Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
Welcome to Robert E. Balsley Jr.
Author of Salvation of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1
by Robert E. Balsley Jr.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
The Dragon Riders of Pern series/Anne McCaffrey.
The Sword of Truth series/Terry Goodkind
The Foundation Trilogy/Isaac Asimov
The Game of Thrones series/George R.R. Martin
The Belgariad and the Malloreon/David Eddings
The Deryni series/Katherine Kurtz
The Black Company series, Garrett P.I. series/Glen Cook
Destroyermen series/Taylor Anderson
The Dresden Files/Jim Butcher
Drizzt series/R.A. Salvatore
What book do you think everyone should read? I’d like to say The Salvation of Innocence, but that’s kind of selfish. In truth, I can’t think of a book that has had, or has, more of an influence on people than the Bible. If this is a standard answer, then that would be because it’s the truth.
How long have you been writing? Books? Since late 2014. Dungeon and Dragon games? Since the mid-nineties.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? Most come to me as I write. Mostly because the storyline demanded it.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? I haven’t really done any research before I write. Since I write in the fantasy genre, there’s not a lot of fact checking I need to do before I start. However, I do research as I’m writing. For example, in The Salvation of Innocence, a sea voyage was required. Instead of glossing it over, I research the construction, parts of, and manning of ships from the 1700’s, particularly British ships of the line. I studied combat strategy and envisioned how to apply that past philosophy to fight off a dragon. I also researched land combat tactics from the medieval age as well as the different types of army units and their strengths. As for the Marines I have in my trilogy, I pretty much use modern-day U.S. Marines as my guide.
Do you see writing as a career? No. The people who are successful writers have several things in common… they have talent and they either have connections or provided a story that caught the public’s imagination. I call that catching “lightning in a bottle”. I don’t think my talent level is on par with successful writers, though I may be selling myself short.
What do you think about the current publishing market? Hard to crack. I consider myself lucky that Dove and Dragon Publishing decided to take me on. But that doesn’t mean my chances at success are guaranteed… just somewhat better. Demand dictates how well my novels are received… and there’s a lot of material out there to satisfy that demand.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I do, though not as much as I used to. Too many other things to occupy my time. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I also enjoy science fiction, horror, sometimes crime, and books about WWII.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? If I understand the question, I write with noise. I love writing with new age music (like Enya) in the background. Most weekdays, however, I write with FOX Business in the background. When I was writing games for my D&D sessions, I listened to classical music on my CD player. Sometimes the music inspires, sometimes it calms, sometimes it picks me up, particularly if I need to figure just exactly where I want my storyline to go (or how, which is just as important).
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? My books seem like they are several going at one time. I use many different storylines and characters to get from Point A to Point B. But the direct answer is one at a time.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? I think it would be the Lord of the Ring series. Those books pretty much set the standard for future fantasy books and D&D games and books.
Pen or typewriter or computer? Definitely computer. It spell checks as I write, allows me to cut and paste if and when I decide a particular storyline, paragraph, or sentence, allows me to save my work using several different formats, allows me to insert illustrations, checks basic grammar, etc, etc, etc. I know that some writers consider pen as the only pure form… but all that ever does for me is hurt my wrist, not to mention it’s slower which means my mind is always three ideas ahead.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. I love ‘em all, but perhaps the one character I like writing about best is probably is Azriel. He’s a dwarf turned sylph who’s a bit outlandish. What I like about him is his lack of filter on both his thinking and his talking. He’s brash, short-tempered, and very opinionated. Yet he has a good heart and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision? I’m retired, so I’m not earning a living with my writing, so there isn’t the financial pressure. But the decision to write was definitely the right decision. I enjoy it immensely.
A day in the life of the author? Up at about 0800-0830, depending upon when my dogs decide when it’s time. Prepare for the day, get the dogs out and make the coffee. At 0900 I turn on the FOX Business Network (Varney and Co.) and watch while getting caught up with emails and Facebook. At 1000, downstairs to my space… man cave… where I surround myself with dragons, spaceships, castles, D&D miniatures, airplanes, etc. Turn on the TV (back to FOX Business) and get started writing. I stop around 1230 for lunch and some afternoon TV. (I’m gotten to where I like to watch old-time westerns like Gunsmoke, Big Valley, Bonanza). Break for time on the treadmill, then back upstairs for a shower. Feed the dogs, watch evening TV while reading or, too my horror, get on Facebook. I call it a day around 0100. (These are just the days I stay home, which, I must admit, I really, really like.)
Advice they would give new authors? Don’t quit your day job. Being a successful writer (money wise), regardless of talent, isn’t a guarantee. It’s a fact of life. Take care of your fam
The Salvation of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1
by Robert E. Balsley Jr.
A young woman embarks on a harrowing journey to save her world’s last vestige of magical healing in Robert E. Balsley Jr.’s epic new fantasy novel, The Salvation of Innocence.
Althaya, the goddess of healing, wishes to share her ability to help those in need, providing “empaths,” which give clerics the means to magically heal others-a means that some people fear and wish to destroy. In response, a dark magic known as the Purge is created to seek out and eradicate all empaths.
But one lone survivor remains, spirited away by Althaya and hidden in a magical stasis field. There, the last empath must remain alive until the time comes for rescue-but the Purge will not rest until the last empath is found and killed.
Three thousand years later, Kristen Rosilie Clearwater is only beginning to realize her destiny. Having been brought to the island of InnisRos as an orphan, she has long felt a “tug” toward something she can’t quite understand. But when she begins experiencing the dreams of a young child, Kristen knows that the two are somehow connected-and that the fate of the world, and the future of healing magic, rests on.
