Amy Spector on Writing, Books, and her release ‘That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love) by Amy Spector (guest blog)

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That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love) by Amy Spector
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:Dreamspinner Press || Amazon US || Amazon UK || B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Spector here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest story That Rat, Carter Janson.  Welcome, Amy.

 

Hello, everyone. This is Amy Spector and I’m excited to be here today on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to answer a few questions—I’ll undoubtedly humiliate myself epically—share my new release from Dreamspinner Press, and offer up a chance to win a copy of That Rat, Carter Janson.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Spector

How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I think there’s always something of myself that goes into my characters. Sometimes a little, sometimes an embarrassing amount.

I think when I was first starting out, just learning my skill really, those pieces of me in my characters were more blatant. I’m still learning, still growing as a writer, but I believe they have become more subtle. More subtle and somehow more true to who I actually am.

I think with my newest book, my main characters Felix and Carter are both like me but in very different ways.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

While I always write HEA, I like reading both. The truth is, I am such a sappy romantic at heart—something I didn’t really discover until I started writing—that I’m always convinced that an HFN is going to end up a happily ever after.

For me, Rhett Butler was always going to come back. LOL

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

I read very little romance when I was younger. I mainly read classics and mystery. Then I moved on to horror. I would occasionally pick up a romance novel, but rarely.

It wasn’t until about seven years ago when a friend insisted that I go with her to a romance writers’ convention that it all changed. She dragged me from booth to booth, told me what books to buy, made me stand in line to meet and get autographs from all these people I had never heard of—like J.R. Ward and Charlaine Harris and a dozen others. And even then, those books sat on my bookshelf for more than a year before I finally pulled the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book off my shelf.

After that I was pretty much on a quest to read every paranormal romance I could get my hands on. LOL

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

Truthfully, I wasn’t instantly on board with ebooks when they first showed up on the scene. I liked physical books—the weight of them, the smell of the ink and paper—for a lot of different reasons. Part of it, I think, is that when I was young, we were quite poor and owning a book was a huge thing. I remember being about eight and buying these three old, jacketless Nancy Drew books for a few quarters at a flea market and they were like treasure to me. So I think I still like the ownership part of it, and digital books didn’t give me that same thrill.

Later I fell in love with them. It was the ease of getting books, that I could carry hundreds of books with me all the time. And there was that whole quest to read all things paranormal romance.

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

I’d have to say, it’s a tie between my paranormal romance Cold Fingers and That Rat, Carter Janson.

Cold Fingers was the first book I wrote that was wholly my idea. It was a love letter to the movies that my grandfather showed my mother and my mother, in turn, showed me. And it was the first time I wasn’t writing specifically for an anthology that dictated my story in some way. That Rat, Carter Janson was easily the most work but it also was the most satisfying to write. And it’s all about things that I love, like art, and history, museums and crime.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

People aren’t perfect, and I like to write about that.

I think flawed personalities and bad first impressions are wonderful to play with and explore. I like to present a character and have their true nature slowly revealed because we all put up fronts and show the world a facade. I like to have a reader say … Oh, I didn’t like him at first, but now I think he’s wonderful.

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?

I’ve never done that with an entire story. I have certainly done it with scenes many, many times.

The very first scene in That Rat, Carter Janson was the first thing I wrote. I removed it shortly after, convinced it didn’t work.

Months later, when I was almost finished with the book, I put the scene back in, added the last line, and realized it was exactly what the story needed.

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 haven’t but I want to! I’m pretty much convinced it’s the answer to all those scenes I find myself struggling with. But I have young children, and a husband who could sleep through the apocalypse. And, since I do most of my writing at night, I figure one of us needs to be able to get everyone out of the house if there’s a fire. LOL

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

I would love to write from a deck over looking the ocean. I already love writing outside—the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the breeze—and I can think of no better soundtrack or better view, then the waves of the ocean.

It would need to be a miraculously deserted beach. Half-naked beach goers could be distracting. Or maybe they’d be just the inspiration I need!

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?

Honestly? It sometimes makes it hard to write at all.

I’ll be stressing over some scene or other, or worrying that a story subplot isn’t working and I’ll see the news—and the newest nightmare unfolding—and I’ll think… Who cares about a damn book? The world is falling apart. Then I’ll think about how often I have allowed myself to escape into a story, had the way I thought about something irreversibly changed by a simple piece of fiction, or found happiness for just a little while in the pages of a book. Then I’ll keep going.

What’s next for you as a writer?

There’s the question, isn’t it?

When I started That Rat, Carter Janson, I didn’t really see it as more than a standalone story. But, by the time I was ready to write the end I had fallen in love with too many of the characters—had played matchmaker in my head—and I knew I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye forever. And, being the HEA sucker I am, I knew I’d have to revisit them.

I currently have a novel length story in the works starring two of the secondary characters from the story.

***

That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love 35)

Blurb:

Every man has secrets, but some are bigger than others….

Felix Peake escaped a shady past to carve out a successful career as an expert in Mesopotamian art and gain the respect of the Chicago art community. But when an assistant curator—a man Felix could easily see himself falling for—asks him to reauthenticate a cuneiform tablet to avoid a looming scandal, Felix’s carefully constructed life could crumble.

