DSP GUEST POST Laura Bailo on The Sun Still Rises

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The Sun Still Rises (World of Love) by Laura Bailo
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Laura Bailo here today to talk about writing, characters and her latest novel, The Sun Still Rises. Welcome, Laura!

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Laura Bailo~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think there are always bits and pieces of the authors that bleed into their characters. Even when all I was writing were short stories, I could see this. What I write, my words, they’re like little windows into my soul, I always put a bit of myself there. In this case, Erik’s got my anxiety and David has got my love for Pamplona. They’re not me, I didn’t write myself into the book, but I created their personalities, and I think it’s normal a piece of mine slotted there along with theirs.

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

I’d say both, although I haven’t written anything that required a lot of research, at least not yet. In The Sun Still Rises, I wrote what I knew, since it’s set in my city and I’ve experienced the San Fermín festival more than once. I’ve never done the running of the bulls though, that part came completely from my imagination.

But I also enjoy making up worlds and different cultures. I started writing a fantasy story a while ago and I was loving writing it and playing with the world building. It’s on stand-by right now, but I do plan on getting back to it as soon as I can. 

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

I don’t think so, or at least, not directly. I read a lot when I was a teenager, and I read in every genre. I was reading Agatha Christie by the time I was twelve years old. But I was also reading Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and everything I could get my hands on. My mother loves reading, and she’s always loved mysteries, so I had quite a few to choose from. Still, to this day, I haven’t been tempted to write a mystery novel.

So my choice of genres didn’t really carry on into my choices for writing, but my love of reading did influence my love of writing.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Absolutely. I love picking up a romance book and knowing the characters are going to end up together, despite all the curveballs life throws at them. It gives me hope.

As for a preference between them, I’d say it depends on the book. I love HEAs, but in some cases, a HFN suits the characters better, or their circumstances.

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

I didn’t read them as a teenager, although I always loved when there was a romantic element in the stories I was reading. I started reading romance just a few years ago, but from then on, I’ve been hooked and I just can’t stop. I still read other genres, but I always have a romance book in mind to start once I’ve finished my current read.

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

I don’t think I’ve got any specific feelings about the ebook format. Reading is reading, doesn’t matter to me how it’s done. I still love and buy paperbacks, but the ebook format has given me a whole world of new books I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I live in Spain and mostly read in English, but finding physical books in English here in stores is kind of difficult, unless they’re either bestsellers or classics. The book format give me a lot of possibilities outside of what my usual stores have to offer, and I love that.

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

Are you sure you are allowed to ask this to an author? Isn’t it like asking a parent which one of their kids they love more?

I don’t think I’ve got a favorite, or at least not so far. I haven’t written enough stories to be able to tell you “I like this above all the others”. You can ask me again in a few years.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Officially, I’ve contracted a short story with Nine Star Press for one of their F/F Paranormal anthologies. It’s about two girls that come to Spain to walk Saint James Way and find themselves in the middle of a Galician legend.

Besides that it’s just writing, writing and writing. I’m immersed in writing a story with two 17 years old MCs, one of whom is asexual while the other one is bisexual. I’m loving writing it and getting to know the characters and where they want to go, but I’m a slow writer, so we’ll have to wait until it’s finished. And then wait to see if anyone wants to publish it.

Blurb

Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.

When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?

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

About the Author

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life. 

She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.

She loves hearing from people and you can find her at:

https://www.facebook.com/laura.bailo

https://twitter.com/LauraBailo

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16360938.Laura_Bailo

https://laurabailo.wordpress.com/

Sean Michael on Writing and his newest release ‘Golden’ (author interview)

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Golden by Sean Michael
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy links Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sean Michael here today.  Welcome, Sean!

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Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me today

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

Surprisingly no. My favorite genres have always been sci-fi, fantasy and especially post apocalyptic fiction. I love reading those the best, but I tend to write contemporary, paranormal and BDSM romance. I do have a fantasy world on the go – Windbrothers – but it’s a very different writing mindset to the romance.

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

No, actually. The more my characters are hurting, the more I write on a book. I hate it when they’re hurting and I have a hard time leaving them that way, even just to go to bed. This might be one reason why my books tend not to be angst heavy.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I love HEA! I write romance – it’s all about the happy ending. There are enough terrible things going on in the world, I like to spread happiness – I want to add positivity.

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

I did read a ton of romance during university – that was the way I shut my brain down in the evenings. I’d go to bed with a romance and read it, then I’d be able to sleep.

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

I think ebooks have made it cheaper for everyone to have lots of reading material. I think they’ve made it easier to store books no matter the size of your living space. And easier to take books with you when you’re on the go. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

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

I’m not allowed to pick favorites, it would rile the characters who live in my head! Having said that, my latest is usually my favorite – It always feels wonderful to be with the characters who are being written.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

More writing! No, seriously, I still love it – it’s still the best job in the world and I’m happy to believe I’ll be able to continued doing it for a long time to come.

Sean

smut fixes everything

Blurb:

After winning Olympic gold four years ago, Justin retired from swimming, and he’s been floundering ever since. The Fourth of July finds him contemplating doing something stupid, so Justin calls up his former coach, Chris Jarvis. To his surprise, Coach answers.

When Justin retired, Chris cut all ties with the swimmer he’d fallen in love with. He never wanted Justin to love him just because it was easy. But he’s been waiting for Justin to reach out, and he’ll gladly take Justin back into his life.

When he finds out Justin is drowning in a pool of self-doubt and the belief that his happy years are behind him, Chris realizes he made a mistake letting go so suddenly, and that Justin needs structure and a firm, dominant hand to keep him on the right track. It’s time to remedy his error—as long as he can convince Justin that it’s really love.

