M.A. Church on Writing, Characters and her release ‘A Country Boy at Heart’ (release day guest post and excerpt)

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A Country Boy at Heart (States of Love) by M.A. Church
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by Maria Fanning

Release Date: November 9, 2016

Sales Links

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have M.A. Church here today to talk about writing and her latest release, A Country Boy at Heart. Welcome, M.A.!

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On Planning, Plots and A Country Boy at Heart by M.A. Church

I had a plan.

Oh yes, I did… and it was mostly thrown out of the window, lol. One question I’m often asked is do I have characters who take over my writing and make the story go somewhere I didn’t originally have in mind.

*Snort* Is it hot in the South?

A better question would be when do they not?  If only I had a dollar for every time a character informed me he wasn’t interested in what I’d plotted, or I’d misunderstood his motivation, or he decided not to be the good guy because the good die young or some diva crap like that…. Gawd.

*Rolls eyes* There’s usually screaming involved.

Talk about shooting my pretty outline to hell and back, lol. On the other hand, when I try to force it, I end up wishing I hadn’t. I learned that the hard way. This happened with A Country Boy at Heart.

I started with one idea and ended up going in a totally different direction. I knew I was going to do the opposites attract trope and one guy had to be interested in hunting and fishing since the story was going to start off at Bass Pro shop in the Memphis Pyramid.

Nick was going to be my country boy, and he was going to work at a farm—a good ol’ Southern boy. I *had* planned for his love interest to be from somewhere up north. So, the two would be struggling with the whole North versus South thing, along with the heat found in the South compared to the coldness of the North. I’ve always said I could tolerate heat better than the cold. (It’s only been since I’ve reached a *certain* age that’s changed, lol.)

I was all set up ready and to go… and then Sandy, my other main character, tossed my entire plot out the window. He informed me right quick he was from South too and had gone to high school with Nick. There was something between the two of them, but because of small town attitudes—and an incident between him and Nick their senior year—things didn’t work out. Sandy also informed me that he much preferred the city to the country.

Annnnnd there went the whole North vs South thing and hello country boy vs city boy.

Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to come up with the title after that. Because this was a States of Love story for Dreamspinner, and I’d picked the state of Tennessee, I had Sandy living in Memphis.

Fortunately for me, the hubby and I lived there for ten years until we moved to a little rural town across the state line in Mississippi. Plus, we’ve gone to Bass Pro right after it opened and several times since. It helped to have been to the place I was writing and to have lived in the city Sandy lived in.

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About A Country Boy at Heart

Hot damn, what more could a country boy want? Bass Pro Shop is finally opening in Tennessee. Nick plans to check out all twelve indoor acres chock-full of hunting, fishing, and boating in the Memphis Pyramid on the Mississippi River.

City boy Sandy wonders yet again how he let himself get talked into attending a grand opening for a hick hunting store. His geeky heart prefers the energy of the city. Little does he know all that is going to change due to a freakishly tall glass elevator—and Nick, the high-school crush who’s suddenly taking a second look at him.

A moment of panic while trapped in the elevator leads to a spark neither expected. Getting out is the least of the challenges they’ll face if they want to try to put their differences aside and find out if love is possible between a city boy and a country boy.

Excerpt

AHHHHH WHHAAAAAHH whahhh whhhhaaaa!

“Oh my God, is that a woman screaming?”

Nick barely resisted rolling his eyes. Could the wedding guests not tell the sound came from the giant bird currently displaying his magnificent feathers as he strutted? The peacock did a little dance, squawked again, and then stopped.

Oh. Oh damn, that’s not good. It turned its head, almost as if searching for him. He swore he saw an evil gleam in its eyes. Okay, now what? He tried to sidle farther back out of the way, but the tiny woman who stood at five feet nothing even in those lethally spiked heels clamped onto his elbow.

He winced. Jesus, she’s got a grip on her. He wasn’t sure which of the two—her or the ornate wall mount—concerned him most. Yeah, right. Nick eyed the ornery bird. Mister Peacock and he had been in an ongoing battle for supremacy for the last several years.

