DSP GUEST POST Andria Large on ‘From War to Forever’ (author interview)

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From War to Forever (War Trilogy #1) by Andria Large
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Sales Links

              

And iBooks

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Andria Large

How much of yourself goes into a character?

It depends on the character. Some have more than others. For this book, From War To Forever, Dennis suffers from depression, something that I also deal with, so I was able to pull from my own experiences. Mine are not as extreme as I made Dennis’ but I understand the emotions very well due to my own battle with it.

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?

Every author pulls from their own life experiences when writing. They use quirks from maybe a family member or friend for their characters, they use things that have been said to them, etc… It’s what makes the readers able to connect with the story on some level.

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

Right now, I write contemporary, so research absolutely plays a huge role when writing my books, especially if I want it to be somewhat realistic and plausible. However, I would love to one day write in the Paranormal or Fantasy genre and come up with my own world.

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

I wasn’t a big reader when I was younger. But I would say my love for Disney princess movies inspired my love of the romance genre.

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

No. My books aren’t known for being super dark and angsty, even though I do bring up serious issues in From War To Forever, such as PTSD and suicide. I’ve never gotten overly emotional when writing my own stories.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

As a reader, I like HEA’s. So far as a writer, I’ve only written HEA’s, but I could see myself doing a HFN at some point.

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

I actually didn’t start reading romance until my early 20’s. A friend of mine suggested reading Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison and I was hooked, been reading romance ever since. I go through phases of what kind of romance I like to read. It started with witches and vampires, obviously, then I had a Scottish Highlander phase, a plain old contemporary phase, went back to witches and vampires, and now I’m in an MM phase. I’ve been stuck in the MM phase since I started writing it myself. I don’t see it changing anytime soon, lol.

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

I don’t think there was anyone in particular that was an influence on me as a writer. I’ve always been the artistic type and also enjoy spending time by myself. Writing was a way for me to escape and be alone in my own little world. Now, every book I read has an influence on me as a writer. I’m always looking for ways to better myself as a writer and reading other authors helps with that.

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

Ebooks are taking over the world! They aren’t going away anytime soon, that’s for sure. When they first came out, I swore I’d never switch, I loved holding a paperback in my hands. But I eventually tried it out and now I can’t go back to paperbacks. It’s so much easier with an eBook. The paperbacks I have now are just for show. They are all signed by the author and on display. That’s the only reason I buy paperbacks anymore.

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

Oh boy, this is a loaded question. There are so many things that contribute to choosing a cover. First, you need to make sure it’s appealing to the eye. I don’t care what anyone says, everyone judges books by their covers. Readers don’t look at an ugly cover and say, “Yes, I need to read that right now.” For the most part, they are going to skip on by and find something else. And second, how much you want to spend on it. If you want a cover photo that no one else has, you’re looking at going through a photographer and possibly having a custom photo shoot done. Prices vary, but you’re looking at, at the very least, $500. If you decide to go the stock photo route, then you have to find something that works for your story, but also isn’t on every other romance novel cover. Covers can be the life or death of your book, so it’s a very important part of the publishing process.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I write both MM and MF romance. My favorite MM story would definitely be From War To Forever. The characters, Dennis and Tucker, hold a very special place in my heart. My favorite MF story that I’ve written would have to be my one romantic comedy, Hammer & Nails. I put a lot of myself in the female MC, so I think that’s why I love that story so much. Plus, it’s really funny.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have multiple projects that I’m working on. Another MM military romance for Dreamspinner, an MF contemporary that I’ll be self-publishing, and I’m also co-authoring a book. Plus, I have a notebook full of ideas for new ideas and I need to get back to a couple old ones too.

Thank you so much for having me here today! Please check out From War To Forever! Be sure to leave a review when you’re finished, whether it’s good or bad. Don’t forget to like and follow my Facebook page for updates on what is going on in the world of Andria Large!

Blurb

Dennis

The love of my life is dead. Is there a reason to live anymore?

I’m a veteran Marine. Terrorists took not only my foot, but also my wife. Recurrent nightmares, a dead-end job, and a painful limp are all I have left. My best friend, Tucker, and my sister, Lizette, keep me afloat. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tucker… literally. And then, out of nowhere, there are these feelings. The kind I haven’t felt in years. The kind I’m not sure I can handle, or even want to. But they’ve started wrapping around my broken heart, trying to mend it. Only they are not for a woman, but for the man suddenly sharing my bed. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give love another go.

Tucker

The war took my hearing, but I’m alive. Many of my friends are not. I am building a life with my best friend, Dennis. We have become practically inseparable. And now, we are more than friends. I’ve never had feelings like these for a man. My parents, my brother, my buddy, Duke—will they understand how I feel about Dennis? Can I risk losing my family?

About the Author

Andria Large is a traditionally published and self-published contemporary romance author. She doesn’t always follow the rules, so you will find both M/F and M/M books mixed into some of her series.

Henry from the Beck Brothers Series was the first book she self-published. Not expecting anything to really come of it, she was shocked to find the book caught wind and readers were asking for more. Writing books was not something she had set out to do. She wrote stories for herself, as a hobby. Now that it has become her career, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Andria grew up in Philadelphia, but now lives in New Jersey with her two daughters and wonderfully supportive husband, who frequently accompanies her at signings. The events that she attends every year are one of her favorite things about being an author. She loves meeting and conversing with her readers, but also enjoys finding new ones.

Andria considers herself open and friendly, so feel free to send her a message if you have a question or just want to chat.

You can contact Andria at:

HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: Jo Ramsey on Midnight Chat (author interview)

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Midnight Chat by Jo Ramsey
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armony Ink Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jo Ramsey here today talking about writing and her latest release Midnight Chat. Welcome, Jo, thanks for sitting in our author interview chair this morning.

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  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It depends on the character. Nearly every main character I write has some aspects of my personality, such as shyness or liking to read or write. Sometimes they have traits I wish I had.

  • 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?

To me, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu is a case where an author creates a character who is a perfect human being everyone loves, who may or may not be a representation of who the author wishes they were. I don’t think that’s the same thing as using personal experiences and traits to create a character. My characters are as flawed as I am, and things don’t always go the way they hope they will.

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

Even when an author makes up their own world and culture, I think they need to do some research. They might only use bits and pieces of the research to make up their own thing, but it helps to have some basis in reality. I personally don’t enjoy researching at all, so I write things for which I need as little research as possible, but I always need to look up something or ask someone questions about something.

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

To some extent, yes. When I was a preteen and teenager, I really enjoyed fantasy novels of the type that mostly takes place in the “real world,” where ordinary people end up having extraordinary experiences. Think things like Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time or Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, which were two of my favorite books from about age 10 on. I write some things like that, but I also tend to write contemporary fiction where there isn’t any fantastic stuff going on, just people living their lives and solving (or not) their problems.

  • 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?

My novel Work Boots and Tees, book five of my Deep Secrets and Hope series, was like that. Because of the things the main character, Jim Frankel, had done to others, and the traumas he’d experienced himself, it was an incredibly heart-ripping novel to write. I’m a sexual trauma survivor myself, and there were times when I was writing that book where I triggered myself so badly I had to step back from the computer for a few days. At one point my husband tried to convince me to stop writing the book altogether, but I’m way too stubborn to do that.

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

I don’t exactly choose my covers. I fill out an information sheet for the cover art department, and they send me, usually, three mock-ups to choose from. Unless there’s something really wrong with all three of them, for example showing a character that bears no resemblance to the ones in my book (which has never happened with Harmony Ink Press), I have to choose one of the three.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I have more than one favorite. I’m partial to Nail Polish and Feathers because I think Evan Granger is a completely awesome character who doesn’t give a rat’s behind what people think, he’s determined to be himself. I’m also partial to Work Boots and Tees because Jim is a very broken character who nonetheless is trying to make a better life for himself, and he is modeled on several of the boys I worked with when I taught in Maine years ago.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

My latest novel, Midnight Chat, has just released from Harmony Ink Press. (https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/midnight-chat-by-jo-ramsey-448-b). I’m excited about it because it’s based on a song I wrote and recorded, which is available on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes (the song is also called “Midnight Chat), and because I think Mira’s dilemma about how to help Rob is true to what some teens experience when they realize a friend needs more help than they can give. Toward the end of summer 2017, Harmony Ink will re-release my novel Dolphins in the Mud, originally published by a different company in 2012. That’s another novel in which the main character is far out of his element trying to help a friend, as well as keep his family running smoothly.

