Posts Tagged 'intrigue and thriller'

Words of Advice


By Jessica L. Webb

There are so many times that advice is offered in life. When someone is embarking on something new, advice can be a grand gesture, often a wish and a hope of good things to come, more than practicality. Advice can be a rallying cry, friends who help shore up our resolve to adjust our aim, be brave, and try again. It can come from a place of regret, our attempts to help others avoid our own past misfortunes, words to steer a loved one around the rocky outcrops of life’s hurts.

Similarly, there are many reasons we choose to take or ignore advice. It may be a life preserver, words we cling to in an effort to keep afloat through storms we’re not certain we can weather. Advice can be unwanted, a knock to our sense of independence or adventure. It can seem like a barrier to our drive to discover and learn from our own mistakes. There are times when advice is just too close to the truth. Sometimes we simply aren’t ready.

In Pathogen, book two in the Dr. Kate Morrison Investigation series, Kate is struggling. Her life has changed dramatically since meeting Sgt. Andy Wyles. She would rather spend her time thinking about the incredible woman she has fallen in love with than the recent life-threatening incident with a deranged, self-proclaimed doctor. Or the fact that it brought up memories of her past and the heartache of losing her sister. When Kate is asked to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak in the wealthy and highly political town of Hidden Valley, British Columbia, Kate ignores Andy’s advice that maybe she should take a moment and think about everything she’s been through. Kate wants to focus on her patients and solve the mystery of a virus that isn’t acting like a virus. Kate wants to work with Andy and the RCMP as they investigate a potential bioterrorism threat. Kate does not want to stop and think about events and memories that hurt.

Like most people in life, there are times I seek out advice and times I am too stubborn or unwilling to accept advice, regardless of how badly I am in need of guidance. Here are just a few pieces of advice that stick with me.

My wife leads by example when it comes to advice, particularly in the area of failure. From Jen’s perspective, to fail is to discover the first attempt in learning. Failure is not something to avoid and it certainly isn’t something to be frightened of. For me, someone who wants to avoid that sinking feeling of failure at all cost, Jen’s continued lived example is a gentle reminder that failure is a first step and it can be as gleeful and magical as success.

A few years ago, my colleague David texted me some advice. He said “Tinker, Jess. Tinker.” Similar to Jen’s view on failure, David’s encouragement was to continue to find moments of exploration and adventure in our everyday lives. It’s a reminder that there is more than one way to solve a problem and sometimes the best solutions come from fiddling and tinkering and playing.

One of the most recent pieces of life advice I received was during this past summer’s Olympic Games. I love watching women’s soccer but I also find it stressful. My friend Katie told me, “Dude, always pre-pay the swear jar.” This advice makes sense to me. It’s a reminder that sometimes, despite our best plans and intentions, the wheels are going to come off and we’re going to struggle. In those moments we can grab a beer, find a friend, and curse to our heart’s content knowing the swear jar has been pre-paid. Tomorrow is always new day.

In Pathogen, there are a lot of reasons Kate is not ready for Andy’s advice. Like any of us, Kate is doing the best she can in a life filled with moments of joy and love as well as pain and heartache. Even as we want to echo Andy’s advice to Kate to simply stop and breathe and take some time to think, we know we cannot make others listen. There are times we cannot make ourselves listen. We carry on, we listen and learn, we watch out for each other, and we try again.

Turning up the Heat

By D Jackson Leigh

Heat, cold, rain, drought – weather drives life on a very basic level in all parts of the world.

Aching bones predict a coming cold snap, a herd of cows lying down (not just a few napping) portend impending rain, thunder in winter forecasts snow will follow seven to ten days later, and so forth.

And, any culture born from agricultural roots, like the Midwest and the South, have learned to respond accordingly. If winter’s coming to the Midwest and granny says to go ahead and dig her hole next to grandpa in the family cemetery before the ground freezes, you better do it. Everybody knows the old and infirm seem to drop along with the outdoor temperature every year. Likewise, heat, the most basic measure of Southern weather, generally slows everything down in the sultry states because we’re familiar with the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke.