Damn. What was the menace on two legs doing nowOh fuck, it spotted me. It made a funny sound, then shook its body. If he didn’t know better, he would’ve sworn it smiled when it spotted him. It certainly tossed its head as it… oh, shit.

Literally.

The wedding coordinator grabbed the back of Nick’s shirt and yanked, hard. What the hell did she eat for breakfast? He stumbled backward, and only sheer luck kept him from going down on his ass. The peacock squawked again—only this time it sounded like laughter.

“Your peacock just shit all over the runner! The runner that leads to the trellis! That’s where the pastor is going to marry them!” she whispered furiously.

While he thought that lovely shade of fire-engine red was an interesting color for her, he was a little concerned. He didn’t have time for yet another apocalyptic temper tantrum.

As tempted as he was to cover his ears, he was afraid that would get them boxed by Mrs. Big City Wedding Planner. Why didn’t the lady comprehend wild animals were wild and tended to shit whenever the urge hit? Although he did wonder if it did that just to spite him.

“Both Rob and I tried to explain to you that could happen, Mrs. Smith,” Nick whispered fiercely back to her. “Several times over, as a matter of fact, and in several different ways.”

Fat lot of good it did. The woman refused to budge. The bride’s colors were the same beautiful iridescent blues and greens that were in the peacock feathers, and she just had to have a peacock walking down the runner before her.

Rob, or Robert Gatlin, was actually the owner’s son. Dr. Ernie Gatlin had recently retired from his medical practice, and he and the missus planned to do some traveling, so he’d turned operations of the farm completely over to Robert.

Nick scratched his head as he stared at the steaming pile of shit on the stark white runner, as did several horrified wedding guests who’d already been seated. “What do you want me to do?”

“Go get it!” Mrs. Smith exclaimed as quietly as she could.

“Um, okay. The shi… I mean the poop, right? Ah….” Nick took a step back from the wedding planner, whose eyes were bulging. “Do you have anything I can use to—”

The sound that came out of the tiny woman next to him made his hair stand up. Which was quite a feat, considering his hair was short. Man, even the peacock hadn’t sounded that deranged.

“O-oh, okay, then. Wow.” He assumed she meant for him to get the poop, but now he wasn’t so sure. “Ah, guess not. I’m open to suggestions, just in case, you know, you got any.”

Mrs. Smith fanned her face, her eyes promising death, as she hysterically tapped the headphones she wore. “Art? Art? Are you there? Come in. Come in. Oh my God, sweetie, please answer.”

Seeing an opportunity to escape, he edged away from the wedding planner.

Mrs. Smith grabbed Nick by his shirt again and jerked him down to her level. “You listen to me, young man. Go get that runner out of there right now. That bride’s wedding gown cost ten thousand dollars, and I am not having her walk across bird shit just to get to the altar. Ten thousand dollars. Do you understand that?”

Nick gulped. Ten thousand? Who the hell spent that kind of money on a dress? Was the bride insane along with her wedding planner? No, he didn’t understand that. Not for clothing. Now, for a four-wheeler? Oh yeah, he’d drop that kind of cash on a four-wheeler in a heartbeat.

Once Mrs. Smith released him, Nick raced out there and shooed the bird out of the way. He quickly removed the runner, hissing only slightly when Mister Peacock pecked him on the ass. Damn pain-in-the-ass bird. He was going to pluck the bastard clean one day. He stood, and the peacock pranced out of his way.

Smart bird.

Art, the guy Mrs. Smith had been harping at on her headset, magically appeared right behind Nick, laying down a new runner. This runner wasn’t as spiffy as the first one, but it was missing a very important element in its design—peacock poop.

Nick pulled Mister Peacock’s favorite treat out of his pocket and held it out. Luck was on Nick’s side. The birdbrain followed Nick back to its pen. He threw the treat inside, and Mister Peacock followed after it, no problem. Of course. It preened, looking entirely too pleased with itself. Stupid bird was going to be the death of him, if he didn’t kill it first. Okay, he was joking. Sort of. Maybe.