The tablet is a fake, and Felix is intimately familiar with the artist. Master forger Carter Janson—Felix’s ex and first love—disappeared from his life six years before without a word of explanation. Now, to hold his world together, Felix must find the original tablet, steal it back, and replace the forgery—all before the museum exhibit debuts. It’ll mean slipping back into a role Felix wanted to leave behind and risking his promising future. But even then, he can’t do it alone. He’ll have to confront that rat, Carter Janson.

States of Love: Stories of love that span every corner of the United States.

***

About Amy Spector

Amy Spector grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns, and mystery novels.

After years of blogging about comic books, vintage Gothic romance book cover illustrations, and a shameful amount about herself, she decided to try her hand at writing stories. She found it more than a little like talking about herself in third person, and that suited her just fine.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British Drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband, children, and her cats Bowie and Poe.

Connect with Amy online: Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Website/Blog

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

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Author Spotlight: Lindsey Black

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Author Spotlight:

Lindsey Black

I found author Lindsey Black through her debut novel Fishy Riot, published at Dreamspinner Press.  I laughed, sniffled, and fell totally in love with the Jameson clan and this author’s writing.  And then as it happens..nothing …until I heard from the Australian publishing house Hot Tree Publishing and found that Lindsey Black had written a sequel.

Rhino Ash, the second story in Lindsey Black’s Saturday Barbie series, just deepened my love for this series and author.  It also made me want to know more about her, and the inspiration behind this family and series.  Reading her answers to my questions has just made me appreciate the characters and storylines even more.  She has a gift in the way she mixes humor and pathos, romance with the grittiness of a policeman’s or fireman’s reality, and then finally brings it all together with the craziness and warmth of a large family’s love and support.  How I adore this series and it’s only at two books at the moment.  That I feel that way is due to the talent of this amazing writer.

If you  haven’t found this series yet and love contemporary romance with a hint of suspense, humor, and action thrown in, then this author and series is the one for you.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Lindsey Black

  •   That marvelous Jameson family:  How did you come up with them?  The idea of the names of the kids, their professions?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Big families are a very old school Australian thing. My father is one of five children and my mother is one of six. I only have two siblings, but my husband has six. I don’t think you can write about Australian life and values without including a huge family—we’re all about big family gatherings. But the Jameson’s in particular are a payout (def. To insult, to knock, to slather with insults. In common usage, at least in Australia.) of both my family and my husband’s. More his, really.

Among his siblings there is a 6 foot something tall riot squad officer, a nurse, my husband who is ex-military, and then the younger siblings who are far less over-achieving. But I thought it was funny that they were all public service jobs, especially since I’m a teacher. Oh and the nurse’s partner is also a teacher. My husband’s family are also rather bogan**, which is pretty hilarious and very un-Jameson. I didn’t want to write about bogan Australia, that’s boring and overdone and too easy, really. I wanted to explore the fine line between middle class Australia and the upper echelons; that space where you have money but don’t throw it away. So while I took the occupational amusement from my husband’s family, the overall feel of the family was taken from my own.

Chloe is basically my mum after a few glasses of wine (she should really only ever be given one, but after that it’s a fun ride!). My Mum was an English teacher, and my Dad is a writer so I sort of combined their idiosyncrasies for Chloe. She’s nuts, in the best way! My Dad actually studied law when he was younger but dropped out when he realised he didn’t like it much and went into teaching later, but I thought it a nice little homage to make Daniel a lawyer.

The occupations were also a bit of a piss-take on contemporary pop culture and the way we seem to fetishise particular jobs.

The rhyming names was an accident; I’d named four of the characters before I realised I’d done it and then I left it because I thought it was funny.

  •  Do you know how many books this series will have?

Saturday Barbies has four planned books. A few readers have asked about some other side stories but I would have to really look at them to even consider going there. In the end I think they would be funnier cameos in the four books I have planned.

They aren’t really standalone; you can read Rhino Ash without reading Fishy Riot, but the next two start mingling the plots pretty savagely and while I’m doing my best to make them separate entities, they are a series, so … We shall see, I suppose?

  •  Where did the name of the series come from?

When I first heard that Dreamspinner was going to publish Fishy Riot I had to tell my husband, and he wanted to know what it was about. I was stumped for a minute before I blurted out ‘Saturday Barbies’. And it’s true. At it’s very core the series is about family, and the ways we come together and support one another. Unfortunately, he still thinks it’s about drinking beer with the mates, eating a sausage sandwich and kicking a footy around with the occasional weird porn scene.

  •  Taylor got a book, will his other twin get one as well even though he has a boyfriend?

This was actually one of those ‘other stories’ I mentioned people had asked about (Taylor would hate/love to know how popular Clay apparently is). I could go back and tell Clay and Joels’ story, and might one day, but at the moment I’m focussing on moving forward in the timeline.

The remaining two books don’t focus on new characters, or even new relationships, but rather continue the plots and romances already established.

