We want YOU and your lesfic, women loving women BOOKS!

We want you for Lesfic Bard Awards no glove color

Contest Features:

  • Chance to win a beautiful crystal award featuring your name and the title of your book.
  • Chance for free advertising and marketing for the author and their award-winning book.
  • Chance to be in several major LGBT magazines and blogs—free publicity for you and your book.

Become an “award-winning author”!

Book awards grab the attention of bookstores, publishers, libraries and readers, which can translate into increased sales. If you place in our contest, you can add our winner’s award seal to your book and marketing materials to identify your book as an “award-winning book” and brand you an “award-winning author.”

We accept PDF books in 19 genres, but the publication date must be in 2020.  Note: We are an international competition, but your work must be submitted in English.

Please enter here, now!

Meet Iza Moreau

Iza Moreau is the winner of the 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for Young Adult for her book Tank Baby.

Iza MoreauTank Baby by Iza Moreau

Where were you born? Boise, Idaho

Where did you grow up? Boise, Idaho

Do you have any siblings? No

Why do you write? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. I don’t think I believe in “born writers” and I don’t believe in the idea of a muse. Nor do I have a burning need to tell my story. Yet I find that when I am not doing creative work, I am unhappy. It’s likely that, over the years, I simply convinced myself that my main strength was in writing and concentrated on that above everything else. But because all of my novels have lesbian protagonists, I am proud to be adding to the store of LGBTQ literature. The only time I have ever felt driven to write anything specific was when I realized that there were no queer-oriented series featuring teen sleuths. In other words, no Nancy Drew for lesbians. So that is what the Elodie Fontaine Mysteries is all about—to begin a literature for young lesbians and teens who may be questioning their sexual identity.

How do you choose the names for your characters? Oddly, some of the names of minor characters just pop into my head—like Sixteen in my novel Swamp Girl. For others, like Elodie Fontaine, I had to do some name searching online. I wanted a musical first name, but it also had to be a Creole name. Likewise, the main character in my literary novel, London, Falling, had to have a name that might be recognized as British, so Dawn Blackwell was born.

What is the first piece you ever wrote? In grade school I wrote a story called “The Clue in the Closet of the Almost-Stolen House.” The story itself has disappeared, alas.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Both. And anyone who says different is fooling themselves. That’s why the “any similarities” disclaimers in the front matter of most novels are so silly.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? This is the beauty of ebooks and publish-on-demand paperbacks. If I wanted to change anything, I would just do it. Today, tomorrow, or two years from now.

What is the hardest part of writing a book? I have had trouble beginning a book, continuing a book somewhere after 5 chapters, and actually finding a way to end a book. So depending on the book, any part of it can be hard. In general, I dislike doing the research that is required to get things right. It is necessary, but I would rather go on with the story while I have it in my mind.

What is the easiest part of writing a book? For me, dialogue seems to come quickly and easily, as do relationships.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story? Yes, absolutely. Too much description of surroundings, too much banal conversation, too much homework. The job of a good copyeditor or editor is to identify and eliminate or ameliorate these.

Do you have any writing rituals? And can you tell us about your writing discipline. I’ve gone through a lot of “writing schedule” ploys, like going to the library each morning at a certain time and remaining for several hours. At that time I was forcing myself to be a writer. Now I have much more leisure time and—because I have learned that I am, indeed, a writer—I simply write when I feel like it.

What is your greatest fear as an author? When I was young I was scared I would never write anything good enough to make me famous. Now that I realize I will never be famous, I am fearless.

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)? I feel that most of my novels are pretty unique, although my book of stories, The XYZ Mysteries, has some debt to Conan Doyle and my Elodie Fontaine Mysteries owe a great debt to the authors of girl’s teen mysteries of the 1950s and 1960s.

What are you working on now? The fifth novel in my Elodie Fontaine Mysteries series, Stormy Weather.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? 500 is a good number. Then again, any number of pages written is a good number.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? PC. I look back with little fondles to the days of longhand and typewriters.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? I am working on one now—a fantasy called Persephone’s Mare—with a good friend.

Where do your ideas come from? No f-ing idea.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you? Usually I am content to see where the characters lead me. There are times, though, when at least some outline is necessary.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? It was always in my mind that I would be a writer. Believe it or not.

What genres do you normally write in? Lesbian Mystery. Lesbian Literary Fiction. Lesbian Young Adult.

What genres do you typically read? Literary fiction, mystery fiction (including lesbian mysteries), and a bit or SF and YA.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle? Well, I mentioned that fantasy I’m collaborating on . . .

Are there any authors who have influenced your work? Maggie Estep opened some doors for me in terms of style and attitude. She died way too soon.

What was the first book you ever published? The News in Small Towns, the first book in my Small Town series of lesbian mysteries set in north Florida.  It was published in 2012.

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write? It varies, but I think I write best between 11:00 p.m. and 3 a.m.

What part of the female physique captures your attention? Hands, feet, hair, skin tone.

Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about. Intelligent, motivated, and determined women. Women on a quest—as are we all.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite? They are all special to me.

What is your biggest distraction when you write? I’m pretty easily distracted. That’s why I prefer writing while most people are sleeping.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break? I try not to break any grammar rules—especially my own—and I always use the series comma.

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories? A librarian, astronaut, or UPS driver. I have used only the librarian in my writing.

What kind of jobs have you had in the ‘real’ world? Retail clerk, newspaper reporter, state worker.

If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why? Little Women, because essentially it is already a lesfic novel but Alcott chickened out.

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay? We all have made mistakes in our lives and wish we could undo these. But we can’t.

What were you like at school? Mildly smart, mildly athletic, only slightly popular.

Were you good at English? Yes, always.

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn? I know a little Spanish; would like to learn Korean.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? To be far more well known after I am gone than I am now.

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why? I actually posted this on my facebook page once. Leanna Creel—part of the Creel triplets who starred in The Parent Trap III—would be perfect for Sue-Ann McKeown, the main character of my Small Town Series. Leanne is a lesbian who now works in the film industry as a writer, producer, and director.  Are you reading this, Leanna?

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Depends. The Elodie Fontaine books took only a few months each. The 5 took many years.

Do you ever get writer’s block? I don’t really believe in writer’s block, although I do believe that there are circumstances that cause writing to languish.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I was lucky enough to begin publishing well into my maturity, so I had a long time to learn the basics of conversation, plot, point of view, and the rest. So my published writing, at least, has not evolved.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Literary fiction: Hardy and Austen, Estep, and Dickens. Lesbian mysteries: Nikki Baker and Kate Allen. Fantasy: Libba Bray.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books? My failing eyesight makes ebooks or audiobooks a requirement.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? Both. And the more eyes on the manuscript the better.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. Six months is a good marinating time for me.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. My publishing cooperative comes up with most of the cover design and execution. However, my Elodie Fontaine series required original, story-driven paintings. After several misses, I found an illustrator who was able to transform my own cover ideas into reality. They are based on the cover styles popular in girls’ series books of the 1950s and 1960s: Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, and the like. I hope I live long enough to sell enough copies of the books to pay for the illustrations.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? You can’t tell a book by its cover, but a cover often—if not always—determines whether a reader will actually pick it up and look at it.

How do you market your books? I have used only a few marketing ploys—facebook, blogs, word of mouth, goodreads groups, and the like. The fact is, advertising—unless one pays thousands of dollars—simply doesn’t work. Today’s indie author has to rely on contests like The Lesfic Bard Awards and others, for any recognition. That and online reviews. Good work should come to the fore—if not now, then later.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? There will always be “friend” reviews and always “troll” reviews. Any well-written and well-thought out review is valid, whether it is complimentary or not.

Why do you think that other well-written books just don’t sell? This is actually more of a research topic than a question. Essentially, online publishing has changed reading considerably. People are into more escapist literature. Anything that smacks of literary fiction is doomed to lie unmolested in the ether. And people that read mostly literary fiction generally have enough to choose from through traditional publishers.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? They are nice for people that have the time, the $$$, and the expertise to create them.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? I have had bad luck with giveaways. Hundreds of people will download a book without the slightest knowledge of what they are getting. So when they notice that it has lesbian content, the negative reviews begin rolling in. Even paperback review copies are problematic—most end up in the used section of Amazon or other used online book dealers. Sales are hard enough without having to compete against people that have gotten your book for free—one that actually cost you money to print and to ship.

Did you format your own book? Yes.

In what formats is your book available? Ebook(all formats) and paperback.

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time? Relaxing and totally retired.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that anything you write before you are 30 will be worth reading when you are 50.

What are your thoughts on Porn (visual) vs Erotica (written) and do you think authors can creatively bring some aspects of both into their writing, making it sensual and beautiful instead of raw and vulgar? I think there are ways to write graphic sex scenes that are not only enjoyable, but essential to the story. Check out the sex scene in my story, “Ghosts,” which is the last story in Mysteries in Small Towns. Megan Casey, in her forthcoming book, The Art of the Lesbian Mystery Novel, claims that there is more sex in lesbian writing than in straight writing because lesbian readers demand it.

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? Different people have different reasons for using or not using pseudonyms. All are valid.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it? I’ve never actually heard this question before, but essentially, you have been working toward that ending point for weeks or months or years. You will know when you get there.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? The only thing bad about it is the same thing that makes the influx of writing in all genres bad—much of it is unpolished and in need of a good editor.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person? Verbose.

If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be? Ulysses, by James Joyce, The Collected poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and maybe Looking for Ammu, by Claire Macquet.

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work? That it spoke to a need and was influential in what came after.

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that? Yes. With about 20 books published now, I can definitely say that I have succeeded in what I set out to do. But if successful is defined as best-selling, then no, although I don’t think this is the best definition.

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable? Yes. One scene actually shaped and gave direction to my entire body of work. I had only finished about 4 chapters in my first novel, The News in Small Towns, which began as a literary novel with straight characters. My protagonist, Sue-Ann McKeown, had just returned from a 6-month stint as a war correspondent in Iraq. Her mother had just died in a riding accident, and her father had sold everything he could and skipped town. Sue-Ann herself was suffering from PTSD and an undiagnosed glandular illness which was affecting her physically and mentally. The last straw was when she feared that she was about to lose her job. She was slumped on the floor of her farmhouse amid a basketful of unread mail, depressed, dejected, and despondent. Then someone knocked on her front door.

She remained on that floor for days. I knew that whoever came through that door would shape the direction of the novel. Would it be Clarence Meekins her good friend from a local market? Cal Dent, her boss at the paper? One of her ex-boyfriends? Her father? To her—and to my—surprise it was her old high-school nemesis, Ginette Carwright, someone that Sue-Ann had always despised because of her Barbie doll looks and her penchant of stealing the spotlight. But as soon as Ginette walked in, I knew that these two opposite women were going to fall in love. So what I was writing had instantly turned from literary fiction to lesbian fiction and because it was a mystery it was lesbian mystery fiction.

I began exploring the genre in a big way and realized that many lesbian mysteries came in a series of three or more. So I wrote three more books in the series and my career as a lesbian mystery writer was born. If Ginette had not walked in that door, it is not even certain that I would have finished writing that first book, much less gone on to write others.

Where were you when you heard you had won the Lesfic Bard Award and what was your reaction to it? I was right here at my computer. I had a vague idea that the award announcements were close to being released, so I was following the Lesfic Bard sites closely. I was delighted, of course. I had already won the Rainbow Award for another book in the Elodie series, so this second win seemed to be a validation that I had done something that was enjoyable; that might endure.

 

 

Meet Karen Badger

Karen is the winner of the 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for Historical as well as the 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for Action Adventure for her novel, Over the Crescent Moon.

Karen Badger HistoricalKaren Badger Over the Crescent MoonKaren Badger Action Adventure

Karen was also a finalist in the Young Adult category for her novel,

In the Blink of an Eye.Karen Badger Finalist

Karen Badger In the Blink of an Eye

Where were you born?

Burlington, Vermont.

Where did you grow up?

I’ve lived in Vermont my entire life.

Do you have any siblings?

Yes, five of them.  My older brother Steve passed away six years ago.  I’m next in line, followed by my brother Todd, sister Penny, brother Bob and brother Dan.

What were your parent’s professions?

My mom was a secretary, and then an IT specialist for 30 years and my dad was a meat cutter.

Why do you write?

My mind is a beehive of activity all of the time and I get bored easily…and when I’m bored, I’m cranky.  I don’t like being idle, so when I’m not engaged with work, or family, I’ll channel my thoughts into something productive…like writing.  I’ve got countless characters rambling around inside my brain just clamoring to get out.

What do you think makes good writing?

The ability to make your readers ‘see’ what you’re writing.  I’ve been told that I am a very visual writer…that my writing is descriptive to the point the reader feels they are ‘inside’ the story and witnessing things first-hand.  I also think a good story has to have substance.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

This is going to sound stereotypical, but my lesbian characters tend to be butch/femme pairs and so they have butch/femme names.  The butch typically will have an androgynous name, i.e., Billie, Elliot, Jordan, Spencer, Sawyer…and the femmes have more feminine names, i.e., Caitlain, Lia, Maggie, Makaya, Willow.  I will sometimes choose last names based on people I know, but the first names just come to me.  I like unusual names, so I try to use them as often as possible.

What is the first piece you ever wrote?

On A Wing And A Prayer.  Published in 2005.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

My characters are sometimes based on people I know…and I believe every author writes themselves into each of their books, even if they are not aware they are doing it. The situations on the other hand are totally made up, except for my book, “Happy Campers,” which is based on actual experiences.  I guess, for the most part, you could say the situations in my books are experiences I would LIKE to have rather than based on an experience I have already had.  I tend to place my books in cities, towns, states I am familiar with.  By doing that, I feel I am better able to capture the essence of place and setting.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not really.  My latest release is  “In The Blink of an Eye”, and it’s part of the Billie/Cat Commitment series.  It deals with a high school shooting.  It makes me cry every time I read it.  It’s a tough story to read, but it is appropriate to the world we are living in.  The other book I released in 2019, Over The Crescent Moon, started out as a fun romp and turned into something very different.  I struggled with how to end the book, but an idea came out of a conversation I had with my wife, that I hope my readers will enjoy.  I wouldn’t change a thing in that book either.

What is the hardest part of writing a book?

Finding the time.  I still work full time…and then there’s my wife, kids, grandkids and an elderly mom to spend time with.  My latest problem has been this virus and the state our government is currently in.  I have been very distracted of late to say the least!

What is the easiest part of writing a book?

Letting go and allowing the characters to take over.  I love it when that happens.  The book always turns out exceptionally better for it.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story?

I like the detail.  I feel like it provides more visual aids for the reader.  What I don’t like, are data dumps.  It is annoying when I read a book that is mostly narrative rather than dialogue, or when the characters just spew information about themselves or their backstory in long rants.  Information should be revealed through conversations.  Like I said…detail is good, but for me, it is best when it comes out through interactions or short descriptions.

What is your greatest fear as an author?

I have two.  First, that no one really knows who I am.  I have 15 books published over the past 15 years, three of which have won Literary Awards, yet, there are thousands of lesbian readers out there who have never heard of me.  I know a great deal of that is my own fault, as marketing myself is my weakest skill.  The second fear is that I will subliminally copy another’s author’s ideas or work.  For this reason, I do NOT read any lesbian literature while I am writing a book.  I don’t want to pick up their ideas, or their sense of ‘voice’.  I want to portray my own sense of style, and I want my readers to recognize my voice.