“Blasted pain-in-the-ass bird,” he muttered as the first sounds of the wedding march drifted to him.

“Ahhhhh whhaaaaahh whahhh whhhhaaaa!”

“Right back at you, you overgrown dust buster.” Nick sincerely hoped no more birds shit on this damn event.

Springtime was their busy time for weddings. The dogwoods were in bloom all over the farm, the weather hadn’t turned melt-your-face-off hot yet, and the air carried the fragrant scent of flowers. Even though it was just the end of April, he was still sweating buckets.

The standing joke was that if you didn’t like Memphis weather, just wait thirty minutes and it would change. They’d already had a few days with the temperature pushing ninety degrees. The humidity wasn’t bad yet, but it was coming. By August the humidity would be as thick as his aunt Sally’s soup and just as deadly.

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About the Author

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.

She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Links:

Jerry Sacher on the Titanic and the Inspiration Behind ‘Ocean of Secrets’ ( author guest blog )

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Ocean of Secrets

Ocean of Secrets by Jerry Sacher
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art by Bree Archer

Purchase Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jerry Sacher here today to talk about Jerry’s latest novel, Ocean of Secrets.  Welcome, Jerry.

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My name is Jerry Sacher, and my newest novel, Ocean of Secrets, releases on Friday, April 29th, 2016.
Andrew Elliot, the son of a Scottish Nobleman, is sent to America accompanied by his fiancé and her brother. But theirs is no love match. Andrew’s family insists that he marries to ‘cure’ him of his feelings for someone else–the son of the caretaker on his father’s estate.
 
Matthew Ahearn, newly orphaned, dreams of Texas and cowboys. He lands a job as a third class steward on a ship bound for America, and it is there that his and Andrew’s worlds collide. The two men–and their secrets–are brought together, lost in the magic of an ocean voyage, one that will always be remembered.
 
The year is 1912, and they’re about to board R.M.S Titanic…
The book will be available both on Dreamspinnerpress.com and Amazon.com
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Jack and Rose; Edith and Edward of Noel Coward’s Cavalcade of 1933; Lady Marjorie Bellamy on Upstairs Downstairs. What did all of these fictional people have in common? The sinking of the Titanic played a major role in their stories… So why did I choose to write another story about the sinking of the Titanic?
I have been interested in the Titanic since first grade, when I was first able to read a book about the ill-fated liner. The stories of the passengers and crew who were there have always fascinated me. I always wanted to write one of my own, and to tell in my own way a story that, until now, hasn’t been told: the romance between two men with the great ship as the background of their world.
There was known to have been at least one gay couple traveling on the Titanic: a young man in second class named Albert Fynney, who was accompanied by a male companion named William Gaskell. Both of them were the subject of many rumors that had circulated prior to boarding the liner.
A first class passenger, noted artist Frank Millet, wrote to a friend back home from the ship from the last port of call–Queenstown, Ireland–describing “A queer lot of people” and “Plenty of our kind” of people among the passengers. Who could he have been talking about? My antagonist, Andrew, is befriended by Mr. Millet. Could he have met someone like Andrew and written to his friend about him from the ship? It’s possible.
The story begins with Andrew Elliot, the son of a Scottish nobleman, engaged to a woman he doesn’t love, and being sent to America aboard the Titanic, chaperoned by her brother. The hasty match has been arranged by Andrew’s parents in hopes he will get over his feelings for a young man on the family estate, and to keep the family from scandal.
On the Titanic, he meets a young crewman named Matthew, who has secrets of his own. The lives and fates of all of them are thrown together on the night of April 14, 1912. Who will survive?
Here is a short excerpt:

 

 

          “Come on, jump and I’ll follow you!” He shouted above the rumbling noise that was coming from all around them. Matthew held onto Andrew’s hand for a brief second, squeezing, and each, giving the other silent encouragement. Then Matthew jumped, Andrew watched him hit the water that was now only a few feet below. Andrew took a step off the edge of the deck and leaped. The water was bitterly cold, like a thousand knives being driven into his body. He could barely breathe, but he had to find Matthew. Andrew looked behind him as the lights blinked and went out and the ship towered above him in the darkness. People were jumping, splashing near him, crying out.

