What Are Romance Don’ts For You? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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What Are Romance Don’ts For You…in Stories of course?

I’m always interested in what turns readers on, makes them keep searching out certain authors, certain types of stories and series.  The reverse is also true.  I’m curious to know whats the turnoff for readers.  What will kill a story faster than a full moon can make a were all fluffy?

I’m not talking about simple bad writing, paroxysms of purple prose (I sorta love those…I giggle away), and cardboard characters and unintelligible plots.  No I’m talking about something that while you are reading along, the book is going fine and all of a sudden, there it is.  The thing that has you going “nope, not reading further”, and you are done.

I have to admit the one I hear the most is that people don’t want their main characters to cheat.  At all. It doesn’t matter whether they haven’t even met the guy they are going to have their HFN or HEA yet.  They don’t want to see them with anyone else in the story.

These are readers who place a strict moral behavior line on their mcs and expect it to be adhered to.

Some readers  want light, sweet romances (which does not necessarily exclude depth in storyline or characters). Others place a limit on the amount of violence or types of sex or kink they may want in the novels. Do you exclude anything other than a typical M/M coupling from your reading lists?  Not judging, just curious.

And how much sex is too much?

I actually went to a couple of How to Write Romance sites to see if they addressed any of this and the answer is not really.One said not to have a sex scene in every  chapter.  Many recommended no instant love but to build it up gradually. Many said to learn how to write “good” sex scenes. Under one site with 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Romance novels:1

  • : Avoid immediate, total attraction between your story’s lovers (guess they never met Grindr or instant lust) Really

But specifics like cheating never come up.  That they leave up to each individual author and their  tastes.

I personally avoid novels that kill off the pets and other animals.  That’s one of my things (looking at you and that horse, Amy Lane).

One recent story that I gave low ratings to didn’t even introduce the one main character’s “true love” until the last couple of pages of the story.  For most of the book he was involved with a lovely intelligent man who most readers, including myself thought he would end up with, until surprise!  He runs off back to Canada leaving the nice guy in Scotland and us with our jaws on the floor.  Because there was no set up in the narrative and we had no idea who this person was.  Stunningly awful.

So while the mc’s don’t have to be together (letters written, two povs), I must actually know who he is. Smh.

And finally, if you have a narrative bugaboo, is there a author or book that convinced you or was so well written that they made you overlook it?

Write in and let me know….there might be gifts ahead for those that chime in.

 

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 24:

  • Book Blast Witchbane by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Review: A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton
  • What Are Romance Don’ts For You? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 25:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • Release Blitz – JM Snyder – Commanding Officer Thomas
  • Release Blitz – Speed Dating the Boss by Sue Brown
  • DSP Promo EJ Russell
  • An Alisa Review: Commanding Officer Thomas by J.M. Snyder
  • A Jeri Review: Something About You by Riley Hart
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Cash Plays (Seven of Spades #3) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Tuesday, June 26

  • Release Blitz – Spark by Posy Roberts
  • Release Blitz – Nic Starr’s Lies & Deception
  • My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick Release Blitz
  • Release Blitz and Exclusive Guest Post forJanice Jarrell’s Love’s Magic
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Lies & Deception by Nic Starr (
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Speed Dating the Boss (Cowboys and Angels #1) by Sue Brown
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: All That Glitters by Kate Sherwood

Wednesday, June 27:

  • Cover Reveal for  Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by RJ Scott
  • Kate Sherwood on All That Glitters (guest post)
  • Review Tour – Tarian PS – That’s My Ethan
  • Series Recap Blitz/Tour – RJ Scott – Montana Series
  • A Caryn Review: Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister
  • A Stella Review Home Skillet (Culinary Kings #1) by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Love Me Tomorrow by Ethan Day and Jason Frazier (Narrator)

Thursday, June 28:

  • Release Blitz – Believe (Skins #3) by Garrett Leigh
  • Release Blitz – Day Of Wrath (Taking Shield #5) – Anna Butler
  • Release Blitz for  Date Discovery by Quinn Ward
  • DSP Promo Nic Starr on LIes & Deception
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly
  • An Alisa Review: Jordan and the Secret Pack by Sam Magna
  • A MelanieM Review Learn with Me by Kris Jacen

Friday, June 29:

  • Review Tour – Love’s Magic by Janice Jarrell
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burn’s  Stag and the Ash
  • DSP Promo Louise Collins
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Unfit to Print by KJ Charles
  • A Caryn Review: Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson
  • A MelanieM Review: Love’s Magic by Janice Jarrell
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding and Narrator: Kenneth Obi

Saturday, June 30:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Love Me Louder by Christina Lee
  • Release Blitz + Giveaway – A Dance For Two by Colette Davison
  • A Lucy Review A Dance For Two by Colette Davison

Michael Rupured on Characters, Writing, and his new release The Case of the Missing Drag Queen (A Luke Tanner Mystery #1) (guest blog)

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The Case of the Missing Drag Queen (A Luke Tanner Mystery #1)

by

Michael Rupured

DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

BUY LINKS

AMAZON | B&N | KOBO | DSP PUBLICATIONS

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Michael Rupured here today talking about writing, characters, and the latest in the Luke Tanner mystery series, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen.  Welcome, Michael.

♦︎

Our Interview with Michael Rupured……

 

How much of yourself goes into a character? Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the character. Probably more than I realize. Many combine aspects of people I know, have seen on television, or in a few instances, passed on the street. Regardless of the inspiration, characters have a way of taking on sometimes surprising lives of their own before I finish the first draft.

Does research play a role in which genre you write? A desire to show how much things have changed for the LGBT community in my lifetime motivates me to write. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness, same-sex relations were illegal, and discrimination was the norm throughout most of the 20th Century. Because life for homosexuals was often dangerous, mysteries are the ideal genre for my stories.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? Like them or not, ebooks in one format or another are here to stay. More options make reading accessible to more readers. I prefer paperbacks, but because of vision issues, usually buy (or rent) audiobooks. Piracy, however, is a huge problem with ebooks. I get notices almost every day about a site offering free downloads of one or more of my books.