About the Author

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/

TWITTER: seanmichael09

INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

J Tullos Hennig on Writing, Books, and her release ‘Summerwode (The Wode: Book Four)’ (Author Interview/DSP Publications GUEST POST)

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Summerwode (The Wode #4) by J. Tullos Hennig
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SP Publications
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu

Sales Links:

DSP Publications
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Amazon

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J. Tullos Hennig here today. Welcome, J. and thank you for sharing something about yourself and your writing!

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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J Tullos Hennig ~

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

Research has a role in every genre. It has to; nothing can be created in a vacuum. We need some verisimilitude to latch onto, be it with our own cobbled-together universes or a world with a firmer attachment to ‘reality’. We’re all beholden to some sort of history, however intrinsically flawed or truthful. And living life can be its own research, as much as perusing a library’s closed stacks.

So what can you say but yes!—and embrace it?

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

Genre was a LOT less specific when I was young, but it was a factor. I loved other worlds and times, history and anthropology, devoured mythic tales and legends, preferred stories where animals were individuals (because in a lifetime of working with them, they are), and was an nerdy Speculative Fiction fan way before it was pop culture cool.

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

No, though I had a very short stint of romance reading as a teenager. As I said above, I’m a Historical and Speculative reader to the bone. I do enjoy epic stories that include romantic themes. And write them, natch!

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

I always offer sage to the three Marys: Mary Stewart, Mary Renault, and Mary O’Hara. And especially recognise the Chickasaw storyteller known as Te Ata.

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?

For me, as a writer, if I’m not immersed then the writing isn’t working. And of course it hurts. Again, what can you say but yes? Amazing things are winnowed from pain AND joy.

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?

Hmm. This question alone has spawned tomes of rhetoric—not an easy thing to answer in a few sentences. I was around when the “Mary Sue” thing got started, and one thing seems plain in that experience: “Mary Sue” has become a fannish pejorative that has gone wildly off its original course. As a result, women are often the ones feeling the brunt of the harshest judgments. All this, when the original plaint had as its source a complaint about lazy writing and juvenile characterisation.

The thing is, in any well-crafted story a writer has to mine one’s own experience to inform their characters. But well-rounded characterisation, whatever its source, is a skill learned over time and practice. So baby writers often fail… should fail, because if we don’t, we don’t learn. But when you put something out for public consumption before it or you are ready…?  Well. Consequences. And everyone seems to be getting less, not more, tolerant of what doesn’t fall into their own set of expectations.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Neither, really. I prefer to read and write what I term a “satisfactory” ending. I want the immersive experience, both for my readers and when I read. If I’m lucky enough to experience that immersion, I don’t get terribly picky about what those feelings are. To quote James Joyce: “First you feel… then you fall.”

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

Living in a small house, it’s space-wise and convenient to have a e-reader filled with titles. But I don’t prefer it. I like the feel and smell of paper books. The idea that someone can whisk my books away and into the ether on a whim, or that my reading relies solely on a source of external power—well, its worrisome. And unappealing. But convenient, no question! And I can markup files in an e-reader, where I refuse to mark in my books.

Where the technology goes from here, I wouldn’t dare to guess, save that I imagine audio will play a bigger role than ever.

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

I think about the cover artist and whether their style speaks to the story. I do consider myself blessed in that I’m able to have input on my covers through DSP Publications. My former experience with publishing houses serves to remind me that not all authors are so fortunate.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’ve a lot of projects in the wings. The main one I’m shopping now is culturally based more on my grandmother’s Choctaw/Chickasaw people than my grandfather’s U.K. heritage; a different voice, to be sure, but one underserved and vital.

But as to ‘thisnow’, as the denizens of the Wode say, I’m amidst SUMMERWODE’s release, and working on the final book in the series, WYLDINGWODE. All of the Books of the Wode are dense, character-driven, and immersive. If you’re quite strict about your Romance tropes, they mightn’t be your cuppa. But if you’re up for a good old-fashioned, epic Historical Fantasy with a goodly dose of magical realism, then the Wode might be for you!

Thanks for hosting me on your blog!

COVER BLURB for SUMMERWODE

The Summer King has come to the Wode…
Yet to which oath, head or heart, shall he hold?

Once known as the Templar assassin Guy de Gisbourne, dispossessed noble Gamelyn Boundys has come to Sherwood Forest with conflicted oaths. One is of duty: demanding he tame the forest’s druidic secrets and bring them back to his Templar Masters. The other oath is of heat and heart: given to the outlaw Robyn Hood, avatar of the Horned Lord, and the Maiden Marion, embodiment of the Lady Huntress. The three of them—Summerlord, Winter King, and Maiden of the Spring—are bound by yet another promise, that of fate: to wield the covenant of the Shire Wode and the power of the Ceugant, the magical trine of all worlds. In this last, also, is Gamelyn conflicted; spectres of sacrifice and death haunt him.
Uneasy oaths begin a collision course when not only Gamelyn, but Robyn and Marion are summoned to the siege of Nottingham by the Queen. Her promise is that Gamelyn will regain his noble family’s honour of Tickhill, and the outlaws of the Shire Wode will have a royal pardon.
But King Richard has returned to England, and the price of his mercy might well be more than any of them can afford…

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EXCERPT from SUMMERWODE:

“You look proper fetching in those breeks.” This from Much, behind Robyn and just inside the drawn-back pavilion entry.

“I wish I could say the same for you in that Templar’s tabard.” Marion had lingered with him.

Silence.

Then, “Why didn’t you say anything?” If the wretched tone in Marion’s voice set a crack in Robyn’s heart, Much’s answer shivered it into anger.