Writers, however, turn up the heat to bring our stories to a boil rather than slow them. Heat between two characters is the heartbeat of a romance. Heat brings tingle to a sex scene. Heat accelerates the pace of the plot to a breathless ending.

SwelterConsidering that heat was the theme, my timing was a little off when I found my rhythm while writing Swelter.

I had signed a contract with a deadline, then procrastinated getting started.

I always intend to write during the summer months but find it difficult with so many book events during the warm months. I still work a full-time job that pays my mortgage, so my writing time is mainly on weekends. This past summer, I had six weekends in a row booked with travel. So, no writing.

Autumn was rolling in when I whipped out the first chapters to introduce my two characters to the readers and to each other. Then I suddenly had writer’s block over what to do next. I struggled through those fall months, then went to visit a close friend, VK Powell, for one of our frequent brainstorming sessions. She’s a master plotter and lives in an awesome high rise condo where one wall is all glass and looks out over a downtown city park. So, as is our custom, we imbibed – I’m partial to whiskey and she likes vodka – and brainstormed while I paced and stared out at the city lights. She was left with empty liquor bottles, and I went home filled with inspiration.

Only now, it was the dead of winter.

So, I jacked up the furnace and turned on the gas logs in the fireplace until I was sweating and The Terrors, my three rescued terrier mixes, had their tongues hanging out.

The heat building in Swelter is three-pronged: chemistry between August and Teal; temperatures baking the Texas Panhandle; and plot tension as danger escalates.

In a nutshell: Congressional aide Teal Giovanni is fleeing the media and her shattered life after her affair with a married senator makes prime time news. Betrayed by her lover/law partner, August Reese is hiding out at a small cattle ranch to testify against a drug kingpin. Attraction sparks when Teal’s aging Honda blows its engine on a steamy stretch of Texas blacktop, and she’s rescued by August. But just as that spark bursts into flame, their worst nightmare comes calling. Will they survive or swelter as the heat becomes unbearable?

Why the Texas Panhandle? I’ve always been fascinated by places like Caprock Canyon State Park, red rock giants carved out and standing tall against the skyline. Besides, what’s sexier than cowgirls in boots and chaps?

The book’s title? Well, when temperatures become too hot to withstand, it’s not uncommon to hear a Southerner to proclaim: “I’m just about to swelter.”

Since Swelter was written in winter, it only seems appropriate to have it turn up the heat with December release to warm your holiday. Hope you enjoy the ride.


Parting note: Leave a comment on the Bold Strokes blog site by 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, and I’ll announce two winners on Sunday, Dec. 11, to receive autographed copies (ebook copies if you live outside the U.S.) of Swelter.

BSB Interview with Robyn Nyx

by Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

Ah, if only there were a lightbulb moment to tell you about! I’m afraid there was no conscious decision. I’ve just been writing almost as long as I’ve been speaking. It’s simply something I have to do, like breathing or hitting the gym. The stories and characters are in my head, and if I don’t get them out, I run the risk of being sectioned with a severe case of dissociative identity disorder! I’ve got great memories of my best buddy, Jules, and me spending many an uninteresting Geography class co-writing stories and passing unfinished sentences back and forth, trying to avoid the watchful gaze of the malodorous Mr. Brunt. It’s always felt like such a natural thing to do, but then we’re all storytellers in our own right. Some of us just get lucky and manage to be published.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I write fast-paced stories with characters that I hope the reader wants to get to know. I like to mix character and plot-driven tales because that’s what comes naturally to me. I want the reader to be not only invested in the story but also very much in the people who are taking part in that story. I love writing strong female characters with flaws and women who are so much better than they ever think they are, but finally realize that by the end of the novel. I guess that comes from my belief in the inherent value of all humans: so many people weren’t lucky enough to have the love and nurture I had as a child, which empowered me to believe I could become whatever the hell I wanted. Instead, they’ve been down-trodden, abused, belittled, and made to believe that they’re nothing. That inflames my anger, and it’s probably why I’ve worked in the volunteer sector all my life. I enjoy helping people realize and fulfill their potential. So I love that I now get to put lesbians into any occupation I want to—marine, journalist, dragon, detective—and that I can put them through whatever fantastical situations I fancy, but they still get the girl and most importantly, Don’t F***ing Die! It’s a privilege to write fiction for our community, and it’s vitally important for lesbians, young and old, to have it available. Positive role models saving the girl and/or the world. It doesn’t get any better than that.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