Book three is Sietta’s book. A few eagle-eyed readers noticed Rhino Ash mentioned Taylor had linked something in the illegal immigrants storyline to Sietta, and book three picks up from there to begin tying up the loose ends from Fishy Riot.

  •    I love the mixture of humor and pain here, it works so well.  It was hard to believe that Fishy Riot was a debut novel.  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for a long time. Many, many years ago I wrote several epic fantasy novels but I fear I was a tad before the times. My books all had female leads when it was very uncool to do so, and in the tiny Aussie publishing market that was ‘never going to happen’. It’s great to see that changing.

Fishy Riot was an interesting book to write, mostly because it is a serious book that is not to be taken seriously. It’s also one of those books that readers either really love, or hate with a passion that terrifies me and that has a lot to do with it refusing to follow the developed idea of what constitutes a romance. Fishy Riot doesn’t let you wallow, because life doesn’t let you do that. It moves fast, things constantly change, and if in the middle of all the chaos you happen to find a slice of magic then isn’t that all the more amazing?

  •  What do you love yourself about this series?  And the crazy Jameson family?

There are a lot of very subtle jokes in this series that a small handful of people have understood. They are usually related to the finer details of Australian life, be that politics, family, friendships, workplace policy, you name it there is very likely a joke about it somewhere in there. I love that on the surface they are a ridiculous series of books (I mean, ultimately they are a satire of sorts), but the issues are current and meaningful to the society I live in and approached in a very Aussie way.

Another really fun thing is that most of the really crazy, over the top incidents are actually based on real world events. The drug bust, the drive by shooting, the illegal immigration forced indenture, someone being lit on fire on a bus … they were all based on real events. So that’s cool, and another ‘inside joke’ for Aussies who pay attention to the news.

  •   What new stories are you working on?

My next book ‘Barricade’ comes out on December 15th. It’s a dystopian sci-fi romance set in the not so distant future. On the surface it probably seems a very serious book, but as with most things I write it began as a piss-take of Trump’s wall. Sorry, not sorry. It’s another book I expect to be loved and hated in equal measure, for a lot of the same reasons as Saturday Barbies—you have to think outside the borders to really understand the bones of it.

Then in February ‘North’ is being released. It’s a cute little contemporary Aussie folklore/fantasy romance set near my home city of Darwin. This is probably the most ‘traditional’ romance book I’ve written, but it’s still on the far side of quirky. New genre? ’Aus-quirk’!

And of course I’m working on book three of Saturday Barbies.

  •   How can people find you?

I have a blog – www.lindseyblack.net where I also have a mailing list if you like to be reminded of what’s coming, and I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

  •   What do you want people to know about Lindsey Black and why she writes?

I think it’s important to challenge our ideas about the world. I try to write meaningful stories that subtly (or not so subtly) question how we do things, and why. Stories link emotions to ideas, and I hope people finish one of my books feeling lighter, but also more determined to do something good in the world. Usually I suspect they finish a book and toss it across the room … whatever works for you.

……

**So that was our interview…but  as I read it over I realized I had no idea what “bogan” meant and thought some of our other American readers wouldn’t either. Back to Lindsey I went and here’s her answer….

Oh geez! I guess a bogan is sort of like trailer trash, but more aussie?

Um…definition? From it’s wikipedia page hahahahaaa!

Bogan (/ˈbɡən/BOHG-ən[1]) is Australian and New Zealandslang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated. Depending on the context, the term can be pejorative or self-deprecating.[2]

Since the 1980s, the bogan has become a very well-recognised subculture, often as an example of bad taste.

About the Author

LINDSEY BLACK lives in Darwin, Australia, where the weather report permanently reads ‘humidity at 100%, only going to get worse’ for ten months of the year and ‘monsoon at 4:00 p.m. for exactly fifteen minutes’ for the remaining two. Between teaching and studying full-time, she escapes this oppressive environment to bushwalk for weeks on end wherever the mobile phone reception has zero bars for as long as possible and the weather report reads something along the lines of ‘blizzard likely.’ She enjoys martial arts, music, and mayhem, which explains the untidy state of her home where she attempts to write while splitting her minimal amounts of spare time between her incredulous husband, lazy Chinchilla cat, and crazed Siberian husky. If you expect her to sit and have a chat, it’s best to have a matcha green tea latte with almond milk on hand and your hiking boots within reach. Oh, and be sure to bring a guitar for impromptu jam sessions.

 

Website

  • Saturday Barbie Series (add to Goodreads):

Fishy Riot (Saturday Barbies, #1)

Rhino Ash (Saturday Barbies, #2

  • Standalone Books:

Barricade (scify) coming out December 20

Tom Early on Writing, Characters and his novel The Doorway God (Seasons Rising #2) (author interview)

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The Doorway God (Seasons Rising #2) by Tom Early
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Art by Sadie Thompson;
Cover Design by Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at Harmony Ink Press

Amazon | Google Play | Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tom Early here today in our author’s hot seat answering questions. Welcome, Tom.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Tom Early, author of The Doorway God

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

That depends very much on the character. Fay has a lot of me inside him, which is the result of writing in the first person, living through a similar period of my life at the time, and learning a bit of the rules of writing as I went. Other characters like Sam or Tyler are based mostly off people I know, or amalgamations of traits from people I know very well. But everyone has at least a bit of me inside them, I think.

