Jamie Fessenden on Writing Characters, Research and his new release Small Town Sonata (author guest blog)


Small Town Sonata by Jamie Fessenden

Dreamspinner Press

Published August 6th 2019
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jamie Fessenden today, on tour with his latest novel, Small Tour Sonata.  Welcome, Jamie.


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Jamie Fessenden:


How much of yourself goes into a character? 

A lot. Every major character I write is me in some aspect, flaws and all. Which means my music major and philosophy minor in college often shape their behavior. Minor characters are frequently inspired by friends and family, though I attempt to disguise 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?

Perhaps, but the way to avoid that is honesty. The character of Tom in Billy’s Bones was definitely a lot like me in his understanding of psychology and PTSD (both of my parents are psychologists and I’ve worked with clients at my mother’s agency). But he also had my tendency to psychoanalyze friends who don’t appreciate it.

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

Yes. I would never make one of the main characters in a romance deliberately hurt animals or children, or slap his partner around. As every therapist and police officer knows, abusers being sorry for what they’ve done and swearing never to do it again doesn’t prevent them from lashing out in the future. I can’t trust a character like that.

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

Most of my novels involve a large amount of research. I enjoy exploring different cultures and locales, and completely immerse myself in them. Small Town Sonata was an easy one, because I was largely writing about my home town and using my experiences in the music world.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both. I tend to think that HFN will become HEA, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get to HEA in the timeframe of the story.

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

Thinking, and yes. I am totally disgusted with characters who refuse to listen to reason, especially if they drag arguments out for days, weeks, or months. Tempers flaring is one thing. Refusing to calm down and listen the next day is childish.

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

I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney through her YA novels, when I was a teenager, then began reading her adult gothic romances and fell in love with them. From there, I moved on to Mary Stewart and several other romance writers.

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

As a teenager, I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney wrote articles for “The Writer” magazine, and our local library had several years’ worth of them in the stacks. I still remember some of her advice, such as when the two main characters meet, there must be an emotional “zing” between them. It can be hostility or intense dislike, but it should never be tepid. As a science fiction reader, I admired Robert A. Heinlein, and loved his clear prose. So I strived to emulate it.

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

Thanks to failing vision, I rarely read print books these days. eBooks allow me to increase the font size at will, so I prefer them. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on the industry, and from what I’ve seen, eBook sales are still hovering at about 20 percent of the total market. It’s declined a bit, but since those figures often leave out self-published sales, it’s difficult to say what the truth is. And one article claimed 90 percent of romances sold are now eBooks. Personally, I know eBooks are here to stay.

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

I want striking images, even if they aren’t necessarily “sexy.” If it’s something that would catch my eye, while searching among several other romance covers on Amazon, I’ll generally go with that. The best example is the cover for “Violated,” which is about a man who gets raped and loses everything – his best friend, his partner, his job, his entire sense of who he is. The cover by L.C. Chase is a misty image of sunset on a lake with a man standing in silhouette at the end of the pier. It’s striking and conveys the feeling of isolation perfectly.

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

I wrote a novel called “By That Sin Fell the Angels” about how a teen suicide impacts a small community. It deals with the vicious way evangelicals often treat members of the LGBTQ community, but I struggled not to make anything cliché or hackneyed. The boy’s father is a pastor and nominally the villain, but he’s a real person struggling with his beliefs, and ultimately the story is about his redemption. That story exhausted me, tapping into my own experiences as a fundamentalist Christian teenager, and I’m very proud of it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently finishing up a ghost story with co-author F.E. Feeley, Jr. and about a third of the way into a novel (possibly another Dreamspun Desires) that takes place on a farm. It’s located outside the town of Springhaven, which features so prominently in “Small Town Sonata.”



Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Author’s Bio:

Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fancy.

He set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several novels and published his first novella in 2010. That same year, Jamie and Erich married and purchased a house together in the wilds of New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them under the stars.

Blog: https://jamiefessenden.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/349365308959423/

Angel Martinez on Influences, Writing, and her new release The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) (author guest blog and excerpt)


The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez

Dreamspinner Press

Published May 7th 2019

Cover Art: Tiferet Designs

Buy links:  

Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback | Kobo | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Angel Martinez…

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It depends on the character. Basing a character entirely on me would be uncomfortable, but since every character comes out of my brain of course there’s some of me in every one. There are characteristics of mine that I’ve drawn on – certain insecurities and failings. Because I live them, they make good character fodder.

  • 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?

Oh sure. But a Mary/Gary character are those where the author’s self-insertion is sort of a wish fulfillment. Yes, that’s the author, but the character gets to be the author without the author’s issues and struggles. Therein lies the important difference: drawing on life experience, good or bad, allows an author to share what they know of that experience in a deeply felt, honest way, while Mary/Gary characters draw on aspects of the author through rose-colored glasses.

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

Yes. All of that. Both. I don’t stray too far from science fiction and fantasy. That’s what I write. The story chooses the genre rather than any research concerns and from there, no story is ever without research. Even when dealing with a completely fictional environment – an alien planet, for instance – I still might need to research what’s possible. How far can the planet be from its star to be this climate or that? How big is this star? Where am I placing this in the galaxy? How would this type of atmosphere influence the development of life? And so on. In real world environments, which urban fantasy is to some extent, I need my maps, my historical data, and sometimes really specific things like what flowers are blooming in a certain month in a certain state park.

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

Yes. I haven’t changed one jot. The only difference is there are some genres I still enjoy reading that I’ll probably never write, like historicals and horror.

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?

Never. Mwahahahaha. I will sip tea while my characters suffer. No, that’s not quite accurate. I do hurt with them and sometimes even cry over them, but I’m more likely to stop writing over an external issue that’s simply so overwhelming that I can’t write, like the death of my mother last year.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like HFN and HEA when I read romance, though there are some bittersweet endings I’ve enjoyed too. In other genres, no, I don’t need them. In some genres, I don’t expect them at all. But in romance, often I like that warm, smishy feeling that everything turned out well. The world is a hard place these days and the warm smishies help with that.

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

I didn’t read romances until well into my forties. Yes, I was something of a genre snob. But I started reading them in critique groups and when I worked for review sites and have never looked back.

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

Probably C. J. Cherryh, then and now. She was the first author I encountered who could create truly alien minds. I wanted to be her when I grew up.

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

It’s here to stay, for one thing. Readers have shown that there’s room for multiple book formats – print, ebook, audio – and I think that’s entirely a good thing for the industry. People need choices. The proprietary ebook services and formats may go away some day. One can only hope.