How do you choose your cover? I envy authors who know exactly what they want for a cover. I never do. Filling out the cover request form is always a struggle. My brain doesn’t work that way. The artist creates a few different versions, I say what I like and don’t like about each one, and we repeat the process until everyone is satisfied. The stunning cover Alexandria Corza designed for The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is perfect for the story.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why? The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is a contender. It’s the first set entirely in Lexington KY—my hometown—and it takes place in 1982, a few years after I came out. Whippersnapper is the best story. Unfortunately, it’s in the wrong genre. Rather than the May-September romance suggested by the cover and blurb, it’s really about Peggy Tucker’s big awakening. The HEA ending makes me cry every time.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work? Funny you should ask. After Happy Independence Day was published, I abandoned half a dozen manuscripts. Around 15,000 words, the story ran out of gas leaving a great cast of characters with no place to go. With a lot of encouragement, I did finish Whippersnapper, then couldn’t finish a story if my life depended on it. In May of last year, I figured out what was wrong with my abandoned stories. I found out a novel is supposed to be about the main character’s literal or figurative journey. You could have knocked me over with a feather! The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is my first novel since that epiphany.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into the story? I first heard about m-m romance a few weeks after I started writing Until Thanksgiving. When pressed to identify the genre, a member of my writers group said it was m-m romance and sent me several to read. Like many gay male authors who stumble into the genre, I confess to having had a bit of a chip on my shoulder for a short time about all the straight female readers and writers. I felt like I had something to prove, and wrote some extremely graphic sex scenes. Another member of the group said lighting was the difference between romance and porn, and my scenes were very brightly lit. In the end, I kept a few paragraphs from the beginning and end of each scene and cut the rest.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why? It’s tempting to say the beach, or the mountains, or by a lake, but I’d be lying. I’m happy writing in my comfy leather recliner here in Athens GA with my diabetic chihuahua between my legs and everything I need within easy reach.

Blurb

Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance.

Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

About the Author

Michael Rupured writes stories true enough for government work about gay life from the 1960s to today. This life-long Southerner was born in Fayetteville NC, grew up in Lexington KY, and after 18 months in Washington DC, moved to Athens GA where he’s lived since 1999. By day, he’s senior faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. He’s an avid fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, the Kentucky Wildcats, and any team playing the Florida Gators. In his free time, Michael tinkers with his garden, plays with Toodles (his diabetic chihuahua), and keeps up with his many friends around the country. Previous novels include Until Thanksgiving (thriller), No Good Deed (mystery/thriller), Whippersnapper (regional), and Happy Independence Day (historical). Visit his website, follow on Twitter and Goodreads, like his Facebook page, or shoot him a message (mrupured@gmail.com).

 

The Case of the Missing Drag Queen

Series: Luke Tanner Mysteries, Book One

Genre: Mystery, LGBT Fiction

Word Count: 60K

Alan Chin on Writing, Early Influences and his new release Surviving Immortality (author guest interview)

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Surviving Immortality

by

Alan Chin
DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  DSP Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Chin here today on tour for his latest novel, Surviving Immortality. Welcome, Alan.  Thanks for sitting in our author’s interview chair today.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Alan Chin 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

All my characters come from aspects of my multifaceted personality. I pick and choose different characteristics based on the needs of the plot, but they all come from somewhere inside that gray area I call me. It’s one of the things I love about writing; I’m forced to explore different facets of myself.

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

Not entirely sure what you’re asking here. I feel that the only way to create a multidimensional, realistic character is to use my own life experiences to define the parameter of feelings and emotions and actions a character will encounter. My own life defines the only guidelines I have to create. Fortunately, I’ve had countless experiences over the last sixty-plus years to draw from and my memory is still sharp enough to recall them.

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

An old friend of mine, Victor Banis, once said he believed that I didn’t choose my stories, my stories choose me. I believe that is true of genre as well. Generally, story ideas knock about my head for years before I finally put pen to paper to scratch out some notes. During that phase I don’t give any thought to which genre to use.

For example, Surviving Immortality started with a question of which is more destructive, man’s greed or his lust for violence, and what happens when you pit those two traits against each other? That premise rattled around my brain for three years before I was ready to get serious about it. It grew in scope and intensity until I had a breakthrough moment of inspiration of how to present it. At first, I had no idea there would be a love interest for the protagonist, let alone where he would end up. I was too engrossed in staging the theme.

I seldom research ideas until I’m ready to start outlining. Once I’m into a story, I enjoy the hell out of digging deep to find the most interesting tidbits for the telling of the story. And I like to keep my stories as factual as possible, even in a fictional world. Once I’m absorbed in a story, information flies at me from all directions and from totally surprising places. It’s part of the fun of writing.

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

No. As a child and young adult, I hated reading. I didn’t take up reading until I was in my twenties, and I didn’t start writing until my fortieth year. I was a late start, but reading and writing grew into a love affair between me and books of all genres. Early on, I read general fiction almost exclusively. I started with the old masters. Lately, I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction and biographies. For the last few months I’ve been immersed in the French Revolution and Napoléon Bonaparte. A fascinating time and man.

  • 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?

Once I get hooked on the story and feel connections with the characters, nothing short of nuclear annihilation can keep me from working on it. Even when I’m not at my keyboard or writing notes, I’m always thinking about the story, examining, refining. I can’t wait to climb out of bed in the mornings to get started, usually before sunup. I’m afraid it’s become an overly obsessive passion.

With Surviving Immortality, it took me over a year to write the first longwinded draft. It took another year to edit it down into something I’m exceedingly proud of. In those two years, there were only a handful of days that I didn’t work on it in one way or another.

I do suffer emotional ties with my characters and sometimes that feels painful. But I also experience their joys and their confusion and a whole range of emotions I don’t experience in my non-writing life. And isn’t that why we read? To experience that wide range of feelings and ideas?

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like whatever the plot dictates. What’s important, for me at least, is for the reader to experience emotional satisfaction. There is nothing more gratifying than coming to the end of a story and knowing why it ended the way it did, but also knowing that the ending fit, that it was, emotionally and intellectually, the most suitable outcome.

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

As an adult, oh yes. Romance adds spice to any story. And for me, when it comes to spices, the hotter the better. Romance can make fools or heroes out of the most stable men and women. It adds pressure to any situation and gives us a truer idea of the character’s makeup. Nothing exposes a character’s internal being better than how he/she treats their love interest.

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

There are so many. Colm Toibin and Marguerite Duras for their beautiful prose. Truman Capote for his vivid characters. Christopher Isherwood, Michael Cunningham and Evelyn Waugh for everything. I’m also a fan of Michael Crichton for his solidly entertaining storytelling. And of course, Annie Proulx for her brilliant short stories.

We are so lucky to live in a time where we have so many masters to choose from.

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

You’d have to shoot me to pry my Kindle from my grip. I love it, especially when I travel. I generally travel three months at a time, and up to six months each year. Before ebooks, I loaded my luggage down with a dozen or more books. It was always a fight with my husband, who likes to travel as lightly as possible. Now I take hundreds of books, all on my Kindle. I love it and so does Herman.

Also, I’m getting older (I signed up for Medicare last month), and the larger print really helps. As much as I love hardbacks, ebooks are here to stay and I’m good with that.

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

My publisher, Dreamspinner Publications, has a brilliant staff of artists. We exchange several emails delving into the stories characters, plot, themes, and they present me with several options. I’ve always been blown away by their talent to express ideas in images.

With Surviving Immortality, we agreed it was important to show a protagonist with the weight of the world on his shoulders, for indeed, the future of mankind pivots on his decisions. The first time I saw this cover, I knew they had nailed it. The whole universe is pressing down on him. I love it.

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

My favorite is always the book I’m currently writing. In fact, I get so engrossed in my current work, that I have a hard time remembering the details of my previous stories.