          He thought he heard someone calling out his name,so he swam toward the sound. He only got a few feet away, when he found himself being showered with pieces of glass, wood, and scraps of metal and sparks; the screech of tortured steel drowned out all other noise, except the voice that persistently called out his name. An arm reached out, grabbing at him and pulling him under, but he somehow managed to break free. He came up next to a collapsible boat with a handful of people inside huddling together and watching the scene unfold in front of them. Andrew hung onto the side of the boat and followed their gaze.

I hope you enjoy reading Ocean of Secrets…

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages about writing historic fiction. The biggest advantage for me is the research. Since I enjoy history I get to read about a lot of time periods that I had previously known nothing about. Being interested in the Titanic I discovered a couple of things I didn’t really know before. Only the more expensive cabins in first class had a private bathroom/water closet. The rest were shared facilities. There was no fresh water to bathe in, only hot and cold salt water.

In 1912, even though there were telephones, phonographs, and motion pictures, slang phrases or common expressions varied from place to place. Much like today, a word that means one thing in America could have a different meaning in England. So it was difficult not to let modern words or phrases slip in to the dialogue while I was writing Ocean of Secrets.

In writing a story I’m more of a planner. I will first complete a biography of all the main antagonists and protagonists, and then once I’ve given them a back story, than I’ll set up an outline, although the charters will tell their own story once you type in the first sentence.

My favorite characters are Andrew Elliot and Matthew, plus Jeremy Haniver from my first novel: The Saint of San Francisco.  I love them and I think I identify with them because all three of them are trying to find their way through life, and they emerged through conflict with confidence that none of them knew they possessed…

A little about me: I currently live in Chicago with my husband, Dean, and our two rambunctious cats, Monty and Nicky. I’ve been actively writing full time for the past six years. I’m interested in Titanic and all periods of history, and I have also published a novel set during the Russian Revolution.

My other works include: The Saint of San Francisco. The Rosary and the Badge. Noble’s Savior, and Fair In Love.

You can follow me on Twitter at @jerrysacher1 and on Facebook on my The Saint of San Francisco page. Keep up with me on my website, JerrySacher.com, for more news about Ocean of Secrets and my other projects.

Thanks,
Jerry Sacher

 

B.A. Tortuga’s Here For A Old Town New Interview and Release Day Guest Blog!

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Old Town New

Old Town New by B.A. Tortuga
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reamspinner Press
Cover Art by Anna Sikorska

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have one of its favorite authors here to share her  thoughts about writing and her latest release, Old Town New.  Welcome, B.A. Tortuga!

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Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy :D.

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

Oh, y’all. I eavesdrop, I talk, I visit. Most importantly? I listen. I listen to folks’ stories and wallow in them. I pride myself in telling the stories of people I know, of folks I love.

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

I used to be a pantser, but these days I’ve found if I focus on the outline, I do a better job, tell a better story, and don’t cry as much during edits.

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

Oh, man… Will and Dean from Latigo. I wrote them in vignettes and then put them in order and if I wrote them again I’d start at the beginning and write straight through.

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

Sure. It’s who you’re in love with RIGHT NOW. In other words, who you’re writing. Right now I’m in love with Jayden and Dakota. Totally. Madly. Passionately. Next week, I’ll tell you that I’m in love with Hoss and Bradley, I bet…

  • 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?

Oh, man. Bent by Sean Michael, Promises 2 by AE Via, The Stand by Stephen King, Dark Fall by Dean Koontz, anything by my wife, Julia Talbot.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

I wrote my first story at 2 ½ years old and I published my first story at 5 years old. A long time.  😉

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

I was reading by 18 months. I am a voracious reader and I read every day. Grins My favorite books as a little one were Little Women by Alcott and What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I wanted to be Jo March when I grew up (and weirdly, my wife would tell you it happened).