“Marion, you knew it was temporary, me being banished, like—”

“It must run in your bloody Order,” Robyn growled, just loud enough and with a glare toward the pulled-back pavilion flap. “Bein’ so reticent, like, with sommun as shares your bed.”

Within the entry, Much had his mouth open, about to make some retort. He thought better of it and shut it with an audible pop.

Marion let out a curse that could have scorched the pavilion’s fabric.

“You’d best start talking, man, and keep on,” Robyn muttered, though to which Templar, he was uncertain.

Another silence, then more conversation—this low, unintelligible. Robyn grinned—no pleasant expression—and crept closer, ready to lob another volley should it be necessary.

He halted. Frowned. Cocked his head and snuffed the air, turned sharp eyes upon the drifting smoke; previously aimless, it sucked backward, then curled forth.

The soldiers began to appear, then, silent and armed to the teeth, akin to phantoms in the wisps of murk and sun. Despite any impulse to duck back into the pavilion and hide, a dull fascination kept Robyn there, watching the men pass with ranks doubling, tripling, all parting like water around the surrounding pavilions.

The odd lull receded and filled itself with a singular rhythm; Robyn realized it was the dull tap… tap… of sword against shield, timing the tread of heavy boots, the clink and thap of chainmail against leather, the heat and menace of determination.

Some of them were Templars.

They were converging upon the gatehouse. Just a stone’s throw away, the army—and it was one, no question there—stopped.

There was a grind and clank from the main gate. A small door revealed itself, creaking outward from the great one’s leftmost corner. The waiting army angled forward—slight, but there—and a shaky voice issued from the three-sided gap. A rich baritone echoed in answer, bouncing off the gatehouse door.

Robyn knew that last voice. With a tiny skip and step forward, he confirmed said recognition: the tall, white-clad Commander of Temple Hirst with—of course—his most trusted bodyguard. Both of them standing in the bloody front of the battle line. Hubert was speaking to the one who was hiding behind the little door, and Gamelyn stood beside him, holding the Templar’s banner, with shoulders squared and russet-gold head bared beneath an abrupt shaft of the inconstant sun.

That same bit of sun spilled upon the gatehouse tower. It illuminated, through a tall and bloody narrow opening, a figure lurking behind the thick, curved wall. The odd combination of sun, smoke, and shadows betrayed a glint, here and there, wielded within. Likely a crossbow.

Eyes narrowing, Robyn kept his gaze upon the arrow loop, shrugged the longbow from its place athwart his shoulders, and fingered a flax string from its pouch at his belt.

Whatever Hubert was saying, the man at the door wasn’t having it, not a bit.

The sun making its play for Gamelyn’s bright hair slid behind a bit of smoke, and the gatehouse went dark.

Robyn stepped his bow with a soft grunt of effort, slipping string over horn tip, and kept eyeing that arrow loop. The sun crept back; one shaft of light in particular kept dancing, above and behind, to backlight the crossbowman in the upper gatehouse. Pulling a quintet of arrows from his quiver, Robyn set to knotting three in his hair.

“What is it?” Marion came up beside; he spared a swift glance. Much was nowhere in sight, and her eyes were swollen, but the look in those eyes dared Robyn to so much as mention it. And—he smiled—she carried her own bow, strung and ready.

“Hearken where our Summerlord bides.”

Marion’s eyes widened, and her pale eyebrows did a dance, one up and the other down. But all she said was “Aye, well, no wonder Much lit out like he were afire” and drew several arrows from the quiver at her hip.

Robyn loved his sister.

“Y’ canna chain t’ wind,” he quipped. “Such wishes are for Christians and rich men.”

She smirked.

“There’s more’n one bloody crossbow sighting our lovely Templars. Two there on the hoarding, one… nay, two”—he could see another now, moving into position behind the second loop—“in t’ loops, and… bloody damn!”

This as the smoke stalled upon a breeze and the gatehouse went into shadow.

With a breathy paean to the wind, Robyn drew several arrows from his quiver, slow and sure. “You’ve the lighter bow, Mari. Best cover the ones up top.” He pushed, light and ready, into his grandda’s longbow as she nocked and fisted her own arrows. “I’ve marked those buggers behind the loops; do they so much as twitch, I’ll have ’em.”

“Who let this…?” A cry rose from within the walls and garbled into more shouting. The man at the door whirled angrily, then lurched sideways with a yip and disappeared. Several of the front-line soldiers leapt after as the door was heaved shut—one ran into it with a curse.

More shouts, with one from behind the wall that left no doubt. “Shoot!”

And everything went to hell.

Crossbows discharged. Lances flew. The ground troops dove left and right, wrenching their shields atop them like turtles ducking into their shells. The Templar banner alone remained upright, sprouting from a ceiling of shields as, from the wall-walk—and more, from those damned dark arrow loops—the bolts kept coming.

Marion loosed once, then again. With a shout, a man fell from the hoarding and crashed into a brace of the waiting shields, an arrow in his throat. Robyn danced sideways, watching another quarrel spring from the loop; he loosed a desperate shot, chance and trajectory alone. It slid between the narrow lintels as if greased, and there was a yelp. Had he hit? No way to tell; instead he took aim at the other loop. Whoever was stuck in up there—they weren’t the normal dusted-off clot handed a crossbow—kept loosing bolts with unerring efficiency into the soldiers below….

And still no sign of Gamelyn, though the piebald banner flew, obdurate. The shields below it were beginning to resemble hedgehogs. Robyn’s heart clenched to quivering in his breast, forced tight his breath.

Surely he’d know, if….

L’arbalète!”

The throaty bellow made Robyn start; indeed, ’twould have brought the cows in from a hundred-acre field. Save that all the cattle here were English, and that was definitely Frankish talk.