I’m very lucky in that everyone around me has always been supportive of my writing. My parents have always encouraged me to chase my dreams, whatever they were, and that’s never changed. My lady love has been instrumental in making this particular dream my reality, and I couldn’t have done it without her. My best buddy, Jules, loves it too and always believed I’d get there someday. Again, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by loving, positive, supportive, and accepting people, whereas other writers might have to remain anonymous for fear of the reactions of those close to them.


Never EnoughWhere do you get your ideas?

I really had to work on the storyline for Never Enough because it was a rebuild from another manuscript (see later), so I wracked my brains for the human-trafficking plot to make it believable for Elodie, our heroine and movie star, to be involved. But the whole plot, characters, and story arc for The Extractor series came to me when I woke up one morning. Sometimes the idea for a novel will come from a short story I’ve penned. I’ve got a dragons-and-goddesses novel that’s currently vying for attention with a love-across-the-ages novel, even though I’m only 10,000 words into Change in Time, book two of the Extractor series. It’s like the London underground in my head—it’s little wonder that I often forget to lock the windows and doors of our house when we leave!


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

As much as possible, I sit down every night to write for a few hours. Sometimes I get more words down than others, but on less productive nights, I still persevere. I’m working on a trilogy right now, so I have to do a certain amount of planning: I needed an overarching story arc for the series and individual arcs for each novel. With Never Enough, I did less planning. I had it in my head what was going to happen (mostly), and how, but I still had many moments whilst typing, and I’d go “You didn’t just say/do that!” It’s amazing how you can surprise yourself even though the dialogue and action are coming from your own head. I love that about writing. I love how your brain can pull a fast one and keep you guessing.


What makes Never Enough special to you?

The obvious answer to that is that it’s the first novel I’ve managed to get published. It was hard work. I’d written a novel that I submitted to Bold Strokes in 2014—it had around ten main characters, around twenty plots and sub-plots, and I’d written it Dickensesque style with an omniscient narrator who liked to head-hop! Little did I know how wrong I was to do so. I was “gently encouraged” to knock down the house and build a new one with just a couple of those characters. One of the great things that came out of that process was Therese Hunt. In the original manuscript, she was the sadistic sidekick to a male drug lord, but she became so much more in Never Enough. I loved watching her develop on the screen through my fingertips, and the feminist in me was ecstatic to find her emerging from beneath a dominant male and be “top dog,” even though she is quite the horrific creation. But I think it’s important to show the darker, shadow side of the female psyche. I was concerned that Therese might be too much for Bold Strokes as one of the main points of view, but I was so glad when, not only did she get left alone, but they wanted to see more of her in the book! That gave me the opportunity to sit back down and explore her further after my final draft. It also drove home the fact that I’d chosen the right publisher for my work: one that would allow me to really write what I wanted to.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

The answer to this could be quite scary, particularly with characters like Therese and Nat in Never Enough! I think my voice comes out in the dialogue I write, but I don’t consciously write myself into my characters. I love watching people, observing their tics and habits, and listening to the many different ways people speak. It’s fascinating, and I sometimes note down things of interest that I might be able to use in characters further down the line. Mostly though, the characters come to me fully formed, having resided with my Id for a while! I might have to add backstory and the odd habit, but I already know who they are, how they navigate their lives, and what they’re doing in my head. Like anyone my age, I’ve met a lot of people, and I expect that I’ve absorbed my experience of them for later use. In Never Enough, I have put one real-life person in, a bit of a cameo if you will. It was a thank you for being the first person to believe in my writing from a commercial perspective and publish my words. It’s probably impossible not to write the people you know, but I tend to add aspects of different characters, rather than the whole kit and caboodle of anyone I know. More often than not, I might use an experience or a journey and then retell it through different characters.