  • What question would you ask yourself here?

Are you the happiest girl alive? Answer: Hell, yeah.

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

Patience and Tequila. 😀

Much love, y’all,

BA

Old Town New Blurb

Danny Avers is a teacher in small town Colorado. Back in the day, before high-speed Internet, social media, smartphones, or streaming anything, Danny’s just trying to live down his wild teenage years and carry on the only way he knows how: one day at a time. The last person he expects to see back in town is Harlan Quinn, his old best friend and former consummate bad boy. And when he finds out Quinn is the new sheriff and his new neighbor, it’s even more of a shock.

Quinn knows there’s more to his old hometown than meets the eye. There’s more to Danny than old memories and quiet living too. But as in the past, stirring things up is Quinn’s specialty, and he sets out to do that, in more ways than one, pushing Danny to admit there’s more to life and that their old town just might manage to be new again. That’s if old town thinking doesn’t get them both killed.

Sales Links

Available April 20 from:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance Ebooks | Barnes and Noble

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About the Author

About BA Tortuga

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

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

Fall into the Fantasy World of Sera Kane with ‘Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow’ (release day author guest blog and excerpt)

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Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow by Sera Kane
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reamspinner Press
Cover Art by Paul Richmond

Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sera Kane here today to share her thoughts about her new release, Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow.  Welcome, Sera!

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Whom shall we meet upon this road?  Spiritkin or stranger-friend, welcome all with giving hands, open smiles.

Hello, everyone.  My name is Sera Kane and I’m beyond thrilled to be here to greet you all!  Why?  Of course you’ve already guessed it, to introduce you to my novella, Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow!  Join Aimes as he turns up the heat on his own competitiveness to make it as a chef so he can search for his brother.  Meet Keane as his enforced solitude suddenly comes to an end and he’s faced with the delicious dilemma of what to do with his visitor.

As I wrote, I was faced with the undeniable problem that Aimes is definitely a cook, a chef in training.  And I?  Well.  One time I was unable to boil water.

Yeah.

Fortunately, I’ve spent my entire life overburdened with imagination and with the aid of someone who does know how to cook—thanks again, spouse!—I was even able to add a recipe to the end of the story!  No, it’s not my recipe.  I can’t cook.  My spouse encourages you to try it out, however, and I definitely suggest using the excess as a dip!  Maybe I should ask for him to make it tonight to celebrate…

Besides not cooking, my days are filled with writing and obsessing over words.  And plots.  And characters.  Fantasy is my preferred genre, so everything having to do with Keane, an Elfaegaardian lord, flowed fairly easily.  Actually, the entire world bloomed as though it had merely been waiting for my fingers to touch keyboard and thus open the gates.

I would certainly love to do more in this world and have some very vague bubblings of a human prince meeting an El lord himself.  Perhaps, if you, the travelers of our world, wish to learn more, I could be persuaded to do so.  Hint hint: please let me know!  I not only love to answer questions, but I love to know what the readers think!

So, please!  Read and enjoy the story of Aimes and Keane, and smile as you know that every cooking reference was blatantly stolen from my spouse.  Thank you!

Blurb

Culinary school is hard enough for Aimes Cully without mixing in an utterly underwhelming physical appearance—too small, too delicate, too red-haired, too freckled, too human—added with the inability to magically improve the food—still too human—and facing the too beautiful, too fae-looking Aleksi’s teases and taunts. When rumors surface that Aimes’s older brother’s success is a lie, Aimes is determined to prove them wrong and show that pure-blooded humans are the equal of anyone with mixed blood.

But things get worse after Aimes is caught in a faerie ring and transported to the fae hollow of Lord Keanewyeth Ordorial. As the attraction heats up, it becomes obvious that there’s something wrong in the magical home. A cursed creature appears, and everything becomes jumbled as the secrets of their lives collide into a painful concoction of Aimes’s past and Keanewyeth’s present. But if they can meld their talents, they might be able to save each.