More shouts resounded against the high bailey walls. A burly, bright-haired man fair exploded from the fancy crimson pavilion a stone’s throw west, still spewing Frankish.

It was answered by a round of cries—“Pour le roi!” “Du roi!”—and a mass of crossbowmen poured from behind the pavilions, rushing the gatehouse.

Roi? That was their talk for a king…. Robyn fisted two more arrows, all the while eying the man who still bellowed like some Frank bull. King Richard? Nay, that was unlikely. His tent was big and fancy, but the man wasn’t dressed to match. His fair hair bore no crown, was tied back all haphazard, its gingery cast picked out by a shaft of breakthrough sun. He’d an even ruddier complexion, with cheeks and nose that seemed more too much wine than too much sun, and a bit too much around the belly, as well, for some warrior king.

Still.

Something in him required pause; a pure vitality slapping at Robyn’s face like sand in a whirlwind. And the man’s bellow would stir an army from sloth to ambition, at that.

Robyn shook it off with a curse, aimed another arrow for that far loop, and hissed the wind-breath from entreaty into desperate command. Marion too was waiting, arrow to string, for another of the topmost bowmen to show themselves….

Sun rippled over the gatehouse, backlight and satisfaction and, as if similarly conjured, a rush of crossbow- and pikemen converged from behind the crimson pavilion. One of them was yelling, in Anglic: “Archers! We need more crossbows!”

Marion picked off the last of the wall crossbowmen.

But Robyn saw only the two forms, backlit behind those arrow loops. With a half-breathed snarl, he loosed; one, then immediately another.

And just like that, no more arrows came from the loops.

About the Author

J Tullos Hennig has always possessed inveterate fascination in the myths and histories of other worlds and times. Despite having maintained a few professions in this world—equestrian, dancer, teacher, artist—Jen has never successfully managed to not be a writer. Ever.

Her most recent work is a darkly magical & award-winning historical fantasy series re-imagining the legends of Robin Hood, in which both pagan and queer viewpoints are given respectful voice.

Social media links:

JTH Website

Musings blog

(You can subscribe to my newsletter at either the Musing blog or main site—you’ll receive the first and earliest notification on all updates and news, plus a gift: several short stories seldom seen in the wild.)

Bookbub

Goodreads

The Wode Facebook Page

JTH’s profile on Facebook

Twitter
or @JTullosHennig

J.C. LONG on Characters, Writing, and his new release ‘Hearts in Ireland’ (Guest Blog/Tour)

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Hearts in Ireland (World of Love) by J.C. Long
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reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs | Tibbs Design

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.C. Long here today on his Hearts in Ireland blog tour. Welcome, J.C.!

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Welcome everybody to the next stop on my Hearts in Ireland blog tour! I’m J. C. Long, author  of Hearts in Ireland, coming May 10th, 2017! I’m so glad to be here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I love to talk about myself (just joking, haha. Okay, maybe not entirely a joke) so today I’m bringing you an interview! The people folks here at SW&RT asked some really good questions, and I’m really excited to answer them! Without further ado, on to the questions!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I try to make my characters far more well-rounded than I am. If a majority of my characters were like me, the stories would be pretty boring pretty quickly, I think. But, with that said, there are definitely elements of my personality or little quirks that do shine through into the characters, though I don’t often realize it until I’ve finished writing. Noah Potter in my novel A Matter of Duty shares my love of spicy food and aversion to certain textures of food, like tofu. The self confidence issues that the character Tate suffers in Broadway Babe are very much my own. But Ronan, from this upcoming story, is the closest to me. He has the most of me I think I’ve ever put into a character.

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

I think it’s important for an author to avoid the perfect, idealized characters as much as possible. Perfection is boring. No one wants to read a character that doesn’t make a mistake, because those are usually characters with absolutely zero agency.

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

Honesty time: I hate most research, which does influence what I write, I think. Let’s just say you will NOT be getting a Victorian era historical from me (I hate that era, anyway). When I select a project that requires research, I always want it to be something that I love and am interested in. My Hong Kong Nights series required quite a bit of research into the city, but I found it to be really interesting and fun. Science fiction and fantasy have a great appeal because of the ability to make up worlds and cultures as I go along.

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

Yes! I have a contemporary romance WIP that’s sitting about 75% finished. I can’t touch it yet. It involves a character who loses his grandmother, who raised him. This time last year my grandmother passed away, and that loss was devastating. Any time I approach that story I get overwhelmed and can’t think straight. I hope to finish it one day, when the time is right, but for now it’s on hold.

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

I didn’t read romance much as a teenager; I was far more into scifi and fantasy. I do read it now as an adult. I’ve developed an appreciation for just how wonderful the genre is (and how difficult to write, as a writer, when the world is a dark and scary place).

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

I like this question. Part of the cover process for me is trusting the artist and the publisher. They know what’s marketable and what will sell the best. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve loved all of the covers I’ve had for my books. With Hearts in Ireland I was given three choices, and I was stuck between the one you see and a second. My boyfriend actually was the tiebreaker for me.

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

My favorite? That’s a bit difficult. Each story is meaningful to me in its own way. This one is the one that my heart is most invested in, I’ll say that. I can tell you my least favorite—it’s always the one I’m working on right now!

What’s next for you as an author?

I’ve got a busy year ahead of me! I’m currently working on the follow-up to Broadway Boys. When that’s finished I’m jumping into the third book in my Hong Kong Nights series and after that the third book in my Gabe Maxfield Mysteries series (the first and second will be out sometime this year).

Blurb:

When the future is shrouded and it’s hard to find direction, maybe it’s time to let the heart lead the way….