The Struggle For Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 2
In this suspenseful sequel to The Salvation of Innocence, the war against evil rages on. This time good must fight on two fronts to stop a great evil-one strong enough to commit genocide-or their world will be changed forever.
After barely escaping death at the hands of the vampire Lukas, Emmy still faces an even greater threat. The Purge is approaching. Emmy and her comrades’ only chance is to get help from the sentient city of Elanesse and commit the first assault.
Far way, another conflict is brewing. Father Horatio Goram must face off against the power-hungry First Counselor Mordecai Lannian, whose demonic concubine pushes for war, but the odds are against him. Emmy’s fate rests on this struggle, and this determined priest will do anything to win.
In a realm where healing magic relies on a single emissary’s ability to commune with the gods, Emmy’s death would have wide repercussions. This sensational thriller reveals the destructive power evil will use to achieve its dastardly ends-and the depths to which good must go to stop it.
The Loss of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 3
War has come to InnisRos!
The Ak-Séregon Stone, stolen by the demon Nightshade, has been used to force open a corridor between Aster and the Svartalfheim, the home world of the Dark Elves. The Dark Elf army, led by Nightshade’s father, Aikanáro, marches on InnisRos. Only Father Goram and his allies, with Queen Lessien’s army, can close down the corridor and break the stranglehold the Dark Elves have on the island of the Elves of Light.
But the Dark Elf invasion of InnisRos is only one phase of Nightshade’s design. To ensure InnisRos’ human allies stay on their side of the world, she blackmails Lord Ternborg, leader of the Draugen Pesta, the Black Death, to invade the mainland from the east. Forced to collaborate with the mercenary cities of HeBron and Madeira, Lord Ternborg reluctantly leads three armies into the Forest of the Fey and the surrounding valley to capture the sorcerer stronghold of Havendale. Tangus, Kristen, Emmy and the humans now have their own war to fight on the mainland.
Meanwhile, deep below the surface, a new threat arises. The sylph are awake and moving from the depths with one goal in mind… destroy all life on Aster.
Welcome to Rebecca Miller
Please tell us about your publications/work. My writing credits include being a freelance journalist for The Inquisitr, The Weekly Register-Call, The Daily Camera, and the Earthkeeper. My books include Libertine Awakenings: A Psychosexual Odyssey under my pen name, Cat Ravenelle, and Being Max’s Mom under my birth name. These were self-published through IUniverse and KDP, respectively. I also did transcription work for President Obama. The Whisper is my latest novel.
Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely. Writing The Whisper was incredibly empowering for me and helped me heal from the traumas I’d witnessed as a hospice nurse as well as attending my brother’s death. Writing shapes history facilitates change, educates, and informs. It’s cliché, but the pen is mightier than the sword.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Buy a she-shed and hide from your family members. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been interrupted….
What’s your greatest networking tip? The Power of Three. Tell three people three times a day about your book. That can be in a post or a conversation—it’s a bit exhausting, but it works.
If you could have dinner with any literary character or author, who would you choose, and what would you eat. Judy Blume. I’d take her to Le French and have some wine and a Salade Nicoise.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? WELL, since you asked. For this book, it was my life, so that part was easy, BUT for my erotic fiction, I actually went to swingers clubs and observed. I had a notebook in my purse. It was pretty interesting, and no, I didn’t participate. I’m too much of a germaphobe for that type of behaviour. I found the lack of hand sanitizer and protection disturbing.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? It’s essential to the survival of us as a species. We are doomed to repeat history…as evidenced by our current situation. We need to tell our ancestors’ stories to continue that lineage and tell our own stories. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed how life does spin in a bit of a spiral. Right now, I’m having my students read part of The Decameron and thinking about how they’ve survived our recent lockdowns. We are not that different from our peers in 1300 in how we deal with forced isolation and an invisible enemy.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t give up. And don’t be afraid. You can’t please everybody. Like I’ve told my friends, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am someone’s double vodka.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Just publish and don’t worry about being perfect—it was referring toward just barfing words on a page and hitting send. Whereas I can get behind the idea of writing drunk, edit sober, you need to edit again and again—but not get crippled. Finally, letting go of my manuscript and giving it to the world is…was…right this moment, terrifying.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature, what would you be and why? Wonder Woman. Spin in a circle, and BAM. Outfit changed.
Which authors have influenced you the most? Judy Blume was the first author who I blame for my desire to become a writer. I read a TON of feminist lit in college. Books by Ram Dass and Pema Chodron sit on my shelf. All hail Virginia Woolf.
What is your writing space like? I have a desk in a shared home office, and I literally have a screen I put up in a vain attempt to send the message to leave me alone. It doesn’t work. I have headphones, and I have to listen to low-fi to block out the noise. I can track my writing sprints by how many coffee cups, diet Coke cans, and wine glasses are balanced around me. I’ve tried writing in coffee houses, my bedroom, even sat on the floor in my bathroom, but they STILL find me. Hence, the request for a she-shed. Might have to put up an electric fence. Too many kids….
Tell us about your latest piece? The Whisper is a story about love and absolution. More than that, it’s my story. I worked as a crisis hospice nurse for four years. I am Rose McWhorter. Everything in the story is true but written in a way that protects my patients’ identities. In The Whisper, I tell the story about what it’s like to be a hospice nurse and what happens when we die. While it’s not intended to be a religious book, it is spiritual. The whisper I heard to become a nurse, to the final whisper that told me my work was done came from God. I didn’t know it at the time, but my life profoundly changed. I learned self-forgiveness, trust, regained my family and fell in love with being alive.
