T. Neilson on Favorite Stories, Research and Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) (author guest post)

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Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) by T. Neilson
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires
Cover art:  Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner

Amazon

Kobo

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T. Neilson here today answering a few questions and talking about Sweet Nothings, the first in a new series.  Welcome!

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with T. Neilson

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

You could say I did some research for these books! I spent over twenty years in the food industry. I started out as a waitress — that was my first job, at age 14. When I finally left the food industry, I was 28. By then I was a professional coffee taster (AKA a cupper, which is a thing you have to be careful about calling yourself when you also write romance) and I was sick of the industry.

I kind of grew up in cafes and kitchens, and a huge part of my social life and social circle was food-world-adjacent, too. All my friends were in coffee, or beer, or kitchens. I was sick to death of the work and ready for a change, so I ventured out to become a full-time writer. And slowly, bit by bit, I started to miss the food scene. I guess it was sort of like kicking the dust of your hometown off your feet, and then starting to feel homesick.

These days, I get my food industry fix by work emergency cover shifts as at a friend’s cafe. I love having the chance to jump back into the food scene, but it’s incredibly physical work, and I don’t think I could make it full time in a kitchen any more. I still love the food industry. It is a different world, really unique, and the camaraderie is incredible.

When I set out to write the Amuse Bouche books (of which Sweet Nothings is the first), I wanted to recreate that world for myself, and for readers too. And it’s not by accident that Sweet Nothings takes place in a teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and parts of it are an awful lot like the town I grew up in. There are a lot of parallels between the food industry and small town living.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult? Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I loved reading fantasy and science fiction as a kid, with a little mystery on the side sometimes. Ursula le Guin, Tolkien, and Melanie Rawn were my favourites for SSF, and Ian Rankin, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L Sayers for mystery. I grew up in a small town with a family that was coming apart at the seams, and I loved the way people went away and had adventures, created all-new families, and solved mysteries. I only really started reading romance as an adult, after I had done a little travelling, and moved to the big city, and settled with my partner, and had some adventures of my own. Then I think romance filled a different need for me, a sense of home being a feeling rather than necessarily a place.

When I found romance, holy cats I fell right into the genre. I have a TBR list that is embarrassingly huge, but I love to read (especially audiobooks) and to discover new authors. My current desert-island romance authors are Victoria Dahl, Damon Suede, and BA Tortuga, but there are so many great authors out there who I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet. Part of why I read audiobooks is because I can read while I’m cooking or in the car. I really wish you could order reading time from a store.

About Sweet Nothings:

Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

About the Author:

T Neilson writes flirty, silly, contemporary m/m romance featuring recovering addicts, mental health problems, and abuse survivors. Honestly, honestly, the books are silly. I swear.

SJD Peterson on Self-Sufficiency and her new release Going Off Grid (author guest blog)

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Going Off Grid (States of Love) by S.J.D. Peterson

Dreamspinner Press
C0ver Art:  Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

 

Going Off Grid

According to several news articles, smartphones are rendering teenagers lonely and distressed. As a parent, I find myself questioning if I had done the right thing giving my kids cell phones in their early teens.

When I was young, the worst thing that could happen would be getting grounded to the house. We played outside until the street lights came on, used our imaginations, played kickball, tag, built forts and rarely did we sit in front of a TV. Now, admittedly we only had about six channels and the laptop hadn’t yet been available but still….

I can also easily admit that the cell phone has given our children access to a whole new big world we didn’t have available, but that too comes with a price. I’m curious how you would do if your cell phone was taken away. For those of you who are parents, how would your children react to be taken off line?

In my upcoming novel Elliott and Clay turn their backs on technology and move off grid. They are willing to give up many of lives convinces for what they deem is most important—time with each other. 

Could you do it? Could your kids?

Imagine, taking a vacation from technology. Where would you go? The mountains? The beach? Without cable and the internet what would you do to occupy your time? How long could you do it? A week? A month? Forever?

Inquiring minds want to know

~Hugs~

Jo

Clay and Elliott are working toward a dream—working sixty-hour weeks for one of the oil companies that recently sprung up in North Dakota. The pay is good, but is it a fair trade for never seeing each other? The point becomes moot when the company folds, like so many others, and the couple is left with a difficult choice.

 

Should they find comparable work somewhere else, or is it time to throw caution to the wind and go after their goal—years earlier than they intended?

 

What they’ve always wanted is to be together and have time to enjoy it, so they follow their hearts. They’re going off the grid and fixing up an old cabin so they can be self-sufficient. But when they go from all the conveniences of the modern world to outhouses, solar power, a shoestring budget, and more mosquitos than they ever thought possible, will they find there’s such a thing as too much time together?

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

Visit Jo on

Twitter: @SJDPeterson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJD.Peterson

Blog: www.sjdpeterson.com

Email: sjdpeterson@gmail.com

S.E. Harmon on Writing, Characters, and her latest novel “The Blueprint” (author interview)

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The Blueprint (The Game #1) by S.E. Harmon
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links

Dreamspinner PressAmazon   |   Kobo  | B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have SE Harmon here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest novel, The Blueprint.  Welcome, SE!

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with SE Harmon ~

 

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I was banned from reading romances as a kid…my mother called them “love books” and told me I was too young to read such things. That only led to me coming up with more and more creative ways to sneak and read them. At one point, I was actually reading in the shower (with my back turned to the spray). I think this career choice was pretty much inevitable.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I was a hold-out on ebooks. I love a good paperback book in my hands–the look of them, the feel of them, even smell them…sublime. One of my favorite days of the publishing process is when my author copies arrive in the mail and I can hold the book in my hands. Rub it on my face a little. Dance with…okay, nevermind, this is getting a little weird.

At one point, I ran out of space for my paperbacks and actually rented a storage unit for them. An actual storage unit. I defended myself to friends and family and claimed it was for other things, but we all knew the truth. I lost the majority of my book collection when spiders took over my storage unit…but that’s another story, one that involves me running away from the unit with bug spray—a can of Raid that might as well have been air freshener for all the good it did.

