Ken Bachtold on Writing, Stories and his latest ‘A Company of Players’ (guest blog)

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A Company of Players (States of Love) by Ken Bachtold
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ken Bachtold here today answering our questions and talking about his release A Company of Players, the latest in Dreamspinner Press’ States of Love series.  Welcome, Ken, tell us about yourself, writing and your story!

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Ken Bachtold: First of all, being a great fan of the whimsical, I love the title of your blog! Makes me smile! Also, I think your question and answer approach is the very best way to understand an author, and I’m delighted to answer all your questions.

I do put a lot of my own thoughts and actions into my characters, particularly the protagonist, also the other characters often say things I think are important.  A few of my own experiences do come into play, i.e., more in this story than any of the others, since I did come to New York (not with a Barb) and I did start my own theater company called, surprisingly, A Company Of Players, the origin of which is explained in the book. The trip to the used theater seating company is right out of my experience. (I can still see those beautiful light blue seats that were too impractical to be used). However, most of the rest is made up. The local color (New York) is almost all authentic (i.e. the little square, so important in the story, actually exists), as I do live in New York (and I did come from San Francisco, where my knowledge, with research, remembers affectionately, The Fairmont Hotel.) I have a BA & MA in Theater with a minor in Art from San Francisco State University, so all of the theater references are spot on.

Yes! Research is vitally important, because someone, somewhere will have exact knowledge concerning what you’re writing about.  Heaven help the author who disregards this reader!  One of my stories had the main character going out of state.  I ordered a great book titled Writers Guide to Places by Dan Prues and Jack Heffron, and settled on Montana.  I found that, besides being the home of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, it’s rumored that they have a potluck dinner every 2.3 seconds and they favor pickled eggs and bull’s testicles! After reading all that, and putting most of it into the story, I would never try to describe a different locale without research!

When younger, I read (and often re-read) the Dobbie Gillis stories by Max Schulman (who else would name a female character something so delicious as Poppy Herring!)? I’ve since always been attracted to that kind of humor (Paper Moon, Auntie Mame, etc. For instance, I loved the movie Deadpool.) My main characters in this story, Nick and Barb are constantly (with good humor) teasing each other and trying for one-upmanship. I feel it keeps the dialogue bright and interesting. Although, I do have moments of very serious conversations. Also, when I found her, I read all the Regency romances by Georgette Heyer (the very best in the genre) for their authentic period descriptions as well as the wonderful stories, and, when desperate, I must confess I even read Barbara Cartland (one of her heroines was named Panthia – which I thought rather pretentious.) My favorite main stream authors are Lee Child’s Streacher stories, and anything by Jonathan Kellerman and Dick Francis. As for MM stories, my most favorite novelist is Pat Henshaw, a fellow Dreamspinner author.

I’ve never had to put an “in progress” story aside because of emotional angst, because I never let my characters get to that absolute desperation point.  Worry, insecurity etc., but never any truly painful stress. Their hearts may ache, or even shatter a bit, but they never bleed to death!  I’ve always hated sad endings and with movies I won’t even go to one, because the depression stays with me for days.  So, too, with books.  I’ve literally thrown an MM book on the floor when at the very end, the characters look sadly at each other as the sun sets over the beach, and then they walk in different directions. Grrrr!

I have had to put a story aside when I get two ideas going at the same time.  I write just enough to get my ideas down and then put one away.  I’m very linear, not a multitasker! At the moment, I’ve had to put aside one titled Looking Back For Tomorrow and concentrate on another titled Something Happened In Paris (I was lucky once, being able to go there (had never been out of the U.S.) with a stage production – as a friend – and I remember it vividly – but research, I will faithfully do)!

I have mixed feelings about the e-book phenomenon.  As a reader, I feel like a traitor when I read my Kindle (and its most likely storage of 400 or so MM books, as well as detective stories) but they’re so convenient and handy. Books tend to get dropped and lost. (I once dropped an almost-finished paperback onto the subway tracks and, stupidly, looked both ways and dropped down and then back up to retrieve it. Well . . . I had to find out how it ended!) As an author, I’d much rather be published in paperback and have the actual book in hand, as there’s something too ephemeral about e-books! I plan, for the first time, to exhibit at the Rainbow Book Fair, and it would be great to have all of my books in paperback form instead of only two!

Re: Covers! With my second book published by Dreamspinner, All By Myself, I discovered cover artist Reese Dante, who in my opinion is the greatest! I was so delighted that I requested her expertise on my next book, Mood Indigo as well as this current one.  She is outstanding, as she always has faint depictions of the scenes of the book in the background behind the figures and/or faces.  And her color palette and font choice are always exquisite, and perfectly fitting to the mood of the book!

Do I have a favorite among my stories? OMG, that’s like asking a mother if she has a favorite child.  I love all my books equally, and you would never hear me even murmur otherwise!  After all, I wouldn’t want to hurt any feelings, and I would if any one of them thought they weren’t number one!!

I came to my writing in kind of a roundabout way. I had a terrible time finding MM books that I liked to read.  I found most of them (but not all) rather weak on character and plot and heavy on minutely described sex scenes every two or three pages. To my mind, they bordered from kind of sleazy to absolute porn.  I discovered (in an Advocate article that most of the writers were women and most of the readers were youngish girls).  But . . . what about guys like me?   So, I decided that instead of just moaning, I would try to write the kind of book I favored. Writing was not so foreign to me, as I’d written four musicals, book, music and lyrics and a very successful play (Starting Over) produced at the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival).  So, figuratively, pen in hand, I forged ahead.  When I finished my first one (Seeing The Same Blue) I figured, why not go for it? So, I sent it to the firm I believed to be the Cadillac of publishing houses, Dreamspinner Press. I nearly fell off my chair when I was fortunate enough that they accepted it!  And, I was off and running. I write books heavy on plot and character, with, I hope scintillating dialogue and some titillation along the way. Luckily, I’ve found an audience that likes my kind of book and I’ve had some very nice comments on Amazon.  (Also, a few real stinkers – but that’s to be expected.)

Well, I hope I haven’t gone on too long, and that the last paragraph is not off-putting.  It’s been a real kick to be able to detail all these things about me and my books, and I thank you for the structure you provide!

Yours in whimsy,

Ken Bachtold

Friendlykenn@aol.com

 

About A Company Of Players

Leaving romantic wreckage behind him, Nick Charles and his best friend Barb Anderson use Nick’s sizable inheritance to fly to one of the most exciting places in the world—New York City—with plans to open their own theater. In doing so, they meet Ross Taylor, the handsome real estate man and actor, and Rudy his construction-worker cousin. Ross is determined to heal Nick’s fragile heart, while shy Rudy and oblivious Barb stumble toward their own connection. Will Rosie Dupree, a rigid method actress, and talented but devious Gordon Holmes destroy their theater dreams? Was choosing the original piece, Starting Over, by an unpublished young playwright the best move for opening night? Will the invited critic show up? Amid the frantic and colorful world of the New York City theater scene, Nick and Barb must open their hearts and risk everything for their endeavors to succeed—both on the stage and behind the scenes.

About the Author

Ken Bachtold 

BA & MA from San Francisco State University in Theatre (Acting and Directing) with a minor in Art.