What’s your next writing adventure? Probably try to work on Book 2 of Libertine Awakenings. I have it on jump drive but never continued.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? Nah. It’s like dark chocolate. If I get it for free, I’m still going to appreciate it. And, if no one eats it, no one gets to experience the sweetness of it. Which reminds me, I have some in my desk drawer.
My son and I do art shows showcasing young people with autism. The thrill these kids get having their art up for display reinforces my stance on the free book. If no one sees your art, no one can enjoy your art or be influenced by it. I’m delighted to have my work shared.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Depends. If someone is a troll, I think you have the right to defend yourself.
How do you deal with bad reviews? Weep bitterly and grab my voodoo doll.
Sort these into order of importance:
Good plot 2
Great characters 1
Awesome world-building 3
Technically perfect 4
With the influx of indie authors, do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think it’s great. It’s freeing. The idea of the “vanity press” is an act of, well, vanity is long gone. I think it helps contribute to the diversity of authors and that diversity can show us the world through someone else’s eyes.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? As long as there are dinosaurs like me and hipsters like my son, the bookstores will survive.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? It’s all about myth-busting. So I didn’t get picked up by Penguin. Does that make me any less than a writer? Usually, if I get this type of snark, I’ll ask them about their latest publications. Crickets. To write, and then to publish takes guts. And time.
What is your greatest success? Being Max’s mom—he is the light of my life. He’s changed me in ways that I cannot monetize. I learn from my son every single day, especially now during COVID. He’s taught me how to use Google Classroom so I can teach my students.
How important is writing/art to you? During this crisis I have learned that art and music are essential. Writing kept me going. The arts are what makes us human.
What are your hopes for the coming year? Try to survive the last push of COVID19 and all its trimmings, attempt to salvage my son’s senior year of high school, and hopefully get a couple trips in once it is safe to move. I’m not sure what my next move is writing wise. 2020 taught me that plans can change, so go with the flow.
Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I still compete in beauty pageants and I’m a highland athlete. Weird combo.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Not a nurse! I wanted to be a writer. I ended up a hybrid, that’s ok.
Links to book
Links —I think you already have them.
Bio I live in Denver, Colorado and I work as adjunct faculty for my local community college teaching nursing arts, anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology. Writing is my side job while I’m on sabbatical. My love, Dennis, and I share our home with three boys, two cats, and have adopted a feral cat named Darryl who lives in our backyard catching mice and chasing bunnies.
For fun, post-COVID, we look forward to traveling overseas, skiing, taking the kids to Disney, supporting the local arts, but during the pandemic, we love working in our garden, supporting local biz via takeout, and firing up the smoker. We are grateful.
Meet author Nathalie M.L. Römer
Hello, everyone, my name is Nathalie and I’m a expat Brit who lives and works In Sweden (the country not the American city). I originate from the Netherlands originally where I was born, and I grew up in Amsterdam. (Fun fact, walking to school involved walking past the daytime versions of the “Red Light District” windows). My journey to authordom began originally with my ferocious bookworm addiction of devouring as many books as I could as I was growing up. My advice immediately is for kids to be as interested in reading books as early as possible.
I would typically read at least TEN books a day, and I’m not talking children’s books here though I’d read them too, but books by such authors as Isaac Asimov (still my favourite author and I’m excited for the upcoming Foundation movie), Tolkien, Georges Simenon and Jules Verne (I’d read the adult edition rather than the children’s edition of his books). My imagination was ignited by reading about so many different worlds and places, though circumstance caused me to only begin writing in 2014 (pesky bad marriage, annoying ex-husband getting in the way of creativity and all that sort of stuff). But when I began writing I realised that I had never forgotten any of the many stories I’d been dreaming up in my mind. One such story is the story in my series of The Wolf Riders of Keldarra, though the original premise did change somewhat as time went by…
I glance over at the suggested questions Silver Dagger Book Tours sent me and the first one is to tell something unique or quirky. I’ve often enough in my life been told I’m an empathic person who cares about others. I guess that’s not a unique thing but when I think back at what I’ve done throughout my life my mind settles on one event that has made me who I am.
The event is something that could have ended up tragic if I hadn’t acted as fast as I did. I knew I cared about others when I made an effort to rescue a toddler who got washed out to sea. I rushed to the child, got her from the water, and was already administering CPR and all necessary actions to save her. Her parents realised then what was going on. I still remember the mother’s words to this day, “Never forget what you did here today. You were a hero. You showed you cared for a child you never met before.” You need not do something massive to stand out from the crowd to “shine.” You can do a simple thing to show everyone you care about others. Though in Book 2 of my series, Stolen Truth, I decided to reverse the event somewhat, making the “rescue” spiritual rather than physical, there a scene in the book (available for pre-order on Amazon) that is a direct reflection of what had happened to me.
Well, even someone supposedly empathic can have her pet peeves. The biggest pet peeve I have is when I see people not wanting to get along with one another. I see us all as connected as we have one world to live on (so far and for the foreseeable future) and therefore we should all act in a way like we’re the hero. The best example of an explanation for this sort of behaviour comes from Melissa Benoist (never met her but she’s definitely on my bucket list of a “hero” I’d like to meet one day), who has said – and I’m not quoting verbatim: “We all are the heroes of the world. Girls come to me telling me that Supergirl has made them realise they matter no matter who they are.”
I kind of have the same approach with Marrida in The Wolf Riders of Keldarra (and had the approach before I knew of what Melissa Benoist said; she said it in 2019). Marrida in my story goes from a naive girl who knows very little about her world to someone who becomes an inspiration to others, i.e. a hero, and tells the people she meets they matter. A real hero, therefore, is ANY person who tells others they matter no matter who they are or where they’re from. So that means you can be a hero by simply being kind and loving to others, which then makes you my hero.