Over the years my stories and characters have become more complex, and hence, more interesting, at least to me. I also feel that with each passing year, I become a better writer. It’s not what you write, it’s how you write it, and I feel I keep improving with each book.


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

I think there is a danger in making a character so complex that the reader will have problems relating to him or her. It’s great to give characters faults, but not just for the hell of it. A faulty trait is there for a good reason. It needs to be a vehicle that relates to the plot, and something the character can overcome or take advantage of in order to complete his or her arc.  

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

Loyalty. E.M. Forster once said: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” This, I believe goes to the heart of the protagonists I try to create, and it’s a trait my antagonists seldom display. I’ve always regarded loyalty to friends and loved ones as going beyond admirable to heroic. It represents the best qualities of mankind.

I’m drawn to people who, like me, are outsiders—people who don’t really fit in. These characters are varied: some don’t fit in because of sheer defiance, some because they are terrified of society, some are simply scandalous. There are some, like the protagonist in Surviving Immortality, who have such a high degree of integrity that they don’t fit in anywhere in a world tainted by corruption. Because outsiders are on the fringe of society looking in, they tend to have a much different viewpoint from the norm. They often see things more clearly. All my protagonists are outsiders, hence abnormal, sometimes painfully so. Fish out of water.  For me, it’s what makes them interesting.

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

No. As I said earlier, stories knock about my head for years. I don’t begin to write them until I’m so excited about them that I absolutely must write them. By then, there is no stopping until it’s complete.

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

I’m constantly dealing with my real-life issues in my work. I’ve always assumed that all writers do that.

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

I won’t describe the scene because it is the crisis/conclusion of Surviving Immortality, and I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who chooses to read it. But trust me, it is one of the most chilling and exciting and heartbreaking and uplifting scene’s I’ve ever written. It’s a scene that may very well haunt a reader for a good long while. It did me.

 

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Writing is hard work for me. So I tend to write early in the morning when I’m fresh and alert. I generally start writing at sunup and often work until lunchtime. That’s a little early for me to be drinking. <smile> However, many times I’ve had to work while suffering a horrific hangover, which is no fun at all. These days, I still like my glass or two of wine around dinnertime, but I’ve given up on the hard stuff. When you reach your mid-sixties, you’ll know doubt understand why.

 

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

I’ve travel to over sixty countries over the last twenty-five years, and I write most days when I travel. In all those places I’ve not once found a writing environment more suitable than my own office at home. Here in my workspace, I’m surrounded by the books I love and the quiet I need to concentrate. And even more important, my next cup of coffee is just down the hallway.

When it comes to a work environment, for me, less is better. I need quiet and internet access. And coffee, gallons of it, but that goes without saying.

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

I write to first help me understand the world I live in, both my internal gray matter and the external world, and then to present my reaction to those two worlds. And yes, there is a lot going on. Surviving Immortality tackles, among other topics, the epidemic of gun violence in America, the buildup of weapons of mass destruction, and the issues that lead our politicians into corruption. It’s a very topical love story.

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to write. We have such a rich tapestry of culture to draw from. 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

For the next several months I’ll be promoting my new release, Surviving Immortality.
About a month ago I completed the first draft of my next novel. I’m currently in editing mode on that project, and I suspect that will continue for the rest of the year. Not sure what 2019 will bring, but this year will be busy with those two projects.

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and any eBook format, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

This story is purely fictional and not based on real people or true events.

About Surviving Immortality

This is the story of the fountain of youth.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his secret until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb hasbeen destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his son Matt Reece is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt Reece on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt Reece learns that world peace might not be his father’s only goal. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and the lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

About the Author

Alan Chin’s books explore spiritual growth through finding the right relationships. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, romance, Eastern religion, and the paranormal, his underlying focus is the power of love.

Alan is the author of nine novels, an anthology of short stories, and three screenplays.

Alan’s first novel, Island Song, won the 2008 QBliss Excellence in Literature award. His novels, The Lonely War and Match Maker won a total of five Rainbow Literature Awards. His book, The Plain of Bitter Honey is a 2014 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year finalist in the Science Fiction category.

Alan lives and writes half of each year at his home in Southern California, and spends the other half of each year traveling the globe with his husband, Herman Chin.

You can learn more about Alan Chin and his writing at: http://alanchinauthor.com or his blog: http://AlanChinWriter.blogspot.com  

A Alisa Release Day Review: Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology #2) by T.J. Nichols

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

The blood sacrifices have brought rain to Demonside, but across the void, the Warlock College of Vinland is still storing and gathering magic, heedless of the warnings of the international magical community. The underground is full of warlocks who disagree with the college, but do they care about wizards and demons or only about snatching power?

With a foot in each world, Angus is no longer sure whom he can trust. The demons don’t trust humans, and even though he is learning more magic, he will never be one of them. He is human and only tolerated. Some demons would be happy to slit his throat. It’s only because his demon is powerful in his own right that Angus is alive.

Saka only has a year to prove that Angus’s people can change and that the magic taken will be rebalanced, but the demons want action. His affection for Angus is clouding his judgment and weakening his position in the tribe. Time is running out, and he must make a choice.

I was so excited to see Angus and Saka again and I was disappointed.  This story was just as in depth and thought out as the last one.  This story seems to pick up just after the last book when Angus and the trainees are in demonside following Angus’ injury.  This book was even more trying for these characters as they continue to try and help both worlds.

The story’s focus was still primarily on solving the problem of rebalancing the magic in Demonside and fixing the problems in Vineland but we continue to see Angus and Saka’s relationship blossom and Angus continue to grow his relationship with Terrance in the human world.  Angus is torn between them both but also trying to decide how to deal with the growing doubt he has in the underground.

We got to see both Angus and Saka’s points of view throughout the story.  Both were torn between the one they loved and doing what is “right” for their people.  Saka continues to have push back from others in his tribe while he is trying to keep the peace and mend the rift between the two worlds.  I felt the most for Angus because he seemed to be having to have so many different faces depending on who he was talking to he always seemed to have to stay on guard for one reason or another.  As I see this story continue it makes me even more anxious for the next book to come out for a conclusion.

Cover art by Catt Ford is wonderful and connects well with the setting of the story.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages

Published: May 22, 2018 by DSP Publications

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-452-4

Edition Language: English

Series: Studies in Demonology #2

TJ Nichols on Expanding the World and their new release Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology #2)

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Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology #2) by T.J. Nichols 
DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon  | iBooks | B & N | Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host T.J. Nichols here today on tour for Rogue on the Making. Welcome, T.J.

✒︎

Expanding the world by TJ Nichols

When writing a series, especially on that centers around the same characters I think it’s important to offer the reader something new. That means the difficulties the characters face need to be different, bigger and more dangerous. The characters need to continue growing.

I knew how the series was going to end so I had a vague idea about how the characters would need to change over each book.