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About Midnight Chat

For the past two years, since meeting in ninth grade, Mira MacDonald and Rob Stevens have been inseparable best friends. Rob’s struggles with depression, and his reliance on Mira, sometimes make the friendship difficult for Mira, but she wants to support Rob. Especially since he’s the victim of severe bullying at school due to his sexuality. Even though Rob isn’t out, he is gay, and the suspicion is enough for some people to torment him.

Now Mira has her first girlfriend, Talia Acevedo, and Rob’s jealousy is becoming even more of a problem. Rob insists that Talia doesn’t like him and is trying to break up their friendship. Mira tries to stay neutral, but it isn’t easy when Rob’s obsession with her escalates—along with his anger as the harassment gets worse.

One night, during one of their typical midnight text sessions, Rob tells Mira he’s decided to take drastic action at school to stop the bullying once and for all. And if she tries to stop him or tells anyone else, she’ll be first on his target list.

About the Author

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Readers who are interested in knowing more about me are welcome to visit my website, http://www.joramsey.com. I’m also on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JoRamseyAuthor/, Twitter @JoRamseyYA, and Tumblr, http://www.joramseyya.tumblr.com, and my offspring Phoenix and I have a YouTube channel, Real Life Rising, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeeZBAEzSDIdPf7RS7iNQAQ.

Sherrie Henry on Life, Writing, and her release ‘Flag on the Play’ (HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST: interview, excerpt )

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Flag on the Play by Sherrie Henry
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armony Ink Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Cover artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Purchase at Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sherrie Henry here today.  Welcome, Sherrie!

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Chugging right along! We’re at my third stop for my blog tour to promote my newest release “Flag on the Play.” Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me!

Check out my question/answer session:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I think all writers put a little bit of themselves into their characters. It’s like splitting your own personality, bits and pieces go into each character you develop. I think it’s inevitable; it’s been my experience that regardless of how far-fetched the plot, there is still a grounding in reality that reflects our own lives and experiences.

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

No. A Mary (or Gary) Sue in my opinion is a character who’s sole purpose is to save everyone, be the hero, and has no character flaws (or have flaws that are endearing). To me, that’s cheating the reader to create such a perfect character. No one learns anything, there’s no plot or character development in a Mary/Gary Sue. I’m not certain I could create such a character; I’m flawed, thus my characters, who are in some part a reflection of me, are flawed as well.

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

In my most recent novel ‘Flag on the Play’, I interviewed a few gay men on their experiences as a gay teen (as, being female and not gay, I couldn’t draw much from my own childhood!). It gave me tremendous insight into their world and their struggles, which still occur across the country to this day.

I did enjoy doing the interviews and I like research in general. But I also write sci-fi/fantasy, so it’s nice to just let loose and change the laws of physics. LOL

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

I consider myself an eclectic reader which has shaped my writing to an extent. I tend to write what I want, regardless of genre. Whatever fancies me at the time, that’s what comes out. For example, I’m finishing a sci-fi novel and also working on a cookbook. I’m not the type to be pinned to a specific genre!

  • 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?

Once, when I had to kill off a major character, I needed some time away from the story as I ended up crying as I typed the death scene. Had to give myself a couple of days away to recover. It was painful, but it was necessary as it advanced the story.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

As life never gives HEAs, I do enjoy reading them in my stories as a change of pace from reality. As I don’t read a lot of books that are parts of series, I don’t typically come across HFNs.

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

Oh hell yes. I remember sneaking my mom’s Harlequin Romance and Danielle Steele novels as a young teen. I’m not sure to this day if she realized I read them!

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

Choosing an English degree as an undergrad. I was exposed to so many different genres and authors during that time. I had always been an avid reader; I remember getting the Scholastic Reader booklets as a kid and ordering all the books I could afford on my allowance. I probably owned a few hundred paperbacks as a child.

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

I certainly like the ebook format; makes reading in bed a lot easier. My Kindle weighs a lot less than hardcover novels and large paperbacks and is much less bulky.

I’m not sure where the ebook is going; because a writer can publish anything and everything they want without going through a traditional publishing company, the ebook has gotten a bad rap. Those ebooks from self-pubbed authors still have a the stigma of bad writing, no editing, and crappy covers. Ebooks are evolving, but I’m not sure for the better. I’m not saying all self-pubbed books are crap, but it’s the perception of the reading audience, myself included. (I’m a trivia buff, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of bad trivia ebooks published.)

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

I typically have an idea of what I want and convey that to the cover artist. A couple of times I’ve had no clue, so the cover artist gave me some drafts and I was able to envision what I wanted.

As an amateur landscape/wildlife photographer, a lot of times I can at least have a very base idea of what I want, at least in the background.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

As a piece of me is in all my work, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say my vampire story ‘Traditions.’ The main character is a snarky, sexy, slightly-overwhelmed male vampire surrounded by dysfunctional family and friends. It’s the first in a trilogy and has been submitted for publication. Hope to hear within a month or so!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Finish my sci-fi novel (about 3-4 chapters to go) and my cookbook, then pick one of the dozen or so WIPs I have on my computer. I’d like to finish at least one more novel this year, if not two. I want to diversify myself; I’ve got two WIPs that are thrillers, which is a new genre for me to be writing.

Thank you, Sherrie, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your answers!  Now more about Sherrie and Flag on the Play.

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About the Author

Sherrie was born and raised in Southern Indiana, in a small farming community. A stop-over at Indiana University in Bloomington to earn bachelors and masters degrees was the next step before she struck out to the big city of Chicago. She has lived in the ‘burbs of the Windy City for the past 19 years, currently residing with her dog Rocky and teaching at the local community college. She is a third-degree black belt in hapkido and is considering a run for a fourth-degree before hanging up the ol’ black belt. Writing and photography are her hobbies, and hopes that she can add travel to her hobbies soon.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrieHenry
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sherriehenry
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorSHenry
Blog: http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.sherriehenry.com

Sales link for ‘Flag on the Play’:

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About Flag on the Play

Sixteen-year-old football punter Liam Hartley has come to terms with being gay, but it isn’t something his religious and conservative community will ever accept. He’s isolated in his Midwest town until Cody Williams transfers to his school from Chicago. A proud bisexual young man, Cody shows Liam he isn’t alone—or abnormal—and they soon become more than friends.

Despite the intimate, secret world he shares with Cody, Liam is in pain. The hatred spewed by bigots has an effect on Liam, even if Cody carefully hides their relationship with a pretend girlfriend. Liam is jealous—he doesn’t want to have to share Cody, and he doesn’t want to have to live in shame. Cutting himself seems to be the only way to deal with everything he’s suffering, and things only get worse when Liam and Cody are outed in front of the school. And even if they can make it through the hardship, they know their relationship is destined to end when Cody’s family returns to the city.

Liam can’t go back to facing the hatred and religious judgment by himself. He won’t survive it. Somehow, Liam and Cody must secure a future for both of them, and that means finding a way to stay together.

 Excerpt from ‘Flag on the Play

Liam downed his lemonade. Even though it was fairly cool out, he was sweating profusely. After the tuck-pointing, he volunteered to help cut and haul some wood from the downed trees on the property. He and Cody were sitting in the backyard, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Cody’s mom came outside with more to drink.

“You boys finish?” She set the pitcher on the step and sat down next to Liam.

“Yes, ma’am.” Liam refilled his glass.