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)?

As far as I know, I have never been compared to other authors.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a speculative novel set in Sedona, Arizona, titled “Love in the Shadows.”  Let’s just say it deals with vortexes and time warps.  Sedona is the perfect setting for such a story!

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind?

I try very hard not to take the same set of characters from one book, give them different names, and then plop them down into my next novel.  I strive to make my characters unique, flawed, and very different from each other.  I like them to be intelligent, yet vulnerable, likable, yet flawed, quirky, yet serious when they need to be.  Most of all, I like them to be very different from each other.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Part-time.  I still work full time as a Semiconductor Engineer.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I do most of my writing in the evenings.  My ‘day-job’ begins at 7 am and I generally work until 4 or 5 pm…and since we are a worldwide organization and some of our offices are in Germany, India, and Singapore, quite often I have late-night meetings anywhere from 9-11 pm.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, so I fit it in when I can between working and spending time with my wife and family.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

When I’m on a roll, I’ll write every day, but generally, it is 3-5 nights a week.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

No.  I write until I’ve worked through several chapters, or until my characters are tired of talking to me and decide to take a break.  I’m not hung up on a minimum number of words per session.  I have been known to write well into the night because my characters are being especially chatty…only to go to work the next day with 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and at other times I quit after an hour or two because the flow is just not working.  The fact that I self publish, means I control the deadline.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Computer…sometimes my desktop, and sometimes my laptop.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Not yet, but I’ve offered to collaborate with my wife to kick her writing skills into gear.  She’s an amazing plot doctor, and writer herself.

Where do your ideas come from?

Places I’ve visited, things I’ve read, the news, and from the quirky little imp that lives inside my head and surprises me with ideas in my dreams.  I keep a pad of paper beside the bed in the event that happens.  I am of the age that if I don’t write it down, it will be gone in an instant!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I am 100% a pantser.  When I begin to write, I have a general idea of what the story is and where I want to take it, but then I begin to write and it goes off into several tangents as it follows my characters around.  I find if I try to force a story to follow a pre-set outline, I have a harder time writing and being creative.  I have learned that my characters have an even more wild imagination than I do, and if I let them do their thing, the story I get in the end may be different than I intended, but it is always better.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t remember much about my childhood thoughts and desires.  When I reached high school, I took a course of study geared toward science, and at one point, I thought I wanted to be an actress, and then I wanted to be a physical therapist, but I switched gears and went for a double degree in theater and education.  By the time I graduated from college (the first time), there were no jobs to be found in education and so I went to work in the semiconductor field.  I went back to school when my kids were 6-months and 4 years, and nine years later, I became an engineer with a degree in scientific mathematics.  Yes…I am a professional nerd!

What genres do you normally write in?

Romance, Occult, Drama, Speculative, Paranormal, Historical, Action, and Adventure.  I think my best niche is in Speculative, although my favorite book I’ve written is 1140 Rue Royale, which is Paranormal.

What genres do you typically read?

I don’t read often, but when I do, I like anything except Erotica.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle?

Someday, I will try my hand at a mystery, or maybe detective-themed novels.  Sci-Fi might also be on the future agenda.

Are there any authors who have influenced your work?

Jodi Picoult.  I like how open and direct her writing is.

What was the first book you ever published? 

On A Wing And A Prayer – 2005

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)?

I am my current publisher.  My wife and I established Badger Bliss Book (www.badgerblissbooks.com) in 2014 when my then, publisher, Blue Feather Books, closed its doors.

What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?

Hmmm…tough question.  I’ve written about time travel, witchcraft, and ghosts, but I don’t consider them crazy.  The closest I come to cray cray is funny.  A good example is Book III in the Billie/Cat Series, titled “Happy Campers.”  It is probably the funniest book of the 15 I have released.  It is basically the camping trip from hell, and I’ve pretty much lived through everything that happens in that book on my own camping trips…just not all in one fell swoop!

Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you?

I am ritualistically addicted to research.  You will recall I mentioned data dumps in an earlier question…well, I need to be careful with research because it borders on data dumps. Before I begin writing, I do extensive research into the setting of the book, and the topic I’m writing about.  For example, in Yesterday Once More, the protagonist is a research scientist/doctor who specializes in spinal injuries, since she was injured as a teenager.  She is working on an implant that restores mobility and notices that the rats they are testing the prototype on, walk with an uneven gait.  She soon discovers it was caused by a different number of significant digits in the amount of time the electrical charge is applied to either side of the injury site.  I was fascinated by this concept and spent an inordinate amount of time researching significant digits….and then proceeded to write two pages about it into the story to explain the uneven gait.  Needless to say, my editor attacked those two pages with the dreaded red pen!  My point is…I am inspired by information, and the more information I have before starting a book, the smoother the process goes for me.

What is your writing day like?

For starters, it’s never an actual day…. a few hours is more like it unless I’m on a roll.  I will generally sit in my office with the television on in the background, or if my wife isn’t home, I’ll park myself in the living room in front of the TV with my laptop.  I do my best writing when I have background noise.  I will generally have something to drink and snack on while I’m working.  When I’m really focused on writing, I barely hear the noise around me, but if it is totally quiet, I have a hard time concentrating.  I try to knock off before midnight because my workday usually begins around six am, but if I’m really on a roll, it will write until two or three in the morning.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always enjoyed writing, but when I reached high school, I found that I not only enjoyed it, but I was pretty good at it.  I filled up my electives in college with creative writing classes, and even tried my hand at playwriting as part of my theater degree.  It wasn’t until I was married with two teenage sons that things took off…and my life completely changed.  Much of that change, I attribute to writing.

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they say?

I generally hear from readers after I have released a new title.  I am close friends with several of them and stay in contact on a regular basis, but for the most part, the communication falls off with most of them after the new release isn’t new anymore.

Tell us about your new release.

I released two new books in the second half of 2019.  The first is titled “Over The Crescent Moon,” and the second is titled “In The Blink of an Eye.”  Crescent Moon is a historical/action-adventure novel that started out as a fun romp, but as the writing progressed, the characters turned it into something much more.  The book starts out in 2019 and ends up in 1884.  By the time I finished writing it, I realized that this was book one of what might be a multi-book series.  That book won in BOTH the History and Action/Adventure categories in the LesFic Bard Awards!  The second release, which I affectionately call ‘Blink’ is book 9 of the Billie/Cat Series, and it follows their oldest daughter, Tara, and son Seth, into a high-school shooting scenario.  It is also a coming-out story for Tara.  That book makes me cry when I read it.  I keep imagining my 15-year old grandson caught in something like that.  It is chilling to think about, and unfortunately, appropriate for the times we live in. By the way, ‘Blink’ was a finalist in the Young Adult category in the LesFic Bard Awards as well!

What kind of heroine is in your current book?

My current book, Love in the Shadows, is metaphysical in nature (speculative), set in Sedona, Arizona amongst the vortexes and Indian spirituality.  The heroine is named Kirstin and she is a geneticist by training but has been transplanted from Utah to Sedona to escape the confines of her oppressive religious upbringing.  She finds herself suddenly trying to adjust to being single after her two-year relationship ended when she found her artist-girlfriend getting just a little too close to the model for her latest artwork…in their own bed, no less.  Anyway, Kirstin finds herself with significant free time and chooses to spend it hiking the vortexes of Sedona.  Not to give anything away, let me just say that things begin to happen in a metaphysical sense while on these hikes.  Enough said…for now!

Is there someone famous she resembled when you wrote her? Or is she based off someone you personally know?

Kirstin kind of looks to me, like Jessica Chastain…especially with the red hair.

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist?

Boldness, sassiness, independence, determination.  My characters are definitely not wimpy in any way.  They are generally very capable, determined, and independent.

What part of the female physique captures your attention?

Eyes, smile

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way? 

I think I create my characters with all the personality traits I would be attracted to.  There are definitely some characters I could see myself attracted to if they were real…and if I didn’t already have the most amazing woman in my life.  Lia Purvis, is the femme in my book, 1140 Rue Royale.  I modeled her after the amazingly beautiful woman of color (Sherri Saum), who played Lena on the television show, ‘The Fosters.’  She mesmerizes me with her beauty.  There are also some characters that get on my nerves sometimes, and I have to work to make them more likable at times.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?

I guess I would have to say Jordan Lewis from Yesterday Once More.  She’s smart (research scientist), tall, dark and beautiful (think, Xena), and she is so in love with Maggie Downs that she is willing to risk her entire life, her history, and her very existence to be with her.  What complicates matters, is that Maggie has been dead for 85 years.

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?

As I’ve said, my heroine is everything I would like to be.  In some ways, I believe every author writes themselves into their books…sometimes as secondary characters, but more often some of their personality traits and beliefs are ingrained in the main characters.  My characters have my sense of humor, and at the risk of sounding full of myself, my intelligence as well.  Unfortunately, I don’t really look like any of them – LOL!

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?

1140 Rue Royale, for sure.  It is my first attempt at writing Paranormal.  I love this book so much because it touches the depths of my soul.  It is about a multi-racial lesbian couple who purchase a mansion in New Orleans with a history of slavery.  The story becomes deeply personal for the woman of color in the couple (Lia) when things begin to happen in the house.  It is a story of love, renewal and redemption.  The idea for the book came to me when I was sight-seeing during a break at the 2015 GCLS Conference in NOLA.  I walked up to the house and touched the brick, and every hair on my body stood on end and goosebumps covered my arms.  I knew instinctively there was a story to be told.  I have goosebumps right now as I write this.  It happens every time I talk about this book.  As I said, it touches me deeply.

What is your biggest distraction when you write?

Current events.  I absolutely cannot write if there is an election going on.  I was destroyed by the 2016 election results and I was consumed with worry and fear immediately following it…and in some ways, I still am to this day.  It took a long time for me to be able to concentrate again on writing.  The coronavirus crisis is also crimping my style.  I am about 8 chapters into the new book, and I’m struggling to make myself get back to work on it.  My goal is to have that one completed before fall…and before the next election.  I am a very political person who cares passionately about the health of our country.  Unfortunately, we have been ailing for the past four years.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies?

Google, local library, research books.  For example, I set Over The Crescent Moon in Hawaii, and when Barb and I visited Maui two years ago, I picked up several books about the islands and Hawaiian culture to use as references.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break?

I try hard not to break any of them…but I’m sure I do.  I still struggle with lay, lie, laid, lain, and when to put an ‘e’ at the end of the word ‘blond’.  I find myself depending on the spell and grammar checker on MS-Word for words like that.  The ones I never break…or try never to break are point-of-view, passive voice and dangling participles.  I totally get why English is such a hard language to learn for non-native speakers.

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories?

I’d like to be a pilot.  It would be awesome to fly, and it’s a great way to travel all around the world.  The protagonist in my very first novel, On A Wing and a Prayer is a pilot.

What kind of jobs have you had in the ‘real’ world?

From ages 12 to 17, I served meals to the elderly in a nursing home.  I drove a cotton candy truck to stock car races for a friend of my father’s who had cerebral palsy.  I also worked as a short-order cook in a snack bar until a year or so into college.  While in college, I manned the box office at the campus theater, and then after graduation, I was hired into a semiconductor manufacturer, and 42 years later, I’m still there!

If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why?

To Kill a Mocking Bird.  Scout would definitely be a baby-dyke, and I would replace Atticus Finch with a Xena-like kick-a$$ lawyer…like Billie Charland in my Billie/Cat Series.  Considering the time and place the novel was set in, she would most likely still lose the case, but then she would break Tom out of prison by tying a rope around Argo’s saddle and tearing the bars out of the window.  She would then run for Sheriff and win.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?   Satin

Hot or Cold?   Hot

Camera or Canvas?  Camera

Denim or Leather?  Leather

Talking or Texting? Talking

Irish or Italian?  Irish

Thunder or Lightning?  Thunder

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire?  Crackling fire

Holding hands or Holding her attention?  Attention

Crayons or Paint?  Crayons

Mountains or Beach?  Mountains

Rain or Sunshine?  Sunshine (unless it’s a really violent storm…love the thunder)

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members that ‘surprised’ you?

My employer was super supportive.  They even paid to have me attend the Society of Women Engineers Conference to present a paper I wrote titled, “Switching Sides – My Professional Journey Over the Rainbow.”  The paper was all about coming out at work.  How cool is that?

If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why?

Toss-up between Michelle Obama and Rachel Maddow.  Michelle, because I adore and admire her, and Rachel, because she’s my secret girlfriend…everyone knows that!

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay?

That’s a hard question.  My first instinct would be to say marrying my ex-husband, but then I wouldn’t have my sons or grandkids.  I guess, if I was to be honest, I wouldn’t delete any of it.  I love where I am today, and who I am with…and had anything part of my life been different, today would be different as well.

What were you like at school?

Nerdy tomboy.  I went to Catholic schools, which was an experience in and of itself!  I hated the uniforms.  I would have much preferred pants.  We had no girls sports, so I joined the band…and of course, I played the drums.  I did really well at school and almost always made the honor roll.  I was not one of the popular (mean) girls…which was something that broke my heart then…but I’m kind of glad for now.  I hung around with the other nerdy girls.

Were you good at English?

Yes.  I took as many creative writing classes as I could.  I remember writing a poem once with 26 words…each one a letter of the alphabet.  I still remember the first verse… “Alcoholic bumpkins, cackling deliriously eating fetid geraniums…”  Odd…yes, but I was amused!

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn?

Unfortunately, no.  After eight years of elementary school French and two years of high-school Latin, I’m afraid I’ve retained almost none of it.  I learned American sign language at one point, but again, I’ve forgotten most of it.  I would love to learn Spanish, German, and Gaelic.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I guess we’d all like to become the next Stephen King, but that’s pretty unlikely for me.  It has always been my goal to supplement my retirement with my writing income. That will definitely happen.  I am hoping to learn more marketing skills that I can employ when I have more time in retirement.

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why?

If my novel, 1140 Rue Royale was made into a movie, I would have Sherii Saum and Teri Polo play Lia and Elliot…because they are who I had in mind when I wrote those characters.  They’d be perfect!  If my novel Yesterday Once More was made into a movie, I’d want Katherine Moening to play Jordan and Jessica Chastain to play Maggie.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Generally, about a month of research followed by 3-4 months of writing.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Sometimes, yes…or I’ll force myself to keep writing even when it doesn’t feel right, and end up erasing it when it turns out to be crap.  I try not to do that – it’s a waste of time.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Yes…for me, going back to the beginning of the book and reading it all over again almost always shakes the block loose…and most of the time,  the story takes off in an entirely different direction after the block.  I believe a block happens when you are trying to write something the characters don’t want to do, and once you stop trying to force them, the block goes away.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I published my first book in 2005 (On A Wing and a Prayer), and while it continues to be one of my best sellers I feel like the quality of my writing and my creative imagination has improved 100 times over.  It has definitely matured right along with me.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I rarely read…and when I do, it is generally not lesbian fiction…for reasons I stated earlier…I don’t want to subliminally lift an idea or copy the style of other authors.  When I have time to read (which is very rare), I’ll read books by Jodi Picoult, Kathryn Stockett, Dan Brown.  My wife, on the other hand, is an avid reader, and her preference is fantasy books…in particular, by Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hardback books?

