Texas Ranger Noah Morgan has his life together—with a great job and the girl of his dreams. Too bad it’s all based on a lie. A single phone call threatens to bring it all crashing down. After an irate citizen complains shoddy workmanship has left him with a booby-trapped driveway, and the local sheriff’s office is too busy to respond, Noah takes the call. The investigation of local scam artists uncovers a human trafficking ring. Noah fights to avoid being swept back into the sights of his murderous family—people he escaped at the age of seventeen.
Can he keep his past a secret or will his carefully crafted life come to a violent end?
A sixth-generation Texan with Scottish roots, Glenda Thompson can ‘bless your heart’ with the best of them. As a former emergency medical technician married to a south Texas Lawman, she’s used insider information from both their careers as inspiration to build her Broken world of Texas Rangers with hidden pasts and dark secrets. When she’s not busy embarrassing her children or grandchildren by dancing in the middle of a country road during a rainstorm, she can be found huddled in her writing cave with her law enforcement technical adviser/husband working on another story in her Broken universe.
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What kind of world ruler would you be?
Oooh, great question. What kind of world ruler would I be? I like to believe I would be a gracious, magnanimous ruler but my kids would tell you I’m more like a benevolent dictator. I believe people should have free will and be able to make their own decisions. However, I also believe that all actions have consequences. My dad used to say we could do whatever we wanted when we visited him, no matter what it was. He followed that proclamation with the statement that we also had to accept the consequences of our actions… no matter what.
What are you passionate about these days?
So many things…autism research, cancer research, family. Our youngest grandson is on the spectrum. I never realized what was meant by a spectrum disorder until I experienced first-hand. Autism is such an all-encompassing diagnosis. No two people with autism are the same.
Darlin’ and I were hit with hard news on November 5th this year. Good ole 2020, right? He was diagnosed with a very rare, very aggressive form of bladder cancer. So rare that only one to nine people out of a million have it and there is no standardized treatment for it. We’ve gone from celebrating his winning his election to being plunged into an overwhelming world of curious doctors, round after round of chemotherapy and radiation. But it’s okay. We have faith and I firmly believe in miracles.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Play with the Grands, read, physically make things, walk the beach with Darlin’, drive fast, and mow the lawn with a push mower.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I’m an empty nester now but when the kids were young, I would carve out time to write when they were sleeping or on my lunch hour from work. As they grew up and became active in sports and other school activities, I learned I could write while sitting in my vehicle waiting for the bus to bring them back from wherever they went. Track meets were the best. My daughter and son both ran the mile and the two mile. Any parent with kids in track knows the two mile race is the first of the day and the mile is the next to last race of the day. I could write all day long sitting in the bleachers between the kiddos races. It was great.
Mel Gibson’s We Were Soldiers is my favorite movie. I love Sam Elliott and Madelaine Stowe. The movie shows both sides of the war…the soldiers and the family waiting at home.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Broken Toys would make a great action film. It has shooting, romance, an explosion, and lots of unexpected twists and turns.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The wolf, definitely. Wolves are solitary creatures, but they are also pack animals. They symbolize guardianship, loyalty, ritual, and spirit. They make quick and firm emotional attachments and teach us to trust our hearts and minds.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would love to spend time with Rochelle and try to undo the damage her father and his wretch of a wife have done. We would spend the day in nature, preferably near living water, just unwinding and talking or sitting in silence soaking up peace.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
My characters are a combination of people I know, stories I hear, and the phantoms who live in my brain. Most of them are a compilation of many people.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
A little of both.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Broken Toys is a bumpy ride down a twisty country road full of surprises. It’s compelling fiction with real emotions. It shines a light into the darkness of human trafficking and teaches readers without preaching that it’s important to be yourself, to love yourself, especially if you want others to love you, too. (Can you tell marketing/sales is NOT my thing?)
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Sunshine and gunpowder
What did you edit out of this book?
Three complete points-of-view. It was hard at first but I think it made the remaining POV characters so much stronger, deeper.
Is there any writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Oh boy, is there. Several as a matter of fact including James Patterson, John Sandford, JD Robb aka Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, and Janet Evanovich. I love each of their styles and have tried to take bits and pieces of each of their writing flavors and blended them into a new flavor all my own.
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Bound To You (The Bound Series Book 1) by S. Courtney ~ Genre: Paranormal Romance
Kamari Lee was just a small hometown artist with an obsession with drawing wolves… She doesn’t know why she is obsessed but she is, she feels a love and attachment she just can’t describe. Her studio is popular among the residents but she refuses to sell any pertaining to her muse until one day a man walks in…
Kayden Miller is the Alpha leader of the Cheshire pack, he finds solace in drawing his mate, or features of her. He hasn’t found her but he draws what he sees in his dreams and fantasies.
When he runs out of supplies in the middle of an intense session, frustrated, he decides to go into town to get them himself. It’s when he finds her shop, he sees her painstakingly painting her white wolf, but wait…
This sparks a story for the ages because NOTHING about her is normal.
Bound By Destiny (The Bound Series Book 2) by S. Courtney ~ Genre: Paranormal Romance
In the second installment of the Bound Series, we meet Kayari and Kamden Miller, twins of Alpha Kayden and Luna/Violet Legacy Princess Kamari Lee-Miller. Once Kayd & Kam retire from their roles as Alpha & Luna of the Cheshire pack it’s the kids turn and with that dad drops the bombshell…they will share the Alpha role. But how do twins SHARE the Alpha title? How do they choose their Beta or Betas? What if one finds their mate before the other? All those questions to answer and still protect the pack and themselves, oh and don’t forget about LOVE. It’s quite the adventure to be a Miller heir.