Marissa laughed. “Please don’t call me ma’am. Makes me feel old.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No worries. So, Cody said you had some questions you wanted to ask me?”

Liam looked out over the expansive yard. “If you don’t mind.”

“Nope.”

Cody nudged Liam. “Go ahead. She’s a good listener.”

Liam swallowed. “Me and Cody. That’s natural, right?”

Marissa furrowed her brow. “Of course it is.”

“I’ve been taught it’s a great sin and I’m going to hell.”

“Oh, hon, no. Look, I don’t want to sway you from your religion—”

“I’ve lost my religion. I can’t believe in it anymore. I need to know I’m going to be okay. You accept Cody, and me, and us and….” His voice trailed off.

“I’ve been where you are.”

Liam glanced over at her. “Really?”

“Yes. Born into a very Catholic family. But I realized at a very young age, what was coming at me at every Mass was pretty much bullshit. Pardon my language.”

Liam snorted. “I’ve heard worse.” He gave her a smile. “How did you get out of the church?”

“I had to bide my time until high school. I finally sat my parents down and told them I couldn’t believe in what the priest was saying. That any higher power couldn’t hate his or her creations, that he or she would create such inequality. And I was totally against the no birth control thing. That really rubbed me the wrong way. I’d done research at the library—this was back before everything was on the Internet you know—and found that human sexuality isn’t something to be repressed. Not that I condone sleeping around, sex and love need to go hand in hand, but it doesn’t need to be saved for marriage or be something to feel guilty about.”

“So you don’t believe I’m going to hell?”

Marissa gave a little laugh. “Hon, that’s why I love being Wiccan. We don’t believe in hell. Hell is a Christian concept.”

“There’s no heaven or hell?”

“Wiccans, other pagans, some of us believe in what’s called Summerland. A place we go when we die until we are reincarnated. Hell doesn’t exist.”

“But what about people like Hitler, or Stalin? Shouldn’t they be in hell?”

Marissa paused, taking in a long breath and letting it out. “To be honest, I struggle with topics like that. Leaning on my youth teachings, yes, hell would be a good place for such evil. But to reconciling such evil in my Wiccan beliefs—I came to the conclusion that people like that don’t go to Summerland, they just cease to exist, no reincarnation. That their evil energy is dissipated into the universe, forever dissolving out into the reaches of deep space.”

“Wow, that’s profound.”

“Nah, just the way I can deal.”

“So what about the Bible?”

Marissa patted his knee. “The Bible is a book, a good book, but it was written by men, and men are fallible. I don’t like how some people will pick and choose what they want to follow out of it. They should use it as a guidebook, not a rulebook. Use the teachings of doing good deeds, of not throwing the first stone. Of being kind to strangers and helping those in need. That’s what they should take away, not a strict or not-so-strict adherence to rules written in a time when slaves were the norm and women were property to be bartered for.”

“Never thought about it that way.”

“I never did either, until I took a ‘Bible as Literature’ class in college. The discrepancies stood out, the outright contradictions. It was then I solidified my beliefs.” She put her arm around Liam. “I’m not saying to dump all your beliefs, or even change them. I’m just giving you a different perspective. You have to decide what is right for you. Each religion, even mine, has its good points and shortcomings.”

Liam sucked down the rest of his lemonade. “I can’t see any shortcomings with yours.”

“There are. Like the question of evil from before, there’s no consensus. It’s just what I’ve decided to believe. And the threefold rule.”

“Cody told me about it. How can getting threefold of good coming back at you be bad?”

“Because it works the other way as well. If I put bad thoughts or bad deeds out there, bad stuff can come back to me threefold.”

“I don’t see how you can do anything bad.”

“Well, I get angry and anger begets anger. I get angry against people who do bad deeds, like a mother who kills her children. My inclination is to say she deserves the death penalty, but I’m sworn to do no harm.”

“But you wouldn’t be pulling the switch, so to say.”

“No, but I’m putting the bad energy out there by thinking and stating my opinion. It’s like I can feel the negative energy build when I think about situations like that. I have to meditate a lot when news stories such as those are aired, try to diffuse my thoughts. It can be hard work.”

“I would think someone who kills their children doesn’t deserve to live.”

“And you’re not alone, not by a long shot. But doesn’t even your faith say you should forgive the sinner?”

Liam cocked his head. “Yeah.”

“While Wicca doesn’t believe in sin per se, we do believe in forgiveness. To keep up the positive energy so it always outweighs the negative.”

“And how do I deal with messages from my pastor that what I feel is wrong? That I’m damned?”

“You need to forgive your pastor and hope one day he can see the error of his ways. That love is precious, in all its forms.” She turned and gave him a hug. “You aren’t damned. My Cody loves you and so do I.”

Kelly took that moment to come running out of the house and plopped down in Cody’s lap. She shoved a book in Liam’s face. “Story?”

Marissa laughed. “I think you’ve made quite an impression on Kelly as well.” She let Liam go and collected the empty glasses and pitcher. “Guess it’s story time. Once you’re done, you’d probably head home. It’s getting late.”

“Yes, ma-Marissa. And thank you.” He took the book from Kelly and started to read about a fairy princess and her faithful companion, a dragon named Sue.

Michaela Grey on Writing and her release ‘Broken Halo’ (author interview and excerpt)

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Broken Halo by Michaela Grey
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Publication Date:  January 30, 2017

Available for purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Michaela Grey today.  Welcome, Michaela! 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m here to talk about Broken Halo and a little of my writing process, and share an excerpt from the book with you.

For Micah Ellis, boundaries are paramount. He needs strict order and cleanliness to stay sane—no dirt or germs allowed.

So when Devon Mallory shows up, Micah knows he should stay away. Devon is a mechanic, and he’s everything Micah isn’t: dirty on the outside, pure within. He’s a far cry from what fits in Micah’s sterile, boundary-bound life.

Micah doesn’t understand why Devon’s bright blue eyes won’t let him go, or why he wants to spend the rest of his life looking at Devon’s smile. He knows happily ever after doesn’t exist for him… but Devon makes him wonder if it could.


Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?
I’m open to inspiration wherever it may come from. I’ve woken up from dreams and jotted down the idea before I lost it. I’ll see a movie, and think “well, this is great but it could be gayer”. (To be honest, that’s 95% of my thought process when consuming media.) I’ve even simply thought a person was pretty and spun a story around them, which is how I ended up with the spinoff to Halo. (Harry Lloyd’s face is a public menace.)

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why? I’ve always been more of a pantser than a plotter, but that’s not to say I go in blind. I hash out plot points and overall arcs with both my betas. My primary beta knows everything, from beginning to end, with no spoilers or surprise twists, before I write it. My secondary beta reads as I write it and offers input and feedback on the spoilers as she experiences them in “real time”. This gives me a dual feedback loop and helps keep me focused on what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.

Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them? Don’t tell any of my other characters, but Micah and Fox (from the spinoff) are my absolute favorites.

If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list? Anything from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, as well as Maggie Stiefvater and Seanan Maguire’s entire works.

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why? My father read most of the classics to us from the time we were tiny. I have many fond memories of being sprawled on the floor, coloring busily, while he described Middle Earth or the great white whale or Narnia to us. We were encouraged to read from the minute we could hold a book in our hands. I fell into new worlds daily, and finally succumbed to the urge to build my own, because of his and my mother’s love of the written word.

EXCERPT:

Micah pointed at the table. “Sit and keep me company while I cook. You haven’t given me many chances to spoil you rotten.”

Devon obeyed and dropped backward into a chair. “Maybe because I like spoiling you.” He hooked his long feet over the bottom rung and rested his arms on the backrest. “So I was thinking,” he said. “How do you feel about collars?”

Micah dropped a dosa on the floor and stared at Devon.

“That was… that was just mean,” Micah said. “Warn a guy.”

“Question stands,” Devon said, dimples flashing.