Paperbacks/hardcovers

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

All of my books are professionally edited.  I go through it a zillion times…then hand it off to Barb for a final read-through (and corrections) …then send it off to several beta readers…and then finally, to my editor.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

No.  When I know it’s finished, I push hard to get it into my editor’s hands as soon as I can.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

My first six books were published when I was with Blue Feather Books.  They had a cover artist who designed several covers for each book, and I was given the opportunity to choose the ones I liked best.  The covers for my last nine books were designed by me.  Some of them are from photos that I took myself, and some of them are from stock photos I purchased online.  The cover for Book I of the Billie/Cat series (In A Family Way), was drawn by my grandson when he was five years old.  The cover is basically a house with a rainbow above it, and five stick figures of the family who lives there.  Funny enough, none of the figures have noses…but they all have belly-buttons, LOL!  It is one of my favorite book covers.  All my book covers reflect an aspect of the story in some way.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I think it is a mechanism to catch a reader’s eye, so, yes, it is important, but I would hope a reader would remember the old adage… ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’  Sometimes some really awesome books are cloaked in mediocre covers.

How do you market your books?

Poorly…that is most likely why there are hoards of readers out there who have never heard of me.  I post on Facebook groups mostly, and I physically sell books at author events and conferences when I can.  I donate a lot of books to pride centers and libraries in the hopes it will get my name out there, and I work with a distributing company that sells my books on consignment.  I also have an author page (www.karendbadger.com), and a publisher website (www.badgerblissbooks.com) …and a Facebook page for Badger Bliss Books.

Why did you choose this route?

This route is what I know how to do at the current time.  As I’ve said – Marketing is the weakest link for me.  I need to learn how to market better…I need to learn the different ways of marketing…and I need to find time for marketing in my crazy-busy life.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I have exchanged free books for reviews and I have solicited reviewed from groups that exist for that reason.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

At this point, social media is my primary marketing tool.

Which social network worked best for you?

Facebook

Why do you think that other well-written books just don’t sell?

Lack of visibility.  It all comes down to knowing HOW to market and being willing to spend the money, time and effort marketing.

What do you think of “trailers” for books?

Trailers are useful tools as long as people watch them…and they adequately entice the reader enough to want to purchase the book.  Again, it’s a matter of visibility.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

Free books in exchange for reviews is based on the honor system.  I have had relatively good luck with it.

Did you format your own book?

Yes.  I format all my own books…and I offer formatting, cover creation and ebook creation (manuscript services) through my Badger Bliss Books website (www.badgerblissbooks.com).

In what formats is your book available?

Paperback, PDF, Mobi, Epub…and most other formats upon request.

How do you relax?

Barb and I watch home improvement shows together.  We kayak, camp, take rides on the motorcycle…and I also like to knit and crochet.  Oh, and let’s not forget singing karaoke!

Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Retired, living part-time, seasonally, in our Vermont and New Mexico houses, traveling to the National Parks, and writing.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Burlesque, and Grease.  I love modern musicals.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry so much.

‘Borrowed’ permanently from James Lipton on The Actor’s Studio:

What is your favorite word?  Seriously?! (said sarcastically)
What is your least favorite word? The “C” word.
What turns you on? Tenderness
What turns you off?  Racism, prejudice
What sound or noise do you love?  Rain on the roof of the camper
What sound or noise do you hate?  Screeching
What is your favorite curse word?  God Damn It!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Acting
What profession would you not like to do? Septic worker
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?  Welcome to the party, your brother is waiting for you!

Did you have a good childhood? Were you a wild child? Are you the ‘odd’ one out in your family?

I had a great childhood.  Not a lot of money, but we had what we needed…and lots of love.  Raised by a divorced mom.  There were five of us when my parents divorced—ages 8 to 2.  God bless Mom!  I was not a wild child…that was my sister and one of my brothers.  I was a good girl.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t…it probably would have been more fun.

If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself?

Considerate, generous, kind

What are your thoughts on Porn (visual) vs Erotica (written) and do you think authors can creatively bring some aspects of both into their writing, making it sensual and beautiful instead of raw and vulgar?

I do not enjoy reading erotica.  I haven’t read any in a while, but the erotica I have read was all sex and no plot (and maybe that’s the point!).  Sex is good…but I enjoy a good story.  I don’t have a problem with raw sex being written into a good story as long as it doesn’t BECOME the story.

If you could have one and only one super-power, what would it be and why?

Flying

Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself?

Yes, I have.  A bimodal distribution of sites comes up…. those focusing on my writing…and those focusing on technical papers and patents I hold as a semiconductor engineer.  I also learned that a woman named Karen Badger was murdered several years ago in England!

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale?

I began writing fan fiction under the pen name ‘kd bard,’ but all of my books are published under my real name.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it?

The book is finished when it FEELS finished.  When I ‘finished’ Over The Crescent Moon, I was so close to sending it out to the beta readers, but it just didn’t feel right…and I couldn’t put my finger on why.  Finally, I read the entire book again and realized that it really WASN’T finished.  By re-reading it from the beginning and through discussions with my wife, an epilogue emerged that completely changed the nature of the story…and opened it up for several sequels.  For me…my gut tells me when it’s finished.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad?

I think a diversity of authors is good.  And there are plenty of readers out there to read our books.  My only concern is that the growing popularity of self-publishing potentially reduces the ‘controls’ that are traditionally enforced by publishing houses…things like strict editing standards and enforcing the ‘rules’ of grammar.  The good news about self-publishing is that no one can tell you no.  The bad news about self-publishing is that no one can tell you no.  It is important to maintain quality standards, especially when the only one you need permission from to publish your book is you.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person?

I am not brash and ‘in-your-face’, but I’m not shy, either.  I enjoy people, but there are times when I just want to hang out in the back of the room as well.  I think people, in general, find me to be friendly, engaging and approachable.

Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about?

Not necessarily braver…but more aware about my orientation.  I had crushes on girls since I was a young kid, but I didn’t have a name for it.  I was definitely aware of it, but my young mind thought it was simply hero-worship.  It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that the light bulb came on.  On the other hand, I’ve had an interesting life so far, and I have a family I probably wouldn’t have had, had things come to light earlier.  I wonder now if I would have been brave enough to act had I known earlier.  I can only hope I would have.

If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be?

A book on survival skills, a book on how to force yourself to like fish (because I wouldn’t want to starve to death), and War and Peace (because it would be a long time before I ran out of reading material). LOL!

If you were stuck in an elevator with three people, who would you like them to be?

President Obama, Etta James and Prince

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work?

That my books are substantive and relevant and feature strong, intelligent, and independent women…and that love is love, regardless of how it’s packaged.

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that?

Not to discourage new writers out there, but a very small percentage of all authors actually make a living by writing and selling books.  It takes a lot of talent, luck and timing to become a financially successful author.  Success it not necessarily measured by how many books you sell or how much money you make.  You can achieve success simply by putting pen to paper and telling a story that brings a measure of joy or interest to another human being.  I measure my success by how satisfied I am that a story touches my own soul as well as the souls of others.  If I can make myself laugh, or cry, or outraged, or happy by re-reading I book I have written, then I define that book as successful.  If others enjoy it, and it produces some level of income (high or low), then that is a bonus.

Were there any teachers that stood out through school?  Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly?

I mentioned earlier that I went to Catholic schools.  I had nuns as teachers right up until 6th grade.  In 6th grade, I had a lay teacher named, Mrs. Lafayette.  She was pretty awesome…and so different from the nuns.  She was funny and engaging…and laid back—unlike most of the nuns who were, for the most part, stiff and unyielding.  In high school, I had a major crush on my typing teacher, Mrs. MacDonald… Mrs., Mac, as we called her. In college, my drama teachers were a married couple, Joanne and Donald Rathgeb.  They were amazing and extravagant people…especially, Mrs. R.  She would sweep into a room when she entered – always an actress.  I attribute my ability to be friendly, outgoing and comfortable in front of a large crowd to the Rathgebs and the time I spent in the St. Michael’s College drama department.

Do you enjoy debates?  Any particular subjects?

Yes, as long as I am prepared with the facts.  If you follow my Facebook page at all, you’ll know that I am passionate about politics and about the disparity between the two major political parties.  I am also passionate about racial and sexual equality and about the rights of the LGBTQ community.

If you had a time machine would you go forward or back in time and why?

I would go back in time, the first thing I might do is convince Trump’s parents to use better birth control, LOL!  Seriously though, if I could go back in time and prevent slavery, or the Holocaust, or Stonewall…or any other horribly atrocious act against the people of the world, I would do it. Of course, changing even one thing in the past might have a ‘butterfly effect’ or a ‘pebble in the pond’ effect for future events as well.  Those changes might be for the better…or worse.  Who knows?

Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birthday/year?

I am a Sagittarius and in the Chinese zodiac, I am a Monkey.  When I read about the characteristics of Sag’s, it pretty much fits who I am and how I am.  Sag women are generally described as optimistic and confident, charming, versatile, ambitious and determined.  We seek knowledge and love to explore and to make others happy. We are fiercely independent, yet welcome others with open arms. On the other hand, we can be intolerant, especially with the injustices in the world.  It occurs to me as I write this, that most of the lead characters in my book have the same traits.  Like I said, I believe every author writes some aspects of themselves into their characters.

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one?

Belly ring – I actually have a piercing there.

What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life?

Skydiving.  It turned out to be really fun! I’d do it again.

Have you ever stolen anything?

No.

If you could make out with one character from a movie, who would it be and why?

Gracie Lou Freebush (Sandra Bullock) from Miss Congeniality.  I love Sandra Bullock.  She is my second secret (not-too-secret) girlfriend (beside Rachel Maddow).  She is just so down to earth and NICE.  Gracie Lou starts out being this stiff, tough, clumsy detective who suffers from low confidence and in the course of the movie, she turns into this fun, down to earth girlfriend, who of course, saves the day, all while participating in a beauty pageant that she is soooo not cut out for.  I just love her!

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable?

Geeze…there are so many memorable scenes in most of my books!  In my latest release, ‘In The Blink of an Eye,’ there is an entire chapter dedicated to the school shooting, and how each of the characters experiences it differently.  That part of the book grabs me in the gut, and creates a lump in my throat.  I have five grandkids in the school systems…one in high school, three in middle school and one in elementary school (in the same age group as Sandy Hook), and it breaks my heart to imagine any one of them in that situation.

What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author?

How satisfying it is to hold a book in your hands with your name on the cover.  The other major benefit is the number of friends I have made through my writing.  I have met so many amazing women, and some of them will remain very close friends for the rest of time.  It is truly a loving and diverse community.

Where were you when you found out your book had won a LesFic Bard Award?  What was your reaction?

I was at home…working from home, actually, thanks to this virus.  I received an email that “In The Blink of an Eye” was a finalist in the Young Adult category.  I was very pleased, but still a bit downtrodden that “Over The Crescent Moon” didn’t seem to get a mention.  Then, the very next day, I received another email that said “Over The Crescent Moon” not only won….but it won in TWO categories, Historical and Action/Adventure.  Needless to say, I was over the [crescent] moon with joy (I know…that was corny!).   When the awards arrived, I promptly gave them a place of honor in my office.  They are beautiful!  For any author reading this, you will understand the feeling of being unappreciated when you release a book that you just KNOW is amazing, only to receive virtually no recognition for it. So when your book wins…and wins big, it’s a validation of your skills as a storyteller and it provides so much inspiration to continue your craft.

email: karendbadger@together.net

Author page:  www.karendbadger.com

Publisher page:  www.badgerblissbooks.com

Amazon page:  https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Badger/e/B00J653VBK

Kindle Store:  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=karen+d.+badger&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss

Bella Books:  https://www.bellabooks.com/category/author-karend-badger/

Barnes and Nobles:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Karen+D.+Badger/_/N-8qa?_requestid=6739504

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kbadger

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Karen+D.+Badger

Meet McGee Mathews

McGee Mathews is the winner for NEW AUTHOR for her book Moving Violations in the 2019 Lesfic Bard Awards.

McGee MathewsMcGee Matthews Moving Violations

Where were you born? In an Army hospital. My dad was a Warrant Officer.

Where did you grow up? Michigan.

Do you have any siblings? Yes, one sister and one brother.

What were your parent’s professions? My mom was a homemaker and dad was a mechanic.

Why do you write? The characters come to me and interrupt my dreams until I find them a story. Then they stalk me until it’s finished.

What do you think makes good writing? When the reader is pulled so far into the story, they feel the emotions of the character and time just slips away from them.

How do you choose the names for your characters? Some are easier to select than others, I use old census records and baby name lists. Sometimes I’ll use a name generator just to get me started.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? A tiny tidbit here and there, but the characters present themselves in situations which lead to other situations. My life is full of laughter, but we aren’t that interesting!

What is the hardest part of writing a book? Cutting out that scene you love.

What is the easiest part of writing a book? For me, the research, which can lead into a rabbit hole, but sometimes that’s where the best ideas are hiding.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story? There’s a reader for every style, so not really. If the reader can’t see it in their head, there’s not enough.

What are you working on now? A story set in a small town in South Carolina, not any different than several just up the road. Sort of a second chance, can’t run from yourself kind of thing.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind? I make a character chart for reference as needed, including an image or two for each. I try to pick three good traits and one bad, and then have one of those traits pop up in most scenes.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I do when writing the first draft. I set timers to “sprint” by which I mean that there is no stopping to look up a thing, just write as fast as you can. Editing is much slower so I have no targets for that.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I outline on paper with a crazy bubble chart kind of thing, but write on the computer. I’ve started using Scrivner, and the jury is still out.

Where do your ideas come from? I see a scene, in my mind or literally, and it strikes me as curious. Why is that person there? What are they thinking about? What happens next? One answer leads to more questions.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I write myself into corners, or worse just a pretty scene, if I don’t have some sort of outline written down. I took a plotting class at a Book Lovers Convention, and I took what works for me from that. The characters usually are tricksters and act in ways I hadn’t expected and they take the story a whole new direction.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor.

What genres do you normally write in? Romance, both contemporary and historical. I’m already fighting the box. I’m a romantic at heart, so no matter what I write, a romance happens somewhere in there. I think I’m humorous, but it’s really hard to write humor.

What genres do you typically read? I like cozy mysteries, sappy romances, and funny stories.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle? I’d love to wrestle with world-building, but I suspect that would become a huge rabbit hole and I’d never get around to actually writing a story!

What was the first book you ever published? Moving Violations. It’s a little genre mash, but I loved hanging out with the characters. Amy is a hot mess, Molly wonders how she got involved with these people, and Robin is a Peter Pan with a mischievous streak. What could go wrong?

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)? I signed with Sapphire Publishing a few months ago.

How did you celebrate your signing? In the era of Covid, just a few phone calls. Someday we’ll have a celebration.

Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you? I make a sound track on Spotify for each book as I’m plotting, songs that put me in the emotional space for that story. I listen to it when I write that book, or at least a good bit of the time.