The drive to be an author comes from something a teacher once told me: “You’ll either be an artist or an author.” Before I became an author I did freelance work creating advert graphics (I guess that’s the artist part of the teacher’s statement fulfilled). As I decided in 2014 to embrace the other part of the statement that’s when I became an author. But whatever the creativity is, you become creative the moment you think about something you want to create, whether it is art, stories, music, movies or YouTube videos, theatre acting, costume design, or any other creativity. The ancient Homo Sapiens with their cave paintings teach us that by nature humans are creative. We invented writing. We invented mathematics. We invented engineering to create tools and later machines. It’s the first time you think: “What if I create…” that’s when you are a creative person. For me the “What if I create…” was when I was just four years old, created a drawing of a girl with a skirt (I still own the drawing) and then went into a lengthy tangent explaining to the girl beside me how drawing her art with just four fingers, opposed to me doing it with five, was likely the moment my storytelling skill was born. I may have begun writing my first novel over decades after that day as a toddler but I began being a creator of stories on that day in late 1973.
This leads into what I watch for added inspiration. I love movies that have a larger than life setting, which I commonly have in my books too, especially fantasy or science-fiction. When I write I have the movies of Lord of the Rings in my mind, where both the books and the movies offer the ultimate “hero’s journey.” Which coincidentally, right now, is my all-time favourite movies. But that may get eclipsed if either the movie Foundation, the reimagined Dune or any other movie comes along. I watch science fiction movies as they present to me the chance to see an imagined future. I watch fantasy movies for escapism. Personally, I’d like to see The Wolf Riders of Keldarra on the television screen though.
And finally, I’ll end this essay that gives you an insight in who I am with telling you that my “muse” is the plush doll of a WOLF that sits on my desk. Wolves are my spirit animal, and I have a high belief in such things as a Pagan. I’m someone who feels connected to nature, which is why almost all my stories always will feature animals in one fashion or another, especially wolves…
I support the Wolf Conservation Centre (https://nywolf.org/) as my chosen charity because of my love of wolves. Maybe you can show them your support too.
Nathalie is a published author, based in Sweden, and born and bred in the Netherlands, with roots squarely planted culturally in Britain and Curaçao. She primarily writes epic fantasy, futuristic science fiction, mysteries, romance with a twist, and is now venturing into fairytale retellings, dystopian stories and much more (just keep visiting to see where stories take you and the author alike). And Nathalie describes her style of writing as unapologetically wordy, because she has discovered that the best part of writing is weaving a world that’s interesting to explore, to discover its back story, to meet its people, and find out what makes them tick. Nathalie weaves each world with her own experiences into the stories, and will touch on various causes and situations that speak to her…
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
Of course, I don’t do anything simple. I generally come up with ideas all the time. Most of the time they don’t belong to a story in particular, so those ideas get written down and thrown into a slush pile. When I’m stuck for an idea, I just start plucking out of that pot until something sticks and I write it into the scene.
The ideas that I have for a particular series also goes into a folder. Once I’m finished with whatever I’m writing currently, I pick what folder is the biggest and start working on that story.
First, it’s all about putting the ideas into a coherent order – and this is really hard especially since I like to throw timelines all over the place.
Then I write an outline and revise it several times. If I write from multiple character’s perspectives, then each character gets their own timeline, and I somehow merge them all together to form a book outline.
Then the draft. This is nothing to sneeze at. Drafts are horrible writing but for some authors their natural talent makes it look like a polished piece. I am not one of those writers. My drafts are full of notes, comments, repetition, emphasis, etc. because I’m telling myself the story.
I do countless re-writes until I’m happy with it and then the editor’s round starts.
So the process is long and it’s nothing short of hard work but if I skip any step, I end up writing myself into a corner. Which all writer’s know, is not fun to navigate back out of.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Rules! Too many writers say learn the rules but then can’t determine what the rules are.
Of course, there are grammar rules, spelling and punctuation. These are a given. But writing rules? Are they suppose to be on content? Use of language? Expression? I never found out.
Instead, I ignored all the generalized advice and rule talk and put my head into a book to figure out what exactly does a novel consist of. Thousands of articles will tell you to skip that step, but I needed to learn the hard way so I knew it for myself. Learning something for myself made me in control of those
What is your writing Kryptonite?
No outline! I’m not someone who can write a book from cover to cover. I have to have a plan. Too often, I write the plan several times before I start constructing scenes. Then I draft the book several times over before I start the re-write. It sounds like a lot of work but it’s a process that allows me to dive deeper, search harder, explore more.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I haven’t a clue what people want to read and this is really a no-no in the publishing world. I have certain stories that I must get out of my head and onto paper. If people want to read them, then great! But if not, that’s fine too, but I must write them. Every time I watch a movie or read a book, my mind wanders and I find myself seeing a deeper picture than the story was meant to go. That’s where I find my content – the layers that are so deep and shine the light on what’s hidden in the darkness.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Never give up.
Everyone thinks they have the answer – but it’s only relevant to their lives, not yours.
The yellow brick path has been tracked too many times – don’t follow the dirt path either – create your own.
There is no such thing as the wrong answer when you are asking about life.
Creativity is life.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Actually, I find writing males so much easier. It’s women I find hard. I grew up with so many boys and never any girls. They’re less complicated and talk at face value. Women don’t. They hide things and have a level of expectation thinking it’s written on their face. I can’t deal with that! So I jump into a man and follow him. I’m more comfortable doing that.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
How long is a piece of string? No idea. Some very quick, others years. It’s a matter of what the story requires, needs from me, etc. I let the work dictate itself. If I try and put limitations on it, then everything goes out the window.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and reader’s block too! Neither is fun. But it’s all about the mindset. If you are not creating – don’t blame the craft. Something is going on in your life that is impacting the creative muscle. Health? Stress? Toxic person in your life that you constantly thinking things will get better? It does once they’re out of your life! And you’re creating again.