Ronan Walker stands at a crossroads, unsure how to pursue his education… unsure if he even wants to. Now that his mother is gone, all he has left are the wonderful stories of her youth in Ireland, and he’s drawn to the land of his ancestors. There, he seeks out his mother’s family and meets Fergal Walsh, who works at Ronan’s aunt’s bookstore. A love of literature facilitates a fast friendship between the two men, and even though Ronan cannot deny the potential—and his desire—for more, he cannot see a future for the two of them when he leaves Ireland. Fergal must persuade Ronan to give school in Dublin a chance—and convince Ronan that his heart has already found its home.

 

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

About the Author

J. C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an Army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his lifelong involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States, J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that.

His favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing, and Korean food (not in that order… okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts, and wishing he were writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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Robert Winter on A Virtual Tour of Locations in ‘Every Breath You Take’, his latest novel (guest post and giveaway)

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Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Release Date: May 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 221 pages
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Robert Winter here today. Robert is going to give us a tour of the locations in his novel, Every Breath You Take.  Welcome, Robert!

✒︎

A Virtual Tour of Locations in Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter

Every Breath You Take is set in Washington, DC, where I have lived for more than 25 years (with a few breaks to live in New York). The city has grown and changed tremendously in that time. When I moved here in 1990, the population was on the decline as people fled to the suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. Most recently, census figures from 2016 show Washington’s population has reached a 40-year high.

That growth shows itself everywhere in new construction and in lots of traffic, but in some ways Washington retains its charm. There are lots of pretty bicycle trails, for example, such as this one that connects DC to Maryland.

There are also moments when you see a famous building, like the Capitol or the Washington Monument, and realize what a beautiful city DC really is.

In Every Breath You Take, Zachary Hall works for the Treasury Department. Although no scenes take place in his office, I’ve always thought Treasury has one of the more attractive buildings.

When Thomas Scarborough picks up Zachary at a bar, he brings him back to his condo. I let Thomas live in a swank development called CityCentreDC, which houses several high-end fashion stores, great restaurants, and condos with great views. Thomas lives on the top floor, of course.

On a memorable Sunday, Zachary visits the National Gallery of Art with Thomas and another character, Randy Vaughan.  Before he meets them inside, he sits for a while near a fountain. In the story, it had not yet been turned on, but I’m including a picture of the working fountain and its accompanying display of azaleas.

While he wanders on the Mall, Zachary also spots a building called the Newseum. Not only is this place a museum related to the freedom of the press and the other rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but it also houses some famous relics including a piece of the Berlin Wall and an antenna from the World Trade Center.

It develops in the story that Zachary begins dating a man named Sam who has an apartment in an attached building called the Newseum Residence (to the left in the picture above). Sam lives on the top floor. I’m not saying anything more, but after you read Every Breath You Take you might want to take another look at that top balcony!

The last stop on our virtual tour is one that I didn’t use in the book, but that any lover of mysteries and intrigue might particularly enjoy – the International Spy Museum. My favorite feature is a collection of tools of the spy trade, including a tube of lipstick that converts into a derringer. I’ll have to find a way to use something like that in a future story, maybe one about a drag queen spy…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the DC in which Zachary and Thomas find love and danger. If you know DC and I’ve missed one of your favorites, please tell us about it in the comments! You can find out more about my experiences in DC at my website.

Synopsis

When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

Excerpt

Across the street the man with the silver-framed glasses stood back in the shadows and stared at the front window of the garden apartment. He could see the back of his quarry’s head as he watched a small flat-screen TV.

Time passed.

Eventually the head nodded forward and then jerked up. When it happened a second time, the creature turned off the TV and then the lamp and headed to bed.

The man waited for another half hour with his back pressed against an alcove formed where two brownstones met. The street was quiet. Almost no one walked by, and the lone person who came down the street failed to notice him in the shadows.

The man felt his breath grow hoarse, and blood rushed in his ears as his heart began to pound. He cultivated that sensation as he reached into his coat pocket for the screwdriver that rested there and made himself imagine the creature’s hands touching the Beloved’s face. Stroking his body. He curled his fingers around the screwdriver and then clenched and unclenched rhythmically. Its thick handle felt rough against his palm because of the grooves and sharp edges he had chiseled into it. He had ideas for other implements that would serve his purpose, but for now, this would do just fine. This would make his point.

His throat was dry, and his eyes burned from focusing on the darkened window, but he felt invincible. The tension in his body climbed exquisitely, and when he could take no more, he slipped across the street and stepped down to the locked gate. It opened easily with his small set of picks. The gate made no noise when the creature went through it earlier, so he was confident and quick and didn’t bother to lock it behind him. Child’s play, he thought as he worked the lock on the apartment door.

The tumblers clicked into place.

He stored his lockpicks, slipped inside the darkened apartment, and then closed the door behind him as silently as he could. Streetlight came through the slatted blinds the boy had failed to close completely. He waited quietly until he heard a faint snore from the back and then removed his glasses and tucked them in an inside pocket of his jacket. The scarf his quarry had been wearing caught his eye, and the man bared his teeth as he lifted it off the coat tree and tugged it tightly between his hands. It was well made. It would hold. He smiled.

He slid through the gloom toward the room where the creature lay sleeping. He was hard, and the blood in his erection pulsed in time to the pounding of his heart. That boy had dared to touch his Beloved. He had probably even been fucked by him. But that wasn’t enough—oh no. He came back for more.

It had taken the man so long to find his Beloved and interpret his subtle clues. He finally understood what was required of him. The undeserving gnat must be chastised, and he would be the Beloved’s angel of retribution. He was conscious of the weight of the screwdriver in his pocket, the scratch of the wool scarf in his hands, and the power in his arms.

He reached for the boy on the bed.