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write? I tend to get rolling at night, and then all of a sudden, it’s three am and I’m still typing away!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I won a young authors contest in elementary school. I remember sitting in that huge auditorium in downtown Detroit and thinking, after I grow up and learn some interesting things, I’m going to be an author.

Tell us about your new release. Exceeding Expectations, the second book in Diamond Lake came out in February and I have two nearing completion but I don’t have release dates yet. One is a historical romance set in the 1860’s with some quirky characters that I just love. The second is a more contemporary drama dealing with mental health issues, a love lost and a love found.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies? I try to at least do a cursory google search for general background before I use my friends, friends of friends, whomever, for that little detail only a person who has been through that event/job/skill would be able to describe. Thankfully most of those experts have been willing to read at least sections to make sure the storyline is plausible, even if not likely.

What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world? Everything from factory work, kitchen help, farm work to building maintenance, automotive engineering and teaching chemistry. Jill of all trades, master of none. It’s an oddly American thing to identify by our occupation, and I found a certain satisfaction from a job well done no matter the task.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Lace

Hot or Cold? Hot

Camera or Canvas? Camera

Denim or Leather? Leather

Talking or Texting? Talking

Irish or Italian? Irish

Thunder or Lightning? Lightning

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Crackling fire

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding hands

Crayons or Paint? crayons

Mountains or Beach?  Beach

Rain or Sunshine? rain

If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why? Ellen DeGeneres, she’s made a huge personal sacrifice that benefited so many other lesbians, and I would thank her. And then tell her something funny and she would hopefully laugh.

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay? I feel like I did the best I could with the cards I had at the time, but some of the most painful parts of my life have given me the emotional fodder for my writing, even if I don’t write about those events.

Were you good at English? Pretty good, but in my opinion not exceptional.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Yes. I love Robin Alexander’s books, although I can’t put them down and laugh and wake up my wife. There are so many good story tellers out there in lesfic right now, I’m afraid to start listing and miss someone.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I use an ebook cover so it feels like a “real” book, but I appreciate being able to increase the font!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I was a science major! I take all the help I can get!

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. I play around with images that seem to relate to a part of the story and then get help!

Who designed your book covers? To date, two of my friends. Claire Britain worked with me on my first two books. I based a character on a friend from high school, and when I showed her a draft, she popped back a wonderful cover. I haven’t set a release date at this time.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I think it catches readers with that first look so they will check out the blurb. Now the subjective part is what defines a good cover? No idea…lol

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Make a plan, and then follow it. Don’t leave it up to the winds.

What’s your views on social media for marketing? Pick your format and engage. Whatever you enjoy will be the same for your readers. Then show them the real you, maybe the shiniest you, but still you. No one wants to read about your books all the time.

Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell? It’s the story first, and sometimes we get so caught up in grammar and arcs that we forget to be a storyteller.

How do you relax? I work on genealogy projects.

What is your favorite positive saying? “this too shall pass.”

What is your favorite quote? Hillel the Elder, “If I am not for myself, wo will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I?  If not now, when?”

Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Traveling with a caravan of lesbian authors who RV, writing and laughing as we explore the world.

What is your favorite movie and why? American President, funny, sad, touching, and the daughter plays trombone.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t worry so much, everything will be all right.

What is your favorite word? Maybe
What is your least favorite word? Cunt
What turns you on? The right smile
What turns you off? Sweaty socks
What sound or noise do you love? laughter
What sound or noise do you hate? Alarm clock
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Disc Jockey
What profession would you not like to do? Mortician
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Well done.

Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself? NO! I don’t even read Goodreads reviews; I sure don’t want to open that can of worms.

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? Pen name, predominately since people are crazy, most in a good way, but some not so much.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it? When I am so sick of them and couldn’t possibly reread the story! Lol then I put it away for a month or so and let it cool off before I tackle it with fresh eyes.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? It’s a great thing! There is no one narrative of the lesbian experience and who better to tell our stories? The quality improves out of necessity, and readers have a chance to support books that represent them. The river raises all the boats. More books will pop up to “mainstream” as great books are discovered by a wider readership.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person? I’m chatty, for sure. I am the rare thing in the writer’s world, the extrovert!

Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about? I am not a brave person by any stretch. My wife insists I spoke in tongues when we parasailed. I insist it was the intermittent twenty-foot drops mixed with the number of sharks below us.

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that? Yes. I had a lady write to me that my book was the first she had read in thirty years. I cried.

Were there any teachers that stood out through school?  Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly? I was lucky to have a number of great teachers over the years, but one in particular I would like to be able to talk to for about ten minutes. I would tell her that 1) she was right, it would be okay if I was a lesbian and 2) Look at what I wrote! Somehow, I suspect she already knows.

Do you enjoy debates?  Any particular subjects? I have been known to switch sides just to keep going at it! I’m a little less passionate, or at least a little less likely to keep talking to a wall.

Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year? I teeter totter on this one, but generally agree that the signs seem to fit most people. Why wouldn’t babies who all spend their first months in a warm soft breeze be more similar than babies wrapped up against the cold on their little noses?

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one? Ugh. I can’t stand things on my toes, those toe socks, a string or bump in a sock, that stuff drives me nuts.

What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author? Someone I hadn’t heard from in literally thirty years reached out to congratulate me. I was shocked that she’d seen it.

Where were you when you found out you had won the Lesfic Bard Awards, and how did it feel? I was still in bed, lazing around on a Sunday morning, even the dogs hadn’t gotten up yet. I started scrolling on my phone. I had noticed the finalist list the day before, and wasn’t listed. I thought that meant my chances were over. Then I started reading the list and I was shocked to see my name. I told my wife, “I think I won something.” She took the phone, read the screen and gave me big hug. I was stunned most of the day.

Meet Annette Mori

Annette is the winner of the 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for her novel A Window to Love as well as a finalist for her novel Compound Interest.

Annette MoriAnnette Mori A Window to LoveAnnette Mori FinalistAnnette Mori Compound Interest

Where were you born? Galesburg, Illinois

Where did you grow up? Illinois

Do you have any siblings? Two sisters. One older, one younger.

What were your parent’s professions? Father was a school psychologist and my mother was a special education teacher.

Why do you write? It satisfies my need for a creative outlet and a way to write about topics I have a great passion for.  I like to sneak in subtext on contemporary social issues.

What do you think makes good writing? A great story with likeable characters the reader can root for. Plot eats technical skill for breakfast.

How do you choose the names for your characters? Co-workers, friends, family and sometimes a search in my baby names book.  On occasion, I have searched the internet for names that have certain meanings that fit a character.

What is the first piece you ever wrote? My debut novel…Love Forever, Live Forever.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Almost always yes, or at least some of the experiences.  Of course, they are major parts in most of my novels that are completely fiction and the product of my overactive imagination and quirky style.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I don’t think so.  I tend to obsess so much during the process that I am so done when it goes off to the Publisher for them to do their thing and send it out to the universe.  That is not to say that if a reader notices an error, I won’t plead with my publisher yo fix it.  I hate errors (part of my well developed OCD).

What is the hardest part of writing a book? The mushy middle.  Normally I have an easy time with the beginning and the end…it is the arc and what happens right before and after that I find difficult.

What is the easiest part of writing a book? The beginning because I am on fire with my latest idea and the words flow best when I have a new idea that I have passion for.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story? Probably, yes.  I tend to be a heavy dialogue writer and struggle with long descriptions, so maybe that is reflective of the kind of books I enjoy.  Too much of a descriptor tends to slow the story down for me, even if the writer is very talented at detailed descriptions. I enjoy a fast-paced plot.

Do you have any writing rituals? And can you tell us about your writing discipline? I have zero discipline when I am not inspired; which is why I either write quickly or don’t write at all. When I am on a roll I can easily write at least a thousand words a day which is kind of my metric for discipline. As for rituals, that has never been my thing.

What is your greatest fear as an author? That I will inadvertently offend someone.

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)? Not sure I am really compared to anyone.  If I was, I don’t recall.  I’m fairly unconventional and quirky…which has been something noted versus a comparison to any famous author.

What are you working on now? I started a story about a woman on the spectrum looking for a girlfriend before my wife and I took our big RV trip.  I will return to that story when we get back home in mid-June.  Since I have another book coming out this year called One Shot At Love, I anticipate getting the edits from the editors to work on very soon.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind? They are usually pretty distinct, but I do have serious troubles with the finer details and timelines.  I am constantly going back to re-read sections to get things correct and often have to makes changes to avoid plot holes or other problems.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Very part-time, even though I am now retired from the job that paid the bills.  It seems having more time has not at all meant more writing. In fact, the opposite has occurred.  Of course that may be due to finally getting to spend quality time with my wife.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I used to write after work, now I write in the mornings.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when? I only write when inspired and then I usually will write 7 days a week while on a roll.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? 1,000 has been my metric for what I consider a productive day.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer or iPad.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? One with Erin O’Reilly and two with Ali Spooner.  I loved both experiences.

Where do your ideas come from? Dreams, news articles, Facebook posts, challenges, joking around on Facebook…so many places!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I am a total pantser and never do an outline. Wherever the story takes me…

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor.

What genres do you normally write in? Almost all of them. I haven’t done much with sports, except my new novel has a Olympic skeet shooter as a main character. I have not done any western themed books.  That would definitely be outside my wheelhouse.

What genres do you typically read? I read them all!

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle? Maybe a full-length erotica.  I have only done a short based on a challenge.  I’d love to do humor, even though many have commented on humor in most of my books. It isn’t the same as some of my idols who have books that are so funny that’s what they are famous for.

Are there any authors who have influenced your work? Not necessarily influenced my work, but I sure would love to be compared to a few.

What was the first book you ever published?Love Forever, Live Forever

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)? 2014

How did you celebrate your signing? Called my wife and probably had a glass of wine.

What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book? Had a character that brought her dreams to life.

Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you? Not really.  I am mostly inspired by certain social issues.

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write? Mornings before the day gets going.

What is your writing day like? I usually write for about 2 to 3 hours and then I leave it alone unless something pops in my head and then I might get up in the middle of the night to write or jot down notes if I can’t write at that moment.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I was living separate from my wife and got bored. I was reading lesfic and thought how hard can it be to write lesfic.  For the record…bloody hard!

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they say? I am so fortunate to hear from readers who have thanked me for writing about topics that many will not touch.  A number of readers have been very kind in their comments to me and their e-mails.  Often this has made my day and come at a time when I thought about stopping.

Tell us about your new release. The most recent release is the book I wrote with Ali Spooner as part of the Trophy Wives series.  Ali is a brilliant writer who I am fortunate to have the honor of writing with.

What kind of heroine is in your current book? Chancy is a young bartender who has had a rough life.  Kicked out early and living on the streets until the bar owners gave her a job and place to live.  Prior to that, she was turning tricks on the streets.

Is there someone famous she resembled when you wrote her? Or is she based off someone you personally know? No-one famous and not anyone I know…she is completely a figment of my imagination.

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist? Sassy, funny, sarcastic, but with a heart of gold. I always want at least one of my characters to be kind and compassionate.

What part of the female physique captures your attention? Their smile. Lips and nice teeth.

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way? I am committed to her having her happily ever after and attached to ensuring that happens.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why? Mabel Butt in Out of This World because I wrote her as a beauty, but she doesn’t know she is.

Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about. Humble and kind.

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?Probably someone I inspire to be.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite? Yes, Unconventional Lovers.

What is your biggest distraction when you write? Social media.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies? Books, google.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break? I enjoy slang and get cautioned by my editor on that. I’ve been told I have a colloquial writing style which makes me easy to read, but I won’t ever be considered a classic writer! I’m fairly good with correct use of apostrophes, but I’m not sure I’ve never broken a rule…never is such a definitive word!

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories? Librarian because I would be surrounded by books!  Yes, Mabel was a librarian.

What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world? Dishwasher, nurse’s aide, telemarketer, dietary aide, administrative assistant, cocktail waitress, switchboard operator, recruiter, coordinator for higher education programming, college professor, college residential director, human resources executive.

If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why? Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I am attracted to underdogs who are not seen for their value as human beings.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Satin

Hot or Cold? Hot

Camera or Canvas? Camera

Denim or Leather? Denim

Talking or Texting? Texting

Irish or Italian? Italian

Thunder or Lightning? Lightning

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Heartbeat

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding hands

Crayons or Paint? Paint

Mountains or Beach?  Beach

Rain or Sunshine? Sunshine

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members that ‘surprised’ you? My most recent boss.

If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why? Michelle Obama…duh..she rocks.  Intelligent, funny, compassionate…

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay? No, I don’t think I would.  Everything in life teaches us lessons worthy of learning from and allowing growth.

What were you like at school? Very timid and shy.

Were you good at English? Yes

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn? Nope.  Took four years of latin.  Spanish seems the most helpful.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? Not sure I have any ambitions.  I think I would like to make it to the number one spot on the Amazon charts someday, but not holding my breath!

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why? Ellen Page. She’s a lesbian and I have loved her since I saw her in Juno.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? At least 3 months including edits.

Do you ever get writer’s block? All the frickin time.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? Nope…wish I had any answers on that.  I just wait it out until I am inspired to write again and try to be kind to myself in the meantime (doesn’t work).

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? My stories have gotten more outlandish at times.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? I read all the time and I have too many favorites to list!

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks because I can work out and read at the same time.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proof the many times and also have three different editors: beta, content, final proof.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? I edit right away and return the edits and changes to my editor usually within a day or two of receiving their notes and edits.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. The cover artist asks for ideas and for me to pick out pictures I like and then mocks up several versions to choose from.  On rare occasions, I haven’t liked the first mock ups and she’s been great about going back to the drawing board until I like one.

Who designed your book covers? Nancy Kaufman of Irish Eyes designs.  One was designed by Ann McMann who worked with Stone Soup for Compound Interest, a charity book with Stone Soup Community Press.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I’ve heard it does.

How do you market your books? Mostly with social media…probably too much during the first month.

Why did you choose this route? It’s what seems to be easiest and most fruitful.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Probably not because I am not popular enough to afford that.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Not really since this is an I credibly weak area of mine.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Not sure I can answer that because I don’t set aside specific marketing time.

What do you do to get book reviews? I’ve tried launch teams, giveaways, and sending to review sites.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Meh….

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Nope and lately I’ve been terribly lazy about sending to the more well-known review sites. Whenever I am asked for a copy, I happily send it!

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Personally I won’t leave a bad review, but I respect those who believe strongly in leaving both good and bad reviews.  I like to leave positive reviews to support fellow authors.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? I don’t like marketing so if there is one, I probably blocked it out!

What’s your views on social media for marketing? It’s where I get most of my suggestions for books to read, so I hope it still works for me.  I am never bothered by authors posting their new releases or older releases as reminders, even if those reminders are daily and on several different sites.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Not really because I am sure that no matter what a person does there are competing opinions on this.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I have not tried this.

Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch? Not local press.  I have done radio interviews.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I don’t know because I don’t have access to real time sales data.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Probably, but again there are competing opinions to everything, so I try not to beat myself up too much on this. I do that enough with my writing!

Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell? Now that is the million-dollar question.  I wish I knew.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Not sure they are successful or not, but they sure are fun to view and I am grateful to Danna for doing several for me and to Julie who does them for Affinity.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? I hope so.

Did you format your own book? No, Affinity does all that for me.

In what formats is your book available? Both print and e-book.  I only have one audio book (Artist Free Zone).

How do you relax? Read

What is your favorite positive saying? I don’t have a favorite…when I see one I like, I comment, but usually can’t remember them.

What is your favorite book and why? Too many to list.

What is your favorite quote? From Viktor  Frankl…”the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time? Traveling the world!

What is your favorite movie and why? I don’t have one favorite…too many to list, like books!

What advice would you give to your younger self? It gets better, really.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Answered earlier

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Hunger Games because Katniss is a badass and the kind of character I would have loved to write.

‘Borrowed’ permanently from James Lipton on The Actor’s Studio:

What is your favorite word? Fuck
What is your least favorite word? Cunt
What turns you on? A build up of intimacy.
What turns you off? Instalove
What sound or noise do you love? Moan
What sound or noise do you hate? Grunt
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Singer
What profession would you not like to do? Gardener
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Your mom has been waiting to see you.

Did you have a good childhood? Were you a wild child? Are you the ‘odd’ one out in your family? Yes. No I was a very good kid. Yes I am the odd one out.

If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself? Compassionate, generous, dorky.

What are your thoughts on Porn (visual) vs Erotica (written) and do you think authors can creatively bring some aspects of both into their writing, making it sensual and beautiful instead of raw and vulgar? I think it is all semantics and different for everyone. One person’s porn is another’s erotica.  If you look at the definitions, they are essentially the same…

If you could have one and only one super-power, what would it be and why? The ability to heal someone. I don’t like seeing people I pain.

Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself? Nope

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? Pen name because I was in a profession that would have been difficult to explain to colleagues.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it? I usually know exactly how to end a book without writing The End. I try to tie everything together in the last page.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? Good thing because I love to read.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person? Quiet and I force myself to be extroverted at events.

Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about? I wish I had started writing before age 54.

If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be? Yellow Raft in Blue Water, The Help, Grapes of Wrath

If you were stuck in an elevator with three people, who would you like them to be? Oh hell no…I would scratch my way out.

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work? She was not afraid to tackle uncomfortable topics.

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that? Not particularly. I haven’t sold anywhere near enough to make a full time living at writing. I am very okay with that, though.

Were there any teachers that stood out through school?  Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly? An English teacher who taught an advanced class called, The Psychological Study of Man Through Literature.  It was a fascinating class.

Do you enjoy debates?  Any particular subjects? Yes, politics.  It was a regular topic at our dinner table while growing up.

If you had a time machine would you go forward or back in time and why? Forward…I’d love to see that we hopefully evolved to a kinder, gentler people.

Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year? I don’t believe in that and I don’t think I am a stereotypical Leo.

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one? Toe…I ain’t showing my belly at my age.

If you were the love child of two great authors who would they be and why? I can’t even imagine this one….

What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life?  Karaoke

Have you ever stolen anything? Piece of candy when I was three and got a spanking for it!  Never stole again.

If you could make out with one character from a movie, who would it be and why? Katniss…hot archer…

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable?  Better ask my readers that one…I am notoriously wrong about anything to do with my books!

What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author? That anyone would want me to sign a book for them.

Where were you when you found out you had won the Lesfic Bard Award and what was your reaction? I was in our Moses Lake condo scrolling through social media and clearing out my e-mail in the morning and saw the first notice on Compound Interest.  I didn’t see the other until later!  I woke my wife up to tell her!

 

 

 

 

 

Meet K. Aten

K AtenK Aten Burn it Down

Why do you write?

I started writing by accident a few years ago because I needed a creative outlet, and because there were stories inside my head. I keep writing because once I turned on the faucet I couldn’t turn it off again.

What do you think makes good writing?

Good writing is subjective and can encompass many styles and genres. And while it certainly starts with good writing practices, such as proper form, spelling, and originality, great books will go well beyond that. My all-time favorite books will provoke the strongest reactions. They are books that make me #Think, #Feel, or #Discuss.

  • Books that make me THINK leave me in a state of quiet contemplation. I have to take time to process, discover how my worldview has changed, and how I have changed because of what I read and how it affected me.
  • Books that make me FEEL leave me full of emotion and again, it takes time to process. Sometimes I’m full of love, or beauty, other times I’m bereft, but either way I’m stained and have marks on my heart long after the novel is put away.
  • Finally, books that make me DISCUSS are those that stir me so much I need to talk about it with another. It may be that I can’t process the story on my own and need someone to help me along, to share my love or heartbreak.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

Not just characters, but places and things in general, when I’m stuck I usually refer to some sort of bastardized or twisted Latin. You can really see it in my Mystery of the Makers series, but I do it for other books as well.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of my books are in the realm of speculative fiction, so definitely not. But I do use the cafeteria plan of character creation, based on people I know and have met. (personality, quirks, appearance, favorite sayings, etc)

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not at all. Not only is Remember Me, Synthetica my best written book, but I love the storyline and all the hard science involved with the tale.

What is the hardest part of writing a book?

For me it’s that transition between free writing (pantsing) and wondering what comes next (plotting)

What is the easiest part of writing a book?

I love the research and organization of it all. That comes naturally, as does the free-writing.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a funny, fantasy, fauxmance in a world of my own creation. It was inspired by contemporary romance tropes. I thought I could give it my own genre spin.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind?

As in, my cast of characters in each novel? Every manuscript I start has a google sheet for notes. (Google sheets instead of Excel so I can access it anywhere because it’s in the cloud) Multiple tabs for research links, word counts, chapter summaries, character cast w/descriptions, and any other information needed.

Where do your ideas come from?

Oh, geez…music, songs, song titles, TV shows, art, science information or other articles read online, ads for paparazzi-proof apparel and makeup, and other books. My sources of inspiration are endless.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer, then an engineer. I came close to both. My full-time job is an engineering coordinator, and I write part time.

What genres do you normally write in?

Speculative fiction, which is fiction encompassing genres with certain elements that do not exist in the real world, often in the context of supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, paranormal, dystopian, superhero, etc)

What genres do you typically read?

LOL, I write what I like to read so see above answer. Although there are a few contemporary romance tropes I really like that I don’t write. (sports romance, celebrity, and fauxmance)

Are there any authors who have influenced your work?

Authors that influenced my reading are also the authors who have influenced my writing. First and foremost, I like strong female characters, but I also love science fiction and fantasy. Early influences were Isaac Asimov, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Anne McCaffrey, Jean Auel, & Andre Norton. When I discovered lesbian fiction and collected a slew of other works that I love. And as a writer, I have favorite authors which I respect and admire so I used the cafeteria plan to pick and choose the traits I wanted to emulate. Writers such as Fletcher Delancey for her world building, Geonn Cannon’s genre diversity of writing, Melissa Good, Radclyff and Georgia Beers for their skill with romance, and finally Robin Alexander and her ability to write humor.

What was the first book you ever published? 

The Fletcher (Arrow of Artemis book 1) on January 1, 2018

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)?

Regal Crest Enterprises, 2017

What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?

Waking the Dreamer

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they say?

There are definite negatives to being a writer. Time as well as your own money spent, agonizing over plots, endings, deadlines, etc. But there are things that fill your bucket too. I’ve received MANY emails about my Arrow of Artemis series. For whatever reason, the story and characters really resonate with people.

I’ve also gotten messages and emails about my drama Burn It Down. That was a hard novel and the ones that wrote to me said they saw it as a sign of hope. That they could go through the worst stuff in life and come out the other side. It left them feeling like they would be okay. I love that I could instill that feeling in someone, especially people who are struggling.

Tell us about your new release.

Remember Me, Synthetica comes out July 1st and is available for pre-order now. This novel ticks many of my boxes for a favorite story. It’s a hard sci-fi novel that’s also a sweet romance. The main theme is sort of an internal journey for the main character, Alexandra Turing. She is a genius roboticist who is struck by a car and wakes from a coma six month later, suffering memory and sensation loss as well as a changed personality. Alexandra’s goal in life has always been to build an android that can pass her great uncle’s Turing Test. Her progress on the Synthetica project is delayed by her coma and recovery. Alex doesn’t mind though because in the weeks after waking she finds a new lease on life as well as a new love interest. But there are things that don’t to add up in Alex’s new life and you are left to wonder what happened to her during the six months she slept.

Amazon Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B088RMSK1M

What kind of heroine is in your current book?

Alexandra Turing is a brilliant scientist and the fictionalized great niece of Alan Turing. She is driven, socially awkward, possessing of seven educational degrees, and spends nearly all her time working to achieve her greatest passion, creating artificial life that can pass the infamous Turning Test.

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist?

I love a good Mary Sue. Give me a character that is extraordinary in some way, an intellectual or artistic genius, powerful, lucky, or some skill that no one else possesses. I love strong, powerful woman, but I also like to see flaws in them as well. No one is perfect so how does a well written character deal with being extraordinary but still broken? That’s the question I strive to answer with each novel.

What part of the female physique captures your attention?

Hands down, eyes and smile. I’m not sure which gets me first…maybe smile.

Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about.

Extra-ordinary women who are as flawed as they are compelling

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?

It used to be Waking the Dreamer, but that has been surpassed by Remember Me, Synthetica.

What is your biggest distraction when you write?

  1. My family (wife & 2 stepsons) because they are loud and talk incessantly. I grew up as an only child in a single parent household, that level of stimulus is often overwhelming.
  2. The internet. Yes, social media, but also because I do a lot of research for my novels and frequently fall down the rabbit hole of doom. I learn a lot but frequently go off track.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies?

The internet for sure, sometimes magazines that have the topic I’m researching on the cover. I also utilize friends and acquaintances. Most of us are connected to hundreds of people via social media and I’ve found it to be an invaluable resource when you have questions about society, rules, occupations, etc. There is an expert in something mere keystrokes away.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

  1. Satin or Lace? – Cotton! Satin is hot and lace is scratchy
  2. Hot or Cold? – Cold
  3. Camera or Canvas?– Camera
  4. Denim or Leather?– Denim
  5. Talking or Texting?– Text
  6. Irish or Italian?– Stawwwp, don’t make me choose! Of course that’s only for food. If we’re talking accents then Irish all the way!
  7. Thunder or Lightning?– Lightning
  8. The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire?– Fire
  9. Holding hands or Holding her attention?– Holding her attention
  10. Crayons or Paint?– Paint
  11. Mountains or Beach?– Mountains
  12. Rain or Sunshine?– Both, depends on my mood. Rain for absorbing creativity (books, movies, music), sunshine for releasing creativity (writing, photography, building stuff)

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Make people remember me. Be the name that comes up over and over when someone’s looking for a book in speculative fiction.

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why?

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

The answer changes based on what kind of story it is, how well it’s fleshed out in my head, and what’s happening in the world at the time I write it. Rules of the Road is 105,000 words and took a month because I was driven, it didn’t require a lot of research, and there was no world-building as it a contemporary romance. Children of the Stars is 130,000 words and took about a year because I was distracted (edited AND published 5 novels that year, hard to stay focused), and it required a lot of world/story/cast building.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Can I swear at this question? Here is my answer: %$#@@#$%^&^&

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

One of my writer friends gave me this advice nearly two decades ago…write anything. What I’ve learned since publishing is write anything EVEN if it’s not your novel. (poetry, fan fiction, short stories, another WIP) Give yourself permission to step away if you need it. Also, find someone like a friend or a beta reader to brainstorm with. Sometime it’s not the writing that’s blocked, but your way forward in the story. Work out exactly what you want to write and the words will come a lot easier.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’m more organized, more concise, and I don’t make a lot of the amateur mistakes I did in the beginning. I also learn more about what my editors look for and my publisher expects, and tailor my writing. One thing I’ve recently started doing is simultaneously reading and listening to my manuscript once during the three main stages, final edit, typeset review, and eBook review. You find a lot of stuff that way.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I used to, and I could be here all day listing books or authors I like. I can be pretty picky in my fiction loves but I still own almost 2000 books and I’ve read easily twenty times that.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Once upon a time I was a rabid book fan, lovingly collecting all my favorites on modified six foot book shelves. Then I moved across the state to live with my (now) wife. Our first Xmas together she gifted me a Kindle Paperwhite and begged me not to bring any more books into the house. As a fast reader who sometimes had to carry multiple books with her on outings, I was absolutely in LOVE with the idea that I could have literally hundreds at my fingertips. At all times. I’ve never looked back.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

Minimum of one beta reader who works with me on all my stuff. Sometimes I’ll pull another in for a final read through if I’m checking storyline or continuity. Then I have an editor that is assigned by my publisher.

Who designed your book covers?

The phenomenal and fabulous Ann McMan. As far as I know, Acorn Graphics creates all Regal Crest Enterprises books covers.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

You know that saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” It’s crap. Whether we authors want to admit it or not, the cover is usually the first thing people notice. Is it an eyesore, is it amateurish? Sometimes the outside makes you doubt the quality of what’s inside. Luckily that’s not usually the case, but I personally know many reviewers who are cover snobs. Not to mention, when it comes time to market your book, you want something that is appealing, relevant, and engaging to potential readers in order to best sell your product. Covers matter.

How do you market your books?

I pay for space on websites that let me put up ads. I sign up for memberships to other online resources that provide me with free tweets across multiple twitter handles, as well as free access to promotional material. I create promotional material, write up ad copy or take small snips of my books, and create promo ads with various text and 3D book graphics sites. (You can find links to these resources on my own website) I also keep memberships active in other groups, and post on social media at least a few times a week. Yes, it’s all very tedious but I think it makes a difference in regards to reach and getting your name out there. You are your own brand.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Both good and bad reviews will happen. One practice I follow is to never engage a reviewer, especially if it is a bad review. It’s unprofessional.

I’ve learned two major points:

  1. You can’t like everything. Yes, bad reviews can be devastating but every author needs to step back and look at it from a different perspective. It took a short stint as a TLR reviewer before I realized that you can’t like everything. Sometimes I’d pick up a book that sounded good, but it failed to hold my interest when I got into it. You don’t like every book you pick up, so not everyone will like your book. Take what positive you can from bad reviews, if valid points are made then learn from them and make the next book better. If it’s personal taste, accept it and move on.
  2. Some people are jerks. Not everyone who reviews or rates your book will be a nice person. There are jerks out there, homophobes, and just negative people who feel better when they can tear something down. You can’t do anything about that. Don’t waste time or mental energy on negative people. People will look past those kinds of baseless reviews in search of the truth.

In what formats is your book available?

All my novels are available in paperback and eBook.

How do you relax?

Read, when I can and I’m in the mood. Other than that, we play a lot of games in this house. Board games, competitive and cooperative games, cards, dice, etc. We frequently play darts and break out the wii on the weekends.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Three pieces of advice for three transformative times in my life. You can write, don’t listen that fourteen year old girl in your head. Don’t get engaged to him. Don’t believe her, she’s a chronic liar.
What sound or noise do you love? Rain when I’m all alone and have nothing on my to-do list.
What sound or noise do you hate? Yelling or any loud, high pitched screeching.