When I constantly had trouble finding the type of book I liked to read, I finally said to myself, “Why don’t you stop moaning and write one yourself?” So I did. I was thrilled to the marrow (literally) when Dreamspinner accepted Seeing the Same Blue. Then followed acceptance of Blue Valentine Blues, part of their Valentine anthology. Next, came acceptance of All By Myself, Mood Indigo and now A Company Of Players is being released on March 22, 2017. My cup runeth over!  All books can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Before that, Outskirts Press published Love Like Lightning – Ten Stories of Love at First Sight, also on Amazon.

My original play, Starting Over (which I also directed), was just staged as part of the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in New York.  Audience reaction was terrific.  It was one of nine plays accepted out of 60 submitted.  It was an MM romance.  The blurb in the brochure for the festival read, “A play about love and loss.  Griff has recently lost his longtime partner.  Can he find happiness with Ben, the new neighbor down the hall?  He’s supported by his sister and opposed by his widowed mother, now remarried to a homophobic preacher.”

 I’ve also written 4 musicals, book, music and lyrics.

Saloon (loosely suggested by the old melodrama The Drunkard) which opened The Gatetway Dinner Theatre in New Jersey to great reviews (I can forward them if you wish). It was subsequently optioned by Broadway producer Jerry Schloschberg (who, at the time was, producing the revival of On The Town with Bernadette Peters), but a show sluggishly following the old material opened and closed the same night, and he backed off thinking there was now a “stigma” on the material.

 The Facts of Life (a musical about War, Prejudice and Aging, circa the ‘60s) was written at the BMI Music Workshop, taught by Broadway legend, Lyman Engle, and only after several auditions before acceptance in the class.  It was deemed worthy of a staged reading there.

 Boo! based on the old gothic novel The Castle Spectre was done by several regional theatres.

I was hired to doctor a musical based on Iphigenia At Aulis, called The Winds Of Aulis.  I changed the name to Dilemma! and wrote a subplot and mostly new lyrics.  Although the play was fully backed, it never reached production and I never found out why.

 I’ve written and staged numerous night club and cabaret acts and taught singing for the musical stage for 15 years.

Contact Ken at:

  • Website:              www.kenbachtold
  • Twitter                 Ken Bachtold
  • Facebook            Ken Bachtold
  • Tumblr                 Ken Bachtold

Amy Lane on Writing, Personal Experience, the Saber Dance and her latest release ‘Bonfires’ (guest post)

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Bonfires by Amy Lane
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist:  Anne Cain

Purchase Links

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Lane here today talking about one of my recently highly recommended stories, Bonfires. Welcome, Amy.

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Saber Dance

By Amy Lane

When I was a kid, one year my dad made less than $1500 for the entire year. Yes, you read that right, we’re not missing a zero—or two.  Yeah, sure, it was the seventies, and they didn’t drug test the poor people before giving out food stamps, and we lived in a dump for $75 a month, but you got to admit, that’s cutting things a bit close.

My dad was smart though—at the time he was in school to become a respiratory therapist (because Work-Fare WORKS, dammit!) and he made his scant living at a pick-n-pull, but he knew how to stretch out a dollar. We planted a garden, because seeds were cheap, and he haunted the feed stores for fertilized eggs.  A hammer, some nails, a lightbulb, and BANG! Baby chickens—and whether they were roosters or hens, one way or another those critters would feed us for a year.  (One year it was roosters—twenty-three out of twenty-five of them. My dad called all of his friends over to become a chicken-killing assembly line, and we had a hell of a barbecue, but that’s another story.)

So livestock, I’ve had it.  As well as cats, for most of my life. And the thing with feeding the chickens (or the sheep or cats or dogs for that matter) is that there are feedbags left over. A long time ago, you used to be able to get some of the feed—or rice for that matter—in heavy duty cloth bags, but mostly they came in paper. 

All of those layers of paper, with all of those leftover grains of food.

You what likes leftover grains of food?

Mice. Mice like leftover grains of food.

I remember—more than once—the chicken coop or feedbag pile getting infested with mice, and the orgy of destruction that followed.

There is nothing as entertaining as a cat chasing mice, especially one who has not become completely domesticated and still has a strong stream of jaguar running through its veins. The thing is, cats are insanely well-crafted killing machines. Everything from curved claws to sharp teeth to lashing tail plays some part in the feline Saber Dance that is a cat getting down to business.

I know some people out there—people who have possibly never had to walk into a darkened chicken coop to collect eggs and try not to freak out at the scurry of little feet as they scuttle through the hay—feel terrible for the furry little rodents, and I do see their side.  I mean, my kids have kept mice and rats as pets, and on a one-on-one basis they can be amiable little creatures with adorable beady eyes and twitching whiskers.

They can also be cannibalistic nightmares who overrun chicken coops, devour crops (remember, those were dinner!) and scurry over your sandal-clad foot when you least expect them. And my heroes, the floofy kitties, were effectively getting rid of the little grain-stealing criminals.

I was a fan!  Hell—on the day of the Massive Rooster Roast, half the adults who were supposed to be plucking and gutting chickens were in the chicken coop watching Squinter, my cat, do his thing, because that animal was amazing. If you’ve never seen a cat going after a mouse with one paw while he’s got one under the other paw and a third in his mouth, you are missing a cat’s reason for being.

So the scene from Bonfires in which Larx is throwing the feedbags onto the burn pile, and the cats are eliminating the fleeing mice—that’s drawn from my memories as a child. I remember how necessary clearing out the garden was, how the feedbags (in Larx’s case, it was cat food) often harbored more than feed, and how the family cats actually shook off their mantles of sloth and somnolence and for once earned their keep.

The texture of the light, the sharpness of the air in the fall, and the gladiatorial drama of life and death enacted on the stage of the fall bonfire all inspired a tremendous anticipation in my chest.

Like falling in love when you’re pushing fifty, it’s a timeless spectacle that feels brand new.

About Bonfires

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

About the Author

Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.

She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.

She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.

Connect with Amy:

Website: greenshill.com

Blog: writerslane.blogspot.com

Twitter: @amymaclane

Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous

Goodreads: goodreads.com/amymaclane

Stops on the blog tour:


March 17 – MM Good Book Reviews

March 24 – Divine Magazine

March 27 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  

March 27 – The Novel Approach

March 28 – Alpha Book Reviews

March 29 – Love Bytes

March 30 – Gay Book Reviews

March 31 – My Fiction Nook 

Cy Blanca on Writing, First Books and the release ‘A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)’ by Cy Blanca

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A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love) by Cy Blanca
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Cy Blanca here today. Welcome, Cy! Please tell us all about yourself and your first story.

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Hi there, everybody. My name’s Cy Blanca, and I’m so honored that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words allowed me to share a little bit of myself with all their wonderful readers. A Teacher and a Poet is my first attempt at getting something published, and as such I’m a complete noob when it comes to this sort of thing. (This is my first blog tour ever for my first ever published story!) So bear with me… and don’t judge too hard!

To make it easy on everybody I decided I’d answer some questions. Left to my own devices I could go on tangents that lead me from my story to facts I’ve learned about South Korea to recipes for different types of bread. But hopefully I answer well enough that you all get to know me at least a little bit. Of course, if you want to know more about me, you can follow my links down the rabbit hole and see where you end up!

So without any more stalling, here we go!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

As far as this story, both of the characters are 100 percent me, not gonna lie. Both Curt and Antony represent different aspects of myself, and those aspects are just augmented. There’s no real secret when it comes to how I framed my characters in this story. When writing A Teacher and a Poet, I sort of couldn’t help but put myself in every aspect of it—from the characters to the setting.