By day, wizards rule the world. At night, warlocks seek to destroy it. Now, one boy will challenge them both.
Author name: Miriam F. Martin
Please tell us about your publications, specifically the story in this bundle:
Thanks for including my book in the Rainbow Romance bundle. My real name is David Anthony Brown and I write under the Miriam F. Martin pseudonym, and I created the Siren’s Garter branded erotica books. I created the Miriam pen-name to hide my erotica titles from prying coworkers at the day job. It’s not a well kept secret, so I don’t worry about sharing my real identity. (And if somebody at work discovers my erotica, then whose fault is that?)
Rainmaker, included in the Rainbow bundle, is a short lesbian erotic novella set in a fantasy sword-and-sorcery world. I was very much influenced by Xena: Warrior Princess when writing this one. Like a lot of viewers of that show, I found the chemistry between Xena and Gabriella incredibly hot and wondered why they were never more than just friends. While Alana and Paige (the protagonists in Rainmaker) are not Xena and Gabriella, they are both strong, resourceful women who know what they want and are willing to fight to protect those they love.
What first prompted you to publish your work?
I totally went down this path for money. But my path to publication was not a straight forward one. I dabbled with writing in my teens and early twenties, especially after I earned my bachelor’s degree. Writing became a career for me in 2008, because I had a career I didn’t enjoy anyway get wiped away in the Great Recession. I couldn’t see myself working in a “normal” job for the rest of my life and stay sane, especially if everything got flipped upside down again in another recession. So naturally I started writing fiction.
I didn’t jump on the indie bandwagon until after the ebook gold rush was already over. My first indie publication was in 2012, which was a small collection of fantasy and horror short stories. Since then, by my last count, I have over 70 publications including short novels, short stories, and collections.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
I’m very much a pantser, though I prefer Dean Wesley Smith’s metaphor of “writing into the dark.” I often start with little more than a working title and a character’s name, and make up everything as I go. For me, writing a story is like exploring a dark cave with nothing more than a flashlight—I discover a little bit at a time, often take wrong turns, and have no idea where the story will ultimately take me.
The goal for me is to enjoy the story I writing as if I’m the reader. If I don’t know where a story is going while I write, neither will the readers. If I manage to pleasantly surprise myself, my readers be surprised too. So I never think about the plot beforehand.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
Two pieces of advice, but they sort of go hand-in-hand.
One, talent is a myth. Nobody is ever born to be a writer. You reach a point in life where you feel ready to take the leap, but the leap is just the beginning of a long journey. If you ever for one second believe you’re “special” or “talented,” you’re done as a writer. You’ll never learn new craft techniques. You won’t take risks. You probably won’t even produce all that much fiction. Writing is a skill learned over many, many years of practice. Talent is just a measure of your current skill level. Everybody pretty much starts at the same place.
Second, be patient with yourself. Nobody expects an undergraduate psych major to be any good as a psychologist. That profession requires a doctoral-level graduate degree and years of experience in the field. Writing is not much different, except instead of going to a college you have to cobble together your own education. It takes years to develop the skills needed to entertain an international audience of millions. So, be patient and keep learning and practicing and publish everything you write.
How influential is storytelling to our culture?
They say history is told by the winners, and that’s true enough, but I’d add that history is told by storytellers. Often what we think we know about ancient cultures comes down to us through stories. Homer was definitely more interested in giving his audience compelling stories that would make them feel good—so in the Iliad and the Oddessey we get tales of men with super-human strength and cunning, though not necessarily historically accurate versions of events.
Storytelling is part of human nature. Whether it’s sharing office gossip or getting lost in a new favorite book, we are all born with an innate desire for story. Story is part of our identity as a culture, and it feeds a deep individual desire for adventure and heroism.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
Technically, not a lot. But then, after a few of years of focusing mostly on erotica, I haven’t had a book that required deep research. I’m a geek for history and science though, so I spend a lot of time studying subjects that may or may not be ever used in a story. So I’m a bit of a trivia nerd and sometimes that comes in handy when layering in a bit of color to make a story feel right.
Mostly I do five-minute research to find the one detail I need for a story. For example, when I wrote the short novel Never Marry the Femme Fatale, I spent five or ten minutes looking through online gun catalogs to find the sort of gun the main character would carry in her purse. Not real sure if I even used the name of the gun in the book, mostly I just wanted to know what it looked like and what bullets it fired.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time research sex toys. Which is probably why Amazon gives me a lot of strange recommendations.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
Write sloppy. Yeah, I know, this one gets passed around so much it’s cliche and just about everybody believes in it. But I believe writing a shitty first draft harms the story telling process.
Like I mentioned above, I write into the dark and make up the story as I go. What I’ve discovered is that the little details can often change the course of a story in surprising ways. I used to be the type of writer who would bracket things I needed to write later—for example [WRITE SEX SCENE LATER], and then in a second draft come back through and add a sex scene.
The problem with that is the actual sex scene I write might be entirely different from the sex scene I imagined. Plus, especially with sex scenes, the characters often discover things about each other or themselves that become major plot points. I can’t discover those plot points for myself without writing the scene. And if I wrote the scene in a second draft, I might have to change the entire book to accommodate the new discovery. So it’s far, far easier to simply write each detail and each scene as I need it and let the story organically build on itself. My first drafts come out a lot cleaner too, which makes editing go smoother.
Tell us about your latest piece?