The other thing I did in each book (the third book, Blood for the Spilling, is in edits) was to expand the series world, giving the reader new things to explore with the characters.

In book one, Warlock in Training, the world I introduced was Demonside. I wanted the desert and the demons who lived there to be real. The human world is much like ours, but with warlocks and magic and I didn’t need to go into too much depth in the book, it was enough to know that the Warlock College was the big bad and our human hero was going to get into trouble if he didn’t start to figure things out. The reader figured things out along with Angus.

In Rogue in the Making I went back to the human world and peeled back the layers. More time is spent in Vinland looking at the Warlock College, and what has gone wrong. The hints that were there in book one get pulled open and the horror is revealed.

For each book I had to research various things. In book one it was how desert civilizations lived. In book two I looked at desert survival, what happens to deserts in the rain—life happens fast—but I also looked at modern countries where media is controlled, what happens to people who discover the truth and how the takeover happened without bloodshed. The Warlock College didn’t start out wanting to control all magic, but somewhere along the way it became corrupted and when it went unchallenged the corruption spread until they effectively run the country, and everyone believes that demons are the bad guys who are threatening another war. I don’t think any of the warlocks in charge would call themselves evil, they believe they are making magic safe by removing demons.

In book three I expand the world beyond the Vinnish boarders. There are hints in the first two books about book three. The cover (which I have seen a draft of) gives another major hint. Another way of using demon magic is explored, and I researched jungles and a past civilization, so I could bring it back to life in a world where magic is real.

If I’d put all of this world building in the first book there would’ve been no room left for magic and lust and it would’ve made for a very dry read. One of the advantages of having a series is the ability to dig deeper and widen with each book. As an author I love being able to expand my story world and as a reader I love the way long running series bring in new things—as long as they don’t become so sprawling the point of the story doesn’t became lost. Character arcs and plot shouldn’t get swallowed up in favor of lush world building IMHO.

 

Rogue in the Making (Studies in Demonology 2)

The blood sacrifices have brought rain to Demonside, but across the void, the Warlock College of Vinland is still storing and gathering magic, heedless of the warnings of the international magical community. The underground is full of warlocks who disagree with the college, but do they care about wizards and demons or only about snatching power?

With a foot in each world, Angus is no longer sure whom he can trust. The demons don’t trust humans, and even though he is learning more magic, he will never be one of them. He is human and only tolerated. Some demons would be happy to slit his throat. It’s only because his demon is powerful in his own right that Angus is alive.

Saka only has a year to prove that Angus’s people can change and that the magic taken will be rebalanced, but the demons want action. His affection for Angus is clouding his judgment and weakening his position in the tribe. Time is running out, and he must make a choice.

About the Author

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day.
After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Website: tjnichols-author.blogspot.com

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TJNichols

Twitter: @TobyJNichols

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TJNichols.author

Newsletter: http://www.eepurl.com/cO-YRz

Aidan Wayne on Writing, Research, and Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne (author interview)

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Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Sales Links:

DSP PublicationsAmazon |  Barnes & Nobles | Kobo  | iBooks 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Aidan Wayne today on tour for their new release Rule of Thirds. Welcome, Aidan.

 ~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Aidan Wayne~

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

Research plays such a huge role, it’s ridiculous. I do enjoy it, but I tend to fall into what I call “the black hole of research.” And for something like Rule of Thirds, wherein my main character, Jason, has crippling PTSD that’s pretty important. But I also am in the middle of a story about a Broadway star. I figured I wouldn’t have to worry too much about research for that. Wrong! I ended up basically mapping out the entire theatre district of New York to make sure I knew where everything was (eateries, parks, urgent care) in reference to where my characters lived. Of course, I also had to find them apartments and make sure that the rents made sense to the location.

On that note though, I’ve had some really neat things come from my need to research topics. For a story where the main character owns an apple orchard, I called up orchards to ask questions about production, cost, etc. I ended up getting on the phone with a 95-year old apple farmer who had planted his trees with his father before WWII. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had as a writer.

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

That’s a tricky question. I was big into a lot of varied genres. I loved fantasy (Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce), historical fiction (L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott), and nonfiction (basically every well-written thing I could get my hands on). But I think that a good link-up is that all of my very favorite books are character-driven. They have solid personalities and stand out as people. In his Discworld books, Terry Pratchett has a number of characters that re-appear as main characters or side characters as the book requires and they’re always interesting and thoroughly themselves. Even the nonfiction books had good narrators. I love that. And yes, I think the influence has carried over into how I write what I do. For me, characters come first. The plot? They might be saving the world but it’s just as likely that the entire story is simply one person teaching the other how to properly cultivate a tomato plant.

I like this tomato idea actually. Hm.

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’m not a fan of the term Mary Sue or Gary Stu. It first got started in fandom, where people (usually female writers) made self-inserts to interact with characters they like, often as love interests. It was a way for them to play and explore in a world that had already been created, but with a character they’d created themselves. Because so many writers made their characters “unique” (looks-wise, having special skills, etc), coupled with the fact that the character was a love interest, these characters (and thus, often, the authors themselves) ended up garnering a lot of ridicule.

But what’s wrong with writing wish-fulfillment? What’s wrong with creating a character based on your own experiences? Maybe with your own desires and fears? What’s wrong with putting those characters into whatever setting you choose and playing? Creating someone that will love them?

Nothing, in my opinion.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

YES. Yes, yes, so much yes. I’m one of those people that needs a happy or hopeful ending to be satisfied. If I’m going to read an entire story about these characters and watch them grow and change and learn and struggle–If I’ve dedicated my time to caring about them and rooting for them–The last thing I want is for the story to end with them miserable.

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

I’ve been very lucky in that every cover artist I’ve worked with has been willing to take my notes and suggestions. I start by answering some questions about what I want the cover to look like: colors, tone, possible scenery, etc. Then I get a mock-up or three and usually we go from there. Sometimes I’m really pleased with the first choice, or only have a slight adjustment I’d like made, such as changing a font. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult. For Rule of Thirds, I went to a stock photo site myself to find images I thought might work for what I wanted. My very patient cover artist, Jennifer Vance, put up with a lot from me.

 

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

I started and stopped my novella Loud and Clear a bunch of times. It is literally a book about communication, and I kept getting stuck on what I wanted my characters to say, even if I knew how they’d say it. I’m glad I ended up with what I did, though. It was one of the first books I’ve ever had published so it’s definitely a little rough around the edges, but I think it really showcases what I believe in writing; communication, consent, and diversity.

 

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’ve never written while drunk, but I have written while Ridiculously Overtired. Those are usually times when I’ll come back to a story with sentences such as “the big was very large.” But once in a while I’ll come back to a scene and –wow, I’ll look at it a bit uncertain that it came from my own brain but very pleased that it did. You know, once I edit out all the typos.

 

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

I once wrote a story because, and I quote, “I am angry and upset.” It was about a trans man starting his own transition and learning more of himself, how he was able to interact with the world and other people, getting a found family, and, eventually, a boyfriend too.