Unapologetically Nessa (The Bound Series Book 3) by S. Courtney ~ Genre: Paranormal Romance
In the quiet town of Lovenshire, nestled in the deep forest is the almighty Cheshire Pack and among their members we meet Vanessa Vanderbilt, a spitfire who lives everyday like it’s her last and for a single girl fated to a mate, it’s only a matter of time before he comes for her. Outfitted with an out of control wolf with an unfiltered mouth and a hot tempered witch, they protect her while trying to live carefree. If it were her choice she’d party forever but she’s starting to feel the undeniable pull towards everlasting love and her trysts weren’t satisfying anymore. She could blame her love sick best friend for rubbing off on her but her fate was sealed by the Moon Goddess long ago. Until the tie comes, it’s going to be stiletto heels, endless drinks, loud music, and wild times! Her mate better be ready to tame the wild girl within!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? I believe my main female characters are versions of myself, the exception is Unapologetically Nessa in which she is my character’s best friend and so Nessa is based off of my best friend. Of course I had her read the story for approval and I came to her for advice on particular parts.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? Ironically I created essential oils blends based on all my book characters and I sell them in my shop, I Smell a Story, on Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ISmellAStory
Since Nessa is a spitfire and wild child her candle would be cinnamon scented. Sweet and spicy, bold and would fill the house with the fragrance before it was even lit.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? Typically I would say a month or two but with this year being the way it is, it has given me more available time to write and edit stories and get feedback from my Beta readers. I would say it can be a month if I really buckle down and concentrate on a story.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? I am a multiple story writer, all the way. I know it sounds crazy to some people but my method is when I get stuck on one story I move to the next until I can work out the problem. At one time I was writing four stories at once and it worked for me, I would cycle through them until one story really needed my attention. One of the main reasons I had a few stories completed before I even published my first book. I have stories currently ready now but sometimes other story ideas “cut the line” and move to the front.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I don’t always want my male characters to be macho, arrogant jerks. I wanted them to be masculine and have some emotions. I read a lot of stories where the men were loud, arrogant, abusive, and promiscuous and the female would be weak and powerless and would let him talk down to her and wouldn’t be upset to see him with another woman. I would run into this reading story after story and I finally said no, this is not how I would handle this and this isn’t how my male character would act. The most difficult part is to balance strong and powerful with emotional availability.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Absolutely! Going through the worst bout right now with #4 of this series, which will involve a character who shows up in Nessa’s book. I have written the story twice, the first time had 28 chapters and this second time 5 chapters written but it’s just not flowing like I’d like. I know the ending but the beginning is surprisingly the most difficult right now. I have put it to the side and am working on another story that’s already written until my main character starts talking again. Yes, my characters do talk to me. I’m just the writer of their story.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Bound to You came from the movie with Christina Aguilera and also the ballad she sang in the movie. That song became the soundtrack to their story. It also emphasizes being “bound” to someone by love and a powerful bond between a werewolf and their mate.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? Usually it’s off the top of my head but I also have a list in my notes of names because most of the time my names are not common names. A lot of times I give them strong names and they embody their name and it reflect their character and their attitude. I don’t think their are no weak names but for my characters I want their name to be unique to them.
What can we expect from you in the future? As stated earlier I have a lot of stories and ideas readily available. I just released my first MC (motorcycle club) on December 1st which is my birthday, named the Black Aces MC. I would like to finish up the Bound Series with the last two books but writer’s block. So I am currently working on a Coffee romance, I also have a mafia style romance, and a friends to lovers romance that deals with tough issues such as abuse, infertility and surrogacy.
Those stories are either complete or need just a bit of work. I also have ideas on character stories for the Aces and a story based on just a book cover, that will be my challenge because it’s also a darker genre. I’m excited to give it a chance!
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Ooh that’s an interesting question. Hmmm I would say the Black Aces because who doesn’t love bad boy bikers? Especially one who is against all aspects of love but fate deals him a funny hand when he becomes a hero to a down-on-her-luck bartender who stupidly followed love and ended up in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. I would love to see this as a movie especially with the many plot twists in the story.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? Of course! My pen name is S Courtney but I go by Kia, it’s just easier. I am a romance writer who loves a happy ever after but I am looking to branch away from that and explore other options. I love to read as well, my TBR list is probably a mipe long and I love supporting my fellow Indie writers. I consider having a very solid support system in my circle and they keep me motivated. I having been writing since junior high school, I’ve always loved to tell a story. I restarted my passion two years ago on Wattpad just wanting feedback from people. When Bound to You hit 10k reads on the site, a friend said, “You should really consider publishing it.” And so I did and here we are, my first year of publishing and four books completed. I’m shocked and proud at the same time. I look forward to the future!
Mark Rosendorf ‘s writing is based on the personalities and experiences he has come across throughout his life, coupled with his own wild “if only I could do that” imagination. He is the author of the young adult series, The Witches of Vegas. He is also credited with The Rasner Effect series, a suspense/thriller trilogy published between 2009 and 2012.
Born November, 25th, 1974, and raised in Queens New York, Mark holds a Master’s Degree from Long Island University’s Human Development and Leadership program. He is a licensed Guidance Counselor for the New York City Department of Education’s special education district. He began his counseling career in September, 2001. Prior to that, he worked in the hotel industry.
Mark has also moonlighted as a professional magician. Today, he teaches magic and Illusion to his students in order to teach teamwork while developing their confidence. Having accomplished his goals of becoming an author, Mark decided on an early retirement from writing. Then, one night, at two a.m., a new and unique story shot into Mark’s brain like a lightning bolt, screaming for him to write it. Mark found himself spending several nights taking notes on the characters and their stories. That is how The Witches of Vegas was born.
Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?
By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can’t possibly keep pace.
Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks.
But can the combined witches’ powers and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city and possibly the world?
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They say every author has some weird habit when they write. For the most part, this is a true statement as creativity comes with quirks. I’m no different. My weird habit: I do most of my writing in the shower. I’m not sure why, but that’s where most of my ideas flow just like the water that hits my body from the faucet. Unfortunately, my ideas are like lightning—one bright flash, then it’s gone. That’s why I have notepads and a pen tacked up on the wall next to my shower. When I have an idea, I stick my arm out of the shower and write it down. It’s part of my writing process.
The Witches of Vegas is a story about a family of witches, and their vampire mentor, who hide in plain sight as magicians on the Vegas strip. It is an award-winning young adult novel that has taken its audience by storm. It was also, mostly, written on notepads from the shower. The same can be said for the upcoming sequel, Journey To New Salem, which is scheduled for an early 2021 release. Both stories are clean, and so is the author.
Every writer has a weird writing habit. Now you know mine. What’s yours?
Kirsten is a writer with a love of art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.
As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.
“I loved this book! It’s the third book in a series in a little town where the characters are funny, smart, amazing, and unique!”- 5 star review
“One of my new favorites!”- 5 star review
A spooky mystery, a promising romance, and a secret society of scheming women…
The cozy town of Sugar Mountain, NC harbors a secret society of women. The society itself is not secret—it’s the devious work of the group that is mysterious.
Michelle owns the Salon, Shear Genius, on Sugar Mountain Main Street, a favorite with the tourists and locals alike. Lately she’s dealing with mysterious problems. She’s being plagued by spooky and unexplained goings-on. Is it a sign from beyond that she should rethink her life choices?
Matt Hopkins moved to Sugar Mountain after losing his business, but thanks to the lovely and talented Michelle, he is now building an amphitheater in town. It looks like things are finally going his way until Michelle is threatened by an eerie aggressor and the Mayor’s involvement spells trouble for his project. Will Matt be able to complete the Amphitheater and help Michelle, or will things with her fall apart as well?
Facing puzzling complications at every turn, The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society go undercover to figure out who is threatening Michelle and the new amphitheater. If they’re not careful, the society may fall apart and Michelle and Matt might end a promising romance. Come along for the ride on this zany, enchanting, romantic cozy mystery!
A picturesque mountain town, sparks of romance, a threatening mystery, and a secret society of devious women…
“Wonderful characters, a real mix of women with varied strength and foibles” -Goodreads review 5 stars
“I loved the first book in the Sugar Mountain series so I was excited to read the second installment and get back to investigating with the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society” – Goodreads review 5 stars
The cozy community of Sugar Mountain, NC harbors a secret society of women. The society itself is not secret—it’s the actual mission of the group that is devious.
Sugar Mountain is a sleepy town bursting with tourists. If you like quirky shops and original artwork, you’ll want to visit. But the local kindergarten teacher, Sarah, has a mystery on her hands. All she did was try to help the fire department and now she’s receiving threatening notes. Of course, she takes the frightening messages to her friends in the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society, but even their investigative skills fall short. How will they be able to find the person intent on holding back the fire department and frightening Sarah?
Hugh Brockman, the second in command at the firehouse, is taking extra shifts to cope with the shortage of firefighters. When he visits Sarah’s classroom to talk to her students about fire safety, he gets caught up with the lovely teacher and her cryptic mystery. He’s not happy that someone in town is threatening her with bodily harm, and he intends to find out who it is.
With every lead shot down and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to go undercover in their own town to flush out the culprit. If they’re not successful, the fire department will continue to be undermanned, leaving Sugar Mountain is in danger and Sarah in peril.
Join in the continuing antics of the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society and fall in love along with Hugh and Sarah in this heartfelt and comical romantic mystery.
A cozy mountain town, a sweet romance, and a secret society of sneaky women…
The sleepy hamlet of Sugar Mountain harbors a secret society of women. Don’t misunderstand—the society itself is not secret—it’s the true nature of the group that is hush-hush.
Sugar Mountain is the kind of charming village that tourists adore. If you like small-town charm, quirky shops, and local art, this is the place for you. But when a blood smeared package shows up at the post office and it appears to be linked to a scheme that threatens Heidi Collinsworth’s historic home, the town takes on a sinister vibe. Heidi would lay odds that slimy Mayor Winslow is involved, but even with the enquiring skills of The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society at work, proof is scarce.
The new guy in town, Adam Williams, is determined not to get involved in Sugar Mountain’s business. His last job in a big city planning office ruined his life, but Heidi needs his help. No matter how hard he tries to stay detached, Adam finds himself eyeball deep in Heidi’s problems, as well as the needs of her teenage son and a homeless dog.
With conflicting theories abound and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to don disguises and go undercover. If they’re not careful, the town may fall to a wrecking ball, Heidi may fall for Adam, and the secret society will be exposed.
Meet the cast of colorful characters in this charming and zany introduction to a whole new series of romantic, cozy mysteries!
Late For Love (The Way Over the Hill Gang Book 5) by M.K. Scott ~ Genre: Cozy Mystery
The senior sleuths love a good laugh, but this conundrum is no laughing matter. A missing journalist, an African Grey parrot, and a possible mob connection sound like the beginning of a bad joke. Unfortunately, there is no punchline and no one, aside from the seniors, who would dare to take the case on.