Now that I’ve thoroughly established my long-standing love affair with books, I must admit I truly appreciate the convenience of ebooks. My ereader is with me at all times and ebooks are definitely here to stay.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Little bits here and there, but mainly a sense of humor–I wouldn’t be able to relate to the character otherwise. I don’t know how to relate to pod people who can answer questions without a nice, piping hot side of sarcasm.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA, always. Real life is full of HFNs. I want the fairy tale in my fiction. If you’ve read The Blueprint, you may notice that it is a bit of a HFN, but don’t fear. Kelly and Blue get their HEA in the sequel, Darker Blue.

Blurb

Kelly Cannon is generally satisfied with his life—he has a great job that he loves, friends, and a wonderful family. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.

NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. The fans. His agent. His mother, who popped back up on the radar after leaving his family years ago. Now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.

When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.

It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Release Date: March 13 2018

Edition/Formats Available: ebook & Print

Excerpt

My phone rang for the third time, and I swore and dug in my pocket. “Yeah?”

“Wow.” Blue’s deep voice sounded vaguely impressed. “You only made me call three times.”

“I figured answering was the polite thing to do.”

“And since when do you do the polite thing?” His chuckle was warm and soft. “I figured I’d call and congratulate you. It didn’t seem like the type of thing to leave on voicemail.”

Congratulate me. It bothered me that he wasn’t bothered that I was possibly getting engaged to someone else. I felt a little… deflated.

I cleared my throat. It was hard to hear him clearly over the din in the background—a hip-hop beat, loud voices, and the occasional raucous laughter. “Where are you, anyway? I thought you had a game.”

“I did. One of the players wanted to show off his new boat, and it turned into a thing. I thought I’d swing by after—”

“There is no after. We’re pretty much wrapping things up over here.” The fact that his party sounded a thousand times more fun than mine didn’t improve my mood. “Sounds like you guys are having a good time. You must’ve won.”

“Of course. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a season than winning our last preseason game.” At my lack of response, he went on. “So where’s Robert?”

Probably at a witch doctor’s house asking him to construct a skinny, black-haired, gray-eyed voodoo doll named Kelly.

“Gone,” I said shortly. “I told him no. Well, to be perfectly accurate, I said yes, and then I said no.”

“Fuck, Kel.” Even over the noise in the background, I could hear the exasperation. “I thought you liked Robert.”

“I did. Just not enough to marry him.”

“Wow.” He seemed nonplussed for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to that.”

“It is what it is.”

Somewhere in the background, a feminine voice murmured something. She sounded close. Like almost in his ear. Something… flirty? Blue murmured something back, and then she giggled. Giggled. I tightened my hand on the phone. I couldn’t lie—I wanted to hurt him right then, even though I had absolutely no right to be angry, no right to expect his exclusive attention.

This.

This was why I’d been pulling away from Blue. Because he had no idea how hard it was to be just friends. But the more I pulled away, the harder Blue pushed for things to remain just the way they were.

“I have to go,” I said shortly.

“Maybe I could drop by sometime this week. I know things have been kind of crazy lately, but we could hang out. Catch a movie? I know I could stand to watch something other than game film.” The smile in his voice invited me to laugh along, but I wasn’t in the mood.

“I’m going to be pretty busy this week.”

I heard the question in his voice. “The entire week?”

“Yes. I have a job, you know.” Defensiveness made my voice sharp, and I couldn’t seem to stop myself. “I can’t just drop everything every time you decide to stop by.”

“I’m not asking you to. If you’re busy, you’re busy.” He paused. “Are you sure you’re okay? You sound weird.”

“I’m fine. Call me later, okay?”

“Sure. As long as you’re really all right.”

Why wouldn’t I be? Did I sound pissed? Annoyed? Irritated that I couldn’t have his undivided attention for two minutes? I was feeling pretty raw. Alone. Jealous that he was somewhere with some woman having a perfectly good time. I was ready to curse out whoever said love should be multiplied, not divided. I wanted Blue’s love all to myself, and that was… well, ridiculous. I had to hang up before I said some shit I probably shouldn’t say.

“Of course I’ll help you with that,” I said loudly, pretending to talk to someone else. “Blue, I’ve got to go.” I jabbed the end button and sent the phone to sleep. He called right back, and I put the ringer on silent.

I honestly didn’t know what else there was to say.

 

About the Author

S.E. Harmon has had a lifelong love affair with writing. It’s been both wonderful and rocky (they’ve divorced several times), but they always manage to come back together. She’s a native Floridian with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Fine Arts, and now splits her days between voraciously reading romance novels and squirreling away someplace to write them. Her current beta reader is a nosy American Eskimo who begrudgingly accepts payment in the form of dog biscuits.

Website: http://seharmon.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seharmonbooks/

Sarah Black on Screwing Up, Moving On and her new release ‘American Road Trip’ (guest blog)

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American Road Trip by Sarah Black
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Black talking about her latest release, which we highly recommend, American Road Trip.  Welcome, Sarah.

♦︎

After You Fall on Your Face

Sarah Black

When you fall on your face, drive off a cliff, stand clueless holding a bomb while it ticks down, like Wile E Coyote while Roadrunner speeds safely away- how do you recover from the massive and irretrievable disasters that strike your life?

Hey, this part is easy. We stagger back to our bloody hands and knees and start down the road to recovery, step by brutally painful step. You know what the worst part of the whole deal is? Deciding it was all your fault. And being right. Because when the screw-up is your fault, there is no place to put your pissed-off except squarely between your own two eyes. 

It’s so much easier, isn’t it, when someone else screws up? Then we can sit on top of our high horses and explain to them exactly where they went wrong, and what they should have done. But when we are the culprits in our own lives, all we can do is slink off in shame, muttering, ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ over and over again. Not really helpful, but it is a classic.

Some people, and I have to include myself in this group, have become experts in studying personal screw-ups. I remember when I was a kid, thinking that adulthood was when people knew what to do in most situations and stopped messing up all the time. Apparently for some of us, adulthood never comes!