 

I also once wrote a story because I thought of a title so good it needed a story to go with it. (A cupid and a succubus fall in love whoops. Making Love. I’m very proud of myself.)

 

Mostly I write because I like happiness, and figuring out the various ways I can get it to manifest. To make me, my readers, and my characters happy.

 

And shoving in as much wordplay into the titles as I can possibly get.

Blurb:

A traumatic past doesn’t have to mean not having a future.

When Jason Diovardi, military elite, is removed from active duty after failing too many psych evals, he has only one goal in mind: get back into the field. It’s all he knows and all he thinks he’s good for, which is why he grudgingly accepts two live-in AI Companions to help him begin to recover from his severe PTSD. Chase and Shade are a matched pair, and Jason hopes they’ll keep each other distracted enough to leave him alone so he can go through the motions and be cleared for fieldwork.

Jason doesn’t expect to actually get better, and the progress he makes with his patient and caring Companions sneaks up on him—and so do unexpected feelings between the three of them. Now Jason might even be able to admit to being happy. But has he healed enough to allow himself to accept what Chase and Shade are offering?

Hope. Love. A reason to live.

About the Author ~Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne has been a jeweler, paralegal, neurofeedback technician, and martial arts instructor; and that’s not even the whole list. They’ve been in constant motion since before they were born (pity Aidan’s mom)—and being born didn’t change anything. When not moving, Aidan is usually writing, so things tend to balance out. They primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings, because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

Aidan lives with altogether too many houseplants on the seventh floor of an apartment building. The building has an elevator, but Aidan refuses to acknowledge its existence.

Social media links:

Website: https://aidanwayne.com  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/justsayins

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aidanwaynewrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15164017.Aidan_Wayne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019083091269

S.A. Stovall on Writing,Influences, and her new release Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) (guest interview)

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Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publication

Cover art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:   DSP PublicationsAmazon  

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to  have S.A. Stovall here today answering questions about Vice Enforcer, the sequel to Vice City, both highly recommended novels here at our blog.  Welcome, S.A.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with  S.A. Stovall

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

Definitely. When I was younger, I read all sorts of sci-fi and fantasy. I couldn’t get enough of them. I love anti-hero characters (moral ambiguity fascinates me) and all of that has somehow filtered into my writing.

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

When I was younger, I loved Robert A. Heinlein. I hope I can write great works of science fiction like him one day. I loved his worlds, and his characters. Today I love Stephen King—not because I treasure all his books (I actually dislike quite a few) but because he has so many books that people typically like at least one. I want to be a writer who writers so prolifically that most people say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of her and like this one book…”

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

Well, VICE CITY was my first published novel, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. However, I think my favorite stories are always my science fiction ones. I don’t know what it is, but I love futuristic space settings. They’re amazing.

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

 I find hard work, the desire for truth, and logic all interesting traits in an individual. Most of my characters have at least one of these (maybe all three). Typically side characters meant to cause the main character grief have none of them—those are the characters I love to hate.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?

 Oh, yes. I’m working on an epic fantasy novel right now. I love the book, but the middle got me stalled for a bit—sometimes with large casts of characters it’s hard to weave them all seamlessly together. I can’t wait to share it with the world now that I’ve crossed the hurdle, but it was in limbo for a long time.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yeah, I did use a book to help me with a break up. Basically, the entire story has hints and tidbits to all the best parts of the relationship. The novel was a romanticized version of what a perfect relationship could be if it all worked out. It really helped me understand what went wrong, and now I’ll always have this book to remind me.

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

  The wildest scene I’ve ever imaged was a girl cutting her own heart out to replace it with the still-beating heart of an ancient god.

And yes, it did make it into the story!

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

I write to tell good stories. I love to entertain. The second reason I write, is to highlight the awesomeness of humanity. I love heroes who overcome—or villains who realize life is so much better when celebrated. Sometimes, in science fiction, I write about interesting scientific concepts, but that comes after the good story and awesome heroes.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Tons. I have a WWI fantasy coming out, an MMA romance, and a science fiction story set on a corrupt space station. So many stories—I can’t wait until they’re all released! Trust me. I’ll have plenty for everyone in the future, and hopefully everyone enjoys!

Release of VICE ENFORCER (Vice City #2)

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight.

About the Author

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Social Media

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Awards

Vice City Rainbow Award Winner

Reviews

“To say the characterization was good would be like saying I love reading. It’s a gross understatement… Overall, I loved every inch of it.”

– Divine Magazine

“The noir setting absolutely gripped me with stark details. As a lover of crime fiction, I highly recommend this book in what will hopefully be a very long and satisfying series.”

– The Novel Approach Reviews

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.But he’s not going down without a fight.If you love noir, if you’re in love with hard men with even harder outlooks with little hope for a future, let alone love.  You know the ones I mean,  they’ve survived somehow the worst that life has thrown out them, they expect to see more.  They’ve been made so incredibly tough by their pasts, that the walls they have erected, inside and out might as well be titanium.  Except for the cracks they allow for certain people and in certain circumstances.  Take that man, put him in stories that fit him beautifully because they are dark and gritty.  The criminals are rank,  the corruption is deep and often elusive .  But hope can come from the most surprising places.  So can love.I fell in love with Pierce back in Vice City (Vice City, #1), a stunning introduction to the man and his lover,Miles Devonport.  Now in the equally intense, incredible sequel, Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) ,  S.A. Stovall picks up shortly after the first one leaves off.  Supposedly mob enforcer Nicholas Pierce has  “died” and PI in training Percy Adams (much to Pierce’s dismay at the name) is alive and well and living with Miles in a rundown house in suburbia, along with visits from Miles’  brother and sister.  And it’s going exactly as well as you might expect.

Especially Pierce’s attempts to garden and talk to seedlings while dealing with Mile’s sullen siblings who clearly think that “Percy” is pulling their brother under.

Then everything goes further to hell while on a dubious PI training run with the older investigator who is running the program.  Stovall thrusts the reader and her characters immediately into a powerful action packed, fast paced scene because Shelby, the lead PI hasn’t been exactly straight with his trainees. And because Pierce isn’t who he seems to be (a naive PI in training),  knows the setup for what it is and figures out what’s coming, well…Pierce is both ready to flee and shoot depending upon the situation.

By now the reader’s skin is tingling, the hair’s slightly raised because the writing is so damn good that our apprehension levels are off the charts along with Pierce’s.  It stays that way through revelations about human trafficking, the reemergence of the Vice family and the mob, the threats to the new identity Pierce and Miles have established for him as well as keeping him safely dead in the eyes of the Vice family.  This is an intense, gritty story.  If it has its humorous moments, and it does, they too, border on the dry, wry, and the dark.  Consider the perspective and it makes sense.