If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself? Deep, funny, intense.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it?

When it tells me. Sometimes I have a finishing scene in my head before I write the end of a book, sometimes the end is a lightning strike of inspiration. But I don’t usually know when I’m done until I read that last line and my brain says “there.”

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad?

As a reader? It’s fantastic! As a writer? Also fantastic! I have mad love for my fellow writers and we can all be winners here.

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work?

I’d like them to say my book prompted one or more of the three reactions: It made them think, it made them feel, or it made them want to have deep and intense discussion about it in the class.

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one?

I’ve got a belly ring…and others. LOL

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable?

Maybe the last scene of my newest novel. The epilogue came to me before I wrote the second half of the book and I really like the way the scene turned out. There is a particular wording to certain parts that an astute person will read between the lines on for the root meaning. At least I hope they will.

What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author?

How absolutely TEDIOUS the editing process is. I’m usually sick of book by the end because I’ve read it so many times in a row.

Bio

Kelly Aten-Keilen is an award-winning author who lives in Michigan with her wife, two kids, two cats, and a dog. She brings heroines to life in a variety of blended LGBTQ fiction genres, specializing in speculative fiction. Kelly’s works focus on extra-ordinary women who are as flawed as they are compelling. Her goal with each new novel is to make people #Think, #Feel, and #Discuss.

“Some words end the silence, others begin it.”

Website: https://www.katen-author.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/K-Aten/e/B01M63U129

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15962937.K_Aten

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WORDNRD68

 

 

 

Meet Alison Naomi Holt

Winner 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for Fantasy for her book DUCHESS RAMPANT.

Alison Naomi HoltAlison Naomi Holt Duchess Rampant

Where were you born?

  • Spokane, Washington

Where did you grow up?

  • Tucson, Arizona

Do you have any siblings?

  • I have two brothers, both older than me. One passed away in 2008 and the other is a Tauck Tour Guide

What were your parent’s professions?

  • My mother taught Marketing and Distributive Education (DECA) for 27 years and my father was an Exploration Geologist

Why do you write?

  • I write whatever suits my fancy at the time, but mostly Murder Mysteries and Fantasy.

What do you think makes good writing?

  • Writing where the reader becomes totally lost in the world and in the characters and is surprised that so much time has gone by when they surface for air.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

  • It depends on their personality. Once I figure out their personality, I try to match the name to the person. After that, if it is for a main character, I find the one that’s easiest to type since I’ll be typing it many, many, many times throughout the book and series.

What is the first piece you ever wrote?

  • When I was five I wrote about two women driving a covered wagon through the desert.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

  • Many times in my murder mysteries, the experiences are loosely based on cases I worked or on people I met. However, they are all fictional figments of my imagination colored with my experience.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

  • No, I really like the characters and interactions in my latest book.

What is the hardest part of writing a book?

  • I don’t really find writing books to be hard. I sit down and type the next sentence, and the one after that and get lost in whatever world my characters are living in.

What is the easiest part of writing a book?

  • Following my characters around and writing about what they’re doing.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story?

  • In fact, I’m reading one now where the main characters think about things ad naseam in between doing anything, and I find myself skipping through pages to get to the next bit of action.

Do you have any writing rituals? And can you tell us about your writing discipline.

  • I try to write 2000-3000 words/day. If I don’t make my goal, say I only write 500 words that day, I tell myself I failed to success because the book is 500 words further along than it was yesterday.

What is your greatest fear as an author?

  • I can’t think of any fears

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)?

  • For my murder mysteries, many people compare my writing to Janet Evanovich, even though her main character is a bail bondsman and mine is a police detective.
  • For my fantasies, I’ve had a couple people say they are similar to Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey (I wish)

What are you working on now?

  • I just finished the sixth book in my mystery series and am starting my fifth book in my Fantasy series.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind?

  • I’ve never had a problem keeping characters separate. Each one is an individual and they take on their own personalities.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

  • I write 2000-3000 words and then spend a lot of time on marketing and other book related tasks, so I guess I’d say I write full time.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

  • I try to write first thing in the morning, usually around five or six o’clock. However, in the summer, it gets super hot in the desert and I have to ride my horse before it gets hot, so my routine changes. First I go ride, and then I write when I get back from the barn.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

  • I try to write 7 days/week, but it usually works out to 5 or 6

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

  • 2000-3000 words/day

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

  • I write on a Macbook Pro

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

  • No

Where do your ideas come from?

  • I don’t start out with an idea. When I begin a book, I type the first sentence and let the book go where it will.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

  • I write into the dark, which basically means I have no idea where I’m going, I just follow my characters around and report on what they’re doing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

  • A veterinarian and a writer

What genres do you normally write in?

  • Fantasy and Mystery and LGBT

What genres do you typically read?

  • Fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, science fiction, LGBT

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle?

  • No

Are there any authors who have influenced your work?

  • There are a ton of writers I’ve read over the years and I’m sure each and every one of them influenced my writing style in some way.

What was the first book you ever published?

  • The Door at the Top of the Stairs

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)?

  • That would be me J

Tell us about your new release.

  • My newest release in the 6th book in the Alex Wolfe Mystery Series. Credo’s Honor begins with the death of one of Alex’s worst enemies and she’s assigned to investigate the case. The trouble is, one of her best friends is a suspect.

What kind of heroine is in your current book?

  • Alex Wolfe is a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice. She’s irreverent and loveable and a damn good detective.

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist?

  • That’s easy. I love to have strong women who overcome adversity and who can wield a sword or a gun with the best of them.

What part of the female physique captures your attention?

  • I love sculpted, muscular arms

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way?

  • I enjoy spending time with all of my main characters and most of my secondary ones too.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?

  • I would love to meet and fight alongside the Duchess Aurelia Makena. She’s strong and fair-minded and treats the poor with as much respect, sometimes with more respect, than she does the nobility.

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?

  • I’ve always been a strong woman who enjoys a challenge, and I guess that’s the type of women I write about.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?

  • Duchess Rampant

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies?

  • Google

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break?

  • Never start a sentence with And or But.
  • Put ending punctuation inside the quote.

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories?

  • I would love to be a veterinarian on a wild game preserve, and as long as I’m dreaming, I don’t want there to be any poaching or animal cruelty going on in the preserve.

What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world?

  • All kinds. I worked in a retail store, in a McDonalds, as a waitress and as a primary school teacher. I exercised racehorses, worked as a cowhand on a cattle ranch and worked as an occupational therapist in a mental hospital. I was a cop for twenty years where I worked patrol, investigations (misdemeanors), Detectives (felony child sex crimes, domestic violence and aggravated assault) patrol sergeant, IAD sergeant, Commander of the undercover units, commander of the riot control units and the sergeant of the K9 unit.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Satin

Hot or Cold? Hot

Camera or Canvas? Canvas

Denim or Leather? Denim

Talking or Texting? Texting

Irish or Italian? Irish

Thunder or Lightning? Thunder

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Crackling fire

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding hands

Crayons or Paint? Paint

Mountains or Beach?  Mountains

Rain or Sunshine? Desert Rain

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay?

  • Oh hell yeah, but I’m not telling what J

What were you like at school?

  • Quiet, capable but not the smartest, loner, athletic

Were you good at English?

  • Excellent

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn?

  • I speak passable Spanish

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why?

  • Jodi Foster because she is such an incredibly versatile actress.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

  • 3-4 months

Do you ever get writer’s block?

  • No, I just write the next sentence. As Peter Devries said, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”

Where were you when you found out you won and what was your reaction?

  • The day the finalist list came out, I was so disappointed because I thought, dang, I didn’t even make the finalists. So, I thought I was out of the running because I thought you had to make the finalist in order to be considered for a win. The next day, the email came listing the winners, and I glumly looked at it to see who had won.

I saw my name and my jaw dropped and I sat and stared at it a minute. This part’s a little embarrassing, but I started to cry because in twelve years as a writer, I’d never won an award before. I’ve made finalist and quarter-finalist, but I’ve never won. I called or texted anyone and everyone and told them.

Thank you Lesfic Bard Awards, the judges and K’Anne Meinel for all the incredible hard work I know went into this competition. This Covid Pandemic has been super stressful for all of us, and I want you to know that for this one woman, your competition, and my win, means the world to me.

Meet Anne Hagan

Anne is the 2019 Winner for Mystery for her novel Steel City Confidential.

Anne Hagan

Where were you born? I was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania

Where did you grow up? I grew up in New Castle

Do you have any siblings? I have two younger brothers.

What were your parent’s professions? My mother is a professional dog groomer with her own grooming business. My father is a retired industrial electrician. He did Steel Mill work.

Why do you write? I write because I can’t not write. Like the double negative? There are too many stories trying to get out of my head.

How do you choose the names for your characters? I use first names I like and/or that fit the personality and background of the character. I tend to pull last names from my own experiences: high school friends, hometown family names, and Army buddy names. I’ve also looked up and used names common to areas where the stories are set. For ‘Steel City Confidential’ I held a naming contest for my lead attorney. I got so many great names from readers, I used several of them in the book.

What is the hardest part of writing a book? Consistency. I tend to write in series. Further, I’ve spun a series off of a series and I’ve written romances between secondary characters who appear in my primary mystery series. I have 18 books that are interrelated in some way. I have to make sure something that reappears in book ten is exactly the same as it was in book two. I have to make sure all of the timelines work with each other. I can’t have my Sheriff in one place in a mystery at the same time she’s somewhere completely different supporting one of her closest friends in the ups and down of her love life in one of the romance stories. And that brings me to another point; I’ve also had to make sure that my romance only fans aren’t missing anything if they’ve never picked up one of the mysteries. All of the back story has to be woven into the romance novels related to the mystery series to satisfy the romance only readers without boring the folks who already know some of the story from having read the mysteries.

What is the easiest part of writing a book? I think writing dialog is a blast. I could write banter, arguments and interrogations all day and never get tired of it.

What is your greatest fear as an author? ‘Steel City Confidential’ (SCC) was quite an undertaking for me. It’s my longest book and it was the toughest to make sure I got all the details right since I’m not a lawyer. I have cops in the family that I can run my mystery crime stuff past. I had to reach out a lot to others and research a lot to get all of the legal procedures and courtroom scenes right for SCC. My fear is I’ll never be able to repeat the process and produce a book as good as that one. I’m worried that it may be the best book I had in me.

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)? I once had one of my lesfic mystery fans compare me to Gerri Hill. I took that as a compliment.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Define full-time?! I’m at home full-time now and I write every day, but I quit working because my wife and I got our foster license. We have two foster children and we have temporary legal custody of a 5-month-old who has been with us since she was two days old. The courts are moving toward permanent legal custody for us. We’ll see what happens.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I used to aim for at least 1,000 and I usually hit it. With kids around and the whole COVID-19 mess, I can’t just block out time until it’s done anymore. I write here and there, as I can.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I’m a PC, to coin a tag line.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? No, but I hope to. I’ve spoken to a close writer friend about this and presented her with an idea I had for a series. We were planning on putting our heads together to talk, plot and plan. COVID-19 killed our original plan to meet up in person. We may have to ZOOM our sessions.

Where do your ideas come from? Everywhere! Little snippets of things I see and here end up in my books all the time. The whole long-lost car plot line in ‘Tennessee Bound?’ That’s based on the true-life experience of a former co-worker. The slingshot league in Pittsburgh in ‘Steel City Confidential’ is made up, but it’s based on a tidbit of information a customer bestowed upon me when I asked about the logo on his ballcap when I worked in a post office here in Ohio.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I outline the mysteries extensively because it’s hard to write a proper mystery without doing so. The romances I’m a bit looser with. I let the characters tell me where they want to go.

What genres do you normally write in? Mysteries are my primary love. I’ve written lots of those. That led me to writing some romance as I followed out the relationships of some of my secondary characters. I’ve always loved to read legal thrillers and, though I’m not a lawyer, I thought it would be fun to write one. A challenge led me to write Steel City Confidential. It was such a blast to do, I’m planning at least a couple of more books for Ro and her little law firm. It will be hard to top “SCC,” as I call it, though!

What genres do you typically read? Mystery, thriller and romance.

Are there any authors who have influenced your work? Dozens! I’ve said many times though, it was reading Ellen Hart’s, Jane Lawless series that moved me to try my hand at writing my own lesfic mystery.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?I live with Mel from my Morelville series. Her looks, mannerisms, attitudes and more are based on my wife.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite? It’s always the one I’m writing. I put myself in the setting, in the bodies of my characters and try to figure out what I would do in their situation. Why? I’ve always written for my favorite reader first, me.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies? All of those things. I learn details from books and Google. Television and movies – mystery movies – teach me so much about story structure, about hiding villains in plain sight, and planting a trail of clues, especially made for TV movies which are often based on books.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? I hate the Oxford comma. Grammarly loves it. We go round and round.

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories? I would have been a lawyer…a prosecutor.

If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why? I’d have done Sherlock Holmes and Watson – any of the 80 some books – as lesbians…oh wait, I have.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Satin

Hot or Cold?  Cold

Camera or Canvas? Camera

Denim or Leather? Denim

Talking or Texting? Talking

Irish or Italian? Italian

Thunder or Lightning? Thunder

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Fire

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Her Attention

Crayons or Paint? Crayons

Mountains or Beach?  Mountains

Rain or Sunshine? Tough one…

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay? I wouldn’t have been with my last partner before my wife. She wasn’t good for me. I renamed her and killed her off in one of my mysteries, so it’s all good. Very cathartic.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I’ve learned so much the last five years. I read passages of ‘Relic’ now and I wince.

What do you do to get book reviews? I have an ARC team made up of some of my biggest fans and other dedicated readers that have asked me to be on the team or joined it through my email list.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? No press is bad press. Not every reader is going to like everything. I’ve made my peace with that.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’ve taken many classes on Facebook Ads. I’ve followed all of the best advice from some of the top author/marketers out there when it comes to those. I got absolutely nowhere with them every time I tried.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? It certainly has for me. It’s easy when you have as many as I do to give a first in series away and hook a reader. I get that it’s much harder for someone who only has a few books out.

Did you format your own book? I do now. The first ten or so, I paid to have them formatted. After struggling through doing several myself when I got tired of paying, I bought a cheap, used Macbook just so I could buy Vellum. It’s hands down the best formatting software I’ve used.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Keep writing after high school. Put it all away and wait for the self-publishing revolution. Dust it all off, laugh through it, keep the usable bits and get it out there. I wasted so many years because I just didn’t have the time or patience to deal with traditional publishing.

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? Anne Hagan is a pen name. It’s my real middle name and a derivative of my real last name. Most of my fans know my real name – it’s an open secret. I used the pen name because there are multiple people with my real name and at least one of them writes.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? I think it’s great. I love having so much choice and seeing myself reflected in the genres I like to read.

What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life? I joined the Army at 17 and walked away from everything I ever knew. The neat thing is, everything I’ve become since that time, I have my 21-year career with the Army and the Army National Guard to thank for. Taking such a step so young and so naive paved the way for so many things.