On the erotica side of my publishing business, I recently released two new short story collections—Sexy Unusual and Date Night. The first is erotica that features ghosts—the living having sex with the spirits of former lovers and ghosts having ghostly fun. The other is, of course, all about couples having sex after (or during!) a hot date.
Lately, I’ve been busy writing fantasy and science fiction short stories. The plan is to write a three volume short story series called Stay at Home Fiction and publish them by the end of 2020. I’ve got the first volume nearly complete.
What’s your next writing adventure?
I’d been thinking a lot about Rainmaker before you offered to include it in the Rainbow bundle. You see, I always intended Rainmaker to have sequels set in the same world but with new characters, which is why the book is subtitled A Femme Elemental Erotic Novella. I have a bunch of false starts with the sequels, where my creative voice said, “Nope, that’s not the story I wanna tell.”
Now, nearly three years after releasing Rainmaker, I feel ready to write Fire Dancer, the next book in the series. No clue what it will be about, but I recently had an idea for how to open the book, which made me chuckle. For me, chuckling is a good sign I’ve found a story I want to tell.
No promises on when Fire Dancer, or any of the other sequels, will be finished.
What is the last book you’ve read?
Narrate and Record Your Own Audiobook, by M. L. Buchman. It’s exactly what you think it’s about, and I’d recommend it to any indie writers wondering about audio editions. (Personally I’m not ready for audio. Just researching.)
The last fiction book I read… I’ve been really digging Kristine Grayson’s Charming series, and just recently finished the first trilogy omnibus.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?
Tricky questions to answer, and the covid-19 pandemic makes everything in the near future unknowable. E-books are here to stay, but I think it’s safe to say that readers will still demand paper editions for some time yet. Publishers can now use print-on-demand to produce high quality paper books for low cost, without needing a warehouse to store inventory, and allow the reader to purchase the physical book on demand and have it shipped directly to them.
If brick and mortar bookshops continue to exist, they may not ever be the same. It’s not enough to rent a space in the shopping mall and fill bookshelves. All retailers need an online presence in addition to physical presence (whether they sell books or clothes). It’s certainly possible to run a small bookstore that also sells books online (via their own store website, as well as Amazon, E-bay, etc). Is it economically feasible? Maybe not… Only time will tell which businesses survive the pandemic. Personally I think most bookstores will be online, and they’ll sell both paper and e-book editions, but part of me wants to see brick and mortar stores continue to thrive too.
With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?
Before 2010, books like Rainmaker weren’t possible. It would’ve been too short for a traditional publisher, too long for a short story magazine, and has too much sex for many of the romance imprints. I could’ve pitched it to places like Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, neither of which exist anymore. Rainmaker might’ve been licensed to an erotica e-zine for three cents a word and then forgotten entirely. Or at worst, tossed into a trunk and never seen the light of day.
Being indie, I’ve been able to give the book both paper and electronic editions. I’m in control of the cover design, the sales blurb, where copies are distributed, etc. The book will never go out of print. And now, three years after I wrote it, I can still make money from it. I can still write the sequels if I choose. Also, if needed, I can rebrand the cover design, rewrite the sales blurb, and license it to wonderful bundles like Rainbow. I love that kind of freedom.
The covid-19 pandemic will almost certainly devastate the Big Five traditional publishers in the United States, who depend entirely on paper sales and have way over-priced their e-book editions. But the indie publishers like me will be fine. My entire business exists on a MacBook and operates on a shoe-string budget. And my stories continue to earn me money through the pandemic, and will do so into the future. Being a newer and non-bestseller writer, if I were tied to the Big Five, I’d be going down with the corporate ships. Indie is the most viable way to earn money as a long-term professional writer. Except for sending short stories to magazines, I can’t imagine ever playing in the traditional publishing system.
SirensGarterErotica.com Home for everything related to Miriam F. Martin and Siren’s Garter.
danthonybrown.com Main website and blog for David Anthony Brown.
Contact the author directly at email@example.com.
Once upon a time, Miriam F. Martin was a princess who ruled a planet Earthlings call Mars. Her reign ended when somebody decided women were really from Venus. Confused about her identity, she ended up between worlds. Putting away her tiara and scepter forever, she now flattens her ass in a cushy chair while writing smutty erotica. You’re welcome.
Miriam F. Martin is a pseudonym created by David Anthony Brown. He owns Hermit Muse Publishing and writes fiction in other genres, including science fiction and fantasy. He lives in Minnesota.
Author name: Kari Kilgore
How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it?
BundleRabbit happened to start up around the same time my first novel came out, so I’ve been in since the beginning. I make sure everything I publish goes in right away.
I’d absolutely recommend making your stories available for bundles! It’s a wonderful way to work with other authors you may not otherwise meet, and to introduce your readers to other great storytellers. And if other writers introduce you to their readers as well, that’s a bonus.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
I’m a pantser through and through. I love the adventure and discovery of telling myself the story. I truly do keep writing so I can find out what happens.
What does writing bring to your life?
The adventure of getting to live different lives, to get inside the perspective of different people. Sometimes they’re not even people! I’ve unconsciously explored things that bothered me through writing, often upsetting things from my past. I usually don’t realize what I’ve done until someone points it out. I’ve consciously approached difficult things in writing as well. Setting out to deal with a situation, or try to figure something out.
But most of all, it’s just the fun and joy of telling myself the story. That truly is the best motivation and the best reward for me. I’m delighted to bring happiness, a thoughtful moment, or escape to readers as well.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
Most of the time, I take a pause in writing, look up the one thing I need, and get right back into the story. I’m not a big fan of noting things to look up later, because whatever new information I learn about that seemingly trivial item often changes the course of the story. I’ve gotten more and more in the habit of trusting that little voice in my head that wonders “How does that work?” That voice is driving the writing engine, and she knows what she’s doing.