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

I love to read all sorts of genres and authors, and so many authors over the centuries continue to inspire me. I loved the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin, and it was one of the main reasons for my first visit to San Francisco. I love authors who have the ability to transport me immediately into their worlds. I enjoyed Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. It was marvelous to see a lesbian author gain such recognition and have her work adapted for TV. It’s a concern that her follow-up projects weren’t as popular, which maybe points to the titillation factors of TTV for a straight male audience. Still, it probably entertained an awful lot of lesbians too!

I will say that my favorite lesbian author is Brey Willows. Her first novel is out in March 2017 (Fury’s Bridge), and it’s a fantastic read: lots of humor, sharp dialogue, and a truly intriguing premise. And I’m not being biased just because Brey happens to be my fiancé!


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Wow, where to start, and how long have I got? I had a fabulous English teacher at secondary school called Jack Crawford, and we’d have wonderful conversations about writing, authors, and the creative process. We had a particular lively debate about inspiration versus perspiration: I was convinced that anything worthwhile could only be written when I was inspired, whereas Mr. Crawford believed in sitting down and making it happen. We agreed to disagree, but I’d love to track him down, give him a copy of this book, and say “Bugger me, you were right!” That was a long-winded way of saying, “Sit your ass in the chair, and write.” Make time, because it won’t happen any other way than commitment, tears, and bloody fingers.

I’d also say, attend some writing classes. Discover the basics of point of view, deep third person, dialogue tags, and disembodied action. It’ll save you a whole heap of work in the editing process if you’re lucky enough that someone can see the value of your writing even if you’re not doing it quite right! I was co-delivering a writing retreat this month, and every single one of the writers (aside from the BSB insider!) was writing in first-person, present tense, and head-hopping the hell out of their characters. But they were great writers. The inspiration, creativity, and talent were there, but they were just lacking the right tools. Find out what they are and use them!

Make your manuscript the very best it can be. Edit, edit, and edit again. Maybe pay someone to do that for you. Don’t ever send off your first draft, replete with spelling mistakes and bad grammar!

Build your emotional resilience and don’t be precious about your words. Plenty of people know far more than you know about writing, editing, and publishing. Listen, and don’t be offended. You’ll learn how to improve your writing and your story-telling capabilities if you’re flexible and open. I hear Radclyffe still attends writing classes even with the considerable library of books she’s written. Writing is no different than life—you never stop learning, and you’re never the finished article. Strive to improve, and don’t ever rock back on your ass, thinking you’ve made it and that you can stop trying.

I guess my final suggestion would be, stay positive and persevere. Agatha Christie was rejected for five years, but her book sales are now worth over two billion dollars; twenty-eight agents passed on A Time Traveler’s Wife before a small publisher believed in Audrey Niffenegger (great name, by the way), which now has sales of over seven million and was adapted for the silver screen; and Margaret Mitchell received thirty-eight rejections before Gone with the Wind was finally accepted for publication. Stick it out, because if you give up, you’ll never know what might’ve happened.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

Tee hee…the clean version? I’ve got a super-busy work life, being a chief executive of a charity in addition to running a community-interest company with Brey. But when I do have non-writing time, I love to ride my motorbike, go for walks near water or in the countryside, or watch movies. I go to the gym regularly—it’s my safe place, where I can just concentrate on the physicality of working out. If I’m ever in turmoil or upset in any way, an hour in the gym pushes it all out of my body and mind.