Micah dumped the dosa in the trash and turned back to the frying pan. “Umm. Collars… collars are good.” He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. Then he looked up as a thought struck him. “No leashes, though. Barrett used a leash sometimes. I didn’t—”

“No leash,” Devon said quickly. “What kind of collar do you want, then? Shall we pick it out together, or do you want me to surprise you?”

“I trust you,” Micah said, startled to realize that was true. “Surprise me. Nothing too flashy.”

He piled the dosa on plates, added the rava and coconut chutney, and then brought them to the table. Devon turned around in his chair and caught Micah’s wrist as he passed by on his way back to the kitchen for drinks, and he tugged until Micah toppled with a squawk into his lap.

Devon caught him and tipped Micah’s chin up with one long finger. “Hey,” he said quietly.

Micah swallowed, caught in Devon’s bright blue gaze. “Hey back,” he managed.

Devon’s lips curved up. “I’m glad I met you,” he whispered and pressed their mouths together.

Micah slid his arms around Devon’s neck and held on. Devon’s hands on his thighs kept him in position, his thumbs rubbing gentle circles, and their lips and tongues fit against each other perfectly.

When they pulled apart, Devon cupped Micah’s cheek. “Have you thought about a safeword?” he asked.

Micah nodded shyly. “Ah… I was thinking… manta ray.”

Devon’s smile lit up the room. “I like that,” he breathed and kissed him again. “You’re so beautiful,” he said. “The light from the kitchen is haloing you, and you look like an angel right now.”

Micah couldn’t help but snort at that. “So not an angel, pal.”

“You are to me,” Devon murmured and kissed him again.

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About the Author

Michaela Grey told stories to put herself to sleep since she was old enough to hold a conversation in her head. When she learned to write, she began putting those stories down on paper. She resides in the Texas Hill Country with her cats, and she is perpetually on the hunt for peaceful writing time.

When she’s not writing, she’s knitting while watching TV or avoiding responsibilities on Tumblr, where she blogs about cats and writing, offers dubious life advice, and tries to keep her cat off the keyboard.

Tumblr: greymichaela.tumblr.com

Twitter: @GreyMichaela

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreyMichaela

E-mail: greymichaela@gmail.com

Killian B. Brewer on Writing, and his release ‘Lunch With the Do Nothings at the Tammy Dinette by Killian B. Brewer (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Lunch With the Do Nothings at the Tammy Dinette

by Killian B. Brewer
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nterlude Press
Cover Design by C.B. Messer

Purchase Links

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Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very lucky to be interviewing Killian Brewer author of Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.

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Hi Killian, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hey, y’all! I’m Killian Brewer, though most people just call me Brew. I’m a Southern boy, raised in the land of peaches and peanuts. I grew up in a tiny little town in a house where we would entertain each other by telling stories. My father can spin a yarn with the best of them and taught me early to enjoy the fellowship of storytelling. I went to college and earned my degree in English Literature, mostly because of my love of a good story. Of course, like most English majors, I don’t use that degree at all in my day job, but it does come in handy for my writing.

My current novel, Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, was inspired by the people I grew up around in South Georgia. I wanted to explore what life could be like for a young gay man who is suddenly transplanted in a small town with little understanding of the way of life there. In particular, I wanted to follow his search for love and a sense of family in a world where he feels like a fish out of water. I also wanted to write about older southern women, because I think they are awesome.

  • What is the biggest thing people think they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?

I think a lot of people assume that most people in the South are conservative, close-minded and bigoted. While it is true that we have more than our fair share of people like that, I discover that the older I get the more people I meet who are not that way. One big area where this has changed is acceptance of LGBTQ people and issues. As a teenager, I never could have imagined living as an openly gay person in Georgia. But now I do just that. My very religious and conservative family and friends have come a long way and are now very open and accepting of me and my partner. I think the biggest reason for this change is that with more people being out of the closet, Southerners are discovering they already know and love someone who is gay. Once you realize you care for one gay person, it is easier to be accepting of all gay people.

  • What are some references you used while writing this book?

I really didn’t have to use too many references while writing this book since so much of it is based on my own life experience. The ways of small-town life are very familiar to me and these women in this book are all amalgamations of various women I grew up around. However, I did find myself on the web checking on diner slang. I knew a few phrases from many a late night cup of joe at the local diner, but I needed more to flesh out the story. I found a few websites that listed diner slang, and found myself laughing out loud at some of the funnier phrases. I also had to check the web a few times to make sure that references I made to some classic country singers were accurate.

  1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My family is a group of storytellers. Whenever we are together, eventually the conversation rolls around to everyone telling their favorite stories from our past and amusing anecdotes about people we all know. Humor is always an important part of these stories. We also love wordplay, puns and music. In college, I decided to take some writing classes and discovered that the storytelling I grew up learning from my family translated well into writing. I was always a voracious reader as well, but would sometimes find myself wishing a story had gone a different direction. From this I began to think of my own stories that I would like to tell.

  • What do your plans for future projects include?

I currently have several projects in the very early stages. Most of them are just ideas for characters and situations that I need to see what they can develop into. One is a much darker and less humorous story than I normally write. Another involves a paranormal element, which will be a departure for me in style as well. But mainly, I am working on a possible sequel to Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette that will focus more on the lives of the waitresses who work in the diner and one of the supporting characters, Skeet Warner.

  • Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Mainly that I hope they will enjoy spending time in the little town that I have created. I love my home state of Georgia and it pleases me to be sharing a(albeit fictionalized) piece of it with the world. I also encourage my readers to create their own Do-Nothing club. Find a group of people you really enjoy being around and set aside a little time each week or month to get together and do absolutely nothing. I think the enjoyment and fellowship it brings will be infinitely rewarding.

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Blurb

When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies called the Do Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?

Excerpt

The diner took up a quarter of the city block; its silvery siding glimmered in the morning sun. A metal bracket jutted over the diner door and held a bright neon sign that flashed The Tammy Dinette: Stand By your Ham and Eggs. Below the sign, two tall and wide single-paned windows showed the bustle of the crowd inside. Marcus could see that most of the booths along the windows were occupied, and a tall redheaded waitress stood next to one of the booths furiously scribbling on a pad and nodding her head.

“Let’s go,” Skeet said as he hopped to the door and yanked it open. He swept his arm across his body and said in a terrible British accent, “After you, my good sir.”

Marcus grinned at the boy and stepped into the diner. The sudden rush of country music mixed with the murmur of the restaurant crowd, the smell of greasy food and coffee, and the glare of fluorescent lights from the Formica tables and counter tops flooded Marcus with a sense of relief and comfort. The last bits of tension slipped from his shoulders as he watched the two waitresses in pink uniform tops and skirts scurry from table to table as different patrons raised their hands to get each woman’s attention.

**

“Now sign here.” Raff pointed out a line at the bottom of a paper. “Then initial here.”

Marcus scribbled his name where instructed, then set the pen gently on the table. He read the final paragraph of the will to himself one more time. To my grandson Marcus, I leave all my other worldly possessions, my assets and most importantly, my house, so that maybe, just once in his life, that poor boy can have a real home.

“So, it’s all mine?”

“Well, it has to go through probate and such, but yes. Basically, it’s all yours.”

“And I have to live in the house? I mean, she says she wants it to be my home.”

“Oh, good lord, boy,” Helen said and laughed. “Your grandmother was a former mayor’s wife, not the queen of England. It’s a will, not a proclamation.”

“My mother is correct. You can do with the assets as you see fit, once her few debts are paid off.”

“So I could sell it?”

“If that’s what you desire. As a matter of fact, my wife, Katie Nell, is one of the most successful realtors in Marathon. I’m sure she could sell it for you in a heartbeat if you want.”

“Raff, you quit trying to drum up business for that nitwit wife of yours.” Helen picked up the pen from the table and inspected it before opening her purse and dropping it in. “Marcus, you don’t have to decide anything right now. Why don’t you spend a little time here and see what you want to do with it? How soon do you have to be back where you came from? Back in…?”