  • 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?

Not in the least, unless you have a life free of mistakes and such a high opinion of yourself as to think you’re infallible. Fay has a lot of my life experiences in him, in some way or another. A lot of those are mistakes or otherwise embarrassing moments. That does not a Gary Stue make – it just makes him real enough to be relatable.

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

Fantasy is an interesting beast in that regard. I love it because I get to build up a whole lot of worlds and cultures and rules from nothing, but then I need to make sure that it’s internally consistent at all times, and that everything that isn’t fantasy is still believable and follows internal logic. The more you want people to believe in magic, the more the material has to follow the strict rules of physics, and the magic has to follow the rules you’ve clearly set out for it. I end up researching a lot of what I’ve already set down, ironically enough. That, and some basics of hospital and university procedure for certain scenes.

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

Very definitely. I’ve always had a soft spot for fantasy, and that’s never gone away. Nobody who knows me is surprised that that’s the genre I 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?

I haven’t had that happen quite because of hurting, but I have had to put aside ‘in progress’ stories before because I felt I wasn’t quite up to the task at the time. Sometimes because I felt I didn’t have the talent or experience, and other times because the subject matter was something I had to steel myself for, and didn’t feel emotionally up for it at the time.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I love realism, but I’m also a terrible sap. Give me HEA every time, just with acknowledgment that there are always bumps in the road to be dealt with – they just don’t have to be dramatic and spell out an end.

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

I think it’s a very good thing, because it’s affordable and accessible to a lot of people. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, and I’m glad for the chance to see it develop in my own time. I don’t think it spells the end of print books, but there are always growing pains.

  • How do you choose your covers?

When I was young and foolish, I signed a blood pact with a demon. They told me the terms and conditions of the pact, and from there I was directed to an individual known as Sadie, who was then put in charge of my covers from that point onwards. I regret nothing – their art is truly spectacular and suited perfectly to my books. (Check my books for contact information – Sadie’s art isn’t something to be missed)

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Functioning as a human being while finding time to write, I imagine. Beyond that, I’m not sure – I just know that I’m not done writing with the conclusion of Seasons Rising as a series. I hope to stay working with Harmony Ink Press for a long time yet!

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I’m fascinated by people who are nothing like me, especially if I can figure out the core of their personalities. That’s also mostly impossible, but I do my best anyway. Anyone who has the confidence to tackle the world head on and can talk with total strangers without feeling like an alien is someone I would like to get to know better. 

  • 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 once wrote an entire complex of assassins and a city plagued by a name no one could remember how to speak aloud while more than a little drunk. I reread it the next morning and took some choice bits to squirrel away for later, and then deleted the other 70% or so. As it turns out, drunk me likes very much to run with the coolest idea he can think of in the moment… which often happens to be something someone else has written.

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

I do very well in places where I am completely comfortable and not lacking in outside stimulus. Coffee shops tend to work very well for this, especially if I can snag a comfy chair. Give me background people chatter, a sugary caffeinated drink the size of my head, and decent wifi, and I will be more than happy to sit and write away the day for hours.

  • 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?

I write because writing makes me happy, and because I believe that stories help make the world a happier, more understanding place. There’s a lot going on today that I can’t do a damn thing about. This is something I can do to make a difference in my own way. If I can take care of myself and maybe help others a bit too with my writing, I’m going to do it.

Blurb

The Seasons are coming to Janus University, and Fay’s and Sam’s lives will never be the same.

Through last year’s deadly Trials, Fay and Sam gained admittance to the magical university, and the coming of autumn signals the start of the school year. But both of them have goals beyond their studies. For Fay, it’s finding a way to contain the ancient and evil spirit of Winter, which has no regard for human life. Fay has vowed to never let Winter kill again—but working with the school’s headmaster, Didas, is a risk. Didas cannot see past the potential power he can draw from Fay, and since Fay’s boyfriend and familiar, Tyler, is away at Tufts University, Fay might have to face his possession—and his dreams of four mysterious figures—on his own terms.

While trying to help Fay, Sam seeks information about her mother’s past in the magical world of Gaia, but will she like what she uncovers? To survive, Fay and Sam must make alliances, but it’s harder than ever to tell friend from enemy.

About the Author

Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day. 

When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now. 

Mark David Campbell on Writing, Characters and his latest novel ‘Eating the Moon’ (author interview)

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Eating the Moon by Mark David Campbell
DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Buy Link:  DSP Publications

Release Date:  August 29, 2017

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Mark David Campbell today. Welcome, Mark!

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Mark David Campbell ~

 

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I am inspired by people I know and with each character I discover qualities that are admirable and sometimes shameful but in the end, I suspect that all my characters come from somewhere deep inside 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 never set out to create a character, as such. I imagine a situation or reflect on an experience or fantasy and sooner or later a character appears and begins a conversations. Before I know it other characters have joined in the conversation and that’s when I feel a story is emerging.