Will their first chance to handle a case on their own prove to be way too much for them to handle, and more importantly, could this first be their last?
M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog.
Nicole Wells had been guiding people spiritually for over 10 years. In UpSpark, she weaves in everything she’s learned in an emotional heartwarming journey, with a psychic paranormal fantasy twist. An observer of people and life, she crafts inspirational romance stories that make you laugh and cry, reflecting our human condition with tenderness and hope. This New Adult contemporary romance is her debut novel.
StarDust(The Five Elements Book 2) by Nicole Wells ~ Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
So you’ve got psychic powers, now what?
When superstar Aurora manifests telekinesis, her beliefs about everything are put to the test, even the ones about herself. Can she heal enough to let love in?
Brayden is an easygoing guy, until an Australian beauty steals his heart and turns his world upside down. The stakes get even higher when she threatens to expose a secret that’s been kept by his people for millennia.
Can they recognize their precious love for what it is, and save the world in the process?
Enter the world of the Five Elements with Aurora and Braydens story.
This book contains some topics that may be triggering.
So there I was with a newborn in my lap, sleep deprived and awake between nursings. Writing. There was a story I was gifted with that suddenly wanted to be told, and whether I cobbled it together during the day on my cell phone or wrote in the wee hours of morning while my little one slept, I managed to get it all down in three weeks.
For almost a year prior, I had seriously dallied with the idea of writing, and since high school I had fancied the idea of one day becoming an author. While I was pregnant, however, the starts and stops on the world I’d honed since I was a sophomore never tugged the full idea out of me. Instead, I found myself with a complete, and completely unexpected, novel. It was a gift, and my welcome to the world of pantsing.
You see, I am a planner. A we-need-to-turn-this-car-around-because-I-forgot-the-kitchen-sink type of planner. I am not accustomed to waiting to see what my characters had planned, or discovering them as they slowly choose to reveal themselves. With UpSpark, I had only the first scene and the last scene, and it was a full tilt ride filling in everything in-between. What an exhilarating experience to let go of control! I had no idea I was capable of indulging this creative muscle, following it down whatever dark alleys it lead me, to come out the other end into euphoric sunshine.
And now the floodgates are open. I have so many ideas. More so, I have an addiction now. There is no comparable meter stick in my life to this whirlwind of simultaneous wonder, creation, and pride when I strap myself into the sofa, fire up my laptop “control panel”, and dive in to explore new stories, no holds barred.
Well, I guess you could say my kids are wondrous creations I’m proud of, and that’s certainly true, but my stories don’t make dirty dishes or laundry, and when they talk back, it only makes me laugh.
Speaking of, don’t tell my kids, okay? This is just between you and me. They have no idea I can let my hair down and go with the flow. And as much as I love and enjoy the community and friends that I’ve found with this endeavor, the stories that I have been so blessed to be able to share, and the opportunity to touch people with my words, it’s this discovery of these new pieces of me, at the ripe old age of forty something, that I truly treasure. What value would you put on loosing the binds that held you back all your life? I didn’t realize what constriction was, but I’ve gotten a glimpse of who I’ve been and who I am. For a little bit longer, just to be between you and me, this is my precious secret gift from writing, a new superpower of possibility: Mommy can do anything.
William Becker is a young horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jump scares of the popular modern horror.
His first novel, WEEPING OF THE CAVERNS, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, GREY SKIES.
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Q: It’s not hard to figure out from reading the first few pages or even the description ofyour newest story, For We Are Many, that it’s a pretty heavy piece about mental health.How does mental health impact your art? How do you incorporate into your stories?
A: I’d be lying deeply if I said that ideas about mental health had nothing to do with my work. For We Are Many is a very blunt and personal piece about suicide, abandonment, and depression. I tried really hard to get this aimless and hopeless angle into the story. A lot of the feelings of being suicidal are captured pretty well, in my opinion. I’ve struggled to a large degree with depression and I’ve been in therapy before. For We Are Many is probably the most personal piece I’ve ever written. While I’ve never committed suicide (obviously,) there are a lot of things in there that are very real and true.
It goes beyond my honest attempts to capture mental health. Seventh Circle, which also came out this year and is available on my website, is about societal pressures to lose your virginity and something of an obsession with another person. It’s about using another person and their intoxicating presence to fill a hole within yourself.
The Egg, another free short story, was written about confusion about sexuality and my personal fear of becoming a father. It deals a lot with co-dependence and having your meaning stripped away.
While not all of my stories are as blunt as saying a main character has OCD, anxiety, or schizophrenia, I think I incorporate concepts about mental health quite heavily.
Q: Your work is considered fiction, but you’ve said before that you incorporate littlepieces of the real world into your writing, like basing characters and their interactions offof things you’ve really seen. How does that work?
A: This is a hard question to answer. On a more surface level, I will use someone’s name who has helped me with writing. I have a habit of sending little pieces of writing to certain people and as a thank you, I’ll name a character after them. For example, I named May Elizabeth Dawes after my cousin’s girlfriend, Stephanie Dawes.
On a deeper level, there’s a large portion of For We Are Many that is written about infidelity. The protagonist’s girlfriend has a quite obvious sex addiction, and after cheating on him multiple times, she insists she’s going to try and “get better.” She turns herself into the victim, even though she is the one cheating on him. This was based off of a close friend in high school who cheated on his girlfriend in a similar way. He’s changed his life around for the better, of course, but it greatly disturbed me when it happened and slipped its way into this story. I also use a lot of conversations that I hear and turn them into elements of the story.