“Um, Atlanta.” Marcus let his eyes wander off from Helen to the photographs on the wall behind her. “No rush. Nothing important waiting on me there.”

“Then it’s settled. You stay here for a few weeks at least and see what you want to do. The other Do Nothings and I have already gone through your grandmother’s house and got it nice and clean for you. Of course, there’s no real food in there, but we’ll get you settled, and I’ll bring over something for you to eat tonight. Tomorrow, we will run you up to the Piggly Wiggly and stock you up.”

“Well, I guess I can stay until the house sells at least.” Marcus looked at the table as Raff slid a manila envelope across the table to him.

“Here are your copies of all the paperwork. There are a bunch of things in there. Here are the keys to the house.” Raff pushed a key ring across the table. “And I wrote Katie Nell’s number on the front of the envelope so when you get ready to sell—”

If you sell it,” Helen interrupted her son. “You never know, little man, we might just charm you into staying.”

**

Over the course of the next month, Marcus fell easily into the rhythm of his new life in the diner. The black ring around his eye faded, and thoughts of Robert and his mangled car began to fade as well. Francine and he perfected their frenzied dance around each other behind the grill when the diner was filled to capacity. As he worked, the familiar tools of spatula, whisk, and knife once again became extensions of his hand, and the smells of bacon frying and eggs cooking made his appetite for food and life return. The silly names the sisters invented for customers made Marcus belly laugh, the sensation of it bubbling up in his chest an almost-forgotten pleasure. With each passing day, it grew easier to rise early in the morning and catch a ride to the diner with Francine or one of the girls.

The only part of the day he dreaded was life outside the diner and returning to a too-quiet house filled with photographs of people who shared his face and name, but who were complete strangers. The house was in theory his home, but it still seemed as if he was intruding on someone else’s space. He hadn’t bothered to unpack the few clothes left in his duffel bag or put away the clean clothes from the laundry basket on the bedroom floor. In the silence of his grandmother’s house, he would hear the ringing of Robert’s plaintive texts, the nagging thoughts about what to do with his wrecked car, and the haunting words of his mother, “Baby, it’s time to move on.”

More and more, he lingered well past the end of his shift at the diner to avoid going to the house. Usually he would end his day by wandering over to the Do Nothing’s corner booth to check on the latest town gossip or to see how preparations for the hoedown were going. Marcus would shuffle his way into the booth and tuck himself between Helen and Inez so that the women could explain to him who each person they gossiped about was. Most of the names meant nothing to him until he began to connect them with their usual orders, just as he had at the Waffle Barn. The more stories the Do Nothings told about the customers who hurried in and out of the diner daily, the more the citizens of Marathon seemed like friends. He would sit happily silent and let the women’s laughter and rapid-fire words sooth his work-weary muscles as he sank into the padding of the booth.

But not today.

He had finished cleaning the cooking area, flung his apron onto its hook, and headed into the dining room. He’d been tired but, for the first time since Robert had pressured him to quit working at the Waffle Barn in Atlanta, he’d felt useful again. As he’d reached the kitchen door, he’d caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Despite the hard work and grueling heat of the kitchen, he’d seen that he wore a pleased smile, a smile he wasn’t sure he had worn since the days after his mother and before Robert. He’d straightened his back and nodded at himself in the mirror. Hello, stranger. Where’ve you been? With the smile lingering on his lips, he had glanced through the porthole window in the swinging door and seen Hank Hudson standing at the counter.

**

About the Author

Killian B. Brewer grew up in a family where the best way to be heard was to tell a good story, therefore he developed an early love of storytelling, puns and wordplay. He began writing poetry and short fiction at 15 and continued in college where he earned a BA in English. He does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He currently lives in Georgia with his partner and their dog. Growing up in the South gave him a funny accent and a love of grits. The Rules of Ever After is his first novel.

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Lynn Lorenz Shares Her Thoughts on Writing, Inspiration and her release David’s Dilemma (guest post)

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David’s Dilemma by Lynn Lorenz
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Lynn Lorenz here today, sitting in our author’s interview chair.  Welcome, Lynn!

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First, thank you to the people at Scattered Thoughts for hosting my release, David’s Dilemma! I truly appreciate it!

I’m answering some of their questions about me and my writing and I hope you’ll find it interesting, funny and give you an insight to me, my writing and my life.

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

     Usually from real life like the news, or a retelling an old tale, but also personal.  For David’s Dilemma, it was my father’s slip into Alzheimer’s Disease that led me to write the book, as a homage to him and to honor the caretakers.

     For Pacific Nights, not currently in circulation, I wanted to tell the South Pacific story, only with gay characters. Remember those guys who went to the island to spy on the Japanese? Those guys.

     For Soul Bonds, I took the story from the sex slave industry thriving in Houston and reported on the news.

  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

     I started out as a pantzer, but found I was writing way too many stories at one time to keep it up for long. Most writers who are pantzers will have a number of stories – with anywhere from 1-5 chapters – then they hit a wall and get stuck. We have no problems with the beginning and ends, it’s the damn middle that’s the hardest.

     So I developed what I call a “loosey goosey” method of plotting – very brief and short chapter descriptions. It enabled me to veer off, to move chapters and timelines and to not feel so trapped by a fully plotted story. With this method, I can create all the chapters, what will happen in them, and then write the ones that I’m feeling – non-linear. So, if I know the ending, I can write it whenever.

     I actually teach an online course on this method.

  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

     If you look at my list of books and the genres, I span the gamut from contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, and even inspirational. My favorite is paranormal, because I get to create a world, inhabit it with characters and play Goddess. But I do love to mix them up, fantasy and paranormal, contemporary and paranormal.

     I write primarily gay romance under my Lynn Lorenz name, and het romance under Theodora Lane. Both of us write across genres. And by the way, I don’t consider gay romance as a genre, I consider it the genre (like historical) with gay heroes.

  • If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

     Now that I think of it, not really. I think my characters are true to who they are, from the moment I conceive them to writing them down. Since my stories are character-driven, those characters goals, motivations and conflicts define the plot. If I changed them, I’d change the plot and so it’d just be better to write a new book with that changed character. He wouldn’t be who he first was anymore.

     In David’s Dilemma, who would I change? David, a gay man struggling with his father who has Alzheimer’s? Travis, his love interest, a gay cop who’s come to grip with his age and what he really wants in his life, or David’s father, an elderly man sinking into a dark place he doesn’t understand? Any of those changes would change the book.

     In No Good Deed, my main character is Dan Chan, a gay Chinese cop in rural Texas. He’s bisexual and struggling with it. If I removed his bisexuality, it’d be a different story. I love him and his doubts, his struggle to understand himself and who he loves.

     For me, who the character is defines the book, the story I need to tell about that particular person.

  1. Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

     Sure. We have favorite kids, right? Uh…I wasn’t supposed to say that, was I?

     Anyway, I do have a few favorites. I love David, in David’s Dilemma. He’s so torn between what he sees as his duty to his father, a man he loves, but doesn’t really like, and doing the hard thing about his dad.

     I loved Edward, from Edward, Unconditionally. He’s all about learning to love himself, about acceptance, about loving and being loved unconditionally.

     Drake, my hero from The Mercenary’s Tale, is special because he’s was my first published book hero. He’s on a journey of sel-discovery, as much as any gay medieval mercenary can be in the 1300’s.

     One of my favorites is Jason from Best Vacation That Never Was. He’s a wild, adrenaline junky fire fighter with a rescue complex. He’s all heart and love and “watch this, bubba!” I loved mixing that good old boy with frat boy with the responsibility of a fire fighter.

     I think I love Dan Chan from No Good Deed for his self-depreciating humor, his love of cowboy boots, his dry, witty, make you think twice comebacks and his struggle to claim who he is and loves.

  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

     God, don’t let it be LaGuardia!! And as long as the island or the planet have working bathrooms and toilet paper, I’m good.