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

After so many years studying anthropology, I have to say that everything I write is shaped and informed by that rare and wonderful way of looking at humanity and the human experience.

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

Yes, but in a very convoluted way. I have a learning disability and reading was very difficult for me as a child, so I became a day-dreamer and invented my own stories and adventures in my head. I developed an effective strategy for reading academic texts but this was far from pleasurable. It wasn’t until I was living in a small village in the jungle of Central America doing research that I learned to read for pleasure and discovered the joy of fiction.

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?

Not unlike many LGBTIQ people, I lost my family a number of years ago and I still have, and probably always will have, many issues that are just too painful for me to explore in my writing.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I don’t know what they are, but if they’re an acronym for a brand of beer or type of pizza I probably like both of them.

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

I confess, my first love affair with romance fiction was with Danielle Steel, when I was an adult.

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

Easy. Margaret Atwood, E. M. Forester, Somerset Maugham and of course the old adventure classics like R. L. Stevenson, Joseph Conrad and Jules Verne. I also love short stories. I especially like collections of gay short stories.

What do you read, mostly.

I’ll read anything that’s good. I particularly look for adventure and character development with a strong storyline. I prefer books which have an original perspective or take on a situation. I’m not attracted to books which are sensational, over technical or celebrity worship and I don’t read books with graphic violence and explicit torture scenes, even if the book is generally well written.

Of course, I’ve always been drawn to books and stories with a queer perspective because I’m gay and I can relate to them. The heteronormative perspective can be like a tsunami, pretty much drowning out everything else; TV, radio, advertising, the internet… Reading a queer novel, is like holding my head up out of the water and taking a breath of fresh air.

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

The future will be ebooks. They are convenient, portable and cheap. But ebooks are less intimate and can’t completely replace the feel and experience of reading through the pages of a classic paper book.

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

I wanted the cover to reflect the mystery and melancholy of the story and it needed three elements; the moon, the sea and a lone figure.

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

I have many favorites. As far as characters go, I think most writers teeter on the edge of insanity where we often have trouble distinguishing between our characters and real life people. So for me, my favorite parts are when Guy is on the island, hanging out with Nando and Pico or fishing with Kizo, Luca and Pico, amongst his friends who love and accept him.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my next book which is a tale of a little biobot (part biological, part mechanical), aged thirteen years old, named Sonny Boy, who learns to understand what it means to be loved and to love.

What are your hopes for this book?

I want this book to be the kind of story that stays with the reader on a very intimate level. I want to reader to feel like the island is their personal escape that they can return to, time and time again.

Eating the Moon

What if there was a place that nobody else knew about – a secret place – where everyone was queer?’ That’s the question Guy, a 70 year old, lonely gay anthropology professor asks Richard, his 32 year old psychiatrist. During their twice weekly sessions, Guy tells Richard a fantastic tale of his experience as a young man bound for Cuba on a cargo ship which sinks in the Bermuda triangle. Guy and the first mate Luca are washed up on the shore of an uncharted tropical island and discover a complex society where almost everyone is homosexual.

Eating the Moon takes you on an erotic tropical vacation to a place where all your fantasies of homosexual love and sex can come true, but as both Guy and Luca soon discover, even paradise comes with a cost.

About the author

Mark David Campbell is a Canadian who has lived in Italy for the past seventeen years where he teaches, writes and paints, moving between Lago Maggiore and Milan with his husband. Prior to moving to Italy, he spent twenty years studying and working in archaeology and anthropology in Canada, Central America, Jordan, Egypt and Greece and earned his Ph.D. in social cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto where he taught as a part-time professor.

In addition to writing, he has shown his paintings at numerous individual and group shows in Toronto, Canada and throughout Italy. In his spare time, Mark David Campbell likes scouring second-hand stores, boating on Lago Maggiore and eating pizza and drinking beer with friends.

Jo Ramsey on Characters, Writing, and her release Dolphins in the Mud (Harmony Ink Author Interview)

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Dolphins in the Mud by Jo Ramsey
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at Harmony Ink Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jo Ramsey here today with an author interview and a new release to share with our readers. Welcome, Jo!

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Jo Ramsey ~

  • 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 be honest, no, I don’t think there’s that tight a line. A Mary Sue/Gary Stu is a character the author wants to be. The one all the other characters love. The one whose many accomplishments leave people in awe. The one who solves the mystery, or drives the entire plot, simply because of their skills and sheer awesomeness. In general, I would suspect that the experiences of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character aren’t even close to the experiences of the author. They’re the experiences the author wishes they’d had.

An author using their own experiences to inspire a character isn’t the same thing. The character might share personality traits with the author, or with someone the author knows, but isn’t so heavily based on the source that anyone can tell who it is. Also, someone’s real life experiences often aren’t ones where they’ve saved the world and are beloved by all who know them, so an author who uses their own experiences is not likely to be creating a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Some of my characters share my experiences and/or personality traits, but they’re very definitely their own people.

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

I do not enjoy research at all, so in general I will avoid it whenever possible. I much prefer creating my own worlds, or, with contemporary fiction, writing about characters and situations that are very similar to people and things in my own life.