I don’t know how wild it is, but I recently spent a few minutes reading about poisonous plants in North America for a story. I was shocked by how many there are, and the huge variety of symptoms they can cause.
How influential is storytelling to our culture?
I think it’s an integral part of our culture, one of the ways our civilisations have risen and fallen, grown and changed. We use it for exploration, for healing, for cautionary tales, for escape, for adventure, for teaching. Heck, we tell ourselves stories all night long when we’re dreaming. And the fun thing is I can’t even say it’s a human-only trait. I’ve seen our dogs and cats dream constantly. And have you ever watched cats or dogs or other critters playing? Your cat knows that bottle lid skittering across the floor isn’t actually a mouse, and your dog knows the squeaky toy isn’t alive. But they tell themselves that story so vividly.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
There are two that I’ve reminded myself of so often that they’ve become second nature. Write the next thing, and have fun.
For me, immediately jumping in and writing the next thing gets me out of the trap of worrying about the thing I just finished or submitted. If I’m deep into the new story right away, I don’t have time for fretting or stress. And, by the time the response comes back on a submission, I’m far enough into the new story that it doesn’t cause me trouble whether the news is good or bad.
And the whole point of telling stories for me is having fun. Otherwise, there are SO many other ways to make a living. I want to always be writing a story that I’m eager to get back into. If I’m forcing myself to sit down and get started, I’m going to turn what should be all kinds of joy and excitement into drudgery. I figure there’s enough of that in life already.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
Someone told me more than once that my creativity would dry up, and I had to be prepared for that. From this person’s history, they meant for years and years at a time, and potentially forever. To me, that’s such a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, to expect that to happen and spend all kinds of time dwelling on it. The idea of trying to convince other people to think that way for some reason really bothers me, too.
Of course, we all have challenges, and times in our lives when writing or other forms of creativity are difficult or quite reasonably impossible. Personal or family illness, job changes, moving, deaths in the family or among friends. We’re all living through some major challenges all over the world right now that have affected many of us when it comes to our productivity.
But I don’t see any of these slowdowns or even stops in my own creative life as permanent. In fact, the more often and the more routinely I get words on the page, the easier it is to do the same thing day in and day out. In my experience, creativity is like a muscle. Sure, I may need to rest during times of illness or injury. But most of the time, the more I use that muscle, the more I can use it. During times like 2020, I’m grateful every single day for that escape from reality!
Tell us about your latest piece?
I’ve been writing all kinds of Romance in 2020, probably because the guaranteed Happily Ever After sounds extra good right now. At the moment, I’m a way into a Romantic Suspense novel set in one of my fictional towns. All the other stories set there have been light-hearted. It’s so much fun seeing the settings and people in a different mood and light. There’s a heavy dose of Mystery and darker elements, but I still expect that happy ending.
What’s your next writing adventure?
For novels and novellas, I have a few series-in-progress that are ready for sequels, so I think now would be a great time to jump into those. They range from near-future Science Fiction to Dark Fantasy to Romantic Suspense to Space Opera, so all kinds of fun ahead. As far as short stories, I have a long-term Mystery project going, so I’ll be doing a lot more crime writing of all kinds.
What is the last book you’ve read?
I just finished Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts, book two in The Chronicles of The One. It’s a treat to read the work of such a skilled and prolific writer, and the story is right up my alley for sure. With someone as great as Nora Roberts or Stephen King or Dean Koontz, I always read for pleasure of course. But it’s well worth the time to go back through the stories and see what all I can learn.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?
I happen to be an avid e-book reader. I have an e-reader and a tablet, but I’ve gotten firmly into the habit of reading on my phone. I love having a story to read in my pocket at all times. That way whenever I have downtime or I’m in line or waiting for whatever reason, I can escape.
That being said, the answer about brick and mortar bookshops has gotten far more complicated because of COVID-19. I don’t think print books are on the way out, no. I have a good number of sales on the print side, especially Large Print editions. I’ve even had a surprising number of sales of print versions of short stories, in-person and online. I think the big, traditionally bookselling industry has taken a major hit here in 2020, and the structure will likely have to change. But I believe print will endure well past all of this.
Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?
I haven’t experienced this at all, and other indies I know who are getting high-quality, professional work out there haven’t either.
The truth is readers are interested in great stories, most of all. And since indies can deliver great design and reading experiences that are much more fairly priced to go with great stories, what’s not to like? We also have the flexibility to write in a huge variety of genres and subgenres and cross-genres that are often not available through traditional channels.
Of course, quality matters. Clean copy that tells an entertaining or thought-provoking or scary story matters. Covers and good readability in print and electronic matters. Indies can do all of this, with more and more tools available to us every day.
Kari Kilgore started her first published novel Until Death in Transylvania, Romania, and finished it in Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where a rather famous creepy tale about a hotel sparked into life. That’s just one example of how real world inspiration drives her fiction.
Kari’s first published novel Until Death was included on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First Novel in 2016. Until Death was also a finalist for the Golden Stake Award at the Vampire Arts Festival in 2018.
Kari’s short myth The Spider Who Ate the Elephant placed 2nd in fiction in the 2019 Virginia Writers Club Golden Nib contest.
Her professional short story sales include several to Fiction River anthology magazine and three stories in a holiday-themed anthology project with Kristine Kathryn Rusch due out over the holidays in 2020, as well as one for Valentine’s Day, due in February of 2021. Her first professional publication was Fiction River: Superstitious in 2019, and she has three more Fiction River stories on the way.