The Chrysalis Confabulation – From Writer to Author

By Robyn Nyx

I write. Not because I want people to read my words (although that is a very lovely consequence of being published by the biggest and best LGBT publishing house in the world), but because I love doing it. There are characters and settings, and experiences and dialogue bouncing around my head on a minute-to-minute basis, and it’s amazing. I love developing heroines and villains, writing dialogue that somehow manages to surprise myself, and unlike several of my author buddies, I do love to write sex.


Never EnoughBut I don’t think I really realized just how amazing it was until I received my first book contract (for Never Enough, now available direct from Bold Strokes Books). Even then, I didn’t fully appreciate the privilege, not only to have company in my cerebrum, but to have the opportunity to share my words with the world.


That’s what part of this blog’s about. The gamut of emotions an author goes through when they’re first published. There’s disbelief when you read the email offering you a contract for your pretty paper baby. Then comes elation, because someone actually believes you’re talented enough for them to invest $10,000 to edit, produce, and market your manuscript. A few short months later, there’s pain.


Oh, so much pain.


(I love you, VV, and I smiley-face you, CC).


And sometimes, petulance and toy-throwing ensues. But once that subsides (duration dependant on author-stubbornness), resignation and determination set in. Relief is quick to follow when your final draft is offered, along with the requisite sacrificial Trump supporter, to your editor. As the release date creeps ever closer, there’s trepidation and excitement.


And then – absolute panic. I’ve spoken to many authors who say they write because they have to, and they write for themselves, so what does it matter what others have to say? But when the realization actually hits that your carefully crafted collection of characters will be read wider than your circle of friends and family, is it not human nature to want to locate the nearest underground bunker and not surface until the Walking Dead apocalypse has finally struck?


No? Perhaps it’s just me then. And I’ve been warned not to read reviews. That’s like telling me not to put something in my mouth because it tastes bad. It may well taste like the sweaty underpants of Boris Johnson, but I have to find out for myself. Which brings me to my first review, in the mainstream Publishers Weekly. All in all, it was a pretty good review. So my question is, do I stop there? Or do I seek out the words of anyone and everyone who has something to say about my writing? Do I have the self-discipline not to? Because I’ve certainly not got the thick hide to cope with an assortment of acid-tongued attacks. Should I care? You’ve spent your hard earned mullah on my book, so I want you to have a great time reading it. And I want to be the best author I can be, and that can only happen by listening to constructive feedback and learning from it. Over the coming months, and hopefully years (with The Extractor Trilogy beginning with Escape in Time, April 2017), I guess we’ll see.Escape In Time 300 DPI


So, thank you for reading this and for reading any of my words, whether you like or loathe them, whether they scare or seduce you, whether they repulse or romance you. If you want more of them, head over to my website now and make contact. I’d love to hear from you.

Two Books in One

By VK Powell


For the first time as a published author, I’ll have two books out in one year! (Exclamation mark because I never imagined it.) I have plenty of ideas in the queue and more than enough time to whip them into a story. The truth is I’m a travel slut, so one book a year helps feed my travel jones and writing remains a true joy instead of a j-o-b.


Anyway…here’s how this unexpected two-book feat occurred. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a very organized person and twice a year I purge unwanted or unused items and donate to charities (or friends who ask for advance notice). During one of these expunging adventures, I found a file on my computer marked On Hold Projects. Inside were two manuscripts written ten years ago that I’d completely forgotten. (Several of my writer buddies couldn’t believe this.)


The next decision seemed like a no-brainer – dust off one of those puppies, bring it up to snuff, and dash it over to my publisher. Right? Easier said than done. I found revamping an old manuscript much more difficult than starting from scratch. I was surprised how much I didn’t know about writing when I started (and believe me, I still have much to learn), but obviously I’m not a substantive editor. Tearing the story apart and putting it back together with the things I’ve learned along the way was not as easy as I’d hoped. My hat is off to the talented editors who work with newbies and make it look effortless. The experience has convinced me of one thing: the second found project will probably never grace my editor’s inbox.