But that isn’t really the point. We know we screw up. Everyone does. The real question for me is how do we deal with it, how do we move on, how do we learn to forgive ourselves? That’s what I was interested in, and why I wanted to write this story. I don’t know if other writers have this experience, but I don’t always know or understand how my characters are going to react. If I ignore things like what the market says, or what the genre says I need, then characters start doing things that I only half-understand, but that strike me as genuine and real. Maybe later it will come to me that this motivation or that issue was behind a character’s actions.

My point of view character, James Lee Hooker, started growing his hair long after the Army, and he used his grandmother’s hairbrush and braided his hair over his shoulder, like she had done. It was a small gesture, but it was something he would do—to feel closer to her, like an unconscious memorial. He did all sorts of small things like this when I was getting to know him. But the bigger issue for me and for him, as a character, was how he was going to punish himself for screwing up. Because he did screw up, a number of times.

I kept trying to make him more heroic, stronger. I didn’t want him to appear in a bad light. I was trying to save him from the consequences of his screw-up. He just sat and stared at me, wouldn’t open his mouth. Wouldn’t move. I finally gave it up and gave him his head. When I decided I wasn’t going to try and write him as a good guy, a hero, strong and brave, then he suddenly became more real to me, and more interesting. And his actions became believable.

I think mostly when we screw up, we try to punish ourselves. And we can usually devise tortures that are particularly brutal and painful, because they are so on-target. We embrace our self-punishments, because we deserve them and they define us. The really tough thing, I’m starting to think, is learning when to say that it’s time to move on. That we’ve punished ourselves enough, and it’s time to move on and enter the world again. Go out into the world again, where our next screw up is waiting. Or maybe not! 

Here’s a scene from American Road Trip:

“I’m sorry I didn’t come and find you. Austin too. I’d done something I couldn’t take back. Just that one moment, you know? I couldn’t live it over again. And once it was done, it was done. And I could never fix it. He was hurt. The damage was done. I felt like I had to atone. Put myself in limbo or something.”

Easy stared over at me. “Limbo? Is that some Catholic thing? What the hell does that even mean? James Lee, you didn’t lay the IED in the road. You didn’t tell your spotter to get out of the vehicle, start jumping up and down on the spot where he’d seen a wire buried.”

“That’s what got him hurt. Once you’ve got an injury to the brain, it’s probably for a lifetime. That’s what TBI is, right?”

“Yeah, he’s got a TBI, but that wasn’t what got him hurt. What got him hurt was he had feelings for you, had a big thumping heart of an adolescent crush on you. And you knew it and didn’t do anything to stop it. He was acting like an idiot to impress you. That’s what got him hurt.”

I stared out the window again.

“You did the wrong thing with me, pushing me away. I was a man, and we were lovers. We were in love. We could have made it work, and fuck the Army. It was real. Austin was just a kid. He depended on you, looked up to you. You were his captain, and you got a kick out of all those young boys crushing on you. Big black eyes, ripped muscles, silky black hair. You looked like some vid star, and they would have followed you into hell. Not because you were their leader. Because you were you.”

I closed my eyes. I wanted to be anywhere but inside this truck, with this man shoving his angry truth in my face. Did I really do that? Did I take advantage of those kids, play them when I should have been thinking how to keep them safe?

“I loved you then, Jamie, and I still do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see you. I see who you are. And if you even think about trying to walk away again in the fucking middle of this, I’m going to break you into pieces. I won’t let you do it to me again.”

That’s exactly what I was thinking, about walking away. I was picturing walking down this road, my thumb out, anonymous, no history, drifting across America with the truckers, listening to them talk, and meditating. Not doing anyone any good and not doing anyone any harm. Was that the balance I was looking for, between harm and good? Was it a worthy goal for a life, to try to stop hurting other people? Or did I have a tendency to leave when things got too hard and too real?

“I have about said all I’m going to say on this. Oh, one more thing. We had peanut butter and jelly for supper and donuts for breakfast. I’m hungry. I’m stopping at the first diner I see that has burgers on the grill. And you can stop crying anytime.”

“I’m not crying,” I said, wiping my eyes with the heel of my hand. “I’m allergic to the dog.”

 

American Road Trip, by Sarah Black, out March 16 from Dreamspinner Press

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

Author Bio: Sarah Black is a writer, artist, veteran, and mother. She is a Lambda finalist.

American Road Trip has an epilogue! “Tino Takes the Cake” is offered free on Dreamspinner’s blog on March 16, and tells the story of the main characters’wedding! 

You can find it here:

BA Tortuga on Favorite Childhood Books and her new release Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) (guest blog)

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Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires

Cover art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga  here again talking about reading, and her latest release and new series, Cowboy in the Crosshairs.

♦︎

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and happy reader.

*grins*

I was (am) a voracious reader and I would go through phases: everything the library had about ‘x’.

All the Nancy Drew books.

All the books on ceramic dolls.

All the books on World War II.

All the horror novels. All the romance novels.

Right now I’m obsessed with fairy tales and patterns in literary theory. Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow.

When I think about about my favorites as a little girl, they were What Katy Did and Little Women, The Five Little Peppers and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (which is out in audiobook, OMG). Strong women fixing their own problems and living their own lives.

My teenaged years were all about horror novels. ALL. I can rhapsodize about IT and The Dark Half and Beloved and Swan Song. Uhn. I still read horror like it’s going out of style, but the 70-80s were the best, huh? MAGIC.

I think the storytelling parts of all these books, along with main characters with backbones of steel are totally obvious in my writing now.

(And if you want to be scared? I wrote Unearthed. I welcome you to read it.)

Much love, y’all.

BA

***

Cowboy in the Crosshairs Blurb

A Turquoise, New Mexico Story

Once upon a time, a prince lived in a magical kingdom called Turquoise, New Mexico.

Well, really, TJ is a small-town police chief. Every Friday he holds court in the diner with the local holy roller, the art colonists, and the horsey people. But the Benes, who own the rodeo company, keep to themselves. TJ knows, because he was once hot and heavy with the oldest Bene son.