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

I don’t, generally. But I have worked with some amazing artists over the years who’ve taken my vague “here’s what the book is about and I sort of have this in mind” and have made my vague hand waving into amazing things. Sometimes they let me pick models and that’s quite the rabbit hole to go down.

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

Ah, the pick your favorite child question. Don’t tell the others, but my favorite is probably always the latest one. I’ve grown as a writer and I recognize that when I look back. Not that I love those stories any less, but the latest one is always the newest, the freshest, and I get to be proud of how far this journey has taken me.

  • 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 have had stories that took a terribly long time to finish because of other writing commitments and lack of inspiration. Because I tend to work on one thing at a time, unfinished manuscripts are always a niggling guilt at the back of my brain. Pack Up the Moon, the last Brandywine Investigations story, was two years in the making since I started it and then had other contractual things to fulfill. And there it sat and scowled at me. But I do think I understood where the story had to go better when I came back to it.

What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Hmm. There’ve been some pretty wild things. Probably one of the most out there involved flying books of bad intent who spat physical, harmful words at people, an animated leather jacket, and well, it just gets stranger from there. Yes, that did come about in Skim Blood & Savage Verse, which is the third Offbeat Crimes story.

  • 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 tipsy write sometimes, but never drunk write. Not in a serious, whole scene kind of way. However – you knew that was coming – I do have some interesting conversations in my head when drunk and more than one good piece of dialogue has been written on a cocktail napkin and shoved in my purse.

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

Because I write science fiction and fantasy, I often write to illuminate. Non-real world genres allow us to look at issues from one remove, and often from different angles. There are recognizable stand-ins in much of my work for current issues. It’s certainly not the only reason I write, but it slides in every time. Being queer is in itself a political statement, especially now, and as a bi person, I’m constantly aware of that.

Also, if I didn’t write, the voices in my head would eat me.

  •  What’s next for you as a writer?

Probably the next Arcana book, though there are several irons on the fire right now.


A young magic user who wants desperately to live. A jaded recluse who has forgotten what living means. They’re each other’s only chance.

Toby’s wild magic is killing him. The mage guilds have given up on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he dies in a spectacular, catastrophic bang. His only hope is an exiled wizard who lives in seclusion—and is rumored to have lost his mind.

The years alone on his hilltop estate have not been good for Darius Valstad. After the magical accident that disfigured him and nearly drowned Pittsburgh, he drifts through his days, a wraith trapped in memories and depression. Until a stricken young man collapses on his driveway, one who claims Darius is his last chance. For the first time in fifteen years, Darius must make a choice—leave this wild mage to his fate or take him in and try to teach him, which may kill them both. The old Darius, brash and commanding, wouldn’t have hesitated. Darius the exile isn’t sure he can find the energy to try.


It’s killing him. We have to end this.

Too cruel to force him to keep struggling.

I don’t understand. He should be finding a minor channel at least. Something. He shouldn’t be at this level of physical distress and still be able to throw so much.

We can’t condone pushing on. Dangerous for him and for everyone in a five-mile radius. We’ll have another Darius situation on our hands.

You’ll tell him?

As soon as he’s able to hear it, yes.

Toby drifted from gray misery to scarlet agony, the voices floating to him in fits and starts. His instructors, the director—they were talking about him and they sounded done with him, just like the previous six guilds that had tossed him to the curb. Wild magic. Unplaceable on the web of Arcana. Unsustainable and eventually deadly. The only remaining bets anyone could make now were how many people he took with him when he went out with a catastrophic bang.

Hands lifted him. The familiar sensations of stretcher and rolling followed him down into the dark.

“What’s this?” Toby peered at the papers on the rolling tray, not quite up to focusing through his pounding headache.

The director pulled a chair close and cleared his throat uncomfortably. “We discussed that this might be a possibility someday, Tobias.”

“We’ve talked about a bunch of stuff.”

Director Whittaker let out a sharp sigh.

“Not saying it to be a smartass, sir. I can’t get my eyes to read this just yet.” Toby shifted on the infirmary bed. His fifth stay in this wing of the guildhall and the mattresses hadn’t managed to grow any more comfortable. “Couple hours I should be able to.”

“Ah. My apologies.” The director returned to a concerned parental pose, hands clasped between his knees as he leaned forward. “These are your separation papers from the Montchanin Guildhall.”

Toby swallowed hard. “You’re giving up on me? Already?”

“I’m so sorry, Tobias.” Director Whittaker patted his arm. “The Kovar method is nearly infallible—”

“Nearly. You said nearly.” Despite his pounding head, Toby sat up, hanging on to the director’s hand as hard as he could. “Please don’t do this. You said you’d help me.”

“We said we would do the best we could. Wild magic…. It’s unusual, certainly, but cases of unplaceable wild magic like yours aren’t unheard of. We should have seen some sign of channeling by now. Some directed trickle that would have let us help you find your place in the web.”

Toby let go to fall back against the pillows, hurting, nauseated, and dizzy. His uncontrolled magical explosions, each one harder on him than the time before, had only been getting more volatile and unpredictable. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. Can’t I stay here? Until, well, until….”

“It’s too dangerous for the other students. For the staff and other guild members.” Director Whittaker took his hand again. “Tobias, you blew a hole in the guidance room’s wall today.”

Ten feet of weapons-grade Kevlar and steel—that shouldn’t have been possible. Holy crap. “Did I hurt anyone?”

“Not today. But I can’t risk lives any further. It’s reached that point where we’ve tried everything we could. When you feel up to it, read the packet. There are several wonderful hospice options nearby. Beautiful places where you’ll be cared for and made comfortable. The guild will take care of you and cover any expenses.”

Drugged to the eyeballs so I won’t do any more damage. Allowed to starve to death in the nicest possible surroundings. Toby closed his eyes, his exhausted brain banging up against walls of possibility, trying to find him a way out. All this time he’d been sure one of the guilds would find a way. They were the experts. Now? Now he was terrified. The experts were telling him he needed to accept his impending death. No, no, no, fuck that. “Sir, who’s Darius?”

“Ah, you heard that, did you?” The director sat back and pulled out a microfiber cloth to give his glasses a meticulous cleaning before he went on. “Darius Valstad caused one of the greatest magical disasters in recent memory. He nearly destroyed Pittsburgh. He pulled magic too far from his channelings, the result much like a wild magic accident. The catastrophe was narrowly averted.”

“Oh. That sounds about as bad as it gets. What happened to him?”

“He nearly died. His guild status was revoked, his teaching of any more students forbidden.”

Toby turned that over a few times, his brain fumbling and dropping concepts along the way. “So, but he’s still alive?”