A lot of my other imagery is based on some of my weirder dreams. It’s probably not hard to determine how this manifests itself in my work.
Q: Do you implement your personal beliefs or philosophies in your books?
A: Yes! One hundred times, yes! I can’t talk a ton about it, but I have a concept floating around in my head right now for a story called “The Goat and The Whore.” It’s going to be about karma and reincarnation. I was raised catholic, which I think shows in some of my work, but as I grew older, I began to gravitate towards some Buddhist beliefs. I really love using the Four Noble Truths in my work.
I also believe that people have a duality of being inherently awful and inherently good. I rarely write a character that is 100 percent good. Sure, there are people I write who are more “good” than others, but most of my people are very human. I don’t like writing protagonists who don’t make tons of moral mistakes.
I’ve talked countless times about how much each story is based on a thought or fear I’ve had before, but the one I’ve neglected to mention is about symmetry and infinite loops. I believe that life is a series of circles and mirrors. We are never exactly in the same place twice, but many events in our lives mirror one another and echo one another. These “echoes” are most apparent in beginnings and endings. The first example I can think of is the Seventh Circle. The first chapter, where our main character falls in love, is called simply “Mia.” This is pretty straight forward in meaning. The final chapter is called “Persephone,” also known as the queen of hell. If you’ve read the story, then you most likely have a pretty darn good idea as to why.
Q: Do you use writing as an escape or as a form of expression?
A: Some people might read my stuff and flip either way, and I agree. I think that some of my work lies pretty deeply on the expression side of things, while also as a form of escape. I’m a bit fan of creating characters that resemble me or people I know, but also being very nuanced and quite different. My characters are all connected to one another and me in very specific ways, but they also exist in something of a vacuum. For example, I relate to some aspects of Roman Toguri from my second novel, Grey Skies, but I don’t personally find myself identifying as a broken psychopath.
New York Onions is based a lot on a family member who overdosed on heroin, but it’s obviously in this strange, dream-like place that resembles very little of the real world. I would say my work is not unlike very abstract paintings. It might represent or pull elements from reality, but it exists as something of a mix between expressionism and escapism.
Q: What drew you to writing horror?
A: I wouldn’t say I necessarily gravitate just towards horror, but darker work as a whole. Sure, things like Grey Skies or The Egg are obvious horror, but New York Onions doesn’t really count as a horror story in the traditional sense, and neither does For We Are Many. I would argue I mostly write work that is dark and features strange imagery, not necessarily “horror.” It gets exhausting hearing family members say, “oh, he writes spooky ghost stories.” I don’t think I’ve really ever written something that resembles a Hollywood horror film with lots of jump scares and demon possession. My work feels more ethereal and honest than that. Maybe I’m tooting my own horn and sound like a pretentious jerk with that, but…
There’s something I find easier about writing things that are dark. I love to challenge myself with different genres and I know for a fact that I’ll write something more positive and family friendly one day, but that being said, it’s easier to experiment in the darkness. I like to think of writing darker content as working in a really dark room. I’m not exactly sure where the limits are, how large the room is, or how much space I can actually work with. It’s easier for me to just feel my way through and make something that is very grotesque and strange, yet also very natural and drenched in feeling. Writing work that is more… Hallmark, for a lack of a better word, feels much more obvious and in your face. It’s like working in that same room and turning on the lights. Suddenly, you know what’s directly in front of you. You have limits when it comes to genre, mood, and content. I feel like it’s harder to write something true without being able to incorporate anything that exists. It’s the reason why dark and abrasive music like Swans is more experimental and interesting to me than Taylor Swift.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing about a four minute pop-country song about someone’s ex that I don’t love, but a very fluid composition that’s thirty minutes long and features a sixty year man shouting obscenities always has a lot more feeling. Once I have my plate more clear, I’m going to write something more normal and tame as a form of challenging myself, but for now, I find darker work to be the easiest way to express myself.
Q: You talk a ton about music and how it influences your work. What are some albumsyou’ve heard recently that have excited you?
A: I listen to an absurd amount of different genres and going through the discographies of full artists is one of the things I love to do in my free time. I’m currently working as a delivery driver, so I have a lot of time to listen to music. I suppose it’s easiest to list them out by genre.
Electronic: Maniac Meat by Tobacco
Country: Black Ribbons by Shooter Jennings
Metal: Pain is God by Pig
Rap: Anti-Icon by Ghostemane.
Q: What’s the worst part of writing in 2020?
A: Oversaturation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to have access to such amazing artists who wouldn’t have had the same exposure thirty years ago, but it also makes it much harder to get random people to actually check your work out. In between all of my creative projects, it’s very difficult to dedicate a ton of time towards marketing. On top of that, knowing where to market yourself is very hard. Instagram hasn’t been great recently because hashtags have been blocked in response to election disinformation. Thanks to *whoever* is responsible for that, cough cough. Currently, I’ve been up close and personal with authors on Wattpad and that’s been giving me a decent amount of success. I tried for a while to send my stories out to blogs, but I found that I felt like something of an annoying person just shipping my work off to anyone who would read it. It was hard to develop meaningful connections with these people who are more than sick of dealing with indie authors.
Q: What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever written?
A: I’m just going to use this one. It’s unreleased right now and for that reason, unedited. It’s VERY NSFW. It just personally interests me.
“I dreamt again of my birth home that night. I was young again, only my mother wasn’t standing over me, watching me dig into the sand. I was completely alone in the middle of the desert. I glanced around me and saw that the place where we had lived was gone. For miles in each direction, I was surrounded by sand and nothing else. Digging in the vast ocean of sand seemed pointless. I felt
exhausted even in my dreams, but something about the desolation felt wrong. I was out of place. I didn’t belong here.