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

No matter the genre, I think research is integral to creating a world and characters that people can believe and become invested in. Even worlds that are wholly imagined have some aspect of research in terms of what things are plausible and how the boundaries can be pushed or even broken. Even when we strive for complete originality or an organic creative experience, there’s always a certain amount of control to the chaos. It’s just how the universe works.

I enjoy research to a point—I’ve always been inquisitive, so just finding out new things is always fun for me. Having a frame to work within serves as a launching point, from which a story and its characters and environments can actually come to life. Even within a certain set of parameters, human experiences are always different and always spontaneous.

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

I think no matter how hard we try, the things we grew up with influence everything we do, the things we think and say. It’s unavoidable. Even when you want to go in a totally different direction, you’re relying on what you’ve learned to decide to completely avoid going down an expected path. For A Teacher and a Poet, particularly, aspects of my childhood are all over this story—after all, the setting is my actual primary school. Kinda couldn’t avoid putting the things I’ve read and experienced in the story. Especially when it comes to what I’ve read growing up; narratives, writing styles, characters have all molded my writing. I fell in love with words at a very early age, so different combinations of them, different ways to make words make music…. It’s all a product of what I’ve read and continue to read.

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

I’ve got like five stories that I’ve had to just put aside. The story I’ve been working on for three years, for instance, was curbed for over six months at one point because I knew the ending before I knew the story leading up to it, and I was really just too afraid to write the ending because of how emotional it was. Honestly… I put it down because of the ending! (Still working on that one, by the way… whoops…!)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think in some ways we all like happy endings because no matter how cynical we all are, we all want things to work out. Even if it’s not necessarily “happily ever after,” people like things to be in order at the conclusion of a journey. Even if it’s only happy in the moment—which I tend to favor more because it rings a little truer to me—in that moment the characters have found what they’re looking for. In the end, that’s all we can hope for, isn’t it? To be happy in the here and now? We can plan for happiness in the future, sure. But we don’t live in the future. We’re living in this second, this moment. May as well create some happiness while we’re breathing and being right now, right?

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

I never read them as a teenager because my idea of the romance genre was the grocery store romances my grandmother used to read. They looked boring to me. Then everything changed when I read Amy Lane’s Sidecar. Two words: Mind. Blasted! I had no earthly idea romances could be written that way, that romances were being written that way! It was an eye-opening experience, one that shaped my reading as an adult.

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

This is a tough one. Stevie Wonder? I think, yes. He’s the major influence for most things in my life. His understanding of the world, his ability to make words fit around each other…. In A Teacher and a Poet it’s obvious, at least to me, how much music plays a role in how I write. I have to be listening to music to be able to do most things. So, yes, Stevie Wonder is probably my biggest influence as a writer… as a creative mind, if I’m being honest.

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

I think eBook is definitely here to stay. As much as it pains me to think this, physical books are slowly becoming a relic, a novelty for those who’ve always loved the feel of words in their hands. In terms of my feelings on eBook format, I’m totally all for it. At first, as with most who grew up reading books, I was a little resistant. But why? I think any vehicle that allows you to carry as many books and stories as you possibly can is a good thing. The only limit to the amount of books you can have on your person at one time is how much digital space you have… and considering the size of most eBooks (a standard eBook, between 200-350 pages, on a Kindle won’t take up more than 3-5 MB of space; even less on a generic e-reader), the possibilities are endless!

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

Well, as this is my first one being published, this one…? HaHa. But honestly, I’ve put so much work and emotion into the one I’ve been writing for the past few years, that one might preemptively be my favorite.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Hopefully more published things? I’ve got words all over the place, and they’re doing no good just sitting in my head or in Dropbox. I’m never not writing, in one way or another. So hopefully A Teacher and a Poet is the first in several stories I get to share with people.

Thank you again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’m so stoked that I get to reach out and talk to your readers! (Even more so because y’all were so kind to me and let me turn this in a little late… ::coughcough::)

About A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)

Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.

Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.

Russell J. Sanders on Writing, Characters and his new novel ‘All You Need is Love’ (author interview/Harmony Ink Blog Tour)

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All You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders
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armony Ink Press

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here today talking about writing, characters and his latest story, All You Need Is Love. Welcome, Russell.

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✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Russell J. Sanders✒︎

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s impossible for an author to create a character that doesn’t have some aspects of him/herself. We are products of our own experiences, thus we use those experiences—whether physical or emotional—in our characters. But in my new novel All You Need Is Love, that “putting myself into the character” goes far beyond where I’ve gone before. The main character Dewey Snodgress is I, and I am he. I’m not saying that everything that happens to Dewey happened to me as a teenager. The plot of the book is totally fabricated. But Dewey has so much me in him that I consider the book autobiographical. Like Dewey, I was a soloist in my high school choir, I was an actor with my high school drama group, and I was so sheltered that I barely knew what was going on in the world outside my high school. Also like Dewey, I never met a black person. In my 1960s Texas world, we had no black kids in our high school. They lived across town, and we never had occasion to mix with them. My fantasy of how Dewey meets LuLu is inspired by how I met one of my dearest friends—many years later—a beautiful, wildly funny African-American woman. And adding to the similarity between me and Dewey, I graced Dewey with the same childhood nickname my dad christened me with.

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

I’ve done both. I have written novels like Special Effect and Colors where I’ve set the story in “today,” and not had to do much but create a story and characters from my own experiences and knowledge-base. Then there’s The Book of Ethan, set in the “now,” but is a book I had to meticulously research in order to create the world of a religious cult. Much of what I wrote is true, some is what I invented based on my research, in order to fuel the plot I wanted to tell. My first book Thirteen Therapists is set in modern-day Chicago, a city I love and have visited many times. But still I needed to do research to get the sense of place I needed. Then there are my historical novels, the current All You Need Is Love and the upcoming (in 2018) Titanic Summer. I did extensive research for both. I wouldn’t have thought I needed to research a story set in the era where I grew up in the town in which I grew up, but All You Need Is Love continuously sent me to experts to check facts or to fill me in on things my brain had lost. My brother, younger, handsomer, and smarter than I, was able to refresh my memories of our childhood neighborhood, while I got invaluable assistance from experts about the Vietnam War and the Texas one–act play contest of the time. For Titanic Summer, I spent hours reading about the famous ship that hit the iceberg so I could re-create that time and experience. Perhaps the novel I’ve researched the most is the one being released in 2019—You Can’t Tell by Looking. One of its main characters is a Muslim-American teen, and I read several books, learning about Islam, so I could get it all right.

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

When I was a kid, I read everything. And I do mean everything. My mother, a voracious reader herself, raised me with this philosophy: “If he doesn’t understand it, it can’t hurt him; if he does understand it, it can only broaden his perspectives.” I remember my sixth grade teacher, at the beginning of the year, announced that she wanted us all reading books outside of the classroom, but she wanted to approve of each book. After I took her three or four books I was reading, she threw up her hands and said I didn’t need approval any more. It wasn’t that she felt she couldn’t control me, it was that she trusted that I could read whatever I wanted, and what I wanted to read were often bestsellers written for adults. So my love of reading certainly influenced my choice to become a writer.