     I’d bring a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets, mystery books from Tony Hillerman, James Dos, and Faye Kellerman, all of Lois Bujold-Masters works, Tolkein’s hobbit books, and a few classics, like How Green was My Valley, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

     (Notice I didn’t really name any romance books? Well, I’m not going to name any because I know too many of the authors and wouldn’t want to miss anyone and have them feel bad.)

     Truthfully, until I started writing gay romance, I never read romance books at all. Ever. I still can’t understand it. But in my gay romance books, you’ll find all the elements of the books I love to read, like mystery, cops, crime, danger, action and suspense. My books rarely depend on the “misunderstanding” or “guys can’t talk” pretending to be a plot. I love to take my guys through a lot – I want them to really struggle and fight for their happily ever after. My tagline is Everyone Deserves a Happily Ever After. And I believe it.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

     I remember writing poetry in junior high. About all sorts of things. I don’t have any of it and don’t remember a single poem. I write poetry again in college, full of angst and sexual desire. But I was more of an artist, painting, drawing, printmaking. I went to college for Fine Art and have a degree in it. With English as my minor, so a lot of writing there, but all for school.

     I did art for years, then as I got older, I move to gardening. I loved it so much I’d planned to be a Master Gardener, but my knees when bad and I couldn’t do much anymore. So I started reading. I’d always been a reader, but this was in my early 40’s and I wanted to read stories that had dragons and heroes and sex. Lots of sex. But they were hard to find.

     My husband listened to me complaining about not finding books and he said, “Shut up and write one.” So I did. I wrote my first book, over 250K, which he informed me was what they call a “Trilogy”. I then wrote about 6 books before I decided to publish.

  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

     Oh, yes. I read all the Dr. Suess books. I read most of the child classics like Winnie The Pooh, and I remember falling in love with Belinda and the Dragon. When I hit about 11-12, I hated the Nancy Drew books, but ate up all the Trixie Beldon books. She had curly hair like me and was horse crazy like me.

     At about 13, I spend most of my time in my local library. Nix Library on Carrolton Avenue in New Orleans. They let me take out books way above my pay grade, but I devoured books. I especially love Mary Steward, Shirley Jackson, and any gothic book, like Daphne du Maurier. All of H.P. Lovecraft. All of Sherlock Holmes. All of Edgar Allen Poe.

     Then during and after college, I discovered horror, reading all of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. I also read a lot of true crime books. But then I had kids, and reading horror just didn’t sit well with me. And my husband worried about all the true crime stuff, like “How I Killed My Husband” stuff. So for everyone’s sanity, I move off it.

     And onto mystery, detective stories, police procedurals.

     But never romance. Not until my mid to late 40’s.

     Now, if you read a lot of my books, you can see where all of these early reads had a big influence on how and what I write about. I can go light and funny or very dark and gritty. I love adding action, mysteries, or suspense to my books. 

     And sex. Lots of sex. Hot, hot sex.

  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

     Good Lord! Well, I’d definitely be filed under the erotic romance section. I need to think about this for a bit. My life has been fairly usual. Sort of boring in its last half. Married, with children. Working a corporate job, 9-5.

     I’m not sure – maybe chicklity like Strong, Steady, and Sexy

     Or for a literary turn, The Electrician’s Daughter

     Maybe something southern, like Fried Okra, Grits and Men.

  • 10.What question would you ask yourself here?

     What are you working on next?

     My answer – I’ve got three books to series I need to finish. A new WereWolf Fight League book. This is going to be a menage (m/m/m) set in the dark, gritty world of werewolf slaves and cage fighting. This is for Loose Id.

     Another is the next Locke and Blade book. It’s set in a magical world torn away from the non-magical. They are a team of Inspectors who serve the Patrol, their world’s police force. This is for MLR Press.

     And I’ll be working on a new Rougaroux Social Club book, the last in the series. I plan on figuring out who Maman’s black cat really is and why he’s found a home in the bayou. Another for Loose Id.

    And I’m working on a…wait for it…gay inspirational story for Dreamspinner, if they take it. It’s the first in a series, so we’ll see, but I have hopes for it.

    Anything more than that will be for my het pen name, Theodora Lane.

Thanks again to Scattered Thoughts!!

And a big thank you to my publisher Dreamspinner, my editors, and my cover artist for David’s Dilemma, AngstyG.

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About David’s Dilemma

2nd Edition

When is it the wrong time to find Mr. Right? For David, that time is now. He’s caring for his homophobic father, who has Alzheimer’s, and his personal life is the last thing he has time to focus on. But when his father wanders off, David is forced to reach out to the police, in the person of Detective Travis Hart. Travis is gay, tired of the club life and twinks he can’t keep up with, and longs for a real relationship with a man who wants the same—maybe someone remarkable like David. In fact, David is exactly who he has been looking for, but Travis isn’t sure he can be the man David needs during this difficult time.

Because as David’s father sinks deeper into the disease that’s robbing him of his memories, David really needs a friend, not a lover. Though Travis is determined to support David in whatever way he can, David’s decision could lead both men into a situation with no possibility of a happy resolution.

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About the Author

Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and bestselling author who grew up in New Orleans but currently lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.

Thianna Durston on Inspiration, Writing, and her novel ‘Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3)’ (excerpt and author interview)

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Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3) by Thianna Durston
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Thianna Durston

Available for Purchase at

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Also in Dreamspinner Press Paperback

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Thianna Durston here today to answer questions about writing, inspiration, and her release, Vespar (Order of the Black Knights #3).   Welcome, Thianna!

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Will he kill the one who can save him… again?

  •     Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

You know, my stories usually come out of nowhere. Every once in awhile something will give me a plot bunny, but like with my current book Vespar. I started having dreams about a man who kept living the same cursed life over and over again. Even though I was busy with writing other things at the time, that dream would not let me go. It built into the full Order of the Black Knights series.

  •     Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

I’ve always been a pantser – mainly because my muse is a prideful so-n-so. And if I try to plan the story, he gets in a huff and refuses to talk to me. I have more works in progress that are stalled because of just that thing. However, lately I’ve found a way to incorporate a tiny bit of planning along with my off the cuff style. I write the book until about quarter of the way through. And then I can see the main parts of the story, write them down in a visual map I made, and then the rest of the story can zoom by fast.  I wrote 6 novels through this system this last fall and it worked like a dream. I look forward to seeing how far I can work with it.

  •     Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I’m all over the place, both in writing and reading. No one genre does it for me, except for when I’m reading or writing it in that moment. Some times I’ll write two books at the same time – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to keep things really interesting. In October I wrote a contemporary during the morning and a paranormal in the afternoon. It kept me interested and excited about both story lines. My muse as well – which is always a good thing as when he gets bored? Oh dear. The strangest stuff that ends up getting written.

  •     If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

Oh wow. Good question – and I think it’s Braun Taupesh, the lead character in a fantasy story I had published over ten years ago. It just recently went out of print and I look forward to completely rewriting him. He’s too simplistic. It was my first full length novel. And at the time, instead of just keeping plodding along and figuring things out – I got tired of writing it and just ended the story. Now, I want to go back and flesh out each of the characters. Him. The man whose body he takes over. The dwarf… And really bring out the bad guy as well. Uh oh. Now that I’m thinking about it, I just might take some time…

  •     Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

For me, the favorite character is usually the one I’ve just written. Just like my favorite book is the one that just came out. I can’t pick a fave 😀 It would be like picking a favorite child.

  •     If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

LaGuardia – ha ha ha ha. Heaven forbid. I’d rather get stuck on a demi-planet. I’d definitely have Jordan L. Hawk with me (All of her works). Heidi Cullinan’s works as well. Ella Frank’s Temptation series. And oh yes – A.E. Via’s Nothing Special series. I could read all of those works over and over and never get bored.

  •     How early in your life did you begin writing?

I was making up stories before I could write. The moment I learned how to write, I started penning them down. I still have one I wrote about a Martian coming to Earth. I think I was 6 or 7 when I wrote it.