When Wacey Bene gets trampled by a remuda and comes home to heal, he’s none too happy to run into TJ, or his two little boys and their momma. The story might end there—if it wasn’t for some pesky bastard trying to kill Wacey.

The law steps in, and the townsfolk are cross about somebody messing with one of their own.

But once the bad guy is put away, can TJ and Wacey make their place in this wild and eccentric town a permanent one?

Available from Dreamspinner Press on March 6: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboy-in-the-crosshairs-by-ba-tortuga-9336-b

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

H. M. Shepherd On Writing, Romance, and her new release Just for Nice (guest interview/tour)

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Just for Nice (States of Love) by H.M. Shepherd
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host H.M. Shepherd here today on tour with her new book. Just for Nice.  Welcome!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with H.M. Shepherd ~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Too much, probably, and since Just For Nice was particularly personal I probably poured more of myself into the characters than I typically would. I’m a longtime Pennsylvania resident and my background contains Italian and Pennsylvania Dutch, so I drew on that quite a bit. I think Nick took on more than Sam; thinking on it now, I gave him names from my family tree, made his grandmother from the same town as my great-grandfather, and gave him a job in my field. But while he and I share similarities, he is certainly not a carbon-copy of me.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I don’t think so. I remember when I was reading (and writing, to my eternal embarrassment) fanfiction I became a little irritated when commenters started blurring the line between a Mary Sue fic and a self-insert fic because they aren’t necessarily the same thing. I say this because I think giving characters elements of your own personality or your own experience is a great way to for an author connect them with their settings on an emotional level without beating your readers about the head with it.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I always end up doing at least a little bit of research even if I’m writing about a topic I know inside and out. There is always, always more to know, and even if it never makes it into the story I think it helps ground things better if the author can be authoritative about their subject. This includes fantasy settings–I’m currently working on a story that spun out of control from a retelling of the fairy tale Godfather Death. It’s set firmly in another world, and I’m still researching nomadic steppe cultures and how the government of the Holy Roman Empire was structured.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh absolutely, and I think anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. I write the stories that I would like to read, and what I like to read hasn’t changed way too much from when I was younger. It’s just gotten more mature.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I have several works in progress that have been sitting around for wildly varying amounts of time because I just don’t have the means to finish them. It may be because of writer’s block, or a lack of time, or because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. And while I hate to admit it, sometimes it’s just because of boredom. I’m a very lazy writer.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

There’s a chapter in one of the earlier issues of Sandman where the narrator talks about a diner waitress and her writing. I don’t remember her being a particularly nice character, but I remember one line from her that still resonates with me: You have to know where to end a story, otherwise everything ends with death. I don’t believe in HEA; things get inevitably difficult, and tragic, and messy. Both main characters in Just For Nice have flaws that could put serious strain on a relationship and take away the HEA … but where I’ve ended things, they are definitely happy for now and have the potential to remain so if they continue to work for it. I think I prefer those endings.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Funny enough, I rarely read romance, at least not those that are published by mainstream companies. I don’t find that there’s a ton of variety to them, and it’s boring to read the same story over and over and over. Now works by smaller publishers, or even work just posted online? I have and still do read it voraciously.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I hate to answer this, because I don’t want to claim that I’m anywhere near the caliber of writer that these people are. But there are definitely a few authors that I look up to. Growing up (and who am I kidding, to this day) those writers were J.K. Rowling and Garth Nix. Right now it’s probably George R. R. Martin. I’m still amazed that someone can write a series with dragons and warlocks and still make feel it so realistic.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I moved about a year ago and had to pack up my pretty substantial personal library and I have to tell you, while I still love actual books I absolutely despise moving them. I have so many books on my Kindle and on Google Play, not to mention everything I downloaded off of Gutenberg and just thinking of having to physically box up and move all of it makes my back ache.

As for where ebooks are going, I actually did a part of my undergrad thesis on this. I wrote a lot about how it would making reading a social activity and connect us on a broader scale. Mind you, this was back when I was young and too stupidly optimistic to see where social media was taking us. I still think that the ability to connect is a good thing, but I’m a little more cautious about what that could lead to. I mean, sure it’s great when you can click a link right from the book to its Goodreads page to see what other people are saying about it and recommended similar works, but what if that book was The Turner Diaries?

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible in reality, too. There are some people who for reasons that may or may not be in their own control are not able to function as one half of a couple. I think it’s terrible when people romanticize the idea of one person acting as his or her significant other’s sole means of emotional/financial/psychological/social support and compensate for all of their shortcomings, while receiving none of that support in return. A relationship should be a partnership and I don’t care how unromantic and boring that sounds.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Write drunk, edit sober, right? I’ve never actually written drunk, but there is a possibility that I may have hypothetically outlined a story under the influence of a substance that is not strictly legal but may be in your state (or country; looking at you, Canada). And–still hypothetically speaking, of course–I may have found that it kept my own worst critic silent for a little bit, and made my mind wander in directions it may not have if I still had those pesky boundaries and inhibitions.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I actually wrote most of Just For Nice in a diner. Once a week it was my job to pick up my sister after she was done her shift as hostess, so I’d go early so I could get dinner. It was perfect. Nice and quiet, with minimal distractions and the knowledge that sooner or later someone would be by with my coffee and eggs Benedict. She’s no longer working there, though, so I’ll have to find somewhere new.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because I daydream a lot, and sometimes it does get depressing to keep dreaming about myself and the way things could turn out for me. I write because it’s nice to invent people and their stories and have a modicum of control over the way those stories turn out. I write because I read, and sometimes I think that while the choices the author made are all right, I would have preferred to see things turn a certain way and wanted to see how that would play out. I write because there are no stories that explore the worlds I want to know, or the worlds that I do know and want to share. I write because I like to play with words and see what I can make them do. I write because I can, and because sometimes I have to before I explode.