Meet the Author

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | 
Goodreads
 | eMail

Blog Tour Schedule

May 8 – Stories That Make You Smile | Books, Dreams, Life
May 9 – two chicks obsessed Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
May 10 – Oh My Shelves | Butterfly-o-Meter Books
May 11 – Bayou Book Junkie | Boy Meets Boy Reviews
May 12 – Urban Smoothie Read | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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C. J. Anthony on Roller Coasters, Road Trips and her latest novel ‘Runaway Rock Star’ (guest post)

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Runaway Rock Star (States of Love) by C.J. Anthony
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host C.J. Anthony today on her Runaway Road Trip Blog Tour! Welcome, C.J.!

 

Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me on the blog today! Today is my fifth stop on my Runaway Rock Star Road Blog Tour! Join me as I hit the road—I’m going to be visiting some great blogs, sharing background about the book, about Ohio, and there may also be a fun interview with Lucas and Brandon along the way. The stops are listed below and any posts you comment on during the tour will enter you for a fun prize pack at the end that includes a $20 GC to the eBook retailer of your choice.

Runaway Rock Star is a part of the States of Love series from Dreamspinner Press. A little background on the series for those who may not know what it is, the States of Love series is a series with one book about each state in the United States, all written by different authors.

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So in Runaway Rock Star, the first stop on Lucas and Brandon’s road trip (after they leave Cleveland) is Cedar Point. If you live in Ohio or even in a surrounding state—or if you’re a roller coaster fan—you probably know what Cedar Point is. But for those of you who have never heard of it, Cedar Point is an amusement park. They make the claim to be the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World, “ and that just might be true.

Cedar Point is located on a peninsula off of Lake Erie on the northern border of Ohio. According to ohiohistorycentral.org, the park officially began in 1870 when bath houses and other attractions were built to draw tourists. The first coaster was built in 1892 and the rest is history!

Today there are miles and miles of roller coasters, tons of places to eat, fun musical shows and entertainment and even a water park too.

I have to say, I have only been to Cedar Point once, many, many years ago, because I’m not a roller coaster fan. When I went, I made myself ride several coasters, and I survived in one piece, LOL. But that was enough for me.  Cedar Point, though, is a popular place for Ohio families to visit and tourists come from all over for the roller coasters.

In the book,  Lucas begins navigating and directs Brandon on the highway toward Cedar Point, already having made hotel reservations and plan without him knowing it. Here’s an excerpt of the beginning of their day at the park:

By the time Brandon caught up with him, Lucas was rubbing his hands together in delight. “All right, Harris. It’s on! What should we ride first?”

“What kind of thrill do you like? Riding upside down? Death drops? Wooden coasters? Or speed?”

“Well, considering I’ve never ridden any roller coaster before, I would say… all of them!”

Brandon stopped walking. “Wait a minute, you’ve never…? How…?” After what Lucas had told him so far of his life, he guessed it shouldn’t be a surprise that Lucas had never ridden a roller coaster. And he didn’t want to make the guy feel bad about it. But it did give him an idea.

“Okay,” Brandon said, striding ahead of Lucas. “I know exactly where to start.”

A few minutes later they arrived at their destination, Brandon smiling broadly.

Lucas glared at him. “The Woodstock Express? Are you fucking kidding me?”

A mother with two children in tow gave Lucas a dirty look as she tried to cover her little girl’s ears. Too late for the little boy though. “Mommy, he just said fuck-king!”

Brandon leaned over to Lucas. “Watch your language… there are little children present!”

“Of course there are, because you brought me to a kiddie ride!”

Brandon held up his hands. “Now, now… adults are allowed to ride too.” He smirked. “As your copilot on this roller-coaster adventure, I need to make sure you’re going to be able to handle the big-league coasters. After all you did say you were a roller-coaster virgin.”

Lucas scowled. “You are a devious arsehole, Harris. I am shocked!” Defiantly he stalked over to the line, towering a good two to three feet over his fellow riders.

Brandon laughed out loud. He stood on the sidelines and took pictures and video of Lucas riding on the train ride, like a proud parent. He also watched as Lucas’s car-mate, a little dark-haired boy, conversed with Lucas and pulled him out of his indignant mood. Lucas was chatting and laughing with a look of pure joy on his face.

When the ride was over, Lucas brought the little boy over to Brandon. “This is my new best bud, Martin.” Looking down at Martin, he motioned toward Brandon. “Marty, go ahead.”

Martin looked up at Brandon with a seriously bored expression on his face. “Dude, he rocked the ride, didn’t scream or puke once. He’s good to go.”

Martin and Lucas did some kind of hand-slap fist-bump, and then Martin ran off to find his family. Lucas looked smugly at Brandon.

“See, I was just coaster-approved. Now, can we please ride a big-boy ride? Please, Daddy?”

Brandon just rolled his eyes. “Okay, fine.”

Lucas threw his fist in the air.

~ ~ ~ ~

If you enjoyed the excerpt, pick up the book, there are more shenanigans to be had. And the itinerary for my blog trip is listed below; I hope you’ll visit each blog along with me! Don’t forget to leave comments to be entered for the prize giveaway. Also be sure to check out the blurb and info about the book.

May 3  MM Good Book Reviews

May 10  My Fiction Nook

May 11  Love Bytes Reviews

May 12  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

May 15  Open Skye Book Reviews

May 17  The Novel Approach

May 18  Boy Meets Boy Reviews

Blurb:

Just hours before Brandon Harris is supposed to head home to Cincinnati for a Labor Day family picnic, his boss at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame forces him into giving a private tour to bratty British pop rock star Lucas Black. Before he knows it, he finds himself swept up in a whirlwind road trip through Ohio with Lucas riding shotgun. 

