s a word, and the reference was false, yet word has been censored and we are no longer able to use the word ‘picnic’. Why? It’s just a word. But because someone might be offended the word is now censored.

Why do this? Why add to the hate? Why make things worse then they already are?

Another example of world policing is the phrase ‘illegal alien’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ these words have been removed from several media sites and in ‘polite’ conversation because of its negative connotation. The new word of choice is ‘migrant’. I understand why we are doing this. I’ve heard the arguments ‘people can’t be illegal.’ In theory I agree. People cannot be illegal, however, their actions can be. Again, why does this matter? Why are we censoring words and phrases for these generic terms that have no meaning?

Let’s keep throwing gasoline on an already touchy subject, by attacking people for using the wrong words when trying to discuss the issue. Makes sense to me. Not!

Now we have this push for pronoun use. If you don’t call an individual by the right pronoun you are disrespecting them and treating them as less than. I understand if you want to be referred to in a certain way that is your right and people should respect that. I respect you for having the courage to be yourself. You are braver than a great many people. Where I have take issue is these people will scream and yell at people for not using their chosen pronoun. This is especially upsetting when it happens to the older generation, who may not fully understand what the issue is. It’s not that these people are monsters or trying to disrespect you, it’s that they don’t have your point of reference or understand your point of view.

There are other examples I can point to as well, but I’m sure I’ve already upset people for my lack of sensitivity. Which isn’t my intent. The comedian Patton Peter Oswalt has an amazing standup bit about this subject on one of his Netflix Specials (I can’t remember which one, they are all really good). What he boils it down to is; It’s not the people who don’t speak politically correct we have to worry about, it’s the ones who know all the correct, polite terms who we should fear.

I agree with him.

Next time you get offended about a word, phrase or pronoun someone is using as yourself a couple questions: Are they trying to hurt me? Will this ruin my day? Is this a moment to educate them? Do I want to give this word or phrase that much power over me?

Well Scribblers, if you’re still reading this, haven’t yet unsubscribed to my mailing list, or gone on to give all my books 1-star reviews I thank you for hanging with me today. Allowing me to share my thoughts with you. I appreciate it. I would love to hear what you have to say on the matter. Do you agree with me? Am I completely off base and out of touch? Am I an insensitive prick who should be burned at the stake? Let me know in the comments below. Until next week have a great week. Remember, you can share and like this by clicking on the ‘share’ and ‘like’ button. It really does make a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

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I want to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you have a great day and enjoy the time with your families of choosing.

In addition, if you haven’t seen this Friday I will participate in The Guardian Angel Project, which is a benefit for Paul Berry and his fight against cancer. Paul is a Blogger and Reviewer and a well-loved man in the writing community. The Event is to be hosted on the Rainbow Gold Reviews Facebook Group Page and will continue throughout the weekend. Click here for the link. There are some amazing prizes, so I hope you have time to check it out.

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Happy Thanksgiving.

The Week Before Thanksgiving

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It’s the week before Thanksgiving (for us here in the US) which at its end marks the start of the Christmas Season (which actually started back in October) and… ugh. I’m not feeling it this year. If I’m honest I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be bothered with Thanksgiving and I definitely don’t want to bother with Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the year I’ve had. I have so much to be thankful for and I don’t want to every sound ungrateful. Regardless, I’m not feeling any of it.

Could it be all the political crap still going on? How crappy people are treating each other, both on-line and in public? Possibly. There seems to be so much crap (this post is also a drinking game to see how many times I say the word ‘crap’) going on and despite all the encouraging things happening there is, sadly, so much negativity to go along with it. Why? This can’t be only me feeling this way? Can it?

Now, I realize that I’ll get out of my pre-holiday funk and things will turn around. In that vein, I want to share all the positive things that have happened for me this year:

  • I released my debut novel, The Calling.

  • I’ve received positive reviews for The Calling.

  • The Calling is in the top 150 Best Vampire Books by a new Author.

  • The Calling is in the top 100 Best Gay Vampire Books.

  • I’ve made great Author Friends this year.

  • I’ve gotten to know some wonderful fans who have been supportive of my writing.

  • My two short stories The Reunion and A Dragon for Christmas have done well and people seem to enjoy them.

  • After fourteen years, I finally got a new car. Yay!

  • The agency TV I worked on, Change Lives for Good, was a finalist for the CreaTV Awards.

  • Eric and I had a wonderful cruise to Mexico.

  • A New World – Contact was picked up by my publisher.

  • T.A.D. – The Angel of Death was picked up by my publisher.

  • We spent some amazing time with Family and Friends this year.

  • Eric and I had a fantastic week in Hawaii for my birthday.

  • We got our Bathroom remodeled.

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There has been a lot for me to be thankful for, even putting this list together has improved my mood, which is another thing I’m grateful for. I think, like many of us, this crap happening around me has bogged me down which has taken my focus off all the wonderful things that have happened and continue to happen all around me.