Blurb

Nick Caratelli flees the city in an attempt to escape a broken relationship and a career he never wanted. He plans to set up a bed-and-breakfast in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country—despite the fact he has no experience in renovating the old building. Luckily his handsome neighbor Sam approaches him with a curious proposal: he’ll help with the restoration in exchange for Nick babysitting his niece.

As they work to have the bed-and-breakfast open for business by summer’s end, their lives become interwoven without them even trying. Before he knows it, Nick is recovering from his loss and taking his place in the unconventional family that seems determined to form. But for Nick and Sam to be together in all the ways they desire, they’ll have to realize all the arguments against romance exist only in their heads….

About the Author

H. M. Shepherd is a twentysomething paralegal living in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with both parents, two dogs, a baby sister who should stop growing up, and a brother who similarly failed to launch. Contrary to the Millennial stereotype, however, she does not live in the basement—a blessing considering the size of the spiders down there. She crochets as a hobby, cooks when she can, and reads as though it were her vocation. She is also an amateur genealogist and spends entirely too much time squinting at old census records and church documents. A little spacey, she once managed to forget that her car needed an oil change until it stopped running, and regularly has milk-in-the-cupboard-cereal-in-the-fridge moments. While she is an avid writer, Just for Nice is her first and so far only professional publication.

Social Media Links:

Tumblr: http://hmshepherd-blog.tumblr.com

Deanna Wadsworth on Characters, Research, and her new story ‘La Famiglia (A Men of Gilead Novel)’ (author interview)

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La Famiglia (Men of Gilead #2) by Deanna Wadsworth
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art: Anne Cain

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Kobo Google Play  

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Deanna Wadsworth 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A whole lot, for sure LOL. There is a bit of me in every hero I write as well as the side characters. But many are just conjured characters I base off my well rounded knowledge of people. Being a nail technician/hairdresser, my day job is a lot like being a therapist some days. I’ve had over 23 years of intimate glimpses into the personal lives of soooo many different types of people. Clients tell me their problems, wildest stories, things they’ve never told anyone! Sprinkling in my own personal experiences and a healthy dose of imagination, I can create unique yet very believable characters, faults and all.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Everyone and everything in my life is fair game, as far as I see it. Have I ever used a real person 100% in a book? Sure, at the start of a book maybe, or a character is based off someone I know. But my characters end up taking on a life of their own. Only once did I write a revenge character LOL—a real jerk I know—inspiring me to make the quote “Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in a book and make everyone hate you like Voldemort, LOL.”

In La Famiglia, I used the personal experiences of a dear friend who was born deaf and has a CI (cochlear implant). Some of Kyle’s story and experiences I borrowed from her, but it was also a lot of research. Knowing her made it easier for me to make Kyle feel real.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Oh yes, always. I enjoy all genres and have books in every one but sci-fi (for now lol) and writing even a contemporary in the fictional town of Gilead—which is based on my hometown—I still need to do research. I haven’t dabbled in historical much lately because I don’t have the time for all the research on the eras I want to write in.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

For Sure! I read historical romance, horror, westerns, and fantasy and sci fi. When I started to write, I began with a high fantasy concept, but kept making it romantic so I thought I would never be published. Then a friend introduced me to paranormal romance and it was like a whole new world of possibilities had opened for me. I discovered that romance had so many sub genres and I knew it was what I wanted to write.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes, which is why the third book in my Grim Life series I write for Harmony Ink Press as under the penname KD Worth still isn’t finished. It’s a story of grim reapers working for God. There is such a heavy death and after life theme it can depress me a bit when I have to tackle certain scenes

 

Blurb

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

Excerpt

“So, Forrester.” Kyle said his name in a way that never ceased to send shockwaves down his back and straight to his cock. “How does one go about trading in books around here?”

Forrester pressed his groin closer to the back of the checkout counter, not wanting his thin khakis to reveal what Kyle’s voice did to him. He knew it wasn’t an accent anymore, but the soft way Kyle spoke lured him in like a siren’s song.

Since no one else waited to check out, Forrester took a moment to soak in those gorgeous hazel eyes, then smiled impishly. “First you have to bring them in.”

“That would be helpful.” Kyle’s generous mouth cracked a grin.

He tried his damnedest not to picture those downright kissable lips wrapped around his cock while he ran his fingers through Kyle’s sun-streaked hair.

He’d always had a thing for blonds.

He plucked up one of the flyers from the counter. Somehow he managed to sound professional, educated even, when he handed it over. “Our policy is we only take gently used books.”

“Mine are in great shape.”

“I bet they are,” Forrester drawled.

“They’re like new,” he insisted. “No folded corners, never dropped one in a tub either.”

“Good to hear. I hate it when people ruin a good book.” Dammit, now I’m picturing Kyle in a bathtub!

“Me too.” Kyle folded the flyer and tucked it into his pocket.

“For every book you trade in, we give 15 percent off the purchase of a new book or 25 percent off a used one. And for every three books, you get a free used book or half off a new one.”

Kyle flashed those pearly whites, making his eyes crinkle and his dimples deepen so much Forrester longed to flick his tongue inside them. “Guess I got some free books coming.”

“I guess you do,” he quipped. “Do you want to buy these today or wait till you do the trade?”

Kyle withdrew his card. “Nah, I’ll buy them now. I’ve been dying to see what happens since you got me hooked on this series. And Scott already signed this one.”

Forrester offered him a sideways smile. “I’ll just give you 15 percent off on good faith.”

“Gosh, you don’t have to do that.”

Good Lord, the guy said gosh. Could he be more adorable?

When Forrester noticed Holly watching them, he resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Instead, he shrugged off Kyle’s modesty and entered the discount into his computer. “No problem. Just make sure you bring me some good stuff, capisci?”

“Will do. Thanks a lot.”

Forrester swiped his card, then offered Kyle another inviting smile. The one Ma called his suck-up smile. “Can I get you anything else? Answer any more of your questions?”

Kyle kept smiling. “No. You’ve been pretty thorough, as usual.”

“You sure?” he prompted, unable to stop flirting so shamelessly. “You don’t need to know anything else? What’s on the bestseller list? Today’s weather? The meaning of life?”