Where were you when you found out you won the Lesfic Bard Award and what was your reaction? I was at home because of COVID-19 and a statewide stay-at-home order. My wife and foster children were also there. I was very excited to hear I won. I tried to explain to them but they didn’t feel my full excitement until the UPS Man dropped off my crystal trophy two days later. My foster son shows it to everyone who comes to our house.

Anne Hagan Steel City Confidential

Anne Hagan is the author of more than twenty works of fiction in the mystery, romance and thriller genres. She writes of family, friends, love, murder, and mayhem in no particular order and often all in the same story. She’s a half owner of the weekly discount eBook newsletter, MyLesfic, a wife, parent, foster parent, and an Army veteran. She draws from all of those experiences when she writes because truth is often stranger than fiction.

 

 

 

Meet Lise Gold

2019 Finalist for Living

Lise Gold LivingLise Gold Finalist

2018 Winner for French Summer

Lise Gold 4410AW9FCI0L._SY346_

 

Where were you born?

London, UK

Where did you grow up?

London, Norway, Zambia, the Netherlands

Do you have any siblings?

Many! All half siblings, my father has been very active. 2 half-sisters in Scotland, 2 half-brothers in the Netherlands (who I grew up with), 2 half-sisters in Thailand and a half-brother in Thailand. They’re all lovely.

What were your parent’s professions?

My stepfather was a biologist and helped set up breweries for Heineken in different countries when I was younger, and later worked for dairy companies. My mother stopped working when I was born and was a lovely stay-at-home mum. My father, well… I think I’ll choose not to answer that question lol.

Why do you write?

F/F Travel Romance (if that’s a thing J)

What do you think makes good writing?

Making the reader want to keep turning the pages.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

I just pick one that I think might suit the character. Sometimes, I use real names for side-characters, if people ask me to put them in their books.

What is the first piece you ever wrote?

The very first was a story my mom sent to me recently, written in Norwegian. Five pages of rambling when I was five. My first piece in Dutch was a book I started on. 30.000 words in, my laptop got lost on the train and I didn’t have a backup. I gave up on writing then, until I write Lily’s Fire, although I wrote consumer-facing messages, marketing stuff and lots of trend predictions while working as a designer.

When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

They’re not personal, but yes, I take inspiration from life, and even my own life. I use events or struggles I see around me, and the travel aspect of my books comes from my own travels, too.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Maybe. There’s always a maybe. But at some point, you have to decide the book is finished, otherwise there will be no end to the process.

What is the hardest part of writing a book?

The last couple of weeks when everything has to be made pretty and edited.

What is the easiest part of writing a book?

The start. And I love the 40% mark (I don’t plot) when things start to make sense and I get to know the characters.

Do you think a book can have too much detail it?  Do you think it can detract from the story?

It could. It depends on the individual readers too; how much detail they like or need to be able to envision the scenes.

Do you have any writing rituals? And can you tell us about your writing discipline.

Alcohol and candles when I write sex scenes. And I need to travel to where my book is set, otherwise I find it hard getting inspired. As there won’t be any traveling in the near future, I’ve set my current WIP on a yacht, so hopefully I can get around that problem if they’re floating at sea J

What is your greatest fear as an author?

I do always worry my readers will not like my latest release. My aim is to get better with every book, not take a step back.

Who do you have fans compare you to (other authors)?

I don’t know… I can only see what authors I’m being paired with on Amazon (the ones my readers buy too).

What are you working on now?

A novel set on a yacht. It’s a romance and I’m drawing inspiration from a fabulous 3-day trip I got invited on last year, sailing along the coast of South of France.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind?

It’s easy; they are, or become, their own person.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I start early morning (around 7 or 8 am) and stop when I’ve had enough. Sometimes that’s late afternoon, and sometimes that’s closer to midnight.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

Six days, sometimes seven. Of course, it’s not just writing. There’s also research, editing, marketing, distribution. proofing, audiobooks, translations, social media, and lots of people to liaise with.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Yes. 2000 words as I have a lot of other book-related stuff to do.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

On my MAC. It’s my baby and I’m permanently attached to it.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

No. I don’t plot (I can plot but then I don’t ‘feel’ my own writing), so I never know where the story goes until it ends. I’m also very chaotic so I’d feel bad for anyone who would have to work with me. It’s not that I’m not open to it, but I need to collaborate with someone I have ‘natural flow’ with.

Where do your ideas come from?

Traveling. I write the first part of the book on location and love to observe people and situations. If I want to write about a topic, such as addiction, depression, sexual harassment, I’ll spend a lot of time on research and talk to professionals.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I just see where it goes. Once I get to the 40% mark and I know my characters, I re-write a lot, so their actions make sense.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Airline hostess, vet, ballerina, singer, spy, profiler. So many things. I ended up being a designer because that seemed like the least boring choice when it came down to picking a study. Spy or profiler didn’t seem like plausible choices.

What genres do you normally write in?

Only romance so far, but I’d love to write a thriller one day, and I’m also working on a collection of essays.

What genres do you typically read?

Humour. Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, Garrison Keillor, although I will admit that I don’t have much time to read these days.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle?

Suspense, and I’d also like to write a collection of essays.

Are there any authors who have influenced your work?

I’d never read lesfic before I started writing it (I didn’t even know it was a thing), so not in this genre.

What was the first book you ever published? 

Lily’s Fire (2017)

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)?

I’m self-published (Lise Gold Books)

How did you celebrate your signing?

I celebrated my first release with lots of Champagne and a lavish dinner.

What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?

Not sure, but I can tell you the worst thing. My characters in ‘Beyond the Skyline’ eventually had their happy ending in Luton, London. I’d never been to Luton when I wrote it, but I now know that it’s about as unromantic as it gets.

Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you?

I do, and I’ll just leave it at that

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write?

Early morning

What is your writing day like?

I usually have one audiobook on the go, so I’ll proof the chapters my narrator has uploaded the night before over my first coffee while I check my emails and social media. Then I’ll write until I get tired. More coffee, then sometimes a meeting with one of my translators, narrators, cover designers, or my editor. Then more writing. If I feel like it, I’ll cook dinner. I love cooking but get lost in it and will make up dishes from anything I have in the fridge for hours. If I still have energy after that, I’ll write for another hour or two.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

No, it was always there but I never thought of giving it a go until I needed a new challenge after being a designer for fifteen years. I wanted to create something that was just mine, that didn’t involve endless meetings or decisions from higher up, spoiling my creative process.

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, and I love hearing from them. For me, it’s very important to be in touch with my readers, it gives me joy to hear they’ve enjoyed my books, and their constructive feedback helps me too. I love honesty.

Tell us about your new release.

The Scent of Rome will be out on 28/05/2020.

In a last-ditch attempt to secure an investor for an app she’s developed, Rome Foster travels to her namesake city hoping her luck is going to change. Just as she’s about to pitch her life’s work, she meets the charming and captivating Nadine; a high-end escort who shocks Rome by flirting with her. Rome is straight, but Nadine sparks up a fire in her so strong that it seems impossible to extinguish.

Nadine Costa is pleased with the way her life is going. She lives in a fantastic apartment in the city she loves, and her lucrative job provides the funds she needs to support her expensive passion: perfume making. When Rome crosses her path, she knows she’s never smelled anything quite so exquisite in her life.

Rome is a loner and doesn’t let people in, but when an incident occurs and Nadine steps in to save her, she realizes her feelings go deeper than just lust. Neither of them was looking for something more than physical, but when the stars are aligned, it’s hard to escape destiny…

What kind of heroine is in your current book?

The kind that fights for justice.

Is there someone famous she resembled when you wrote her? Or is she based off someone you personally know?

Neither. She just manifested in my mind J

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist?

I love teasing, playful, sexy characters, who are also intelligent.

What part of the female physique captures your attention?

LOL! Are you asking me if I’m a ‘tits or ass’ girl? It depends…

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way? 

Yes, but I also find it really easy to let go after a book. I don’t normally feel the need to make it into a series so I can hold onto them.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?

I would love to meet Nadine from ‘The Scent of Rome’. I think we’d get on really well.

Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about.

I like strong and intelligent women who make sense. I suppose you could call them leaders.

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?

I’ve never thought about that. I’m quite happy within myself and I don’t think I’d want to be anyone else.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite?

I always prefer my latest as I think (hope) my writing gets better with each book.

What is your biggest distraction when you write?

We have two dogs and three cats. The dogs tend to stare at me with a ball in their mouth, and recently, our cat, Tittie, has taken a liking to the ball too. Now, I have three pairs of eyes putting me under pressure all day long.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies?

I travel and talk to professionals for my research: therapists, perfumers, pilots, cruise ship staff, recovering addicts, lawyers… For my latest book, it was fun spending some time with a high-end escort who filled me in on her job.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Which one do you never break?

I have no idea… I will be mortified if you catch me with a builders’ comma…

If you could do a DREAM job (other than writing) what would it be and why? Have you used it in any of your stories?

I’ve had a lot of fun jobs (designer, chef, singer) and I’ve used some of them in my books. I suppose I’d like to write about a profiler one day and certainly wouldn’t mind working in that field, but you know, the ten years of studying never appealed to me because I get bored easily.

What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world?

Apparel designer, sportswear designer, swimwear designer, creative lead, singer, chef, waitress, buyer, gas-station assistant, and many, many more part-time jobs I can’t even remember. I’ve had jobs since I was 15.

If you could rewrite a CLASSIC novel as a lesfic novel, which would you choose and why?

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I wouldn’t change a lot, but I’d add a doomed romance between Julia and the narrator (Charles) and turn him into Charlotte J

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Satin (‘Satin’s for the free!’ – Dorothy Parker)

Hot or Cold? Hot

Camera or Canvas? Camera

Denim or Leather? Satin lol

Talking or Texting? Talking

Irish or Italian? Italian

Thunder or Lightning? Lightning

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Heartbeat

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding her attention

Crayons or Paint? Paint

Mountains or Beach?  Beach

Rain or Sunshine? Sunshine, always!

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members that ‘surprised’ you?

My editor approached me out of the blue when I was writing my third book and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with it. I’m glad I said yes eventually because she’s been my rock and sounding board ever since and I’m so grateful to have her in my life.

If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why?

I’d love to have a drink with Meghan Markle. I’m sooooo curious to know what’s been going on behind closed doors at the Royal Palace.

Is there anything in your life you would delete?  Anything you would replay?

No, I believe in crossroads and that we’re meant to make mistakes. I’ve made many.

What were you like at school?

Naughty (but never mean) Also, highly uninterested J

Were you good at English?

Yes, but it never felt like my mother tongue.

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? What, if any, would you like to learn?

Norwegian and Dutch, and a bit of Mandarin. I can also communicate, with Swedes and Danish, Germans and South-Africans.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I want to be a better writer and write something I’m very proud of one day. I’d also like my books to be for everyone and have them translated into Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin and French. (I’ve already started with Spanish and Hindi)

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why?

Vera Farmiga. I think she’s charming, beautiful and a great actress. I would want her to play Ally in ‘Western Shores’. I’d also love Meghan Markle to play Nadine in ‘The Scent of Rome’.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

3-4 Months. 4 Months, mostly.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Not often, but sometimes, yes, and it really sucks.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Stepping away. Travel helps me, and new experiences. Micro dosing LSD also helps but I only do that when nothing else works.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’m not sure, I’d have to read my books in order to know. Creatively, I don’t think I’ve evolved much, though, but hopefully I’ve improved technically.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I don’t get much time to read and I know I should make more time to read as it makes my writing better. I only read four books last year. Strangely, I seem drawn to male, humorist writers, both English and American. In the lesfic genre, I like to read Melissa Brayden or Clare Lydon as their books are relaxing and fun.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Paperbacks. But I rarely buy new books, mainly second hand, and I see it as a positive trend that people read more eBooks. Better for the trees J

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

No, I have an editor, a beta reader and proofreaders.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Never, I need to stay in the zone.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

I did my first four covers, and the covers for The Compass Series. As I used to be a designer, that wasn’t hard, but fonts and covers are certainly not my strong point, so I now hire a very good cover artist I used to work with, and for Madeleine Taylor’s books, I use an illustrator.

Who designed your book covers?

Myself and for the last two, Neil Irvine Design. He’s amazing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes, I’m very familiar with the psychology behind marketing and I believe it’s important, especially if you’re an unknown author.

How do you market your books?

Online adverts, magazines, social media, radio, blogs.

Why did you choose this route?

These are all the routes available to me.

Would you or do you use a PR agency?

No. I’m yet to come across a PR agency that actually offers value for money for indie authors.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Go with any option available to you, see what works, then re-evaluate once a year. The world changes and things that work today might not work tomorrow. When it comes to social media marketing, don’t just throw book links out there five times day for the sake of it, but make it meaningful or interesting.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Depends. I plan time and budget according to what I want to achieve. I’m planning on marketing heavy in Spanish speaking countries later this year, so that will cost more time and effort as I’ll need help with that. Normally around 5% of my time.

What do you do to get book reviews?

Not much, I prefer natural reviews as they will give me honest feedback. I have a small group of ARC readers.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

I don’t spend time on this.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

No, I don’t look for them. I do always send my books to 4 lesfic reviewers, though.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Of course, good reviews make me happy. If the feedback in a bad review is constructive, I’ll take it. One-star reviews that don’t make sense or feel like a personal attack don’t bother me; I have very thick skin after working for big corporate brands for years.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?

Sorry, can’t think of anything.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

I believe it works if it’s natural. I like to share my writing / travel process which isn’t marketing per se, but it helps the book getting noticed and builds anticipation.

Which social network worked best for you?

Facebook.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do?

Don’t bombard people with stuff you wouldn’t want to see yourself.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?

I had a press release for Living as it was running along with a fundraiser for mental health awareness, and if magazines ask for it, I will write one up. But normally, no. They only reach a very small audience.

Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?

Yes, a couple of times.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?

No, I wish there was one, apart from discounting lol.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

No.

Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?

If you’re with a big publisher, but you’re not one of their best-selling authors, they won’t put much marketing budget aside for you, no matter how good your book is. If you’re with a smaller publisher (at least from what I’ve seen) they don’t put much effort into marketing your book, so then it’s down to yourself anyway. The more eyeballs on your books, the more they will sell, and in my opinion, some of the best-selling indie authors very pretty good at marketing their books because they do it in creative ways and therefore manage to connect with their audience.

What do you think of “trailers” for books?

No opinion on them.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

Yes, I give away a lot for free. People who wouldn’t normally buy your book might try it that way and if they like it, they’ll want to read more.

Did you format your own book?

Yes, I use Vellum.

In what formats is your book available?

All my books are available in e-book, paperback and audio.

How do you relax?

Signing or cooking.

What is your favorite positive saying?

It is what it is.

What is your favorite book and why?

No idea. I don’t have a favorite book.

What is your favorite quote?

Panta Rei (everything flows)

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

I’m happy, so I would be grateful if life continues like this. Maybe in a warmer county though, I hate the English weather.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Depends on my mood. I have a guilty pleasure for Asian horror movies.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You don’t know shit, so think before you speak. Also, ‘assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups’.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Dorothy Parker and Dolly Parton. Dolly because I think she’s fabulous and funny and she’s an amazing songwriter and singer. And Dorothy because I was always drawn to both her work and persona. Neither of them give a fuck about anything.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

I would have loved to have been Agatha Christie. I’d be memorable and my books would be both entertaining and approachable.