Lucas grabs hold of this wild opportunity to run away—even for a few precious days—from the gilded cage that is his carefully managed life. He’s just looking for a little fun and freedom as a normal person. From  roller coasters to a college football game, Brandon begins to see the real Lucas Black buried under the famous persona. But by the time he and Lucas discover their mutual attraction, they only have one night left before both of them have to go back to their real lives. The fun is over…unless Lucas can run away for real this time and keep their adventure going.

About the Author

C. J. Anthony grew up watching soap operas and reading piles of books. She attributes her love of reading and romance to her mother, who not only taught her to read but also made countless trips to the library lugging piles of books home for her. It wasn’t a far jump to start writing her own stories, early childhood tales about flower families and traveling to the moon with her best friend.

C. J.’s favorite stories to read and write include “opposites attract” pairings—couples who appear to be an odd couple to the rest of the world, but fit together perfectly, finding their own happily-ever-after with a little hard work and a whole lot of love.

Not surprisingly, C. J. is a big lover of rom coms—she’ll gladly take Julia Roberts standing in front of Hugh Grant asking him to love her over car crashes and shoot-em-up movies any day. She also watches way too much TV and every singing reality show there is. She loves music of all genres and attending live concerts.

She spends most of her time juggling a day job and a commute and freelance and falling asleep on her couch, dreaming of a day when she can write all day in her pajamas while living in a house by the beach.

E-mail: cjanthony70@gmail.com

Blog: https://cjanthony.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cjanthony.writer

Twitter: @C_J_Anthony

Lucie Archer on Writing, Characters and her latest story ‘Past the Breakers’ (guest blog and interview)

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Past the Breakers by Lucie Archer
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:

      

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Lucie Archer here today on her Past the Breakers book tour.  Welcome, Lucie! 

✒︎

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Lucie Archer~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I don’t put that much of myself into my characters, at least not consciously. They usually end up growing and developing their own personalities as I write them, which is part of the fun for me as a writer, bringing to life characters that have never existed before.

However, I sometimes give them little pieces of me. For example, Myles’s favorite food is chicken parmesan, which is mine as well. Casey suffers from anxiety attacks, and while I didn’t write that into the book as a reflection of myself, my own experience is something I drew from when I wrote him.

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

I absolutely love research! It’s one of my favorite parts of being a writer to the point I sometimes get lost in it and forget to write. Oops. I’m very much a realist, so fantasy is something I kind of struggle with in terms of the media I consume, and in my own writing. Contemporary is more my wheelhouse, but I would like to try my hand at a few historical pieces… just for the excuse to research.

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

I joke that I’m a method writer, but it’s really the only way I can describe how I write. I very much get into my characters’ heads, and I have had to step away from a story before to regroup after an emotionally taxing scene. I also sometimes cry when I write particularly intense scenes, which may be lame to admit, but I really hope the emotion I put into my stories comes out for the readers.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I am all about the HEA’s. I’m not sure I could write a story that’s just HFN. I need that closure, and I need to know these characters I’ve invested in get the happiness they deserve, whether I wrote them or someone else did. It has to be an exceptional story before I’m satisfied with something other than HEA. Maybe that’s boring, but there’s enough sadness in the world that I don’t like to see it in the things I use to escape it.

  • How do you choose your covers?

I’ve gotten really lucky with the amazing designers at DSP. I don’t usually have a clear picture of what I want for my covers, so it’s hard to articulate what I’d like, but I haven’t had any problems choosing from the wonderful mock ups they’ve made for me. Usually one will jump out at me immediately, then it’s just a matter of tweaking it to perfection.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Hopefully more books! I have several WIPs I’m trying to juggle right now, including one I hope to have out this summer set in an aquarium that I’m having an absolute blast with. But I assure you have I have more ideas than I know what to do with. It’s just a matter of making time to get them all out of my head.

Blurb

Casey North lost everything when his restaurant burned to the ground: his hopes, his dreams, his reason for living. With nothing tying him to LA, he packs up and moves back to his hometown of Land’s End. He takes up residence in a beach house and attempts to shake the depression he’s fallen into after his life collapsed. There’s just one tiny problem: the ghost haunting his kitchen.

Myles Taylor wasn’t always trapped in the Between. One minute, he was about to propose to his boyfriend of five years as they sat out on their surfboards, and the next, he woke up on the beach to find his long-dead uncle walking toward him. After his shock fades, he must learn to navigate his new reality as he searches for a way to move into the Great Beyond. But first he must deal with the man who’s invaded his territory.

With Myles tied to the beach house and Casey unwilling to leave it, the two must learn to cohabitate as the lines separating them begin to blur. They grow closer than either expected, but what will become of them once Myles finally escapes the Between?

Meet Lucie

Lucie Archer is a student of the universe who is obsessed with the stars, in love with beaches, and crazy about dudes falling in love. She tells stories of romance, love, and life, with a little bit of passion thrown in for good measure. Because what’s life without a little pop and sizzle?

When she’s not writing, she can be found tending to her garden, playing with her four-legged children, or procrastinating. Although, she spends a lot of time fending off random plot bunnies that threaten to derail her WIP’s.

Website & blog: www.luciearcher.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/writerluciearcher

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lucie_Archer

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Blog tour:

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

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

Available for Purchase at

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

✒︎

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Rae Durreson

How much of yourself goes into a character?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you choose your covers?

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

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

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

What’s next for you as an author?

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

Blurb

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

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

About the Author

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

Social media:

Twitter: @amy_raenbow

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

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

An Ali Audiobook Review: Everyday History by Alice Archer and Daan Stone (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
I just read this book about a month ago and loved it. 

When I had the chance to review the audiobook I jumped at it and I’m really glad I did. First off, the narrator, Daan Stone, was super good. I had never listened to him before but he’s now on my radar because his narration was flawless. It was a 5+ stars.