Suddenly, the sand seemed to slowly sink into the earth where my hands were, creating a miniature canyon that opened into a black abyss. The slit in the sand couldn’t have been wider than an inch, but it seemed to go down forever. I felt a shiver go down my body. The slit called for me. I needed to be inside of it. The blood flowed from my head, all the way down to my groin, filling me with a jittery sensation. The sand smelled of roses and other exotic scents. The hole in the sand
grew ridges along its edges, becoming more organic, more alive, yet still made of sand. My body throbbed with ecstasy, an ecstasy that was so intense that I lost all other sensations. My mouth was watering. I bit down on my tongue. It wasn’t right for me to be here, staring into the slit of the earth. I crawled over the ground, ignoring the grains digging into my palms.
My breathing became the beat of all life, heavy and rhythmic.. I needed to be inside of her slit, to put my hands inside of her. My right hand grazed the ridges at first, but I wanted more, shoving my index finger into the hole. It was wet and sticky. My penis throbbed beneath my white robes.
I tore my robes off with ease, as if I was gliding through the clouds. As if they were a weight on my ankles, I felt free once they were removed, as though I could fly off of the ground.
My naked body felt comfortable on the sand, as if the earth was a blanket that wanted to swallow me whole. I took my erect penis and slammed it into the wet, tight, slit. My eyes rolled back in my head with pleasure. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. My mind and body were overwhelmed by the sheer bliss.
I was panting in a pool on my own fluids, which seemed to be rejected by Mother Earth. The slit was gone and once again, I was alone. The sun had disappeared, leaving the desert vacant and black. My feelings of arousal had been replaced by a feeling of emptiness. I had satisfied her and she had rejected me. I shivered, rolling in the sticky pool of semen.
My eyes shot open as a cold breeze grazed my skin. It was still dark out, too early for us to start moving again. My face was wet with my own drool, which I wiped with a swipe of my hand. Beneath my blanket, there was another wet spot on the mat that was thankfully not visible. I adjusted my flaccid penis that had mysteriously been pulled from my pants. I sighed, taking my finger to the mat and whiffing the oceanic scent of my semen. Hopefully, no one would notice the smell. I began quietly rolling up my mat.”
Q: Who is your favorite author right now?
A: Aron Beauregard. No contest. Google him, he’s awesome. Also his covers are some of my favorites.
Q: Your imagery seems to be pretty important to you. What thought process goes intoyour covers and author photos?
A: Every single one is just a bit different. I can probably go through all of them individually.
Weeping of The Caverns- I was going for something like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the first Black Sabbath album. It’s a very grainy image of my neighbors house in Boone. I took that photo when I was twelve with a digital camera, then threw it through photoshop. It was really my first time editing an image like that. It ended up becoming the cover somewhat randomly. I did have the money or skill to create a cover that I absolutely loved, so it just ended up being represented by a photo of some house. I absolutely adore the back cover. For anyone who actually owns a copy, you can see it’s a photo of a man standing beneath a tree. It’s very subtle and a little spooky. I basically was out in a field beside an abandoned house and told a friend to stand underneath the tree. A little bit of editing later, and it turned into the back cover.
Grey Skies- This one was shot, I think, back in late 2014 with an iPhone. I wasn’t even a freshman in high school yet. It’s weird to think I’m twenty years old now and that feels like a decade ago. It was taken on a street near Blowing Rock Elementary school. A lot of the kids who went to the school wouldn’t take the bus, they’d just walk into downtown Blowing Rock and hang out at the park.
I had a close male friend who went out with some female friends a few days before the photo was taken. I’m not sure why, but one of these ladies sat on his lap. Being a pretty hormonal middle schooler, he got an erection and this got him a decent amount of bullying. That photo is a picture of him walking down the road, crying with headphones on. It ended up perfectly capturing the mood I was going for in Grey Skies.
Author images- It was very very hard for me to figure out how I was going to represent myself as an author. A few months before Grey Skies came out in 2019, I decided I needed to make myself some author pages on the internet. I texted a friend named Hope Rosenfeld, who you can see credited on my website, and asked her if she wanted to do a photoshoot. I wore a big leather sports coat, a cowboy hat, and a David Lynch shirt. I wanted to create photos that were eye-catching, but also very gothic and mysterious. Late stage Johnny Cash was a pretty huge influence. The problem that I still have with those photos is that I should have worn dress shoes or boots.
New York Onions- Can’t remember the building right now, but I took the photo on the roof of a skyscraper in New York.
Seventh Circle- Probably the only cover I have that has no text, and also the first of mine to be a GIF. This one was originally created by Aubrey Flowers. She wasn’t quite sure how to make it into a gif, so I took it my own hands and used a free online gif maker. It ended up becoming very trippy. I’m not completely sure how I made the effect, but I really could stare at it for hours.
The Egg- I bought some eggs from the supermarket, hung up a white sheet, then took a ton of different photos of it from different angles. I still have at least fifty different photos of that same egg. I tried my hand at editing using a variety of different applications, before I finally ended up with three different versions. I had a poll on my instagram asking which looked the best, before I finally decided to make a gif out of my favorites.
For We Are Many- Originally, this was made by Ashley Kincaid. It was a plain, white photo. We had originally planned on creating four different images, but she lost interest in the project. I took her original, plain images, then played a lot with the cover, border, and background. Then went from a black and white image of a gun and tissues with no text to a blue, yellow, and black piece of art that’s really grimey. It’s a shame because I absolutely adore Ashley as a person and her style is amazing. You can follow her on Instagram at @Type4me
A: Is it pronounced “Gif” as in gift, or “Jif” as in the pasture butter?