Here’s what’s on offer this year from yours truly:


deceptionDeception, my August 2016 release is now available. Colby Vincent, a DEA agent undercover in the homeless community, and Adena Weber, administrator of a day center for the homeless, butt heads as Colby investigates a drug diversion program being operated from the center.


In November, Lone Ranger, will be out. In this story, freelance reporter, Emma Ferguson, tries to uncover the truth behind a thirty-seven year old disappearance while park ranger, Carter West, struggles to keep the details secret.


I’ll let you decide which is the lost and found project. Please share your guesses on my website, Facebook, or in an email.Lone Ranger


As always, thank you for reading.


VK Powell



BY Connie Ward




What made you decide to become a fiction writer?


I’ve loved reading all my life, so I suppose it was inevitable that my head would become so full of story ideas that I simply wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least try my hand at actually writing them. And when I’ve got an idea that I’m really passionate about, it tends to play over and over again in my mind until I actually write it down. So if I ever want to be able to concentrate on real life, I’ve got to get those words onto the page. It’s the only way I’ll be able to function as a human being. There are things I need to accomplish daily, and my boss really hates it when I sit in a corner and stare into space thinking about fictional characters. Any fictional characters, even if they aren’t mine. (Boy, is he going to be upset today!)


What type of stories do you write?  And why?


I don’t know that I have a specific type of story that I write, necessarily. I just write about situations or settings that interest me. The series that Actual Stop is a part of sort of attempts to find a balance between intrigue and romance. The other books I’m working on that aren’t part of this series explore some real-life circumstances that I find fascinating. There’s quite a bit of social commentary woven into the narratives there because there are aspects to how we relate to people as a society that I find captivating. And those stories may never see the light of day. Who knows? But I’m writing them just the same.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?


They’ve all been extremely supportive. I force my friends to read my stuff as I’m working on it, and they’ve been pretty good about not complaining too much. They’re also great at telling me if something isn’t coming across the way I’d intended. They phrase it much more colorfully, of course. But their feedback has been invaluable. My family hasn’t had the chance to read anything I’ve written yet, so their support thus far has only required encouragement and vague-yet-positive statements about chasing the dream. I’m interested to see what they’ll say when they’ve finally had a chance to read my novel. I’m especially curious to learn which ones will try to get away with telling me they’ve read it when they actually haven’t. I’ll keep you posted on that.


Where do you get your ideas?


A lot of them—especially the other books I’m working on that aren’t part of this series—

are just twists on things that have occurred in real life. I’ll see a news report or hear someone telling some crazy story about what happened to them that weekend and think, “Wow. That could’ve gone a lot differently. What if….” And my imagination just sort of takes over from there and holds me hostage until I write down exactly how badly it could’ve gone. And in my head, it’s always the worst-case scenario. I’m kind of sick that way.


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?


It really depends on the story. I’ve done both. My first couple books sort of evolved around several key scenes that kept playing over and over in my head, and I had to write around them. But I’ve got a few other books I’m working on that I’ve outlined. Of course, sometimes I follow the markers I’ve established up to a point, and then I suddenly take a sharp detour from what I’ve planned. So really, it varies.


What makes Actual Stop special to you?


Actual StopActual Stop is special to me because it’s the first significant thing I’ve ever managed to finish. I’d jotted down a couple short blurbs that couldn’t really even be called stories here and there just for fun—and because I couldn’t get the scenes out of my head until I wrote them down—but I’d always figured I’d never be able to produce an actual book with a fully formed plot. So, when I finally managed it (it took six years), I was ecstatic.


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?