Even the romance falls under the same lines.  No hearts and flowers here.  No, its more like that radish that refuses to die in Pierce’s garden.  It lives no matter what.  They have each other’s back…no matter what.  The sex is rough, the need for each other is there although Pierce might not always acknowledge it.  And while Miles would like a change in the sexual dynamics, something that Pierce’s past won’t allow, its a topic that  comes up.

There is so much here.  Wyatt, Mile’s supervisor  who is definitely in the closet. Shelby, the PI with the past.  The Vice family. Mile’s and his family.  Oh, yes and the Timo family that lives next door.  Everything gets pulled together in one magnificent tapestry that twists and turns, stuns and pulls at your heart.  And when it ends, you want not only another story but to reread the books one and two all over again.

This is a wowzer of a series. Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall is everything I could want in a sequel or even a standalone.  I highly recommend it and Vice City.  Both are must reads!

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  What a great cover.  Perfect for this story and series.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 259 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by DSP Publications
Original TitleVice Enforcer
ASINB078JQJNF8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesVice City #2

Chris E. Saros on Writing, Research, and her first novel Semblance by Chris E. Saros (excerpt and giveaway)

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Semblance by Chris E. Saros
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links:

DSPPublications  |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Chris E. Saros here today on tour with her first novel Semblance. Welcome, Chris.

 

Hello! Chris E. here to say “hi!” and introduce myself. Semblance is my first published work and I am very proud of it, had a wonderful time writing it, and can’t wait to share it with all of you! Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for this wonderful opportunity.

How much of yourself goes into a character?
Basically, all of my characters are at least a little piece of me. How could they not be? They came from the
depths of my imagination. However, it is amazing how much a character can take on its own life. You can write a scene and the character will do something or say something that totally shocks you. That is the true test to prove the character has become their own person.

Character development is hard though, and maintaining individuality is a practiced art. I remember one of the first short stories I wrote, all the characters were just different versions of me. The main character was me but then the secondary character was the me that said all the things I wanted to say but the real me was too cautious or shy to say it. Then the supporting characters were all me in places I wanted to be. After I reread it, I decided there was not enough diversity to take the story further. Every character was essentially the same! It was a learning experience and one I needed to be able to grow into the author I am today.

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

Basically, I write what I want to read. I have a true love for men with guns (fictional guns – I’d probably faint in real life), a whole lot of confidence, derisive wit, and just a touch of vulnerability. I mean, doesn’t that just seem hot? However, I have zero knowledge about guns. They scare me in real life and I have never shot one. I did a bit of research into them and have a standing appointment with a friend to take me shooting so I can experience the kick and power first hand. I am pretty apprehensive about that research.

The problem with research, or I guess I should clarify, the problem with online research, is that it can, many times, take you down a rabbit hole. I will start researching what kind of drug they use to sedate a patient in a hospital, next thing you know I am signing up to become a wildlife rehabilitator and learning Hindi. Main thodi thodi Hindi samajti hoon. So, I can’t imagine what my writing schedule would be like if I had to rely on research to write, say a historical drama. I try to stick to what I know as much as possible and then research the small questions, this helps keep me on task.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think everyone to an extent likes happy ever afters and happy for nows to a degree. We like to end with a positive feeling because so many of us read to escape because we don’t want to focus on the bad or end in the sad. However, one of the things I love about books that don’t have HFNs or HEAs is that it comes unexpectedly. We are so used to the happy ending, we go into the story and even though the possibility is there, we don’t expect the main character to die or the love to simply fall apart to some unfulfilling end. We expect the best to happen. Part of the anticipation is the speculation on how the story will work out in the end because there is no way you can see it having a happy ending the way it’s currently progressing. But, what a shockingly wonderful surprise when things end on a completely unexpected note.  And sometimes you need a good tragedy to help you truly appreciate the happy endings.

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

I have always been a fan of romance, only not usually for romance’s sake. I like romance, but I am much more interested in the surrounding story. I am more of an action girl myself but throw in a sweet love story to go with it and I am hooked.

As a teenager I was reading everything from RL Stein, Christopher Pike, Stephen King, VC Andrews, Norah Roberts, and David Morrell. It is quite the variety. As an adult I have very similar tastes maybe a little more expanded. As an adult I go through romance kicks more often than I used to. That goes for books and movies. Every once in a while, you just have to get a Nicholas-Sparks-style cry on (I can’t be the only one he reduces to blubbering tears…right?).

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

I was incredibly skeptical of the ebook format when it came out. My dad had bought me a Kindle for Christmas when it was the big new thing and I returned it. I couldn’t imagine reading something that didn’t smell like paper. I liked to touch the pages in my hands and hold the book, it just felt more personal. But then there were a couple of books that I wanted to read that were only in ebook format. I reluctantly downloaded the kindle and nook apps on my phone and started reading.

What a change. Suddenly paper books felt like 50-pound weights. They are clunky and awkward and don’t have the convenience of a library at my fingertips.

I still have a precious few books that I can’t imagine reading in ebook format because I have such fond memories of reading it for the first time. And, while I still have a large library of paper books but a lot of the time I opt for the easy route and do the ebook. I am also a big fan of the buy the paper book get the ebook free. I think that is a wonderful way to enjoy the reading experience in both formats. You can have the convenience if you want it, but you can also feel the book in your hands and enjoy the words on a complete organic level.

 

Blurb:

Drake isn’t looking for justice. He’s not interested in doing what’s right. He’s after one thing and one thing only: revenge. That means taking down the Boredega drug cartel—and the shadowy, seemingly invincible man who heads it—even if he goes down with them.

Drake plans to destroy the cartel from within, and he uses his nightclub, Semblance, as a front for money laundering and drug trafficking. He’s sacrificed almost everything to complete his mission, and just as he’s getting close, he’s derailed by flirtatious bartender Scotty, who offers Drake a glimpse of the happiness he’s missed by pursuing a personal vendetta. Scotty might be irresistible, but Drake has come too far to turn back now. He’ll have to find a way to keep Scotty safe, fend off persistent prostitute Natasha, feed tips to the authorities, and edge his way closer to the upper echelon of the cartel, where he can finally strike. He’ll need to do it all while keeping his intentions covert—and he’s not the only one at Semblance with secrets.

Excerpt:

He found him in the back room leaning over a shelf, reading the labels on a couple of bottles. Drake took a second to admire the scene, drinking in the long powerful legs and the nice tight ass showcased by the black pair of slacks that pulled snugly in all the right places. It took everything he had in him not to reach out and touch Scotty. The lure to do so was strong, but he squelched his temptation. There wasn’t time for such distractions.

Clearing his throat, he stepped into the room and leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. Scotty quickly stood at the sound and picked one of the bottles he had been reading.

“Yes, my liege?” Drake asked. He couldn’t keep the amusement from his voice.

Scotty’s brow shot up into his hairline. “Are you really going to act like there isn’t a big problem hanging out behind the bar?”

“Big problem?” Drake said, playing dumb.