Q: Do you do any more photography or digital art?
A: Yes. I love doing a ton of photography and editing. I don’t consider myself all that good at it, but the end result is usually interesting.
Q: What other creative things do you do outside of photography and editing?
A: Right now, I host a podcast called First Degree Tea. You can hear me awkwardly talk about serial killers and criminals on that. I also created the theme song for that. I also compose a different score for each new episode. I also edit two other podcasts, one of which is called We Talk Too Much, the other is Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas.
I’ve done some music stuff with JaredMiller, I’ve directed two music videos for Bury Me In Black, and I’ve edited a few novels, most notably, The Night Made This Decision by Alexis Sundquist. One of the coolest projects I’ve got coming kind of soon is an audiobook that’s more of an audio experience. Most audiobooks are just some guy reading in a relaxed voice, which certainly has its time and place, but I want to make something more exciting. I want to make an audiobook where I do the narration, but I have a different voice actor for each character, ambience for each location, and lots of background music.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m not really sure. My cousin and I are roommates next to an Applebees. I set a goal to write 1600 words a day. A few days ago, I asked him to motivate me to keep writing. He said if I hit my goal that day, he would buy one free appetizer for me from Applebees. I think my motivation comes from strange places, haha.
GERARD COLLINS is a Newfoundland writer whose first novel,nbsp; Finton Moon , was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and won the Percy Janes First Novel Award. His short-story collection,nbsp; Moonlight Sketches , won the NL Book Award, and his stories have been published widely in journals and anthologies. He lives in southern New Brunswick.
Sissy and Ava Hush are estranged, middle-aged sisters with little in common beyond their upbringing in a peculiar manor in downtown St. John’s. With both parents now dead, the siblings must decide what to do with the old house they’ve inherited. Despite their individual loneliness, neither is willing to change or cede to the other’s intentions. As the sisters discover the house’s dark secrets, the spirits of the past awaken, and strange events envelop them. The Hush sisters must either face these sinister forces together or be forever ripped apart.
In The Hush Sisters, Gerard Collins weaves psychological suspense with elements of the fantastic to craft a contemporary urban gothic that will keep readers spellbound until the novel whispers its startling secrets.
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Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born at the cottage hospital in Placentia, Newfoundland. I grew up in Bond’s Path, just a five-minute drive from that hospital. Placentia, or Plaisance in French, was the original French capital of Newfoundland before the English triumphed in battle and moved the capital to St. John’s. I was the youngest of five boys, and my only sister was born five years after me. I attended a one-room schoolhouse for the first few years, and we didn’t have a telephone until I was in high school. To this day, I despise telephones. I can remember having to break the ice in the well a few yards from the house in order to haul water from the well for tea on winter mornings. In my high school years, and for a couple of years after, I hauled a lot of water and wood.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
There are at least fifteen different answers to this question, and they’d all be fine with me except for the fact that each one means my last day on earth. I’m a “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” sort of person, and I have always known I would kick at the darkness even when death was inevitable. It’s all a part of my underdog complex, I suppose, but it’s also a part of the fact that I love this life, this earth, and the people in it, for the most part, and I can’t imagine not savouring every last breath. That said, I’d probably like most of all to spend my last day at The Brazen Head pub in Dublin – it’s the oldest pub in the country, supposedly – having a few pleasant pints, a good supper, and writing all day long. Maybe a music session in the evening.
Who is your hero and why?
I don’t really have heroes, but there are lots of people I admire. The closest thing I have to a literary hero would be Stephen King who started out as a teacher, with not much money, and just followed his heart and did the one thing (writing) he knew he was good at, and made a great life for himself. Margaret Atwood is another one I admire greatly because it’s harder to be that successful as a Canadian writer, but also – and especially – because she speaks truth and wisdom. I could just listen to her talk about literature and life forever.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I wouldn’t want to be world ruler because I know I would throw myself into the job every minute of every day and never have a moment’s inner peace. I’d be kind and as wise as I could manage to be, but I’d be a dictator when it came to doing the right thing. I can see all sides of an issue, but it would likely come down to doing the greatest good for the greatest number, with allowances for differences as long as those difference weren’t born out of ignorance or arrogance.
I do have this streak of letting my neighbour go to the devil in his own way. In other words, if someone is determined to self-destruct, and I know there’s not much I can do about it, I’ll just let him or her do that. But if I know there’s good to be done and that I can actually affect someone’s life for the better, I’ll usually take it upon myself to do that.
If there were one world ruler, then global warming might be easier to tackle, as would the economy, which might be a hybrid of socialism and capitalism. I think we could share with each other and not let money be the main factor in such decisions. World poverty would have to be tackled and would be easier under a single world ruler, and I think we could also do something about inequalities of all sorts, particularly regarding gender, race, and economic class.
Looking back on what I just wrote, it sounds like I’d be a boring ruler, but I do know that I have a keen sense of humour, though it can be a dark one. So, if the state had enemies – as I’m sure it would – I’d have patience, kindness, and tolerance up to the point where I couldn’t afford to anymore, and then I’d devise a scheme for doing away with those people, perhaps not literally, but at least in a funny way that was not without a touch of irony.
What are you passionate about these days?