Special Excerpt

Step and hop on cloudy night,

Out again afore moon’s soft light.

Else a price that must be paid;

The lord’s commands are all obeyed.

A molasses pause filled the room, thick and oozing. It was a silence that spoke of the dark curse: Double. Dog. Dare.

Aimes held his breath, eyes focused firmly on Aleksi’s grim and angry face. He knew better than to push the teacher’s pet. He knew better than to open his big, stupid mouth and do the one thing his older brother had warned him against doing ever. You could never be too careful when you were too human. Those with fae blood would always come down harder on those without, so the Cullys had to be better. Be smarter, braver, and more creative. That’s why Markl had kept trying until he was accepted at the palace. That was why Aimes had to make it to the palace, too.

“If you’re such a know-all-fae,” Aleksi announced with all of the dramatic flare of a ringmaster about to bring out the dancing flame wraiths, “then you can just go get some fairy mushrooms tonight. And then you can make your ‘oh, so famous’—” Aleksi punctuated the words with air quotations so sarcastic that a few of their fellows grimaced at the taste of them. “—Faerie mushrooms for Madame LeBanch tomorrow.”

Aimes took in a swift, tremulous breath. He could still get out of this. All he had to do was cut in with a scathing remark now, something that would cut Aleksi’s legs right out from under him, before he had a chance to invoke….

“I double-dog dare you.”

The curse settled over the class like a blanket. Aleksi’s cronies tittered in delight while his rivals watched in disgusted shock. It was a waste of a curse, especially on a nonentity like Aimes. Humans didn’t have the innate magic to effectively challenge a curse, and especially not one as complex as a named dare. Aimes wouldn’t be able to turn the curse back on Aleksi because fae blood always trumped human blood. The reminder of his ineptitude stung.

Aimes clenched his fists, and his pale chin came up sharply. “All right,” he said, trying to pretend that this high-pitched thing was the normal sound of his voice. “I accept.”

About the Author

Sera Kane has loved the written word for essentially forever, in this particular case, somewhere in the range of thirty years or so.  She writes to share the fantastical things that go on in her mind on a daily basis.  Her secret-but-not-so-secret desire is to write pieces that are impossible to put down.  And, also, to kill off a beloved character.  She has not succeeded at either of these things, but be warned that she wants to!

She currently lives in southern California, but she’s been quite a few places in her day!  Her favourites include Washington– the state, not DC– Texas, and Japan.  Her house is filled by an exceedingly tall husband, a very swift son, a derpy German Shepherd, and a grumpy yet loving Shih-Tzu.  If she ever won the lottery, she’d have houses in all three of those places and breed Shepherds in at least one of them.

Sera Kane’s Social Media:

In Our Author Spotlight: Brandon Witt, Author of ‘Under a Sky of Ash’ (author interview)

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Under a Sky of Ash

Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist Anne Cain

Sales Links Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Brandon Witt here today to share some insight about his writing, his characters and his latest release, Under a Sky of Ash.  Welcome, Brandon.  Just a few 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?

Typically from either my own life or the people in my life.  After 16 years of teaching/counseling, the inspirations are limitless. It’s amazing that one moment of my own life or someone else’s can trigger and open up an entire world for a novel. In Under a Sky of Ash, the teaching and my students’ lives were the biggest inspiration. 

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

I’m a big planner.  We’re talking notebooks, outlines, character sheets, pictures, family trees, on and on and on.  The reason is twofold, for me.  One, it’s just how my brain works.  I need to be able to see the entire picture to have an idea where I’m going.  I’m very one-track minded, with everything.  I’m not a good multi-tasker. So, planning helps.  Although, my plans typically change as I write the story, but at least it helps to know where I’m going.  Two, I feel like it really helps me know my characters inside and out before I start the story.  Granted, they change and grow over the course of the book, but I have no idea how I’d ever start writing a story about characters I didn’t know.  I’ve heard other authors talk about how they never plan and how they get to know their characters as they write.  I would be completely lost.  But I admire them for being able to do so!