As for choosing to write young adult novels, that came about more because of my teaching career. Actually, when I grew up, young adult novel was not a genre. Books with teen protagonists were just books, either young enough in perspective for children to read or old enough in perspective for adults to enjoy. But as a high school teacher, I learned to love young adult novels and love teenagers. I wanted to create books that reflected their experiences and spoke to them, and thus my career writing YA was born.

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

Never. I’ve put aside stories because I suddenly got stumped and couldn’t continue because I didn’t have a clue where the story was taking me. But those were stories that weren’t meant to be. The process many writers follow is to outline a plot and write from the outline. I think of a character, a setting, an incident, and then I start writing. My fingers take me all the way to the end. I’m continually amazed at what my characters do and where they go. I once wrote a murder plot that had a choice of six different murderers, and I didn’t know who did the dastardly deed until he confessed! I love that my characters take on their own lives and let me write those lives down for them. I get to live through them instead of my creating their lives.

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

I love romantic stories. Romance novels, as a genre, are not something I pick up very often. Amazingly, the genre seems to require two or three explicit sex scenes, and I get bored reading those, whether hetero or homo. You’d think I, as a gay man, would want to read about a hot encounter, but I think I, as a storyteller, want the story to keep advancing, and a sex scene just stops the action for me. And so, in my romantic young adult novels, my sex scenes are pretty tame, created to show character or plot development, rather than to add steam. And don’t get me wrong, I applaud the readers of Romance novels and I admire and honor the writers of that genre. As they say, different strokes for different folks.

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

Definitely, growing up it was my mother. The woman had a book at her easy chair, a book in the car, a book in her purse, a book by her bedside, and yes, a book in the bathroom, so she would never be without something to read. And she kept all those ongoing plots straight! So how could I not be influenced by that? (And yet, to my chagrin, my younger brother is not an avid reader, although I’m proud to say he’s read all the books I’ve written and is one of my greatest champions.)

As far as now, I suppose one of my greatest influences is the award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. He truly is the finest writer alive today in my opinion. He is also a great human being, and it shows in his writing. I love all his books from my favorite, his first novel Carry Me Like Water, to his young adult novels like his Lambda award-winning book Ari and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. If I could be one tenth the success that Ben is and garner even 1% of the good reviews he gets, I would feel like an ultra-successful writer.

Aside from Ben, though, I continually sing the praises of my mentors: Kathi Appelt and Kelly Bennett. Both are amazing writers, teachers, and friends. Kathi encouraged me by example and by words long before I even began writing novels, and Kelly not only taught me and critiqued me, she has been steadfast in supporting my quest to be published and the continuance of this budding career I have. And she is one of my dearest friends.

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

Love/Hate. I love that it is successful and that many younger readers are actually reading because they are comfortable tied to their electronic devices. And selfishly, I love that royalties from an ebook purchase are greater than those from a print book purchase. But personally, I hate ebooks. There is something cold about the format. I feel that I’m not reading a real book if I can’t turn pages, look back easily to see what I missed, turn to the back cover and read the blurb one more time. Reading a print book is a sensory experience that I don’t get from an ebook.

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

I’m blessed to be published by Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press. They have the most incredibly talented artists. From a questionnaire I fill out (where I present some outlandish, unworkable ideas,) the Dreamspinner Press artist comes up with the perfect distillation of the essence of my book. And presents me with three or four choices! And then I’m further blessed that my husband is a graphic artist, for he can look at each choice, ask me questions, take my feedback, and help me either choose the best or know what to say if I deign to ask my artist to do further work. But lordy, lordy, lordy—no matter what I suggest, the artist comes back with the perfect cover. I was honored to have artist Anne Cain design the cover for The Book of Ethan. She evoked the two worlds of the cult-fleeing Ethan and the black rapper Kyan so beautifully. Aaron Anderson did Special Effect, with its shadowy figure trapped in the half-light of a dark theater; Colors and its stained glass that main character Neil is so tormented over; and All You Need Is Love’s iconic gun with the daisy in its barrel with the 1960s-inspired psychedelic paisley lettering. Aaron’s covers take my breath away.

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

My favorite, I guess, is the one I’ve just finished. I finished Thirteen Therapists and loved it. Then I wrote Special Effect, and I was amazed I could create a murder mystery. Next came The Book of Ethan, and I was enthralled by the world I painted. Colors came after that, and I marveled at how I managed to tackle such an important, difficult subject. But oh—I wrote All You Need Is Love, and it is so much my life story that I can’t help but cherish it. The upcoming novels Titanic Summer and You Can’t Tell by Looking, when I see each in print, will probably capture my heart, respectively. What can I say? I love writing, and I love what I write. Does that sound too self-aggrandizing?

  • What’s next for you as an author?

What’s next? What’s next is to make sure All You Need Is Love finds its audience. Besides how much I love the story and want to share it with everyone, I think it is an important book because it sheds light on the era of the 1960s, a turbulent, life-changing time in America that most teens today know very little about. Even if they don’t learn enough from my book, I hope it spurs them to search for more about that time.

And then, of course, are my two novels already under contract. Spring of 2018 will see Titanic Summer, a novel that tells of a gay teen in the summer of 2015 in Houston, Texas, when the fight for the Houston Equal Rights Amendment was being fought. That fight was ultimately lost, but my hero wins his parallel fight with his gay identity, his problems with his father, and his feelings about a newfound friend. And along the way, I might add, he learns about a teen who perished on the Titanic.

A year later, I’ll have You Can’t Tell by Looking, a story of a love that develops between a Christian boy and a Muslim-American classmate, replete with all the things a relationship of that sort stirs up.

And finally, there’s a new story rumbling in my gut. I know very little about it, but sooner or later, it’s going to poke its head out and introduce itself. And then my fingers will fly across the keys to tell that story!

All You Need Is Love…blurb

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually, into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

 The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

 Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s dad.

Russell J. Sanders…bio

Russell J. Sanders is a life-long devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to hundreds of others.

Russell has also travelled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out of the way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food.

Most importantly, Russell is an out and proud Gay man, living in Houston with his husband—a relationship that has lasted almost twenty years. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young Gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work.

Media Contacts for Russell J. Sanders:

Author of…

   Thirteen Therapists (Featherweight Press)

   Special Effect (Harmony Ink Press)

   The Book of Ethan (Harmony Ink Press)

   Colors (Harmony Ink Press)

   All You Need Is Love (Harmony Ink Press, coming March 2017)
   Titanic Summer (Harmony Ink Press, coming Spring 2018)

Sarah Madison on Writing, Characters, and her story ‘Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense: Book One)’ (author interview, excerpt and guest post)

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Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense #1) by Sarah Madison
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Madison here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest novel, Unspeakable Words. Welcome, Sarah!

~Our Sarah Madison Interview~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Oh, that’s a good question. I’d have to say elements of myself go into nearly every main character. When I’m writing about feeling insecure or out of my element, that’s me. If my character is unafraid of physical danger but terrified of emotional loss, that’s me. If a character admires competence and loyalty, that’s me. Many times, a story evolves out of something I’m going through at the moment—like the notion of whether or not one person can make a difference. And many of my stories have the common theme of creating your family rather than relying on flesh and blood to see you through, or that life is more than mere survival.