Maybe, that is something we all need to do. Keep a list of all the positive things that have happened to us and continue to happen to us and not let the crap steal the spotlight and take away our sunshine.

Thank you for allowing me a moment to whine and focus my thoughts. Reminding me that, yes, there is a lot a crap in the world, but overall things are good and life has provided me and my husband some wonderful moments. If you want to share some positive events your year has shown you I would love to read them. You can do it in the comments section below. The more we can focus on the good the better off I think we all will be. Remember, you can like and share this blog (or any of my blog posts below).

Until next time, have a great week Scribblers (oh, and, if you were counting I said ‘crap’ eight times).

Interview with Leslie E. Owen Agent, LLC

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From: Star Trek: The Original Series

From: Star Trek: The Original Series

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Frakes would be great as Kyle Riker.

I can see that.

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Leslie Owen

Leslie Owen.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Where to Find Leslie:

Check out her website here.

For her Agent Facebook Page click here.

For her Editing Facebook Page click here.

For her Facebook page click here.

Find her on Twitter here.

Interview with Author Mike Galloway

I want to welcome author Mike Galloway to my Scribbles Page today. Mike is the author of TCS: The Studio (Tribal Culture Studio Book 1) and Before the Game: Drake.


Mike thank you for stopping by today for a chat. Before we dive in why don’t you introduce yourself and your writing.

Well, my name’s Mike, and I’m working on a coming-of-age erotic LGBT novel series (wow that’s a handful). It’s about a young college dropout named Jason who wants to pursue his dream of having his own modeling agency while getting a boyfriend along the way. TCS: The Studio is the first book in the series, and Before the Game: Drake is a spin-off involving Drake and Gage, two water polo players Jason interacts with during the first book.

Excellent. Let’s jump in.

First, I want to compliment you on your website I checked it out and it’s really cool that you set it up from the characters’ point of view. Considering all the work that goes into creating a website, how many books do you plan on having in the series? Is this going to be an ongoing series with books for each of the models?

There will be at least three books in the main series, more likely four, with each one building on the events of the previous book. In addition, there will be some spin-offs that can be much more erotic in nature or focus on events that don’t fit in the main series. The main series mostly focuses on Jason, while the spin-offs would focus on the others. Ryker, Noel, and Tyler are also heavily featured in the main books.

Tell us what inspired you to write this series.

TCS Studio Cover.jpg

I was heavily interested in photography while I was in high school, taking pictures of friends and sporting events. Several friends of mine were water polo players as well, so I decided to combine the two interests to make the core of the series. Jason is based off me when I was in high school, except a little bit more eccentric.

As for why it’s in San Diego, I wanted to set TCS aside from the numerous stories that take place in LA and San Francisco and breathe life into a fresher setting. I am also more familiar with that city as I have family down there. The last couple of years, I’ve made a few trips down there to visit family, scout out settings, and watch a whole lot of water polo.

Clearly you enjoy water polo, did you play? Or were you just a spectator?

I wasn’t able to play myself, since my parents didn’t want me hurt. I was on the yearbook staff in my senior year of high school, so I got to go to a lot of the games to take pictures.

Well, I guess if you couldn’t play then being a supporter is the way to go. Moving on from water polo, what can you share with us about the book and the series?

The first seeds of the series were planted around six years ago, with three of the main characters living in a dorm room in San Diego while attending college. While a lot of the original work for that is lost (About three computers ago), the setting and the characters marched on. As time went by, I decided to age the characters up a bit to further reflect the new story ideas I had. Other characters came and went, and a few that didn’t make the cut in Studio might appear in other books.

Sounds like a long journey. It always amazes me how the writing process works like that. You may have one idea and by the time you finish it’s completely transformed into something you never expected.

I guess I’d say so. On the other hand, I don’t consider myself a pure pantser, since I have to know where the story is going to go before writing it. This is especially true when writing a series, since every book has to be intertwined with the others to make one whole arc composed of several smaller ones.

Nicely said. So, I have to ask, who is your favorite character right now?

That’s a tough one. Everyone’s got their quirks, and it’s hard for me to pick just one. In some ways, I kind of like Tyler because of how brutally honest he can be. Tyler’s also the easiest character for me to write as he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

I have a few characters like that, and I would have to agree. The free speakers are always the easiest to write for. If you don’t mind I want to jump back to your website, if you decide to write something different are you going to create a special website for that as well?

Depends on its size. I’ve written some short stories, and those can be found in the archives section of TCS’s website. That section is not “in character” so that I can showcase my other work. If I plan out an unrelated series or standalone book, then there may be a site for that.

Cool. Well considering how much work you put into this website I can’t imagine wanting to waste it.

Of course not. TCS is my passion.

From your bio I see you were raised in Central California, what was that like? Everyone thinks that California is either San Francisco or Los Angeles, so what was it like where you lived?

I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, which is the closest place California has to a Bible Belt. Until the 1990’s, members of the Ku Klux Klan ran Visalia where I’m from specifically. Growing up, my brother claimed he had seen a cross burning a few blocks south of our house.