“As far as I know. He lives in isolation, oh, not far from here, with the promise that he will no longer attempt anything beyond personal magic.”

“But he was once like me? And he lived?” Toby knew it was conclusion jumping, but he was desperate enough to reach for anything.

The director’s sigh was slower this time, more melancholy. “Tobias, he found his channels long ago, both his major and minor Arcana. Yes, he lives because as long as he respects the web, his magic won’t tear him apart. He had some early success with teaching unplaceables, but Pittsburgh was the ultimate result of his unorthodox methods.”

“Yes, sir. Of course.”

Director Whittaker rose with one last pat to Toby’s shoulder. “Get some rest. We’ll talk again in the morning. Please keep in mind we’re not simply turning you out onto the street. We want to be certain you’re looked after properly.”

Toby nodded, no longer trusting his voice. He didn’t turn his head to watch the director leave, staring at the white ceiling tiles instead. Ugly ceiling tiles. Places where you have to lie in bed like hospitals and infirmaries should have nice ceilings with meadows and bunnies painted on them. I don’t want to die. Oh gods… I don’t want to die.

About the Author

Building worlds. Constructing Fantasies. Angel Martinez, the unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for over twenty-five years) and gave birth to one amazing son (now in college.) While Angel has worked, in no particular order, as a state park employee, retail worker, medic, LPN, call center zombie, banker, and corporate drone, none of these occupations quite fit. She now writes full time because she finally can, and has been happily astonished to have her work place consistently in the annual Rainbow Awards. Angel currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around queer heroes.

Website: https://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelMartinezrr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1010469.Angel_Martinez

Jane Darius on Characters, Writing, and her new release This Must Be the Place (Nick and Ben #2) (author guest blog)


This Must Be the Place (Nick and Ben #2) by Jane Darius
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jane Darius here today talking about writing, and her latest story This Must Be the Place. Welcome, Jane.



Hi, I’m Jane Darius, and I’m the author of This Must Be the Place. You can preorder a copy of the book here. I wrote a short story that has the same characters in 2014, which you can buy here. I’m really excited to hear what people think of the new book. It is kind of like an origin story of how Nick and Ben get together Here’s a summary just to give you an idea of what the book is about.

A Nick and Ben Story

Having explosive sex is easy for Nick and Ben—getting past their hang-ups and opening up to each other won’t be.

Handsome New York City bartender Nick might’ve left life—and his abusive, homophobic father—in West Virginia far behind, but even though he was a star quarterback in high school, he can’t outrun the effect those years had on him. He’s still not comfortable as a gay man, and he keeps his relationships short… as in a single night.

Hotel reviewer Ben is a hopeless romantic, but he can’t seem to find a guy who feels the same. After being cheated on again, he doesn’t expect to spend forever with Nick, but even their one-nighter doesn’t go off without a hitch. Ben falls asleep on Nick’s couch, and in the morning, they have to face their hookup that wasn’t…and the fact that there’s a connection between them whether they’re looking for one or not.

I’ve also answered the interview questions, which I had so much fun with! If you want to know more about me (or upcoming books), you can follow me at janedarius.tumblr.com or on Instagram @janedariuswrites.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Jane Darius

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I feel like at least a little piece of me goes into every character. I know that sounds weird, but it’s definitely how I view it. I feel like there’s a part of me in every story, and that’s why I get so attached to everything I write. And I feel like it makes characters, stories, and everything you can write more genuine if you’re willing to share some of yourself with others.

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?

The whole idea of a Mary Sue is really steeped in sexism in fiction to me. No one considered James Bond to be a Mary Sue/Gary Stu (although he could have easy been considered one), and guys are constantly writing themselves into stories every day. I feel like this didn’t become an issue until women got more attention for writing blatant self-insert fantasies (even though men are just as guilty of the same). That said, I think what will always be disappointing about reading a story with a character that is an obvious Mary Sue is that they usually aren’t well-rounded. Many times, they have all the strengths and none of the flaws. And, honestly, that’s always going to be boring to read except to the person who wrote it.

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

I like to do a bit of both. Sometimes, I go down the rabbit hole of looking up how far one destination is from the other and which fruits are in season during the time of my story. Sometimes, I just throw in something I like or build a new world altogether because the current one we live in can tend to suck.

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

Absolutely. I loved stories that were dialogue heavy and funny. I hope my writing provides people with the same things.

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?

Totally. As far as This Must Be the Place goes, I wrote the first draft in 2014, and when I first tried to get it published, it wasn’t good enough. I worked on it for a long time, and it’s finally ready to be published. I have also put things aside because of time, emotional stress, intimidation. Sometimes I think you just have to be ready and sometimes you have to plow ahead. (Lots of conflicting viewpoints, I know!)

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I really do love both, but I think which one you use should depend on the story and where the characters are at in the end. It’s not necessary to force an HEA when an HFN is more organic.

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

Yes. I also love romantic movies.

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

I’ve had a lot of influences in my life, and I feel like I can see them more now that I’m older. Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon definitely affected my ability to write dialogue and I’m grateful to both of them for that. Everybody says it, but I do think it’s true that you start out by imitating the people you admire and then you begin to create new, original work that starts to look like yours.

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

I think it’s a great option. Though I don’t ever think it will or should completely replace paper books, I think it’s gotten people to read more and try out more genres or stories, which is always a good thing. I recently got my first Kindle, and I love it. I got it for work, and it’s so handy and helpful.

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

I worked with Dreamspinner who set me up with a cover designer named Jennifer Vance. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook. She’s really great! We went through so many pictures together to find some guys who really gave me a sexy, Nick-and-Ben-y vibe. 

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

Currently, Nick and Ben are my first published lead characters, and I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them because of that reason. I love writing, and I love all my stories for different reasons, though. I am always so excited to share them with people.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have an idea for a sequel to This Must Be the Place. I would love to be able to write it, and I want to focus on that next. I just wish the days were longer sometimes! 

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 don’t think anyone is too flawed for love, although sometimes, it’s nice to see people work through their flaws in a way that doesn’t require the love of someone else or happen because of someone’s love. I like to see people change because they want to, not because someone else changes them. But you definitely don’t want to load up a character with flaws just to make them seem more real. People have good and bad in them just like everything else in life.


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

Yes, I’ve been known to notice character traits in myself, friends, and family members and put them into a character, although I would never mine for them on purpose. I think there’s realism in seeing who people are and what makes them tick, and I like noticing character traits in others who are very different from me. I think you also have to turn that scrutiny inward though.


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

Yes, I have, and I’m hoping to have it happen more often, haha!