No matter what themes we choose to write about, be it feeling unattractive, abandoned, underappreciated at work, personal loss, or whatever, naturally we pull from our own internal resources to describe how our characters feel. There is always an Objective Observer in me that notes events in my life with an impartial eye. I can be in the midst of some great trauma, and a part of me is categorizing my reactions and thinking, “I’m going to use this in a story someday…”

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?

Do you mean a fine line, where on one side it’s acceptable to draw on personal experiences but it doesn’t take much to cross over into Mary/Gary Sue territory? Yes, I think that’s true. For example, I can write a character who is brilliant at his job but sucks at his personal relationships. I can borrow from my own experiences, especially if they are funny or embarrassing. But I am neither brilliant at my job nor horrible at personal relationships. The character is never a stand-in for me in the story. I’m taking an idea and building a character around it, taking advantages of life events and experiences that will help lend verisimilitude to the creation.  I’d never want to create a character that not only serves as my avatar but is larger-than-life perfect and can do no wrong. Not only would the character wind up cartoonish and two-dimensional, but it would be hard to create new characters without having them all sound and act the same.

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

May I say both? Because I adore research. I can get lost for weeks or months reading and researching a particular topic, which is one of the reasons I don’t write as fast as I’d like. But I also love world building too. When I wrote Crying for the Moon, it was my first-ever vampire story. I started to plunge headfirst into my usual research mode (which is to read and watch everything I can get my hands on before jotting down a single word) but then I realized I didn’t need to do that. I could write my vampires any way I wanted—creating a world and mythology that made sense to me without relying on the existing bank of culture. The end result was a vampire story many considered refreshingly different and original. I had a lot of fun doing that.

But when I wrote The Boys of Summer, I did the total immersion thing. I haunted the history section of the bookstore and library. I watched documentaries and era-movies. I read books on the Battle of Britain. I was appalled by my lack of knowledge about such an important part of history that I couldn’t rest until I’d learned enough that I thought I could tell the story of those young pilots effectively.

I have an entire section of bookshelves devoted to forensics, true crime, and profiling, thanks to the Sixth Sense series. Last summer, I went to Writer’s Police Academy, which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to write mysteries and crime drama.

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

I suspect it’s why I can’t settle down to one genre. I love them all! Historicals, mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, you name it, I read it. I actually read very little romance growing up, but I adored any story that had a romantic subplot.

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?

More times than I care to admit. Usually, the story needs time to mature so I can figure out where it needs to go. I’ve got one story on job burnout I may never finish however. Writing it is just too close to home.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

It’s a must for me at this point in my life. That’s not to say I will never read a story that breaks my heart. Some of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read did just that. They stay with me today because of the powerful impact they made on me. But to be honest, these days, life is pretty crappy for a lot of people. I write because it takes me out of myself and out of a bad day. I hope those reading my stories can escape reality for a few hours and forget about being a caretaker, or chronic illness, or the fact their boss/wife/husband/parent/child is being a jerk.

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

Some, but I lived for mysteries and sci-fi. Probably why so many of my stories have a paranormal element to them.

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

The story dearest to my heart is probably The Boys of Summer. Partly because of how the research drew me in, but also because in many ways, it is a more gut-wrenching story than what I usually tell, and yet I still managed to give it a happy ending.

I am very partial to the Sixth Sense series as well, though. Probably because as a series, I’ve spent more time with these characters than any of the others. Also because I love how the characters have grown and how their relationship has evolved over time.

What’s next for you as an author?

The revised and expanded version of Unspeakable Words is available for pre-order now, and will be re-released on March 10th, 2017.

I’m currently working on the fourth and final installment in the series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil. Current release date sometime in 2018. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the relaunch of the series, or coming to the party for the first time. I think you’ll enjoy it.

About Unspeakable Words

The Sixth Sense: Book One

Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn… and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2010.

Excerpt

“Jerry!”

Jerry abandoned his conversation with Flynn to look for the owner of the voice from his past. His heart squeezed painfully to a halt at the sight of Derek standing on the sidewalk behind him, only to restart at double-time.

Jesus. Talk about running into your ex.

Derek wore a brown blazer over a tan turtleneck, with a brightly colored scarf carelessly thrown around his neck. Jerry had a momentary spurt of irritation for the affectation and then felt his heart sink. There was no way he could avoid speaking to Derek without looking churlish, and he didn’t want to give him that satisfaction.

“What are you doing down here?” Derek’s voice was inappropriately coy as he raised an eyebrow in Flynn’s direction and gave him the once-over. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

His sun-bleached hair was overly long and curling at the collar, and Jerry was secretly amused that it appeared to be getting thin on top. Derek had creases at the corners of his eyes as well. Too much time in the tanning booth, no doubt.

He must be having a cow over that.

It must be harder now for Derek to catch the attention of some sweet young ass, unless the young thing was desperate for a sugar daddy.

“Derek Collins,” Jerry said smoothly, “my partner, John Flynn. We’re here on business, Derek.”

This is the guy that I thought I loved once. Boy, was I an idiot.

“Partner?” Derek glanced swiftly at Jerry’s left hand and then gave a little laugh. “Oh, partner,” he repeated without explanation, shooting a sly smirk at Flynn.

Jerry felt Flynn go rigid with tension, like a dog with his hackles up.

Relax. Gayness isn’t catching.

Flynn shot him a wounded look, and Jerry felt ashamed when he realized Flynn wasn’t embarrassed by Derek’s innuendos, he was pissed off on Jerry’s behalf. That was just…. Wow. Warmth suddenly flooded him, and he was both embarrassed and comforted at the same time.

Inexplicably, Flynn’s face relaxed, and a lazy smile appeared. “Yes, partner.” He practically purred as he placed a hand on Jerry’s arm. “Come on, Jer. We don’t want to be late for that interview.”

He guided Jerry away with a decidedly possessive hand on the small of his back.

“What was that about?” Jerry hissed as they left Derek openmouthed behind them.

“That asshole,” Flynn growled. “I can’t believe he cheated on you with a twinkie.”

Jerry stumbled and then laughed. When he quickly glanced over his shoulder, he saw Derek staring at the two of them speculatively. He laughed even harder and clapped Flynn on the back.

“It’s ‘twink’ if you really want to be cool,” Jerry corrected him.

“Asshole.” Flynn repeated the epithet for good measure, sounding pissed off again. “I wanted to punch him, but then I realized what would jerk his chain.” He appeared insufferably pleased with himself.

“You’re an idiot,” Jerry said with amusement. “A nice one, but an idiot all the same.” It’ll be all over town by this evening that I have a hot boyfriend. He fixed a sharp look on Flynn to check his reaction, but Flynn merely whistled innocently. “Come on,” Jerry sighed, not knowing what to make of the gesture. “We’ve got work to do.”

About the Author

Sarah Madison is a writer with a little dog, a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she’s not out hiking with the dogs or down at the stables, she’s at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.

Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series. Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M romance in the 2016 PRG Awards.

If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.

Website: http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Madison/e/B004K9QY5C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1471196589&sr=1-2-ent

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/searchresults?q=Sarah+Madison

E-mail: akasarahmadison@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Madison-Author/106445646104338

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahMadisonFic

Andrew Grey on Inspiration and his new release ‘Cleansing Flame (Rekindled Flame #2)’ by Andrew Grey (special excerpt)

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Cleansing Flame (Rekindled Flame #2) by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Release Date: Mar 10 2017

Available for Purchase at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Dreamspinner Press

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrew Grey here today to talk a little about the inspiration behind his latest story, Cleansing Flame, the second novel in the Rekindled Flame series.  Welcome, Andrew.