Mostly about writing. I’m keenly aware that we only get so much time on this earth, and I’m determined to make the most of it. Writing isn’t just work to me – it’s also play. It’s me being at my very best, and so it can feel selfish to want to do it all the time, or to talk about it to other people all the time, but, really, I’m just trying to figure things out, which is what I was born to do, apparently, even if I never really figure anything out. It’s the process that matters, and it’s the process that I’m passionate about – that, and just living the best life possible. So, travel, good food, good company, and good beer are a necessary part of that for me – as long as there’s writing, which includes moments to stop and not think about anything. Maybe, ultimately, I’m passionate about peace of mind, which largely eludes me.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I try and lie still for a few minutes, to not think about anything. That rarely works or, if it does, I fall asleep. Sometimes, the world can just be a bit too much for someone who suffers from post-concussion syndrome and just needs a respite in order to reset and move on. But I also love playing guitar and singing, which I don’t do nearly often enough, especially with my partner Jane, who is a lovely harpist, pianist, and singer, as well as writer. We enjoy the traveling, pubs, singing, and all that stuff together, so sitting by a crackling fire and playing music together is about as good as it gets. There’s TV sometimes, too, and for me it can be something like CNN or, more likely, something like Game of Thrones or The Crown – lots of underdogs in those shows. I love movies but can barely find time for them these days. Same with books – I love reading, but I don’t find nearly enough time for them unless I force myself to make time. I guess what I’m really saying is that I work most of the time but when I do relax, it’s with something mindless that doesn’t require anything of me.
How to find time to write as a parent?
For most of my life, I wasn’t a parent, but finding time for writing has never been easy. I often teach university English – on campus in St. John’s for two decades and by distance these past few years – and during the semesters, I focus almost exclusively on that. Nowadays, I offer writing retreats and workshops, mentoring, and all sorts of things related to writing. But only writing is writing. Somehow, despite all that and a few medical setbacks (not “health,” per se, since I’m completely fine now) from which I had to recover, plus major changes in my life in every single way (which includes separation, divorce, moving away from Newfoundland and my job, friends, and just about everything I’d known for so long, then settling into a new place where I lived for six years in a cottage by a lake in the woods, learning how to be an effective teacher by distance – somehow, I still have managed to write three books of which The Hush Sisters is one, and there are two others waiting for publication. This past August, I moved into a huge farmhouse with my partner, and she already had two kids, one in university and another now in his last year of high school. But they’re pretty self-sufficient. I like to eat meals together and watch some shows together, and that sort of thing. Teenagers take up a lot of space and tend to make some noise – which is all fine and natural – but I have an office space upstairs and far away from everything so I can focus on my writing and other work there. I’m pretty lucky in that way.
As for finding time to write, I will say that it is definitely harder for female parents to find time. But I also have to say that it’s never easy for anyone and harder for some. The world doesn’t want you to be a writer. It’ll throw things at you, give you things, set traps of distraction everywhere. Children, I’m sure, demand your attention in an urgent and necessary way that’s not like anything else. But there are all kinds of emergencies – though I also say only the end of the world is the end of the world, and the only things that are matters of life and death are a) life and b) death – just as there are jobs, social gatherings, weddings, funerals, dishes, vacuuming, TV shows to watch, and all sorts of things, and most of them wonderful. But only writing is writing, and if you are really going to make a go of it, you have to make time for it.
If you don’t make time for writing, then writing isn’t as important to you as some of these other things or, more to the point, writing isn’t as important to you as not writing. If there’s a choice to be made, sometimes, at least, you have to choose writing. Even children, after a certain age, are able to take care of themselves to a degree. But then it’s a matter of what you do with your time – and not just writing when you have the time, but writing when you actually feel up to it, when you can muster the creative energy to do a decent job of it and give yourself something to revise later.
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Cosplay Killer (London Podcast Mystery Series Book 1) by Dahlia Donovan ~ Genre: Cozy Mystery, M/M Romance
What happens when an autistic firefighter and his paramedic boyfriend share a thirst for true crime?
Osian Garey and Dannel Ortea live together in a colourful flat in Covent Garden. They run a podcast and throw themselves wholeheartedly into Cosplay, video games, and musical theatre. This year, they’re all fired up to attend their annual convention with a group of first responders.
When Osian finds a paramedic friend murdered in the middle of the crowded venue, the police immediately turn their attention to him.
They have one question on their mind.
Is he the first witness on the scene or the killer?
As the mystery unfolds, Osian has to face the trauma of his last job as a paramedic. Somewhere in those memories, a killer waits to exact revenge. They’ll have to prove Osian’s innocence and fight for their own survival when the killer puts them both in their sights.
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Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
In a freshly lawless New England in the dead of winter…
A bloodied and barefoot 17-year-old, grieving the loss of her father, trudges around a smoldering pileup on the road out of town. She’s endeavoring the 120 mile trek to her only living family member through blizzard conditions…
A once kind-hearted lumberjack splits a teenager’s nose in half with the rim of a metal gas can. Since the day his family was slaughtered before his eyes, he’s been consumed with an undying fury that can only be quelled through acts of violence…
A two-time college-dropout, trying to do good, howls in agony as her face is slashed with a razor-blade. The crackhead who did the deed is taking back her five-year-old child who the drop-out was trying to protect after finding him abandoned in a dumpster…
Anyone wishing to live must harden and adapt to the new rules of a world post-fall of polite. This dangerous new world will make you into a survivor… or a corpse.
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Sam Kench is a 23-year-old writer and independent filmmaker. His screenplays and short films have been awarded by festivals and competitions around the world. Click here to check out work on BrickwallPictures.com
In 2014 he was named one of the top defenders of free speech by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
He grew up in New England and spent years exploring many of the locations that found their way into the novel. He now resides in Los Angeles. ‘The Fall of Polite’ is his debut novel.