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

When I was ten, someone gave me a copy of The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. In the book, a typical 11-year-old boy, the youngest in his family, learns that he’s the last of a group that exists to fight evil. The story is heavily inspired by Arthurian legend and mythology, and the idea that someone “normal” and often overlooked could have such amazing things happen to him captured my imagination.

Although nearly all of my books with Harmony Ink Press are contemporary fiction, my heart lies more in writing paranormal/fantasy. Primarily urban fantasy, where someone who is seemingly “normal” and often overlooked has amazing things happen to them. Some of my previous books, all of which are now off the market, followed that basic concept. Fighting evil, even if you don’t believe you can. Learning that you have power and are a hero, even if you’ve spent your entire life being taught otherwise. Even in my contemporary fiction, I incorporate some of those ideas with characters who, rather than fighting evil, fight things like mental illness, bullying, and trauma, and come out as heroes.

  • 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?

When I wrote Work Boots and Tees, the fifth book in my Deep Secrets and Hope series, I had to stop several times. Jim, the main character, is a sexual abuse survivor who, as a teen, sexually assaulted two girls he was dating. In both cases, he didn’t recognize it as assault; they didn’t say no, after all. When he realizes what the girls perceive as having happened, he’s devastated. In his mind, he has become as much a monster as the man who abused him.

I’m also a sexual abuse survivor, and, like Jim, was quite young when it happened. His memories and flashbacks of the abuse hit far too close to home for me. Although my life didn’t go the way Jim’s did, throughout writing his story I could feel the anguish, anger, and fear he experienced. I went much more deeply into his head than I have with almost any other character I’ve written.

Unfortunately this caused me to have more severe PTSD reactions than I had in a while. I had plenty of support from my loved ones and my therapist, but for my own mental health I had to stop working on the book a few times to give my brain a reset before I could continue.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I much prefer happy-for-now. I don’t think happily-ever-after is at all realistic. Even in the best relationships, there is sometimes conflict. And people change over time, so “the one” for you might not be the one five, ten, twenty years down the road. I prefer realistic endings to artificial ones.

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

I have read some romances, though most of my reading is nonfiction at this point. The romances targeted at teens have improved since I was a teen, in my opinion. The ones I remember reading back then were always about a girl having to choose between two boys, and that annoyed me, partly because I couldn’t even get one boy interested in me and partly because I didn’t understand why the girl couldn’t just have both boys so they could all be happy.

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

I think ebooks will become more popular, but I doubt they’ll ever entirely replace hard-copy books. Some people just enjoy holding a physical book in their hands. It’s also a lot easier to highlight or otherwise mark things in a physical book than an ebook. Personally, I think ebooks are great in terms of saving space, but I prefer physical copies.

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

It’s fairly easy for me. My publisher contracts an artist to create the cover based on a form I submit that includes descriptions of the main character(s) and the setting, and I’m sent three versions from which to choose. I choose the one that comes closest to what I’ve envisioned, and feels the most “right” to me.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

That is a good question! I’m currently working on a novel about an abusive relationship between two teenage boys. I think that dating abuse among teenagers happens far more frequently than people realize, and I also believe that abuse between same-sex couples is vastly underrepresented in fiction. Most abusive relationships I’ve seen depicted are between heterosexual couples. I know two teens who were involved in abusive relationships, and I felt it was important to depict.

Readers can always find out more about what I’m working on and what I have coming up by visiting my website, http://www.joramsey.com, or my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/JoRamseyAuthor. They can also check me out on the Harmony Ink Press website, where they’ll find my new release Dolphins in the Mud among other books. https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/dolphins-in-the-mud-by-jo-ramsey-485-b

 

More about Dolphins in the Mud – Blurb

Stranded. Hopeless. Trapped. No one to turn to and no way to reach the freedom just beyond his grasp….

That’s how Chris Talberman feels when his family moves to an isolated New England coastal town and leaves him alone to care for his severely autistic sister, Cece.

Chris knows how the dolphins stranded in the cove near his home must feel—he understands their struggle better than he can express. But the tragic event has a silver lining. It’s there, while chasing his sister, that Chris meets Noah, a boy his age who is as kind and handsome as he is fascinating. Not only has Chris found the friend he needed, but the possibility for love—

Until Chris’s mother abandons the family and Noah reveals his own hidden pain. Now Chris must care for the person he thought would care for him.

Kindle Edition and paperback, 2nd edition, 180 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press (first published May 29th 2012)
ASINB071WX1KGR

Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend

With the sound of Roaring Thunder still echoing in my ears as they passed by on their way to the District,  it’s time to remember and honor those that have given their lives for their country and freedom, protecting those here and around the world.  Those fallen on the field of Flanders, Khe Sanh,  Gettysburg or Helmand Province, you will always be remembered.