It’s hard to believe that people are like that, but sadly they are, and things like that happen everywhere.

Many of the people were homophobic, and in high school, the school district had one of the schools make a “bullying” documentary targeting LGBT people. In short, the message was, “If a straight person gets bullied, it’s the bully’s fault. If an LGBT person gets bullied, it’s their own fault.” Keep in mind this was in the 2000’s, and there were several people in the valley who have been killed due to their sexuality, even to this day.

I’m glad I got out of there and into a more accepting environment.

I can’t imagine growing up like that. We forget how lucky we are. Especially when you hear stories like that. I’m glad you made it out of all that.

You mention you’ve been writing since you were fourteen, care to share a little about what you wrote early on? For me, when I was younger, writing was a way for me to process my emotions, what did writing mean to you at that time? Does it still mean the same thing now?

Writing’s been a form of therapy. I’d rather not go into specific details regarding the stories I wrote as a teenager, but when I was a senior in high school, I had written a script for a full-length RPG that will never see the light of day. The plot might return, but the script itself is long lost and wasn’t very good.

Fair enough. Still a full-length Role-Paying-Game sounds pretty amazing. I hope you are able to use it again.

I see that you now live in Las Vegas, that has to be quite a change from where you grew up. Obliviously you must like it there, care to tell us about it?

Vegas has given me a lot of opportunities that I could not get before moving here. There are things to do every single day. Just about every weekend, people can go to different fairs, open mic nights, and on the first Friday of every month, we have the aptly-named First Friday, a block party south of Downtown where people sell their goods/art/local food. I’ve gone a couple of times, and it was great to see all the different performers and people having fun.

That sounds amazing. Tell me, when you aren’t writing what do you like to do, other than going to street fairs?

I like to travel around. I’ve been all over Europe, been to the east coast a few times, and a few other spots. I’ve got plenty of stories of different experiences I’ve encountered. In fact, the hotel in Before the Game: Drake is based off the hotel I stayed at in New Jersey. I’m also a bit of a gamer, playing Final Fantasy XIV in the few spare hours I get whenever I’m not working on something.

Is part of that ‘something’ creating the characters you have on the website? Did you create them or did you hire someone to create them?

BTG Cover Drake.jpg

I hired an artist on Patreon to do the base artwork. I’ve worked with Finch for around two years. He drew all the guys, while I did all the typography, editing, and formatting for the website and for the novel. His page (NSFW) can be found here.

Very cool. I’ll have to check it out at some point. What’s next for you? What can we expect to see in the near future?

I am working on the second book, TCS: Into Summer as we speak. It focuses more on Tyler, who’s (mostly) on the back burner in the first book. I am also writing some non-TCS related stories that I hope to share soon.

Sounds like you have a lot going on. Is there anything else you want to share with us today?

First, I’d like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be interviewed here. It means a lot.

It’s my pleasure.

Second, please look forward to the next free promo weekend on Amazon, which will be in either November or early December.

Oh, free promos. Cool. Where can people find that information?

Facebook’s the easiest way to get into contact with me (as myself). There and Instagram are where I will provide info for the free promo weekends or other events that will be happening in the future. Twitter’s “in character” just like the site, so the guys won’t be advertising as much.

Excellent. Well thank you for stopping by and spending time with me and my Scribblers.

Find the books on Amazon here.

That’s it for this week Scribblers. I hope you check out Mike’s books and go find him and his boys on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram and on their website. Until next time have a great week. Remember you can share and like this below. If you have questions for Mike, leave them in the Comments section and I’ll ensure he pops on over and answers them.


About Mike E. Galloway

Author Pic Edit.JPG

Raised in Central California, Mike E. Galloway grew up in a world filled with the expectations of heteronormativity and homophobia. He overcame these expectations by writing LGBT stories and vignettes ever since the age of 14 and has never turned back since.

Mike lives in Las Vegas, NV and is currently working on a 3 to 4-book series featuring a young gay photographer who is on a journey to find love and his way in the world. The first of the series, TCS: The Studio, was released in September of 2018. Find out more or join the community by clicking here.

Social Media Links:

Find Mike on Facebook here.

Find TCS Studios on Instagram here.

Find Jason’s Twitter Page here.

Find Ryker’s Twitter Page here.

Find Noel’s Twitter Page here.

Find Tyler’s Twitter Page here.

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.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

This leads me to the next few lessons we learned:

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

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

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

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

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

Can it please just be over? Please!

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

Interview with Reviewer Ryane Chatman

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely not.

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

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

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

That’s why I’m here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do enjoy it despite how challenging it can be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, is Batman one you would recommend?

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

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

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

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

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

Any final thoughts for the folks reading this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Ryane Chatman

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

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

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

For her website click here.

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

Interview with Author Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope to get there soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much Andrew for stopping by today.

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

I certainly can’t wait to read them.


About Emanuel (Andrew) Andrei Cosutchi: 

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

Contact Andrew by clicking here.

Find his websites by clicking here and here.

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

Bullying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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