‘Borrowed’ permanently from James Lipton on The Actor’s Studio:

What is your favorite word? Yes
What is your least favorite word? Can’t (technically two, but okay J)
What turns you on? Hehe…
What turns you off? Sexy talk in Dutch. It’s awful.
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of the ocean
What sound or noise do you hate? A drill going through concrete

What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Spy
What profession would you not like to do? Anything that involves killing animals. Being a butcher would be my worst nightmare.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You’ve been a good girl, please step into my beautiful garden filled with puppies, kittens, wine and sunshine.

Did you have a good childhood? Were you a wild child? Are you the ‘odd’ one out in your family?

I had an unconventional but good childhood, and I suppose I was a bit of a wild child / party animal in my late teens / early twenties.

If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself?

Carefree, lazy, curious, (but at the same time blissfully ignorant)

What are your thoughts on Porn (visual) vs Erotica (written) and do you think authors can creatively bring some aspects of both into their writing, making it sensual and beautiful instead of raw and vulgar?

I don’t think porn would inspire me. In my opinion, it’s better to leave something left to the imagination. The mind is stronger than the eye.

If you could have one and only one super-power, what would it be and why?

To be able to fly. I dream about it a lot.

Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself?

Yes. Nothing weird, just book stuff, and I hope it stays that way.

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale?

Pen name. Many reasons.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it?

When my characters are in a good place and have resolved their issues. I like to give them a happy ending.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad?

Good thing! People deserve choice, right? I also think it’s a good thing that it’s starting to cross over into mainstream. More visibility means acceptance is growing.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person?

Both. I like my own company, but I can be loud and extravert in social situations.

Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about?

No. I have no regrets.

If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be?

Dorothy Parker – collected poems, anything by David Sedaris, The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood.

If you were stuck in an elevator with three people, who would you like them to be?

Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert and Aretha Franklin. I’d love to harmonize with them, and elevators have great acoustics!

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work?

I’d love for them to say my books have made a difference to millions of readers in one way or another. But I doubt that would be the case J

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that?

Success is relative, but I’m writing full-time and it’s going well, so that’s success to me.

Were there any teachers that stood out through school?  Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly?

My art teacher was inspiring and encouraged me to develop my creativity.

Do you enjoy debates?  Any particular subjects?

As Lise Gold, no. Especially online, I don’t engage in debates and I don’t talk about politics. It’s just about the books for me.

If you had a time machine would you go forward or back in time and why?

No. Wait… can I just make my body go back in time and keep my mind the same?

Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year?

I’m balancing between Pisces and Aquarius, but I’d say I’m a typical Aquarius. ‘Believe’ is a strong word, but I do find astrology interesting.

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one?

If I had to, a toe ring.

If you were the love child of two great authors who would they be and why?

Barbara Cartland and David Sedaris. I’d be fabulous and funny.

What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life?

I don’t tend to get scared easily but someone once asked me: ‘Could you hold my snake for a minute while I use the bathroom?’ and wasn’t my favorite moment. I’m willing to try everything once, though.

Have you ever stolen anything?

Yes. My best friend and I shoplifted like motherfuckers when we were fifteen because we wanted to wear matching outfits on holiday lol. I haven’t stolen anything since I turned seventeen though, apart from a Starbucks mug a couple of months ago. It was an opportunity too good to pass…

If you could make out with one character from a movie, who would it be and why?

Mila Kunis in Black Swan

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable?

I don’t know, that’s difficult for me to say. You’d have to ask the readers.

What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author?

That people actually wanted to read my books J

Where were you when you found out you won the Lesfic Bard Award and what was your reaction?  When I won the Lesfic Bard Award for French Summer last year, I was at my kitchen table, where I tend to write.  I saw the post and got super excited, did a victory dance across the kitchen floor, then went out to get a bottle of Champagne!

Meet Jane Alden

Jane AldenWinner of the 2019 Lesfic Bard Award for Fiction.

Where were you when you found out you won the Lesfic Bard Award, and what was your reaction? I was sitting in my den in Claremont, California. MSNBC was playing in the background, as it always is, and my partner Donna was making dinner. I saw the notice on my laptop that the winners were out, and I opened it and scrolled through to see who the lucky winners were. There was the great Ann McMan cover with the yellow Duesenberg! I yelled, “I won!” It was one of the biggest surprises and truly the best moment of my writing life.

Where were you born? A small town in the Mississippi River delta country. Trumann was only 5,000 souls, but still the largest town in the county. It was a company town, Singer Sewing Machine Cabinets employed  two thousand people, so pretty much called the shots. I went through high school there. There were 72 people in my graduating class.

Do you have any siblings? I have two brothers. Ed is 12 years older and Coy is three years younger. They both still live in Arkansas.

What were your parent’s professions? My father was a cotton farmer and small-time entrepreneur. He was somewhat limited in his business enterprises because he was too conservative to borrow money. He owned a move theater in the late 40’s, sold real estate, appraised farms for the bank, sold used furniture, opened a coin laundry, and so on. My mother went to teacher’s college in Mississippi before they married. She taught school, worked in my father’s various ventures, and worked in the town library. Her true love was writing poems and memories about growing up in rural Mississippi. Her poetry and prose pieces were published in the Memphis newspaper and some magazines.

Why do you write? I started writing very recently. My first fiction was published two years ago. There were two main reasons I wrote that first book: I wanted to see if I could do it and I wanted to write about an experience I had as a teenager that affected my life.

What do you think makes good writing? Good craft is important. Readers expect and deserve stories that are as technically perfect as possible. Then, I’d say character development is most important. Creating people who are believable, interesting, and who grow over the course of the story. Finally, the interplay between character and setting, which gets into great descriptions of time and place.

How do you choose the names for your characters? Names are easy for me for some reason. My characters name themselves. Titles, on the other hand, are hard for me. I’ve thought a lot about why, and I think I try to be too literal. I try to find the perfect few words that tell the potential reader exactly what the story is about. I’m working now on my third book, a crime novel. I think I have a good title, Death Comes on Swift Wings.

What is the first piece you ever wrote? I was in business for many years and wrote a business “How-to” book called The Everyday Genius about how people of different temperaments lead other people.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Writing Jobyna’s Blues was really fun. I did a lot of research about the settings, 1920’s American south and skipping forward to 1970’s London and New York. I love the characters. So no. However, my first book, Across A Crowded Room, I would definitely change the abruptness of the ending. I got to write a follow-on short story, Forever Across A Crowded Room, which is available for free on the Desert Palm Press website, so I did get to change that.

What is the hardest part of writing a book? For me, the middle.

What is the easiest part of writing a book? I love writing dialogue. I’ve always been interested in accents and regional figures-of-speech. I think it comes from having grown up in the south and then moving to California. Death Comes on Swift Wings is written in first person, a new experience for me. I’m really enjoying it.

How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind? Writing for me feels like watching a movie and then putting it down on paper, so it feels very visual.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when? I write almost every day, but I’m ok if I don’t. I don’t write many words at a time, but may write several  separate times during the day. I write in my head before putting it in the computer.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I start with an outline, and many things happen that I never anticipated.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An archeologist. Death Comes is about a hot archeologist and her assistant exploring Egypt.

What genres do you normally write in? While my stories are about relationships and have a love scene or two, I don’t think they’d be called romances. I feel most comfortable writing about the past up to the 1970’s. Haven’t been moved to write anything contemporary. I think it’s best for me to be able to look back on things for perspective. So, I guess you’d say Historical.

Are there any authors who have influenced your work? Jane Rule, Kathryn Forrest, Sarah Waters, Carol Anshaw.

When did you first sign with (your current publisher)? Desert Palm Press, two years ago.

How did you celebrate your signing? Yelled a lot.

Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you? I read the last thousand words or so that I wrote and rewrite heavily.

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write? Middle of the day

What kind of heroine is in your current book? Death Comes On Swift Wings is narrated by Ariadne Morgan, a 23-year-old woman just graduating from Barnard and at loose ends after breaking up with her Woman’s Studies professor. She is smart, well-organized, and a little naïve. She takes a summer job as assistant to a hot archeologist, thirty-something Cassandra Stillwell, intuitive, impulsive, and creative.

Is there someone famous she resembled when you wrote her? Or is she based off someone you personally know? Dr. Stillwell is sort of a hot, female Sherlock Holmes.

What are your favorite character traits that you cannot resist? A genius who has feet of clay.

What part of the female physique captures your attention? Breasts.

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your character, do you find yourself attached to her in a personal way? One of the great things about writing is that I can create exactly who I want her to be and how she behaves. A power trip.

If you could actually meet the character of one of your books, the exact woman you’ve conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why? Jobyna Jones, Empress of Blues. She was so talented and was a great business woman for her time. She had a deep, interesting sadness from a difficult life.

Tell us what kind of heroes/heroines you prefer to write about. Flawed geniuses.

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be? Cass Stillwell and I are both big picture, intuitive people who like to think we’re good judges of character.

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite? Jobyna’s Blues is better technically than Across A Crowded Room. I hope Death Comes will be even better than the first two.

What is your biggest distraction when you write? My 10-month-old lab puppy needs lots of attention. If she can get at my laptop, she tries to swat it away.

What are your major sources for research?  Do you use books or google?  Even movies? The internet is invaluable. Google Earth is incredible because you can actually be standing in the middle of the location as you write a scene. Books from my favorite authors are a great source as are biographies of people who resemble my characters.

Which grammar rule is your favorite to break? Starting a sentence with And. Which one do you never break? I never purposefully break any other ones. I love perfect grammar. I had a great high school English teacher and was an English major in college.

Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):

Satin or Lace?  Satin

Hot or Cold? Hot

Camera or Canvas? Camera

Denim or Leather? Leather

Talking or Texting? Talking

Irish or Italian? Irish

Thunder or Lightning? Lightening

The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Crackling fire

Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding her attention

Crayons or Paint? Paint

Mountains or Beach?  Mountains

Rain or Sunshine? Half and half

If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why? Abraham Lincoln. I would like to get his advice about how we can get out of this mess.

What were you like at school? I was the ideas person. I always was saying, “Here’s what we should do.” I was the president of my senior class.

Were you good at English? I was great, and I had great teachers. We learned everything from Shakespeare to how to diagram sentences.

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones? Spanish. I took it in high school and college, and then taught seventh grade for two years with students who didn’t speak English.

If you could have anyone play the main character of one of your books, any actress, who would you choose and why? Oprah would play Jobyna. She has the ability to win against the challenges of fame and social change. Also, I think she’s a genius.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Six months or so.

Do you ever get writer’s block? I write mostly in my head, and my problem is the opposite of writer’s block. I have a hard time getting my mind to shut up and just be in the moment.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I haven’t been around long enough to evolve very much. I’ve gotten much better at the craft of writing through reading authors I admire, attending workshops, reading “how-to” articles on the internet, the advice of beta readers, and a great editor.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proofread and edit as I go along. I like to have the story be as perfect as possible when I write The End. The frustrating thing, it can always be better. My publisher provides professional editing, which I really enjoy.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? No, I never do this.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. My publisher, Lee Fitzsimmons at Desert Palm Press provides the cover artist, but she lets me work directly with the artist. I love the Jobyna’s Blues cover by Ann McMan. It blows my mind how brilliant she is as both a writer and artist. My contribution to that cover was saying, “I see a yellow Duesenberg.”

How do you market your books? Social media and, before the virus, in person readings and book signings, which I love to do. Meeting a reader and getting her feedback is just the best. Marketing my books is a new world for me, and I’m not great at it yet. Something I need to spend more time on and learn about.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook is best for me. It’s the meeting place that people I have most in common with tend to gather. I tried Twitter, but didn’t like it as much.

‘Borrowed’ permanently from James Lipton on The Actor’s Studio:

What is your favorite word? Possibilities
What is your least favorite word? Limits
What turns you on? Strong women
What turns you off? Narcissists
What sound or noise do you love? A train whistle in the distance
What sound or noise do you hate? The street sweeper at 6 am
What is your favorite curse word? Fucker
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Archeologist
What profession would you not like to do? Teacher
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You weren’t so bad

Did you have a good childhood? Were you a wild child? Are you the ‘odd’ one out in your family? My mother told me I was perfect. My father told me that southern women have a proscribed role and limitations. I chose to believe my mother. The truth came to me over the course of my life: seeing yourself as perfect is a great benefit in some ways because it lets you try anything without fear of failure. However, it’s not true, of course, and it can be annoying to other people.

If you had to use THREE words to DESCRIBE yourself and you were looking from the outside, how would you describe yourself? Self-confident, visionary, independent

If you could have one and only one super-power, what would it be and why? Mind reading. The most important thing in life is relationships with other people. Knowing what they think would let you quickly develop a relationship.

Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? My real name is Jane Hurd, and pen name is Jane Alden. Alden is a family name on my mother’s side, so it’s to honor her.

Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it? I’m still learning about how to end a story. One of my imperfections is assuming that people can read my mind. As an executive, I always had to remember to explain why I was making a certain decision. It seemed so self-evident to me that I felt I was talking down to a person when I went into details. My first book, Across A Crowded Room, ended too abruptly and I got critiques for that. Desert Palm Press has a free short story, Forever Across A Crowded Room, that follows Bennie and Laura thirteen years later. That should have been the last chapter of the book originally. Jobyna’s Blues is better at tying up the loose ends.

What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? It’s good. Our stories are a way we connect with each other.

Are you a quiet person or verbose in person? I think you would say “to the point”.

If you were stuck on an island with only three books, which three would you like them to be? The Price of Salt, Desert of the Heart, Curious Wine

If you were stuck in an elevator with three people, who would you like them to be? My partner Donna, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah.

20 years from now your books are assigned to a women’s studies class. What would you want them to say about your body of work? She was able both to entertain and to provoke thought. She got better over time. She was never boring.

Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that? Winning the Lesfic Bard Award was a tremendous validation. I think the triple blind judging process is so smart. I wish I sold more books, because that would be good for my publisher who has faith in me as a writer, and it would mean people enjoy my stories.

If you had a time machine would you go forward or back in time and why? I’d like to be able to go both ways, but always stay close enough to the portal to make sure I could get back to the present.

Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year? I believe in temperament types. My business book, The Everyday Genius, proposes four types, Idea Genius, Plan Genius, People Genius, and Data Genius. It has a little test to discover which one you are. I think astrological signs often correlate with temperament types. I’m a Scorpio, and I think the description fits.

Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one? Toe ring

If you were the love child of two great authors who would they be and why? Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson. They were both dreamers.

What is the scariest thing you have ever attempted in your life? Riding a bicycle down Haleakala Volcano in Maui at dawn.

Is there one scene from your book that is the most memorable? In Jobyna’s Blues, before Jobyna and Lily get together as lovers, they go to a rent party in Memphis. Lily gets accosted by a man, and Jobyna rescues her. He says, “Oh, I see. She’s your girlfriend. Well, you better take care of her or she’ll find out what a real one feels like.” Jobyna decks him. In my work-in-progress, Death Comes on Swift Wings, I’m proud of how the murder scene came out.

Jane Alden Jobyna's Blues