“Forty-two.”

Official report: Forrester was in love with Kyle Benson.

Or at least in serious lust.

His grin widened so big he swore his face might crack. “A Hitchhiker fan. I should’ve known.” He tore off the receipt and slid it forward for Kyle to sign.

“Hells yeah.” Kyle laughed.

Forrester bagged the books. “Receipt with you or in the bag?”

“Bag’s fine.” He accepted his purchases, then cleared his throat and fiddled with the bag. “All right, um, thank you, Forrester. Always a pleasure.” He extended a hand and Forrester took it, electric jolts running through his blood at the feel of those lightly calloused fingers.

“No problem,” he managed, not letting go.

Kyle kept his gaze locked on Forrester, blinking and glancing from his eyes to his mouth. Warming, Forrester ran his thumb across the back of his hand. He couldn’t believe his forwardness, but Kyle had some kind of tractor beam sucking him in. Powerless against its pull, he stroked the soft skin once more with a nervous, light touch, pulses of heat and desire stirring inside him.

Forrester let go and cleared his throat. “Um, Kyle?”

“Yeah?”

The phone rang, shattering the moment.

Sighing, he snagged it on the third ring. “Thank you for calling A Novel Idea. This is Forrester, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

Only real friends or family could answer a phone with an “it’s me.” Lucas Beale was the former. Though totally weird, and he hated sports of all kinds, Lucas was Forrester’s “boy best friend”—Holly having the honor of being his “girl best friend.” He didn’t know what he would do without either of them.

“Hey, Lucas, what’s up?” He tried not to sound annoyed at the telephone cockblock.

Kyle waved goodbye. “I guess I’ll see ya later, Forrester.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Can’t wait for what?” Lucas asked in confusion.

He covered the receiver, hoping he didn’t sound lame to Kyle. “I mean… uh, I can’t wait to read that book together?” His entire body froze in one breath of anticipation.

Kyle cocked his head to the side, then smiled. “Absolutely.”

Still grinning, Kyle turned and walked away.

Ignoring Lucas as he started talking again, Forrester watched Kyle’s spectacular ass as he headed to the door. A woman was coming in and, like a perfect gentleman, Kyle held the door for her. Outside, Kyle slid on and strapped his helmet. Then he threw his leg over and straddled the chrome-and-black Sportster parked out front.

I got something he can straddle and ride…. Forrester’s skin flushed all the way to his toes. Was Kyle a top or a bottom? Being versatile, he really didn’t care. As long as there was manly skin touching his, lots of kissing, and he got to come, Forrester was a happy camper. But the prospect of finding out what Kyle liked made his entire body warm.

He watched Kyle put his bike into gear and walk it back out of the space. As it did every time Kyle left, a deep ache settled in his stomach.

God, I just need to marry him.

About the Author

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth Facebook Twitter

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon

Andrew Grey on Cemeteries for Sale, Inspiration, and his new story Buried Passions (author guest blog)

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Buried Passions by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

For Sale: Cemetary by Andrew Grey

This story came about because of the lead story in the local newspaper here in Carlisle from this summer.  I was visiting my dad in the hospital after he’d become ill, sitting with him waiting for his discharge.  It read that one of the cemeteries in town was for sale.  He and I both got a laugh out of it, especially the for sale by owner signs.  It was true.  A cemetery owned by one of the funeral homes that was started in the 1840’s was for sale.  That got me wondering and my fevered little brain churning.  What of it didn’t sell, then someone would inherit a cemetery.   The result is Buried Passions.  Now in case you think I’m pulling your leg, I’ve got proof.  The pictures are of the local cemetery with the for sale signs.
The place is stunning with huge pillared stones and even a section with civil war dead.  It’s fun to walk though just to look at the various carved pieces that are amazing memorial art.  So anyone in the market?  After all, you could own dead people .  🙂

Blurb/Synopsis:

When Broadway actor Jonah receives word that his uncle has passed away and named him the heir to a property in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonah’s plan is to settle the estate as quickly as possible and return to his life in New York City. Much to Jonah’s surprise, the inheritance includes the Ashford Cemetery—and its hunky groundskeeper, recent Bosnian immigrant Luka Pavelka.

Jonah soon discovers Luka is more than easy on the eyes. He sees into Jonah’s heart like no man ever before, and his job at the cemetery is all he has. If Jonah sells, Luka is left with nothing. Luka is there for Jonah when Jonah needs someone most, and there’s no denying the chemistry and connection between them. But Jonah has a successful career back in New York. Now he must decide if it’s still the life he wants….

Excerpt 

I found it hard to breathe, like all the oxygen had been pulled out of the air. “You’re telling me that my uncle left me a cemetery? This cemetery?” What the fuck was I supposed to do with a goddamn cemetery?

“Yes. Parts of it date back to when the town was founded, in 1750, and it was apparently increased in the mid-1800s to the twelve or so acres it is today. Back then, this was beyond the edge of town by a good half mile, so it was a perfect place for a cemetery. When your uncle had the mortuary business, he sold plots here. There are still some that can be sold, as well as a trust fund for the care of the cemetery. Perpetual care and all that. But yes, this is part of the estate.”

He sounded so damned reasonable, like I’d just inherited an office building or apartment complex. Not a cemetery.

“Let me get this straight.” I was afraid to take a step in case the damn ground opened up and swallowed me whole. “You’re telling me that this is part of my inheritance…?” I didn’t know what else to say. I was shocked and scared all at once. What the hell would I do with a cemetery? “Oh my God.” I placed my hands on the sides of my head. “I own dead people.”

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

K.A. Mitchell Talks Writing, Influences, and her release Bad Company (Bad in Baltimore #1)

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Bad Company (Bad in Baltimore #1) by K.A. Mitchell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K.A. Mitchell here today on tour with her release of Bad Company. Welcome!

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with K.A. Mitchell~

 

First of all, thank you so much for having me on your blog and for giving me such interesting questions to answer. It’s always much easier to answer questions than to try to think up something people might want to hear. My characters are always more interesting than I am.