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?

Yes. Sometimes, it feels good to write things down when I’m sad or not sure what to do. In some instances, it can help solve the problem, but at the least, I usually feel a little 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.

Lol! Yes, but in my early twenties, I learned from experience that, at least for me, there’s a fine line between coherent, insightful drunk writing and misspelled, unintelligible drunk writing.


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

In a bed and breakfast or hotel by the sea or in the mountains. I think it would be a place that is beautiful, secluded, and serene (and hopefully pet friendly so I can bring my cat!). I’m working on a solo writing retreat for the summer that would offer me this chance.


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

I write because it’s fun, which is harder now because making my living through writing has made it a little less fun lol. But I keep on writing because I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I definitely write to simultaneously escape and to understand not only myself but the world around me. I feel like one of the most difficult things to explain about why I write is that I want to always be saying something important and writing crazy-fun emo shit simultaneously. My constant goal is to be able to do a little of both at the same time.


What’s next for you as a writer?

I am a freelancer working from home, so I’m always writing. I have had a goal of publishing a novel for a long, long time, and now that it’s finally happened, I’m ecstatic. However, when I finally reached that goal, I realized it wasn’t like, “Okay, now I’m done!” The desire to publish more and write more doesn’t go away (there was recently a Jane the Virgin episode that I think captured this feeling well). Next, I want to publish something else, pay my bills, and keep working on writing what I love.

About the Author

Jane Darius is a writer and dreamer who wants to travel the world. If you try to talk to Jane when she’s writing, she will probably get scared like you just snuck up on her, as she sometimes gets lost in the world of her characters. Someone once told her that writing is like being alone in a dark room. She understands the sentiment but prefers to think of it as sitting by a warm fire while her characters tell her their stories. When she’s not writing fiction, Jane blogs and writes featured articles for a number of websites. In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, drink various beverages, and yell at her favorite TV shows. Writing makes her smile like nothing else does. You can follow Jane at http://janedarius.tumblr.com.

Vicki Reese on Writing, Characters, and her new release No Tears for Darcy (author interview)


No Tears for Darcy by Vicki Reese
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Vicki Reese here today talking about writing, characters and her new release No Tears for Darcy.  Welcome, Vicki.


~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Vicki Reese ~


  • How much of yourself goes into a character?:  I’m not sure. I’d say a little of me goes into all of them. Actually, a little of a lot of people that I know. I take bits and pieces of myself and everyone I know and those pieces go into my characters.
  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?: With a degree in Library Science, I love research. I can get lost in the research – which is not always a good thing! LOL. As for making up my own worlds and cultures – that is my first love, but to do it right requires a lot of research so the two are not mutually exclusive. I’ve been known to create entire worlds in the sand while vacationing, but when I bring those worlds (in the form of pictures) back home, then I get to work researching to make them viable, whether contemporary or fantasy or science fiction. You have to make it real for yourself and the reader.
  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Sort of. I read a lot and always have – in a lot of different areas. From Shakespeare to Asimov. From DuMaurier to Clancy. I read almost everything – so for me, it came down to picking one (or three). And some that are my favorite to read I don’t write (like historical fiction).
  • Do you like HFN or HEA? Why?: It has to be HEA for me. I’m a firm believer in HEA and committed relationships. Yes, it takes work and it’s not always easy, but there has to be that “hope” that the couple will make it. After all, they’ve already made it through the worst, so the rest can’t be bad, right? I need that happiness and hope that all will work out. I’ve read several HFN and they just didn’t work as well for me because I didn’t have that feeling they would stay together. I need that for a satisfying ending.
  • Do you read romances?: Definitely. I started reading romances in college and haven’t stopped. In all genres- historical, contemporary, paranormal, suspense – you name it, if it’s a romance, I read it.
  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?:  I know for a lot of readers, that’s all they read, and that’s fine. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. I definitely prefer the feel of a book in my hand, not my tablet (or computer). But, after a recent issue with my vision, I find that I like being able to enlarge the text and that means ebooks. Plus, as I’ve moved a lot over the years (23 times so far), it’s a lot easier to move a library of ebooks than my actual library. As to where it’s going… your guess is as good as mine. Ebooks are here to stay…until something better comes along. LOL
  • How do you choose your covers?: I’m fortunate to have worked with some great artists for my covers. I give them what I would like, and they come up with amazing drafts. For me, I usually like one or two of the main characters, a little of one of the settings, good fonts, and colors that carry the mood of the piece. I’m not a fan of “cartoonish” covers-though they work for many books. But I don’t like them for mine. I like the characters to be real, for both myself and the reader.
  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories and why?: That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. They’re all my favorites. LOL. From the first silly story I wrote as a child to my latest novel, they all mean something special to me.
  • What’s next for you as an author?: I’m currently working on my next romantic suspense for Dreamspinner as well as a high fantasy story I hope to shop around.
  • Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work, then years later you loved it?: Actually, No Tears for Darcy is one of those stories. I wrote this several years ago, but the timing wasn’t right for it. Then I met Dreamspinner and, voila… a love was born.
  • Ever drunk-written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?: LOL!! No, sorry. Due to a medical condition, I don’t drink. But I have written while under the influence of medication – interesting outcome, but it made little sense so it didn’t make it in.
  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?: I kind of have that now. I have a private office with a great view outside, good music on the stereo, multiple bookshelves stuffed to overflowing and a big, comfy chair to sit in. Back before the kids grew up, I wished for a place like this instead of the chaos of the kitchen table. Funny thing is, I miss that chaos, but I cannot write in a place like a coffee shop or the library. I find those surroundings too distracting—watching people, listening to conversations, and so on. So I’m good with where I am.
  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? Why do you write?: I write to escape. To show a better world, or a world where the possibility of a HEA exists. Where someone normal like me can face difficulties and still come out on top of things. I write to give hope to myself and my readers. In today’s world, we all need a little hope, and happiness. We all need our HEA, even if only for a short while.


About No Tears for Darcy

Letting love pass them by would be a crime.

Former forensic accountant Cameron has lost nearly everyone he’s ever loved, and now his vintage clothing shop has been broken into and trashed. When town police chief Will Carson asks an out-of-town cop friend of his for help, Cam takes one look at the dark-haired, blue-eyed detective and knows he’s in real trouble—and it has nothing to do with vandalism or murder.

Pete Minchelli is on leave from his job in Philadelphia due to a gunshot wound, but he figures he can help an academy buddy with some light police work. Plus, he’ll have a chance to experience small-town life. He’s tired of the big city and all its corruption. But he quickly discovers that not all the bad stuff happens in cities. What he doesn’t expect to find is death, treachery—or love.