It depends on who you ask. I don’t think there’s much of me or anyone I know in any of my characters. But my friends who’ve read it have all told me that the main character in Actual Stop sounds just like me, so maybe I’m too close to the situation to really be objective about it. I had a very similar career path to the one she’s on. And I did think it’d be funny to have her engage in conversations that I’ve actually had with people, but that was more for my friends’ amusement than anything else. She has this whole dialogue with a suspect in chapter two about the consequences of lying to a federal agent and the statute that backs that up. I lost count of how many times I’ve mentioned that to people during an interview. And there’s also a conversation later about the Marshall Islands that was my go-to for getting people to leave me alone when I was on a protection assignment. So I guess there’s a bit of me in Ryan. And Ryan’s dad uses a lot of the same parental pieces of advice that my dad uses. But that’s about it. Several of my friends have asked me to put them into a book at some point, so if I ever figure out how to do that, the answer to this question will change to, “Everyone is a caricature of someone I know, but I can’t tell you who’s who because I don’t want anyone to be mad at me.”


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?


That’s a great question, but it’s a tough one to answer. I first discovered that people wrote gay and lesbian novels pretty late in life. I’d only read mainstream fiction before that, and while I had no complaints, it was definitely exciting to realize that there were actually gay and lesbian authors out there. It had never even occurred to me to look until someone pointed it out to me. So for a long time after that great discovery, I read every story I could get my hands on. I steeped myself in lesbian romance. I didn’t read anything else. Whenever I had free time, my attention was on devouring whatever story (or stories) I was in the middle of at that moment. I devoted every waking moment to cramming words into my helpless little brain as quickly as possible, and my apartment was just shelves and shelves of books by lesbian authors as far as the eye could see. And I read really, really fast (not quite as fast as I run down a flight of stairs, but close), so by now all the stories I’ve read are kind of one big blur of happy to me. I can’t think of one off the top of my head that was any more inspiring than any other. There are so many amazingly talented gay and lesbian authors out there that I’d be hard pressed to name any among my favorites for fear of leaving anyone out. And I just know that if I force myself to try, the second I’m finished with answering this question, I’m going to think of six more authors I’d forgotten to mention, and I’m going to feel terrible, even though they have no idea who I am and couldn’t care less that I didn’t sing their praises because they know how awesome they are and they don’t need my validation to confirm it. Still, I’m going to totally cop out and say that I take something away from each and every author I’ve ever read.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?


Nothing they haven’t already heard a million times before. Write. Write. Also, write. Definitely don’t take after me. I’m the prime example of what not to do in pretty much every situation. I’m the queen of procrastination, and there are times when I’m lying on the floor playing with my dog thinking, “I should really be writing right now.” But then I don’t because some days playing with my dog is more fun. It’s definitely almost always easier. And that’s why it took me so long to finish this first book. Well, that and Netflix.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?


You mean, not counting smothering my dog with love? Well, as I’m sure you’ve realized by now, I read a lot. Among mainstream authors, Vicki Pettersson is one of my absolute favorites. If you haven’t read Swerve or her Signs of the Zodiac series, stop reading this and pick them up immediately. The woman is a genius. A sick, scary genius. Anne Rice, Darynda Jones, and Terry Goodkind are a few more of my go-tos. I also watch a lot of TV. Person of Interest is my favorite show ever—as evidenced by the line I snuck into Actual Stop as a shout out—and it’s pretty much on at my house on a continuous loop. (Especially last night’s ep, 6,741. I don’t think I’m ever going to recover from that one.) On the rare occasion I’m not watching POI, I usually have on Arrested Development or some IDTV program, which has some of the best show names ever. (If anyone knows how I can get a job naming the shows on that channel, please contact me immediately, because I have some good ideas. Maybe not Southern Fried Homicide or Sinister Ministers good, but I think they’ll impress just the same.) A couple months ago I started taking Krav Maga, so I try to make it to classes as often as possible. And one of my friends and I have been talking about doing a mud run together, so I’m s-l-o-w-l-y easing myself into getting ready for that. If I’m never heard from again, you all know what happened. The mud run did me in. And someone will need to call my hetero-soul mate and tell her it’s time. She’s already been instructed on what incriminating items need to be disposed of and where they’re located. She’ll take it from there.


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