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s a weird relationship. I know they all are created in my head, but they seem to take on a life of their own once I pull them out. They’re like my imaginary friends, and like real friends, they don’t always do what I want or what I expect. Some characters and I share some personality bits, and some are completely unlike me. However, that doesn’t necessarily predict how fond I stay of them after the book. Sometimes my favorite characters and I have nothing in common.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

My life is pretty boring and routine, so there’s not much in it would be interesting for a book. I do like taking random stories or situations that I come across and finding ways to make them work for my characters, just like I love taking traditional tropes and using them to lay the groundwork for my characters. There’s a lot of What if?ing that goes on.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and culture?

Most of my books, like the Bad in Baltimore series, are contemporary. I can find myself buried under research, like figuring out what real street a character would live on. It’s easier when I make up a fictional town or college setting, like I have for a few of my books. I have heard from readers who live places where I’ve set my books that the settings feel real to them, so that’s a big relief. The number one thing about that kind of research is making sure that it stays in the background so that the reader can be immersed in the story. I don’t want to include so many tiny details that the reader is pulled out of the story wondering if there’s a reason I’m describing exactly what a kind of flower or piece of furniture looks like. I also want those details to work from the characters point of view; I want both the reader and the character to have feelings about the details. Most of us don’t stop and think about the minutiae of the world, only the pieces that we’re interacting with.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Ha! One of my earliest memories about an intense interaction with books is having a teacher ask me why my fourth grade book diorama presentation was only about the relationship between the characters I shipped instead of the mystery and action. The characters and relationships always mattered more to me than anything else about a story.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes, I have. Sometimes I know the only way is through it, like with the fourth Baltimore book, Silver’s story. It was a hard book to write, but it was a story I had to tell. When I was writing Take a Chance on It, the third book in my Ready or Knot series with Dreamspinner, made me cry from about the tenth page in. I’m so thrilled with how that story came out, but there was much crying. In fact, I asked my brain for a happy place to visit while I was writing Take a Chance on It. The result was so much fun that I ended up needing another pseudonym for the very kinky erotic story my brain gave me.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I happily consume either and to me, all of my KA characters are HEA. I think an HFN makes a lot of sense when you’re writing younger characters, or those in a first relationship, but I also think that some people meet their forever person early on and never fall out of love. I also really love reading and writing about adults who love each other, but have to work at their relationship, especially after life throws curve balls—or 103-mph fastballs—at their heads.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was 14 (a very long time ago, which may require a geological clock to calculate). Suffice it to say that my first was Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and the book was new. I read science fiction, horror, and comedy, but always my favorite is romance.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

This is a challenging question because I feel that by claiming them, I’m suggesting I’m like them, and I still feel that their skills far exceed mine. But as far as voice goes, I feel like I absorbed a lot of Ray Bradbury and his sentence style comes to mind sometimes when I read my favorite bits. As for now, I admire both the craft and professionalism of many writers. One writer who I think is amazing is K.J. Charles. She creates a conflict that is not only about the characters, but is deeply connected to who they are as people, then wounds them with it in such a way that I am always wonderfully convinced there will be no fixing this, and then the fix she crafts is perfectly believable and comes from the groundwork she lays in the story. I wish I could do that as well as she does.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I see the three formats, print, digital and audiobooks staying about where they are. Ebooks are so wonderfully convenient that I do almost all my reading on them, but sometimes it’s nice to have a print book. And I still like using print for reference work/research. I love audiobooks, but I only listen to books I’ve already read, which I guess is kind of weird. One thing that does surprise me is that teens/young adults still seem to prefer print over digital. I’d expect that readership to embrace the digital more.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Wow. Covers are so important. To me the most important thing about my covers is what they tell a reader who is skimming thumbnails. I want the cover to communicate the genre and theme accurately (not suggest paranormal or action when there is none), to look professionally made so the reader is confident that the content is also of quality, and hopefully have an eye catching font or image. Most of the publishers I’ve worked with allow input during the cover process, and with my self-published books I’ve been able to choose my own. I’m always looking at covers that I feel do a great job and trying to find out why they work for me and who did them. I’ve been very lucky in that Dreamspinner has hired Kanaxa for the Bad in Baltimore rereleases. I think everything she’s done has really captured the feel of the stories. They have energy and a little hard edge.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m finishing up the sixth Baltimore book, Bad Habit. I have ideas (at least the meet cute) for two other books. I also have two more books that I’m dying to work on, plus ideas for my alterego, Cin.

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think that fault line is one that can be dangerous to sit on in any subgenre. You want the reader to love your characters, to fall in love with your characters, but you want them to be complex people. I feel fortunate to be writing two male main characters. I think readers are easier on heroes than we (yes, I include myself) are on heroines. Heroes can get away with stuff we’d never tolerate from a heroine. I’ve also noticed that when a former main character appears in someone else’s book, he can be a lot more snarky. He gets away with more when he’s a sidekick.  contemporary or historical or science fiction.

  •  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

My only (so far) historical An Improper Holiday is something I started *coughs* almost thirty years ago. I didn’t know anyone besides me wanted to read gay historical romance. When I needed a holiday story for a submission, I took it out again. I think only one or two sentences survived, but the plot was the same.  

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

One of my books that I haven’t re-released yet, Regularly Scheduled Life, sprang from something that happened in real life. In the book, Sean and Kyle are a happy couple until high-school teacher Sean intervenes in a school shooting. He’s wounded and gains lots of publicity as a national hero. It puts a lot of strain on Sean and Kyle’s relationship.

It came about because my wife is a middle school teacher. One day I got a text from her that read, “Guess what I just took away from one of my kids? A gun.” My heart stopped. I couldn’t stop thinking of what might have happened. She is definitely the kind of person who runs toward danger in order to help others.

  •  Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I love repeating the “Write drunk, edit sober,” mantra, though I’m a super lightweight and don’t drink much. I still think it’s good advice. You need to get the story (sometimes with wrong turns) out in a wild frenzy, and then give it more of a critical eye.