In Our New Release Spotlight: I Love You More Than Pierogi (World of Love) by K.A. Merikan (author guest blog and excerpt)



I Love You More Than Pierogi (World of Love) by K.A. Merikan
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska




Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K. A. Merikan, the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan.  Welcome to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Tell our readers about I Love You More Than Pierogi?


We’ve been thinking about setting a book in our native Poland for quite some time now, and the submission call for “World of Love” helped us come up with an angle 🙂 The two main characters are former high school sweethearts who meet after several years, and after the bitterness that resulted of their breakup, the reconnection is everything but smooth. Through those characters we explored two conflicting feelings many immigrants face – the longing for home and everything it stands for, and the unstoppable curiosity that pushes them to explore. Who knows, maybe one doesn’t have to choose 😉


Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.

Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.



Adrian stirred the pierogi, and already his mouth watered at their scent. This was exactly why he learned to cook in the first place. “I worked in many kitchens for the charities I had connections to. At some point I got an understanding of the most basic processes, and the cooks gave me tips. Obviously, foreign cuisines do stuff differently, so in the end I started asking my mom and gran for recipes. It happened organically.”

“Don’t you think that people in Poland might not have the same appreciation for our food as they do for foreign stuff?” Marek asked but sat up straighter on the barstool to have a look at the pierogi sizzling in the fat.

Adrian frowned. “Don’t you? What do you eat on a daily basis? Burgers, kebab, and sushi?”

Marek nodded. “Yeah, the usual kind of takeout. I like pizza but can’t really have too much of it.” He patted his flat stomach.

Adrian smirked. “Oh, I’ll fatten you up if you let me stay here a bit longer.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.” Marek laughed and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked much younger and more relaxed without the suit on. “Though I do miss the traditional home-cooked food,” he admitted. “Frozen pierogi are not the same, and I feel weird going to restaurants on my own.”

Adrian watched him, stirring the food in the pan. He could relate to Marek’s words all too well. “You know, when you immerse yourself in a different culture, everything seems great. It’s all fresh new things, and it’s all delicious. I love spiciness, the sweetness of coconut milk, and I think frying spices before adding anything else frees the flavors, but that kind of food also gets old after a while.”

Marek raised his eyebrows. “I thought you were all about visiting new places and trying new things.”

Adrian shrugged. “Yes and no. It’s all exciting, but at the end of the day you want a steaming bowl of bigos stew with juniper sausage. The comfort food your gran served you after a bad day.” He licked his lips. “Slavic cooking uses a lot of pickles and sour flavors. I really missed that. And when I learned to cook, it was a cure for feeling homesick.”

Marek cocked his head and had more borscht. “Weren’t you too busy to feel homesick?”

Adrian finished frying and put all the pierogi on one plate, generously topping them with lardons. He added a side of rhubarb and carrot salad and sprinkled the remaining chives over the plate. “I don’t think one could ever be too busy to be homesick.” He stopped, looking at the pretty picture that was the plate, and reminisced about the past. “At some point your emotions become a bit stifled, so you don’t think about it too much.”

Marek smiled at Adrian… shyly? “These do look great.”

He reached out for the plate, but Adrian pulled it away and grabbed a fork, then divided one of the pierogi in two.

He picked up one half and blew air over the hot food, watching Marek with amusement. “You will be all over my project after you try these. It’s a secret recipe.”

“Oh? What’s it with?”

Marek’s smile widened, and Adrian was once again reminded of how nice it was to be alone with him, without the roommates or Marek answering e-mails late at night. It made him think[KM1] of Marek’s failed attempt to kiss him and made Adrian wonder if he would ever try again.

He stepped closer, still blowing on the morsel, and put the food against Marek’s mouth. The filling was slow-cooked goose meat with root vegetables, but Marek would have to taste it to find that out. “It’s a secret.”

Marek looked up as he took a big bite, and Adrian couldn’t help but remember how Marek had looked at him while he sucked his cock all those years back. As if Adrian was the center of his universe.

Adrian pulled the fork away and put the remaining food into his mouth, sensing the sweetness of the caramelized onion, which was a perfect addition to the herby meat and vegetables. He stepped closer until his knee brushed Marek’s. “Good?”

Marek nodded with a smile and his mouth full. “Oh, it’s delicious. The real thing. My mom tried to teach me over Skype how to make pierogi with mushrooms one Christmas Eve, and it was such a failure. The dough turned out useless.”

Adrian grinned, looking at Marek while moving even closer between his spread knees. He picked up another piece and fed it to Marek. “It does require the right consistency. You can’t get that just by following a recipe.”

Marek ate more voraciously by the second. “Needs skilled hands. I’m afraid I don’t have the touch for it.” He stared into Adrian’s eyes. “So damn good.”

Adrian chewed on his lip, sensing that familiar tingle in the tips of his fingers as he fed Marek the crunchy salad. So many memories were flooding his brain now, like latent electricity that was finally tangible. “I’ve been told mine are very skilled.”

Marek took a deep breath through his nose. “I might have even been the one to tell you that….”

Adrian’s mouth twitched, and he slowly turned around before casually sitting on one of Marek’s thighs. Anticipation was far more than a tingle now, and he looked Marek in the eyes as he ate a piece of pierogi. “I think you did.”

Marek put his fingertips against Adrian’s back. “Maybe the business idea isn’t that stupid after all.”


About the author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

e-mail: kamerikan@gmail.com

More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:

K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KA_Merikan

Agnes Merikan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgnesMerikan

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150530.K_A_Merikan

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/KAMerikan/

Follow the blog tour:

December 29 – MM Good Book Reviews

January 4 – Boy Meets Boy

January 5 – Open Skye Book Reviews

January 5 – The Novel Approach

January 6 – Love Bytes

January 9 – Alpha Book Reviews

January 10 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  

In the Spotlight: The Weather Baker’s Son by Peter Grover (author interview)



The Weather Baker’s Son (World of Love) by Peter Grover
reamspinner Press
Release Date: December 21, 2016

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Purchase it here



Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Reviews for having me on your blog!  My book, The Weather Baker’s Son, second one issued in the Dreamspinner World of Love project, takes place in southern France.  I have ensured much local color is found in the book.  Here are my answers to your questions:

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

Most often from the memory of a place and the sights seen in that place.  Sometimes it does involve the journey along the way as well. The quirky things one sees in someplace new are always an inspiration. I am also working on a project that is inspired by an event that occurred 2,000 years ago, and how it impacts people today.