♥︎

The idea for this story came from an old diary that I found in some things in the house.  It wasn’t important and didn’t contain anything all that interesting.  However it did get my mind running and I thought about what would happen if the diary had been something special. As I was mulling those thoughts a reader asked me to write a story about the Carlisle Indian School.  As I was finishing up my previous story, my mind churned the two things together and I ended up with the basis for Cleansing Flame.  I’ve never written a story with this kind of element before and I don’t know if I will again.  But I did fall in love with both sets of characters.

Blurb/Synopsis:

Life has been grinding Dayne Mills down almost for as long as he can remember. First he lost the love of his life in an accident that also left him with a permanent injury, and then his mother passed away a year later. When his house burns to the ground, it’s the last straw. He can’t take any more, and if it wasn’t for kind and handsome firefighter Lawson Martin offering him a hand up and a place to stay, he doesn’t know what he’d do. Dayne would love for his relationship with Lawson to evolve into something beyond charity, but he knows going after a man so far out of his league will only lead to yet more heartache. It’s best to just keep his mind on his research.

It’s that research that leads Dayne to an old student journal that not only provides clues to the Native American heritage Lawson has been searching for, but chronicles a century-old love story. The tale that unfolds might be just what Dayne and Lawson need to remember that no matter how dark life becomes, love can find a way to shine through.

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Excerpt

Dayne pulled his car into the drugstore parking lot across the street, got out, and walked up to where a group of neighbors had gathered. He turned to where they were all looking and gasped as flames shot out of the windows of his little house.

“Oh God,” Dayne mumbled as he hurried forward. Everything he owned was in that house. It was all he had left of his mom. As flames shot out of front door and the roof collapsed, Dayne’s legs gave out and the grass rose up to meet him.

“Hey,” a deep voice said from close to him. Dayne felt like a fool and struggled to get up. He was helped to his feet, and the fireman took off his helmet. “It’s you.”

“That’s my house…,” Dayne said weakly as water sprayed all over what was left of the only home he’d known. “Everything I have….” He gasped and tried not to come apart at the seams.

“It will be all right.” He took Dayne’s arm and gently helped steady him.

“I don’t see how.” One of the walls fell in, and Dayne turned away. Everything was gone. The last of what he’d had from his mother had been in that house, and the flames had taken it all. A cloud of steam went up as the last of the fire died away, leaving only a smoking ruin of what had been his life.

“I’m sorry this happened to you.” The firefighter gently put an arm around Dayne’s shoulder, and the last of Dayne’s control broke.

He buried his face in the man’s chest and cried like the stupid baby he was. Damn it, he tried not to, but this was too much. For a year, he’d been doing his best to hold it together, to get through each day as it came, hoping the pain would lessen. But every damn time he thought things might be getting better, something happened, and this was the worst.

“It’s all right. Just let it out.”

Dayne heard people around him, but he kept his face where it was for a bit, afraid to look for fear of dying of embarrassment. Dayne breathed deeply and backed away, swallowing and getting himself together. “I’m sorry.” He wiped his eyes and tried not to get snot all over himself.

“Don’t be.” The man didn’t move, and Dayne lifted his gaze.

“I guess after I slobbered all over you, I should tell you my name. I’m Dayne.” He wiped his hands on his pants because they were covered with things he shouldn’t have on them.

“I’m Lawson Martin.” He took Dayne’s hand and held it.

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Recent Release Spotlight with Ethan Stone on Wild Instincts (Seaside Shifters: Book Two) (author interview)

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Wild Instincts (Seaside Shifters, Bk 2) by Ethan Stone
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Available for Purchase at

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has Ethan Stone here today to talk about Wild Instincts.  What can you tell us about it?

The story stars 18-year-old police cadet Tyson Dakota, a bear shifter. He meets Amante, a mysterious stranger and begins a passionate relationship with him as he also begins training at the Seaside Police Department.

  • Please tell us more about our main characters.

Tyson is young and eager to not only do his best in his job but also to be the best man he can be. His father is quite the ne’er do well and Tyson doesn’t want to be anything like him. Amante is a few years older than Tyson and just in town for a short visit. His motives are secret and not something I want to spoil here.

  • What do you want to tell those who may be new to the series?

Seaside Shifters is set in Season, Oregon, which is a real town BTW. The fictional Seaside is a shifter haven of all breeds. Not only is it a safe place for members of the paranormal to live it’s also a place for them to vacation. This allowed me to bring all sorts of different shifters into one location instead of being focused on packs and families.

  • What about Wild Instincts makes you the proudest?

This was a fun story to write. One of my few recent ones that didn’t involve a serial killer. There is a mystery regarding drugs and it being brought into Seaside, but it’s not quite as heavy as my other books. I usually try not to write insta-love or insta-lust but I went with it here. Tyson and Amante want each other from the get go but they think their relationship has an expiration date, or so they think.

  • What is next for these characters?  Is there more to this series?  If so who will we hear from next?

I’m not actually sure if I’ll write more in the series or not. I guess it depends on readers’ reactions. I’d like to explore MPREG in another tale with a rare species like a white tiger. I also have ideas for a Jonah, a character seen in book one who is still laying in a coma.

Random Questions:

  • What one story made you lose sleep as a kid?

The Amityville Horror. In the story the little girl has a ghostly friend who happens to be a pig name Jodie. My mom collected pig items and outside my bedroom attached to a pole was a ceramic pig whose eyes glowed in the dark. Creepy.

  • What’s your favorite thing to wear?

Pajama pants. I shamefully admit I wear them all the time. I put on real pants only if I leave the house. Well, If I leave the house with plans to get out of the car. Picking up the kid or going to a drive-thru is a different story. I have many different types of pajama pants and they are so freaking comfortable. The perils of working at home, I guess.

  • If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d love to be able to turn invisible and be able to sneak around unseen but that would make me a bit of a creeper. It would be interesting to have powers like Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four because then I’d never be fat and I could adjust the size of my…feet.

Rapid Fire Time

  • Salt or Pepper?

Pepper all the way. Sometimes I add so much I sneeze because of it.

  • Top or Bottom?

Yes.

  • Tropical Island or Snow Covered Mountain Cabin?

Screw snow. Can’t stand the stuff. Give me a tropical island any time.

  • West Wing or Friday Night Lights?

I’ve seen all of Friday Night Lights and loved it. However, I wish West Wing was reality right now. Jed Barett for president. Hell, Martin Sheen for president.

  • Favorite Color?

Purple.

Light saber or a Sonic screwdriver?

  • I would love to have a lightsaber IRL.

Roller Skates or Ice Skates?

  • Neither. I have absolutely no balance at all.

Windows or Mac?

I’ve been a devoted Windows guy for years but a friend convinced me to buy a Mac and I freaking love it.

  • Call or Text?

Text for sure. I despise making a phone call.

Waxed or Furry?

Furry, baby. My boyfriend is a bear and I love it.

  • Shifters or Vampires?

Well, I’ve written a couple shifter books and no vampire books. What does that tell you?

  • Twinks or bears?

Twinks can be fun in bed but for LTR give me a bear.

  • World of Warcraft or Everquest?

BF is a devoted Everquest fan. I’m an Everquest widower. 😦

  • Fisting or Watersports?