  •     Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

My mother read to me and my sister all the time. I remember a lot of Winnie the Pooh. I also read the Chronicle of Narnia books which ignited even more of my love of fantasy.

  •     If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

Three is Better Than One

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About The Order of the Black Knights

Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done—what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.

Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.

If the Knight pardons his enemy, he will no longer be cursed. If not, he will continue to live the same life again and again, and each life will make him harder and more unyielding. And each life will make it less likely that he can be saved.

Blurb for Vespar

Special ops turned professional killer, Vespar McKauley is hired to take out Marcolm Rogers, son of his employer’s worst enemy. But Marc isn’t like any hit he’s ever done. He’s just twenty-one, he goes to a private university studying English Lit, and for fun he plays computer games with his friends. No drugs, no partying, no crime. The day he bumps into Marc and looks into his azure eyes, the world drops out from under him.

With his father in the Chicago Crime Syndicate, Marc and his mom have stayed out of the limelight, hiding from those that might harm them. He figures he’s safe at a small liberal arts university all the way across the country. Only midway through his senior year, he feels eyes on him and the shadows encroaching. Just as he’s about to run, he meets Vespar and experiences an instant attraction. When Vespar tells him he’s in danger and offers to protect him, Marc wants to believe him. But he’s been hunted before, and this time he isn’t sure he’ll get away. Especially when he finds out he is Vespar’s target.

Excerpt

Cold sweat dampened the back of his neck as he leaned down and picked it up. There it was. While before he killed on orders, within the simple tan envelope was information that would turn him from a military marksman, commanded to kill, into a contract killer.

A sense of unease centered in his shoulders. He ripped the flap up and yanked the contents out. He quickly glanced over the information on the top sheet.

Name: Marcolm Bissini

City: Unknown

Need: Make his death a noticeable hit

Time frame: Four weeks

Vespar grunted at the timeframe. Four weeks to find and kill the bastard. But since they wanted a noticeable hit, he could at least get all his frustration out on the kill. He yanked the cover sheet off and looked at the eight-by-ten photo of a boy not more than eight years old. “What the fuck?” he growled. “I won’t kill kids.” When he opened himself as a killer for hire, he stated what contracts he would not accept, and children and innocents were the only people he categorically refused to take out. Everyone else was fair game. In that way he convinced himself he was taking out someone who deserved it.

No innocent deserved to die. He flipped the image over and spotted words on the back.

This image was taken thirteen years ago. He has been in hiding since. We do not know what he looks like now. Leave this image by the body.

He rubbed his chin with his forefinger as he looked at the words. The kind of men who hired people like him had money and recourse. If they wanted the man dead, he would be dead. And by the age of twenty-one, the chances of him being an innocent bystander were almost zero. But for some strange reason, Vespar wondered why he needed to die. “It’s none of my business,” he snapped, and he shoved the contents back into the envelope. “They want him dead. He’s as good as dead.”

About the Author

Thianna Durston is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

Find her Online:

C.L. Etta on Writing, Books, and her release ‘Love’s Tethered Heart ‘ (author interview)

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Love’s Tethered Heart by C.L. Etta
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have C.L. Etta here today talking about writing, books, and her latest release, Love’s Tethered Heart.  Welcome, C.L.!

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A big shout out to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I appreciate the opportunity to stop in and answer a few questions while promoting my latest release—Love’s Tethered Heart. LTH is the unlikely love story of Mico and Danny, two men who work to forge a relationship despite the obstacles in front of them. Their biggest hurdle? Mico is ventilator dependent due to quadriplegia. I hope readers will accompany the characters on their journey to discover whether or not love can conquer all.

Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from? A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

Although this is my third book, I’m still a novice so I don’t have a “normal” yet. But my last career was as a nursing home nurse, and in each of my three books I’ve drawn on that experience. I’ve written minor characters who are central to the plot, dealing with a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. In LTH I tackle quadriplegia. My current work in progress is told from the point of view of a blind man. I’m also working on a manuscript set against a stock car racing background because I’m a NASCAR fan.

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

If by “pantzer” you mean “seat of your pants”, then I’m definitely a pantzer. I get an idea in my head and I see the beginning, maybe something that happens in the middle and since it’s a romance, I know how it will end. Everything else comes to me as I write. The why? I’m not sure. In real life, I’m spontaneous, rarely planning. I used to buy those daily planners, utilizing them a week or two, then tossing them aside. They stifled my style.

Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

The last four or five years I’ve been drawn to the m/m genre. I have read a handful of fantasy, but mostly stick with contemporary. I like the element of angst sexuality brings to the story. Before I began reading this genre, I mostly read historical bodice rippers.

Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

I’m learning that they can. I have another book coming out in March and I have a thing for the main character, Cassidy a recently retired Army sergeant with a gentle heart.

If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

Amy Lane’s Promise Rock series, Rowan Speedwell’s Illumination, Mary Calmes’ Matter of Time series, and to keep things exciting, SE Jake’s Hell or Highwater series.

How early in your life did you begin writing?

LOL. I wouldn’t call it early. I began writing my first novel in January 2015. It was accepted for publication in October it was accepted for publication and was released in July 2016. Since then, I’ve had three other novels accepted. It’s been a heady experience for me.

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I was an avid reader. I rode my bicycle to the library every week and checked out the maximum number of books. My mother would often find me under the covers with a flashlight in hand reading way past bedtime. I read Mark Twain, Daphne Du Maurier, and the Nancy Drew books. I went through a period where I read only mysteries. When I began reading historical romance, Kathleen Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer, and Judith McNaught were my go to authors.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Sitting on my laurels amid the Caribbean? No, really that’s what I’d like, but realistically I must always keep my mind busy, whether reading or writing, or playing Sudoku. I like to think that writing stories about beautiful men doing naughty things will keep me young. If not of body, then in mind and heart.

What would you like your readers to take away from Love’s Tethered Heart?

That’s a tough one, because the journey will be different for each reader. LTH touches on family themes, forgiveness, illness, loneliness, religion and unconditional love. I’d like them to arrive at the end of the journey with an enhanced sense of compassion and hope. I’d like them to believe that love is possible for everyone no matter life’s obstacles.

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Blurb

Two years ago Mico and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mico a quadriplegic—and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive, with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.

Assigned to interview Mico and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the other man. Mico is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mico is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mico, and he’s determined to show Mico that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mico’s existence.

If you enjoy romantic tales of heartbreak turned to hope, the life-affirming story of Danny and Mico will make you believe in the possibility of love for everyone—no matter what obstacles they face.

Author Bio

C.L. Etta, a bartender’s daughter, became the apple of her parents’ eyes at her first dimpled smile. Developing a lifelong passion for reading, C.L. spent summers riding her bicycle to the library where she filled the handlebar basket with books. Much to her chagrin, C.L.’s mother often found her under the bedcovers with a flashlight, reading in the middle of the night.

Fast-forward to college, where C.L. spent good times burning bras, working in summer-stock theater, trying out potential husbands, then to her parents’ and in-laws’ delight, finally started a family. Having raised three kids and a husband, and with varied careers as a secretary, credit union loan veep, a software support rep, a mortgage broker, and a nurse under her belt, C.L. decided it was time for a break. So, she retired.

It wasn’t until life had slowed that she heard voices—sexy male voices. Intrigued, she listened. She discovered new friends who clamored for their stories to be told. So, it was back to school where she stood outside the creative writing classroom with students who observed her silver hair and mistook her for the teacher. After completing class and going on a cruise, she sat at her computer and began telling her boys’ stories.

Eighteen months later, C.L. has contracted with two different publishers for four books. The voices in C.L.’s head are as loud as ever, giving C.L. the impetus to keep writing.