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

I am currently a hybrid or plantzer.  I started as a pantzer as I love to dwell on certain scenes, almost as standalone and create the vibe around them, the interaction between the characters as well as add any of the local beauty that should be incorporated. As a result, and as predicted by those who are planners I have had to delete much, rearrange other things and waste a lot of time. But at the same time, I have enjoyed my distractions.  However, the advantages of planning have not been lost on me.  I have been practicing planning from day one with a new project which is now several months into writing while at the same time being a pantzer again with another project. I have found the one being planned interesting to do and have gained a great appreciation for the complexity of the process. The planning is indeed helping me but occasionally I need to break out of the process to sketch an entire chapter just for the love of 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?

That’s a hard question as all have attracted me over time.  I was a voracious reader of science fiction as a youth.  I also studied at university the great classics of European and Latin American literature for many years and have degrees in modern languages. Regarding my own current writing however I am mainly drawn to contemporary narratives.

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

Yes and yes! In The Weather Baker’s Son I am in love with the weather baker’s son in every way and also have a more subdued affection for the weather baker herself! They are definitely my favorites characters.

  • 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?

Authors could be any or all of Ogden Nash, Oscar Wilde, Amy Lane, Kim Fielding, Damon Suede, Anna de Noailles.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

Probably around the age of 9 and into my teenage years but I never did anything with the output and much of it is lost. Then came a long career as a legal wordsmith in a commercial environment. While it may sound dry I really enjoyed it and I believe my opinions were respected for their thoroughness and clarity.  Only now am I back into creating fiction for my own enjoyment and hopefully that of my readers.

  • 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 come from a family of voracious readers and we all read constantly and early on.  As my parents both did shift work we were not often read to, but we were always encouraged to read! I would say I especially enjoyed science fiction, notably the greats like Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury but I would also devour non-fiction, such as history and biographies.


About The Weather Baker’s Son

Nature’s call of desire among golden fields and intoxicating red-lipped poppies seems to proclaim a path to love and healing in southern France. Yet Peter, an American university student struggling with self-doubt following a failed love affair, is determined never to be hurt again. While on a vacation with his widowed mother, Peter is smitten by Gaston, a handsome local baker. Gaston, less bold than Peter, is drawn to Peter as well but fearful of the loss of family esteem—particularly the respect of his cousin Mario, who looks up to Gaston. Their friendship grows into more as Peter continues to visit the bakery, but their increasing intimacy does not go unnoticed. The road to fulfillment becomes increasingly obscured, and internal doubts and external events spiral out of control. The arrival of a handsome stranger, suspicions of murder, and the threat of harm might spell the end of more than just their relationship.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

Peter Grover has received no end of inspiration from his life with his husband and a gaggle of ghosts in a Gothic Victorian house.  Peter has now arisen from a pile of dusty law books to relaunch his background in languages and literature, early passions before his career. Combining these passions with his many travels for work and pleasure has allowed him to illustrate local poetry, arts and landscapes that draw the reader into other, often exotic worlds.  Peter loves to hike the deserts and mountains of the Southwest US in the winter while enjoying the lush scenery and lakes of Central Canada in the summer.

Francis Gideon on Trans Characters and the release The Santa Hoax by Francis Gideon



The Santa Hoax by Francis Gideon
armony Ink Press
Release: December 1 2016

Sales Link



Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words would like to welcome Francis Gideon here today to talk about their latest release, The Santa Hoax.  Welcome, Francis!


Hello everyone! My YA holiday romance The Santa Hoax came out with Harmony Ink Press on December 1st. The story contains several trans characters, including protagonist Julian, and documents some topical trans issues. Though I wrote the first draft of this book in the fall of 2013, the topics I covered seem more relevant than ever.

The story documents Julian’s coming out as he tells people about his identity. As I’ve talked about in other blog posts during this tour, coming out is never simple and often needs to happen more than once. Trans people in particular need to deal with the reality of depending on other people to get their names and pronouns right. Julian suffers with this–at first because he doesn’t tell anyone he’s trans–and then when he deals with transphobia. There’s not *too* much transphobic language in the story (because at its core, it’s really a sweet holiday romance that just happens to be about a trans guy), but the one thing that I wanted to focus on was the infamous bathroom problem.

Enough people here probably remember the bill H2 in North Carolina and how upset it made the trans community. If not, here’s a brief article on its history and what happened. The bathroom problem is something that’s followed trans people around for ages. If you’re trans, what bathroom do you use, and what will people say when you’re in that bathroom? The common theme in most of these debates is that trans women will come into women’s bathroom and attack other women (except that the opposite in real life is usually true). In Julian’s case, he’s a trans guy and only fifteen, so the same fear or judgement doesn’t exactly apply to him, but he’s still threatened and punished in some way for using the bathroom (I don’t want to give too much away about how/why/who) and this makes Julian, along with his friends, seek some kind of resolution and justice. In the story, I created a fake politician in Toronto (where the story is set) who made a similar ruling like North Carolina’s case, and a social media uprising from trans people that rallied against it.

Even though my take on this issue is fictional, there are far too many real-life examples of this kind of systemic transphobia. Even in Canada, yes. I know that Canada is often held up as the pinnacle of all things diverse, especially now after the US election, but we have diversity issues. Everywhere has diversity issues. The world doesn’t seem like it’s made for people who are different–so I’ve always seen my job as a writer to imagine something better. So while I talk a lot about transphobia in this post and it seems like a general downer, I assure you–the book has a happy ending. It’s also about falling in love and being a secret Santa and learning about your friends in a way that is healthy and safe and fun. I’ve included one of the happier holiday scenes of Julian and his friends looking at Christmas lights as an excerpt, so my post isn’t a total bummer. 😉

The Santa Hoax was a joy to write, so I hope it’s a joy to read. Thank you!

Book Blurb

When Julian Gibson realizes he’s transgender, he doesn’t think anything has to change. His parents and friends still call him Julia and think he’s a girl, but so long as Julian can still hang out with his best friend Aiden and read sci-fi novels with his dad, life seems pretty good.

Then high school happens. Aiden ditches him, and a new girl, Maria, keeps cornering him in the girls’ bathroom. A full year after discovering he’s transgender, Julian realizes life changes whether you’re ready for it or not. So Julian makes a deal with himself: if he can tell his secret to three people, it is no longer a hoax. What happens during his slow process of coming out leads Julian down odd pathways of friendship, romance, Christmas shopping, random parties, bad movies, and a realization about why kids still believe in Santa—it’s sometimes better than discovering the truth.


“There you are!” Maria said, eagerly greeting him.