Literature, whether novels or poetry,  is a powerful tool to keep memories alive, evoke the emotions, the pain, the hopes and fears, the bravery behind those that go off to war, no matter the year or war, controversy or no.  Siegfried Sassoon or Walt Whitman, John McCrae’s Field of Flanders (seen above) to all the anonymous poems and letters left at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, DC (gathered up daily by volunteers to be stored and/or displayed at the museum).  I’ve included one such poem here as well.  They touch at the heart, the mind, the soul.  They make us remember.    It’s Memorial Weekend.  Do you have a favorite poem you could share?

Remembrance Day Poems To Remember The Fallen | HuffPost UK

Posted on The Wall Site for Cpl Brent R Jones. 


The Stranger

One lovely summer day
As I was walking through the grass
Reflecting on the very fondest
Memories of my past

I past an unfamiliar place
And stopped a while to see
Completely unsuspecting
Of the change this place would bring

I stood before a wall of names
Two hundred and fifty-one
Engraved upon a monument
That pierced the shining sun

And though, to all these names
I was a stranger passing by
I looked upon these names
And there was one that caught my eye

It may have been a moment
Or an hour, or a year
I walked up to the name
And leaned in close so I could hear

I closed my eyes and listened
To the pure and priceless truth
And came to understand the love
Of which, this wall is proof

It’s said that he who bears
The very greatest love of all
Will sacrifice his life
Before He’ll see a dear friend fall

Though people often wonder
Whether such a man is real
I see him now
Through these engraven letters that I feel

He’s sitting with his brother
telling stories as they laugh
Of the greatest game’s he’ll ever pitch
Of the biggest fish he’ll catch

He’s standing by his colors
On a hillside far away
He’s diving through the amber fire
While others run away

I search through all my memories
Of the noble and the grand
The courage and the truth
That I’ve been taught to understand

Of all the stories that are told
This shall be told of you
Dear Soldier, How you gave your life
For those you never knew.

This poem was written by Callie Crofts, Firth High School class of 2004.
Sunday, March 27, 2005

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 28:

  • Release Blitz for  Nell Iris’s Find His Way Home
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts ad Rogue Words
  • Time for Remembrance – Memorial Weekend

Monday May 29

  • Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Performance Review by Tamryn Eradani
  • DSP Publications GUEST POST Bradley Lloyd on Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One)
  • DSP GUEST POST Ari Mckay on Breaking Bonds 
  • A Caryn Review:  Concourse (Five Boroughs #5) by Santino Hassell
  • A MelanieM Review: Law of Love by Bob Masters
  • A VVivacious Review: Lion’s Mate (Hell’s Creek #1) by Shannon West & T.S. McKinney
  • An Alessandro Audiobook Review: Willow Man by John Inman and Austin Rising (Narrator)

Tuesday, May 30:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR &  Giveaway: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
  • DSP GUEST POST L.A. Merrill on Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Slow Heat by Leta Blake
  • An Ali Review: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Shadow Fray (Shadow Fray: Round One) by Bradley Lloyd
  • A Stella Review: Back to You by Chris Scully

Wednesday, May 31:

  • Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Frank at Heart by Pat Henshaw
  • Retro Review Tour – Suki Fleet’s This Is Not A Love Story
  • DSP GUEST POST Z Allora On Writing, Books and Secured and Free
  • A Free Dreamer Review: This Is Not A Love Story by Suki Fleet
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Frank at Heart (Foothills Pride #6) by Pat Henshaw
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:  Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love) by L.A. Merrill
  • An Alisa Review: Hybrid (A Darker Hollow #1) by Shannon West & T.S. McKinney

Thursday, June 1:

  • Release Blitz for  The Ties that Bind by S. Davidson
  • DSP GUEST POST : Tara Lain on Return of the Chauffeur’s Son
  • Blog Tour Permanent Jet Lag by A.N. Casey
  • A Lila Review: Whiskey Business (States of Love) by Avon Gale
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  Breaking Bonds (The Walker Boys 2) by Ari McKay
  • An Alisa Review: Smitten by R.W. Clinger

Friday, June 2:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Fraud Twice Felt by JT Hall
  • Blog Tour: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor
  • An Ali Review : False Start (Wilmington Breakers #2) by Sloan Johnson
  • An Alisa Review: To Touch You (Mates #4) by Cardeno C.

Saturday, June 3:

  • Release Blitz His Master by Bink Cummings
  • A MelanieM Review: Seduced by the Tide by Sean Michael

Amy Rae Durreson on Writing and Recovery (DSP PUBLICATIONS GUEST POST)

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Recovery (Reawakening #3) by Amy Rae Durreson
Published May 9th 2017 by DSP Publications

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Rae Durreson here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest story in her Reawakening series, Recovery.  Welcome, Amy Rae!

✒︎

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Rae Durreson

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmm, I think this is less about character traits than experiences. I’m a fairly quiet, easy-going person—some of my characters are too, but others are completely the opposite. What is more important, in my view, is finding enough common experience that you can emphasize with the character. Unlike Raif in Recovery, I’m not a twenty-something ex-resistance fighter on a quest to wake a sleeping dragon, but I have many experiences of anxiety, of not being sure what to do next with my life, with travelling to new places, and meeting people who are more complex than they seem at first. All of those are stepping stones to getting inside a character’s skin, even one who is superficially very different from 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?