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

I know this is the wrong answer, but fantasy is my biggest thing (or at least urban paranormal).  However, I’ve always tended to write real life, even though I read more fantasy.  Maybe it’s just using writing as therapy?  Not sure.  Though I do have a fantasy series out and a couple shorts coming in the next couple of months.  As far as romance?  For about six years in Jr. High and high school, I read every Christian Romance novel I could get my hands on.  Yes, you read that right!  (For any of you who had the same sickness, my favorites were anything by Bodie Thoene and The Winslow Series.)

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

Oh! That’s a dangerous question. I almost don’t want to answer that one!  However, that answer is easy.  Brooke Morrison, from The Shattered Door.  It was my first novel and over ten years ago now.  He really documents where I was in that moment in my journey out of learn-to-be-straight therapy and my Christian beliefs.  I read that book now and I’m in such a different place than where he is (where I was), it’s honestly hard for me to get through it.  However, that is one of the wonderful things about writing.  It captures the author where they are at that moment.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same about some of the characters now when I look back in ten more years. Ultimately, I wouldn’t change him.  There are many people that LOVE Brooke.  I think I see so much of myself in him that it’s hard to show him the same amount of grace as I do my other characters.

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

Dear lord yes!  And I’m not sure what this says about me, but, for me, it’s almost always my supporting characters and/or my women.

In The Shattered Door, it’s Maudra.  I’ve even named my Mini Cooper after her.  She’s perfect and I want her in my real life.

In the Men of Myth Series, it’s Sonia. She is so gorgeous and strong and damaged and vicious.  I’m totally captivated by her.

In Under a Sky of Ash, it’s ManDonna. The drag queen.  Writing her was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a character.  I swear she was in the room with me in every scene she was in.  I couldn’t believe the things she said as my fingers typed the words.

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?

Easy.  Cliché though it may be.  Harry Potter, by JK Rowling.  Those books are and always will be my all-time favorite.

Woke Up in a Strange Place, by Eric Arvin

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by JR Ward

Beneath the Stain, by Amy Lane

From the Corner of His Eye, by Dean Koontz

Lonely Heart series, by Heidi Cullinan

Dogwood Days, by Poppy Dennison

How early in your life did you begin writing?

Sophomore year in high school.  All thanks to Ms. Becca Hungerford.  She was the teacher that started it all.  School and reading  (and even more so, math and science) were never easy for me.  I had to work hours and hours each night, often over tears, and then still go in for tutoring.  Ms. Hungerford taught us creative writing.  It was the first time I didn’t agonize over homework.  And she was always so complimentary and kind.  She fostered growth through gentleness and encouragement.  I owe her everything!

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?

As I stated above, reading was hard.  I wasn’t able to really read until fifth grade.  Before then, I only read Garfield and Archies. Then mom forced, FORCED, me to read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Secret Garden the summer between 4th and 5th grade.  It clicked and I devoured every book I could find.  I loved Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Secrets of a Unicorn Queen, anything by Gene Stratton-Porter and Laura Ingalls Wilder, on and on and on.

What question would you ask yourself here?

Is living the life of a full-time writer as wonderful as you dreamed?

Yes!  A billion times yes!  The ONLY draw back is the constant terror of if I will be actually able to support myself with writing and not have it all slip through my fingers.  Other than that, it really is better than I dreamed.  To write every single day?  Unreal.  To life a life that I’ve dreamed of for nearly two decades?  I’m so very, very blessed and I pray that it will last. To hear from and talk to readers who connect with my books and find out they were touched by them or simply entertained?  Absolutely floors me.  I am completely filled with gratitude and hope.

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

Custom-Fit Love

Tag-line:  Romance readers beware, this romance has almost everything you hate in your romance novels, however, the two main characters couldn’t be happier.

Thank you, Brandon, this was wonderful.  Please come back and visit us again.

Now read on to discover more about…

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Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt

 

More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.

Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.

Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.

Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.

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About the Author

 

Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….

 

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