Hell to the no.

Blurb

Police cadet and bear shifter Tyson Dakota looks forward to his on-the-job training in Seaside, Oregon, working alongside his cousin, Chief of Police John Dakota. Their goal is to investigate the growing meth epidemic and identify the kingpin bringing the drugs into their community. All signs point to someone inside law enforcement working with the drug traffickers, and Tyson must find out who before the body count gets any higher.

Along the way, Tyson meets Amante, a charismatic and attractive man in town for reasons he doesn’t want to share. Tyson is drawn to Amante despite his secretive ways and is sure there could be more between them than explosive passion, if he could just get Amante to make his stay in Seaside permanent. But when Tyson’s pursuit of justice puts him at odds with Amante, they could lose more than their fledgling relationship.

They could end up losing their lives.

About the Author

Romance on the Edge

Ethan Stone doesn’t write your typical boy meets boy stories. With a combination of love and suspense he makes his characters work hard for their HEAs. If they can survive what he puts them through, then they can survive anything. He enjoys Romance with an Edge.

Ethan has been reading mysteries and thrillers since he was young. He’s had a thing for guys in uniform for just as long. That may have influenced the stories he writes.

He’s a native Oregonian with two kids. One of whom has made him a grandfather three times over; even though he is way too young.

Readers can find Ethan online.

His books: http://www.ethanjstone.com/my-books

B.A. Tortuga on Writing and her release ‘Two Cowboys and a Baby’ by B.A. Tortuga (author guest post)

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Two Cowboys and a Baby by B.A. Tortuga

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga here today to talk about writing and her latest story in the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner Press, Two Cowboys and a Baby.  Welcome, B.A.

~Our Interview with B.A. Tortuga~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I have to be honest – my culture is very much expressed through my characters – their lives, their voices, their environment, but me personally? Not so much. 😀

  • 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?

No, not at all. I write the places I know and love, the archetypes I grew up with. I don’t find them to be Gary Stus.

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

I tend to stick fairly close to home, I think, but I research the specific time period or bull rope or breed of cattle. I call my daddy a lot. 😉

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

I was (and still am) a voracious reader. I read all the Harlequin and Silhouette romances, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey. All of them. My favorite book as a little girl? Little Women. OMG. I wanted to be Jo and my wife assures me that I’ve come close.

I have to admit, I’m a trope whore, to the bone. points to Two Cowboys and a Baby Tropes, y’all. Tropes, joy and cowboys.

Wallow in it with me.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m an HEA all the way type of girl. That’s what I read and that’s what I write.

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

Oh, lord yes. I love the promise of a happy ending, the comfort of the story. It does it for me, 100%.

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

Stephen King, no question. He taught me about being faithful to your own voice, your own accent. He’s my hero.

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

My favorite is always the one I’m writing. Always. Those are the boys I’m in love with, right now.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

After Two Cowboys and a Baby? I have a novel coming out April 28th that’s my love story to Red Dirt Texas music called “Best New Artist”. I’m currently writing the next Roughstock novel and co-writing a m/m book with Jodi Payne.

Much love, y’all.

BA

Two Cowboys and a Baby Blurb

A little bundle of joy means big changes.

Hoss McMasters has a working ranch, a bull riding career, a nosy momma, and a best friend he’s been in love with since he can remember. He’s a busy, happy cowboy, living the good life.

Then one morning he discovers a baby on his doorstep.

Well, Hoss does what any reasonable man would do—he calls his momma and his buddy, Sheriff Pooter, and they head to the clinic to see if Doc knows of any suddenly not-so-pregnant girls.

In the meantime, Hoss and his best friend, Bradley, have their hands full trying to care for an infant, run a ranch, and deal with the sudden confession that Bradley doesn’t hate Hoss for coming out to him in high school. In fact, Bradley’s been trying to catch Hoss’s attention for damn near a decade.

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 www.batortuga.com

Skylar M Cates on Writing, Revisions, and Secrets of You (Sunshine and Happiness #4) by Skylar M. Cates (author guest post and giveaway)

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Secrets of You (Sunshine and Happiness #4) by Skylar M. Cates
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reamspinner Press
Cover art by

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Skylar M. Cates here today to  talk about writing, revisions and her latest novel in her Sunshine and Happiness series, Secrets of You.  Welcome, Skylar!

✒︎

Changes: Revising Scenes 

Skylar here.  Today I’ve got some behind the scenes fun to share with you. Well, fun for you that is… it was painful work for me.

I’m referring to revising scenes. When I first draft a novel, I’m totally open to adding and cutting. It’s a normal part of the process. However, in Secrets of You, I did some pretty late editing that is usual.

Want to know the scoop about the scene I changed?

The book had been through two editing rounds. It was fairly polished at this point. My editor was fine with the plot and had no objections. And yet… I read a scene that suddenly pinged me all wrong. This doesn’t seem like Morgan, I thought. There was nothing inherently wrong about the scene itself, but his actions did not ring true for the character. Although nobody else seemed worried about it, I immediately hurried to reevaluate it.

One of my most important beliefs is to stay true to the character.

I’m going to share with you the original scene, and then the final version of the scene below. I’ll explain briefly why I changed it too. If you don’t want any spoilers, then please do not go beyond this point in my post!

Morgan has a scene where he confronts some homophobic bullies. I wanted a scene where he shows his integrity and his protectiveness with River. The original scene that almost made it into the novel went like this:

They must have realized suddenly that River was not going to take their trash talk, and that he was tougher than they might have guessed. It wasn’t that River was a huge guy like Tomas or angry like Marc, it was something else. A coolness that was there. A prison thing, maybe? Morgan suddenly thought that made a whole lot of sense. There was this attitude River could command that told the world to look out.

“Please, River. Let’s just ignore them. The band is playing a good song.” He tugged his arms. “I love ‘Faithfully.’”

“Aw, let your boyfriend fight,” taunted one of them.

“Yeah, I figured he was the man in this relationship, but maybe not. Maybe he’s the girl.” The smirking idiot high-fived his friend.

He had to do something before River did. Morgan shook off River and was charging at the teens before he had time to think it over.

“Oh, fuck!” one of them said right before Morgan struck. He grabbed two of them and knocked their heads so they both went down to the ground. He turned to the third boy, who held his hands up.

“Sorry, okay? Back away.” He nudged his friend with his sneaker. “Get up, you dickwads.”

The other two were groaning and rubbing their heads.

Morgan crouched to their level. “You want to know how it feels to be a girl? I can show you. Because you assholes deserve to know how it feels to be judged and catcalled and have to put up with shit that’s ridiculous. I can show you exactly how it feels.”

The three teenagers fled, leaving their blanket and cooler in their rush.

After rereading it, I realized this was not Morgan! He is not a fighter (at least not this way). It bugged me, and I knew I needed to change it. But how? I wanted the bullies in the book. I wanted to save the scene, which was important to me, but only if it felt authentic to Morgan.

With a little pondering and some helps from good friends, I realized how to save the scene and keep Morgan in character too. How would Morgan handle these guys? What is in character?

Here is the final version:

They must have realized suddenly that River was not going to take their trash talk, and that he was tougher than they might have guessed. It wasn’t that River was a huge guy like Tomas or angry like Marc; it was something else. A coolness that was there. A prison thing, maybe? Morgan suddenly thought that that made a whole lot of sense. There was this attitude River could command that told the world to fuck off.