For me, the difference is in how the writer presents the character to the reader. If the reader is expected to admire and idolize a character without question, that’s a Sue/Stu. If the reader can emphasize with them and see their flaws and hesitations, then you have a real character. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using bits of your own life to create a character. The problem arises when you demand that everyone worship your self-insert as flawless.

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

I just going to sit here and laugh hollowly. I do enormous amounts of research when I’m writing a fantasy novel. I look for historical analogues to my fantasy setting and mine them for little details which I can integrate into my imaginary world. For Recovery, I read a lot about Renaissance Venice, which is the inspiration for Aliann, the main setting, but I also read a lot of travel writing, from various centuries, and researched details from the design of an early printing press to formal garden design in medieval Europe to the history of pirates in the Mediterranean. Recovery was actually a fairly light research book—the previous book in the series, Resistance, was much more demanding—I learned enough about the bubonic plague for that one that I actually managed to pass the CDC’s online CPD module for ER doctors despite being an English teacher in real life (easier than it sounds—it was multiple choice and I guessed a few). I also read quite broadly on topics which look like they might come in handy for later books. Nothing is ever wasted.

Needless to say, I get twitchy whenever someone tells me that is must be so lovely to write fantasy where you can just make stuff up (my mother is notorious for this).

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

The first book I remember reading is The Ladybird Book of King Arthur Stories. The first I remember loving so hard I cried when the library wouldn’t let me keep renewing it was Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life. I was pretty much doomed to write fantasy.

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?

No, but there are some stories I couldn’t have written any earlier. A Frost of Cares was like that—it was the final cathartic stage in a long process of healing. I went through a relationship similar to the one Luke has with his ex in that book, and it left its mark on me. I wasn’t ready to write about it for a long time, but now I’ve written that book, it seems to have lost its power to hurt me. The story I’m working on at the moment is hard, and is drawing on a lot of issues I encounter in my day job to do with childhood trauma, but in a way that’s actually feeding back positively—I’m all the more determined to take those problems seriously, having been inside my characters’ heads and considered them from a different perspective.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’ve given up trying to write HFN—I always end up making it HEA by mistake. I like to think that at the end of my books, all my couples have the potential to continue living happily together. For some of them, I even have little bits of personal headcanon (I know, for example, that after he retires, Siôn from Spindrift likes to go and sit in the back row of Mattie’s lectures and listen to him being passionate and inspirational. Mattie’s got a beard and a belly and a bald patch by then, but Siôn still thinks he’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world).

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

I’ve always enjoyed romantic subplots in my reading, but I didn’t read any pure romance until my early twenties. I was spending every other weekend with my boyfriend at the time, who was studying on the other side of the country, and before I headed back to the station I’d buy myself a few romances to see me through the journey home (fellow Brits with experience of Sunday travel will know why one book alone was not enough). They brought me a lot of comfort, but my reading was restricted to a few authors. It wasn’t until I got my first e-reader and discovered m/m that I really started reading lots of romance. That probably explains why I always have a lot of plot in my novels—my roots as a storyteller lie in other genres and I have to weave the romance around those instincts.

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

I can definitely see the influence of the books I read a kid in my own writing—I loved Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones, as well as the warmth and benign eccentricity of Noel Streatfeild. As a teenage writer I was lucky enough to stumble across a copy of Ursula K LeGuin’s essay collection The Language of the Night in my local library. I read it over and over again and it completely changed the way I approached writing. As a adult reader, I find it harder to identify recent influences—I read a lot, and absorb it all into the churning creative mess that is my subconscious. A lot of the writers I love most tell very different stories from me, in very different ways.

How do you choose your covers?

I’m very lucky in having Dreamspinner’s art department create my covers. Catt Ford has done all the covers for the Reawakening series and I love them. I don’t know how she transforms my vague ramblings about character and setting into such lovely things, but I’m glad she does.

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

Usually the most recent one, simply because it always feels the most vivid and alive to me. Looking back at past works, some have faded in my head a bit and others shine a little brighter. A Frost of Cares and Resistance will always make me proud, I think. Frost because I did something I’d never done before and it worked better than I expected, and Resistance because I’m damn proud of how I put that story together. There were a lot of tears shed over that book, but the end result was beyond what I thought I could do. Ironically, those two are respectively my most and least successful books.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on another ghost story at the moment—this one set in the Scottish borders in an old orphanage with a dark past. There will also be more fantasy. I’m currently playing around with an idea for something fairy-tale inspired with a ridiculously over-the-top love interest with secret motives. There will be more Reawakening books, but they’re on hiatus until I get the last traces of Recovery out of my imagination and figure out how to end the next one.

Blurb

Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.

With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.

About the Author

Amy has a terrible weakness for sarcastic dragons, shy boys with sweet smiles, and good pots of tea. She is yet to write a shy, tea-loving dragon, but she’s determined to get there one day (so far, all of her dragons are arrogant gits who prefer red wine). Amy is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon.

Social media:

Twitter: @amy_raenbow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amyrae.durreson

Blog: https://amyraenbow.wordpress.com/

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.