I will say that sometimes I write something I think is awesome and look at it the next day and think it’s terrible. It’s usually somewhere in between and needs work. The best is when I can’t remember having written something that I like. I feel like the shoemaker’s elves must have gotten into my computer and strung together some perfect words for me.

Blurb

Bad Company Bad in Baltimore Book 1


Some things are sweeter than revenge.

“I need a boyfriend.”

Hearing those words from his very straight, very ex-best friend doesn’t put Nate in a helpful mood. Not only did Kellan Brooks’s father destroy Nate’s family in his quest for power, but Kellan broke Nate’s heart back in high school. Nate thought he could trust his best friend with the revelation that he might be gay, only to find out he was horribly wrong and become the laughingstock of the whole school. Kellan must be truly desperate if he’s turning to Nate now.

Kellan’s through letting his father run his life, and he wants to make the man pay for cutting him off. What better way to stick it to the bigot than to come out as gay himself–especially with the son of the very man his father crushed on his quest for money and power. Kellan can’t blame Nate for wanting nothing to do with him, though. Kellan will have to convince him to play along, but it’s even harder to convince himself that the heat between them is only an act…

 

About the Author

K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Ken and G.I. Joe made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was thrilled to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.

K.A. loves to hear from her readers. You can email her at ka@kamitchell.com. She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter @ka_mitchell.

Email: ka@kamitchell.com

Twitter: @ka_mitchell

Website: http://www.kamitchell.com

Blog: authorkamitchell.wordpress.com

Tumblr: kamitchellplotbunnyfarm

KC Burn on Writing, Characters, and her new release Banded Together (author interview)

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Banded Together by K.C. Burn
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Banded Together is available at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K.C. Burn here today on their Banded Together tour. Welcome, K.C.

 

 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with K.C. Burns ~

 

Hi all! I’m so excited to be here! I’m KC Burn, talking about writing and my new release, Banded Together.

  •  Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  

No, actually. In fact, the emotional ties often make it more real, at least in my opinion. In this new release, Banded Together, one of the heroes, Dr. Jack is dealing with his dad having dementia. My mother had dementia and it was a difficult few years before she passed. Although I don’t go into a lot of detail in this book, my feelings during that time informed a lot of Jack’s reactions. I think most writers take every experience as potential fodder for stories, whether they be painful or joyful. I don’t think we can help it; I know I can’t.

  •  How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

LOL – mostly it’s not my choice! Even for those few books I’ve self published, the cover artists all require similar “art forms” where they ask what the characters look like, if there are significant visual items in the story, if there’s a particular scene that demonstrates the theme. Is it light, dark, paranormal, contemporary. Those attributes all affect how a cover is created, but I’m so not an artist – I can’t articulate how that comes about. Sometimes I’m given a couple of options to choose from, and many times it’s a gut feeling. One of them will just fit the story. One of my books, Tartan Candy, had the cover I went with, which was fun and flirty and a little unconventional. Since the main character was an ex-porn star who loved wearing kilts, it was perfect. The other option looked more like a typical Highlander romance cover, which didn’t match the story at all, although it was still a lovely cover.

  •  If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes, I do. As much as one would like to relate to the characters we read about, in romance, we’re also reading for escapism. That doesn’t mean a character can’t have faults – maybe some serious ones – but I’ve definitely read books where the characters are flawed to the point the book becomes harsh and almost brutal. But I also know people who love that sort of realism. I just can’t find the escapism in it and so I wouldn’t want to write it. It’s a fine line, though.

  

  •  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Not exactly. I jot down story ideas and scenes, and it might be years before I get around to writing that book or it might take years before I come up with an idea where I can make one of those scenes work, but with one exception, I’ve never put an entire story away. As for that one exception… it was a short story I’d written for a cyberpunk call. It wasn’t accepted, and although I like reading cyberpunk, I certainly wasn’t planning on really delving into writing it, or expanding the story into a novel. Instead, I cannibalized scenes from that story and wove them into… two or three other books. And there are still a few scenes that I haven’t used yet, but there is the potential they’ll end up in future books.

  

  •  If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

Somewhere with no windows. Not only are they a bit distracting, I get a little tense as the light changes. Feels almost like a ticking clock. But if I’m in a room where the lighting stays at a consistent level, it’s easier to focus.

 

  •  With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

Mostly I write to stay sane. There is so much going on in my head, writing almost acts like a pressure release valve. But aside from that, it’s escapism. I’ve loved reading for so long, and not only is writing a different sort of escapism for me, I also want to give some of that joy to other people if I can. Share the love, or pay it forward, so to speak.

 

  •  What’s next for you as a writer?

I have a firefighter/dancer story coming out in the new year called Set Ablaze, and I’ve submitted a proposal for a guy wooing his love interest with pastries. We’ll see how that goes – I don’t do a lot of planning ahead of time. I mostly fly by the seat of my pants! Next year I’ll also have another Christmas story for sure, and hopefully the sequel to North on Drummond, my paranormal mystery, will be ready.

Blurb

Punk’s not dead, but it’s time to redefine life.

Devlin Waters thought he’d have music forever. But the tragic death of his best friend ended the twenty-year run of his punk band, Negative Impression. Unable to process the loss, Devlin distances himself from everyone and everything that reminds him of the band. But forty-one is too young to curl up and wait for the end. In a search for a second career, he finds himself at university, with a bunch of kids young enough to be… his kids. His sexy archaeology professor, however, makes Devlin think about life beyond his grief….

Dr. Jack Johnson does not appreciate Devlin’s lack of respect, his inability to be serious, or his chronic lateness. Worse, he hates that he’s attracted to a student. When he realizes Devlin is the rock star he crushed on in his youth, he drops his guard—against his better judgment.

Before they can move forward together, Jack must admit to Devlin that he’s not only an admirer, but he also sings in a cover band. How will Devlin react to his ultimate fanboy when his own music has died?

About the Author

KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds).  After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own — getting published.  After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does. 

Visit KC at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, or find out about new releases by signing up for her newsletter.

 

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