Kari writes first and figures out the story’s genre later. That’s resulted in fantasy, science fiction, romance, contemporary fiction, and everything in between. She’s happiest when she surprises herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with her husband Jason A. Adams, various house critters, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about.
Kari’s novels, novellas, and short stories are available in ebook, paperback, Large Print, and hardcover formats at http://www.spiralpublishing.net, which also publishes books by Frank Kilgore and Jason A. Adams. For more information about Kari, upcoming publications, her travels and adventures, random cool things that catch her attention, and The Confidential Adventure Club, visit www.karikilgore.com.
Today we welcome Historical Romance writer Gina Ardito.
Gina – over to you…
We’re living in strange days. And we’re all trying to find a new normal we can live with. One of the aspects of writing historical romances I love is that I know how it’s going to end. Oh, not the way my characters will win in the end (I’m a total pantser, which means I have no idea where my story will go ‘til it lands somewhere), but definitely how the historical crisis they’re living through will end. That’s a luxury we don’t have these days. But it’s important to remember that when our historical figures were surviving their trying times, they had no idea how it would end, either. We just have the luxury of hindsight.
When I opted to choose to set ECHOES OF LOVE during the time of Napoleon’s march on Russia, I knew how the emperor’s gambit turned out. Chesna, my royal governess, has no such certainty—though she suspects. And yet, time and again, when I threw the worst sort of betrayals at her, she outwitted me and rose to the occasion. Take, for instance, this scene when the French army has invaded her city and she has fled to the church with her young prince for sanctuary until she can plan their next move.
“Please, Your Majesty, you must listen to me.”
The boy flipped down the blanket and opened one eye to stare at her. Obviously, her use of his new title had struck through his sleep-fogged brain. His brow furrowed, and a lone tear slipped down his cheek. “Papa?” The squeaky tremor in his voice confirmed her suspicion that he sensed the truth regarding his father’s fate. “He’s gone, isn’t he?”
She bowed her head. “Yes, sire. Forgive our haste, but we must speak quickly.”
The cot creaked as Mikhail sat up. With a shiver at the cold air, he folded his arms over his chest, and looked around in confusion. “Where are my garments?”
Chesna exchanged a quick glance with Karol, who came forward with the bundle of dirty clothes. “Here, Your Majesty.”
Mikhail’s expression mirrored his disgust. “Those are filthy. Where did you get them?”
Cheeks flushed, Karol backed away from the boy’s indignance. “From a dead boy in the street, sire.”
“How dare you!” he shouted. “I do not wear dirty garments.”
“You do now,” Chesna said flatly. She halted the argument he might attempt with an index finger pressed to the child’s lips. “Please, Your Majesty. Listen to me. I’ll explain.”
Although his eyes narrowed in displeasure, Mikhail nodded.
She removed her finger and gestured for Karol to bring the clothes forward. “Do you recall what you asked of me when I told you of your mama’s death?”
“Yes,” he replied warily. “I asked if you’d be my mama now. But you said you could never take her place.”
She shook out the threadbare shirt to remove any stray dust or insects, then slid the rough garment around his satiny shoulders. “Well, sire, I’ve changed my mind.”
The boy looked up, one eyebrow quirked. “How so?”
“To rule Amatia, Napoleon would destroy the royal family, including you. But the French only plan to remain here for a short time before pressing on toward Moscow. They must cross the mountains before the cold weather sets in. And if they’re defeated in Moscow, a fate my father claimed was all but certain, your throne reverts back to you based on your alliance with Tsar Alexander. Until then, we must keep these foreigners from discovering your true identity so they cannot harm you or take you prisoner.”
One eyebrow quirked up, an expression so like his father’s, Chesna sucked in a sharp breath. “And how will we accomplish this?”
She refocused on the new king. “While you slept, Karol took your garments and went out into the streets. He found a dead boy of about your age, removed his clothing, dressed him in your royal attire and left his body beneath that of your father’s. By tomorrow morning, Napoleon’s army will be under the assumption they succeeded in killing the entire royal family.”
“So you’re going to pretend to be my mama to fool our enemies,” he surmised. At Chesna’s nod, he clapped. “How clever of you!”
I wish I had the answer as to how our current circumstances will end, but the best I can promise is that it will, eventually, end. Until then, why not lose yourself in stories where you may not know how they’ll wind up together and happy at the end, but you know they will? I highly recommend you start with ECHOES OF LOVE.
meant to be, it will return. In Gina Ardito’s historical fiction
novel, she explores the idea of lost love, and bitter-sweet homecomings.
young prince Mikhail, as a means to ease her broken heart. Six years
prior, her childhood sweetheart, Pietor was sent off to Russia, and
soon forgot all about Chesna. However, fate will soon bring the two
lost lovers together again, but under dire circumstances. As
Napoleon’s armies march upon Amatia, Chesna finds herself caught
between loyalty to her country, and what her heart desires.
beautifully crafted love story. She crafts a suspenseful and engaging
narrative, taking readers through historical events, and the inner
conflicts within Chesna, and Pietor. The storytelling is beautifully
done as Ardito explores the concept of long-lost lovers, betrayal,
and learning to follow your heart. The narrative flows in an organic
way, with tension masterfully woven throughout. The dynamics between
Chesna and Pietor is natural, and their relationship is very well written.
and Pietor must unravel before it is too late. Readers will be on the
edge of their seats, as they follow along in the race against time.
Chesna must figure out who to trust, and who she can place her faith in.
of Love is a fantastic historical fiction novel. Gina Ardito is a fantastic
writer, and her novel will pull at your heartstrings, as well as
leave you breathless.
all my life wants me dead. I have nowhere to turn and no one whom I
can trust. I am surrounded by enemies on all sides. Do you have any
idea how that makes me feel?”