“Please, River. Let’s just ignore them. The band is playing a good song.” He tugged his arms. “I love ‘Faithfully.’”

“Aw, let your boyfriend fight,” taunted one of them.

“Yeah, I figured he was the man, but maybe not. Maybe he’s the girl.” The smirking idiot high-fived his friend.

Morgan had to do something before River did. He shook off River and was charging toward the teens. For a second Morgan imagined knocking their heads together, but he was not a fighter, at least not with his fists.

Instead he halted right at the leader and put a hand on his hip. “Didn’t I see you at the clubs last weekend?”

“What the fuck?” The teen gasped. “No. I wouldn’t go to your kind of faggoty clubs.”

“Really? ’Cause I’m sure of it. I saw you there with a friend of mine….” Morgan grinned flirtatiously. “Yeah, I remember a cute thing like you. Always remember the young, cute ones. You were there.”

The other two teens exchanged looks.

“Hey, Christian, just where were you last Saturday? You ain’t hanging with us that night.”

Christian flushed, taking a step away from Morgan. “Don’t be a buncha dumb pussies! I was at my grandmother’s apartment. I told ya. It was her birthday.”

“His grandmother.” Morgan rolled his eyes. “That’s what we all say. It’s always the sick mom or the grandma’s birthday.” He batted his eyes at Christian. “It’s okay to admit it, sugar. It really does get better.”

“Shutyerface!” His face grew a mottled red. “You lying freak!”

“Oh, fuck,” his friend said.

Morgan thought they might fight after all. If so, he was ready. These assholes deserved to know how it felt to be judged and catcalled and made ridiculous. Morgan only wanted to embarrass Christian, but he’d fight if he had to.

It sucked. How could this kid visit his grandmother dutifully one day and then go out and be so hateful the next? Why was the world so fucked?

Morgan’s fist curled at his sides. He’d do what was necessary. And he wasn’t alone. Morgan sensed River moving closer, there if Morgan said the word.

Christian turned and spat at the ground. “I’m outta here. These cocksuckers are a waste of time. And you fuckers can get yer own ride home.”

Christian fled, leaving the blanket and cooler in his rush. Without their leader, the other two shrugged at each other, then slinked away.

“That wasn’t smart,” River said from behind him.

“Yeah, I know. But it was satisfying.” Morgan swung his arms by his sides. “And we have the right to enjoy this concert, and I’m tired of letting people say otherwise.”

“They were harmless and I was frightening them easily with a look. You didn’t have to go all Vin Diesel’s gay cousin on them.”

I’m pleased with the final version. It sounded and felt like Morgan to me.  The scene was a puzzle, where the piece did not fit, but with effort I fixed it.

I learned that for me the plot always comes second to character. Most importantly, I have realized never to stop rereading and questioning the novel until the very last edits are complete.

Then it is on to the next puzzle, lol.

Thanks for hosting me!

SECRETS OF YOU BLURB:

It’s never easy to find redemption.

Carrying scars and regrets, River Darcourt avoids too much intimate contact. Among his friends, he is known as a quiet loner. Forget about love—it’s not something he will consider—until sweet, young, and tempting Morgan Hayes becomes his housemate. River closed his heart long ago, but the attraction is impossible to deny.

Morgan Hayes needs a change. He is moving out of his critical father’s home and in with his friends, including his secret/not-so-secret crush, River. Having feelings for River is a terrible idea. But what is a guy to do when the annoyingly sexy mechanic is just across the hall?

While Morgan has overcome ugliness and is ready for love, he’s just not sure River ever will be. They have both experienced pain in their lives. So Morgan dares River to take a chance, and love will either break their fractured hearts in more pieces or, just possibly, make them whole again.

MY CONTACTS

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/skylar.cates

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/SkylarMCates

MY BLOG: https://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/

*Brand New * Newsletter!  Freebies! DSP Coupons! Bonus Scenes! :

http://eepurl.com/cxODzT

BUY LINKS:

Also available in Dreamspinner Press Paperback

GIVEAWAY: On e-copy of Secrets of You  or choice of e-book  to one lucky winner

In Our New Release Spotlight: Love in the Time of Hurricanes (States of Love) by C.C. Bridges (guest post, interview and excerpt)

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Love in the Time of Hurricanes (States of Love)

by C.C. Bridges
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:

           

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have C.C. Bridges here today talking about Dreamspinner Press’ latest story in their States of Love series, Love in the Time of Hurricanes.  Welcome, C.C.!

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Today is the release day for Love in the Time of Hurricanes! In a lot of ways, this story was a very personal one for me to write. But today, I’m going to talk about my main characters: Lou and Nick.

I don’t typically put a lot of myself in my characters. They often show up in my head, fully-formed, with personalities of their own (See: Hank Abraham in Exodus, for example!) https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/exodus-by-cc-bridges-4242-b

But this book is different. There’s so much more of me in here. There’s a little bit of me in each of the main characters.

Nick has my anxiety. He can’t stand up to his father, and he’s unsure of what he even wants. All of that spirals together into a knot of anxiety inside him, and the hurricane only makes things worse.

Lou, like me, comes from a big Italian family. He loves to cook his family recipes, and play with some non-traditional recipes too. He pulls Nick into his world of pizza, marinara, and skeeball, and changes his life.

Just how does he do it? You’ll have to read and see.

Blurb

The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.

When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.

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

Excerpt

When I spotted a pizza place with the lights still on, I took a chance and pulled into the empty parking lot. That should have been a clue.

I pushed open the door, the sudden warm air a relief from the cooler September night. A bell jangled loudly and cut into the music playing from a stereo propped on the counter. I blinked at the sudden brightness after the darkness outside. Springsteen sang to an empty room, not a single person filling the booths with polished red leather seats that lined the wall. I noted the black-and-white checkered floors, a mural of the leaning tower of Pisa on the wall—yeah, like a million pizza joints I knew.

And then he walked into the room, wielding a broom and dustpan and looking good enough to eat.

“Sorry, man, I’m about to close up.”

It took me a minute to find my voice. He had dark hair that curled around his ears, sleepy bedroom eyes, and a wicked grin beneath a noble-looking nose. His shoulders filled out a green T-shirt that had Martelli’s written across it in golden letters. Apparently he got a workout from rolling pizza, because those arms were solid muscle.

But I couldn’t draw my eyes away from the bit of scruff on his cheeks. More than a five-o’clock shadow, it was the kind of almost beard that begged to be licked.

“Um, sorry. Do you have anything left over?” To make me sound even more pathetic, right then my stomach chose to gurgle. It wasn’t anything like a manly growl—it was a tiny twisted gurgle.

The guy with the broom laughed. Fuck, were those dimples? I thought he was lickable before.

“Tell you what. Take a seat at the counter.”

I’d missed the barstools lined up along the counter during my first glance. Instead of display containers with stale pizza, there were napkin holders and glass shakers of pepper flakes and garlic powder. I sat carefully, and I say carefully, because the guy turned his back in order to flip the sign on the door to Closed, and I got a really nice view. Those tight jeans framed that ass spectacularly.

He turned, and I swear he caught me staring. Shit.

About the Author

CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and a long-suffering husband in the state of New Jersey. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccbridgeswriter

Blog: http://blog.ccbridges.net/

Website: http://www.ccbridges.net