Scotty’s glum look didn’t lighten at all with Drake’s humor but instead darkened a degree. He took a step toward Drake and pointed the bottle at him like a large scolding finger. “That kid shouldn’t be behind the bar! He doesn’t have the first clue about what’s going on. He’s never mixed a drink before in his life, and he thinks he’s Jerry Thomas.”

“Who?”

“Jerry Thomas! Blue Blazer? He used to…. No, never mind. It doesn’t matter. The point is, the kid shouldn’t be behind the bar. He should be out waiting tables or something.”

“Aw, give the kid a shot. He’s only been at it a few days. I’m sure he’ll catch on. Besides, I don’t foresee him staying on the job for a long time.”

“Great! So he’s another one that I get the pleasure of training and as soon as they start to catch on, they up and leave? Really?”

Drake shrugged. They always did fine even with Tony’s boys cluttering up space. He made sure to schedule an extra hand while they were working to pick up any slack.

Scotty sighed at Drake’s shrug. “If you were just going to hire whatever crazy wackadoos that wanted a job, why did you take all the time and effort to interview me?”

“Wait,” Drake said, holding up a hand, “can we take a minute to appreciate the fact that you used the term ‘wackadoo’ in a sentence?”

“Drake!”

“Okay! I’m sorry. I am. But I told Frankie that I would give the kid a shot. Besides, he has been helpful on the busy nights at least busing. He’s only broken about six bottles and four glasses. And I took half his tips to pay for those. So, I’m sure he will start to get the picture.”

Scotty let out another drawn-out sigh and grabbed another bottle to go with the first.

“I took so long interviewing you for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I wanted someone who had excellent skills behind the bar and would be able to handle any crazy ‘wackadoos’ that may end up back there with them. I needed someone with both a great disposition and work ethic to handle whatever problems may transpire. You fit the bill. I have faith that you can handle any piece of work that comes trotting into this club.”

Scotty’s face slowly lost the tight lines creasing his forehead as Drake spoke, his glare lessening into more of a frown than a full-on glower.

“Fine, I’ll put up with him for a while longer.”

“Okay, good, because I wasn’t really giving you a choice,” Drake said, a teasing lilt to his voice. He started to head back out front to make sure everything was set for the day but turned when Scotty said his name. “Yes?”

Scotty was looking down, kicking at a piece of paper or some other speck on the floor. He looked like a small schoolboy playing innocent. After a moment of silence, Scotty lifted his head just enough to peer through his bangs with a face that belied any innocence Drake might have seen in him. The look was pure seduction.

“Don’t think that I don’t remember about our unfinished business.”

“Un-uh.” Drake had to clear his throat before continuing. Man, he had the most beautiful eyes. He could get lost in them. Scratch that—he was already lost in them.

What was going on? Oh, right. “Unfinished business?”

Walking close enough to put a hand on Drake’s chest, Scotty smiled. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. You said you had a lot on your plate, so I’m giving you time to work through it, but we’ll finish what we started.”

About the Author

Chris E. Saros lives in the beautiful Mitten State, surrounded by the exhilaration of the Great Lakes. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, ministering to her cats’ needs, and watching TV. An avid traveler, she loves immersing herself in different cultures, discovering new foods, and meeting new people. Always game for a new adventure, she covets stimulating experiences such as working on locally filmed movies, coaching students in after-school activities, and spending time spoiling and sugaring-up her nieces and nephew to keep her status as “the fun aunt.” Though ideally an optimist, Chris E. is intrigued by the darkness life has to offer. Using writing as an outlet for her darker nature, she loves constructing characters and tossing them into dangerous situations, just to see what happens.

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Giveaway

ebook giveaway for Semblance the author’s  first book. Leave a comment  about, “What was the wildest rabbit hole you followed while researching something specific on the web?”.  Make sure you leave your email address where you can be reached if chosen.

 

Andrea Speed Interviews Her Characters from Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2), her latest release (guest blog and tour)

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Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2) by Andrea Speed
DSP Publications
Cover Art: Anne Cain

Buy links:

DSP Publications

Amazon

 

If you Google “Proust character questions”, you’ll find a list of questions that the French author supposedly came up with to get to know your characters better. I’m going to use it as a game, and randomly ask Roan, Holden, or Chai one of the questions. To make it even more challenging for me, I’m using random numbers to pull up the questions. This could be great, or this could be a disaster. Let’s find out together!

 ~ Andrea Speed Interviews Roan, Holden and Chai ~

1. What is your greatest regret?

 Holden: It is too early in the day for that question.

Chai: Honestly? That I didn’t rip all of Paul’s clothes out of the closet and burn them in the parking lot when I had the chance. Not that I’m bitter.

Roan: Greatest? That I didn’t have more time with Paris.

Holden: Way to bring the room down, Roan.

Roan: You haven’t answered yet.

Holden: I try not to regret anything. It gives you wrinkles.

 2. What is your most marked characteristic?

 Holden: What the hell does that even mean?

Roan: I’ll name yours if you can’t.

Chai: Um, that’s actually a tough one. I think I’m pretty reserved.

Roan: You’re introspective. That’s not a bad thing.

Holden: I guess that makes me the big old extrovert.

Roan: No. You’re street name is Fox, right? You’re a clever son of a bitch. And the worst thing is you know it.

Holden: Look at mister smarty pants here. I guess that’s yours.

Roan: I actually thought mine was my stubbornness.

Holden: Dude, the answer is lion. It’s always lion.

3. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

 Holden: All of them.

Chai: Purity. Why? What good is it? How does it help you? It seems really pointless.

Roan: I agree with Chai. That one seems sexist and encouraging submissive conformity, which is all insidious. Same with obedience, which just makes my skin crawl.

Holden: How many five dollar words did you use just now?

Roan: Fifteen dollars and thirty five cents worth.

Holden: Thirty five cents?

Roan: There has to be tax.

 4. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 Roan: I could say a whole bunch of things, but I think living in a big, futuristic library on another planet. With my husband, of course.

Holden: Oh God. Roan, how the hell could being a space librarian be your idea of happiness? I feel so bad for you.

Chai: I … um. I sort of feel bad admitting this, but I wouldn’t have lost my leg or gotten these scars, and I would probably live in a big mansion in a tropical paradise, with many different kinds of pool boys at my beck and call.

Roan: I like your scars.

Holden: So do I. Although I feel like my statement means more, because Roan is scarred up like a ratty old tom cat, and it’s ridiculously, infuriatingly hot.

Roan: You haven’t said what yours is.

Holden: Three words: no straight people.

 5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 Roan: I wouldn’t be infected.

Holden: Dude.

Chai: Similar answer – I’d have my leg back.

Holden: And here I was just going to ask for a six-pack. Way to make me feel shallow, guys.

 6. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be?

 Holden: There’s two answers for that. Person would be a soap opera star. Male or female, but probably female.

Chai: You do like drama.

Holden: Do I ever. And if I came back as a thing, I think it would be a butt plug. A really good one.

Chai: That was too easy.