As I’ve already said, I loved this book on the first read. The writing style is very unique. It’s lyrical and poetic and something about it just drew me in and held me from the beginning till the end of the story. This time I was able to go through the story more slowly (I’m a fast reader). The narration made me pace myself and I found there were things I had not caught the first time through. I also found the narration to make the story more emotional and I found my eyes filling with tears more than once (which I did not do when I read it).

The plot of the story is one we’ve seen before, an age gap between teacher and student. This was done differently though. It seems all of the age gap books I’ve read before have had the older person worried about the age difference and the younger one adamant that they know what they want and they have no concerns about it. In this, Ruben, the younger of the two, falters. He knows he cares for Henry and he knows he wants to see him and have sex, but he also knows he’s a kid. He wants to go to college and party and sleep around and do fun things that most of us do/did during this time of our lives. So while this story is definitely a love story, it’s also a coming of age. Ruben has a lot of lessons to learn and unfortunately he hurts others and himself along the way.
The story is told in a quiet way. A lot of it is based on conversations. A lot of it is told through stories that the characters tell each other. Some of it is told through newspaper columns and post cards. Everything that happens in this story matters. You need to pay attention because everything will circle back at some point and you’ll have these “ah-ha” moments. (You probably won’t ever be able to eat apple pie again without feeling a bit emotional.)

While there is a feeling of melancholy as you read this, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly angsty. It’s more a quiet study of how we come to learn what’s important in our lives and how we learn to put aside our fears to reach for what we want. It looks at the people in our lives and the roles they play and it looks at the importance in the things we hold on to and how they tell the story of who we are.

I am a giant sucker for the “grand gesture” in romance stories and this one tops the chart. There is also a lovely HEA and an epilogue that is just beautiful. I really can’t fan girl enough about this. The writing style is so distinctive that I realize it won’t be for everyone. I personally loved it though and I think both the ebook and the audio were hits out of the ballpark so I recommend either or both.
 
Cover by Bree Archer:  I love the cover.  I always really like black and white cover with a splash of color.  This one in particular I really like because it is a signifies a very important part of the story.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
9 hrs 53 mins
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 29th 2016)
Original TitleEveryday History
ASINB06XSMXH4R
Edition LanguageEnglish

Its Back to the Beach with Beach Balls by Tara Lain (excerpt and giveaway)

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The wait is over! BEACH BALLS, book #3 in the Balls To The Wall series by Tara Lain is now available! 

 

 

Beach Balls
(Balls to the Wall Series, #3)
By Tara Lain
Blurb:
Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. As an attorney for the homophobic WMA Development, he can’t come out without risking the million-dollar paycheck waiting for him once they push their big land development deal through the city council—money that will finally allow Adam to live according to his own terms. Then, on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to hug a tree.
Sky Sea Mickeljohn stands for the environment, world peace, and being openly gay. He won’t compromise his principles for anyone—even the damned lying developer lawyer he can’t help lusting after. True, the WMA land development deal could put thousands of people at risk, but Sky still wants to risk his heart. In the fight between freedom and integrity, is there a place for love?
Available for purchase at 
         

Readers are 
LOVING BEACH BALLS!

“Ms Lain pens a thoughtful and sensual tale and I look forward to reading more in the series.”
~ Night Owl Reviews — 4 1/2 Stars! Reviewer Top Pick!

“The character growth they undergo during the story is phenomenal and adds a lot of zing, along with the ‘off the chart’ hotness of their sexual encounters.” ~ Rainbow Book Reviews

Excerpt

The guys nearest the beach started laughing and pointing. What’s going on?

He looked at Gary, who shrugged.

Adam pointed toward the commotion. “I’m going to go see.” He walked out onto the grassy verge that led to the sand where he’d been sitting earlier with Sky. The guys were still laughing. One asked, “What’s he gonna do?”

Adam pushed into the line of men all facing the ocean and pointing. “What’s happening?”

Ian said, “This crazy guy is standing there in the water like he’s headed for us, but he’s not moving. Looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

One of the other men asked, “What’s he wearing?”

Carly smiled at Adam. “It’s called a dry suit, and it looks to me like he’s waiting for someone. Wonder who that could be?” He laughed.

Waist-deep in the water stood a tall man in a full dry suit complete with hood and mask, his mouthpiece dangling. He had a little bottle of what must be oxygen on his chest.

I’ve got a funny feeling about this. When Adam stepped off the lawn onto the sand, the figure in the suit began to pace out of the water with a slow and deliberate stride.

The “creature” analogy was dead-on.

When the creature got out of the surf, he stopped to peel off the mask and hood, revealing curly hair.

Adam smiled. He’d know those curls anywhere.

Sky came a few feet closer. Even in the fading light, Adam imagined he could just make out the blue-gray eyes.

Sky stopped again and began to unfasten the dry suit. What kind of show were they in for?

Slowly the puffy dry suit peeled down the tall body, fully dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. A patter of applause started, and Sky kicked off the suit to reveal flip-flops. Jesus, he must think he was James Bond or something. By this time everyone was clapping, and Sky gave a little bow.

Son of a bitch, the guy has a sense of humor. He’d rigged this whole elaborate entrance just to get a laugh. But looking at that lean, hard body in those shorts made another part of Adam’s anatomy very happy.

Sky picked up the dry suit and walked the ten feet to Adam. “Hi. I believe I was invited for cocktails.”

No recourse. He just laughed. “You do know how to make an entrance.”

 

The Balls to the Wall Series


Volley Balls
Bk #1

Available at
 
      
Fire Balls 
Bk #2
Available to purchase
      
About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at Lain
               

 

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