She wore jeggings that clung to her thighs and waist, along with a white coat Julian hadn’t seen before. Josie hung around at her side, wearing pretty much the exact same thing she had earlier, looking up from her phone every so often to verify where they were. She has GPS. How adorable. Davis was by her side, his baseball hat pulled down over his face. The collar of his dark jacket was flipped up in the slight wind and obscured his face.

“Sorry if I’m late,” Julian apologized. “Had to say good-bye to my dad.”

“Nah, you’re fine. Just on time.” Maria linked her arm with Julian’s as they moved toward the sidewalk. “Where are we going now, Josie?”

“Just to the left,” she said, then leaned close to Julian and whispered so only he could hear. “Davis is driving me crazy already. Help.”

“Just focus on the lights,” he said. “And maybe think of drawing a comic or two.”

“Come on,” Maria stated, keeping Julian’s attention on her. “Show me some houses.”

Josie walked ahead of the two of them, Davis by her side. They continued down the block two by two as the sun sank behind the trees. The chill set in almost immediately after, and though the wind whipped at their faces and blew Maria’s hair, she never once complained about being cold. Julian had no idea what he was supposed to do if she was. Do I give her my coat? That was what guys on dates did. But if this was a date—not that it was—then Maria probably saw him as a girl. So Julian was doubly confused and decided to not think about it at all. He pulled the group over into the next subdivision, where they were almost blinded by the first house they saw. Lights lined the roof, crisscrossing and in several different Christmas colors. There were also a few light-up Santas, snowmen, and Christmas stars hanging by the garage.

“Oh, wow. It’s like walking on the surface of the sun,” Josie exclaimed, using a hand to block some of the light.

“Total Griswolds,” Maria commented. “Like that movie Christmas Vacation, you know?”

“Yeah, I guess. Just like that.”

“Their electricity bills must be through the roof,” Josie stated. “No wonder there is global warming.”

“If there is, why is it still so cold?” Davis asked, rubbing his hands together.

Josie began to explain, only getting through a few complex statements before Davis put his hands up. “Okay, fine, fine. I’m wrong. I get it.”

Maria rolled her eyes and then tugged Julian forward. “So is this a house you like? You strike me as someone more subtle.”

“Yeah,” Julian said, grinning. “I walk around a lot, actually. Let me show you a better house.”

After a small walk, Julian stopped them in front of Mr. Stevenson’s house. His blue icicle lights hung over the garage and by his front windows. He also had a floodlight that displayed a small silhouette of a snowman on his garage.

“Okay,” Maria said. “Why do you like this one?”

“It’s not too garish, or even that Christmas or religious oriented.”

“And?” Maria asked, nudging him. “You’re holding out on me.”

“Well, if you think about it, this time of year is really about light, right? All the holidays celebrate light because it’s the darkest time.”

Everyone nodded, so Julian went on. “And this house is usually dark most of the time. Mr. Stevenson used to work at my elementary school, actually. He was the music teacher, but he got sick, and his kids have to take care of him now. But they still put up his lights, and I really like that. I don’t know. The whole thing reminds me of learning to play an instrument in his class. Probably dumb.”

“No, no,” Maria said, squeezing his arm. “Not dumb. What did you play?”

“Piano. I was never that good, though.”

“You probably were, but you’re just shy now. That’s okay,” Maria said, her eyes going back to the house. “I can appreciate this.”

Julian nodded. He wanted to add more about how he had first started playing, but realizing that would involve Aiden, he cut off the thought before it had a chance to catch hold. When Julian heard clicking from a phone, he turned to see Davis in the middle of writing a message, not even listening to what he had just said. That was okay, really. Julian hadn’t really been talking to Davis when he told the story. But as he looked back to find Josie, she was already across the street, taking a picture of a rabbit in the bushes. It had been Maria, and only Maria, who was listening intently to him. When he glanced back over to her, he found her staring at him.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she said, smiling softly. “Just thanks for telling me. I wouldn’t have known any of that without you.”

“I got a million stories.”

“I’ll bet,” Maria said, then looked past him toward Josie with a sigh. “But we should probably catch up with the group. And I think this street is a dead end, right?”

Author Bio:

Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante.  He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.

Author EAB on Role Playing and their latest release ‘Black Snow’ (Dreamspinner Press author guest blog and excerpt)



Black Snow by EAB
Publisher: Dreamspinner

Publication Date:  11/7/16

Cover Artist: Natalya Sorokina

Buy links




Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have EAB here to talk about their latest release Black Snow. Welcome, EAB.


Hello everyone! EAB here! I’d like to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing Black Snow, and Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me here today. Black Snow is my third novel, and in a way, the closest to my heart. Since it begin as a role-play I feel especially connected to the characters.

So what is a role-play? It’s an interactive method of story telling. It’s a chance for two people to “play” different characters, building world’s, obstacles and conflict. (Think dungeons and dragons with sex….lots of sex.)

For me, role-play has always been a way to relax and have fun, but sometimes the writing muse gets the best of me, and I feel the need to share. I’m very glad I took the opportunity to share Black Snow with all of you, and I hope you’ll come to love Brier and Roland as much as I have!

As for future works, I’m working on two comics and a new novel! I know that seems like a lot, but my brain doesn’t know when to say no to my muse.

Now that I’ve told you about my hobbies,  what are yours? Other than reading of course! =P

Thanks for reading,


Prince Brier Snow has lived in the shadow of King Snow’s exalted memory. However, his fate changes when he nears his majority and Lirend’s steward queen attempts to dethrone him by exploiting an obscure requirement in the late king’s will: a yearlong sabbatical.

Brier travels to the desolate land of Aire to train under the Ceve guild, scorned refugees of war, including their guarded leader, Roland. Brier’s skillful master unlocks hidden potential, and what begins as a dutiful bond turns into ill-fated affection. When Brier returns to the capital, he’s carrying proof of his indiscretions with Roland—and his condition grows more apparent with each passing day. An affair with the huntsman is a scandal Brier’s enemies can use against him, but the birth of an heir is a burden even Brier is not sure he can bear.

Roland Archer, a man with a murky past, is skeptical of the contract to train the prince but willing to do anything for the guild’s freedom. Despite his best intentions, he is smitten by Lirend’s future king. Roland has resigned himself to solitude, but fate has other plans—for him, for Brier, and for Lirend’s oppressed subjects. Can Roland help Brier face a power-hungry queen and a country torn asunder? Either they will bring equality to a land that desperately needs it, or they’ll be thwarted by cunning enemies and an illusory curse.