Social Media for CL Etta

https://clettabooks.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/clettabooks

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009457937368

https://www.pinterest.com/clettabooks/

In the Spotlight: Truth, Pride, Victory, Love by David Connor and E.F. Mulder

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Truth, Pride, Victory, Love by David Connor, E.F. Mulder
Dreamspinner Press

Available for Purchase at

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Hi all! We are happy to be here to answer some questions about writing, in conjunction with the release of our new novel, Truth, Pride, Victory, Love, a story about three boys who discover a love of swimming as they discover themselves and feelings for one another. 

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal? 

E. F.: It depends. Sometimes we like answering a call, like in the recent Dreamspinner Advent “Bah Humbug” where the theme is presented and we work up a story that fits. That can be a lot of fun. “Why would someone not like Christmas? Hmm….” Other times, David will say, “I had this weird dream last night,” and one of us will say, “You know….” When it came to “Truth, Pride, Victory, Love,” well, The Olympics are always a great event to build a story around. It was sort of like we had our theme. What came next was “What sport?” “What’s are the issues that cause the drama?” “What draws Reed toward a certain guy?” “What comes between them?”

  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

F. F.: Okay, so once we have the idea as mentioned above, I try to plan the beginning, the middle, and the end. David is definitely a pantzer. I kind of envy him. He is one of those people for whom the story just seems to write itself. Mostly, when we write together, it’s more bouncing ideas than bouncing the actual file back and forth. “Guess what just happened,” he’ll say. “That’s good,” I’ll respond, “but what happens next?” “I have no idea.” Then the story writes itself and sometimes something we actually planned doesn’t seem to fit naturally anymore. We originally had Reed and Mathias first meet in a different way, but the David sat down and wrote that amazing opening scene and I was hooked.

David: That was fun. Hopefully, within an instant, people get who Reed is. Also, when you get to work with a great editor, they will say, “How does so and so react?” and then you can go off and add another couple of pages of stuff you never even thought about. I LOVE that. The best editors really spark creativity! The relationship between editor and writer is very important.

  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

E. F.: We stick mostly with contemporary. We go historical once in a while and we like to play with paranormal stuff.

David: I always like to get into a character’s head, no matter the subgenre, to find out why he shuns love, falls for a guy at the drop of a hat, hates Christmas, or wants to constantly compete and always win, like Reed.

E. F.: David says he always wanted to be an FBI profiler. He’s really good, I think, at knowing why people act/say/and do things, especially when they act contrary to how they say they are.

  • If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

David: How about a whole book? “Double Flip”! Haha

E. F.: We’re on a roll lately where we are revisiting characters to find out what “happily ever after” really means. It surely isn’t wine and roses every day. We’ve recently been editing a book with Tom Alan, Milo, and Erika in it and just “finished” the first draft of a new story for Eli and TJ from “Orange You Glad I Said Kiss”.

  • Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

E. F.: Hmm. We both seem to fall in love with all of them. Secondary characters can be such a hoot! It’s like with children or fur babies. You try not to have a favorite cat, but the one who sits on your lap a lot feels like it quite often. However, sometimes the one who never comes near you gives squinty eyes from across the room and you say, “She likes me. She really likes me.” Then she’s your favorite for a while.

David: There’s an analogy for you,

E. F.: What’s hard is—and maybe this should go unsaid—when someone doesn’t like a character we love so much, it feels like we’ve failed him or her. If the reader isn’t cheering for our main guys, or doesn’t get why they fell in love, or doesn’t like one of them, we didn’t do the story justice. It’s like introducing your new boyfriend to your best friend and your best friend is like, “No.” So, yeah, they’re all like people we know and love.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

E. F.: I think we both starting writing as soon as we knew how to write. I found an old report card a while back where my first grade teacher said I was very creative.

David: My middle school English teacher told me I should write for soap operas. Romance novels and soaps are very similar.

E. F.: We hope everyone enjoys “Truth, Pride, Victory, Love”. Like a soap opera—like life—there is humor, heartbreak, romance, adventure, family drama, a few surprises, and a lot of sexiness.

David: And water. Lots of water.

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Blurb

Beneath the surface, they share more than dreams of Olympic gold.

Since elementary school, the question of Reed Watson’s race has needled him. But the one thing he’s always known is that he is destined to become an Olympic star—he felt it the moment he first hit the water. Chosen by a former Olympic swimmer to train for the 2016 Olympics, Reed determinedly works toward his dream.

Along the way, Reed develops feelings for two men he’s known since childhood: Cal, his next-door neighbor, and Mathias, his rival since the fourth grade. Cal’s struggle with his sexual identity and a tragedy complicate Reed’s feelings, while Mathias’s wealth quickly makes it obvious they are from vastly different worlds. 

As Rio approaches, Mathias becomes a gay sports icon, while Reed is told to hide his sexuality for a lucrative endorsement deal that will offer his family a financial boost and help him with mounting debt. Reed’s unresolved desires for both men remain and so too do all the things that have kept them apart. Has he grown enough to navigate rougher waters, to find truth, pride, victory, and love?

In The Author Spotlight: Kris T. Bethke on “His Needs” (author interview, holiday story)

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His Needs by Kris T. Bethke
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by Angsty G

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kris T. Bethke here today answering our author questions about writing, and their latest release, His Needs.  Welcome, Kris!

~Our Kris T. Bethke Interview~

 

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

The truth, though clichéd as it is, is everywhere. Every little thing in my life can cause a plot bunny. A conversation, a song, a name, a trip. There’s no telling what will set of a spark and what will make it grow. But, there is always a little piece of me and what’s going on in my life at the moment in every book, whether intentional or unintentional. For His Needs, it was my sister being on painkillers after surgery, my love of the holidays, and knitting.

  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

I’m a combo writer. I start by pantzing, then get a rough outline for where I want the story to go and what I want to happen in general terms, and then I’m back to pantzing for the actual writing of the salient details.

  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I almost always write contemporary, because I find that’s where my muse directs me, though I’m branching out into paranormal next! As a reader though, I’m very eclectic, though comtep, supernatural, and sci fi seem to be my biggest draws.

  • If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

I think that would be Jack, from my first published short story Worth It. At his core he’d remain the same, but I would like to explore his motivation more. And I think I’d like to make him less “romantic ideal” and more real.

  • Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

Absolutely! Just as a reader has a favorite character, it’s easy for authors to as well. I have a particular fondness for Matt and Alex from my short story Hero Worship, which is why I keep revisiting them in my Friday flash fics. And honestly, I still love Travis and Noah, and I’m really glad I get to share them with the world now.

  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

Hard one! I’d need all things Santino Hassel for gritty, real, and hot, some Mary Calmes for fluffy, tropey goodness, and my favorite book The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

I was telling myself stories at an early age, but I really started writing in fifth grade. I was ten, there was a creative writing section in our curriculum, and I found out I could actually be good at this writing thing if I worked at it.

  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I was read to before I was even out of the womb, and my mom made it a point to read to us a lot. My siblings and I are all big readers, and have been since a very young age. Dr. Seuss, of course, made a huge impression, especially On Beyond Zebra and McElligot’s Pool. And when I was a preteen and teenager, it was all about teen romances.

  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

Unrequited

Thanks for having me on the blog today!

Thank you, Kris, for coming.  We were delighted to have you here.

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About His Needs

When State Trooper Travis Kinslow is injured right before Thanksgiving, the only positive is that for once he won’t be working during the holidays. Since he has no family, Travis was absorbed into his best friend, Joe’s, and he considers them as good as his own. Everyone except Joe’s brother Noah. Travis has been in love with the younger man for much of his life, but he’s always kept his distance.

As an ER nurse, Noah is a caretaker by nature. When his brother’s best friend is hurt, he’s happy to help Travis while he heals. He’s only ever allowed himself to think of Travis as the next best thing to an older brother, but by the light of the Christmas tree, Noah finally sees Travis’s true feelings. And in that moment, everything changes.

When faced with opposition and a Christmas nothing like they imagined, will their hopes for the future be enough to carry them through?

About the Author

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long.  An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project.  Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.  A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures.  She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head.  She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com or on Twitter twitter.com/kristbethke