Holden: Don’t blame me. I didn’t come up with these questions.

Chai: Uh, person? I’d hope I’d be a Bollywood star. So I could dance and sing like a lunatic and get paid for it. I’m not even going to speculate about thing, ‘cause … that’s a slippery slope.

Roan: As Holden said, the answer is always lion.

Holden: So no different than now?

Roan: *stares intensely at Holden*

Holden: Okay, so, let’s wrap this up before I get eaten. In a bad way.

 **

Blurb

From the Infected Universe

Former prostitute and street kid turned private detective Holden Krause is asked to look into the murder of Burn, a black-market dealer, who turns up dead near the infamous homeless encampment known as the Jungle. It’s a place Holden is familiar with—and his memories of it aren’t entirely bad. The settlement has been taken over by sinister people but Holden isn’t afraid to take them on. A big part of his PI gig is cover for his more dangerous vigilante crusade: exacting justice for the people the system ignores, the throwaways—people just like the ones living in the Jungle.

It’s getting harder and harder for Holden’s partner, Chai Nayar, to look the other way while Holden searches out retribution beyond the confines of the law. When one of their associates is shot and Holden realizes—far too late—that he’s in over his head with this case, Chai is left to pick up the pieces and hopefully save their lives. He resorts to the only solution he can find and calls Roan, who is more lethal than ever. Will it be their saving grace, or a fatal mistake?

 

 

Excerpt

As far as Holden knew, Burn had no family, here or anywhere. He was a man without a country, a home, a basic understanding of dental hygiene. All that was generally known about him was that his appetite for drugs was bottomless, and if you needed something questionable fast—untraceable gun, pharmaceuticals, car of dubious provenance—he was the guy to see. He’d been around since Holden had started his life on the streets. Burn could be found at the dirtiest bar in town, swilling cut-rate hooch at a back booth, dealing drugs in the filthy men’s room. He was the man your parents warned you about, no matter who your parents were. He was a tragedy and a warning at the same time.

That was about all Holden really knew about him. He knew Burn’d done time, but he didn’t know what for. He knew he’d taken to meth recently, but only because of the chemical smell he gave off and the sad state of his teeth. Holden knew he went missing for days, sometimes weeks or even months, but he always popped back up, and nothing was ever said about it. Except for this time. This time, his disappearance was a prelude to his death.

Kevin told him where to find the morgue, and Holden didn’t have the heart to tell him that he already knew where it was. He was quite familiar with it. It wouldn’t be his first time visiting the place, and given the circles he ran in, not the last either. Holden was now glad he’d quoted Dahlia such a late time, as this probably wouldn’t be a quick jaunt.

The morgue was an unobtrusive building downtown, so desperately anonymous you knew it was trying to hide something. Some wag had spray-painted on a neighboring building Don’t Open, Dead Inside. They deserved points for general humor, but some had to be deducted for the obvious cultural reference.

Inside, it was air conditioned to death—no pun intended—sterile, and smelled mostly of toner and coffee, like any other office. The hallways were long and bland, purely industrial, clinging to normalcy as a counterbalance to its grim reality. A receptionist along the way pointed him in the right direction, and Holden knew he was in the right place when he saw Kevin Robinson.

Kevin was a chunky cop in his dress blues, with the same hangdog expression he always seemed to wear. Holden was reasonably certain he was born with that expression on his face. He also had the bone-deep weariness that suggested he was halfway done with the world and all its shittiness, which was a state Holden had reached roughly fifteen years ago. You didn’t become the gay Punisher because you thought people and the world were ever going to get better.

Kevin nodded upon seeing him and gave a high sign to a medical technician, who apparently unlocked a door for them before Holden followed Kevin into a room full of body drawers. Holden wondered briefly at the security for an area devoted to corpses, but what was that about people being shitty? Hell, they stole some of Roan’s and Paris’s blood samples from a lab, all to infect new people. For the millionth year in a row, humans proved themselves to be the absolute worst.

Kevin walked over to one of the lower drawers and pulled it open as white fluorescents buzzed overhead and threw stark, unflattering light on everything. “Do I even need to warn you about looking at a dead body?” Kevin wondered.

“I worked with Roan, so no,” Holden replied. There were quiet layers here, ones concerning his gay Punisher status and the fact that Kevin had heard those rumors but had no proof of anything. Holden knew if Kevin found that proof, he’d nail him to the wall with it. No matter that Roan was a mutual friend and that they were both gay men—although Kevin was still closeted. They were essentially cop and hustler, and they’d always be adversaries. They were just more polite than most.

“Speaking of which, heard from him lately?” Kevin was trying to act like it was a casual, spur-of-the-moment thing, but for a police officer, he was a terrible liar.

Luckily, Holden knew he was a great liar. He shrugged a single shoulder. “Got an email from him a couple days ago. Hard at work on his book.”

“That’s good,” Kevin replied. He didn’t sound all that mollified, and Holden didn’t blame him. But what was going on with Roan right now was not his news to tell. If Dylan wanted to share it, he would. Besides, he could see it causing Kevin nothing but pain. Sometimes the fear was better than the knowledge.

“Don’t they identify bodies by fingerprints nowadays?” Holden asked.

“Usually. But his fingerprints are all scarred up. Looks like he tried to obliterate them several times before. Can’t get a clean read.”

Kevin had pulled the drawer all the way out, and inside was a partially zipped body bag. The head and upper chest were exposed, and Holden looked down at a ghastly pale man with bloodless lips, messy, greasy black hair, and a clean gash in his torso right where the heart was. His eyes were closed, but he had the same angular cheekbones and pointed nose of the hood rat Holden knew in passing.

“Yeah, that’s Burn. Holy shit, someone killed him?”

Kevin nodded, zipping up the bag. There was a smell, but considering how Burn usually smelled, it wasn’t that bad. It was probably the cleanest Burn had been in some time. “His body was found just outside the Jungle last night. We don’t know if he was killed there or just dumped there. The residents aren’t exactly being cooperative.”

“What, homeless people being scared and suspicious of cops? Who’d have thunk it?”

Kevin closed the drawer and turned to him with a nasty look, which was semi warranted, but then his expression changed. It lightened as if he’d just realized something. “Do you know if he was living there?”

“In the Jungle?” Holden shrugged. “I have no idea. He could have a condo in Queen Anne. Everything I know about Burn could fill a bottle cap.”

“Do you know people in the Jungle?”

Holden realized what Kevin had just twigged to. “Is this where you ask me to ask around in the Jungle about Burn’s death?”

**

About the Author

Andrea Speed is a thought collective from beyond time and space, disguised as an ’88 Toyota hatchback hidden in an illegal dump somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. If you find her, she has to grant you three wishes, but they’ll all have terrible twists, like the sandwich you wished for will be made of Silly Putty, or the pot of gold you request will be full of gold paint. Really, it’s not worth bothering. Also there’s a family of possums living in the hatchback, and the mother can be kind of mean.

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