Genre: Fantasy
Word Count:  162,045



“LONG AGO, there was a maiden with hair black as ebony and skin as white as the snow, so that they called her Snow White. Her lips were red as the rose,” Brier’s portly nurse told him, smiling.

“And she sang and danced. And she was very beautiful,” Brier added perfunctorily.

“Indeed she was,” replied Marietta. “She was kind and comely, and all the kingdom loved her, but the queen of the kingdom was jealous and wanted to get rid of her for good.”


“She decided to have her killed.”

“Oh no!” Brier answered, tone darkening.

“Oh yes!” cried his nurse. “She hired a huntsman to kill her in the wood and bring back her heart, so that she could keep it forever.”

Brier slid his legs up and placed his chin on his knees, enraptured in the story about the fair princess whose name was like his own.

“The huntsman did as he was told and took Snow White to the forest. As they entered the forest, they came across a field of flowers. Snow bent down to pick a bouquet of wildflowers, and the huntsman crept behind her and lifted his dagger!”

Brier gasped, horrified. “But he should not kill her!”

“He could not,” corrected the nurse, excitement alive in her eyes. “For he had fallen in love with the princess and told her of the evil queen’s plan.”

“Good gods,” Brier exhaled, relieved.

“Snow White ran,” Marietta whispered, and Brier hugged his knees more firmly. “She had to run away deeper into the woods to escape the queen’s wrath. She found herself alone in the deep, dark wood. ‘Get out… out…’ the trees whispered all around her, and she was terribly afraid. And rightly so,” the nurse added, whipping her head toward Brier almost in warning. “The dark wood is a dangerous place. She tripped and fell into a great crack in the earth. As she fell, a nearby willow’s roots seized her and pulled her under.”

“Then what happened?” Brier whispered, breath hastening.

“Then she lost hope that anyone would ever find her. She thought that she was doomed to live out her days locked in the roots of the old willow tree. Starving, thirsty, and withering away like an old winter branch. However, this could not be further from her fate. Yes, she was stuck, but a passerby heard her cries in the tree roots. He stopped in his tracks and called his brothers to come investigate. Men that wore beards and were half the size of normal men. Some might call them dwarves. Six more dwarves stopped and listened to the cries coming from the old willow. ‘Chop it down!’ the eldest brother answered. And so they did, all seven of them. They cut the tree down, and Snow White was saved.”

“Hooray!” Brier shouted as he jumped on the pillow top mattress.

“When they took her from the tree, she was dirty and exhausted. The willow had cursed her in its last effort of revenge for cutting it down. She had a scar on her neck in the pattern of a tree leaf, but she was alive, and so they brought her back to their cabin, and they mended her to good health.”

“Did she dance and sing again then, Marietta?”

“She did. And how fair she was, thought the dwarves. They spoke of her beauty to other folk who came through the wood. But then, word traveled back to the evil queen. And she was furious! She called for the huntsman, and he confessed that he could not kill Snow White. Enraged, she ordered the guardsmen to kill the huntsman, and, with his dying breath, he confessed his love for the princess.”

Brier reached over to grab a pillow off his oversized bed and squeezed. He suddenly had the feeling that the story would take a turn for the worse.

“The queen decided to finish the job the huntsman did not with a poisoned apple. She disguised herself as an ugly elderly woman, and she came to the cabin that Snow White lived in with the dwarves. She showed Snow White the apple she poisoned, bloodred and perilous, but still Snow had the urge to taste it. The princess took a bite of the apple, and when she did, she died.”

“How dreadful.” Brier shook his head. “Why should the queen hate Snow White so?” he asked, incredulous. “I do not understand.”

The nurse chuckled and smiled at him. “Shall I continue?”

“Please do, Marietta. I should like to know the ending,” Brier replied with a sad smile.

“Well,” the nurse said in a warm voice. “The queen did think that she had finally rid herself of the fair maiden, but alas, there was a crack in her black magic, one that she could not foresee. The magic of the willow was stronger than her own, and it purged the strength of her poison so that Snow White did not die but slept for many years. The prince of the neighboring land did hear of a maiden sleeping soundly in the wood on a bed of wildflowers, in the cabin of seven dwarves.”

“And, I suppose, he too was handsome!”

“He was a handsome prince, I should say, though not as handsome as you, Prince Snow.” Brier blushed through his wide smile. “He came on his white steed, and he found Snow White sleeping soundly just as the rumors had told. Indeed, she was fair, and the prince decided that he had to have her in death or in life, and so he leaned down and placed a chaste kiss to her rose lips.”

“What did happen then I wonder?”

“Then she did wake up, Prince Snow! Her eyelids fluttered open, and she rose from her bed made of daisies and baby’s breath! Oh, how happy were the dwarves and the prince. The dark magic that the queen put on Snow White fell upon herself! And she turned into the old and ugly woman she disguised herself as. The queen was so furious that she drove herself mad with rage. And so, Snow White married the prince, and the dwarves sang and danced and were happy. Princess Snow White had many children, and lived ever after.” When the story finished, the nurse stood up and helped Brier into the comforter. His eyes were heavy with sleep, but he pursed his lips and sighed.

“Did you not like the story, little prince?”

Brier bit the inside of his lip, struggling. “It is not that, Mar’, only that I feel sad for the princess.”

“And why should you? Did she not meet a happy end?” the nurse asked as she sat down on the corner of the bed.

“Mayhap,” Brier answered, considering. “But how did she come to love the prince who had only loved her for her beauty when the huntsman had loved her for her heart?”

The nurse blinked at the prince’s reply. “How indeed.”

“And the poor huntsman, who had died, rather than to disgrace himself with the blood of his beloved. ’Tis a sad story indeed, Marietta.” Brier pouted. “Although you said it was a happy end.”

“Well….” Marietta sighed, bemused. “I did not think of it in that way, little prince.” She tucked him in tighter as if swaddling a babe.

“I think that I should marry a huntsman over a prince,” Brier decided as he flopped his head into the mountain of pillows, smiling softly.

“And why not a princess?” the nurse questioned, crossing her arms.

“That is because I should like to be kissed by a huntsman,” Brier answered matter-of-factly.

About the Author

EAB is an airline steward/stewardess—depending on the day—who loves writing erotic fiction. This translates to serving Wild Turkey bourbon at 38,000 feet and writing smut at 3:00 a.m. EAB spends free-time role-playing and reading. While EAB’s true passion is writing, EAB also enjoys reaching high scores in nerdism, spending time with family (cats included), and watching anime. An East Coaster at heart, EAB loves New York’s Broadway and greasy, heartburn-inducing pizza. Feel free to drop a line or recommend some good reads! Always looking for a new book to devour!

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